Saturday, June 16, 2007

July 18, 1989

Can you recall where you were that day? I do, I was at Alpine Valley for the second of a three show Grateful Dead concert set. Unfortunately, circumstances prevented me from attending the third concert and someone scored a miracle ticket.

Shortly after the concert I obtained bootleg copies on tape of the concert and sure, they were fine enough, but rather plain. Well, not too long ago I discovered an Internet depository of bootleg music of all sorts, notably The Grateful Dead (link takes you to the 7/18/1989 Alpine Valley show). Anyway, I had downloaded the music a long time ago and in fact carry the concert around with me on my phone. I would play it when I had an earworm, was bored, or music was called for and no one else could provide.

I finally got fed up with the situation and burned the first set onto CD. OMG! I popped the CD into my car player on the way up to Green Bay and the musical detail that came out of the speakers was incredible, Phil's bass playing is extremely intricate and of course is not able to come out via my phone's MP3 player. I remember some of the highlights of the first set, particularly Jack Straw which is a great version of the song, if you are not screaming out the lyrics along with the band at the end I will summon the coroner! Also notable is the Touch of Grey which is pretty tight but is pretty standard. They also play Jack-a-Roe again nothing real special about it, they jam out New Minglewood Blues, Friend of the Devil played in the slower later style (which was the only style I knew for some years), Memphis Blues a Dylan cover which is interesting but it kinda drags on, Bird Song (standard), and Promised Land.

Promised Land I would often skip over as the intro is not promising however, they jam it out real good and rescue it from standardness and that is the end of the first set.

Due to a mess up on my part I accidentally included the lead two songs from set II Sugar Magnolias with an on the dime transition into Scarlet Begonias. Being the concert was many years ago (NOT because I was "altered", I wasn't – honest!) I had forgotten the order of tunes they played and figured Sugar Magnolia was out of place in the first set. In addition, I could not believe how quickly they turned from jamming out Sugar Magnolia and took up Scarlet Begonias so I doubted the order on that pairing.

However, the second set does open with Sugar Magnolia and they jam it out a bit afterwards and of course, one expects a jam and Sunshine Daydream but nope jam-jam-jam-Scarlet Begonias.

Quick comments on the Scarlet Begonias – very very tight and there is something subtly different in two spots, both spots are identical musically so it is intentional but something normally there was not and its absence piques my curiosity, I want to go back and listen to that to hear what it is, I will probably break out a different version and try to listen side by side.

If you follow the link to the bootleg collection you will find the people who reviewed the show praise it highly, perhaps that mean's their praise means little, but this is a quality show. In fact, you can purchase a DVD of excerpts from the three concerts. On the DVD Downhill from Here they play a recording from the first show and I can recall my exact thoughts during that song.

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