Monday, October 14, 2013

Dick's Picks Vol. 21 - Grateful Dead - New Release Review

I just received the latest release of Grateful Dead music from the vault, Dick's Picks Vol. 21. This 3 disc set is a bit different from the others that I have reviewed in that it showcases many tracks by other artists and covered by the Dead. The first disc, recorded at the Richmond Coliseum (1985), opens with Dancing In The Streets popularized mostly by Martha and the Vandellas and Mick Jagger with David Bowie. On this extended track, Garcia opens the door early to a cool jam. Cold Rain and Snow follows being one of my favorite originals on this disc. Lesh plays some of the coolest riffs and the vocal harmonies are right on. A cover of Willie Dixon's Little Red Rooster showcases Brent Mydland on keys some excellent slide work by Garcia making it an absolute standout for the entire set. Western style track Me And My Uncle is really done nicely with not only pace and rhythm but also smart guitar riffs. A little more country in Big River, and again Mydland steps up on keys drawing Garcia out with one of his more inspired solos. One of my personal Dead favorites, Jack Straw, is up next followed by Don't Ease Me In, which is short, peppy and crisp. Disc 2 opens with the Dead's arrangement of the traditional Sampson and Delilah.Always an enjoyable track from the Dead and with musical certainty it is a great opener for the disc. Heartfelt High Time is up next and a great showcase again for Garcia. Another Willie Dixon tune, Spoonful gets a strong cover with super guitar leads and arrangement. Another sweet melody, Comes a Time provides a vessel for bluesy guitar riffs and a nice jam... possibly my favorite track on disc 2. Lost Sailor featuring vocals by Weir leads into a mega long jam lasting 20 minutes into disc 3. Saint Of Circumstance emerges from the myst . The rockier side of the Dead is emerging here and more complex instrumentation from Garcia freed from lead vocal duties. Spencer Davis Group track Gimme Some Lovin' became almost as much a part of the Dead's repertoire as some of their own tracks. It's tracks like this that really give Garcia the opportunity to pursue alternate melodies on guitar with a solid primary melody acknowledged and recognized. Garcia brings on Dylan's She Belongs To Me, One of my favorite tracks on this disc. Soloing is of course a primary goal but on this track focused and concise. Van Morrison's Gloria is always a fan favorite and the Dead keep a lot of the edge of the original track. Garcia's Keep Your Day Job is a is a great country rocker showing the vitality of the band in this stage of their careers. The final 4 tracks are excerpts from an earlier concert (1980) in Rochester. Opening with the progressive track, Space, the band is captured in one of it's modestly long experimental tracks. Followed by "Dedulated" version of standard New Orleans track Iko Iko the crew presents a much more laid back version of the track. An 11 minute version of Morning Dew is next and really a super addition to this particular set. Garcia is really on this evening and was lucky to have it captured, Finishing up with Sugar Magnolia and despite listening to about 3 hours of non stop music, you find yourself smiling and wanting more.

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