“Crimson, White & Indigo: Philadelphia, July 7, 1989” by The Grateful Dead

Artist: Grateful Dead
Title: “Crimson, White & Indigo: Philadelphia, July 7, 1989”
Label: Grateful Dead/Rhino Records
Release Date: 4/20/2010
Genre: Rock/Jam Rock
Rating: 4/5

Whether you are a long time fan or just one of those watchers on the wayside there is no discounting the impact on Rock and Roll and the art of Jamming that the Grateful Dead have offered up during their very lengthy career. Formed in 1965, the band had already been around for decades by the time this live concert recording was done, and by the looks of the crowd that was packed into the JFK stadium on that summer day in 1989, you could see that they had not lost an ounce of their fan appeal. For those followers of the Grateful Dead, they will agree that there is really no shortage of live concert recordings from the band and one need only look at the many volume sets under the banner of “Dick’s Picks”. That being said this particular show still stands a little special on its own based on its being the very last show performed at this stadium which was demolished in 1992. The Dead recorded this gig on what was labeled as the hottest day of the year and they would be supporting their “In The Dark” album along with many other cherished releases from their repertoire. The great thing about this release is how we get the entire concert and not just bits and pieces from a lengthy gig and that is why there are three audio CD’s making up the package. During this time in the band history, the group was made up of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Brent Mydland, and Bill Kreutzmann. The production of the live show is amazing and crystal clear based on the use of today’s technology against the original analog tapes from the soundboard and as result give you the experience as if it was happening right now.

Also packaged with the release is the full show on DVD and for me this was the biggest highlight because it allows one to see this final show at the stadium and also get into that summer vibe that the band was performing in. The crowd looked incredibly pleased with what was going on, and given this was a Dead tour, this particular show was likely the final one in a number of dates at the arena. What impressed me most about the visuals was the quality that we got from them as this was 1989 after all and the technology is nothing like it is today. This is not a one camera, straight to the stage shoot but instead a multi-camera display and one that had been done by a crew that filmed the Dead in action before. With their doing this we as home viewers are getting a film by people who actually knew the music and the key happenings during a performance. The Dead are not a visually exciting band and its more about the music and the interaction on the stage at the end of the day, but I do think that many casual fans can enjoy what they see being delivered. For me as a fan of drums and percussion the most, I had to say that I really enjoyed the drum duel by Kreutzmann and Hart because they step outside the traditional drum battle realm and offer up a number of other ideas with their “beast” as I believe they call it. Garcia wins you over with his warm tone and smile on every song he sings and Mr. Weir is no slouch at this either as he handles almost half of the set performed. A booklet loaded with photos and an essay by Steve Silberman. In the end this amounted to worthwhile reading for any Rock music fan and not just the Dead Heads.

There were a few surprises that I found with this release and one of the most interesting would be in its packaging. While it is a rather decorative sleeve there is not a single representation of the bands iconic skull image that if you didn’t realize is called “Steal Your Face”; I’ve always felt this image was rather awesome and when I was younger felt that it was representing a much more sinister band than it actually was. Another surprise is the omission of the tune “Touch Of Grey” which was the bands singular “hit” across the popular music scene of the time. You might remember the video of the band performing as skeletons on MTV and believe it or not, this song gave us the first ever Grateful Dead video. Since the song was a Billboard Top 10 hit, one has to draw a pause when they realize that it was not on such an important concert as this last JFK stadium show. My friend’s wife is a faithful fan and she lined out to me that if it was not done for this show that it had likely been performed on one of the previous nights. The Dead are notorious for switching up the set and when a band has as many albums as they do there is no other way to present them to the fans than by switching things up. Another issue that I found was the lack of presence in many of the songs that the casual fans might have locked into and enjoyed. There is no “Shakedown Street”, “Sugar Magnolia”, “Uncle Johns Band” or “Truckin’” to be found anywhere on this one and while many of the tunes are listed as “classic” to the diehards, this might end up being something that only they can easily enjoy based on the lack of the “radio hits” that the larger public is aware of. Music historians however will greatly enjoy this representation of the band that still showed that they had the groove going strong and their audience’s undivided attention.

The band ceased to exist with the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995 but after some healing time the remaining members began to tour and perform Dead standards along with their own original material. In 2003 a number of the remaining members banded together under the name The Dead and have picked up where they left off for their fans. While it might not be the same without Garcia, his message and his music lives on with the band he fronted for three decades.

Track Listing:
1. Hell In A Bucket
2. Iko Iko
3. Little Red Rooster
4. Ramble On Rose
5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
6. Loser
7. Let It Grow
8. Blow Away
9. Box Of Rain
10. Scarlet Begonias
11. Fire On The Mountain
12. Estimated Prophet
13. Standing On The Moon
14. Rhythm Devils
15. Space
16. The Other One
17. Wharf Rat
18. Turn On Your Lovelight
19. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Official Website: www.gratefuldead.com

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