Saturday, March 26, 2011

History Of The Grateful Dead - The 1990s, Part One


The final decade of the Grateful Dead ended prematurely in 1995 with the death of Jerry Garcia, but still had many magical moments and lots of new songs.

The 1990s began with the death of keyboardist Brent Mydland and ended in 1995 with the death of Jerry Garcia. No new studio albums were released, though several live albums were.

New Material

The Grateful Dead released no new studio albums in the 1990s. But they did continue to write new material and introduce it to their live performances. They also chose to cover a lot of new songs during these last few years.

In 1990 the Grateful Dead first performed "The Weight," "The Valley Road" and "Stander On The Mountain," the last two being songs written by Bruce Hornsby. In 1991 the band first performed "Rubin And Cherise" (a song from Jerry Garcia's 1978 solo album, "Cats Under The Stars") and Paul McCartney's "That Would Be Something."

In the first two shows of 1992, they introduced four new songs: "So Many Roads," "Wave To The Wind," "Way To Go Home" and "Corinna." All of these were original Grateful Dead songs. That year also saw "Baba O'Riley," "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Rain" added to the set lists.

Then 1993 introduced "Lazy River Road," "Eternity" and "Liberty." Those three were all introduced on February 21st. Over the next two nights, the Dead introduced "The Days Between" and "Broken Arrow." "I Fought The Law," "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "Easy Answers" were also all played for the first time that year.

The following year saw the first performances of three new Grateful Dead tunes: "Samba In The Rain," "If The Shoe Fits" and "Childhood's End." The first was written by Robert Hunter and Vince Welnick. The other two were written by Phil Lesh, with the lyrics to "If The Shoe Fits" by Andrew Charles. The band also introduced "I Want To Tell You" (a Beatles song written by George Harrison) and "Matilda, Matilda" (a song written by Harry Belafonte).

The band's final year, 1995, brought the first performances of "Salt Lake City" (played only once - 2/21/95), "It's All Too Much," "Take Me To The River" (a song written by Al Green and Mabon Hodges), "Rollin' And Tumblin,'" and "Unbroken Chain." "Unbroken Chain" was a song the Grateful Dead included on their 1974 studio release, From The Mars Hotel, and yet had never performed in concert until March 19, 1995.

Reviving Old Material
The Grateful Dead also brought back a lot of old favorites that hadn't been played in years. For example in 1990, they played "Loose Lucy" and "Black-Throated Wind," both of which hadn't been played since 1974. That year they also played "Easy To Love You," which hadn't been played since 1980, and "Revolution" and "Werewolves Of London," neither of which had been played since 1985. They also played "The Last Time," which they hadn't done since 1965. The band was clearly trying to shake things up a bit.

In 1991, they played "New Speedway Boogie," which they hadn't played since 1970, and "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry," which they hadn't done since 1973. They also brought back "The Same Thing," which they hadn't played since 1971.

The band also mixed up where songs fit into the set lists. For example, in New Jersey in 1991, they opened a show with "Eyes Of The World," a song that hadn't been played in the first set since 1975. Later that year in Mountain View they played "Dark Star" in the first set, something they hadn't done since 1971.

In 1992, they also re-introduced "Casey Jones," a song they hadn't performed since 1984. At the end of that year, they resurrected "Here Comes Sunshine," a song they hadn't done since 1974.

The band also had some interesting guest musicians during the 1990s, such as Huey Lewis (8/21/93), Edie Brickell (9/20/93), Ornette Coleman (12/9/93), Branford Marsalis (12/10/93, 12/16/94) and Bob Dylan (10/17/94).

Live Albums

Several live albums were released during the 1990s, including Without A Net (1990), One From The Vault (1991), Two From The Vault (1992) and Hundred Year Hall (1995). Also, the 1990s saw the beginning of "Dick's Picks," a series of live concert recordings picked by Dick Latvala, the concert tape archivist. The first volume was released in 1993.

This is the first part of a two-part article. "History Of The Grateful Dead - the 1990s, Part Two" focuses on the final tour and the deaths of Brent Mydland, Bill Graham and Jerry Garcia.

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