Grateful Dead – Spring 1990 Grateful Dead – Spring 1990

From the weekly Pinpoint email logs:

Kaptain Carbon: You think our readers would be enthusiastic about a new 6 disc Grateful Dead boxset highlighting a historic run in the 90s? I think so

Charles: duh

It is ridiculous how much I enjoy the Grateful Dead. Before metal and indie, my world was populated by bootleg tapes and multi-disc concerts. I literally have no idea where to start in introducing a band who continues to build upon their legacy decades after the original entity has passed. The devotion surrounding this band has been the subject of much discussion and lore. Imagine my surprise when an 18 disc boxset was announced chronicling a 6 night concert run in the Spring of 1990.

The Grateful Dead would not be who they are today without their dedication to live shows and lax attitude regarding concert taping. Because of these two facts, a steady stream of live material is always being released and has been for decades. Rhino Records has released Dead material before with the very excellent, Rockin’ The Rhine — 1972 and the oddly picked but beautifully presented Crimson, White & Indigo album highlighting a 1989 show at JFK stadium. Spring 1990 is an undertaking as it presents a 6 concert series over 18 discs. The boxset also comes with dozens of reproductions, liner notes, and emphemra for the geekiest of collectors. In fact, if you were thinking of spending 368 dollars on a limited edition boxset, I would already count you as a fan.

Many people know the Grateful Dead for their work in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Anything outside of these parameters is usually patchy as well as immensely interesting. Just this year, I spent a considerable amount of time in the band’s early garage work during the mid 60’s. Spring 1990, on the other end, is a perfect way to bask in the underrated closing of the band’s career. The Spring 1990 series comes from the same era as the already released Nightfall of Diamonds, Dozin at the Knick, Terrapin Station (LE), and Without a Net. the show was also hand picked by the Grateful Dead’s archivist David Lemieux. Just like Lemiuex’s work on the radio show “Today in Grateful Dead History,” Spring 1990 presents the band at a historic turning point. For a short period in time, the Grateful Dead, despite their age, set the night on fire with a flame that had not been seen for quite some time.

Later Grateful Dead shows struggle with overall weakness. This is why Spring 1990 and other shows from this period are so impressive as multiple concerts showcased a youthful and structured energy which outshined any uncertainty. Aside from the Dead’s classic long jams during songs like “Truckin” and the extended Space/drum segments, the shorter first set songs are sometimes the most impressive. I have never heard the song “Picasso Moon” so much and loved it every single time. Additionally, songs which I personally despised — “Built to Last,” “West L.A. Fadeway,” “Hell in a Bucket” — reign in sound and comfortably sit in their deserved time. Spring 1990 showcases a band not resting on the laurels of the past but skillfully crafting another golden era.

Spring 1990 perfectly captures the sound of the Grateful Dead which had been born in the 1980’s. Garcia’s guitar tone was presented with more of a golden yet futuristic tone. Guitar jams blazed through the darkness and became almost synthesized and metallic. Spring 1990 was also the last run before keyboardist Brent Mydland’s overdose in July of 1990. Mydland set the sound of the Dead apart from earlier keyboardist Keith Godchaux in the 1970’s. Mydland’s gruff voice gave the songs a bluesy tone and his work in the space jams was, at times, extraterrestrial. Despite what was probably a horrible physical and mental atmosphere not only for Mydland but for the rest of the band, the shows were surprisingly and legendarily pristine.

I am sure during the course of this review people saw either the words “18 discs,” “368 dollars” or “Grateful Dead” and promptly turned off their computers with angry dismissal. For those interested in this concert series but have not the money to spend on the entire boxset, a sampler is available for a more modest price. Spring 1990: So Glad You Made It is a two-disc summary of highlights priced at a reasonable 14 dollars. Also Rhino Records is now streaming multiple segments of the boxset via their soundcloud. Also the Grateful Dead is very lax about their concerts being made free given the right amount of searching. I would urge people even not familiar with the Grateful Dead during their autumn years to give this a chance. It impressed me to no end and I already outed myself as a deadhead.

Tracklist for Grateful Dead – Spring 1990:

Show #1
Capital Center, Landover, Md (3/16/90)

Disc 1
1. Let The Good Times Roll> [4:11]
2. Touch Of Grey [6:28]
3. New Minglewood Blues [7:44]
4. Peggy-O [6:34]
5. Queen Jane Approximately [6:15]
6. Loser [7:22]
7. Black-Throated Wind [6:03]
8. Bird Song [14:23]
9. Blow Away [12:02]
Disc 2
1. Scarlet Begonias> [11:21]
2. Estimated Prophet> [11:04]
3. Ship Of Fools> [7:39]
4. Man Smart, Woman Smarter> [6:55]
5. Jam> [5:24]
6. Rhythm Devils [9:37]
Disc 3
1. Space> [10:42]
2. The Other One> [6:55]
3. Stella Blue> [8:49]
4. Sugar Magnolia [9:16]
5. The Last Time [5:19]

Show #2
Civic Center, Hartford, Ct (3/19/90)

Disc 1
1. Hell In A Bucket> [6:43]
2. Bertha [7:10]
3. We Can Run [7:05]
4. Jack-A-Roe [5:13]
5. Picasso Moon [7:41]
6. Brown-Eyed Women [5:59]
7. It’s All Over Now> [7:25]
8. Deal [8:41]
Disc 2
1. Box Of Rain [5:27]
2. Foolish Heart> [11:35]
3. Playing In The Band> [8:32]
4. Eyes Of The World> [14:41]
5. Rhythm Devils [10:26]
Disc 3
1. Space> [10:52]
2. China Doll> [6:13]
3. Gimme Some Lovin’> [4:31]
4. Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad> [6:55]
5. Around And Around [6:36]
6. Brokedown Palace [5:48]

Show #3
Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (3/22/90)

Disc 1
1. Feel Like A Stranger [8:12]
2. West L. A. Fadeaway [7:41]
3. Easy To Love You [6:14]
4. Beat It On Down The Line [3:34]
5. It Must Have Been The Roses [6:29]
6. The Last Time [5:40]
7. Picasso Moon [7:07]
8. Don’t Ease Me In [3:30]
Disc 2
1. Scarlet Begonias> [8:30]
2. Fire On The Mountain [11:44]
3. Samson And Delilah [6:51]
4. Believe It Or Not [6:32]
5. Truckin’> [11:04]
6. Rhythm Devils [11:36]
Disc 3
1. Space> [8:14]
2. The Other One> [6:42]
3. Hey Jude> [4:53]
4. Dear Mr. Fantasy> [3:58]
5. Hey Jude> [4:31]
6. Sugar Magnolia [8:45]
7. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue [7:10]

Show #4
Knickerbocker Arena, Albany Ny (3/26/90)

Disc 1
1. Hell In A Bucket [6:53]
2. Dupree’s Diamond Blues [6:08]
3. Just A Little Light [5:15]
4. Black-Throated Wind [6:32]
5. Big Railroad Blues [4:40]
6. Picasso Moon [7:17]
7. Row Jimmy [10:53]
8. Blow Away [11:31]
Disc 2
1. Built To Last [5:29]
2. Victim Or The Crime> [9:56]
3. China Cat Sunflower> [5:45]
4. I Know You Rider> [5:24]
5. Man Smart, Woman Smarter> [6:14]
6. Rhythm Devils [11:21]
Disc 3
1. Space> [8:29]
2. I Need A Miracle> [4:03]
3. Dear Mr. Fantasy> [5:20]
4. Gimme Some Lovin’> [5:09]
5. Morning Dew [11:57]
6. Brokedown Palace [5:37]
Bonus Tracks From 3/24/90 Albany
7. Let The Good Times Roll> [4:01]
8. Help On The Way> [4:05]
9. Slipknot!> [3:50]
10. Franklin’s Tower [8:04]
11. Loser [7:30]
12. Tennessee Jed [7:53]

Show #5
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Ny (3/30/90)

Disc 1
1. Help On The Way> [4:12]
2. Slipknot!> [5:49]
3. Franklin’s Tower [9:39]
4. Little Red Rooster [9:13]
5. Dire Wolf [3:28]
6. It’s All Over Now [7:18]
7. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues [6:12]
8. Picasso Moon [7:56]
9. Don’t Ease Me In [3:26]
Disc 2
1. Iko Iko [7:07]
2. Playing In The Band> [9:19]
3. China Doll> [5:41]
4. Uncle John’s Band> [8:16]
5. Terrapin Station> [12:59]
6. Rhythm Devils [9:48]
Disc 3
1. Space> [11:30]
2. I Need A Miracle> [4:02]
3. Gimme Some Lovin> [4:55]
4. Standing On The Moon> [8:56]
5. Not Fade Away [7:40]
6. Attics Of My Life [5:12]

Show #6
The Omni, Atlanta, Ga (4/2/90)

Disc 1
1. Feel Like A Stranger [8:44]
2. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo> [7:02]
3. The Weight [6:34]
4. Queen Jane Approximately [6:13]
5. Easy To Love You [5:37]
6. Brown-Eyed Women [5:46]
7. Let It Grow [12:21]
Disc 2
1. Foolish Heart> [9:20]
2. Looks Like Rain> [8:26]
3. He’s Gone> [8:59]
4. The Last Time> [5:43]
5. Rhythm Devils [10:42]
Disc 3
1. Space> [9:04]
2. The Other One> [6:24]
3. Death Don’t Have No Mercy> [7:37]
4. Around And Around> [3:41]
5. Good Lovin’ [7:12]
6. Black Muddy River [6:28]



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