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Music Review: The Grateful Dead – Crimson, White & Indigo: Philadelphia, July 7, 1989 (3 CD + DVD)

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Calling all Dead Heads! Grab your tie died tee shirts, your favorite beverage, and anything else that comes to mind because there is another live release from The Grateful Dead.

I read somewhere there are now seventy live shows officially for sale comprising about 250 discs. That of course is not counting the hundreds of concerts recorded by fans and exchanged and unofficially sold for years. The Dead always encouraged their fans to record their shows and so there are still an almost unlimited number out there.

While their studio albums sold well if not spectacularly, it was as a live band that they became legends. Their newest release is Crimson, White & Indigo: Philadelphia, July 7, 1989. It is a massive three CD plus DVD box set and presents the show in its entirety.

The band arrived at JFK Stadium riding a wave of new popularity. Their 1987 release, In The Dark, was their highest charting album in The United States reaching number six. It even produced a hit single, “Touch Of Grey.” They had become big business and would tour constantly playing to millions of fans, many of whom would follow them from show to show in a huge caravan.

The DVD is the star of the release. It presents every note from their three hour show. Technology was improving during the late eighties and the multiple camera angles capture the performance well. It is the sound, however, which puts this release over the top as the 5:1 surround sound is crisp, clear, and loud.

I consider this concert as coming at the end of the second classic Grateful Dead configuration. The group consisted of lead guitarist and vocalist Jerry Garcia, drummer Mickey Hart, drummer Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Phil Lesh, rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, and keyboardist Brent Mydland. After eleven years with the group Mydland would die close to a year after this concert. His soulful voice and ability to merge his instrument with Garcia’s would be missed. Garcia’s health would begin to deteriorate and six years later he would be gone as well.

The nineteen tracks contain a lot of familiar and some not so well known songs. “Blow Away” and “Standing On The Moon” were from their upcoming album. Two old blues tunes, “Iko Iko” and “Little Red Rooster” are given extended work outs. Such staples as “Wharf Rat,” “Hell In A Bucket,” “Ramble On Rose,” and the eternal “Turn On Your Lovelight” all presents the Dead at their classic best. When the last notes of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” faded away it marked the last song ever performed at JFK as it was slated for demolition.

Crimson, White & Indigo is a fine addition to the live Grateful Dead legacy. It captures one shining evening in the life of one of America’s greatest rock bands.

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