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Grateful Dead - Truckin' Up To Buffalo
Review By Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

This is a recent Rhino release from the Grateful Dead vault which is enormous. The two discs cover a whole show at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, New York on 7/4/89. 

The Dead's music covers every form of American music, blues, rock, fusion, some country, and has touched people of every culture. For thirty years, from 1965 to 1995, the Dead were on and off America's band, though not a huge radio success, their strength was their live shows. Rhino has dug back into the vault and remixed and remastered some of the classic Dead CD's, in this case it's the first release for this show, though there were probably tapes or CD's floating around as the Dead encouraged tapers. 

"There is Nothing like A Grateful Dead Concert" is true, as I saw the Dead at their peak in the seventies. I saw the famous "Wall Of Sound". Their best material is from that era. Europe 72 is probably their definitive live record as also The Grateful Dead which proceeded that and also Live Dead. These three were all Warner Brothers material.

Though this show is tighter and they sound a bit more professional, it lacks the intensity of a 72-77 show though Jerry has added more skill to his stellar guitar work. His vocals sound good here and he is remembering all of the lyrics. This is a high energy show for the eighties.

As always, they start out slow on the first set, starting with "Bertha", as they had done so many times before, basically a country rocker. Rarely performed "Row Jimmy" is done with much emotion and not a note or word is missed. The vocals of Mydland, Weir and Garcia are great. Some great rhythm groove is settled in as the ten minute version is awesome.

Weir's version of Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece" is incredible, with Garcia singing the high harmony and just playing some incredible lead guitar. Mydland plays some great piano too.

Weir's vocals are clear and emotive on his "Looks Like Rain", which misses Donna Godchaux on harmony. Lesh is brilliant on bass, playing all over the place. Garcia uses some distortion as he chugs out the lead here with emotive genius. On this day it is really starting to rain and you can hear the thunder in the background, great interaction with Garcia and Mydland. As always Kreutzman and Hart keep the rhythm with their twin drums. On "Deal", (a very country take), the band gets into a groove playing like extensions of each other. Garcia rocks this song out harder than he would have in the seventies.

They start the second set with their only big hit "Touch Of Gray", "I will get by; I will survive". A rare performance of "Ship Of Fools", a slow melodic piece with some great harmonies. Some great piano trills here and there, Mydland is a great keyboard player, Garcia plays his best lead yet with plenty of sustain and Weir playing some wah lead with him. Garcia is really into his vocals ,enunciating every word. Garcia's use of guitar effects has grown even more over the years with his "Tiger" guitar (An Irwin Custom), midi wired, so he can make any sound he wants. Weir also is using a midi wired guitar. "Terrapin Station" is inspired, Garcia's vocals animated.

This recording is more slick sounding than the 70's Dead with more reverb and effects galore. Mydland dominates tracks where Jerry had always been the focus before. Even though this is a sixteen track recording, I have heard 70's Dick's Picks (all 2 track recordings) sound better, though this is great.

Garcia makes his guitar sound like a horn on "I will Take You Home". The Dead exhibit full blown energy on this three hour show, a very inspired performance. An old friend "Morning Dew" surfaces at the end sounding very much like the Europe 72' version, Garcia is incredible here. 

Can't say enough about Rhino and Airshow mastering, a real masterpiece. A good place to start with the Dead if you are not familiar


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