Download Series 5
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Dylan and the Dead
View From The Vault IV
Download Series 5
Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 2
Dozin' at the Knick
Download Series 9
Truckin' Up To Buffalo
Crimson White & Indigo
Formerly The Warlocks Box
Nightfall of Diamonds
Without a Net
Terrapin Limited
Wake Up To Find Out 03/29/90
Spring 1990: So Glad You Made It
Spring 1990: Box Set
Spring 1990: The Other One
View From The Vault III
View From The Vault I
Grateful Dead Download Series 5 review

Set Lists



Download Series Volume 5 Download Series Volume 5 - Grateful Dead
Hampton Coliseum   
Hampton, VA 
030105GratefulDead iTunes downloads

Grateful Dead Download Series 5 review

Download Series 5

3-27-88 Hampton VA (Digital Download)

Listening to this show is sort of an object lesson in what it takes to *not quite* be a DICKS PICK: in the first song, the mix changes, and the great audience quotient disappears when the source morphs from a Matrix mix to a straight soundboard. For the DP series, this would be too many marks against release. None of this matters to the music, of course; this is a highly charged show, and a solid reminder of that -- regardless of your preferred era -- it could always be a joyful experience to go to a Dead show. Yes, it would be nice if the Matrix mix held thru the whole show; yes, they seem to be rushing after the drum / space break. But why cry over milk that is yet unspilt?

"Iko" gets the party rolling; "Rooster" throbs and soars. Brent once again proves himself the best blues organist the band ever had. "Stagger Lee" is third, and this show fades to soundboard sterility; the drums especially seem more highly mixed. Brent throws some back to Jerry during the "Stagger" outro jam, short as it is. "Thin Man" follows, and features all the enthusiasm we'd wanted in the Dead & Dylan shows; the band BURNS IT -- exactly what a song like this needs. While Bobby sometimes seems to be channeling The Bob himself, he's clearly comfortable with it on his own terms, and Healy only improves this with a bit of slapback echo. A true gem.

Jerry then dials up "Cumberland" without pause, and the band falls in behind him; we won't hear silence again until the set break. Now, you guitarists out there will know that "Cumberland" isn't exactly an easy picker, and Jerry seems to have taken on rather more than he was ready for. Still, he finds ways to acquit himself for taste if not speed. Brent, on the other hand, shows himself ready from the first break. Good going, Brent! Bobby gives us the "Uncle" inevitable, and Jerry seems to be getting his fingers warmed up. Phil evidently appreciates this, and throws in a bit of walking bass. Nailing the final chord, Jerry strums up "To Lay Me Down" to follow. With nice touches of both synth and piano, Brent makes this a pleasure; despite Bobby's view, Mickey and Bill seem quite competent playing a ballad. The whole band scores another notable track.

Quick as a wink, the sly brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, and Bobby strums up "Let it Grow" in turn. This is especially rewarding on headphones, as it is more than clear which drummer is dong what, and the ongoing dialog between them is absorbing just in itself. In general, Mickey seems to be lord of the cymbals and snare, with Billy kicking in more skins, but you'll have to decide for yourself.

Set two fades in with random music and distant comments; again, the clarity is wonderful. "Space" really is the best name for this two-minute segment, until Jerry takes a suddenly introduces the "So What" theme. Now, that's improvisation! The resulting performance lasts only a minute; the band really isn't prepared to undertake a solid exploration of Miles Davis. The ensuing disintegration allows Bobby to start the set properly with "Sugar Magnolia" as wide-smilin' as ever; special mention must be made of Brent's piano, prominently mixed as it is.

Next is a "Scarlet" transition they would undertake only three more times (thanks, DEADBASE!). "Scarlet" is nicely played, and the jam that follows probably sounds cataclysmic on Audience recordings. Here, the nakedness of the soundboard reveals plenty of interplay. Something about the mix seems to hold back some of the energy (like the fact that we don't hear the audience?), but that's not to call it a full serving. As usual, "Fire on the Mountain" follows on its tail; ten minutes apiece for both "Scarlet" and "Fire" and not a moment wasted anywhere. Oh sure -- it ends faster than you'd like, but notice how beautifully they wind down from Jerry's last solo -- Brent copying Jerry's descending line (in harmony, no less!), the whole band braking down to a near-whisper, gently tapping out the final notes. If the band had become more efficient, we couldn't say they weren't still dishing up the goods; a little less keyboards & drums, and a little more Phil & Jerry, and old-guard fans might have to put it up beside some their favorite 1977s.

Of course, that's not all: like the begrudgingly appreciated middle disc of DICKS PICK #6, this show features not just "Scarlet > Fire" but "Estimated > Eyes" as well. Whoo! A little faster than on DP #6, so they don't last quite as long, but there's still plenty to like. Too bad there isn't video for this one; Bobby seems to be enjoying himself above & beyond the usual. Again, as the song proper stretches toward the jam, Brent alternately echoes Jerry's lines in harmony or replies to them. While the jam seems like it could go on indefinitely, Jerry makes the move to "Eyes" -- twice, actually -- and the band moves accordingly, despite the often-spoken dictum about there being no leader. As "Eyes" go, this one works, evoking the usual images, and being neither notably slow nor too fast. Not a Top Ten performance perhaps, but a nice one all the same, and a perfectly good way to chew up eight more minutes before going to the Drums.

This seems a good time to mention the electronic drums, which had been prominent throughout. I admit that, as a rule, it isn't the keyboards and drums I want forefront in my mixes. Here, though, it hasn't been so bad as to interfere with overall enjoyment (or I would have said so!). Electronic drums would prove to be a signature of their 1988 sound -- I especially enjoy the '88 Greek run (July 15 - 17), and the electronic drum sounds are part of what make it so distinctive. Here, we hear less than we might have; the drums fade out after only a couple minutes, and fade back for natural skins -- but we definitely get a few bonks before they go. A good blend, really, and not at all dull.

Mickey gets in some Beam noise, which (for me) always evokes memories of hearing it in person; I'm afraid few stereos can reproduce it properly, and even then the tape source probably loses a lot. The only thing close, maybe, would be a serious earthquake -- the October 1989 Loma Prieta comes to mind -- or possibly a train rolling by.

Sadly, this doesn't get its own track; it's just a late segment of the Drums; as if any drums normally sounded anything like that. A few minutes of otherworldly humming, finally joined by El Garcia in some strange transmutation we accept as being some form of guitar. As with the Beam, this is all best heard on headphones, where the extreme stereo separation could keep you very busy if you were in a special state of mind, which by now you certainly should be :-) "Space" is not what we generally look forward to in a show, but it's a high point here: as yet, there is no hurry, no sense of time or when the show might end. almost anything is yet possible, and Jerry and Bob set out to investigate the parameters. Some sounds remind me of Star Trek's whale adventure; some remind of video games not invented.

Oh, you say, perhaps that is only something from my own state of mind? Perhaps; it only lasts a few minutes of clock time, even if lasts an eternity of emotional time. Bobby strums up something that sounds like it might be ... um, something? Hard to say with Bobby. Fortunately, he shows little doubt, and Jerry has no trouble following. Soon Phil does likewise, though it is no song I could pin a name on. I have the feeling he does a lot of this, only sometimes actually turning the results into a song with a name.

Jerry, on the other hand, knows too many songs not to turn anything into one, and he does: "Going Down the Road", which soon has the whole band in his wake. Brent throws on some Hammond organ, and sounds very glad to sing the harmonies, which Jerry evidently appreciates. Only a minute into the song, and it sounds fraught with all the possibilities of every performance they've ever given it; it would be a shame not to explode, and yet too cheap to simply do so. "Let it ride", they seem to decide, and we are kept on seat's edge. Another verse, and each note is clean and perfect, as if rehearsed -- bluegrass-banjo rules dictate no extraneous notes, and that's how Jerome Garcia's musical mind was smelted and shaped. A third verse and chorus, and Brent throws in the extra line, to all-too-faintly-heard audience delight. Jerry opts for the "Goodnight" chorus, still saving what was built, and they skew toward "Miracle" -- saving the snap for later, and keeping Brent on the Hammond, though dimly heard. Ah, for a perfect mix!

Bobby outs his lungs into "Miracle", although he already shows a penchant for letting the audience song the chorus. The lyric concluded, Jerry quickly steers toward what was then a new transition: "Dear Mr Fantasy". So THIS is what they had up their sleeve the whole set -- that's why Jerry moved to conclude each song so quickly! Brent appreciates the spotlight, and wails both vocally and on the Hammond B-3 (though mixed rather low). Jerry shows himself fully engaged on his solo, as devoted to a passionate exploration as Brent is on the Hammond; the two, in combination, approach Stevie Ray Vaughan and double Trouble in their intensity.

"What!" you exclaim. "Really?" Unfortunately, you'll have to listen carefully to get the same experience, as the organ is buried in the mix. No doubt, though, to those present, the comparison would have been easy. Such is the price of listening to rough-mixed soundboards!

Bobby takes the conclusion right back to "Sunshine Daydream", concluding that which began the set, "Closing of Winterland" style. I confess that it had my foot tapping, despite various disagreements (on where to end) and mix problems (the piano is just too high). Geez, what did you want, anyway? It's the Dead, fer chrissakes -- and late 80s Dead, at that; they gave all they had to give, and they gave it the best they could. On this night, that was pretty darn good, despite a few technical anomalies that no DP would have. Dance your way to the parking lot during "US Blues" (where Jerry even laughs at his own lyrical blunder), and you just might say I'm right.
Review by Ramble On Joe
Grade A -

* please note that due to technical issues on the master soundboard digital tapes, the first two songs of Download Series Vol. 5 are from the "Ultra-Matrix" soundboard/audience tape hybrid. The rest of the concert, however, is from the soundboard master.

Grateful Dead Download Series 4 review
Track List

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Disc One
1 Iko Iko 5:06
2 Little Red Rooster 8:33
3 Stagger Lee 5:33
4 Ballad Of A Thin Man > 7:05
5 Cumberland Blues > 5:02
6 Me and My Uncle > 3:11
7 To Lay Me Down > 8:03
8 Let It Grow 11:22

Disc 2

1 Space > 2:19
2 So What > 0:57
3 Sugar Magnolia > 5:13
4 Scarlet Begonias > 10:55
5 Fire On The Mountain 10:40
6 Estimated Prophet > 10:30
7 Eyes Of The World > 8:31
8 Rhythm Devils 7:33

Disc 3
1 Space > 7:32
2 Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad > 5:52
3 I Need A Miracle > 3:20
4 Dear Mr. Fantasy > 4:54
5 Sunshine Daydream 4:46
6 U.S. Blues 5:43

Grateful Dead Download Series 4 review

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Grateful Dead
Jerry Garcia-Lead Guitar, Vocals
Mickey Hart-Drums
Bill Kreutzmann-Drums
Phil Lesh-Electric Bass, Vocals
Brent Mydland-Keyboards, Vocals
Bob Weir-Rhythm Guitar, Vocals

Grateful Dead Download Series 4 review

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Released - Sept. 6, 2005
Grateful Dead Download Series

From the Grateful Dead website
From the Spring Tour of 1988, Download Series Vol. 5 is a 3 disc performance featuring in its entirety, the middle night of a 3-night run at the famed Hampton Coliseum in Virginia.

Every year in the Grateful Dead's touring history contained shows that were justifiably considered to be the best of the year. Cornell comes to mind for 1977, Harpur or 2/13 at the Fillmore East in 1970, Augusta, ME, in 1984, and for 1988, the show most widely remembered as the best of the year is the middle night in Hampton, VA, on the Spring Tour: March 27, 1988. Those who were present agree that there was magic in the air that night. We are pleased to announce that Grateful Dead Download Series Vol. 5 is this incredibly dynamic concert, in its entirety. For those who have heard the "Ultra-Matrix" tape of this concert, Download Vol. 5 will be a revelation: an impeccably clean, crispy pure soundboard recording, which reveals every nuance of this amazing concert.*

Highlights are many, with some rarities mixed in the fold on this special night alongside stellar versions of several Grateful Dead classics. Early in the first set, we are treated to the first and one of only two performances of Bob Dylan's "Ballad Of A Thin Man," followed by the country one-two punch of "Cumberland Blues" and "Me and My Uncle." Next up is the return to the rotation of "To Lay Me Down," its first appearance in almost five years, although you wouldn't know it by this performance. The second set features the most powerful version of the trio of "Sugar Magnolia>Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain" since the Closing Of Winterland, preceded by the only version ever played of Miles Davis' "So What." Later, the second set includes terrific renditions of "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy," all capped by the expected "Sunshine Daydream." Finally, 1988 is represented with an official release, and what a show it is!

Grateful Dead Download Series 2 review
Dylan and the Dead ] View From The Vault IV ] [ Download Series 5 ] Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 2 ] Dozin' at the Knick ] Download Series 9 ] Truckin' Up To Buffalo ] Crimson White & Indigo ] Formerly The Warlocks Box ] Nightfall of Diamonds ] Without a Net ] Terrapin Limited ] Wake Up To Find Out 03/29/90 ] Spring 1990: So Glad You Made It ] Spring 1990: Box Set ] Spring 1990: The Other One ] View From The Vault III ] View From The Vault I ]
Grateful Dead Download Series 2 review