Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Review: Grateful Dead, Fillmore West 1969

Grateful Dead
Not much to say here, so I'll keep it brief: If you don't like the Dead already, this won't win you over (opt instead for American Beauty or Blues For Allah, the two studio albums most likely to be appreciated by casual listeners). If you do, though, this is pretty much indispensible. Actually, the serious fan already picked up the limited edition 10-cd box set from which the 3-cd Fillmore West 1969 package is culled. (Yes, I'm one of those people. Got my box this weekend.) These discs stem from the same 4-night run as the Dead's legendary 1969 Live/Dead album, the album which first broke the Dead for a (relatively) larger audience. And, as the band played a (for them) fairly consistent set of shows during that run (as they were recording them for the planned live album and anticipated using the best version of each song), the 10-cd box is highly redundant, something which is eliminated by this 3-cd highlights package. And apparently this does not duplicate any of the versions used on Live/Dead, so it really makes the perfect companion to that package. I personally find the pre-70s live material to be their best (with '74 and '77 close behind) -- they were still stretching, the music was trippy and unique, and their hearts were really in it. And the sound quality? It's like having them playing in your living room. So if you weren't one of the foolish 10,000 fans who shelled out megabucks for the box, there's no excuse not to pick this up.


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