Grateful Dead

Dick's Picks, Vol. 17: Boston Garden 9/25/91

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The 17th entry in the Grateful Dead's Dick's Picks series of archival concert recordings comes from the latest point in their career yet chronicled. It marks the first release of a Dead concert from 1991 and is only the second album (the first was Dick's Picks, Vol. 9) to represent the period following the death of keyboard player Brent Mydland, when Vince Welnick replaced him and Bruce Hornsby frequently sat in with the group. Vol. 17, containing the complete show from the Boston Garden on September 25, 1991, plus the first half-hour of the second set from Greensboro, NC, on March 31, 1991, finds the Dead having integrated their two keyboard players more fully into their arrangements. In fact, the interplay between Welnick's organ and synthesizer and Hornsby's pianos, and their effect on the Dead's sound, are the headline stories of this release. This is especially true because of Welnick's interesting use of synthesized sounds, and because the slick, showy Hornsby keeps up his own musical commentary on piano (one that may not be to the taste of all Deadheads). It's more a representative concert than an outstanding one, but nevertheless, it can boast a few excellent performances and a couple of firsts -- the premiere Dead performance of Paul McCartney's "That Would Be Something," and the first time Bob Dylan's "The Mighty Quinn" has appeared on a Grateful Dead album. All of this is the work of a band that has learned to mesh its various elements without losing that improvisatory, thrown-together feel that could see miraculous when it came off. Here, it comes off much of the time, even if this isn't one of the band's really great shows.

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