Grateful Dead

Dick's Picks Vol. 27: Live at Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA

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This 27th installment in the Dick's Picks series is primarily derived from the Grateful Dead's December 16, 1992 performance at the Oakland Coliseum Arena -- with bonus material consisting of a quartet of tunes taken from the following evening's show at the same venue. It is also the first volume to feature the Grateful Dead's final line-up with former Tubes keyboardist Vince Welnick, who joined the band following the demise of Brent Mydland in 1990. Initially, Welnick was paired with Bruce Hornsby, who can be heard on the respective 9th and 17th releases in the catalogue. However, by mid-1992 Hornsby had all but returned to his solo gig, although he would occasionally sit in as a guest on grand piano and accordion. Owing to health-related issues surrounding Jerry Garcia (guitar/vocals), the Dead declined to tour during the late summer and fall of that year, ultimately returning to the concert stage in early December. The brief respite did the band a world of good as demonstrated by the generally motivated performance. Their set lists likewise show signs of invigoration with the incorporation of several notable covers. These range from the Bob Weir (guitar/vocals) led reading of Willie Dixon's bluesy "Same Thing," to the double-shot medley of the Who's "Baba O' Riley" which seamlessly winds into a profound rendering of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" -- both of which are prime vehicles for Welnick's criminally underrated vocals. Although the '90s contained what by all accounts could be considered spotty (at best) performances, the Dead mix an insightful musical maturity with copious measures of spirited instrumental interaction. This dichotomy produces a wistful "Row Jimmy" and plaintive "Ship Of Fools" as well as one of the more rambunctious and profound "Not Fade Away"'s to have come from the band during their final years. Worthy of note is the abbreviated "Dark Star" which contains the second verse only and concludes a version which began four nights earlier.

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