Grateful Dead

Dick's Picks Vol. 21: Live at Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA

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The Grateful Dead's 1985 East Coast fall tour produced a few shows that remain as key entries in their three-decade touring canon. Dick's Picks, Vol. 21 contains one such performance. Documented at the Richmond Coliseum on November 1, 1985, this show remains a favorite from the mid-'80s among Deadheads in the know. In addition, these three discs also include well over half an hour of material from the Community War Memorial in Rochester, NY, on September 2, 1980. Why just this fragment? According to vault keeper David Lemieux, "All we had in the vault of that show is what we are releasing here." One of the main reasons this performance ranks so highly is an above-average song selection. For instance, "Stagger Lee," "Comes a Time," and a cover of Dylan's "She Belongs to Me" are all 1985 revivals. While some material stayed out of the rotation longer than others, the influx and overall diversion from routine make more common fodder -- such as "Me and My Uncle," "Big River," or "Jack Straw" -- considerably more palatable. There are also some unpredictable moments. The most notable occurs during the second set as "Lost Sailor" and "Saint of Circumstance" -- which are usually played together -- are done separately. This show happens to be the sole occurrence in which both songs are performed, but not sequentially. An unusually animated Bob Weir demonstrates his attributes and support to the aural athletics taking place during a rare cover of "Gloria." The nearly 40 minutes of music from September 2, 1980, was added because it contains some amazing music, and because there was a significant amount of time available on the third disc after the "feature presentation." The brilliant and economical idea to incorporate these otherwise useless fragments of music is solved -- proving once again that necessity can still be the mother of invention.

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