Grateful Dead

Truckin' Up to Buffalo: July 4, 1989 [Video]

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The Grateful Dead have traditionally been considered more of an aural phenomenon than a visual one. As they graduated from the intimacy of the oversized Bay Area auditoriums to hockey rinks and eventually football stadiums, their live presentations ultimately developed a life all their own. The 2005 DVD release Truckin' Up to Buffalo contains the complete July 4, 1989, gig at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. Present and accounted for is the late-'80s incarnation with Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Brent Mydland, and Bob Weir for the second date on their summer of 1989 East Coast jaunt. This was the same outing that yielded the 1997 Downhill from Here video, and both were filmed under the direction of Len Dell'amico, who had previously collaborated on the 1980 Dead Ahead and 1987 So Far projects. The late '80s became an unabashed and perhaps unexpected renaissance for the Grateful Dead. They were riding a wave of unprecedented popularity thanks to the commercial success of their most recent long-player, 1987's In the Dark, and the single "Touch of Grey." One of the highlights of this program is a rousing performance of the song. It kicks off the second set in a commanding medley that also includes a remake of the venerable calypso number "Man Smart, Woman Smarter." Similarly, the blistering combo of "Bertha" and "Greatest Story Ever Told" reveals Garcia to be in good spirits, while providing ample leadership via his inspired string work and strong vocals. Nowhere is this as evident as on the driving reading of longtime Deadhead favorite "Deal." Of similar strength are the first set's "Cold Rain and Snow," "Row Jimmy," and a freewheelin' cover of Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece." Practically the whole of the second set is strong, the exceptions being a ragtag "Ship of Fools" and "Morning Dew," which suffer lyric lapses from Garcia. However, those anomalies are more than made up for by the "Terrapin Station" suite, Mydland's tender lullaby "I Will Take You Home," and the suitably patriotic "U.S. Blues" encore. Audiophiles will revel in Jeffrey Norman's lifelike 5.1 Surround mix, which is matched by a flawless visual image that looks twice as nice on a properly tweaked high definition video monitor or television.

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