This is the second installment of the Grateful Dead's multimedia View From the Vault series, which highlights two R.F.K. Stadium appearances from the early '90s. The main performance features both sets from June 14, 1991; the filler or bonus material is from July 12, 1990, and features a slightly different incarnation of the band. After the untimely passing of the Dead's keyboardist, Brent Mydland, in late July of 1990, the band called upon former Tubes member Vince Welnick as Mydland's replacement. Likewise, Bruce Hornsby (grand piano and accordion) was added as a semi-permanent bandmember as schedules permitted. Both performances are replete with better-than-average versions of well-worn classics such as "Cold Rain and Snow" and Johnny Cash's "Big River." The latter is also notable for its adept coupling to a smoldering rendition of Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm." The Dead's unique arrangement features a verse from all five Dead vocalists. The second set, commencing on disc two, is where the performance becomes truly inspirational, leading off with a stirring reading of the "Help on the Way," "Slipknot!," "Franklin's Tower" suite. Specifically, the engaging instrumental midsection "Slipknot!" issues rush after rush of flawless execution from lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. In turn, this pushes the rest of the band into creating symbiotic musical bliss for both performer and audience alike. The remainder of the 1991 show features additional highlights, such as a heartfelt "Dark Star" and their second Dylan cover for the evening -- "It's All Over Now Baby Blue." The bonus material features a few gems from the Dead's final studio album, Built to Last. The "Dark Star" that concludes View From the Vault II is the preferential version. It rises organically from the sonic ashes of "Foolish Heart" instead of sounding like a forced afterthought.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer