Grateful Dead - Dozin' at the Knick

Grateful Dead
Dozin' at the Knick

Knickerbocker Arena - Albany, NY

[March 24-26, 1990]

First Appeared in The Music Box April 1997, Volume 4, #4

Written by John Metzger


Dozin' at the Knick is the latest installment in the Grateful Dead's Vault release project (not the Dick's Picks series). This round comes from a series of shows held on March 24-26, 1990 at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, New York. Interestingly enough, it's more a long overdue tribute to departed keyboardist Brent Mydland than anything else, and there still is a massive void of material featuring Vince Welnick.  Mydland's keyboard playing is outstanding on every single song on this disc, and there's quite a few of his own tunes thrown in as well.  The first disc is a composite of the opening sets of the three shows in the run, kicking things off with a fiery Hell in a Bucket and one of the better later versions of Dupree's Diamond Blues, which is sparked by Mydland.  Just a Little Light, the first of his own compositions to appear on the set, is next, and it's a keeper.  The middle portion of the song verges on opening into a totally spaced-out  Playin' in the Band-style jam, but never quite gets to its destination.  Of course, it wouldn't be a first set if a blues number didn't appear, and this disc serves up a kick-ass Walkin' BluesBob Weir's vocals are outstanding, Jerry Garcia's guitar sings, and Mydland performs in scat-style over his organ solo. Other highlights from the first disc include Mydland's own blues tune Never Trust a Woman which contains some tasty licks from Garcia; a well-paced Row Jimmy which features Garcia, Mydland, and Phil Lesh playfully riffing off one another; and a spicy Blow Away which rivals the monumental July 7, 1989, and October 26, 1989 performances.

The other two discs from Dozin' at the Knick are reserved for second set material. In fact, what is included is the entire second set and encore from the March 24th show as well as the back half of the second set from the March 25th show, and the final encore from the run.  Opening the second disc is a fully formed Playin' in the Band, on which the vocals merely act as a guide to get the Grateful Dead into a place from which to jam. Garcia's guitar takes on the familiar wah-wah quality as he leads the rest of the band into the unknown. Weir and Mydland are in total synchronization with their punctuating musical slices. At times, Lesh offers a dueling solo underneath Garcia's lead. The jam twists and turns, but before it can completely leave the framework of the song, a gloriously cheerful Uncle John's Band emerges to chase away the dark shadows of space. The concluding groove is abruptly curtailed, but this is more than made up for in the ensuing Lady with a Fan/Terrapin Station masterpiece. The vocals from Garcia are solid and inspired as the band creates a rolling, musical landscape. Terrapin falls into a gorgeous, melodic jam titled Mud Love Buddy, featuring Garcia and Mydland before the drummers take over for their raucous tribal ceremony.  Space hints at I Need a Miracle, but instead a potent pairing of The Wheel and All Along the Watchtower are delivered. However, the highlight of the first post-space segment is a beautiful rendition of Stella Blue. The passionate vocals and delicate guitar playing from Garcia paired with Mydland's tender piano chords make this version stand out. This one packs an emotional punch as great as any of the excellent ballads that Garcia performed in his later years.  Of the second post-space segment on Dozin' at the Knick, Mydland's lullaby I Will Take You Home is sweet and gently played, with Garcia providing a pretty midi-horn fill. A bluesy pairing of Black Peter and Around and Around close out the set with a bang. starstarstarstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright 1997 The Music Box