Dick's Picks, Volume 27
Oakland Coliseum Arena
[December 16-17, 1992]
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2003, Volume 10, #4
Written by John Metzger
The 1990s was a rather rough period for the Grateful Dead. Thatís not to say that during this time frame the band didnít deliver some truly amazing concerts. These events just didnít occur anywhere as frequently as they did in the late í60s and early í70s. The í90s featured some absolutely abysmal shows too, which tarnished the groupís image in the minds of some fans and critics. But more often than not, the bandís performances were somewhere in between. For certain, the Grateful Dead had become a bit more restrained, having fallen into some very regular and predictable routines. Frustrating as this was to some, it also helped to temper the ups and downs of the groupís concerts, turning them into largely solid affairs that featured both flashes of astounding brilliance as well as moments with blown lyrics and bum notes.
One such event is the subject of the latest Dickís Picks ó the 27th volume in this esteemed series ó which includes the Grateful Deadís entire performance from December 16, 1992 in Oakland, California as well as material from the following evening. As such, it faithfully follows this pattern of ups and downs, while merrily rolling along its set of 16 songs, 4 bonus tracks, and a dizzying drums and space segment. Its weaknesses are mostly contained on the collectionís second disc, starting with an enigmatic Shakedown Street. Throughout this particular rendition, the band seemed to fall in and out of synch, finding an intriguing groove and then losing it, while contributing some pretty drab vocals. Samson & Delilah attempted to pick up the pace and rebuild the momentum, but ultimately it came up short, while the subsequent Ship of Fools fell frustratingly flat.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of sweet as well as powerful moments contained on Dickís Picks 27. Indeed, the first set was terrific, featuring the slow-burn urgency of The Same Thing, a delicately delectable Row Jimmy, a raucous Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, and the earthy glow of Let It Grow. The second set featured some stirring performances too. Although Playiní in the Band took a little while to get going, once it did, it hinted at the space-filled improvisation to come. The second verse of Dark Star, featured after the drums and space segment, may have been a shadow of its former self, but it still managed to pack quite a few musical ideas into its nebulous refrain. Likewise, Stella Blue was absolutely gorgeous, marred only by an abruptly truncated conclusion, while All along the Watchtower and the Pigpen-tribute Good Loviní raged intensely (as did the Not Fade Away filler found on disc three). Also added as bonus material is a solid, fun-filled pairing of The Who's Baba OíRiley and The Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows.
Make no mistake, Dickís Picks 27 does not feature the finest music that the Grateful Dead had to offer over the course of its career. So, for newcomers, this isnít the ideal place to start. That said, this collection does give some much needed attention to the Vince Welnick-era of the band, while providing numerous highlights from the groupís final years, which ought to be enough to feed the jones of the bandís avid fans. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
Dick's Picks, Volume 27 is available from iTunes.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box