Truckin' Up to Buffalo
Rich Stadium - Orchard Park, NY
[July 4, 1989]
(Rhino - Monterey)
The Music Box's #7 specialty package for 2005
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2005, Volume 12, #8
Written by John Metzger
Letís face facts: By 1989, the Grateful Deadís second, third, and fourth winds long ago had become distant memories. Nevertheless, the legendary ensemble possessed more lives than a cat, and against all odds, its latest comeback ó the beginning of which is documented quite beautifully on the companion DVD and CD packages Truckiní Up to Buffalo ó was merely the most recent of its countless reincarnations. Clean, sober, armed with new technology, and propelled by the confidence that only a hit single could bring, the collective began to assemble what would become its most consistent string of concerts in nearly a decade. Indeed, although Buffaloís Rich Stadium was only the second stop of its summer sojourn, the band proved to a new legion of fans what many old-timers already knew: Thereís nothing like a Grateful Dead concert.
Granted, the unbridled energy of the Grateful Deadís late-í60s performances and the adventurous freewheeling jams of the its early-í70s excursions remained a thing of the past. Yet, instead of transforming itself into an nostalgia act, the groupís resilience allowed it to mutate into a tight-knit, rock ínĎ roll outfit that effortlessly could tap into its history as a means of creating something magically transcendent for the present. Witness the manner in which the collective telepathically plunged from the soulful strains of Ship of Fools into the swirling, psychedelic interlude of Playing in the Band; the ease with which bass player Phil Lesh, keyboardist Brent Mydland, and guitarist Jerry Garcia played volleyball with a riff during an inspired reading of Row Jimmy; the ferocity with which the group powered its way through Deal and All Along the Watchtower; or the precision of the vocal interplay among Mydland, Garcia, and Bob Weir that concluded a rousing rendition of Norman Spanís feminist folk tune Man Smart (Woman Smarter). Elsewhere, the ensemble conjured natureís thunderous awe during Looks Like Rain, breezed through an absolutely joyous Touch of Grey, unleashed a stunningly overpowering Morning Dew, and passionately delivered its epic tale Terrapin Station.
Without question, the music performed by the Grateful Dead during this Independence Day celebration holds up remarkably well on album, but even the more casual fan will find its incarnation as a DVD to be a worthwhile endeavor. Much like Downhill from Here, which captured the conclusion of the Grateful Deadís escapades in July 1989, Truckiní Up to Buffalo boasts unadulterated video footage as well as the crisp clarity of a multi-track recording. In fact, save for a few kaleidoscopic effects during the Drums and Space segments, the emphasis of the visuals is entirely upon the interactions among the musicians. Garcia, in particular, was unusually animated, and he raised his arm triumphantly as he sang Touch of Greyís key line ("We will survive!"); danced, however briefly, during Man Smart (Woman Smarter); made a heartfelt attempt to lift Mydlandís spirits during a playful Not Fade Away; and flashed an encouraging smile at his collaborators on more than just a few occasions throughout the film. In other words, Truckiní Up to Buffalo not only provides an intimate glimpse at a group whose popularity suddenly had exploded, but it also serves as a loving portrait of the latter days of the Grateful Dead and its fallen leader. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
Truckin' Up to Buffalo is available on DVD from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
Truckin' Up to Buffalo is available on CD from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box