Kenneth M. Gelwasser | Hollywood, Fl USA | 06/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's been awhile since the GD folks have had a new release of archival materials from their legendary tape vault (since moved?). Apparently this baby has been ready to go in the "...From the Vault" (multi-track recording) series for the last 15 years. Ahh, procrastination at it's best! But as R.Hunter once wrote, "all good things in all good time". Well, lets amend that. How about "all GREAT things in all good time"! Because, thats the feeling I got, when listening to this 1971 Capitol Theatre show (Port Chester, NY 2/19/71) now released as the two disc set, "Three From the Vault".
I'm sure there will be plenty of reviews, that recount better than I can, what a busy week Jerry & the boys were having in mid February '71. How they were premiering a truck load of new songs ("Loser", "Bertha", "Playing in the Band", "Warf Rat" "Greatest Story Ever Told", "Bird Song", "Deal"). How this particular show (2nd of a 6 night run) was the first without drummer, Mickey Hart, after an embarassing, embezzlement scandal, involving his father. How the GD used this particular gig's audience in a bon-i-fied, sci-en-ti-fic experiment (try saying it in Mr.Hainy's voice...) of the par-a-normal, thus giving it the nickname of "The ESP Show". But lets leave these details too Dennis McNally and the other historians in the crowd.
Whats really important is that this is really a gen-un-ine (try that Mr. Hainey voice again..) kick-a** show! You'll know it, when you hear it. Some GD archival releases, while interesting, tend to gather dust in your Dead music collection. Others keep finding their way again and again into the ol' CD tray, because they really have something special (think Dick's Picks 8). Well this is one of those releases. If there is any one recording, I would compare this show to, it would be the Dead's live 1971 "Skull & Roses" album. It not only shares the same material and time period, but it also seems to have the same boundless energy. But this is even better! While "Skull & Roses" had terrific performances ("It's been a favorite all these years!") it was mined from several performances ,while the "Three From the Vault" release feels much more unified, since it's all one complete show.
While many of the songs are in embryotic forms (and more tentative then what they would eventually become), they still are fun to listen to. I love this version of "Bird Song". It seems to have an almost light and spritely sound. Jerry's guitar is just wonderful on it. Other standouts include Bobby's folky "Dark Hollow", a rockin' "Greatest Story Ever Told" and Pigpen doing what only Pigpen can do on "Easy Wind". But for me the center piece of the show is "Thats It For the Other One". Maby Billy had something to prove that night, since he was taking over all the percussion duties. Who knows? But you can certainly hear him giving it his all in an artistically pleasing performance. This show's performances are hardly the most improvisational ones in the Dead's history, by a long shot, but they certainly are just plain terrific in their own way!
Finally, I want to mention how great "Three from the Vault" sounds. The guitars have an almost jangly Byrds-like sound and the vocals are crystal clear and out front in the recording. Kudos to all the folks involved in the mixing, mastering and engineering of this recording! It's like 'mother's milk'! A great show, that will find a lot of time in my CD player. Highly recommended!"
I know why this took 15 years to release.
Dark Star-The Other One | The Bus To Never Ever Land | 07/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There seems to be a little "mystery" about why this release took so long. Phil Lesh didn't like it and nixed it for release back in early 1993. Copies had already been made up and David Gans was even playing it on his show. Basically, what happened was, at the time, Phil didn't want to use any shows that had gone into already released albums and Dan Healy only wanted to use multi track tape so this show (from a run)which was recorded for Grateful Dead(aka Skull & Roses) but not used, was pulled out. This was the second night. The first night found the debut of 6 songs(Bertha, Greatest Story, Johnny B Goode, Wharf Rat, Loser and Playing In The Band) and was the last show for Mickey Hart(Ned Lagin also played Keyboards at that show). This was the first show with just Billy again since September 1967. This show also found 2 new songs(Bird Song and Deal) being pulled out as well as repeats of some of the new stuff from the night before. When it was brought out in Dupree's Diamond News that songs like Bird Song made it's first appearence here, Phil said "Yeah, but the problem was, it sounds like the first". Later in the year, the band asked Dick to start picking 2 track tapes for release and Healy was fired early the next year. As for the performance itself, I like it. The Truckin' blows away the so so version on Ladies And Gentleman. The Pig Pen songs are strong. Many(including Phil) have said that spring tour of 1971 might have been Pig's strongest period. Dark Hollow is always welcome and a nice That's It For The Other One. Yeah, I like it but then I liked it back in 1993 too!!!"
PHILIP S WOLF | SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA. USA | 09/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, the Much-Discussed: "Three From The Vault". Vetoed for release 15 years back, and said to be the Last of "The Vault Series". This was the 2nd of the Six, ESP Shows recorded at the Fine, Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. This was Billy's first night without Mickey Hart on the other Drum Kit. Eight (8) New Songs, were Debuted during the course of this Six Night run. This was all captured on Mutli-Track Tapes for the Upcoming Live Record (Skull & Roses), but in the End, nothing from this Port Chester Run was used on that Record.
Well any CD release that begins with the "Daffy Duck" Theme: "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" is O.K. with me! Add a small dose of Mendelssohn, and straight into "Truckin" and now you're talkin'."Loser" was debuted the Night before, but already has a Good Jam attached in there. And "Bertha" & "Cumberland Blues" are new as well, but already Crowd-Pleasers. A rare electric: "Dark Hollow" features some real nice Harmonies, with Jerry, Bobby & Phil, hittin' the notes, this is a treat! But with all that you gotta mention Pigpen, and he's having a Good Time with a Stellar: "Hurts Me Too" and One of the Best: "Smokestack Lightin", this Side of "Bear's Choice", Pig & Jerry get to Play "Tag" on this "Lightin". A fast, but short; "China Cat>Rider", closes the First Set.
The Second Disc (Set 2) has a chunky: "Greatest Story" as The Opener, the chords are a little different, but it's Cool, and Bob sings a Bunch here. "Johnny B. Goode" is as you know it, Excellant. Early Editions of "Birdsong" & "Deal" are tasty, and a First Ever: "Playin" already displays bits of the Jam, that would turn it into a Monster. "The Other One" is the center of this Set, and it's Complete (With drum solo from Billy). Pigpen get's the Spotlight again with; "Easy Wind" & "Good Lovin", and this version of "Good Lovin" is KILLER, Pigpen was still in Good health as of Feb 71, and he Pulls out All the Stops, here.
The Encore has gotta be, and is..."Casey Jones", and that's all Folks. This Five-Member Monster was called: "The Grateful Dead", and they were on their Way to Big Stuff, Real Soon. The GD Classic: "Skull & Roses", Live Double Lp, would be their Very First Gold Record, by the end of this Same year; (71). And it was the Begining of a New Era, and with these Great New Tunes, the popularity of this Band was about to Bust Outside of just San Francisco & New York City. Everything else, was now about to happen..."
(Actually, 3 and 1/2, or 3 and 3/4 stars)
R. N. ESPIŅEIRA | Malaver , Argentina | 07/25/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After many years of delay, "Three From The Vault" was finally released. Nice digipak design, nice booklet, nice front cover with emblematic "steal your face" logo. As always, outstanding sound quality (sometimes I wonder: did The Dead have the best sound engineers of those times???). Now, regarding what brings us here, the music, this is an obviously transitional Dead. This recording is, most of all, of historical interest, due to the fact that it was the very first concert after the departure of Mickey Hart and that many songs were premiered that night. Of course, these historical facts affect the group sound. First of all, Bill Kreutzmann had no trouble AT ALL with supporting the band alone. In fact, he started playing better than ever. Regarding the new songs, well, they are played generally in a rush, the lyrics are not always remembered (although it also happens with songs which were not new) and the band interaction does not flow freely as always. They generally sound instable, a little bit akward, but that is absolutely normal, of course. Anyone who has ever written a song knows it takes time to find the suitable vibe for each tune. When playing the "old ones" ("That's It For The Other One", "Smokestack Lightnin'", "China Cat Sunflower"), the Dead do it with the usual absolute authority. So, even though it does not seem to be a mind-blowing recording (as many other Dead releases), it is still extremely interesting to hear the band in the process of changing, learning and taking new risks. Far from anchoring in audience favorites, chances are taken and the future is set off. But, as we know, the Dead were always looking for something new, and once these songs were properly learnt, the group was already writing new ones with new challenges. Just a test to perceive of the ever-evolving nature of the band: compare the version of "Playing In The Band" in this release with that of "The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack". Once again, a delightful and interesting record."
Great CD, But I Wish The Tambourine Stayed Home
Roger Morgan | baal, california | 09/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've read about a hundred times from the liner-note historians how Mickey Hart had split the night before leaving Bill K. to do all the drumming, which sounds fantastic. But this might explain why there is a very annoying sound through some of the best songs of the first CD that sounds like a bag of change being tossed around in a tin pan. It exists somewhere in the bottom part of the right speaker and makes my nerves stand on end like the hair on a Halloween feline. It's one of those noises that at first makes you wonder if it's really exists or perhaps you're just ready for the nuthouse after all. Then I realized, it's an "instrument" (yes, those quotes are intentional and serve an overall purpose); one that is usually given to a non-member member of a band so they can do something while the rest of the gang is playing their real instruments. I am talking about a tambourine, and I have never hated one more than when listening to "Truckin'", "Cumberland Blues" and a few other tracks. It doesn't stop. It rattles and prattles and shakes and bakes and quakes and makes me want to break my speakers for heaven's sakes. I looked in the liner-notes and saw a picture of Pig Pen and, yes, he's the one playing the tambourine. I usually would find it hard to complain about such a blues genius as Pig Pen, and a guy who, if he were alive, would easily be able to beat me up and steal my lunch money. But I have to say, in this particular case I do wish Mr. Tambourine Man didn't play his song for me. Mind you, this is a great CD, very raw and very intense but oh man, that sound. Agh! Without it I'd rate this album four stars. With it, I have to give three. Still pretty good, don't ya think? But you know... now that I ponder it... perhaps it's the recording. The noise, as I've already written, exists in a separate bottom-right space of the speaker and doesn't seem as if it's part of the songs. Either way, it's grating, and I wish it were dead so I could enjoy this album even more."