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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dead at its most intense,
This review is from: Dicks Picks Vol 4 (Audio CD)Although not as learned in Dead-science as many of my fellow American Deadheads, the Dead has been my favourite band for more than a decade. Nevertheless, I'm not very easily satisfied when it comes to music, and sometimes even the Dead must be judged harshly. Experience has taught me to buy anything the Dead produced before 1971 - I just love the early years. After '71, it got more mellow and less fierce and energetic, and although they've written a great many nice songs since (like those on "Blues for Allah", or songs like "Althea") the music doesn't have that primal urgency and psychedelic zest that I like so much.
Dick's Picks Vol.4 shows them in what could possibly be the best shape they've ever been. All 3 cd's are just great, and if I had to pick one Dead album to take with me to a desert island I'd pick this one (along with the complete 1969 Fillmore West recordings).
The "acoustic" songs on disc 1 are great, while disc 2 features a splendid version of "The other one" and a "Lovelight" that might have ended sooner. Disc 3 has no flaw whatsoever - great dynamics and inspired playing throughout, and the song choice is wonderful (I've always loved any song off the "Anthem" album). And if that wasn't enough, we're presented (on disc 1) with a "Dark Star" that most definitely sits among the greatest versions of that classic song: it has a personality quite different from the classic "Live Dead" version, but it offers more of the darkness and deconstruction that the lyrics imply. Magical stuff, indeed.
There are so many recordings by the Dead available these days that it must be a hard pick for anyone who doesn't have an extensive collection already. But you can't go wrong with this album if you like the Dead in full blossom and hurtling at its most thunderous through a space that no one has travelled so well.
4.0 out of 5 stars An outsiders view,
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This review is from: Dicks Picks 4 (Audio CD)As an outsider to the Grateful Dead phenomenon I run the risk of missing something that the experienced Deadhead would not.
I was recommended this set by an insider as an excellent introduction to the live side of the Dead. He was right, it is an excellent way to start. The recording is taken from the mixing desk, technical details supplied in the liner notes, anorak detail(great!), and is sonically different to a lot of other legit live releases. For a start it is mercifully uncompressed sounding and obviously not overdubbed, everything is out in the open and clean as a whistle, dodgy harmonies and all. There are modern live recordings that this puts to shame. This 1970 recording completely outclasses the majority of legit live releases and was done on essentially homemade recording gear. Every nuance, every cymbal brush, every word is all here and clear.
The Grateful Dead were great improvisers and take a couple of songs to the half hour mark in this release. That's it for the Other One and Turn on Your Lovelight are just over thirty minutes each and take up all of disc two between them. Tracks that last as long as a lot of albums releases in the 70's might not be everyones cup of tea, but these two are for me the best part of the overall 3 disc set. They never flag or dip to dull at any point, unlike Dancing in the Street on disc one, which I have heard done better elsewhere. The improvisation is not just a solo spot by one of the band hammering away while the rest comp in the bcakground, it is by all of the band listening and reacting to each other as one pushes the envelope. This total band improvisation is a fairly rare thing in popular(not to be confused with pop) music, although the jam band scene in the US is alive and well. Think skills of good jazz players, but sounding like Americana, and you are getting there.
Like a reviewer for one of the other Grateful Dead albums I thought that Jerry Garcia looked like an all out rocker and growler and was stunned when I heard this small(ish) shaky voice, but repeated listening has sorted out this problem on my part. His guitar tone is another matter altogether, it is absolutely wonderful, as is his playing.
Overall a great album for someone who wants to know what the Dead are like live on a night that they were ticking all of the boxes. There is enough music here to keep rewarding listening for many, many years.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I know now why DP4 is so recommended,
This review is from: Dicks Picks Vol 4 (Audio CD)If music is like books then the first track (chapter) needs to grab your attention pretty quickly or else you start wondering whether to consign it to the local charity shop so imagine how I was feeling about DP4 when I listened to track one. Thankfully, Intro By Zacherle only lasted for just under two minutes and by the time I finished this review of track one, the music had started.
Chapter (sorry - that should read Track) Two. Straight into one of my favourite tracks - Casey Jones - but with so much more depth than the Workingman's Dead version. I'm beginning to like this album based on one "duff track" and one good `un - and as it progresses - the good `un gets even better. Yowzah !
The Martha Reeves & The Vandellas version takes so much to beat - Martha Reeves herself couldn't re-create the power of the original and whilst Bowie and Jagger got close - my vote still goes to the original Martha Reeves & The Vandellas version - but then none of the others lasted as long as this version and they certainly didn't have the same quality of instrumental break in the middle. If I was pìssed enough - I'd dance to the Martha Reeves & The Vandellas version. For pure listening pleasure - this one wins hands down - and then some. (GD a cover band - yeah - right).
A light and lively version of China Cat Sunflower - even my father-in-law said "that's not bad that" - and he's the one that - when they announced that 6.5 million tickets went on sale for the 2012 Olympics (whilst showing a picture of the main London Olympic Stadium) said - and I kid you not - "Eeeeh - they'll never all fit in there!".
A fairly short CCS but a wonderful (as always) transition into "IKYR". Instant "turn it up to eleven" stuff.
So onto High Time - Not a number that I'm familiar with by name but the opening chord was instantly recognisable (I know what I like but don't always know the title of the track - shame on me for that). What can I say - such melancholy at this early stage of the album. Beautiful.
Dire Wolf. Once again - so much more feeling than the studio cut from Workingman's Dead. A wonderful follow on from High Time.
Wonderfully dreamy 9 minute intro to Dark Star followed by a crisp and clean vocal intro and then, half way through - kicks off into another level - and eventually returns to a wonderful (and powerful) finale leading into the final / traditional vocal closure of the song.
A slight overlap from DS to a full ½ hour version of TIFTOO but - never a great fan of drum solos - about a third of the way through, it positively explodes into the guitar rift that we all know and love and then just keeps getting better and then suddenly drops down to a quiet closing passage before lifting back up for a crescendo finish that runs straight into another ½ hour "Turn On Your Love Light".
"Turn On Your Love Light" - Disappointing. The track doesn't really go anywhere for the first 15 minutes but when it does start to "get it together" it actually ends up not `arf bad but to take so long to get going was - as I suggested - disappointing.
A short Alligator running into Drums - most of which I skipped - running into Me And My Uncle followed by Not Fade Away - and it doesn't - it's upbeat throughout and runs seamlessly into a new one on me - Mason's Children. And a fine piece it is too.
The final track for me (I don't do feedback - even though I gave this one a chance) before "Goodnight" is a storming Caution (Do Not Step On The Tracks). Full of energy from start to finish.
Yes - I can see why DP4 receives such high praise.
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Dicks Picks 4 by Grateful Dead (Audio CD - 1998)
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