If there were ever a need to highlight the good of an otherwise despised era of Grateful Dead, it’s their final tour, Summer ’95. It’s refered to as the ‘tour from hell’ for good reason; Garcia is literally dying on the stage, and the rest of the band is always on the edge of careening out of control while trying to keep things together. Flubbed lyrics, botched riffs, and other mistakes are the norm rather than the exception. Yet as always, there are riches to be found.
1. Standing on the Moon (1995/06/30- Pittsburgh, PA, Three Rivers Stadium)
2. Let the Good Times Roll (1995/05/29- Portland, OR)
3. Unbroken Chain (1995/05/21 – Las Vegas, NV)
4. Eternity (1995/07/08- Chicago, IL, Soldier Field)
5. Take Me to the River (1995/06/30- Pittsburgh, PA, Three Rivers Stadium)
6. Days Between (1995/06/04- Mountain View, CA)
7. Spanish Jam (1995/05/21 – Las Vegas, NV)
8. Morning Dew (1995/06/21- Albany, NY)
9. The Last Time (1995/06/27- Auburn Hills, MI)
10. Brokedown Palace (1995/06/25- Washington, D.C.)
While ‘Standing’ never changed all that much I thought the exiting sentiment of Jerry rather being with us on stage was a fitting song. ‘Good Times’ is a rare multi-singer tune and played perfectly. ‘Unbroken’. The song never really came out the way it should have live, but it was one of the last important premiers, and isn’t as bad as people say. I’m actually pretty fond of ‘Eternity’, and was glad to make a place for it. Next, the ’95 only cover, ‘Take Me to the River’. Fun song. Now, here’s where the set becomes serious. I tried to make a tight, powerful ending sequence. I think I succeeded. Starting with the introspective ‘Days’, the mood stays dark with a visit from ‘Spanish’ and finishes with the last rendition of the early classic, ‘Dew’. Not the final performance, but ‘Last’ raves up nicely. Finally, a beautiful send off of ‘Brokedown’.
In all honesty, I considered doing a Garcia ballads only ’95 comp, but I’m happier with this selection and variety. Also, I’ve been wanting to improve my photo editing skills, and cover art is as good an excuse as any.
It wasn’t a chore to go through the tour to make this cd, contrary to what I’m sure many of you might think. No there aren’t any classic concerts. There are a lot of mistakes. But it’s still good music if you listen to it for what it is, and not anything else. I would have loved to see the Grateful Dead, even if it were on their worst day. In these rough tapes, there are brilliant moments when Jerry and the band are spilling their souls to the audience, ragged as they may be, and playing their finale as the only way it ever will be. Set aside your preconceived notions, and jam out to this bittersweet compilation .