The Grateful Dead Road Trips – Madison Square Garden: September ’90


grateful deadThe Grateful Dead will begin Volume 2 of their Road Trips series with the exceptional Madison Square Garden run from September 1990.

These shows were heaving with emotional and historical significance as keyboardist Brent Mydland had died of a drug overdose just a few months before, ending his 11-year stint with the band. Mydland’s tragic death was devastating to band and fans alike. Shows were cancelled and it looked like whole tours might have to be canned. But then Bruce Hornsby came into the picture, and having already been well versed in the band’s material proved a sensational creative foil. Hornsby played with the Dead until they welcomed former Tubes keyboardist Vince Welnick to the fold.

By early September, Vince had played his first shows with the Dead (in Cleveland and Philadelphia), and then the band moved on to Madison Square Garden – always one of the most magical places the group played – for a series of six shows spanning September 14-20.

Bruce joined the band beginning with the second concert in that series, and immediately the chemistry of this new septet was apparent. Bruce was a bold and assertive player who really pushed the band – and particularly Garcia – in some fascinating new directions, and the combination of his grand piano and Vince’s electronic keyboard textures made for a big and dynamic sound. There were smiles all around as the new unit found its footing and with surprising confidence ushered in a new era of Grateful Dead music before roaring New York crowds!

Back in 1997, the late, great vaultmaster Dick Latvala pegged the September 16, 1990 Garden show to be Dick’s Picks Vol. 9, but many fans of the run have long believed that the hottest shows from MSG that year were actually the two concluding concerts, September 19 and 20. So, for this Road Trips the band will offer some two-and-a-half hours of high energy rock ‘n’ roll and intense jamming from the second sets of 9/19-20 (as well as the moving “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” encore from 9/18). Included are spacey and beautifully developed journeys through “Dark Star” and “Playing in the Band”; a rare second set “Let It Grow” that rolls into a fantastic improvisation that really shows off the chops of the “new” band; a rousing “Uncle John’s Band”; rockin’ tunes like “Truckin'” and “Turn on Your Lovelight,” and more. The spirit and life on these tracks is amazing! You can find the entire track listing below. As always, the discs have been expertly mastered to HDCD by our own Jeffrey Norman, and the package includes a 16-page booklet with lots o’ groovy pix and an essay about the shows by Dan Levy.

This time out, the exclusive limited edition Bonus Disc was compiled entirely from the 9/18/90 MSG show, another sizzler. Highlights include “Foolish Heart,” “Eyes of the World,” the rare-in-every-era “To Lay Me Down,” and an especially rollicking take on “Picasso Moon.”

You can order the good times here.

Track List

Disc One – 9/20/90 and 9/19/90
China Cat Sunflower>
I Know You Rider
Playing In The Band>
Ship of Fools>
Playing In The Band>
Uncle John’s Band>
Let It Grow>

Disc Two – 9/20/90
Dark Star>
Playing In The Band>
Dark Star>
Throwing Stones>
Touch Of Grey
Turn On Your Lovelight
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (encore 9/18/90)

Bonus Disc – 9/18/90
Mississippi Half Step
Picasso Moon
To Lay Me Down
Eyes of The World>
Estimated Prophet>
Foolish Heart>