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Rolling Stones And Grateful Dead: Stoking The Eternal Flame

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Notwithstanding the almost clockwork regularity of archival releases (with and without bonus material), upon quick reflection, the The Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead would not appear to have much in common. But some concentrated contemplation reveals how many traits these bands actually share and that's even apart from their remarkable longevity. With sixty-plus years and counting for the Stones, and the Dead weathering three decades beyond titular leader Jerry Garcia's death in 1995, both bands have generated extensive and durable catalogs of original material. What's perhaps even more astounding is that this wealth of creativity has been parlayed by each respective band's core members, surrounded by shifting personnel, during the same general time frame, beginning in the early to mid-Sixties.

England's purportedly depraved early devotees of the blues have evolved into singular stylists of bare-bones rock and roll, while the California-based acid acolytes pursued eclectic interests with the adventurous approach of fearless improvisationalists. Illuminating in stark relief their respective approaches, GRRR Live! documents the Stones purposefully revisiting their past even as Dave's Picks Volume 44 homes in on latter-day Dead, late in the Brent Mydland era. It's a study in contrasts illuminating just how amorphous is the glib label "rock and roll."

Rolling Stones
GRRR Live!
Mercury Studios
2023

Edited and remastered (to great effect) for this CD/DVD release, GRRR Live! retains the elevated production values suitable for its original broadcast as a pay-per-view event. Likewise, for the purposes of maximum viewership, the guests are designed to appeal to a broad demographic range Still, even as the sit-ins admirably serve that purpose, the intervals featuring Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, The Black Keys and John Mayer plus Gary Clark, Jr.. interrupt the constant flow of hits this concert (and tour) was designed to showcase. Keeping in tandem with the similarly-titled anthology, the decet plays back-to-back the two new songs, "Doom And Gloom" and "One More Shot," as means to simultaneously consolidate their dual impression and to leave intact the homestretch of the single set.

So, while this presentation suffers to the same extent as other vault releases of comparable sources—From The Vault: Hampton Coliseum 1981 (Eagle Rock, 2014) and Voodoo Lounge Uncut (Eagle Vision, 2018)—it also excels as the majority of the other unblemished ones do, that is, presenting the Rolling Stones, with nary a sense of self-consciousness, gleefully assaying excerpts from their history. Ranging from 1966's "Paint It Black" to "Tumbling Dice" off Exile On Main Street (Rolling Stones Records, 1972) and one of guitarist Keith Richards' spotlights from Some Girls (Rolling Stones Records, 1978), "Before They Make Me Run," this title also acts as homage of sort to Charlie Watts, who passed away in 2022; his bond with bassist Darryl Jones, who at this point in 2012 was nearing his twentieth year of touring with the English icons, is only slightly less tangible than the one late drummer and founding member of the group had forged with Richards over the course of a half-century.

The stability in this dual-fulcrum for the band is what allows Mick Jagger to immerse himself in his singing, not to mention his indefatigable, animated stage presence. At the same time, guitarist Ronnie Wood exhibits how much he's grown on his chosen instrument since joining the group in the wake of Mick Taylor's departure (the latter also guests on "Midnight Rambler" in what is the most pertinent of such segments of this two and a half hours-plus show from 2012).

Grateful Dead
Dave's Picks Volume 44: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR 6/23/90
Rhino Records
2022

In a telling photo suggesting their easygoing, natural camaraderie, the stage shot spanning the panels inside this triple-fold digi-pak depicts late guitarist/vocalist Jerry Garcia leaning over the now-deceased Brent Myland at his keyboards. The two men were side-by-side in concert for the better part of the latter's ten-plus years with the iconic band, but not just in terms of the stage alignment: the former took great relish in the vocals and instrumental contributions of his younger band mate, not only by dint of the regular smiles in his direction, but also in the sense of gleeful purpose he then brought to his own singing and soloing.

At the time of this occasion, Garcia's recovery from the diabetic coma of 1986 was four years behind him, but he still retained a tangible sense of rediscovery about of his own abilities and those of the Grateful Dead at large: as noted by essayist/archival chief David Lemieux in his liner notes, the ensemble took its sweet time exploring its genuinely vast repertoire during the course of this first of two afternoon shows in Eugene, Oregon. In doing so, the band's deceptive languor might be diametrically opposed to the increasingly frenetic attack of their British counterparts, but the fact of the matter is that, as much as the audience is excited to see the Rolling Stones, the psychedelic warriors are arguably just as enthusiastic, only more circumspect, about the prospect of playing for roughly sixty-five thousand attendees that weekend.

Notwithstanding all the operational challenges that arose in the wake of the Grateful Dead's penetration of the mainstream in 1987 via "Touch of Grey," why else would the group deign to play not one but a pair of afternoon outdoor concerts if they too did not savor the community arising from the gatherings they invite with their live presentations? Intentionally or not, the main content here, recorded by Dan Healy, provides colorful contrast to the extra track provided in the form of a performance of "Cold Rain and Snow" from the band's December 26, 1969 concert: cut from the previous Dave's Picks release due to lack of space, it now finds a home on CD three and serves as an example of this band's eccentric and circuitous sense of logic.

Tracks and Personnel

GRRR Live!

Tracks: Get Off Of My Cloud; The Last Time; It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It); Paint It Black; Gimme Shelter; Wild Horses; Going Down; Dead Flowers; Who Do You Love?; Doom And Gloom; One More Shot; Miss You; Honky Tonk Women; Before They Make Me Run; Happy; Midnight Rambler; Start Me Up; Tumbling Dice;Brown Sugar; Sympathy For The Devil; You Can't Always Get What You Want; Jumpin' Jack Flash; (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. DVD Bonus: December 13, 2012 Prudential Center—Respectable; Around And Around; Gimme Shelter.

Personnel: Mick Jagger: vocals, guitar, harmonica; Keith Richards: guitar, vocals; Ronnie Wood: guitar; Chuck Leavell: keyboards; Bobby Keys: saxophone; Tim Ries: saxophone, keyboards;Bernard Fowler: backing vocals, percussion; Lisa Fischer: backing vocals; Darryl Jones: bass; Charlie Watts: drums

Dave's Picks: Volume 44 -Autzen Stadium, U of Oregon, Eugene, OR 6/23/90 Tracks: CD 1: Feel Like a Stranger; West L.A. Fadeaway; Me and My Uncle; Cumberland Blues; Far From Me; They Love Each Other; Cassidy; Tennessee Jed; Promised Land. CD 2: Eyes of the World; Looks Like Rain Crazy Fingers; Playing in the Band; Uncle John's Band; Playing in the Band; Drums. CD 3: Space; The Wheel; I Need a Miracle; Morning Dew; One More Saturday Night; Cold Rain and Snow.

Personnel: Jerry Garcia: vocals, lead guitar; Bob Weir: vocals, rhythm guitar; Brent Mydland: vocals, keyboards; Phil Lesh: electric bass, vocals; Bill Kreutzmann: drums; Mickey Hart: drums.

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