Grateful Dead “All the Years Combine: The DVD Collection”
A massive flashback of the best possible kind awaits dedicated Deadheads in the hefty “All the Years Combine: The DVD Collection” box set.
A mind-blowing 38 hours of footage unwind on 14 DVDs, offering 12 Grateful Dead concert films and all the bonus features from previous releases of the DVDs, a bonus disc of five previously unreleased live performances from the Dead archive, the 1992 documentary “Backstage Pass” by Justin Kreutzmann and a new interview with Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux.
The best of the bunch remains the band's essential concert film document, “The Grateful Dead Movie,” filmed in 1974 during five pre-hiatus shows at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom, then skillfully assembled by Susan Crutcher and a team of editors and finally released to theaters in 1977. The film stars one of the best incarnations of the Dead — the nucleus of Jerry Garcia, (lead guitar, vocals) Bob Weir (rhythm guitar, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums), with Mickey Hart back on the other drum kit after a five-year absence, Keith Godchaux on keyboards and Donna Jean Godchaux on backing vocals.
Old faves such as “Truckin',” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Playing in the Band” and “Stella Blue” never sounded better thanks to new Dolby Digital stereo and 5.1 mixes, and the new print transferred from the original 35 mm negative brings vivid new life to Gary Gutierrez's hilarious hallucinatory animated sequences. The cameras also zero in on the ecstatic dancing hippie fans, revealing the unique relationship between this band and its audience.
A second disc contains additional performances of songs from those shows, and the box's other two-disc set preserves the Dead's Dec. 31, 1978 “The Closing of Winterland” concert, plus Winterland performances by the Blues Brothers and New Riders of the Purple Sage.
Other goodies include “Dead Ahead,” the band's October 1980 show at Radio City Music Hall with Bren Mydland taking over keys; “So Far,” filmed at San Rafael, Calif., and Oakland, Calif., in 1985; “Ticket to New Year's,” 1987, Oakland; “Truckin' Up to Buffalo,” 1989, Orchard Park, N.Y.; “Downhill From Here,” 1989, East Troy, N.Y., and four “View From the Vault” films featuring shows in Pittsburgh, Pa., Washington, D.C. (with Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick on keys), Mountain View, Calif., in 1990-91, and Oakland and Anaheim, Calif., in 1987.
There's also a 40-page book of rare photos, set lists and new liner notes by Blair Jackson. How many different ways could they play “Uncle John's Band?” Find out here.
— Gene Triplett