The GRATEFUL DEAD – ” In And Out Of The Garden ” The Madison Square Garden Concerts ’81, ’82, ’83,

Posted: September 18, 2022 in MUSIC
A Grateful Dead Show could feel like a world apart too, an improbable, thriving anomaly in a music business hub and all-night-every-night live scene addicted to the new and next in punk, experimental rock, dance music, and hip-hop. Two nights before the Dead hit the Garden in March 1981, a young Irish band, U2, performed virtually all of their debut album, “BOY”, at the Ritz, a downtown ballroom—some songs twice because that’s all the material they had. The night after the Dead left town,
Garcia argued in a 1981 confrontation with Britain’s punk-obsessed New Musical Express, “We’re no more nailed to the Sixties than anybody else. We’re not celebrating an era that no longer exists. We’re here and now, partaking in what’s going on.”
We can now see how that traffic went both ways in New York. As The Clash were up at Bond’s in June 1981, the avant-rock band Sonic Youth played their first dates downtown—cofounded by a guitarist, Lee Ranaldo, who had followed the Grateful Dead in high school, hitting shows in 1972 and ’73, one of them Watkins Glen. Ranaldo, in turn, did not know that singer-guitarist Ira Kaplan—a critic for New York Rocker and The Village Voice who started the indie-rock group Yo La Tengo in 1984—was a fellow Dead Head (with 80 shows under his belt) until they were invited to play at the same after-party during the 2015 Fare Thee Well concerts in Chicago. “We played ‘Dark Star’ together,” Ranaldo said later. “It was a pretty good version, I have to say.”
“It’s one of the big myths about the Dead—the idea that punks hated the hippies,” said guitarist Bryce Dessner of the Brooklyn-born band The National when we spoke in 2016 about Day Of The Dead, a benefit compilation he coproduced with his twin brother-guitarist Aaron featuring 59 new recordings of Dead songs by modern-rock artists including Ranaldo and Kaplan. “Think of that long-form jamming of Sonic Youth, the edgiest of those post-punk bands,” Bryce said, then pointed to The Flaming Lips—a prolific, psychedelic institution formed in Oklahoma in 1983 (they covered “Dark Star” on Day Of The Dead)—as “a great example” of the “bands that exist in the Dead’s diaspora.” – David Fricke, “In And Out Of The Garden” Madison Square Garden ’81, ’82, ’83

“We’re just now starting to loosen up to the point where we were, say, back in 1970, ’72, where we can start drifting from key to key, from rhythm to rhythm, and in the jams, some interesting stuff has come up. Once again, we’re tending to go new places every night.” – Bob Weir, Rolling Stone, 1980

3/9/81 at Madison Square Garden delivers all that. It’s got colour and texture and freshness, keyboardist Brent Mydland’s Hammond organ painting a new layer for the Dead to dabble on. And dabble they did, from the “shot out of a cannon” opener of “Feel Like A Stranger” to the “fleeting romance of ‘Althea” to the high-gloss 80s blues of the first set to the second set, both intense “China Rider”, “Samson And Delilah,” “Estimated Prophet” and dramatic “Ship Of Fools,” “Stella Blue” in its ability wrap you up its spirals and accents. It’s all undergone Plangent Processes tape restoration and speed correction, with mastering by Jeffrey Norman.

47 minutes of MSG 1983 by-and-by for my-oh-my! Night One (10/11/83) has us floating along from a dreamy “Bird Song” to twinkly “St. Stephen” into a slow and funky “Wang Dang Doodle” But don’t even think of putting away those dancing shoes – Night Two (10/12/83) will have you dosey-doeing through the “Cumberland Blues” into The Beatles’ “Revolution,” before gently setting you back down with “My Brother Esau”.

Welcome to this unique, enduring phenomenon of the Grateful Dead in New York City, a mutual devotion, forged in concert, that ran for nearly as long as the band itself—from June 1st, 1967, a free show in Tompkins Square Park on the Lower East Side (ahead of the band’s official, local bow at the Cafe Au Go Go), to the Dead’s last Garden run, six nights in October 1994…the Grateful Dead’s affinity for New York City…was instant and arguably their most profound with any city aside from San Francisco.” – David Fricke

They got on the bus to the Port Authority, rode in on the Long Island Railroad and the New Jersey Transit line. They traveled North, South, and West on the 1, 2, and 3 subway lines, their numbers growing as they descended upon Penn Station. Some rolled up in those iconic New York yellows. Some walked excitedly through the bright lights of Broadway and Times Square, meeting up with old friends on the way and picking up a few new ones too as they ascended The Garden’s stairs. Maybe you were among them – lightly buzzed on the way in, fully aglow on the way home. New York City was in its prime and damn if the Grateful Dead wasn’t going to rise up to meet it! If you were there, we call on you to join us as we recapture that MSG magic and if you weren’t, we invite you along on the epic journey that is “In And Out Of The Garden” Madison Square Garden ’81 ’82 ’83.

Numbered and limited to 12,500, this 17CD set celebrates the band’s rich history at “the world’s most famous arena,” introducing six previously unreleased shows recorded at MSG between 1981 and 1983. It offers a front-row seat to The Grateful Dead in the early 1980s, an overlooked and underestimated era of rebirth for the band. At the time of the recordings, the group featured Brent Mydland. Mydland’s vocal power and colourful keyboard palette energized the band, invigorating older material like “The Wheel,” “Truckin’” and “Eyes of The World.” He also gave the band more musical flexibility, which encouraged them to dust off rarely aired treasures like “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” and “Crazy Fingers.”

“In And Out Of The Garden” touches on the three-year period after 1980’s “Go To Heaven” was released, a time when the Dead were constantly on the road, playing more than 200 dates. While they were in no rush to return to the studio during this time, they continued to write new music. In 1982 and ’83, the band performed most of the songs that would appear on 1987’s “In The Dark”. The new collection includes performances of four songs from that album – “Touch Of Grey,” “Hell In A Bucket,” “Throwing Stones,” and “West L.A. Fadeaway” – plus the B-side, “My Brother Esau.”

Due September 23rd, “In And Out Of The Garden” comes in a custom box featuring new artwork by Dave Van Patten celebrating the band’s eclectic fanbase, with a cavalcade of illustrated Dead Heads. The collection also includes detailed liner notes by award-winning music journalist David Fricke, who explores the band’s connection to the Big Apple. It features newly restored and speed-corrected audio by Plangent Processes, mastered by Jeffrey Norman.

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