Two From The Vault

Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead, 1992

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For a brief time in the nineties, the Grateful Dead experimented with how to release live albums under the “From The Vault” nomenclature. The first release in this set, a 1975 barnburner, set the bar incredibly high in terms of expectations.

Two From The Vault, the 1992 archival release, captures portions from two separate concerts at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles from 1968. It is an interesting snapshot from the band’s early history, but isn’t quite as strong as other releases from around this time period—though it is interesting to hear some songs going through their natural musical growth.

Knowing that this was recorded around the time they’d have been touring behind Anthem Of The Sun, one would rightfully expect “(That’s It For) The Other One” to be part of the set list—and the jam behind this one is fairly tasty. However, the inclusion of “New Potato Caboose” is, to me at least, the hidden gem in this particular set—a track that hasn’t seen many releases in a live setting.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

That said, there are some disappointments on Two From The Vault, though these could be a matter of personal choice. The version of “Dark Star” featured here has a bit of a rushed feel to it—though it could be argued that the song was still in its infancy, and hadn’t turned into the all-out psychedelic jam as heard on 1969’s Live/Dead. Similarly, “Saint Stephen” sounds a bit tentative at times, as if Jerry Garcia and crew were still growing in their knowledge of just how to deliver this song. The follow-up track from this time period, “The Eleven,” is a strong outing, though.

The set serves as a reminder that, in their early days, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was the leader of the Grateful Dead, and his bluesy growls on “Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl” and “Turn On Your Lovelight” serve as a reminder of just where his place was in the history of the band. This isn’t to say that Garcia and Bob Weir couldn’t make their presences known; each member of the group, in fact, puts their own signatures on each of the tracks featured.

The show ends abruptly as, due to curfew, the power to the stage is cut at the end of “(Walk Me Out In The) Morning Dew”—a shame, really, as there was probably only about two minutes left in the song (assuming, of course, that Garcia and crew didn’t extend the final verse’s jam even longer).

I’d be hard-pressed to say that Two From The Vault would replace such discs as Live/Dead as my go-to selections from this era of the Grateful Dead’s history, but I do find myself appreciating it more now than I did when it first came out over 30 years ago, having heard numerous other concerts from 1968 and 1969. It is an interesting selection that the late Dick Latvala and crew made for the second of three “From The Vault” releases; these would soon be replaced by the “Dick’s Picks” series. But it has more than enough to keep the listener entertained and is a nice addition to one’s library.

Rating: B

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