Jun 28, 2018

1970-71: Vintage Dead/Historic Dead reviews

On MGM's Sunflower label, the Grateful Dead are captured in an excellent example of the San Francisco sound entitled "Vintage Dead." The Dead, one of the best and longest known Frisco groups, are given the live treatment and it shows the evolution of one of rock music's best groups.
Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" is done in the Dead's own style. "Dancing in the Street," an old rock 'n' roll favorite, also is done in the Dead tradition. Then, to top it all off, they do an 18-minute, 23-second version of "In the Midnight Hour." Also included in the LP are "I Know You Rider" and "It Hurts Me Too."
This is a real LP. The Grateful Dead recorded at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco in 1966. The "early" Dead, and, yes, it's "vintage."
(by Dink Lorance, from "The World of Music," the Moline Dispatch (IL), 17 October 1970)

VINTAGE DEAD (Sunflower) is touted on its jacket as a return to "a more innocent age" of the Grateful Dead four years ago, in a "recorded live" 1966 performance in the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. Innocent is hardly the word, however, to describe the immature guitar tunings on the album and, except for an original version of "Dancing in the Street," this album and the dead Dead should stay buried.
(by Sylvia Salinas, from "Records," the San Antonio Express, 22 November 1970)

"Vintage Dead" (Sunflower SUN-5001) by the Grateful Dead takes an interesting look and listen back to 1966, the advent of the Frisco sound.
This album, recorded live in 1966 at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, is a collector's item as far as hearing some of the first sounds of this type.
This music is fairly calm compared to today's musical standards, but does prove how much the Grateful Dead has improved.
Tunes included on the album (some previously unrecorded) include: the 18 minute-plus "IIn the Midnight Hour," "Dancing in the Street," "I Know You Rider," and "It's All Over Now Baby Blue."
This collection is certainly not as enjoyable as it is historically interesting.
(by Holly Spence, from the Lincoln Journal-Star, 28 November 1970)

Grateful Dead - VINTAGE DEAD (Sunflower SUN-5001)
Pardon me, hip people, but I've never really seen the point of the Dead. They always seem less heavy, less important when I hear them than the hype has built them. I think their connection with Ken Kesey in the days of the Merry Pranksters has prolonged their in-ness, as it were. Because musically, they are so-so, despite Jerry Garcia's abilities. This release of 1966 material proves my point. It's second-rate. Even boring.
(by David Wagner, from the Green Bay Press-Gazette (WI), 29 November 1970)

GRATEFUL DEAD, Vintage Dead (Sunflower)
From everybody's favorite above-ground bootleg company (MGM) comes this rare concert performance of the Grateful Dead recorded at the Avalon Ballroom in 1965.
The sound mix is a bit weird (like on the authentic bootlegs), requiring a bit of imagination to sift through over-dominating vocals and instrumentals that lag in the background.
For Dead fanatics, what home could be without an 18-minute version of "In the Midnight Hour"? For all others though, caution is the word here. The Dead have risen considerably since this record was made.
(by Jonathan Takiff, from "Record Review," Philadelphia Daily News, 17 December 1970)

In the case of the "Vintage Dead" album on the Sunflower label, there are a couple of interesting cuts (Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and an 18-minute version of "In the Midnight Hour") included in an otherwise ordinary and poorly recorded live performance by the Grateful Dead at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom in 1966.
(by Jim Sendrey, from the Santa Clarita Signal (CA), 12 February 1971)

Grateful Dead fans will be happy to know that something "new" by the group has been released. The reason for quotes around new is that the album consists of a live performance dating back to 1966.
Name of the album is "Vintage Dead," and it shows both the development of the group and of rock music in the past five years.
Highlight of the album comes on side two, an approximately 18 minute long version of a song considered a rock classic - Midnight Hour.
(by J.D., from "Some Sounds," the Sheboygan Press (WI), 18 February 1971)

"Historic Dead" by the Grateful Dead on Sunflower is some tasty early Dead Material, much better than the earlier "Vintage Dead" on the same label. Worth it even for those who aren't complete Dead freaks.
(by Rich Aregood, from "Record Review," the Philadelphia Daily News, 21 May 1971)

THE GRATEFUL DEAD "Historic Dead" (MGM-Sunflower)
One of the real, true, hard-rock groups, The Grateful Dead score heavily, with me at least, in this new release.
Only four cuts, but what content!
Side One contains "Good Morning Little School Girl" (11:01) and "Lindy" (2:49) and Side Two also has a twosome: "Stealing" (3:00) and "The Same Thing" which runs for a dozen full minutes plus one teeny second.
This album is strictly for the Grateful Dead's hard-core fans - and you can count me in - for the lyrical content is heavy, heavy, heavy.
Musical existentialism at its finest - that's what this one's all about. Move over Jean-Paul Sartre.
(by B.W., from the Dayton Daily News (OH), 4 July 1971)

HISTORIC DEAD. The Grateful Dead. Sunflower (MGM) SNF-5004:
The Grateful Dead is a group for all occasions. It seems equally at home in Carnegie Hall or jamming in someone's garage and is arguably the finest group remaining from the Haight-Ashbury exports of the late 60s. That's why there's no excuse for this album. "Historic Dead" captures the group at its embryonic stage and even staunch supporters will admit to its sounding better tuning up. There are only four songs here, perhaps the only four it knew at the time, and it is all performed with various degrees of proficiency ranging from bad to embarrassing. If 11-minute versions of "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" do it for you, this is your album. For "Dead" fanatics only.
(by J.B., from "Pop Album Briefs," the Los Angeles Times, 5 September 1971)

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1 comment:

  1. Vintage Dead came out in October 1970, Historic Dead followed in May 1971. Compared to the Dead's "real" albums with lots of Warners promotion in the papers, there seems to have been very little advertising for Vintage Dead, and none for Historic Dead. These quasi-bootlegs were generally not highly-regarded albums - "for Dead fanatics only" - and most reviews are very brief.
    As the Arizona Republic said, "Someone at MGM has once again had the bright idea to plunder the old tape vaults in search of material for another album of vintage Grateful Dead material... Historians of the San Francisco Sound will probably be interested." (7/25/71)