Grateful Dead

Direct from the Grateful Dead's multitrack master tapes is the third installment in the Vault series. Believe it or not, it was ready for release back in the early '90s, shortly after Two From the Vault surfaced. Regardless of the reasons for the delay, this recording from a February 19, 1971, show in Port Chester, New York, was still worth the nearly 20-year wait due to its killer song selection and technologically enhanced sound quality. Considering that this recording takes place right after Workingman's Dead and American Beauty were released, it captures the band just as it was working its way onto America's rock 'n' roll radar. Since the recording is from so early in the band's career, it's fun to hear two pivotal live debuts on the disc, "Bird Song" and "Deal," both of which remained staples throughout the Grateful Dead's lifespan. Unfortunately, the concert was also the first without drummer Mickey Hart. Although the difference is noticeable, it doesn't much diminish this stellar performance by Jerry Garcia and company. All of the crowd favorites are here, like "Truckin'," "Cumberland Blues," "China Cat Sunflower," and "Casey Jones," in which the youthful and energetic voices of Garcia and Bob Weir are at their best. Three From the Vault is an archival release that can be enjoyed by stoners and Republicans alike.

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