Terrapin Station (Limited Edition)
Not to be confused with the album of the same name by the same band, released on Arista in 1977, this three CD package is appropriately titled after the Dead's latest venture -- the creation of their own museum/showcase/concert venue that is to be erected and open by the end of the millenium. Supposedly all the proceeds will go into the construction of this grand edifice which will either reside in San Francisco -- the Dead's hometown -- or New York -- everyone's hometown.
Like just about every Dead release since Jerry Garcia's death in 1995, this live set -- from March 13, 1990 at the Capitol Centre in Landover, Maryland -- is complete and uncut. The packaging is also top-notch, featuring the art of Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley, the creators of the orginal Terrapin release -- featuring the dancing turtles at the train station, a popular Dead image -- as well as several other Dead graphics. Here they have taken liberties, and devised a beautiful and immaculate keepsake. If the actual building to be called Terrapin Station looks anything like the artists' rendering, it will become a popular attraction.
The reason this particular concert was chosen to represent the band's fund raising efforts is because of the need for a strong version of, what else, "Terrapin Station." Research among Dead scholors, archivists and band members themselves have indicated that 1990 was a banner year for the band -- the last year with keyboardist Brent Mydland, and arguably the last year the band seemed to be putting forth much effort.
(editor's note: On the heals of this release, Grateful Dead Records has released DICK'S PICKS, Volume 9. Ninth in a series of prime live material unearthed by Dead archivist Dick Latvala, this show, from New York's Madison Square Garden, took place a mere six months later -- September 16 -- and marks the debut of Mydlands' replacement(s), Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick.)
Last year, Arista released DOZIN' AT THE KNICK, a series of shows that took place a mere week after the TERRAPIN shows (Ironically, there is also a version of "Terrapin Station" on the DOZIN' set). The link continues with John Cutler, who co-produced the last two Dead albums of the 80's and has proved an enduring presence within the Dead camp ever since Dan Healey bailed for greener pastures (?). Conspicuosly absent from the production helm is bassist Phil Lesh, who also taken an active role is keeping the flame alive.
Well, first of all, as a lover of "Terrapin Station," the only deliberate attempt of a conceptual piece by the Dead, I'd have to say that Cutler and company have done their homework. In fact, the entire show is brimming with vitality. When the Dead performed classics like "Jack Straw," "Sugaree," "Cassidy," "Cina Cat Sunflower," "Throwing Stones" and "Wharf Rat," the show usually registered high on the scale with Deadheads and casual concert goers alike.
Echoing the Dead's fondness for the Beatles, the show -- and CD -- ends with "Revolution." It's difficult to assess whether this version lives up to the original as Beatle songs are rarely covered correctly; however, the Dead has always made valid attempts to stay as faithful as possible without compromising their own unique brand of style, whether they cover Dylan, the Stones, Willie Dixon, Buddy Holly or The Fab Four. It's one reason the Dead have endured to this day.
Like the DICK'S PICKS series, this set is only available though Grateful Dead Merchandising. For more information, see the official Grateful Dead Web site.