Grateful Dead: All The Years Combine: The DVD Collection DVD
Studio: Shout! Factory
Jun 20, 2012 Web Exclusive
For this colossal 14-DVD visual anthology of The Grateful Dead, perhaps the best place to start is with a figure who came into the Dead's orbit relatively late. In a new interview featured on the set's Bonus Disc, you can't help but get swept up in band archivist David Lemieux's enthusiasm. His initial introduction to the band didn't come until the '80s, but he's no less fervent than a long-timer. Better yet, he's very honest about his object of affection and has a sense of when they were truly dead-on (so to speak) during particular shows.
All The Years Combine pulls together concerts from various sources, collecting the rare and the previously available into one volume. 1977's The Grateful Dead Movie has been on the market for years, while the 55-minute conceptual video So Far makes its DVD debut with this release. Ticket To New Year's was a national pay-per-view telecast from the Oakland Coliseum on New Year's Eve 1987.
Needless to say, this is a must-own for Deadheads, but novices will have fun here as well. In The Closing of Winterland, a figure flies onstage in a 12-foot joint at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve 1978 for a show that was originally broadcast live in San Francisco. Jerry Garcia's a bit shaggier here than when The Grateful Dead Movie was shot in '74, but he's no less engaged and plenty amiable, and though the visual quality of Winterland doesn't quite match TGDM, you get all three of the Winterland night's sets.
Backstage at Radio City Music Hall in October of 1980, Saturday Night Live's Al Franken and Tom Davis talk with Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland who, according to Franken as an aside to Davis, has "Been with the group for about five minutes." This takes place on Dead Ahead, pointing toward the lineup evolution that we witness over the course of these discs, as Keith and Donna Godchaux are now out of the band. It's here that the band appears to be settling into being elder statesman, and they kick off the show with an intimate, sometimes riveting acoustic set before going electric.
The shows featured in the individual volumes are reason enough to look into this, but the cornucopia of bonus features are practically a separate world. The Winterland set includes performances by the openers, The Blues Brothers and New Riders of the Purple Sage (with New Riders offered in compiled footage and photos due to the absence of Winterland footage of them), a documentary film, a making-of featurette and more, while TGDM counts over 95 minutes of bonus concert footage and a '74 TV commercial for the Mars Hotel album among its extras. Throw the 40-page book of notes and rare photos into the mix with the box's 38 hours of footage and you may need a week off to absorb it all. (www.dead.net)
Author rating: 8.5/10
Average reader rating: 7/10