The Grateful Dead's Two From the Vault is the second (and, sadly, final) compact disc of the "From the Vault" series, released in May 1992. It was recorded on the nights of August 23 and August 24, 1968 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The name From The Vault refers to the band's extensive library of live recordings archived for posterity by Dick Latvala and others. Over the years, tapes from the vault would be released to the taping community, or in occasional official live recordings, but the short-lived From The Vault series was designed to get little known, high quality shows to the community. As far as the performance goes, Two From The Vault is a pretty good show, and a fine example of the Dead's style at this stage of their career.

The liner notes of the package describe the interesting story behind the original recording of the show, and the preparation of this release. The shows at the Shrine were recorded by Warner Brothers for possible release as a live album. The company's sound engineers who showed up to record the show hadn't the faintest idea how to record a rock performance (close mics on the drums and amps, separate tracks for vocals, and so on), and instead set up the recording big-band style. The result of course was that the Warner Brothers masters were garbage, and thus sat in the can for over 20 years. However, the show was deemed interesting enough to deserve some audio magic by sound engineers Dan Healy and Don Pearson. The duo digitized the master tapes, and used bleeding edge (in 1991) digital processing to separate the sound of each performer and remix them properly. The result, when listened to on headphones, is a beautiful stereo image of the band's setup (Jerry left, Phil center, Pigpen right of center, Bob right, Billy and Mickey rear center).

The resulting album is interesting, though lacking a bit in some key areas. For one, the performance was good, but not stellar. Pigpen steals the show with terrific versions of Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl and (a raging) Turn on your lovelight. The other band members are good, and the versions of The Other One and New Potato Caboose are great, but they're not the superb performances I'd expect for a CD that had this much effort put into cleaning up the masters in the remixing process. Don't get me wrong, it's a great show, just not inspired. Still, the Lovelight is a perfect example of why Pigpen was so beloved. Another "problem" is that this is not a complete "show", but rather the highlights of a two-night stand. If you're just looking to listen to some great music, that's fine. Most of the Dead's official "live" recordings are mishmashes of highlights from their previous tour (like Europe '72); indeed, that's the standard for most live recordings by any band, since it's rare for a band to be "on" for an entire show, and it's easiest to record lots of shows and pick and choose the best performances. However, since complete shows are so common among the Dead community, not having a complete show here was a bit disappointing. In fact, Two From The Vault was nearly a three CD set, with the nixed extra disc containing a great Alligator>Caution Jam>Feedback from the August 23 show. These songs were remixed and remastered with all of the others, but for whatever reason didn't make the final cut. They were later released to the public; first aired on David Gans' The Grateful Dead Hour, they later appeared on a remastered edition of Anthem of the Sun rereleased in 2003.

The From the Vault series was terminated after this disc, but the "official" releases of raw, two-track soundboard tapes began a few years later with the Dick's Picks series which continues today. The album package (digipak, ugh) contains a short obituary of Pigpen, written in April 1973, a month after his death. If you don't have easy access to tapes, would like to hear the Grateful Dead in the height of their psychedelic era, and/or like very clean-sounding live music, I'd recommend it.


The Grateful Dead: Two From The Vault
Released by GDM Records, May 1992
Grateful Dead Merchandising, Inc.
Catalog number: GDCD 40162

Track list:
Disc 1:

  1. Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl
  2. Dark Star
  3. Saint Stephen
  4. The Eleven
  5. Death Don't Have No Mercy
Disc 2:
  1. The Other One
  2. New Potato Caboose
  3. Turn On Your Lovelight
  4. (Walk Me Out In The) Morning Dew

Information on the "third disc" from http://www.musicbox-online.com/dl-vault3.html

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