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
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
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
- Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl
- Dark Star
- Saint Stephen
- The Eleven
- Death Don't Have No Mercy
- The Other One
- New Potato Caboose
- Turn On Your Lovelight
- (Walk Me Out In The) Morning Dew
Information on the "third disc" from