Living in San Francisco in 2004, you can still feel the magic in the air. Whether you're walking around Haight-Ashbury, strolling through Golden Gate Park, or listening to Fire on the Mountain while driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, The Grateful Dead's legacy lives on in the hearts and minds (and waters) of the Bay Area.

Thirty years ago, The Grateful Dead played five historic "Farewell" concerts at the legendary Winterland in San Francisco. While their break would only actually last a couple of sporadic years, the weight of their "Wall of Sound" and problems within the organization led to rumors amidst the fans that these could be the "last shows ever." The intensity and energy of the concerts proved to be the perfect opportunity for Jerry Garcia to capture the moments on film and put together The Grateful Dead Movie. Plus, editing the massive reels of footage gave him something to do in the downtime, which is a story in and of itself.

Now re-released in all its original glory PLUS re-mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0 for all you audiophiles PLUS special bonus footage, interviews, the makings of the animation and a whole disc full of previous unreleased songs – this is exactly what a Deadhead would want.

What's probably the most remarkable thing about the Grateful Dead Movie is that it literally takes you inside the music and makes you feel as though you're actually at the show. The sound quality is pristine while standing dead center in the audience and then becomes muffled and distant when the camera travels around the venue, backstage or waiting in line to get a beer. What you hear actually matches what you see, putting the viewer right back at the show for those faithful October nights.

In a time of uncertainty and chaos, The Grateful Dead Movie is a burst of refreshing optimism for a time when musical journeys were abound and the electricity of the scene was as vibrant as ever.

Andy Gadiel
JamBase | San Francisco
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[Published on: 11/8/04]

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