April 1991: Grateful Dead Unearth 'One from the Vault'

'One from the Vault'
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Grateful Dead

On April 15, 1991, the Grateful Dead effectively opened the live recordings floodgates, delivering unto record stores the first official recording of a complete show by the band.

Spoiler: in no freaking way would it be the last.

Produced by Dan Healy, One from the Vault featured a show performed by the Grateful Dead on Aug. 13, 1975 at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. Released on - what else? - Grateful Dead Records, the performance was certainly one that had made the rounds, thanks to a radio broadcast which was promptly recorded onto cassette and subsequently pressed onto vinyl. Prior to its release as One from the Vault, however, it had never sounded even remotely as crisp and clean.

Necessarily released as a two-disc set, the album featured 16 tracks, eight on each disc, although the first track on disc one is just an introduction of the band by Bill Graham. From there, you get the two-fer of “Help on the Way” and “Slipknot!,” which is followed by “Franklin’s Tower,” “The Music Never Stopped,” “It Must Have Been the Roses,” and the combo of “Eyes of the World” and “Drums,” after which you get “King Solomon’s Marbles” and the band’s cover of Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around.” From there, it’s on to disc two, featuring “Sugaree,” “Big River,” the “Crazy Fingers” / “Drums” combo, “The Other One Jam,” “Sage and Spirit,” “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad,” “U.S. Blues,” and the title track for “Blues for Allah.”

(As you may have figured, provided you know the band’s catalog well enough to have identified the origins of the songs, the band was touring behind the just-released Blues for Allah album at the time.)

Upon its release, One from the Vault never actually climbed any higher than No. 106 on the Billboard 200, but how high it charted is decidedly secondary to how much it meant in the grand scheme of things. From there, the Dead began to release full concerts on a semi-regular basis, and - not exactly a newsflash here - they haven’t stopped since.

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