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on November 15, 2005
So I netflixed this, man am I glad I did. The sound quality is incredible as is the song selection. The video is great for something that was filmed in 1980, you can tell they really cleaned it up, and the many different camera shots made me feel I was right there. The Skits in between were fun, the cameo bits with the band members.

The best part of this DVD? The special features. The 5-6 extra songs included are the best ones on the DVD!

If you're a fan just go get this. Really great show - although I think it's a compilation of different nights - not sure about that.

Either way, a very unique and entertaining Dead DVD.
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A truly rewarding concert experience that showcases the endless talents of one of rock & roll's most storied bands, The Grateful Dead. All of the concert footage is culled from a series of concerts performed at New York City's Radio City Music Hall in 1980. This film is especially vital because it offers both the avid fan and the uninitiated listener an opportunity to experience the full spectrum of the Grateful Dead experience. The first set is comprised of beautiful and highly improvisational (of course) acoustic renditions of Grateful Dead standards while the second set focuses mainly on the electric and psychedelic aspects that Grateful Dead fans are more familiar with. This film, however, is vital not only because of the superb musical craftsmanship, but also because it re-familarizes Grateful Dead fans with a period that has been much forgotten, sandwiched as it is between the earlier days of pure 60's psychedelia and the neo-hippie late 80's resurgence of the band. A must-see for any music fan truly interested in sonorous nirvana.
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on January 2, 2003
This video is worthwhile for the single acoustic set that it contains. The electric sets that make of the rest of the video are pretty lackluster, with only minimal jamming. Hats off to the director for focusing on the band, though - I've seen a couple other Dead videos that focus way too much on the audience and don't even show many songs in their entirety. If you like the acoustic playing in this video, check out "Reckoning", the live album that was made from the same series of concerts from which Dead Ahead was created.
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on September 2, 2005
If you have the VHS, scrap it and upgrade to the DVD. The 50 minutes of additional footage is well worth it...Not to mention the awesome 5.1 sound! It sounds like you're actually in the audience. I highly recommend this DVD!
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on June 29, 2007
This is the best Dead video I've seen. Jerry is really alive on this one. 1980 was a great year for them.
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VINE VOICEon November 4, 2005
The release of "Grateful Dead: Dead Ahead" to the DVD format has brought a flood of liquid memories coursing through the various synapses in my brain. I had originally gotten on 'the Bus' (with gusto!) at a Merriweather '82 concert. Thus begun my "Looong Strange Triiipp" of following Jerry & the boys during the Ronald Raygun (ZAP!) years of the '80s. I have hazy college memories of duping a VHS to VHS copy of "Dead Ahead" at an off campus apartment, not far from Towson State University.

Fast forward over twenty years later. There's now a lot less hair on top of my head and a bit more (O.K. a lot more) belly on my frame (Shades of Jerry!). Still lovin' the Dead, but I'm getting a little snobby in my old age, mainly listening to their '70s material these days. I'm taking down the family Halloween decorations, while my brand new copy of "Dead Ahead" is hitting the DVD laser. This grabs my 4 year old's attention, because the TV lights up with an opening, trippy montage of band members, skeletons and other symbols (which fascinates him). For those not up on their Dead History, in 1980 the Grateful Dead did a month long stint at both the Warfield in S.F. and Radio City Music Hall in NYC. "Dead Ahead" captures a Holloween night, when the band kicks back on the Radio City stage (made up like a folksy, country porch at dusk) and reaches back to their folk/jugband roots with acoustic instruments. Thats right! The Dead were going unplugged, way before it became hip and the insideus weasles in the MTV Marketing Dept. co-opted the concept. Well as I'm getting my work done (with one eye on the TV) I suddenly realize that I'm humming the tunes and getting into the show! There are just beautiful versions of songs like "Uncle John's Band" and "Ramble on Rose". I especially love Jerry's guitar parts on "Bird Song", which just seem to magically go on forever. By the time "Ripple" ends the acoustic portion of the show, I'm in DeadHead Heaven! Bravo GD! The rest of the show is an electric set, which pretty much sums up the band's '80s concerts. It features fine versions of "Lost Sailor/St. of Circumstance", "Franklin's Tower" and "Fire on the Mt". Emceeing the show is SNL comedy team 'Franken & Davis'. While they might not be everyone's 'cup of tea' I always found their persnickity, smart a** sense of humor, to be right on target to the Grateful Dead sensibility. I especially found their 'Henry Kissinger gets caught bootlegging a GD show' (featuring Mr. Bill Kreutzmann) bit, pretty darn hilarious! As for the DVD itself, not too bad. Love the DVD menus featuring the original concert artwork (infamously hated by the Radio City management) of two giant skeletons hanging out on the iconic venue. The picture quality and sound is OK and it's the best your going to do with over twenty year old video tape. The DVD's bonus section features 50 more minutes of material, not included in the show's original release. This includes a beautiful acoustic/instrumental version of Bob Weir's "Heaven Help the Fool" (which I always thought of as a vastly underrated song). For a laid back evening of wonderful music, I highly recommend "Grateful Dead: Dead Ahead".
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VINE VOICEon May 21, 2012
I was 21 in 1980, and I managed to snag tickets for two shows of this run: the 31st, and one other, maybe the second or third show. For the 31st - where most of this was filmed - I had pretty good seats around the 10th row on the side.

Having seen the Dead in a number of venues, from the Palladium to MSG and Nassau Coliseum, it was a real treat to see them at Radio City. But on top of that, hearing them play acoustic sets, the first time they did so since 1970, and pretty much the last time ever, was awesome. While the band phoned in a lot of the electric stuff - you can see from the songs on this DVD that the setlist was pretty sedate, with no real jamming - they were on when they played the acoustic sets. The Reckoning album is certainly one of the best live Dead albums, and the re-release with a second disc is even better than the first one, which I had on LP back in the day.

In any case, the band was clearly enjoying this show, and it's worth getting for the acoustic set, even though it's kind of short on the video compared to what they played live. With so little good footage of the Dead from the 70s, this remains one of the only documents of the tie - together with the Grateful Dead Movie, and especially the bonuses, and the Closing of Winterland. (The Closing of Winterland is a much better show, with a real strong setlist.) It's a shame that so little was filmed back then, especially in the great year of 1972. But we'll take what we can get.
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on July 7, 2015
A great memory. I remember watching this simulcast in a movie theater on Halloween night 1980. The material on this DVD is not everything from that night, some is cut, and some is added from the night before. This was the end of the 1980 acoustic/electric tour (15 shows in CA, 2 in the midwest, 8 in NY). These were the final two shows in NY.

These same shows were released in piecemeal compilations as "Reckoning" and "Dead Set". The Space > Fire On the Mountain is the same as on the Dead Set CD. Unfortunately, on Dead Set, they chop the Fire jam near the end and splice in Greatest Story Ever Told -- a nasty flaw on Dead Set. Here, you will hear/see the entire Fire jam (one of the better ones played in the early 80s) and the jam segues into Not Fade Away.

Much better that that flawed Dead Set recording, but unfortunately, this show is cut up as well. After Not Fade Away, Jerry played an absolutely exquisite Stella Blue on 10-31-1980. A great version. But its not included here. The DVD cuts out Stella Blue > Goin Down the Road, and cuts straight to Good Lovin'.

All in all, this is still a great selection of their playing from 1980, a year when Jerry was healthy and full of energy, and the band cleaned up their sound and broke out the acoustic guitars for old times sake. A real gem from one of the last years the Dead were still a great band.
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on July 11, 2014
I would rate this among my top live music recorded DVD's. It is well shot footage from a band in Top form. I'd place this in a "Song Remains the Same", "Live in Pompeii", "Live in Quebec", "Where the Lights Are" category. Solid footage. Solid tunage.

Whether or not its your particular favorite era of GD music it a whole other story.
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on January 7, 2013
The picture clarity and camera shots are way better than the Winterland DVD filmed in '78. The Al Franken skits are a little goofy in the context of modern times (you have 2b pretty old to remember who da heck Henry Kissinger wuz, dig?) But what counts here is da music and it's supa badazz. Performances are the same ones I believe as the audio release Dead Set (electric part of the show) and it's audio companion, Reckoning (the 'acoustic' set). Great version of Me and My Uncle. Don't Ease Me In, great version of Ripple and the old Lovin Spoonful song that was given the 'acoustic' treatment by da guys, On The Road Again. Also this is the earliest video availiable commercially that documents the Brent Mydland era and he kills it vocally and instrumentally as always (check his badazz B3 on Little Red Rooster) Deadheads should get this.
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