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134 of 137 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2003
This release took some time to come out due to having the technology to sync up and clean up the audio and video tracks, many deadheads have tapes and vhs of this since it was broadcasted, but it never sounded better than here (much better than I expected). The video is decent, it's late 70's video, so I was'nt expecting miracles there, it's patchy in spots, but the good sound and performance make this a must have dvd for fans as it is and will be the only concert footage released from the 70's other than the Grateful Dead Movie. The band was at their peak during the 70's - this performance blows away the dvd's from subsequent years. There are many highlights including- "scarlet begonias>fire on the mountain", cippolina jamming on "not fade away", and a short but very good "dark star"...the guitar solo on "wharf rat" is a classic Garcia moment- probably his high point of the show- the whole 3rd set is great. The band is mostly "on" for this one, they were so hot in '77 and '78 that most of the shows ranged from good to incredibly good, this disc is a fine document from a time many fans have been wishing for...excellent work by the GD archivists.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2003
The closing of Winterland was a traumatic thing for alot of Deadheads back in 1978, and this was the final concert performed there on New Year's Eve 1978.

This is my 7th Grateful Dead DVD that I have purchased and...musically speaking it ranks up there with any of the other 7...(the sound is great on this dvd) and hey, maybe for pure content it is the best bang for the buck. Lots of cool jammin going on here, and the concert lasts for over 4 hours. The video quality is not as good as the others (a bit dark) and as can be expected, because it was filmed in 1978. All the other Dead concerts on DVD are from 1987-1991, I believe.

But all in all this is a great DVD to own, simply because the Grateful Dead are the... Grateful Dead. One can't help but to feel happy when listening to the music. I wish that more Dead DVD's would become available at a faster clip... It seems that they are putting out one a year or so. Anyway, the music will take ya away, and the extra bonus features on disc two are great. The 30 minute segment on the closing of Winterland includes old footage of interviews with Deadheads before the show and current day interviews with Bob Weir, Micky Hart and a long time member of the GD road crew... is really a nice segment. Also included in the bonus stuff is two of the songs the "Blues Brothers" did (an absolute riot, they were) in the opening act before Jerry and the boys took the stage. And, not to be forgotten, a piece of the action from New Riders of the Purple Sage, who were also a warm up act.

If you are a true fan of the Grateful Dead, this is a must. To any casual fan of rock and roll fan or music historian, I would highly suggest you pick it up as well. It's R&R history... and some great music, to boot!

Keep the Grateful Dead DVD's coming, its important to keep thier vibe alive... especially in a day where the comtemporary music scene doesn't have much to offer. The Grateful Dead were truly a unique phenomena, and the message that they articulated is one that should be still heard today.

Rock on Jerry.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2007
I won't add to the other raves on the performance. It's a great show by the Dead in their prime. 'Nuff said.

But I will add a note on the sound, since I have some expertise on the subject. When this was taped in 1978, analog recording had reached full technical maturity. Despite all the digital hoopla, many of us in the biz know full well that the best of 70s analog was better than most of 80s digital...and you could take that into the 90s as well. So the sound capture that night was far superior to many of the later Dead releases done on early generations of digital gear. It's most apparent here in the gorgeous sound of Phil Lesh's bass. It's never sounded better on any release in any format. Of course, by the time they got around to remixing the original analog masters for DVD, digital technology was well into its third generation (24-bit resolution, 96kHz sampling or higher) and thus able to fully reproduce the gorgeous analog sound of original. So, crank it up and enjoy the best of the analog and digital worlds.

One final note: The only sonic disappointment here has nothing to do with the recording. It's the instrument. Why was Keith Godchaux stuck with the rinky-tink Yamaha electric? I sorely missed the gorgeous tone of a real concert grand as heard on Europe '72, where his work shone through spectacularly. You can see what he had on the cover of the Europe '72 booklet at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and I expect something similar was on the rider for each show. Was Bill Graham pinching pennies in '78 or what?
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2003
Here's the setlist for anyone interesting in buying this one:
SET ONE
1 Sugar Magnolia >
2 Scarlet Begonias >
3 Fire On The Mountain
4 Me and My Uncle >
5 Big River
6 Friend of the Devil
7 It's All Over Now
8 Stagger Lee
9 From The Heart Of Me
10 Sunshine Daydream

SET TWO
1 Samson and Delilah
2 Ramble On Rose
3 I Need A Miracle>
4 Terrapin Station >
5 Playing In The Band >
6 Rhythm Devils >
7 Not Fade Away >
8 Around And Around

SET THREE
1 Dark Star >
2 The Other One >
3 Dark Star >
4 Wharf Rat >
5 St. Stephen >
6 Good Lovin'

ENCORE
7 Casey Jones >
8 Johnny B. Goode
9 We Bid You Goodnight
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2007
This concert was and is incredible. As with all the things that Grateful Dead productions put out, this is money well spent. The Dead organization has always been loyal to their fans and this is their way of giving back. The show on it's own is mindblowing. But the extra goodies with this make it more of an experience than just the amazing performance.

This is my most prized Dead DVD. I watch it on my portable and am always amazed at how well they cleaned this masterpiece up. You get the whole story included in the set. I could watch "DARK STAR" till the next millenium.

All in all, The Dead organization gives back to the fans musically in the most gratifying fashion. Giving us little momentos(in superbly packaged products) of the boys in action that will always stand the test of time and let us fully realize why they gave so much to the music world in their 30 years. A MUST HAVE from the casual to obsessive listener.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2003
Just a short little review. Wow!!! I have pretty much all the Dead DVDs, and this one is worlds apart. First reason is Jerry. He has never been seen on video like this - in command, in charge, vital, his 1970s self. While his 1990s self was better documented, that was perhaps less indicative of who Jerry really was. Now I feel like I know the guy better. In the performance, Jer has power to spare, a welcome sight. New licks and vocal inflections everywhere. His voice sounding younger in line with his appearance. This guy is raging and putting on a damn fine show.
Seeing Bobby as a young man is pretty interesting too. Even at age 32 or so, he looks and moves like an awkward kid. Donna is a treat to see after hearing her on tapes but never seeing her.
Second reason is the video camera work. While the resolution isn't great, it is flat out FASCINATING to be a member of the audience of a 1978 Dead show. Unlike the other Vault videos, this one relies heavily on the audience's prespective and their experience, while providing plenty of close-ups. The philosophy of the public TV camera crew was evidently to document the mood of the night; it's largely successful. The video of Johnny B. Goode is worth the price by itself.
This is all helped by cool apsect #3, the incredibly well-recorded and well mixed sound. It's more enveloping than any video yet. My spacial and sonic curiosities are REALLY satisfied by this DVD. The essence of what HAPPENED that night, missing from other stage-feed videos that exclude the crowd, is easily felt here.
Also, for those curious about Winterland, how it interacted with concertgoers and fostered a happy experience, this video footage sheds some light on that. It was a grand forgotten space.
And let's face it, this is the only video with the band fully soaked in its well-known drug days. The GD are all having grand arcs of whatever brand of intoxication, as had become their expertise. It shows in that particular brand of '70s fire seen & heard in their playing. They are not bored or listless, nor are their minds on other things. They were all about MUSIC on this night. Thanks for the great DVD set.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 2, 2003
Here I am sitting at my computer reviewing the Grateful Dead's newly released, "Closing of Winterland" DVD and it dawns on me that this is my twentieth year (Merriweather '83 was my first concert) of being 'on the bus'. Well, all I can say is that the "Closing of Winterland" DVD is just about as perfect a gift as I can think of to celebrate. Here is the Dead shown in all their musical glory during the great '78 tour, performing at a revered, historic last concert at the famed, Winterland. Yes, I know the Dead are known for dropping the ball (or the ice cream cone for that matter...) at the BIG EVENTS (think Woodstock), but this is not the case here. In this live local San Fransisco, Public TV, production we really see the band operating at it's musical peak.This is defintley X-FACTOR enhanced material, which has a great set list including favorites such as "Scarlet Begonias", "Fire on the Mountain","Casey Jones" and "Terrapin Station". To top things off, the band makes the occasion extra special by playing rarely performed tunes such as "Dark Star" and "St. Stephen".The entire third set is just amazing!I think I understand now, why so many tapers have been clamoring for this special show all these years. As for the DVD itself, the folks at Grateful Dead Productions have done a truely outstanding job of putting everything together.They deserve kudos for taking a 1978 recording (especially the sound) and updating it through the use of modern day technology. The DVD also contains loads of extras which will keep any Dead Head busy for a long while. I was impressed with the nostalgic, historical documentary "Winterland: A Million Memories", which included interviews with Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Steve Parrish & the late Bill Graham about the show. I love the various shots and vintage interviews with the 1978 era fans. It really helped explain the atmosphere and feelings that surrounded the concert. Also included are short videos and still photography of opening acts The Blues Brothers & New Riders of the Purple Sage. Finally, the packaging of this set is really well done. I like the beautifully reproduced, classic, Kelly & Mouse artwork along with a insert booklet containing the set list, great color photographs of the band performing and well written remembrances of the era, venue and the show.I highly recommend this wonderful DVD!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2005
This is another nicely loaded-down DVD and those who like the Dead will love this frequently bootlegged 1978 New Year's Eve concert that marked the closing of promoter Bill Graham's infamous San Francisco ballroom, the Winterland.

Aside from "The Grateful Dead Movie" -- which is *the* filmed Dead performance to beat -- this is the only official, extended look at the band's live act during the 70s.

The show covers three long sets, 27 numbers. The sound and video quality are limited by the technology of the period; it was shot in low light on fuzzy-looking video, but it's been cleaned up about as much as possible and if you like the way the band plays, then you probably won't mind at all.

Extra features include a solid, nicely detailed documentary about the Dead's history at Winterland; amusingly disorganized interviews with Dead drummer Mickey Hart, singer and guitarist Bob Weir, author Ken Kesey and show-organizer Bill Graham (who opens the show by flying up to the stage on a glowing, 12-foot-long paper mache spliff); footage of opening act, the Blues Brothers; and a short look at how the footage was restored for the DVD.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2003
I've bought all of the View From the Vault series and while they're good for what they are (usually just the video feed that was piped to the screens in large venues in the late '80's and 90's) this production stands head and shoulders above any of them. The Dolby 5.1 sound is superb, the deep Phill bass blasts that would occasionaly loosen chunks of plaster from the Winterland ballroom's ceiling sent my dogs into hiding.
While low-quality copies of some of the video has been available for years, this DVD mates the original image with the 24 track recordings for the first time. Apparently there was no time stamp on the original recordings since they were never intended to be synched. This production had to stay on the shelf until digital technology allowed the Dead archivists to perform that task.
The content and quality of the show is well known to Deadheads, but this production is so much more than a mere document of a single performance of the Dead in thier prime... The real magic of this DVD revolves around the event, the band and the "friends and family". Through extensive current and vintage interviews with Dead staff, friends and fans, the viewer gets the oportunity to see what the Dead "meant", not just what they sounded like in 1978. The DVD also touches on many of the Dead's relationships at time that proved to be one of the major crossroads for the band.. Like what the Winterland Ballroom meant to the Dead and rock in general... And the relationship between Bill Graham and the Dead, as well as Bill Graham and the fans.. When it comes to defining the Dead, it's a great companion for the Grateful Dead movie, which was also shot at Winterland..
This DVD obviously required a lot more time and effort to produce than the View from the Vault series, and the fact that it sells for $22 is a credit to the Dead organization. In this era of $130 concert tickets to see has-beens like the Eagles, it's nice to see the Dead still believe in giving thier fans premium entertainment for a fair price.. Any other band would have sold it for $50!
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2003
I saw the 80 minute edited version for the first time Saturday night on PBS. Even though the broadcast featured more songs and not the longer improvisational portions of that evening, it was very enjoyable. In ProLogic, the mix was clean with Phil's Bass both melodic and deep enough to feel through a decent subwoofer. 5.1 surround should be even better.
The video quality is to be expected for live concert by a local TV crew circa 1978. Except for a somewhat brighter stage lights than usual, with more washed out colors and than the typical show of that era,(an ok compromise for shooting video) the view both live and recorded was the way it really was in those days.

The audience NYE '78 was more responsive than at the shows in Winterland 4 years earlier that were filmed for the Grateful Dead movie. I think it was in part due to the house lights in the '74 film were partially up, with extra, purple and yellow movie lighting focused on the crowd. Kind of like watching the Dead in twilight. It looks like real concert when you watch the Grateful Dead Movie, but Winterland felt like a set. In contrast, NYE '78 may look dark when the cameras turn away from the band, but the crowd had a better time.
I look forward to actually "seeing" the parts of the third set for the first time. During "Dark Star" I found some empty folding chairs off to the side on the floor and put my feet up, laid back and let the jams wash over me for an hour. We had been in the hall for more than 10 hours and it was almost 5 AM.
One last dance with "Good Lovin", "Johnny B Goode", an acapella "Bid You Goodnight", then a complete breakfast was served for 5000 Deadheads.
My brother and I took the bus home, napped a few hours and then watched Joe Montana win the Cotton Bowl for Notre Dame...but that is the beginning of another San Francisco story.
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