- Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Arista
- ASIN: B000002VER
- Average Customer Review: 69 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,857 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
In the Dark
LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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In The Dark
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MP3 Music, September 30, 2008
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Hardcore Deadheads always equate this 1987 comeback record with commercial acceptance and a watered-down fan base, but while those assertions are indeed accurate, step back and you'll hear an album full of strong material and equally solid, live-in-the-studio performances. It's more than coincidence that songs such as "Touch of Grey" (the band's only top 10 hit), "Hell in a Bucket," "West L.A. Fadeaway," and "Throwing Stones" all became staples of the Dead's last decade of touring. While longtime fans will probably have no use (or desire) for this release (especially since the CD version omits the brilliant "Brother Esau"), it remains one of the band's most successful studio forays and the quintessential icebreaker for newcomers. --Marc Greilsamer
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Fact 2: American Beauty and Workingman's Dead aside, their studio output paled against their live act.
Fact 3: In the Dark (Dig) was recorded live in an empty theatre, giving it the immediacy of their live work, while preserving the clarity of sound that a recording studio provides.
Oh, and the songs are (mostly) very, very good.
From the optimistic opener, "Touch of Grey" (which, in different hands, could come across as cynical), all the way through to "Black Muddy River" and "My Brother Esau," this album is chock-full of tried and true, well-played songs. Co-lead vocalists/guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir each get several spotlight moments. Garcia's best moment as an individual on the record is probably the gospel/spiritual-tinged "Black Muddy River," while Weir's is the tough, uncompromising "Hell in a Bucket" ('There may come a day I will dance on your grave/If unable to dance I will crawl across it'). Garcia works out of a folk-rock-jazz base that often presents itself with a lot of warmth and good humor, and Weir comes more from a garage-tough bluesy sound, lending his cuts a sincere urgency. Both support each other admirably, as well.
As good as both of those guys are, The Dead were first and foremost, a tight band, and it's fitting that the band gets two amazing workouts. The first is "West LA Fadeaway," a slinky bit of bluesy jazz fronted by Garcia. It's got wonderful bass work from Phil Lesh, great percussion from Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman, who combine to guide the song into a slinky groove that carries the listener away. The other great band workout here also serves as a spotlight for Weir, "Throwing Stones." It's a great song, made for jamming, insistent yet open at the same time. No aimless noodling here, just a sharp chorus with some call and response vocals, stellar guitar work from both Weir and Garcia, and just all-around amazing awesomeness.
If the album has a weak spot, it's keyboardist Brent Mydland's "Tons of Steel." It's not a bad song by any means, but he seems to be channeling Springsteen or possibly Bob Seger on that track. It's a good, chunky bit of rock, but alongside the stellar writing and playing of the two main songwriting teams of the band (Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter and Bob Weir/John Barlow), it just doesn't fit in.
I titled this review a 'gateway album,' meaning that a new listener can navigate their way around these songs easily, while getting the feeling of what The Dead are all about. It's not their best, nor their most challenging to listen to, but for the novice, it's the perfect starting point.
commercial. What I see is a great band still putting out great records after 20 years together. Maybe it's not as great as Aoxomoxoa, Workingman's Dead, or American Beauty, but it still has its bright moments. Of course Garcia and Hunter's hit "Touch of Grey" is one of the brightest moments but Bob Weir's "Throwing Stones" is equally as good. But don't forget my man Brent Mydland on "Tons of Steel." I feel , however, that the pinnacle of this album has to be Garcia's "Black Muddy River" which was, fittingly, the last song he sang live with the Dead. Yes this is a band that has been worn down by tragedy, health problems, drug problems, excessive touring, and of course the number of years they had been doing it, but they showed that they still had some greatness left in them.
in my humble opinion the best Led Zeppelin 100% analog recording is on Classic Record's 180 gram vinyl first edition (the 200 gram second pressing doesn't sound as good for some strange reason), and the best 100% analog Breakfast In America is on A&M Records (Canadian branch) "Audiophile Series", half-speed mastered. Just in case you're looking for outstanding quality of either. Both use very fine quality vinyl too.