Customer Reviews: Spring 1990, So Glad You Made It
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VINE VOICEon September 18, 2012
For much of my 17 years of Grateful Dead fandom I was, admittedly, what Deadheads refer to as a 60's & 70's snob. Out of my massive collection of live tapes and Dick's Picks, only a handful were from the Brent Mydland years of '79-'90 or later. It took me rediscovering--five or six years back--1990's 'Without A Net,' with it's excellent versions of "Bird Song" and "Eyes of the World," for me to rethink my stance. Through, I've now come to appreciate every era of the Dead, and I believe the Spring 1990 tour to be their most consistently stellar since '77. They've had other runs in that span that may have had higher peaks but, with this tour, one could basically pick any show at random to listen to and it's virtually guaranteed to be a winner.

'Spring 1990: So Glad You Made It'--a compilation whittled down from the 18-disc box set released last month--is an excellent companion piece to the aforementioned 'Without A Net,' featuring highlights from six of the best shows in March. We finally get an official release of the legendary Albany "Loser" from March 24th, and the Brent Mydland-sung "Blow Away" from March 16th in Landover, MD. Brent, without a doubt, had the best pure singing voice of anyone in the Dead at this point, and its a shame he died a few scant months after these shows. Even though he was their longest tenured keyboardist, I would love to have heard more from him, considering the band were in the middle of a live mini-renaissance beginning the year prior, which was unfortunately cut short by his untimely death. He's one of the most talented backing keyboardists of all-time, imo, even if it did take me a while to get used to the (at times) "carnival-ish" sound of his keys.

Elsewhere we get 14-plus minute versions of "Bird Song" and "Eyes" that rival 'Without a Net's.' I know it's hard to top Branford Marsalis's sax-laden version of "Eyes," but I almost prefer this one, as Jerry's precise noodling comes through more, along with the interweaving of the various instruments. Then again I could just be burnt out on the other due to a ridiculous amount of repeated listens. The "Jack-a-Roe" is one of the best electric versions I've heard, and Bob sounds positively possessed on one of the more exploratory latter-day "Estimated Prophet"s. Also included is one of the most powerful, heartfelt "Morning Dew"s of the era, which slowly builds and builds, Jerry pouring his soul into each and every verse until the song erupts into all-out bliss.

The only negative for me is that the sound-quality is a little underwhelming--with less clarity and less "oomph" in the bass compared with other releases--though it's still loads better than any soundboard tape you can get from this tour. It's just weird to me that I have many 40 year-old, 2-track live recordings of the Dead that sound crisper than these 22 year-old shows. I know the band recorded some of their 80's and 90's shows straight to cassette as opposed to reel to reel, which affected the sound-quality in some cases. I'm not sure if that's the case here, but it's still just a minor complaint, as it's definitely better than most live albums by other bands from this era.

'Spring 1990: So Glad You Made It' is absolutely essential for Deadheads, and for fans of just-plain great music in general. You get the best of both worlds here--from upbeat, head-bobbin' numbers to deeper, more tripped-out jams--and therefore it would serve as a great introduction to later-period Dead, if you are (like I once was) hesitant to explore this era. It still blows my mind that, with the wealth of live material released year after year by this band, that there are still these amazing gems that are just now getting released.

And I have a feeling that these past 20 years of archival releases may be just the tip of the iceberg. I may not be the religious sort, but...thank God for the Grateful "goshdarn" Dead.
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on October 13, 2012
Seven Reasons to Love this Record:
1) Brent is on Fire, actually leading the band to new heights
2) Brent's organ, lead and accompaniment, is inspired
3) Audio quality is amazing. Much better than most DP's
4) The Entire Band is at their telepathic best and functioning as a unit
5) Drummers never sounded better
6) Cool new instrument sounds--very MIDI
7) Vocal Harmonies are strong, with Brent leading the way.

Six Reasons to Hate this Record:
1) Brent is on Fire, actually leading the band to new heights
2) Wasn't this a Guitar band! Where are they? Where's Bobby?
3) The Captain is in the back seat both instrumentally and vocally way down in the mix and delivery. Maybe he always just to be a session player.
4) Brent Songs--don't have the same mystique as the rest of the Dead's work. And somebody please tell Brent that nothing says "Real Love" more than actually being there despite his overly earnest Michael Macdonald-like vocal delivery.
5) Brent's tinkle keyboard casio circus sounds. Makes Todd Rundgren sound like he was not deaf in the high range
6) Cool new instrument sounds--very MIDI

Sure I like this record. Been listening to it in my car all week. It's the Dead! But as my two lists show I have some conflicted feelings. You can probably tell I preferred it when Brent was just the humble keyboardist, but I also give him his due; he is upping the overall musical reach He's definitely "on;" I just wish he wasn't. I think Jerry was more present in the Dozin' at the Knick release which is also from the same tour so I prefer that if I'm going to reach for 1990's Dead. But apparently I can't get enough of this band whatever their permutation because I'm still buying it and it beats 99% of what's out there.
Dick's Pick 18, an amazingly strong '78 show, is currently playing and I certainly prefer that Dead even though my heart belongs in '72-'74. Different day, different Dead!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 24, 2013
I tended to think late Dead albums weren't so hot until I bought the GarciaLive album from the 1990's and thought that it was fine. So I bought this, and it's really good. It isn't a single concert but selections from a tour, and the selections have been very well made. I don't think I've heard the Dead cover "This could be the last time" on any other album, and they do a nice job here. Also "Loser," which is on many concert albums, really comes across well here -- Jerry's vocals are particularly strong. And I agree with the reviewers who praise Brent Mydland's work here. I love Keith Godchaux (and really miss Donna Jean's vocal contribution) but Mydland is his own man -- in some ways more interventionist in the aural mix than Keith tended to be. His songs and singing are fine with me too, though I realize he's an acquired taste. "West L. A. Fadeaway" and "Feel Like a Stranger" were new to me, and very attractive. On the second disc, The opening three songs were strong, and I love "Morning Dew" (soulful stuff), which is really nicely done here. A nice mix, then, of the familiar and unfamiliar, well performed and in good sound.
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on October 25, 2013
The full box set was a limited edition and it sold out pretty fast with good reason. This may be latter-day Dead which is a much different proposition from the fire-eating monster of early Dead, but it is very good-to-excellent mature music making with some pyrotechnics thrown in-albeit electronically processed pyros. I personally think this is really the last consistent period of great Dead shows. To me, the magic was lost generally by 1992 with only a few great shows in uneven tours. This collection gives the more casual fan a great taste of spring 90. I was lucky enough to get the full box set which I treasure but purchased this on vinyl for quick listening of some of the highlights on my trusty turntable. The package is first rate also-very collectable item.
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on August 3, 2015
Very few highlights here! The performances are average, yet solid. The sound is somewhat disappointing, lacking punch and depth. Jerry is too quiet in the mix. Highs: Loser (we've been waiting for this one!), All Over Now (Brent!), Birdsong, Scarlet, and Dew. I could do without the Good Times Roll, Easy To Love You, The Last Time, Gimme Some Lovin' and even the Attics...hard to believe they couldn't cobble together something more interesting from this run. Still, makes a decent companion to the (superior) Without A Net and Dozin' at the Knick.
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on October 12, 2012
If you want the song by song review there are others that offer that. I will give you the high level summary review. Has a low start but works into a good flow. I guess I was looking for something I hadn't heard before but I think I've come to that point in Dead shows where everything is starting to sound the same. If you're a seasoned Dead Head maybe move on but this is good for anyone who doesn't have the big collection. It's decent and, yes, sound quality could be better.
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on January 29, 2013
Nice selection of songs. Most of the versions were cherry picked from the whole spring tour of '90. This is nice for each song but does not give you a solid complete show type feeling. As always with the best of type compilations there is always a song or two that you wished had made it onto the album. Good tunes from a solid tour.
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on March 15, 2013
I love the stuff I had previously heard from the March 1990 tour - Without a Net, Dozin' at the Kick, and Terrapin Limited. This album is similar in the playing aspect - the band was tight / inspired jamming using the "new" technologies at the time. My only (minor) issue with this release is that it sounds like a "live to two track" (i.e. Dick's Picks style) recording versus a fully-mixed mutli-track recording like Dozin at the Knick. This is not necessarily a bad thing - I was just under the impression that the full box set from which this was culled was mixed and mastered from multi-track tapes so I assumed this one would be as well.'s great to have live versions of "Let the Good Times Roll", "West LA Fadeaway", "Gimme Some Lovin'" and , of course, the infamous "Knixed Knick" version of "Loser".
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on July 14, 2015
These are excellent performances from one of the best Dead eras of 89-90. However the sound is similar to the 2-track (stereo soundboard) recordings like the Dick's Picks series rather than other live recordings from the same era that took advantage of the multitracks to really sweeten the mix. For example Without a Net,Dozin' At The Knick: Knickerbocker Arena,Nightfall of Diamonds,Truckin Up to Buffalo July 4 1989, and Crimson, White & Indigo: July 7 1989 JFK Stadium, Philadelphia (3CD/1DVD) have much more exciting mixes from similar shows, most importantly you can hear Jerry's voice well on all of those. To my knowledge, these Spring 90 shows were all multitracked but perhaps this release was geared to diehards used to trading tapes. I'm a huge fan and saw several shows around this time I just think the other releases sound so much better. If you love the Brent era (to me his harmonies really sound great) Go To Nassau: May 15 & 16, 1980 is also very good. Hopefully they'll keep putting out more like that because I'd love to hear more of the catalog in really pristine sound. I'm sure they will.
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VINE VOICEon September 18, 2012
This is the two cd "Best Of" version of the big Spring 1990 (Limited Edition 18-Disc Box Set) box set. As with the big box, these shows are taken from John Cutler's two track DATs rather than the multi tracks from the tour so the sound isn't up to Without A Net or Nightfall Of Diamonds quality. While this cd set is nice, there's just so much good stuff missing here. I really wished that they had just made all six shows available separately for people who couldn't afford the box instead of this two cd version. Fortunately, I was able to get a copy but feel bad for those that couldn't. Had they released these shows separately, it also might have given the vault guys a bigger budget so that they could've actually mixed the 24 track masters.

As I said earlier, if you missed out on the box, this isn't bad way to go but you're gonna miss out on things like the hot Deal from 3-19, It Must Have Been The Roses and Believe It Or Not from 3-22, the cool Feel Like A Stranger, Half-Step->The Weight, and He's Gone->The Last Time from 4-2. Don't even get me started on the Playing jam from 3-30-90 as well as several stand out Drums/Space segments. Thankfully, these show do exist on torrent sites in their complete form. This set does generate some heat and the playing is very good so it is a worthy addition to any Head's collection.
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