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Customer Review

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ILLUMINATING LOOK AT THE BAND, FANS & PA, August 27, 2005
This review is from: The Grateful Dead Movie (DVD)
The Grateful Dead movie came out in 1977 but consists of footage shot during an October 1974 series of concerts at the Winterland, the last to use the "wall of Sound" system, and the shows preceeded a break from touring but by the time it came out, they had already resumed performing. It is as much about the fans, the sound crew, the "wall of sound" PA, and promoter Bill Graham as about the band. When I saw it back when it came out and a couple times at local high school auditoriums over the next few years, I was always left with the feeling that it was a little short on uninterupted concert footage. The film tries to cover so much ground the music performances suffer. The other place I felt it was lacking was the sound mix. This new DVD release basically fixes my two main gripes about the original release. It has a second bonus disc of extra song performances, and it has been remixed- it now sounds alot better (but for those who want the original mix, you can play it that way too for the movie portion). There is also some extra interview footage. The transfer of the film has been well done. The dead always had good people working for them, whether it was Betty Cantor, Dan Healy, Steve Parish or Ron Wickersham- and now Jeffrey Norman and David Lemeieux, the keepers of the vault. They have done some excellent work with this release and "The Closing of Winterland" DVD....both come from a period many consider to be their best. Now we can have our own virtual Dead concert. If you like this DVD, I'd also recommend the 5 CD "Movie soundtrack" set which is one of the best audio releases.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 3, 2011, 2:39:28 PM PDT
Ok, so this is, for the most part, a concert on DVD, right? If one does not own a 5 disc changer and/or isn't a Dead addict, they would be just fine w/ this DVD, right? Maybe I'm just weird, but I don't find anything to enhance my life or make life worth it in The Grateful Dead's music. However, when I'm on my way to sleep, I like to have them on. A Blu ray of this is coming out, thought maybe I'd add it to my wish list and buy it when/if I get a bd player...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2011, 9:47:58 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2011, 9:53:03 PM PDT

This is the best Dead movie. Yes! Get it! I *cannot* attest to the quality of the product. But I *can* attest to the quality of the original movie. I've seen many videos of the Dead in concert. This is by far the best. And it's because it was recorded in San Francisco and at a very special event for them. So they gave an extra effort to put on a really good show.

There are also a lot of extras in the movie, between songs. There are short interviews with band members and fans. There is backstage footage of the roadies setting up their equipment. There's an argument between one of the Dead and a Hell's Angel. There's an argument between one of the Dead's roadies and Bill Graham.

And there's even a few animated sections. This movie has the best production standards of any film they have put out, because it was meant to play on big screens all over the U.S.

Back in 1986 my friend and I dropped some acid and watched this movie. It's one of the best films ever to trip to. Yes! Buy it! I can attest to everything but the product quality.

Personally, I like all the extra footage. It's part documentary and part concert footage. I don't know how that would affect your ability to sleep to it. I sometimes sleep to movies. And huge changes in volume can sometimes wake me up. If you want continuity of sound for while you're sleeping, maybe you should get another Dead video. But if you want to watch it while you're awake, then get this one.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2011, 8:30:28 AM PDT
Thanx for the tip. I'll probably wait 'til I can afford a 5 CD Changer and just buy EUROPE '72. I enjoy a lot of the melodies and soundscapes on that one, even though it's often times too soft/mellow for when I'm awake, especially lately since I've been on the verge of falling asleep most days when I'm not actually sleeping.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2011, 5:37:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 16, 2011, 8:11:49 AM PDT
Also, go to You-Tube and put Grateful Dead Movie in the search window. It starts with about 8 minutes of animation. The video that popped up for me says Grateful Dead Movie Part 1. It's says it's one hour and 25 minutes long. A haven't found Part 2 yet.

Anyway, that way you can see what you're getting. I don't know about the quality of a particular product, but the original film was very high quality. It was made to run in theaters across the nation.

Aslo, go to wiki-pedia and enter The Grateful Dead Movie into the search window. There's a fairly long article about the movie. It says that the 1981 video wasn't the best quality. (I didn't notice at the time. I guess I had a good copy). It says that the DVD was carefully restored from the original negative. Apparently it's very high quality. It says that the original movie was 132 minutes long (2 hours and 12 minutes).

The movie "captures performances from the Grateful Dead's October 1974 five-night stand at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco." It was the end of a tour. So not only were they playing for their home crowd, they were in their top form, having had an entire tour to "shake off the rust."

Also, check out (the Internet Movie Database). You can probably find entries for some of their other video releases. I think there are at least two different feature length videos, besides The Grateful Dead Movie, of them playing live.


At that time the Grateful Dead had the best sound system of any band in the world. It was custom designed especially for the Grateful Dead. They had a tall wall of stacked speakers on each side of the stage. And if you notice, each singer had two microphones, one on top of the other. This was a brilliant innovation. It split the signal to avoid feedback from the speakers.

Enter the following into the you-tube search window to find out more about it:

The Grateful Dead's - 'Wall Of Sound'

Posted on Mar 28, 2013, 1:23:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 28, 2013, 1:31:25 PM PDT
Stratocaster says:
I saw a documentary somewhere several years ago (PBS I think) which hit upon the Dead's "Wall Of Sound". Apparently Owsley Stanley and Phil Lesh (who is kind of an electronics geek as a hobby) brainstormed, designed and built the whole thing "in house". Contrary to what many may think just from looking at it from the surface, it is actually made up of hundreds of small (some as small as 6") speakers, as opposed to the huge mammouth woofers that were the standard at the time. Phil Lesh also took apart his bass to show all of the intricate electronics he had built in there himself. Wish I could find that Documentary somewhere - really cool stuff.....and very smart guys - some of the sound system ideas they came up with, without ever patenting them, are now used as standards throughout the industry.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 28, 2013, 1:54:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 1, 2013, 1:37:09 PM PDT
Yea a bunch of cubes and honeycomb cabinets all rigged to stacks of some of the best and most reliable power amplifiers of the time (Mcintosh). Their circle was into the entire concert experience which naturally led to them taking the live concert sound aspect very seriously, as well as the recording of their performances almost from the outset, for that we are fortunate. Many bands of the time just wanted a loud PA, but the Dead wanted their's be loud, clean, and with good dispersion/radiation properties. As you mention their instruments and the way they patched in were also customized- for example Lesh's bass had a stack of Woofers for each string!
From an outside "mainstream" perspective they might have seemed like a bunch of hippie's- but they achieved their dreams- one was to make the ultimate concert sound system, one was to make a movie, one was to have their own record label, and one was to play at the great pyramids.
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