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At a running time just shy of four hours,
“Grateful Dead: View from the Vault IV” is a DVD containing two
concerts from the group, which were performed on July 24, 1987
and two days later. The first concert was held at the
Oakland Stadium and the second one was performed
at the Anaheim Stadium.

This DVD was easy to navigate and made perfect viewing,
over a period of two consecutive evenings. Each of these
concerts was subdivided into two sets, the first set of which
was shorter. I’ve been told that the clear sound quality and
good camerawork on this disc is a hallmark of Grateful Dead
shows in general. These were quality productions, not “bootlegs.”

The Grateful Dead tradition of not repeating tunes was also
prevalent here, demonstrating the band’s wealth of repertoire.
The actual performances varied from the tentative to the
type of cohesiveness expected from a well-oiled machine. In
addition as usual, the vocals were the weakest link, particularly
those from Jerry Garcia. Of course, a true “Deadhead” wouldn’t
care, and the feelings of good will and optimism trumped any
vocal imperfections.

I could have done without the distorted visual effects that
were included. It was as though the band was aiming for a
hallucinogenic experience, and I believe that whether or not
the viewer wishes to “enhance” the concert should be his
or her choice!

Nevertheless, I did love the way the band transitioned from
one song to the next without announcing the tunes, choosing
instead to let their music do the talking. I saw the band in
concert at the Irvine Meadows in 1984, and wish that I could
remember more about the actual music making. I do remember
that the audience was probably the most friendly and diverse
group that I’ve ever encountered at a Rock concert.

This DVD bodes well for others in the series. The Dead’s song
catalog is probably the most encyclopedic with regard to live
concerts, particularly from an audio standpoint. There’s a vast
treasure trove of concerts out there, such as those in the
“Dick’s Picks” series, and this is a band that needs to be
experienced “live,” not in the studio.

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