Without a Net
|Without a Net|
|Live album by The Grateful Dead|
|Recorded||October 1989 – April 1990|
|Producer||John Cutler, Phil Lesh|
|The Grateful Dead chronology|
Without a Net is a recording of the Grateful Dead in concert. It compiles live performances by the band, from October 1989 to April 1990, and was released in September 1990. The album simulates the progression of an actual Grateful Dead concert and was certified Gold by the RIAA in November, 1990.
The Grateful Dead's albums had frustrated critics and fans alike for neither approaching nor accurately representing the band's live concert sound and experience - to the point that band-approved, fan-made tapes were preferred to official releases. The band's organization had poured profits into sound reinforcement and cutting-edge technology for their concert performances and were likewise frustrated by the seeming shortfall in capturing their sound on album.
With the advent of digital technology, Without a Net was the band's first contemporary live project in nine years, and featured selections from then-recent tours in an attempt to allow the home listener a closer facsimile of the band's engulfing sound system. Touting the advancement in production clarity, the accompanying shrink wrap sticker proclaimed: "The world's grandest, largest, best live recording."
The resulting album achieved gold-status sales within weeks of its release - the first live album by the band to do so. A series of live releases followed, beginning with a complete concert performance in its entirety. The release of archival live performances continued after the 1995 dissolution of the band and is ongoing.
Content and packaging
The album title uses the idiom metaphorically, alluding to the band's disinclination for prepared set lists. They preferred to just play and let the song choice evolve by sense for each performance, pulling from a repertoire of over 100 then-common songs. In keeping with that notion, the packaging used a circus theme, with a "Big Top Limited Edition" also-available, featuring clowns and related artwork. The album's dedication to Clifton Hanger is a reference to keyboardist Brent Mydland, who used the alias for hotel registration. Mydland died before the album's release.
The album is an attempt to compile some of the best performances from then-recent tours and present them as a prototypical Grateful Dead concert, as they sounded at that time. However, Mydland's death and the subsequent addition of Vince Welnick and Bruce Hornsby changed the band's live sound by the time the album was available. Seventeen songs were chosen from two of the most recent tours and sequenced to represent typical set placement (though the traditional "Drums" solo and "Space" improvisation are absent, and the final "encore" track is given an early fade out).
Other live albums from the same time span (including additional material from the same concerts) have since been released. Those titles are: Dozin' at the Knick, Postcards of the Hanging, Terrapin Station (Limited Edition), So Many Roads (1965–1995), Garcia Plays Dylan, Spring 1990, Formerly the Warlocks, Weir Here, Spring 1990 (The Other One), 30 Trips Around the Sun and Nightfall of Diamonds.
- "Feel Like a Stranger" (Barlow, Weir) – 7:32[a]
- "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo" (Hunter, Garcia) – 8:00[b]
- "Walkin' Blues" (Johnson, arr. Weir) – 5:44[c]
- "Althea" (Hunter, Garcia) – 6:55[c]
- "Cassidy" (Barlow, Weir) – 6:36
- "Bird Song" (Hunter, Garcia) – 12:57
- "Let It Grow" (Barlow, Weir) – 11:55[b]
- "China Cat Sunflower / I Know You Rider" (Hunter, Garcia/trad., arr. Grateful Dead) – 10:24[b]
- "Looks Like Rain" (Barlow, Weir) – 8:04[b]
- "Eyes of the World" (Hunter, Garcia) – 16:14[b]
- "Victim or the Crime" (Graham, Weir) – 8:04
- "Help on the Way/Slipknot!/Franklin's Tower" (Hunter, Garcia/Grateful Dead/Hunter, Garcia, Kreutzman) – 19:07[d]
- "One More Saturday Night" (Weir) – 4:51
- "Dear Mr. Fantasy" (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 5:44[b]
- The vinyl pressing puts "Bird Song" before "One More Saturday Night" instead of after "Cassidy"
- Jerry Garcia – guitar, vocals
- Bob Weir – guitar, vocals
- Brent Mydland – keyboards, vocals
- Phil Lesh – bass guitar, vocals
- Bill Kreutzmann – drums
- Mickey Hart – drums
- "Feel Like A Stranger" recorded at Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia on October 9, 1989
- "Victim or the Crime" recorded at Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ on October 15, 1989
- "Cassidy" recorded at The Spectrum, Philadelphia on October 19, 1989
- "Bird Song" recorded at Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California on December 9, 1989
- "Let It Grow" recorded at Capital Centre, Landover, Maryland on March 14, 1990
- "Walkin' Blues" and "Althea" recorded at Capital Centre on March 15, 1990
- "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo" recorded at Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario on March 21, 1990
- "One More Saturday Night" recorded at Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, New York on March 24, 1990 (see also Dozin' at the Knick)
- "Looks Like Rain" recorded at Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York on March 28, 1990
- "Eyes of the World" recorded at Nassau Coliseum on March 29, 1990
- "Help on the Way/Slipknot!/Franklin's Tower" recorded at Nassau Coliseum on March 30, 1990
- "China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy" recorded at The Omni, Atlanta on April 1, 1990
Album — Billboard
|1990||The Billboard 200||43|
- Allmusic review
- "RIAA Gold & Platinum database-Without a Net". Retrieved February 28, 2009.
- "Tech Pioneers - Wired Magazine". Retrieved May 14, 2016.
- "Grateful Dead Family Discography - Without a Net". Retrieved May 14, 2016.
- "Billboard album chart history-Grateful Dead". Retrieved March 1, 2009.