April 17, 1983 was the first time I saw the Grateful Dead play their magnificent trilogy of songs from what I consider their best studio album (from a band not known for their studio efforts), BLUES FOR ALLAH. Kicking off the second set with HELP ON THE WAY and moving seamlessly into the instrumental bridge SLIPKNOT! and eventually culminating –after a long, strange trip– with the ever-danceable and always-joyous FRANKLIN’S TOWER, the Grateful Dead, as they had done many times before, blew my mind. The band had just reintroduced this beloved combo of songs only a month before (after a period of many years where two of the three songs were simply not performed at all) and audiences were MUCHOS excited to catch this powerful musical triptych. This night was the fifth time they’d played these tunes together since reintroducing them.
Not only was this my first time seeing the trilogy live, but it was easily the best version I ever caught. While it’s true that by the spring of ’83 Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead were already showing signs of wear and tear, they also managed to maintain a vital energy that is fiercely evident in this audience recording from the Brendan Byrne Arena in NJ. They performed 2 back-to-back nights on this particular run and both nights featured appearances by Stephen Stills (though not playing on the above songs. Sorry). They were rockin’, magical nights and still talked about in the annals of Grateful Dead history. And rightfully so. There was a dynamic drive to both these shows that was palpable. And it still is as you’ll see when you listen to this tasty tidbit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I.
This stream is temporary so if you find it no longer works you can hear these songs, as well as the rest of the show, at the Internet Archive HERE.