GarciaLive Volume Eight: November 23, 1991 is the latest (and IMHO) one of the best live Jerry releases in this series so far (and I own them all).
The Jerry Garcia Band spent the month of November in 1991 primarily on the East Coast with the short 14 show tour concluding in the middle of the US. This show from Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the second to last show of the tour, and it was one of the finest in both song selection and overall energy. All of Jerry's leads are played superbly and with precision, and high octane energy that you rarely (OK, sporadically) heard during this period. His solos on Money Honey alone make this show a must have. Add a band that is tight, seasoned, and on their mark throughout the show, well, once again, you get the picture, buy this show because you will not regret it.
Melvin Seals complements this band so well on keys and his solo's on this show shine through as much as Jerry's. John Kahn's bass and the perfect beat-keeping of drummer David Kemper provide a wonderful rhythm section that Jerry loved backing him, which always allowed him the freedom to open up his solo's in a format and fashion that wasn't always defined when he was out with the Grateful Dead. Add in the beautiful background harmony and vocals of both Jacklyn LeBranch and Gloria Jones, the JGB was on it's game this evening, and I for one am very glad that the Garcia Family Estate released this show.
I was fortunate enough to catch 2 of the 14 shows on this tour (Worcester, MA 10 days earlier, and Providence, RI the same week as this release) and Jerry was ON throughout this outing, which (as most of you JGB fans can testify) wasn't always the case.
The entire first set of this Bradley Center show is strong, tight, and full of energy with a very strong 'Cats Under the Stars' opener and a few Dead staples thrown in (They Love Each Other, Deal) to allow Jerry to stretch out and display his prowess and chops on lead guitar. Sure, Jerry's voice has the usual "I just smoked 2 packs of Camels" strain that is unfortunately present more often than not during the 1990's, but he remembers all the words to the songs and sings them with conviction throughout. I also LOVE the way Jerry ends 'Lay Down Sally', it kind of takes you by surprise and leaves a smile on my face every time! Other first set highlights are 'The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down' (superb and soulful!) and a personal favorite of mine, Reuben and Cherise.
The second set is strong as well, with IMHO one of the best versions of 'Shining Star' I have ever heard them play. John Khan's bass is hypnotic. The set opens with the 5th and final version of Van Morrison's 'Bright Side of the Road' a song that debuted on the second show of this short JGB tour and would never be played again after this show (which is another great reason to pick up this CD!). A cover of Bruce Cockburn's 'Waiting for a Miracle' which never disappoints follows, and we're off and running once again, with Jerry and the band delivering a very entertaining and well-played second set. Personally, I think the energy level drops at the end of the show a little bit during 'Ain't No Bread in the Bread Box' and 'Lucky Old Sun', leaving 'Tangled Up In Blue' the final celebration for the night (albeit a bit slower tempo than I like to see the JGB play it) but overall the show is well worth buying because it is a Jerry fan's delight from start to finish. No encore at this show (c'mon Jer!) which was par for the course at times when seeing Jerry solo, but this show is definitely a gem from that mini tour and one that every Jerry head should add to their collection.