1987 - August: The Grateful Dead “In the Dark”

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Manage episode 282620764 series 2327470
By Rob Marbury, Wayne Rowan, Bruce Fricks, and Brian Dickhute. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The Grateful Dead are most famous for their status as a tour band, jam band, and cult band. They may be the greatest touring rock group of the rock era. They were originally known as the Warlocks when they formed in 1965 in San Francisco, but had to change the name when they discovered another band already using the title. Jerry Garcia found the word "Grateful Dead" in a dictionary, meaning "the soul of a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial."

Jerry Garcia is the guitarist and vocalist, and probably the most famous member. Bob Weir is also on guitar and vocals, Phil Lesh is on bass, Brent Mydland is on keyboards and vocals, and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann share duties on drums.

In the Dark is the twelfth studio album by the Grateful Dead, and their most commercially successful album. Although The Dead hadn't recorded in six years, most of these songs would be familiar to "Dead Heads" from their touring lineup, as much of the album had been played since 1982 or 1983. The album got its name because they recorded the baseline tracks for the album in an empty darkened theater with the same lighting they would use on tour in order to capture the "feel" they had for the songs. The cover art had lettering in the shape of an eye, and inside the "eye" are photos of the band members eyes. The CD release had the photos upside down.

Bruce shares with us this masterpiece from the cult phenomenon known as The Grateful Dead.

Touch of Grey
This is the single from the album. It reached number 9 on Billboard's Hot 100, and number 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks. It was first performed as an encore on September 15th, 1982 in Maryland. The Grateful Dead encourage to record the music during their tours, and the number of bootleg recordings make it easy to track the original debuts of songs. Touch of Grey is the only Grateful Dead song to hit the top 40, so technically The Grateful Dead are a one-hit wonder!

West L.A. Fadeaway
This blues piece was also originally performed in 1982. Supposedly this is a tribute to John Belushi's death at the Chateau Marmont hotel in 1982. Belushi had appeared onstage with the Dead at least once, in New Jersey in 1980. The opening lyric begin, "I'm looking for a Chateau, 21 rooms but one will do." Jerry Garcia had a bad drug problem in the early 80's and started cutting back on opiate usage in 1985. He slipped into a diabetic coma for several days in 1986, so he was lucky not to have shared Belushi's fate by this time.

My Brother Esau
This is a deep cut — so deep that it didn't make it onto the album. It also didn't make it onto the CD, but was the B-side for the “Touch of Grey” single and made it on the cassette version of “In the Dark.” It is an updated story of the Biblical tale of Jacob and Esau, set in the Vietnam war era. It was originally performed in 1983 in Tempe, Arizona.

Hell In a Bucket
While this song sound smooth and upbeat, the lyrics are dripping with venom towards an ex-lover. While not a single, this song received considerable air play on rock-oriented stations in 1987. "I may be going to hell in a bucket, baby, but at least I'm enjoying the ride."

ENTERTAINMENT TRACK:

“Good Times” by INXS with Jimmy Barnes (from the motion picture “The Lost Boys”)
The movie that started the trend towards young, good looking vampires was released this month with a killer soundtrack. This one was a cover of a song originally done by The Easybeats

STAFF PICKS:

“Painted Moon” by The Silencers
Rob starts off the staff picks with a group from Scotland that formed in London in 1986. The Silencers have been compared to U2, Big Country, and Simple Minds. Painted Moon is off their debut album, “A Letter from St. Paul,” and made it to the top of the charts in August 1987. The Silencers would put out three albums before their popish stile was eclipsed by the grunge movement.

“Detox Mansion” by Warren Zevon
Wayne's staff pick comes from the composer of "Werewolves of London." If this track reminds you of REM, there's a reason: REM is the backing band for this song and this album, "Sentimental Hygeine." The song deals with drug use and recovery. "Well, its tough to be somebody, and it's hard to keep from falling apart up here on Rehab Mountain we gonna learn these things by heart."

“Girls, Girls, Girls” by Motley Crue
Brian's staff pick is a straightforward elegy to strip clubs. Motley Crue takes a lyrical journey around the country to reminisce about famous - or perhaps infamous - "gentlemen's clubs" in different U.S. cities.

“Mary's Prayer” by Danny Wilson
Bruce's staff pick is from a Scottish pop group formed by Gary Clark, Kit Clark, and Ged Grimes. Their originally name was Spenser Tracy, but they changed the name at the last minute under threat from actor Spenser Tracy's estate. The name Danny Wilson comes from a 1952 Frank Sinatra film. The song has a lot of religious imagery, but at its root is a story about a boy losing a girl and missing the days when he meant the world to her.

INSTRUMENTAL TRACK:

“Pipeline” by Dick Dale and Stevie Ray Vaughan
This instrumental track was from the beach movie "Back to the Beach", and hearkens back to the 60's beach music Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dick Dale cover this classic tune for the movie.

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