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In The Dark—8

 

Released—1987

1) Touch of Grey 2) Hell in a Bucket 3) When Push Comes To Shove 4) West LA Fadeaway 5) Tons of Steel 6) Throwing Stones 7) Black Muddy River

 

The comeback album.  It had been seven years and thousands of concerts since The Dead’s last studio recording “Go To Heaven.”  Based on the time lapse and the overall quality of their last few studio albums, it is safe to say that no one thought that the Dead would release their best selling album of all-time, with a Top 10 radio hit to boot.  But that is exactly what “In The Dark” was.  The critical acclaim and album sales were well deserved however, as this is an excellent collection of later day Dead music and their best album since “Terrapin.”

 

The Dead’s only Top 10 hit, “Touch of Grey” begins the album and it is great.  Amazing that a band that began it’s career 25 years before this song could write something so easy to listen to and memorable.  Without a doubt, this is a major highlight, but “Touch of Grey” is far from the only reason to purchase this album.  Weir’s “Hell in a Bucket” is a good rocker, with the great line: “I’m going to Hell in a bucket, but at least I’m enjoying the ride.”  It has excellent singing and playing and is a lot of fun to listen to.  When Push Comes To Shove” is a Garcia/Hunter boogie in which Garcia, Weir, and Lesh all sing the chorus.  A nice tune, again showing the band just having a good time playing nice bar music.  West L.A. Fadeaway” is a good traditional Garcia/Hunter tune.  Although it’s too long, it has a cool beat, strange lyrics, and a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

 

Keyboardist Brent Mydland offers “Tons of Steel” next, and it is the lowlight.  It seems that while this guy’s voice improved a great deal, his limited songwriting ability got worse.  Weir’s “Throwing Stones” steals it’s beat a little from “Terrapin Station,” but that’s okay, cause that tune rules.  This one isn’t half bad either, although too long.  It’s The Dead first political song in ages, this time John Barlow writing lyrics dealing with the government’s lack of legislation saving the environment.  Another good song and great Weir singing.  Garcia/Hunter’s “Black Muddy River” closes the album in a pleasant enough way.  It’s a little dull, long, and slow (of course), but it is calming in a “Wake of the Flood” way. 

 

Long time Deadheads get pissed at this album, because the Grateful Dead finally had some commercial success with it and even made a few music videos.  But while this isn’t “American Beauty” it’s a fun, well-played, enjoyable album that should not be overlooked.  Unfortunately the Dead couldn’t maintain this effort in the studio, as their next album sucked royally, but “In The Dark” is a top-notch comeback and one of The Dead’s best studio albums.                        

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