Rounding off the final pair of individually released DVDs that encompass the Grateful Dead’s All The Years Combine box set are View from the Vault III and View from the Vault IV. Both have been previously released in other formats by other labels, but had fallen out of print. Current distributor Shout Factory, despite not adding any new content, has returned them to obtainability.
View from the Vault III is a backyard bonanza for the group, filmed at a June 16, 1990 stop at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, CA. Appropriately “Let the Good Times Roll” launches the festivities while a charged “China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider>We Can Run” initiates the second set. Jerry Garcia’s pleading “China Doll” peaks the post “Space>Drums” descent before finishing with Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Six tracks, including a fun “Hey Pocky Way” and gripping “Candyman,” from the Shoreline October 3, 1987 appearance are offered as bonus footage.
View from the Vault IV compiles one full concert and one nearly full from the Dead’s 1987 summer co-headline tour with Dylan. The resulting material is perhaps more focused, the free reigns pulled back a bit due to time constrictions, yet is as compelling as the full-blown experience. Maybe oddest of all is seeing much of a performance in twilight, with negligible stage lighting as a result of the band’s slot in the schedule. Other than that slight oddity, it’s a bounty of energized renditions of Dead staples including a popping “Jack Straw>Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” opening couplet from the July 24th Oakland Stadium date. Relaxed in front of the home folks, the show finds real momentum in the second set with barely a breath as songs segue from one to the next, beginning with “Hell in a Bucket” and closing with “Sugar Magnolia.” Two nights later and just down the 5 Freeway, the sextet rolled into Anaheim Stadium. Highlights here include a dancing “Iko Iko” starter and a “Bird Song>Promised Land” set closer, plus sharp latter-career takes on “Shakedown Street” and “Stella Blue.”
With these last two releases ending the run of Grateful Dead videos Shout Factory has released over the past 18 months, it’s worth observing that the wealth and scope of the band’s live catalog is still a vibrant and valuable thing. Beyond the novelty or singular significance of any one concert, collectively or individually these discs have potentially satiated a fan base nostalgic for a return to its glory, as well as garnered a whole new audience. For the foreseeable future, the Grateful Dead’s past remains well preserved.