Song Review(s): Grateful Dead - “Help on the Way”->“Slipknot!”->“Franklin’s Tower” (Live, Oct. 1, 1994)
Though it’s become fashionable to say the Grateful Dead lost its mojo for good after 1992, that’s fake news. Freshly released, fan-shot video of the band’s Oct. 1, 1994, performance of “Help on the Way”->“Slipknot!”->“Franklin’s Tower” is just one proverbial fact-check.
Bassist Phil Lesh and the instrumental “Slipknot!” are the stars of this 20-minute romp through the revered triptych; however, everyone is in good form, even Jerry Garcia, who recovers nicely after a few vocal flubs in “Help on the Way.”
The audio is superior to the single-camera video and allows Lesh’s rubbery bass, Bob Weir’s slashing interpretation of rhythm guitar and each of the other players to be discernible as they navigate “Slipknot!”’s tricky rhythmic shifts.
“Franklin’s,” meanwhile, eats up half the triad and finds Garcia singing enthusiastically - tossing in asides like, I want you to … - and taking care on the jams as he speaks to his bandmates through the group’s in-ear communication setup. They stumble a tad on the resolving “Slip” reprise, bringing a grin to the shorts-sporting Garcia.
This ain’t 1977. But neither is it summer 1986.
Grade card: Grateful Dead - “Help on the Way”->“Slipknot!”->“Franklin’s Tower” (Live - 10/1/94) - B/A/A-