Without a Net
Released in 1990, Without a Net was the first official Grateful Dead live album to benefit from the compact disc's expanded time capacities. Issued as a two-CD/three-LP collection, it captures the Dead in fine form between October 1989 and April 1990, as the band played arenas in Virginia, New Jersey, California, Ontario, and Long Island. The album was dedicated in code to Brent Mydland, the band's keyboardist who had died of a drug overdose during the album's assembly. As the last batch of shows to feature this lineup with Mydland, it's obviously bittersweet, especially considering just how good they'd been together on this tour. Excellent versions of "Althea," "Cassidy," "Bird Song," and Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" proved that the band never phoned it in. The fidelity is exceptional, with the 19-minute medley of "Help Is on the Way/Slipknot/Franklin's Tower" showing the magic that Deadheads said always existed in concert.