Joined: 23 Jun 2008 Posts: 10252 Location: Davy Jones' Locker
Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:20 pm Post subject: Visions of Johanna: Show by Show Review of Dylan Masterpiece
This will include a review of each and every Visions of Johanna performed by the Grateful Dead. Two were played in 1986, and the remaining efforts were all played in 1995. Interesting, both years in which Jerry was conceivably at the end of his tether.
1986-03-19 AUD Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
Played at the tail end of the 1st set. The tempo is slow, Phil is laying it down heavy. Despite being months from collapse Jerry hits the vox. Brent perfectly compliments Jerry's guitar. Bobby is playing loud and proud. The drummers are taking a smoke break. Jerry seems a bit off on where he is placing emphasis. In two line verses from the first stanzas, the first line is very timid yet soulful, and the second line gets more attention and wind dedicated to belting it out. By 5 minutes in Jerry is more sure of when to put the effort in and when to let the words just barely escape, but still not quite perfect. By the Mona Lisa Highway Blues Jerry gets really going, very few people in the AUD seem to recognize the tune, and those in the know were probably busy spreading the word. The cheers we expect at poignant moments from the later versions are not there, which is not a problem, just a point. The first solo at 7 minutes is nice, builds up quite well, and releases beautifully. Bobby's work is outstanding here and Phil did a great job in keeping the tempo steady while the drummers let a little burst out. The conscience explodes line could have been better delivered (my favorite part). Jerry does not yet have his noodling to support his own words down yet. There are no other solos than the one at the 7 minute mark, and the tune ends standardly enough.
1986-04-22 SBD Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA
This second version comes out of a show opening, upbeat Box of Rain... the tempo starts off at about twice of what they did in the first effort. It works. This is the fastest paced of all the Visions. Jerry gets us into it with little time to waste. Brent tinkles along behind him, Jerry starts the noodling to support his singing which is a great feature of the song... Phil is be-bopping, the drummers are up to the sped up tempo. Bobby is doing good work. Jerry is hitting the vox much better too, though not perfect. There is a nice delivery of the Mona Lisa Highway Blues with a subtle echo effect for emphasis. The solo at 7 minutes is executed perfectly. The re-entry into vocals seemed a bit premature. When his conscience explodes there is an build-up with a bit of fanning that works well, then quickly back to the final verses, then a much more polished and ever so slightly extended outro.
1995-02-21 SBD Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT
In what had to be one of the last "oh shit" moments in their career... segueing softly out of space comes those (un)familiar notes... Were you in the audience, you probably didn't catch on (if ever) until about 10:10 into space (10:30 long). Seeing as how they had only played this song twice before, 9 years previously... But when it does emerge, it is spot on from the get go. Bobby sets up, and Jerry starts mowin' 'em down. Jerry's vocals are perfect from the first verse. Phil, drummers, yes Vince too, all playing perfectly. The only error in the beginning is a momentary microphone issue, everything else is perfect. Are we sure this is 95? Jerry's verse complimenting licks are spot on, and Vince is slow building his monument to intensity perfectly for him. Jerry's inflections are perfect, no rust to knock off here. We now take a solo at 5 minutes in and Jerry is loud and in charge, some definite "X factor" stuff here. The solo is perfect, everyone knows it. After the solo Bobby's guitar re-emerges with a crisper sound. Jerry crushes the Mona Lisa Highway Blues verse, and the intensity levels of this amazing Dylan song are at all time highs. A couple of odd notes enter, around the Jewels & Binoculars, but it matters not. When the back of the truck unloads and his conscience explodes, the instruments come out blaring... the final verses are upon us, and then the outro which is a bit wierd, that leads into Sugar Mags. The source, only source, available is a SBD, and it is incredibly crisp.
1995-02-24 AUD Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA
As the space winds down we get a slow moving segue into Visions, this change begins at about 9:30 of space. It is actually a rather graceful transition. The crowd for the final run in Oakland will be pleased. Jerry's voice is very haunting in this one. Vince's tone is great and kind of creepy, going along with Jerry's vox. Jerry really belts out the Ghost of Electricity line, like no time before. That seems to kickstart the rest of the band into playing louder... The solo at the 5 minute mark starts of strong and remains so with Vince assuming an almost accordian/violin type sound to accompany Jerry's strong, individual licks. A solid solo over all that returns us to the museums with the requisite energy, particularly by Bobby. The Mona Lisa Highway Blues is met with big cheers from the fans, and the song is now fully fleshing out and Jerry loves it, you can tell. As the back of the fishtruck unloads we get the boom we need, and the song meanders toward the end and into... Lovelight!
1995-03-18 SBD The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
That's right, the one from the Philzone. After a rollicking Last Time starts slowing down, and Vince hits some nice notes, we get the first notes of sublimity creeping in as Phil mutters something inaudible. Vince trills while we adjust. This is a song where Vince stands out. However, the real star is Jerry, of course. Jerry's guitar is loud and crisp, Bobby is high in the mix, drummers present, Vince has had his V8. This starts off flawlessly as the previous effort. The vox are perfect throughout. Everything moves along without a hitch, not even a microphone glitch. There is slightly less energy than the previous rendition, but a little more fluidity. We get to the solo at the 5 minute mark after being up past the dawn. While it takes a little to develop, it is magnificent and sprawls through my mind. Note... I use this song as my alarm every morning on my alarm clock... a nice way to wake. We return to the lyrics and Jerry is belting them out! People can even be heard on this pristine SBD cheering Mona Lisa on. The fishtruck unloads to a huge explosion and Jerry lets out a soul felt "ooooh!" at the end... I hear he actually pumped his fist into the air at that point, calling on any attendee to verify or deny this rumor. Clearly this one is awesome, and then we hear the familiar notes one hears at some point on a Saturday Night... the crowd had actually fallen down like a chain of dominoes and didn't notice.
1995-03-30 SBD The Omni, Atlanta, GA
Now a regular in the rotation it seems... And this one comes out of space again, a perfect slot for it. Jerry's voice is a bit shot this night, raspy. Not quite Kermit from 85, but still noticeable. This one takes on a much mellower format than the previous ones. The drummers take a stronger role in this one than the previous efforts. Bobby is doing fine, but a little low in the mix. The solo at the 4 minute mark is unexpected and welcome, short. Call it a bonus. The vox get a little muddled after that, but its fine, then we get the solo at 5:30 minutes. Jerry is playing it perfectly, Vince steps up and Bobby does too. It is nice and smooth, no errors or 2nd guesses. This is probably the longest of the solos as well. Jerry's voice makes a slight comeback afterward. Vince has the accordion/violin tone going nicely to build intensity. Everything progresses smoothly, and we approach the fishtruck line, my favorite part of the song. A slightly different approach from the drummers here, they are into it, and Jerry gets some fanning... some of his last fanning. We get to the end and Vince gets a little to loud in the outro, and the song hits Throwing Stones. Nice crisp SBD here.
1995-04-07 SBD Tampa Stadium, Tampa, FL
We get some tuning here in the 1st set, at my home town Tampa, and it sounds like a regular in the 1st set... So Many Roads... but then something strange twangs out of Jer's guitar, and it takes the guys about a full minute to catch up! When they do things are groovy. This one has a slightly faster tempo and definitely a unique feel to it, more akin to the 4/22/86 than the 95 efforts thus far. It is a bit sloppy like and 86er too. Jerry jumps in on some vox too early, and kind of mangling his guitar during the first verses. The tempo attempts to speed up again, and Jerry hits a little mini-solo out of no where, but nothing special, so he decides to focus on singing it properly. The drummers are really pushing this one t this point, and Jerry recovers. Now things are looking good, but still not great. Despite being faster tempoed, they manage to get to the solo later, at the 7 minute mark, as the 86ers did it (of course, some of that time was spent tuning). Jerry does some MIDI action here, slight, and hits a more meshed series of notes than the usual strongly individualized notes. The solo delivers though, and the energy level of the song is now where it ought to be. The solo finally straightens the song out and the rest is awesome. The fishtruck unloads in fine style, and we get a few strong notes, standard fair. The song will not segue like most do in the ballad slot, rather it has a stronger finish than usual and Promised Land comes in abruptly. Like the setlist of this show, which is awesome, it kind of fails to deliver what we would hope it would. A questionable start is made up for, but not the best ever. This effort pretty much sent them back to the drawing board I believe. The SBD from senor Larson is spot on.
1995-07-08 SBD Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Well, the summer tour was winding to an end, and despite many hopeful heads, no further Visions until now, and in an unlikely slot... out of The Other One. The Other One is pretty good considering it is 95 (this show is underrated because its a 95, and overlooked because the following night is the last night of the long strange trip). As TOO comes to an end we hear a quick transition into Visions, and even though a SBD you can tell the crowd went nuts in Chi-Town. Some nice cymbal action in the intro to tickle your backbone. Phil compliments Jerry perfectly and Jerry compliments his vox with his riffs, its great. Bobby is at the right level. Vince is nowhere near the forefront. As the country music station plays soft they pick up the tempo somewhat awkwardly but the transition is quick and gets the drummers more into the game, which you can tell they want to be. The "Is It Him or Them That's Insane" line is perfectly delivered. This is shaping up as one solid Visions. There is a slight lyric flub before skipping the solo at the 5 minute mark?! Jerry makes up for it with his singing, though it seems a bit like they were rushing through it with no mid-song solo! We get to the fishtruck with great speed, this being the shortest duration Visions, and get a little extra bang when the conscience explodes. The outro is fine, and that wraps up the final Visions... OMSN is next. Thanks to Mr. Larson for the fine SBD.
Rating: 8/10 (would have been higher but for the missing solo)
Last edited by Kochman on Wed Oct 22, 2008 2:34 pm; edited 7 times in total
Could be my favorite Dylan tune. Mind boggling the lyrics he was writing in his early to mid 20s!!! This is a perfect tune--tailor made for Garcia. I am not familiar with the versions you mentioned above from 86' I will give them a listen tonite.
I saw the on at Hampton. You are correct - most of the audience didnt exactly know what it was. I knew it was a Dylan tune, but couldnt remember exactly which one. Absolutey Positively Street Blues or something??? Pretty cool though. That was a great 1st set to open a so-so tour.
_________________ We used to play for acid, now we play for Clive.
Joined: 23 Jun 2008 Posts: 10252 Location: Davy Jones' Locker
Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:56 pm Post subject:
1) Good video quality, from the AUD no doubt
2) Jerry looks about as animated as you could probably ever see him in 95... clearly he loves the song
3) I think he also knew the end was near, and this song was somehow channeled from him as such, as he played this in 86 pre-coma, and then in 95... pre-RIP
4) Thanks for the linkage... that was an incredibly sad but beautiful 10 minutes of Jerome singing my favorite ballad
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