"Wake Up to Find Out" is a three-CD live album by the Grateful Dead containing the complete concert recorded on March 29, 1990 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. With such a long and varied career there are "hot" and "cold" phases when it comes to Grateful Dead concerts and music. In the early 1970s in particular they were untouchable in terms of their stage shows, Yet by 1995 as Jerry Garcia's health declined they were listless and mediocre, sadly burned out after endless touring and management pressures. In this sense the 1990 tour of the US and Canada, is considered by many Deadheads, as their last great tour. There are already plenty of recordings from this period not least a massive 23 CD box set and specific concerts such as "Dozin" at the Knick", "Spring 1990" and selections from the earlier official live release "Without a Net". On that album one track stands head and shoulders above the rest namely "Eyes of the World" which is included here, This sees the great jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis join the band on stage to exchange solos with Jerry Garcia. It is electrifying and has tantalised Dead fans ever since.
Amazingly this was the first time Marsalis had played with the Dead and it was a revelation. As Marsalis has stated "What I experienced was what I remembered music to be in my younger years, something that I'd felt was lost long ago. Process over product. No set lists, light shows and costumes required, but music first" He had actually come up to play on "Bird Song" and then depart, but the band insisted that Marsalis stay for the whole of the second set which is here in all its glory. In these performances, Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Brent Mydland (sadly later to die in of the summer of 1990 of an overdose) are firing on all cylinders. The aforementioned "Birdsong" is classic, a complex 13 minute plus rolling jam on which that good old Dead magic happens. The presence of Marsalis sees the band rise to the improvisational challenge. There is a huge version of "Dark Star" which is reprised on the third disk. The fact that the band had not played the song frequently that tour made this version truly special.
Finally while an excellent "The Wheel" is a melodic highlight you really need to just listen to the band on "Estimated Prophet' and you cannot fail to note the joyous mood and the sheer energy underpinning this set. Overall this is a killer concert and a hugely worthy addition to the immense library and musical canon of Grateful Dead music.
Review by Red on Black