Jeff Gordinier
November 15, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Dozin' at the Knick

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B-

They say you can’t truly enjoy the Grateful Dead’s music without the aid of drugs. For anyone devoted enough to wade through all three discs of Dozin’ at the Knick, a posthumous relic from the Dead’s bottomless vaults, let me offer a legal alternative: coffee. Without a copious dose of caffeine, it’s the listener who might be dozin’.

To be sure, Dozin‘ has its moments. Culled from three shows in the spring of 1990 in Albany, N.Y., it captures the aging Haight-Ashbury renegades before their marathon groove had become an endless rut. Four months after these gigs, keyboardist Brent Mydland would die of a drug overdose; later, the band would gradually slip into a period of lucrative somnambulism, ending with Jerry Garcia’s death last year. Although it pales next to a glory-days document like Europe ’72, Dozin‘ proves the Dead could whip up a fine fury at the dawn of the ’90s. There’s an aching ”Black Peter,” a tender ”Stella Blue,” a driving ”Terrapin Station.” Sadly, there are also weary warhorses like ”All Along the Watchtower” and ”Uncle John’s Band,” along with a cheesy ”Just a Little Light” that shares less of a spiritual kinship with Easy Rider than with Patrick Swayze in his Dirty Dancing phase. No wonder Tipper Gore declared herself a Deadhead.

Pleasant, competent, and radiantly recorded, Dozin‘ dishes up nothing to offend the prim wife of a politician. By the early ’90s the shaggy Sandinistas who’d once blasted open the doors of perception were easing into a featherbed of civility. B-

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