While the Grateful Dead will always be considered Jerry Garcias primary outlet, the Jerry Garcia Band often proved the most musically satisfying of the two. Shining Star is a double-disc anthology featuring Garcias other band and is comprised entirely of cover tunes derived from concert recordings made between 1989 and 1993. The late 80s and early 90s were sporadic in terms of performance consistency for the Grateful Dead, however the Jerry band -- as Deadheads refer to this aggregate -- proved to be vibrant, funky and alarmingly agile. Aint No Bread In The Breadbox is textbook example. This inspiring four-way musical conversation allows Garcia the room to wield, as well as, yield his fluid fretwork in order to assemble an ideal congregational sound from the band. Especially tasty are the licks he trades with organist Melvin Seals.
Also worthy of note are the sweet gospel blend provided by backing vocalists Jackie LaBranch and Gloria Jones. While all of the material Garcia chose to cover with the Jerry band was at the very least unique, tracks such as Irvin Berlins Russian Lullaby and the Smokey Robinson penned When The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game rate as diverse in any comparison of 20th Century popular music. What is more, Garcia and company are able to transform these pieces in a way that is unparalleled -- yoking them stylistically with respectful abandon.
Garcias long-time friends and occasional band mate, Peter Rowan, contributes two compositions to this set: Mississippi Moon and Midnight Moonlight"-- the former being among the finest works on this collection. Its drop-dead cadence blended with some truly psychedelic guitar playing, more than compensate the price of admission -- and continue to upon every subsequent visitation.
Other highlights include a uniquely structured reading of the Solomon Burkes Everybody Needs Somebody To Love and Bob Dylans Positively 4th Street.
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