July 6: The Grateful Dead: In the Dark (1987)

grateful dead in the dark

In the Dark, their first studio LP since Heaven, reverses that sorry trend. Its seven songs – averaging six minutes each, just like old times – hark back to the sprawling, easygoing charm of their hallowed American Beauty era. Despite nods to technology in the form of synthesizers, sound effects and a startling “programming” credit, this sounds more like a Dead record than anything they’ve done in years
~David Browne (rollingstone.com)

The Grateful Dead’s last lineup returned intact for In the Dark, an album that ironically thrust the band back into the spotlight on the strength of the band’s lone Top 40 single, “Touch of Grey.” Fans had long mused that the Dead’s studio albums lacked the easygoing energy and natural flow of their live performances, and In the Dark does come close to capturing that lightning in a bottle.
~Dave Connolly (allmusic.com)

Touch of Grey


Released July 6, 1987
Recorded January 6–13, 1987
Genre Rock
Length 40:37
Label Arista
Producer Jerry Garcia, John Cutler

In the Dark is the 12th studio album by the Grateful Dead. It was recorded between January 6 and 13, 1987, and originally released on July 6, 1987.

In the Dark was the band’s first album in six years, and its first studio album since 1980’s Go to Heaven. It became unexpectedly popular, achieving double platinum certification in the U.S. It reached #6 on the Billboard 200 chart, the Grateful Dead’s only top ten album. The peppy “Touch of Grey” peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, the band’s only top forty single; it also became a frequently played music video on MTV. “Hell in a Bucket” and “Throwing Stones” also achieved significant album-oriented rock radio airplay.

grateful dead in the dark back

When Push Comes to Shove

In the Dark was received like no other Grateful Dead album and gave the band a pop commercialism and acceptance like they had never received before. The band did eventually settle back into a regular touring routine and lived out their final years as a live jam band right up until Garcia’s death in 1995.
~Ric Albano (classicrockreview.com)

grateful dead 1987

Most of the songs on this album had been played by the Dead since 1982 or 1983, which gave them a five-year edge on perfecting these songs for this album. After the critically panned Go to Heaven, which contained songs that were mostly under a year old, the maturity of In the Dark was significantly more appreciated.

The album title, “In the Dark”, represents how the band compiled the album. The Dead are well known for their striving for that “perfect” sound (e.g. the Wall of Sound) as well as their experimental episodes. Since live music is their forte, they decided to try to capture a “hybrid” live sound for this album.

Since the band had been playing the songs for some time, they decided to record the baseline tracks for the album in a darkened theater (“In the Dark”) that was empty (no audience), on a stage with the same lighting as they would use on tour (just to have the band perform in a more comfortable, familiar setting). The idea was to capture the “feel” they had for the songs as if they were playing them to a live audience. This was done at Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael, California.

They then brought these recorded tracks to the studio and then if needed, “cleaned” them up, overdubbing them or redoing a guitar, vocal, keyboard, or drum track in the studio using the same “riffs” they used on the stage recording.

From deaddisc.com: Garcia spoke about the recording in an interview;

“Marin Vets turns out to be an incredibly nice room to record in. There’s something about the formal atmosphere in there that makes us work. When we set up at Front Street to work, a lot of times we just sort of dissolve into hanging out. Going in [Marin Vets] without an audience and playing just to ourselves was in the nature of an experiment…”

West L.A. Fadeaway

..and I just have to include this one (we are @ alldylan.com after all)

West LA Fadeaway – Bob Dylan (w/Phil Lesh on bass)

New Haven Coliseum
New Haven, Connecticut
10 November 1999

Track listing

Side one

  1. “Touch of Grey” (Garcia, Hunter) – 5:47
  2. “Hell in a Bucket” (Barlow, Weir, Mydland) – 5:35
  3. “When Push Comes to Shove” (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:05
  4. “West L.A. Fadeaway” (Garcia, Hunter) – 6:39

Side two

  1. “Tons of Steel” (Mydland) – 5:15
  2. “Throwing Stones” (Barlow, Weir) – 7:18
  3. “Black Muddy River” (Garcia, Hunter) – 5:58
  4. “My Brother Esau” (Barlow, Weir) – 4:20


Grateful Dead


  • Bob Bralove – programming, special effects, spatialization
  • Guy Charbonneau, Dan Healy, Jeffrey Norman, David Roberts, Jeff Sterling – engineers
  • John Cutler – producer, engineer
  • Gail Grant – design
  • Herb Greene – art direction, photography
  • Randy Tuten – cover art

Album (w/bonus tracks) from youtube:

  1. “Touch of Grey” (Garcia, Hunter) — 0:00
  2. “Hell in a Bucket” (Barlow, Weir, Mydland) — 5:51
  3. “When Push Comes to Shove” (Garcia, Hunter) — 11:28
  4. “West L.A. Fadeaway” (Garcia, Hunter) — 15:36
  5. “Tons of Steel” (Mydland) — 22:15
  6. “Throwing Stones” (Barlow, Weir) — 27:33
  7. “Black Muddy River” (Garcia, Hunter) — 34:54
  8. “My Brother Esau” (Barlow, Weir) – 41:01
  9. “West L.A. Fadeaway” (alternate version)(1984-03 Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA) — 45:23
  10. “Black Muddy River” (studio outtake) 1986-12-05 Club Front, San Rafael, CA) — 52:32
  11. “Touch of Grey” (studio outtake)(1982-08 Club Front, San Rafael, CA) –58:13
  12. “Throwing Stones” (live) (1987-07-04 Schaefer Stadium, Foxboro, MA) — 1:04:01