Recorded at Gizah Sound & Light Theater in Cairo, Egypt on September 15 and 16, 1978, the CD/DVD release, Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978, sets the Grateful Dead in an exotic location with uneven results.
Convinced by Bill Graham to play under the stars that grace the pyramids, Jerry Garcia and company traveled to the desert and created the circus better known throughout the rest of the world as a Grateful Dead concert. With immaculate sound quality, the two-disc recording serves as a textbook course in Dead 101. A Garcia sung "Row Jimmy" is soon followed by Bob Weir’s interpretation of "New, New Minglewood Blues."
Highlights include an introspective Weir working inside the worn out emotions of "Looks Like Rain," and Garcia’s blissful, shimmering take on "Stella Blue." The DVD is choppy at times, and ingrained with the difficulty of shooting under the duress of the sweltering Egyptian heat. Donna Jean and husband Keith Godchaux were soon to be replaced following the tour, and their contributions to the Dead’s presentation are indelible on inspired versions of "Bertha" and "Good Lovin’."
Overall, Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978 is worth the extended wait that Deadheads have long pined for. And, it’s trip out of the vault and into the daylight of a new millennium casts a greater appreciation surrounding the vast cultural weight and critical wealth of riches that embodied the Grateful Dead’s only Egyptian performances.
Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978 is out now on Rhino Records.