Day 332: Victim Or The Crime, 10/15/89

Without A Net

So I’ve mentioned on several occasions that Without A Net was a formative Grateful Dead album for me. I really cut my teeth on that record. Oddly enough, I distinctly remember being a big fan of Victim Or The Crime when I first got it.

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Somewhere along the line, however, my appreciation for Victim or the Crime diminished, and it even got to be a “skip” song for me. I’m not quite sure why. I think I just got kind of bored with it and all the clanging seemed so unnecessary. I still don’t really know how I feel about the song in general, but it was really nice to give this particular version a close listen for the first time in a LONG time. Victim is a song I definitely have to be in the mood to hear and it’s not a wavering type of song for me; it’s very black or white, and very few Grateful Dead songs are that way for me.

Random bit of trivia: Without A Net was culled from the Fall/Winter 1989 tours and the Spring 1990 tour. Only four of the tracks are from 1989 and the rest are from Spring 1990, which has since been released in its entirety so most of Without A Net has been released twice.

Brusque and industrial, that’s the vibe a lot of folks get from Victim Or The Crime. A lot of the Dead’s songs play with the darkness and light themes, but this is probably the darkest song, sonicly at least, in their repertoire – perhaps lyrically as well. Still, the darkness has got to give at some point and I tend to regard the chorus as the “light” (at least comparatively) aspect of the song. Jerry gets a few measures to play after the second chorus. It’s very brief but it hits the stratosphere like a rocket ship. Pretty much all of the lyrics have been sung by the fourth minute and the floodgates open for Mr. Garcia. I think Weir plays some heavily compressed harmonics to get that pinging sound. While Jerry is boring his way to the center of the early Weir plays a really great little lick at 5:52. About a minute later some heavy MIDI action comes into play and the heavy industrial vibe returns among clanging, bombastic noises. After this the song starts to slowly peter out. Jerry tags the main melody a couple of times at the very end, just for good measure.

Complete Setlist 10/15/89

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  1. I really love Victim although that wasn’t always the case. For a long time I wasn’t sure how I felt about the song. One of the guys in Deadbase described it as “sinister” and that seems pretty fitting.
    I discovered the greatness of this song at Richfield in Fall of ’94. 1994 was definitely not a good year for the Dead historically speaking but there was still some fun to be had for those of us going to the shows and this was one of them with an energetic GSET>Bertha opener and Lovelight out of Space. But the Victim this night was the highlight for me–having good seats on the floor probably made a difference–and I have to credit Vince for playing some really cool stuff throughout the song, contrarian keyboard runs that seemed to start at the base of my spine and run up my back.
    I’ve since listened to this show on the Archive and it’s not quite as good as I remember but it has resulted in me liking Victim or the Crime ever since and wondering how I didn’t love the song before that.

    • I heard someone, maybe David Gans?, say once that Victim was the closest the band got to writing another psychedelic jam vehicle like they had in the 60s. It’s not comparing apples to apples, but it’s an interesting idea.

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