When Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann traditionally started out the second set of a Grateful Dead show with something called ``Drumz/Space,'' it was a good time to extend your visit to the concession stands.
``Planet Drum'' was better to be appreciated for its worldly view and scholarship than to be enjoyed.
That all changes in ``Mickey Hart's Mystery Box,'' a surprising and enjoyable new direction that marries his complex sense of rhythm with the naturally appealing sound of contemporary soul.
Hart brought in the British harmony group the Mint Juleps for songs by longtime Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Just about the furthest thing from tie-dyed guitar-rock nostalgia as could be imagined, ``Mystery Box'' pulses with life and zings with harmonious energy. Should it get any airplay, it will blow away TLC or any of the commercially disposable female vocal groups of the day.
Dead fans shouldn't be left out, however. Bob Weir shows up to play guitar on one cut; Vince Welnick sits in on keyboard and helps shape some of the music. The greatest reason for Deadheads to open this box, though, is ``Down the Road.'' One of a couple of songs spoken by Hart, in the manner of Robbie Robertson's solo albums, it's a truly moving tribute to Jerry Garcia, a man who played guitar ``like lightning giving birth.''
By - Roger Catlin