02/15/69 - Full service '69 Dead! - everything you'd expect or want from early in that year. "That's It For the Other One", "DS -> St Stephen -> 11 -> Death Don't", a rocket fueled "Lovelight", and an "Alligator -> Caution -> Feedback". Top it all off with a poignant "AWBYGN", and there you have it. Only two weeks before the manic Fillmore run, you can clearly tell they're trying to land songs for an appearance on "Live Dead". The mood is professional, not playful, and as a result the musicianship is marvelous. The highlight for me is the Other One suite - some pretty intense stuff going on during the Cryptical Reprise.
2/22/69 - I've got a muddy, muddy recording of this one (C+ at best), and it's frustrating at times, especially during Dark Star and the Eleven, because there's clearly some good stuff happening there. The band throws a curveball in the opening set, as instead of the traditional segue into St Stephen after a fascinating Dark Star, they change directions into "That's It for the Other One". This is a cool version, Bobby screams the second verse, and the band works into a frenzy during the Cryptical Reprise. The following Death Don't is a fine one - Jerry's vocals are absolutely tortured. A very emotional reading indeed.
The second set kicks off with Doin' That Rag, which is ragged. The jam works its way into St Stephen, and after a sloppy version (which is surprising because "the version" was played just 5 nights later), the Eleven explodes. It's 18 minutes long, and it snakes all over the place. Great, great version.
All in all, I wish I had a better copy of this show to truly assess just how good it is.
02/27/69 - Truly Magnificent. The Dark Star -> St Stephen are the "Live Dead" versions. The entire show sizzles.
03/01/69 - This Fillmore show transcends all else from 1969 - nothing else is comparable in my mind as far as pure musicianship goes. The show opens with a searing "That's It for the Other One", complete with one of the last ever readings of "New Potato Caboose". This then treks into "Doin' That Rag". The first set closes with an atomic version of "Cosmic Charlie" - it sounds like speed metal!
The second set is wonderfully classic. "Dupree's >Mountains >Dark Star >St Stephen >The Eleven >Lovelight". I'll only say that there isn't a disappointing moment in this entire set.
The encore is a ridiculous reading of "Hey Jude", with Pigpen at the helm. It serves as a great decompressor after that mind-melting show.
This is THE show from '69 - it tops all else, including the legendary 11/08 performance. Definitely something you should go out of your way to get.
04/04/69 - Another testament to the power of the Spring '69 tour here. There are very good versions of Schoolgirl, Doin' That Rag & The Other One suite in the first set, but the highlight is a chilling Death Don't Have no Mercy. The second set features another great version of the Classic Dark Star -> St Stephen -> The Eleven combo. Of this 3 night Avalon run, 4/5 is my favorite, but this is no slouch.
04/05/69 - Weird show - it's like the band intentionally goes out of their way to mix things up a bit. It starts in the first set, when they skip The Eleven during the standard mix of trippy music. The Dark Star's a keeper - really tight version here.
The second set opens with Hard to Handle and Cosmic Charlie, both pretty sloppy. It picks up with Cryptical -> Too -> Cryptical, and that segues into a short but scorching The Eleven! Whoa - didn't expect that. Then comes the kicker - we get a rare version of It's a Sin, complete with vocals, to close out the suite. Very nice. The show finishes with a tight Alligator-> Feedback. While not on my short list of great '69 shows, this one is certainly worth getting your hands on.
04/13/69 - Sloppy show overall, but some cool high-points certainly exist here. The first is definitely the stretched out Dark Star that resides in the first set - it's a classic. I can see how this version flies under the radar, though, as this is a pretty obscure show, and the St Stephen -> Eleven that follows borders on a mess. After unfurling that masterpiece of a Dark Star, they fall flat on their face, not to get up until a chilling Death Don't. The Eleven never really gets cooking.
As a note, it's a shame that the jam after Alligator cuts off at the end - it really sounds like it's heating up...........
04/20/69 - This low-profile show really packs a whallop - It features everyone's favorite foursome with a hair-raising "Dark Star -> St Stephen -> The Eleven -> Death Don't", with the latter being a particularly remarkable reading. "The Eleven" suffers a big cut. Pig also takes "Lovelight" out for a stroll, with enormously successful results. The encore is a nice capper, featuring an early version of "Dupree's -> Mountains". This show is a true diamond in the rough from 1969.
4/26/69 - Strange show here - it's enormous for 1969, spanning over 2 hours and 40 minutes. The encore itself is 40 minutes long! The meat of this show is as good as anything else the Dead played in 1969, and the Viola Lee is transcendant. Picture a freight train hitting you at 200 MPH - it has that type of impact. While the shows from the Ark and Labor Temple rank higher for me pound for pound, the pure enormity of this show warrants some careful listening. Good stuff!
12/28/69 - Another C or C+ soundboard, this show features priceless banter from the band, most notably Pigpen. It also features a smoking Mason's Children.
I also like the embryonic China ->Rider here, complete with TC's organ. This was one of TC's last shows. The High Time is great, as most of the late '69 and early '70 versions seem to be.
01/02/70 - Excellent show from the Fillmore East. The early show starts off innocently enough, with good versions of UJB, High Time and Easy Wind. Bobby encourages the crowd to sing along with Dire Wolf. The China -> Rider is choppy, but still has some redeeming qualities, as TC is still around and the swirling organ during China Cat is cool. While Jerry fixes a string, Bobby serenades the audience with The Monkey & the Engineer.
The Dark Star -> St Stephen -> The Eleven -> Lovelight to end the show is immense, with the Star spanning a solid 30 minutes. The Eleven is disappointing - it seems like the band is starting to tire of this tune, and it would soon be phased out completely.
The late show features one highlight in my opinion, and that's the awesome Mason's Children that opens the set. This is the "Philzone" version, so I'm not the only one that thought highly of it, apparently. Black Peter is also well played, as would be expected from early '70.
01/16/70 - While January of 1970 was clearly a warm up for the rest of the year, this show's pretty damned entertaining. Lots of banter here. The Alligator ->Eleven Jam ->Death Don't is neat, and the China -> Rider doesn't miss a beat. The High Time is especially poignant. My favorite part of this show, however, is the Cryptical -> TOO -> Cryptical -> Cosmic Charlie that ends the show - a winning combo to say the least. While not one of the greats from this fabulous year, this show is by no means disappointing. It's well worth seeking out.
02/11/70 - Not as critically acclaimed as the shows played a couple of nights later, this Fillmore East show is a true killer. The "Dark Star->Spanish Jam->Lovelight" is interspersed with several sit-ins, including the Allman Brothers & Peter Green. Amongst all these stars, however, Jerry and especially Phil that shine. The "Phil Bombs" are almost too good to be believed. The "Spanish Jam" is ten of the most intense minutes of Dead music one will ever hear. During "Lovelight", an extremely intoxicated Gregg Allman bellows half the lyrics (incoherently), which I find quite amusing. To cap it all off, the band comes out for "a nice little tune played on the acoustic guitar", and delivers a poignant "Uncle John's Band" to send everyone home. Perfect.
02/14/70 (Late Show) - Pretty standard set when you compare it to the late show from the night prior - the "Dark Star" is nowhere near as intense as the 2/13 reading, but it's still pretty damned good. My copy has a huge cut between "St Stephen" & "The Eleven", which is always pretty disappointing. About 5 minutes of what seems to be a rather scalding "The Eleven" are missing. The "Lovelight" is huge, with Pigpen strutting his stuff throughout. Final Analysis: Worth having, not worth getting all that excited about.
05/01/70 - Just began circulating 2 months ago - this is the night before the legendary Harpur College show. Only five songs in the acoustic set, but they're quite nice, with the highlight for me being "Wake Up, Little Susie". The Electric Set is short too, but it's got a whopping "Cryptical ->TOO ->Cryptical" that's well worth seeking out. The High Time, as it always was in 1970, is tear-jerking.
06/06/70 - Outstanding show, although the acoustic set sadly doesn't circulate. The electric set is pure fire, and it all starts with a juicy Morning Dew. After some short numbers, the band unleashes a huge Dancing In the Streets, which contains jam after jam. Good Lovin's next for big jam songs, and they manage to wedge their only version of "New Orleans" inside. Neat-o. Attics is gorgeous.
The bulk of the action begins with Alligator. Very sloppy vocals, but after the second big drum solo of the show, the band transforms into an absolute fire-breathing dragon. The Alligator jam smokes - it seems to go on forever, and just when you think it's going to peter out, it reinvents itself. The Lovelight that follows is freshly-roasted Pig, some great raps. All in all, this is one of the best from 1970.
06/07/70 - I don't know what it is, but I can't describe in words how much I truly enjoy this show. The acoustic set is near-perfect, highlighted by a gorgeous "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". The Electric set is so very cool, with some great Pigpen stuff (It's a Man's World & Good Lovin' are fantastic). The "Casey Jones" is really different, with marching drums. The highlight for me though, hands down, is a stellar "Cosmic Charlie". Move over Harpur College, this version is "the one"! Phil's vocal intro is unbelievable. This show is just wonderful, top to bottom.
07/14/70 - Like everyone else, I've only got the acoustic set here, but it's a great set. Dark Hollow, Candyman and How Long Blues are classic versions - I just love Dark Hollow. The Black Peter is utterly perfect - Jerry's vocals are crystal clear.
David Crosby sits in on 12-string for Cumberland Blues & New Speedway Boogie, both of which are outstanding.
02/18/71 - Extremely underrated show in my opinion. This is the last show with Mickey until the final show of '74, and it was quite a way to go out. Things really heat up in the first set with a "Dark Star >Wharf Rat >Dark Star" masterpiece. The reprise features the now famous "Beautiful Jam" that graces "So Many Roads" - it's really just a very well played "Tighten Up" Jam, but it sounds so gorgeous. The "Wharf Rat", incidentally, is it's first time played. What a debut: wedged inside a legendary Dark Star! The first ever versions of "Bertha", "Greatest Story Ever Told" & "Johnny B Goode" are also to be found in this show. Outstanding.
04/06/71 - Solid if not spectacular, this show is most notable for the 1st set, where they play obscure songs like "Oh Boy" and "I'm a Hog for You, Baby". The second set's got a big, nasty "Good Lovin'". I wouldn't characterize this show as a classic, but it's pretty good and I'm happy to include it in my collection.
04/17/71 - Yes, this is the show with the famous "Brooklyn Bridge Rap" from Pigpen. Besides that searing version of "Good Lovin'", what we've got here is a gem of a show, beginning to end. After hearing this show and the run from the Fillmore a week and a half later, I've got to place this time period up there with some of the band's greatest runs, like June of '74 and of course May of '77. Five reasons to love this show:
1. The Pigpen Rap. If you haven't heard this you're missing out.
2. The crowd - it's one of the most enthusiastic places you could imagine. It sounds like the place is gonna explode when the play Casey Jones.
3. The "King Bee" - easily one of the finest versions of this rare Pigpen gem.
4. The "Birdsong" - only 2 months after its debut, you can hear the immense evolution already occuring in this tune.
5. The "Loser" - I've got a soft spot for the "Sweet Susie" versions from '71, and this version is one of the better ones.
I say this alot, but this show is clearly essential for any respectable Dead collection.
04/28/71 - For starters, this version of Morning Dew is about as perfect as it gets - played with absolutely stunning precision and feeling. Jerry's belts out that final "I guess it doesn't matter, anyway" like he knows he just accomplished something great.
The whole show smokes, from the opening notes of Truckin' to the final note of NFA. The only unfortunate thing is that The Other One suffers a catastrophic cut, and only 2 or 3 minutes of it exists. Nonetheless, the Dark Star is a joy - very typical of 1971 readings. Other highlights are a strong Bird Song, a hot Hard to Handle (the quintessential version was played the next night), and a peppy Cumberland Blues. The whole show was played before a huge, enthusiastic crowd. That's always a plus.
04/29/71 - This was one of the first shows I ever got my hands on, and still remains a favorite. Extremely solid show with some unbelievable surprises. The last ever "Alligator" may be the best ever as well. Some quieter highlights include "Dark Hollow" & "Ripple", and "Loser" is my single favorite version of this song - it's so raunchy.
BUT - the zenith clearly comes with "Hard to Handle", possibly the finest single performance of any song by the Dead ever. It's transacendant. Jerry goes absolutely wild during the solo, and the band dives right in after him. It comes to such a head that the listener is pretty much left crippled afterwards - don't ever let anyone tell you the Dead were a laid-back band. Many of the songs from this show have been officially released as "Ladies & Gentlemen"........
07/02/71 - Disappointing. I had my hopes way up for this one, as it was a huge event (closing of the Fillmore) and the setlist is quite impressive. Two things struck me while listening to this show:
1. Jerry's guitar is painfully low in the mix.
2. The band wasn't really touring at this time and it shows - they weren't very cohesive.
The first set is uneventful. "China>Rider" is good, as is the 17 minute "Good Lovin'", but the one song from '71 that I get fired up to hear is definitely "Hard to Handle", and this isn't a stellar version. Jerry's mix problems don't help matters. The second set is a little better in my estimation. "Sing
Me Back Home" is a keeper, as is a whirling "Other One". "NFA>GDTRFB>NFA" suffers from the same mix problems that plague the entire show.
Of historical note: The "Johnny B Goode" encore is featured on the release "Final Days of the Fillmore".
08/14/71 - This has to be one of the highest sound quality tapes I have - the mix is perfect and the clarity is wonderful. The show ain't half-bad either. I love the first set, especially the beautiful "Brokedown Palace" that graces it. It's my favorite version to date. "Loser" and "Hard to Handle" are rather good as well. The second set is kick-started by an insane "The Other One". David Crosby is there, and he sits in on the encores: "Johnny B Goode" and "Uncle John's Band". Very sweet.
12/10/71 - Good December of '71 show, with an Other One for the ages. The first set is tight and sounds like a Europe '72 first set. The second set starts with great versions of Brokedown Palace & Comes a Time, but the Good Lovin' seems forced, not like the stellar versions from April. The most notable thing about the Other One is its spaciness - there's tons of noodling going on. It seems aimless, but out of nowhere the band starts the opening notes to Sitting On Top of the World! For the previous 2 months, they had been wedging cowboy songs like Me & My Uncle and Mexicali into The Other One, but none worked as well as this. It's a shame that the transition back to the Other One is cut. Great spacy interplay.
04/08/72 - Anyone up for a terrific "Dark Star"? Well, here you go. It's the polar opposite of the 05/11/72 monster "Star" - this one's light and peppy, while Rotterdam will scare the hell out of you. This Wembley Stadium show also contains a particularly weepy "Looks Like Rain" that features Mr. Jerry Garcia playing pedal steel! One of about a zillion reasons to love Europe '72.
04/26/72 - Hundred Year Hall. A perfect soundboard copy of this entire show (yup, the whole thing) fell in my lap recently. What a gorgeous show! I've heard the released material, and I actually like the way my version was mixed. Different sources, I think, but the same great show. The Other One gets a lot of the press on Hundred Year Hall, but the whole show is pretty much perfect. The version of Playing In the Band is better than any other I've heard from Europe '72 - Phil keeps the band in the Main Ten theme throughout, but Jerry still finds a way to creat some great space.
The Truckin' that opens Set 2 is excellent (despite Bobby hacking up the lines), and that Other One is just a piece of work. Do yourself a favor and park yourself in front of a stereo for 35 minutes and just listen - it's a masterpiece. The Comes a Time that follows is somber, and features some of Jerry's finest vocal work.
The whole thing's great - I've only scratched the surface with this review. Every song warrants complete review - I have historically been critical of HYH, but not anymore, especially after hearing the entire show.
05/11/72 - The pinnacle of "Europe '72" - this show has it all. The first set shines, and the second set opens with a majestic "Morning Dew". This eventually becomes "Dark Star", 45 minutes worth of "Dark Star" to be exact, which makes it the longest ever. The show ends with a ho-hum (yeah, right) "Caution > Who Do You Love? > Caution" Unbelievable - I'm lucky to have this show.
05/13/72 - Welcome to Lille Fairgrounds! Very sweet stuff from Europe '72 with some technical problems right smack dab in the middle of the two highlights: an active "Playin'" and an epic "The Other One". The right channel goes mute a third of the way through both songs, and it's truly a shame, because the sound quality's good and the music is stunning. "The Other One" is 30 minutes long and is nearly as good as the Hundred Year Hall version. Very powerful music - Phil in complete control.
05/18/72 - From West Germany comes another winner from Europe '72. First set is typical E72 fare, with a Playin', a China/Rider, and some delicious Pigpen stuff. Second set revolves around a big Dark Star -> Morning Dew, which is just plain blissful. The Dark Star is scary stuff, with some eerie meltdown riffs towards the end. The Morning Dew is very elegant, and seems almost regal to me. There's a hushed silence about it - almost out of respect for the power of the tune. A final highlight is a sweet Sing Me Back Home encore - well sung!
05/23/72 - Breath-taking show from Europe '72 - this is one of my favorites. The first set features a perfect, and I mean perfect, "Playing In the Band". It's flawless from beginning to end, and features some terrific jamming. Speaking of jamming, the "Dark Star ->Morning Dew" is immense, and represents what I'd say is a very productive way to spend 45 minutes of one's time. For dessert, there's a really tight version of "Hey Bo Diddley" wedged into Disc 4. This show ranks up there with the other great ones from E 72, namely 04/08, 05/11 & 04/26 (HYH).
08/27/72 - Veneta: I could probably devote 1,000 words to this show, but I'll spare you. This is pure psychedelia at its finest. It starts somewhere in the fantastic "China/Rider", swells into a perfectly delicious "Birdsong", and melts into a trippy "Playing In the Band". The cosmic forces at work manifest themself in a mammoth 3rd set "Dark Star". The instruments melt in the sun, and the noises become really strange during this version. It sounds like they're playing under water. This masterpiece unwinds into "El Paso", which clears the way for a soulful "Sing Me Back Home". Would you expect any less from a mid-'72 show played at Ken Kesey's Oregon Farm?!?! Didn't think so.
09/10/72 - The Hollywood Palladium is the scene of this classic - although it does take a while for the band to get to its peak performance level. Bird Song suffers from a lack of energy, and the result is one of the poorer versions of the year. Playing in the Band, however, makes up for it big time. It just churns and churns up tremendous energy, and goes for a solid 20 minutes. One of my favorites ever.
The second set is graced by David Crosby sitting in, with mixed results. Black Peter is phenomenal, but my copy suffers from some serious tape warble here. He's Gone -> Truckin' is quite well done, with He's Gone being the real standout here. The final pass, which consists of Dark Star ->Jack Straw ->Sing Me Back Home, is hit and miss. I'm convinced that Crosby's presence hurts this Dark Star - the band makes seemingly endless attempts at putting together a fluid jam, but it falls apart every time. Still, it's a good version - 26 minutes and spacy as hell. If I had to compare it to another, it's a poor man's version of 4/8/72, with all its varying themes. After a short drums segment, they segue awkwardly into Jack Straw. Not surprisingly, this combo was never attempted again. The Jack Straw is average, and the Sing Me Back Home that follows is typically divine. Perfect ending.
For 1972 standards, especially the sacred month of September, this show gets a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. Not too shabby.
09/17/72 - The first set is just beautiful - the Birdsong is gorgeous, the China-> Rider is exquisite, and the Playin' is just plain weird - some very spacey stuff there. While everything is good as far as the shorter songs go, Sugaree and El Paso really stand out.
The second set is insane, absolutely insane. Truckin' is great with a really cool "strut jam" tacked on the end that sounds like the way they treated the song in '73. Jack Straw is a keeper - played perfectly. The Half Step is awkward - very early in its development. It's only a month or two old at this point, so it still has a ways to go. It's cool to hear when they had the lines in the second verse swapped, however.
The meat of the show begins with He's Gone - this version, is slow, somber, and beautiful, as the band really pours their hearts into the vocals. This transitions into an "Other One" that is just other-worldly. This killer 38-minute version isn't a song, it's a trip. Sit down, put on your seatbelt, and enjoy the ride. When the dust settles on DP 23, this is going to be considered a high point of the series, along with the Dark Stars from DP 2, 4 & 11.
The show ends unremarkably with Sing Me Back Home (not a great version, but not bad), and a few standard closers. In all, a very good show with a great He's Gone -> Other One. Enjoy!
09/28/72 - The Dead were just unconscious during the month of September, 1972. This show takes a while to get going, but once it gathers steam, it's just sick. The fun doesn't start until China ->Rider, where the intro to China Cat is a 90 second instrumental. Sadly, the Rider cuts off halfway through. The Playing In the Band is a sonic marvel - not to be missed.
The second set is stuff of legend. Bertha's just solid, and the Greatest Story Ever Told features a manic 5 minute Jerry Jam that strongly teases St Stephen - it's heavenly. He's Gone is nice and professional. The Other One isn't nice. It's mean. It's scary. It's mind-bending. 20 minutes of calculated jamming gives way to the mother of all Tiger Jams - it feels like the earth is opening up to swallow you. Out of the ashes comes one of the sweetest Me & Bobby McGee's of all time. Perfect. Then back to the Other One for the final verse, and this segues into a gut-wrenching Wharf Rat. Jerry is so into it. A manic Not Fade Away medley sends the crowd on its way........
09/30/72 - Glorious. The most notable thing about the sound quality is that Jerry is WAY up in the mix. That's not a bad thing, as the playing soars. Besides the typical strong playing on all the songs, the Playing In the Band in the first set is just phenomenal. It goes from beautiful to scary back to beautiful in such an effortless way. In the second set, you have the younger sister of the 9/17 Other One masterpiece. This Other One is a bit less developed than 9/17 or even 9/28, but it shares the same fascinating rhythms and tones that made these versions ground-breaking in '72. The Sing Me Back Home that follows is pure butter - Jerry gives it all vocally. It's right up there with the Veneta version.
This show is every bit as enjoyable as the other classics from September of '72.
10/02/72 - Did the Dead play a sub-par show during 1972? If they did, I haven't heard it, and this gem is no exception. My copy is a bit scratchy, maybe a B or B+ soundboard. The music soars though, especially the deeper stuff, like the Bird Song and Playing from the first set. The Playing in particular shines - easily one of the best versions I've heard. The Cold Rain & Snow to open the show is excellent as well.
The second set is peculiar in that there's no Dark Star or Other One - quite the rarity in '72. They jam off of Truckin' however, and the result is excellent. After a nice Feeling Groovy jam, Jerry springboards into Morning Dew - an especially poignant version. While this show is a bit less recognizable than some of the other epic '72 shows, it deserves recognition as a great one.
10/18/72 - I just got through listening to this and I'm just scratching my head in astonishment. After an excellent first set (which is peculiarly missing Playing In the Band, but still has chunky versions of Birdsong & China/Rider), the band comes out after the break and chatters for a bit, with Jerry asking the crowd "You all ready?". Trust me, they couldn't have been. What comes next is one of the most stunning hours of GD Magic I've ever heard.
After the familiar count to 10, the band rips, and I mean absolutely rips, into Playing In the Band. For 15 minutes Jerry & Phil lead the troops into the unknown, as they twist and turn their way forward. This segues into a quick Drum Solo, then Dark Star! Jesus, what a Star. Almost 30 minutes, and so fluid and spacy, and complete with an unbelievable Philo Jam! And then a gorgeous Feeling Groovy Jam! Are You Kidding?!?!
In the waning notes of that huge Feeling Groovy Jam, the distant introductory notes of Morning Dew can be heard. Yes Indeed - great transition! Like all these Dews that spun out of Dark Stars in '72, it's excellent. As the band makes the final apocalyptic run at the finale, I just sat there anticipating that sad moment when Jerry belts out "I Guess It Doesn't Matter, Anyway!". Not today folks - as the jam hits a complete frenzy, the band turns on a dime right back into Playing In the Band! Dear God!
02/15/73 - Oh what a show! Definitely in my Top 5 from this year. This was only the second show of the year, but the band shows absolutely no sign of that, as everything is real tight. First set includes an enormous China/Rider and a bubbly Playing In the Band. The second set is enormous, with a wonderful Here Comes Sunshine and a lively They Love Each Other (man what a groove!) rolling into a big, jazzy Dark Star. After the first verse (15 minutes in), Phil starts dropping bombs without the rest of the band. This lasts for 2 minutes, until Jerry jumps in and leads the boys into Eyes of the World, which is just outstanding. Full treatment here, with a solid "Milkin' the Turkey" segment in all its glory. Segue into China Doll and that's a wrap. Wonderful Show!
05/26/73 - One of the enormous stadium shows from the Summer of '73 - Kezar Stadium may be the most heavily circulated. This 3-set monster would probably be my pick for a newbie due to the non-intimidating nature of the music. It's all happy and warm, with some of the early highlights being Looks Like Rain, Playing In the Band, TLEO, Here Comes Sunshine, and of course, China ->Rider with the obligatory "Feelin' Groovy Jam". Set 3 starts with a tight Mississippi Half Step, and after a quick Me & My Uncle, the band descends into He's Gone, which is just gorgeous. In true 1973 form, this evolves into Truckin', which in turn becomes The Other One. After our first and only foray into the darker side of the Dead, the band brings averyone back to Candyland with a perfect Eyes of the World ->China Doll to effectively end the show. Highly recommended!
06/10/73 - This is the proverbial "800 pound gorilla" of Dead Shows - it's their longest known performance. 4 discs bulging with music, the highlight for me comes towards the end, where the boys jam with the Allman Brothers (Dickey Betts in particular - his riffs are unmistakable). Check out "That's Alright Mama" & "Not Fade Away" - they'll leave you begging for more. The "Dark Star" from this particular show is completely unique as well, there's nothing else like it.
06/22/73 - Epic 1973 summer show from North of the Border. This is a real good one, with a warm feel to it throughout. The sound quality is something else - Jerry sounds like he's whispering in your ear.
The first set has got everything you'd expect and then some, with a sweet Bird Song brightening up the skies. The China ->Rider, Box of Rain & Playin' are also quite nice.
The second set is just pure magic, beginning with a sweet Here Comes Sunshine. A rare Black Peter is sublime - just excellent in all respects. The He's Gone ->Truckin' -> Nobody's ->TOO is out of this world - with TOO clocking in at a whopping 32 minutes. Jerry does some damned fine work on this one, layering in sweet note after sweet note.
Overall, this is one of the great ones - well worth obtaining.
09/08/73 - Another gem from 1973, folks. This show starts off sluggish, but there's still some notable stuff in the first set, including a beautiful Looks Like Rain and high energy WRS (first ever Part 1!). It gets taken to another level, however, with a sparkling Eyes of the World. 15 minutes of bliss - it's all virtually perfect, as is the somber China Doll that ends Set 1.
The second set picks up where the first let off, with a blazing Greatest Story Ever Told. The China/Rider that marks the beginning of the jammed out part of the 2nd set starts tentatively, but picks up significant energy after the cumpulsory Feeling Groovy Jam. The Rider just smokes - it's something to behold. Mix in a wonderful El Paso, then comes "He's Gone" - it's one of the best versions I've ever heard. Keith is the MVP - his contributions in the jam are gorgeous. On to Truckin', which hints at The Other One numerous times during the jam. Phil will have no part of it, so it all just fizzles out. A standard NFA medley follows to end Set 2.
All this makes for a great show, yes, but the encore is the capper - STELLA BLUE! You've got to be kidding me! You could honestly hear a pin drop in the crowd - so much respect for this particular song, it seems. It's a beautiful version, as you can imagine. On to OMSN, and that's a wrap folks. Time to scoop your brain up off the floor and move on to the next show.
10/25/73 - If this were a prize fight, it would be like Rocky 4, where Rocky gets beaten up through the first half of the fight, then surges at the end to win. The first set of this show sucks. There, I said it. The band is out of tune, the quality of the tape sucks, everything. Easily the worst Here Comes Sunshine I've heard, and even the Playing in the Band is average.
But hang on folks - the second set opens with a perfect China ->Rider (it helps that the tape source becomes A+ at this point). It soars like few others, and somehow the band remembered how to sing, because the Rider harmonies are gorgeous. After a quick Me & My Uncle, the band embarks on one of their greatest voyages. The relaxed opening of Dark Star evokes a roar from the Wisconsin crowd. For 6 or 7 minutes, Jerry and Phil define the playing field - exploring this corner and that. The Mind Left Body Jam that comes next is surreal - by far the best I've heard. It's just velvety - all members of the band are right on cue. All this before the verse! After a solid 13 minutes, the first verse presents itself, and the post verse apocalyptic jam is powerful. Out of the din, Jerry begins strumming the opening chords of Eyes. Ahhh. Perfect Perfect Perfect. This version is flawless in every respect. Out of the Phil-led jam at the end, a gorgeous Stella Blue forms, with Jerry giving a spirited reading.
They're not done after this, and the band finishes with a picture perfect Weather Report Suite. Nothing too crazy, just very graceful.
The Compendium review puts it best: You need a copy of this show like you need a heartbeat.
11/09/73 - This Winterland show is notable for a lack of anything too deep in the second set. It's a well-played show, and the "Playin'" in the first set is very spacy. "TLEO" & "China >Rider" are also excellent versions. The second set opens with a wicked "Here Comes Sunshine", and peaks with a gorgeous "WRS". This becomes "Eyes", and eventually floats into a stately "China Doll". The crowd is extremely enthusiastic & vocal throughout this entire show, but at this point you could hear a pin drop. Final analysis: this is a good show, but is overshadowed by the events that would transpire two nights later.
11/14/73 - Tremendous show with an Other One medley for the ages in the second set. The most notable thing about this show isn't the playing, though, it's honestly the quality of the recording - it's pristine. If there ever was a bootleg that was Dick's Pick's quality, this is it. Aside from the second set, another highlight is Here Comes Sunshine, which is about as long and jammed out as you'll ever see. Truly excellent version.
11/17/73 - Where do I begin? Let me first say that this particular show is mind-blowing - pure bliss. It compares favorably with not only everything from November of 1973, but everything from all of '73. It's that damned good.
The first set features stellar versions of Here Comes Sunshine and China -> Rider. The Looks Like Rain is also particularly sweet. The second set is a soaring testimony to the uncanny ability the Dead had to communicate with eachother musically. For those that have had the pleasure of hearing the PITB sandwich found in the second set, it defies proper description. The transitions from song to song are creative and effortless. Seek this out - it doesn't trade particularly heavily, but it's one of the true greats.
11/21/73 - My, my, my. This mind-blowing show came to me in trade recently and I had to take the opportunity to gush about this one. The entire second set is one gorgeous, flowing train of thought, led by Jerry and Phil. The smooth transitions in and out of songs are stunning, as are the depth and imagination displayed in each song.
Some significantly interesting stuff is happening all over the place, as the band was shooting from the hip. After the first PITB segment, Jerry clearly tries to push the band towards Uncle John's Band (as they had in stellar fashion just 4 days earlier at UCLA), but Phil and Billy undermine that plan, and force everyone into a tear-jerking Wharf Rat. At the end of the final PITB segment, Morning Dew is a surprise to everybody except Jerry, and it takes the band a few seconds to figure out where Jerry's going with everything. It's fun to listen to, quite honestly.
The first set is no slouch either, incidentally, with a wonderful Here Comes Sunshine and a tight Weather Report Suite.
11/23/73 - Finally - a relatively disappointing show from November of '73. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination - it just doesn't reach the dizzying heights of 11/11, 11/17 & 11/21. It does contain a sparkling Weather Report Suite, a huge He's Gone -> Truckin' -> TOO -> Me & Bobby McGee, and a sweet Eyes of the World, but so does every other show from that year. I'll give this one a relisten at a later date.
12/06/73 - Just got this one last week - what a wonderful experience. Amidst the virtual overload of great shows from the end of 1973, I'm sure this one gets overlooked in the grand scheme. It shouldn't.
The first set is typically excellent, with They Love Each Other, Row Jimmy, and of course, China ->Rider standing tall. The second set opens with an absolutely mind-numbing version of Here Comes Sunshine. 16 minutes in length, this sucker is the most jammed out version I've ever heard. It's truly outstanding. After a scorching Big River, Dark Star emerges out of some truly simple noodling. In fact, you'd have no idea it was Dark Star until the first (and only) verse is sung about 15 minutes in. After about 20 more minutes of Phil and Keith playing off of eachother (to get to a grand total of 43 minutes of Dark Star!), the band segues out of the abyss and into Eyes of the World. This works its way into Stella Blue, which is truly heart-wrenching. Sugar Mags and that's all she wrote - no need for an encore here.
12/08/73 - Just two nights before the Dead put forth one of their all time great performances, and they sound tired in this show. Also, the sound quality isn't nearly as good as 12/6. The SBD has got a tinny, distant sound to it, which is atypical of '73. Nonetheless, this show isn't half bad. It's humongous, if anything.
The first set is very average. The WRS and China ->Rider are good but not great, and the highlight for me is a tremendous version of Candyman. They Love Each Other, a favorite of mine from '73, never gets off the ground.
The second set improves significantly. The following sequence is the central piece: "He's Gone ->Truckin' ->Nobody's Fault But Mine ->The Other One ->Wharf Rat ->Stella Blue". He's Gone is sweetly sung, but there's some confusion in the post lyrics jam. It doesn't really segue into Truckin' as much as it just breaks down and rebuilds. The Nobody's Fault But Mine includes full lyrics, which is cool. The Other One is very spacy like the Dark Star from 12/6, but the post-lyrics jam is terrifying. This is the scariest passage I've ever heard from the Dead - the zombies are coming to get you! It's a complete assault by Phil and Jerry, to the point that it takes 2 ballads to calm everyone down. Both Wharf Rat and Stella Blue are played to perfection, and all is well again.
Another cool thing about this show is the filler: The Playing sandwich from 11/17/73. Yum Yum.
05/17/74 - Here's a low profile gem from the spring of '74 - this show may contain the quintessential "China>Rider". This version is so beautiful there are few words available to describe it. The second set is tight in general, with the "Truckin'-> Nobody's -> Eyes -> China Doll" demanding the bulk of the attention. This show also contains one of only 3 readings of "Money, Money", for what it's worth.
06/16/74 - I find this show very pleasant to the ears. There's no scary Dark Star or Other One, and very little dissonance in general. It's just a sweet, wholesome show, with Keith as the MVP on the warbly Fender Rhodes. The Scarlet Begonias early in the Set 1 sets the tone: Tight and Right. The China -> Rider and Sugaree gives us some more highlight material.
Set 2 features a long, spacy Playin' and a wonderful Eyes of the World. Definitely in my Top 5 versions - it's gorgeous.
Set 3 is wonderful as well, with a sparkling Ship of Fools as the centerpiece. This song peaked in the Summer of '74, and sounds wonderful with Mr. Godcheaux on the Fender Rhodes. The Truckin' ->Nobody's ->Wharf Rat is also sweet - a great way to send everyone home.
03/19/77 - Good little show here - very long first set that features a good if not spectacular "Terrapin >Playin' >Samson >Playin'". Seems like it belongs in the second set. After the break the boys open with an upbeat "Eyes" that turns into a great Disco version of "Dancin'". The highlight of the second set is a deep, mournful "Wharf Rat". Very inspired.
05/08/77 - Why not give a crack at reviewing this revered show? Here goes: it's as good as everyone says it is. The Dead were in some sort of inspired "Zone" in the entire month of May in 1977, and this show is the pinnacle. There are two songs worth mentioning here as perfect versions. The "Scarlet/Fire" is unbelievably intense - many Dead scholars swear by this version. The "Morning Dew" is transcendental - a truly inspired piece of music. The meltdown jam towards the end of the song is magnificent. A dead fan having never heard this show is truly missing an important piece of the canon - go get it!
05/19/77 - This show flies way under the radar when people speak of the legendary May of '77 shows, but I have a distinct feeling that will change when people truly get their arms around this one. The show, beginning to end, is sublime, with no low points. First set highlights include a haunting "Peggy-O", a stunning "Looks Like Rain", and a super-charged "Passenger". Its high point, however, is a truly stunning "Dancin'", a version which I hold in very high regard.
The second set doesn't slack off, with a great "Playing -> UJB -> Wheel -> China Doll -> Playing" smorgasbord that begs to be heard. Truly remarkable music!
10/02/77 - Delicious. First set highlights are "Dupree's" and a very strong "Let It Grow", but it's the second set that makes this show a classic. The "Scarlet ->Fire" is out of this world, and the ensuing medley is unreal. Highlights of this Dead smorgasbord are a peppy "Wheel", and a poignant "Wharf Rat". This is a soulful, sincere reading from Jerry, and is unforgettable. What a great performance overall!
11/04/77 - The "Jones Gang" performance is an absolute terror. First off, it's called the "Jones Gang" show because Phil introduces the entire band as "_____ Jones" - pretty funny stuff. The show itself is anything but funny - notes fly out of Jerry's guitar like liquid fire at times. The "Eyes" is downright manic, characterized by a wicked pace and some lightning soloing by Mr. Garcia. A very early "Iko Iko" and a beautiful "Stella Blue" serve to wind down the second set, but not before the band has completely blown the roof off of Cotterell Gym at Colgate University.
Do not operate heavy machinery while listening to this one -
12/28/79 - I'm not a big Brent fan, but this show is something special. I just listened to this one on a long plane ride home, and the "Terrapin-> Playin'-> Drums/Space" is unreal. The 16 minute Sugaree opener ain't too shabby either.