Wall Of Sound
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Hi all, Lovin' the '74 show until the vocals were basically lost on Loose Lucy and Big River. Has anyone else experienced this? I can't imagine it is a manufacturing defect. Thanks for the feedback. wdihwip
Hey wdihwip, welcome to the wonky world of the Wall of Sound. Sometimes things would drop for no reason. It's likely not a manufacturing defect but a problem with the soundboard recording itself. If the sound system cut out, whatever was played between then and when the crew fixed it is lost. I remember the first time I heard some 74 properly adjusted. I had headphones on and was grinning ear to ear at Phil's HUGE sound and then *poof* he was gone. It was like my strong right arm went missing. He was back a few bars later, and that was my intro to the Wall of Sound.
It's almost cliche to say "every Dead show was different", however in bits of '73 and almost all of '74 shows this is completely true. The sheer possibilities for sonic exploration that this sound system offered each musician coupled with inevitable unpredictabilities caused by the complex wiring and construction of The Wall made for a totally unpredictable environment and often, tape. 1974 will probably always be my favorite year of Dead recordings simply due to the truly unique facets of each tape (board or audience). At times when the band and The Wall hit that magic realm and become one it's almost like riding a cosmic rollercoaster of sound. I love every year for its own reasons, but '74 is simply so in your face. That often thin, whispery, vocal sound (due to the cancellation mics) can range from sounding terrible to obtaining a clarity as if the vocalist were sitting in your living room. Lesh's bass options were simply innumerable (one must listen to all recorded "Seastones" with Ned Lagin, often between Set 2 and 3, to truly understand the FULL scope). Billy's drum kit could sound so good, again with that "in the same room" level clarity. Sadly, it also could be buried, only parts of the kit (like the bass drum, snare, or a million different combinations) coming through the difficult to regulate mix, especially early in shows during the first couple songs (which does bring up issues of taper mix vs. house mix). The guitars had so much latitude on volume, tone, etc., that some of the most screaming jams in Dead history occurred in '74 alongside moments of gentle beauty of clarity unheard previously in a live setting (and hell, even on tape). It is such a gift that Garcia took on the extra pressure of slogging through the creation of "The Grateful Dead Movie" (proving Garcia's skill as a contributor to film direction and production) so that we have such a great view of The Wall on film... For me heaven would be truckin' out to the Iowa State Fair on a windy June day in '74 and witnessing The Wall in all its outdoor glory (tech. problems and all) and the Dead lay down 3 nice long sets of pure American rock n roll. If only I had a time machine...