• May 25, 2012
    http://www.dead.net/features/blair-jackson/blair-s-golden-road-blog-cornell-77-enshrined-ages
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog — Cornell ’77 Enshrined for the Ages

    On May 23, the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry announced this year’s list of 25 songs, instrumental pieces and historic recordings to be added to the prestigious institution’s permanent collection. There’s lots of great stuff on the list: Prince’s “Purple Rain”; Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”; Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; Donna Summer’s euro-disco “I Feel Love”; the first-ever commercial recording—a version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” created for the first talking doll by one of Thomas Edison’s employees; the only surviving record of early 20th century Broadway sensation Lillian Russell; the 1943 NY Philharmonic debut by conductor Leonard Bernstein; the Grateful Dead’s May 8, 1977, concert at Cornell University’s Barton Hall… Whaaaaat? Where did that one come from?

    Maybe it helps to have friends in high places. After all, Mickey Hart has been associated with the Library of Congress for many years. But when I asked him about it the morning the list was announced, he denied any involvement. “What can I say? The people have spoken!” he said with a laugh. “It’s true that I wrote part of the legislation for the [LOC’s digitization and preservation] project in 2000. It was copied after the Lucas-Spielberg Film Preservation Act. But when it came to voting, I recused myself.”

    Voting? “People have been voting all year, and then the board decides what is culturally significant, and the librarian, James Billington, makes the final cut and the call.”

    Ah, the power of Dead Head unity in action. Stuffing the ballot box—a tradition as old as this great republic itself!

    All kidding aside, a copy of Cornell 5/8/77 is a perfect choice for the National Recording Registry. Consider this: It has never been released commercially (legally), yet it is probably among the most collected, traded and downloaded concerts by any band ever. That’s not hyperbole, either.

    The original pristine audience recordings of this show started circulating among tape collectors very shortly after the concert, and quickly became a favorite of everyone who heard them—this at a time when Grateful Dead tape trading was just beginning to explode nationwide. In the pre-digital age, when all we had were cassettes, the show was part of any respectable tape collection, passed among untold thousands of people. It was always big news each time a cleaner, lower-generation copy would come through my circle of traders; had to have it! (It was also bootlegged as vinyl records and, later, CDs, and sold — boo, hiss! Not cool!) One of the late, great taper Jerry Moore’s greatest legacies is his audience recording of 5/8/77. I'm not sure whose recording I had originally; I didn't know any tapers by name back then.

    But we really thought we’d gone to heaven when the much-ballyhooed show turned up among the famous “Betty Boards” in 1986-87—200+ hours of soundboard masters recorded by Grateful Dead sound engineer Betty Cantor, who stashed them in a storage locker for years, until they were auctioned off (due to non-payment of storage fees)—and bought by Dead Heads! What a treasure trove of tapes that turned out to be! So, gorgeous new SBD copies of 5/8/77 soon circulated to hundreds of thousands of collectors, further solidifying its reputation. (This chain of events also explains why 5/8/77 is, alas, not in the Grateful Dead tape vault, where it rightfully belongs, as the Dead, not Betty, were the rightful owners of their own master tapes, auction be damned.)

    Jay Mabrey, Cornell class of ’77,
    designed this poster
    for the show.

    The show was reproduced many thousands more times when collectors transferred their tapes to CD. “Gotta get Cornell!” Again. By the time online live music repositories started popping up in the late ’90s—such as etree and the Internet Archive (Archive.org), who entered into a cooperative arrangement—high quality versions of the show became available to anyone with a computer, for streaming or downloading. There are currently 15 versions of 5/8/77 up on Archive—audience recordings, soundboards, and matrix combo versions. I frankly haven’t investigated deeply enough to know what the differences are—which came first, which is an “upgrade,” etc. (My own rule of thumb with Archive Dead shows is I look for Charlie Miller’s name, and if it’s attached to a recording, I’ll usually check that out first, since his name is synonymous with the highest quality transfers and upgrades.) Want to know how many times 5/8/77 has been downloaded from Archive.org? Are you sitting down? I added up the numbers beside each version: 928,006 as of May 23! I’m guessing that adding in all the copies that were made (tape and digital) in the years when the Grateful Dead was actually around, and when collecting was at its apex, the number could easily reach 2 million. Incredible for a so-called bootleg recording!

    Is Cornell ’77 the greatest Dead show ever, as many have asserted through the years? (It’s been a consistent poll-winner.) Is it even the best show of the justly heralded spring ’77 tour? It doesn’t matter. It’s all opinions in the end, and we each have our own preferences for certain years, certain songs, etc. I don’t like to deal in those sorts of absolutes.

    But it’s indisputably an amazing show. (OK, some might even dispute that. Sorry, this time you’re wrong!) The first set is solid and occasionally spectacular—the “Loser”; that speedy-confident “Lazy Lightning” > “Supplication”; “Row Jimmy” with beautiful Garcia slide, a fantastic “Dancing in the Street” that puts every disco song on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (released fall of ’77) to shame. The second set reaches some of the highest moments the Dead ever attained—particularly the jam after the second (final, in those days) verse of “Fire on the Mountain” and the completely transcendent version of “Morning Dew,” which has to be heard to be believed. Throw in “Scarlet,” “St. Stephen,” a really dynamic and elongated “Not Fade Away” and the then-new “Estimated Prophet”—each played with unbridled energy and enthusiasm—and you’ve got one helluva set. Is it perfect? No. Does that diminish its greatness? Not at all.

    I asked Mickey what, if any, recollections he has from the show? He laughed. “Oh, I don’t remember shows that way. I know it’s famous. I guess there’s a great ‘Morning Dew’ and some others. I haven’t heard it in many years. But if the Dead Heads say that it’s one of the best shows, I believe them. They know.

    “What’s funny is my wife [Caryl] was a student at Cornell at the time but she didn’t go to the show. She was off with her boyfriend seeing Barry Manilow or some dumb thing! She never got to see the Grateful Dead until we met in the ’90s.”

    Well, it’s never too late to get into 5/8! Dig it now, Caryl!

    All right, now it’s time to put you on the spot. If you were to choose just one Dead concert to represent the band forever in a digital archive, which would you pick and why?

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On May 23, the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry announced this year’s list of 25 songs, instrumental pieces and historic recordings to be added to the prestigious institution’s permanent collection. There’s lots of great stuff on the list: Prince’s “Purple Rain”; Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”; Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; Donna Summer’s euro-disco “I Feel Love”; the first-ever commercial recording—a version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” created for the first talking doll by one of Thomas Edison’s employees; the only surviving record of early 20th century Broadway sensation Lillian Russell; the 1943 NY Philharmonic debut by conductor Leonard Bernstein; the Grateful Dead’s May 8, 1977, concert at Cornell University’s Barton Hall… Whaaaaat? Where did that one come from?

Maybe it helps to have friends in high places. After all, Mickey Hart has been associated with the Library of Congress for many years. But when I asked him about it the morning the list was announced, he denied any involvement. “What can I say? The people have spoken!” he said with a laugh. “It’s true that I wrote part of the legislation for the [LOC’s digitization and preservation] project in 2000. It was copied after the Lucas-Spielberg Film Preservation Act. But when it came to voting, I recused myself.”

Voting? “People have been voting all year, and then the board decides what is culturally significant, and the librarian, James Billington, makes the final cut and the call.”

Ah, the power of Dead Head unity in action. Stuffing the ballot box—a tradition as old as this great republic itself!

All kidding aside, a copy of Cornell 5/8/77 is a perfect choice for the National Recording Registry. Consider this: It has never been released commercially (legally), yet it is probably among the most collected, traded and downloaded concerts by any band ever. That’s not hyperbole, either.

The original pristine audience recordings of this show started circulating among tape collectors very shortly after the concert, and quickly became a favorite of everyone who heard them—this at a time when Grateful Dead tape trading was just beginning to explode nationwide. In the pre-digital age, when all we had were cassettes, the show was part of any respectable tape collection, passed among untold thousands of people. It was always big news each time a cleaner, lower-generation copy would come through my circle of traders; had to have it! (It was also bootlegged as vinyl records and, later, CDs, and sold — boo, hiss! Not cool!) One of the late, great taper Jerry Moore’s greatest legacies is his audience recording of 5/8/77. I'm not sure whose recording I had originally; I didn't know any tapers by name back then.

But we really thought we’d gone to heaven when the much-ballyhooed show turned up among the famous “Betty Boards” in 1986-87—200+ hours of soundboard masters recorded by Grateful Dead sound engineer Betty Cantor, who stashed them in a storage locker for years, until they were auctioned off (due to non-payment of storage fees)—and bought by Dead Heads! What a treasure trove of tapes that turned out to be! So, gorgeous new SBD copies of 5/8/77 soon circulated to hundreds of thousands of collectors, further solidifying its reputation. (This chain of events also explains why 5/8/77 is, alas, not in the Grateful Dead tape vault, where it rightfully belongs, as the Dead, not Betty, were the rightful owners of their own master tapes, auction be damned.)

Jay Mabrey, Cornell class of ’77,
designed this poster
for the show.

The show was reproduced many thousands more times when collectors transferred their tapes to CD. “Gotta get Cornell!” Again. By the time online live music repositories started popping up in the late ’90s—such as etree and the Internet Archive (Archive.org), who entered into a cooperative arrangement—high quality versions of the show became available to anyone with a computer, for streaming or downloading. There are currently 15 versions of 5/8/77 up on Archive—audience recordings, soundboards, and matrix combo versions. I frankly haven’t investigated deeply enough to know what the differences are—which came first, which is an “upgrade,” etc. (My own rule of thumb with Archive Dead shows is I look for Charlie Miller’s name, and if it’s attached to a recording, I’ll usually check that out first, since his name is synonymous with the highest quality transfers and upgrades.) Want to know how many times 5/8/77 has been downloaded from Archive.org? Are you sitting down? I added up the numbers beside each version: 928,006 as of May 23! I’m guessing that adding in all the copies that were made (tape and digital) in the years when the Grateful Dead was actually around, and when collecting was at its apex, the number could easily reach 2 million. Incredible for a so-called bootleg recording!

Is Cornell ’77 the greatest Dead show ever, as many have asserted through the years? (It’s been a consistent poll-winner.) Is it even the best show of the justly heralded spring ’77 tour? It doesn’t matter. It’s all opinions in the end, and we each have our own preferences for certain years, certain songs, etc. I don’t like to deal in those sorts of absolutes.

But it’s indisputably an amazing show. (OK, some might even dispute that. Sorry, this time you’re wrong!) The first set is solid and occasionally spectacular—the “Loser”; that speedy-confident “Lazy Lightning” > “Supplication”; “Row Jimmy” with beautiful Garcia slide, a fantastic “Dancing in the Street” that puts every disco song on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (released fall of ’77) to shame. The second set reaches some of the highest moments the Dead ever attained—particularly the jam after the second (final, in those days) verse of “Fire on the Mountain” and the completely transcendent version of “Morning Dew,” which has to be heard to be believed. Throw in “Scarlet,” “St. Stephen,” a really dynamic and elongated “Not Fade Away” and the then-new “Estimated Prophet”—each played with unbridled energy and enthusiasm—and you’ve got one helluva set. Is it perfect? No. Does that diminish its greatness? Not at all.

I asked Mickey what, if any, recollections he has from the show? He laughed. “Oh, I don’t remember shows that way. I know it’s famous. I guess there’s a great ‘Morning Dew’ and some others. I haven’t heard it in many years. But if the Dead Heads say that it’s one of the best shows, I believe them. They know.

“What’s funny is my wife [Caryl] was a student at Cornell at the time but she didn’t go to the show. She was off with her boyfriend seeing Barry Manilow or some dumb thing! She never got to see the Grateful Dead until we met in the ’90s.”

Well, it’s never too late to get into 5/8! Dig it now, Caryl!

All right, now it’s time to put you on the spot. If you were to choose just one Dead concert to represent the band forever in a digital archive, which would you pick and why?

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On May 23, the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry announced this year’s list of 25 songs, instrumental pieces and historic recordings to be added to the prestigious institution’s permanent collection. There’s lots of great stuff on the list: Prince’s “Purple Rain”; Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”; Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; Donna Summer’s euro-disco “I Feel Love”; the first-ever commercial recording—a version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” created for the first talking doll by one of Thomas Edison’s employees; the only surviving record of early 20th century Broadway sensation Lillian Russell; the 1943 NY Philharmonic debut by conductor Leonard Bernstein; the Grateful Dead’s May 8, 1977, concert at Cornell University’s Barton Hall… Whaaaaat? Where did that one come from?

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And no mention of Minglewood or Brown Eyed Women but very glad to read Blair here touting an amazing first set that flies well below familiar radar. I love it.
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I'm among those who consider 5-8-77 to be among the best ever, maybe THE BEST! But I would like to pick a couple of shows from different periods in the Grateful Dead evolution. I would really like to see 2-11-70 among them or perhaps 2-13-70. Among my other personal favourites are of course 8-27-72 as mentioned above and also 6-10-73. There are other strong shows from 1977, such as 5-19-77 or 5-9-77. Other great shows are 12-30-78 and 8-19-80. There's so many, it's hard to pick just ONE. Micke Östlund, Växjö, Sweden
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March 7, 1981Venue: Cole Field House Location: College Park, MD Great show start to finish, best Bird Song ever? Will somebody PLEASE release this show.
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My $0.02 At least for the mood I'm in now. Could change by tomorrow.......... Best, Might as Well, ever? Oh Yeah. Whole show is right up there.
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I've always said that if I were stranded on an island and could only have one show with me it would be 3/1/69. Not only does it have the full Live Dead medley but it's also got most of the Anthem suite. Any show where they played The Eleven, New Potato Caboose and Doin' That Rag would be exceptional, but these versions are all magnificent. No surprise given the fact that they had just laid down the ultimate Dark Star 2 nights before. Plus the ridiculous Hey Jude by Pigpen for the encore is a hoot!
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My favorite show is actually a Dick's Picks Volume 14, particularly the Boston December 2, 1973 show. I love the mix of jazzy, country, rock & roll, combination from '73 and the whole late fall tour stands out to me as some of the to best ever. I'm happy to have an official soundboard of this show but love my audience cassette which I still listen to that has the warmth and crowd response. 12-12-73 Atlanta is good too, Road Trips Denver is right up there as well. Release Watkin's Glenn show or RFK w/ the Allman Bros. dual tour.
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I couldn't name the best Dead show I ever attended much less choose the best show I've heard -- ask me today, maybe I'd say Hartford 10-15-83; tomorrow, maybe Meadowlands w/ Stephen Stills ("Love the 1 you're w/"); next day . . . Hampton 10-9-89; following day anything from Europe '72. That's what I love about the serius GD station -- they choose the tunes & shows (much better than I could by the way) and I get turned onto stuff I either don't have or wouldn't think to play or if I have it, I have an old scratchy recording or somethin like that. There's a show from the Capitol Theater (I think) w/ the very last "Operator" that I absolutely DIG! The GD w/ Pigpen and the GD w/out Pig seem like close cousins - same family; different cats or same soup; different recipes. Too young to ever have seen Pig, but somehow have this indescribable affinity for the cat -- modest, soulful, no bullshit but selflessly considerate -- and I get all of that just from hearing the guy play/sing -- Would really, really like to have known the dude, especially in my partying days -- but I digress -- sorry, but Pig is m' buddy like it or not! Anyway, best dead show or best dead tune? The one that is presently playing (which is why I keep comin back to the post Jerry shows -- the spirit still exists and shines every now and again and when ya least expect it -- like when Joan Osborne or Chris Robinson sings a Pig tune! Ah, I knew this would come full circle at some point. Don't keep the faith -- SPREAD it!
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Remember, the question is not what is the best Dead concert ever, its which one is most representative of the Dead. Still a very tough question, but when I imagine being at a great Dead show, this one could be it. Another one that sounds equally fun to have been there and is fantastic to listen to is Lewiston, Maine 1980.
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I did this exercise as quickly as I could - chose six shows from six years - bam! 2/14/68 Charlie Miller version 1/26/69 The Eleven>Lovelight 5/02/70 I'd love to hear an update!!! 12/15/71 Dark Star>Deal>Charlie Miller 8/27/72 Somethin' Else! 2/15/73 Dark Star>Eyes 6/18/74 Charlie Miller Which show is best representative? 2/14/68 and check the set list. That was fun! Thanks, blairj.
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Every time I ask you guys to come up with something that on the surface is ridiculous--best "Dark Star," ONE representative show (?!), etc.--you always come through with amazing suggestions, and you jog my memory about shows I love but haven't heard for ages (like 2/15/73 above, and a bunch of the "Dark Star" suggestions from last week) and shows I don't know at all, like the 3/7/81. As I've said before, so many shows, so little time!
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But 5 8 77 does have the best Dancin and Dew, for sure. It's induction is justified. If I had to answer quickly I'd probably say 11 2 77. My fave Lazy>Supp and a great Terrapin encore. Great country also.
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We all know that one show can't convey the many variations the band went through, but if I had to choose a single show , I'd go with 5/2/70. With the acoustic set, the New Riders, and the electric sets you get a plateful of what the experience of a live show felt like. I think most people unfamiliar with the Dead, and that's presumably the crowd this is meant for, would hear some of their finest songs from WMD & AB plus plenty of the psychedelic weirdness that made them (in)famous in the first place. I'd really prefer 9/20/70 but it's wobbly sound disqualifies it.
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5/8/77 doesn't exist in the Vault, so which copy of this show will be chosen for the National Recording Registry? One of my favorite sayings is- If it's good enough for the Library Of Congress, it's good enough for me. I think this is even inscribed on one of my coffee mugs. Please- take the copy chosen for the National Archives, Normanize the glory and finally release this show. So the fans can then cherish this national treasure in our own personal archive. And God save the Queen!
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12-29-77 This show is representative of primal, X-factor, unbridled, just-exactly-perfect-brothers-band Dead! From the Jack Straw start to the Terrapin Station/Johnny B. Goode finish, this show shines. There is so much energy and confidence in everyone's playing (well, maybe not everyone; Keith is, well, late 70s Keith). I only wish Dick, RIP, had included Roses and Sunrise to make it a complete release with DP10. I guess the filler from the next night was good enough reason ;) At many times during the show, Garcia's Wolf guitar literally sings. The solo in the aforementioned Jack Straw; TLEO; my absolute favorite Loser; beautiful accompaniment in LLR; and a Sugaree that rivals any of the other played during that wonderful year of '77. After a truly muscular first set and start of the second (Bertha-Good Lovin'), there is a spaced-out Playin into a boppy China-Rider into a gorgeous China Doll. There is a brief drums workout before more muscle with NFA-Playin' reprise. What a glorious set of pristine, adventurous music! Finish it all off with a double encore and you have one hell of a great Grateful Dead concert. This, my friends, far surpasses Cornell '77 and is more deserving of enshrinement in the LOC. Peace!
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But if you are holding my feet to the fire....You could do worse than 5/26/73. I do wonder why anyone would choose a post retirement show though???
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Eagle made a point. Hard to compare the best show your ever saw (spanning many generations) because we all have a highlight or two. However to say through whatever medium you have or had from cassette to digital, pick one show. You probably weren't there.(God Bless You if you were.) So, bottom line for a 40 year deadhead, July 7th 1990, Year after Brent died, Bruce Hornsby had to open and fill in. In a pinch he delivered. I remember the Jack Straw opener like yesterday. It was hotter than blue blazes and the attendance was phenomenal. Afterwards, it rained and the next day. Ofcourse the capital city of Raleigh announced over 500 arrested and the Dead would never play there again. Reckoning was established that night for me. Finally a Broke Down Palace without traveling to Boston for the end of tour. For best bootleg I ever heard definitely Cornell 5-8-77/ I was 6 years at the time and oblivious to it all, but I remember listenin' to Row Jimmy in the rain as a young man 12 years after the fact. Man, did I arrive......
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After listening to 5/8/77 I want to switch my previous posts. I think it is a very historic recording and deserves the honor given to it.
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the following was meant to be a reply as a private message to arichman, not as a comment on Blair's post...oh, well...still getting used to to this new way of communicating...sorry about that.Dude: am with you and I get it hugely when you speak about the eleven and doin' that rag and new potato caboose...all versions of the eleven take me out completey...as background, my 1st show was in 1968, in st. louis, mo at the national guard armory...as near as I can tell, I have been to approx, 135 shows, all starting in 1968 in st. louis and the next year, I moved to San Francisco to see more of this incredible band I saw once in st. louis...thanks for the post...later
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Shakedown franklins so crisp and snappy only time ever played like that franklins is so sharp and peaking just go and take a listen way better than all of raidio city and warfield combined.The truckin jam drums space the other one so razors edge stella blue good lovin and casey jones.Would make a great daves picks but i dont think its in the vault.That last leed on truckin jerry bends the strings so hard and loud its like a cats tail got cut off the drums space one of the best of all times jerrys got the magic wand thing going on and everything builds and builds and explodes into a massive other one like nothing i ever heard again and i went to 160 shows after this.Listen to that franklins one for the ages and i never heard one like that again.I know its not the best dead show by far but maybe its the best show i ever saw.And one of the best audience tapes i ever heard too.
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This was indisputably the right choice as far as I am concerned. Blair described it well, but for me that St.Stephen >NFA>St.Stephen>Dew is the most amazing piece of music I have ever heard. No sequence has been played as many times as that one for me. It really is deserving of the place of honor it has just received. Others? In 1977 I would add 2/26 and 10/11. Honorable mention goes to 5/7. That's as far as I can commit, as after number 1 (5/8) there are too many number 2's to pick from.
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I was there! What a day! Yeah! Hey wow! That's right, 39 years to the day today! :)
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My choice of representative show would be the Berkeley Greek on Sunday, 7/15/84. We know the Dead's sound evolved through many stages from the raw Warlocks to the bluesy '69-'71 era, to the spacey early 70's, and beyond. For my taste, the power and polish of their sound fully came together in the mid-80's, especially in the amazing Berkeley Greek shows which I was so fortunate to attend. This particular show is fabulous, and is available in very high quality recordings. The opening Dancing in the Streets is high energy, followed by an exquisite Bird Song. The second set starts with a surprising Why Don't We Do It in the Road, and then proceeds into a fabulous sequence of China Cat -> Rider -> Playin' in the Band -> Uncle John's Band. Along with the post-space China Doll, and a Brokedown Palace encore, this show has everything you could ask for. If you have not had the good fortune to hear it, you must - today!
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Dang. All this praise for 5/8/77 is fascinating to me. 30+ years of listening to the Dead and I still don't get it. How could anyone choose a post-retirement show as a "best"? I'd take even the worst show from 68-74 over anything from 1977. The last "Road Trips" (76) was a revelation to me, so I'll even extend that to 68-76. What's the fascination with 1977? Jerry sounds great but Phil and Bob sound more like backup musicians in 1977. And I'm no "pre-retirement snob"- I'd take any 1980's "space" compilation over anything from 1977, too. Okay, okay- I'll keep trying. I'll never give up! I'll start spinning 2nd set 5/8/77 now. Oh, my pick(today) for Library of Congress is 2/14/68.
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I like almost every thing from 69 to 79 but shows from 1974 and 1977 had fantastic energy, ya know. I have a lot of different copies, some better than others. I've never seen one for sale though.
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Double encore with Ripple...9/3/885 /5/90. Race is on Kentucky derby day .. Bill Walton on stage. 11/2/84 Berkeley smokestack 12/31/84 sf civic... What a set
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If I had to pick a single representative GD show, it would be 10/16/89. Wish I had been there--I made the three Philly shows that immediately followed. There are a bunch of reasons why this show is representative: 1) Brent's presence: IMO, the single representative GD show has to be one with their longest serving and, again IMHO, best fitting keys player. 2) Dark Star and Playing: They hit both of the major jam vehicles that night. 3) Fall 1989, thus they were at a point where there was only one more large batch of GD songs to follow. IMO, the very earliest a representative show could be would be 1982-83, when songs such as Touch Of Grey, Throwing Stones and Hell In A Bucket made their way into the setlists, where they stayed in regular rotation for only slightly less that half the band's existence. 4) Stuck Inside Mobile: A first set Dylan song. 5) Drums/Space: IMO, a representative show has to be once D/S became a nightly occurrence, thus post 78. 6) Attics: The type of harmony vocal work that the band touched on heavily in around 1969/70 made an exceedingly rare appearance at this show. Pretty much everything there is to love about the GD makes an appearance at this particular show. On the 5/8/77 issue, a listen to 5/7 and especially 5/9 reveal that 5/8/77 wasn't even the best GD show that week, let alone ever. Good show to be sure, but arguably the most overrated musical performance by anyone ever.
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Before getting into which show gets the most votes etc. first - Lets REJOICE at this news - let it be Barton Hall 77 - it may not a favourite with every Head - but collectively we should all be glad. To even begin to consider which is my favourite show - is a non starter for me - just couldn't pick one over the last couple of days. I like all of those mentioned by my fellow commentators which fall between 1968 and 1974. Rejoice folks !!
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"On the 5/8/77 issue, a listen to 5/7 and especially 5/9 reveal that 5/8/77 wasn't even the best GD show that week, let alone ever. Good show to be sure, but arguably the most overrated musical performance by anyone ever." I agree 110% with that.
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which was long before I realized that everybody's got really different taste, and I am definitely in the 80s camp because that's when I came along: I still would put 6/21/80 Anchorage on the list. Partly because it has a lot of my favorite tunes, partly because of a notable Playin' jam, partly because it's just one of those tapes that really stood out in the early days. I still think an Anchorage box set would be swell. Think of the cover art...
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Thats another great one. I would buy it if it was ever released.
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Amazing lists of faves here.I always loved, absolutely loved 5/8/77. I long ago wore out my tape copy and didn't get into downloading before the GD took sbd's down for dl. However, it is etched into my memory. I wish the "owner" of the master would return it to GD. If not, would they be able to get the best copy available and release it? I would still buy a polished copy. I always get chills hearing Phil's opening bass notes to Scarlet from that show.
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11 years 2 months
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I also came along in the 80's and find that I really really enjoy shows from that decade. I love and appreciate most Dead eras, but I get pumped listening to the 80's. Hard thing to admit here, but you opened the door.... ;)
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10 years 2 months
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As one goes later through their career and into the eighties the sample size of people who attended shows grows exponentially. That seems to be a main driver of popularity. I think however if you bring freshness, originality, Jerry's voice quality and physical energy level, sheer intensity and similar factors into play as objectively as possible, then the period that begins in '69 and ends towards the end of '72 is the era to look overall peak greatness. 1977 has polish (too much) and professional consistency which may be technically better in certain respects but simply doesn't truly ROCK, due to often plodding tempos and too much Donna. Compare the 5/8 St. Stephan/Not Fade Away to 9/19/70 or 4/28/71 for example. Those versions are far superior.
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8 years 10 months
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It deserves wider recognition. Also: 9/7/85: I listened to that recently, and am AMAZED by the vibes. 7/8/78 is the more powerful show. 9/7/85 has special energy anyway...give it a listen.
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For my money 12/01/79 was the best head-on, no rear-view mirror. That said given the consideration of soundboard tapes and proper reflection - 11/30/80, 08/03/82 and 09/11/83 are hard to top.
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10 years 10 months
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While I am elated that the music of the Grateful Dead will become a permanent part of the collection at our LOC, I would have chosen a different show. I must agree with some of my other fellow deadheads that the 80's were some of the best shows around. To me, there was magic between Brent and Jerry during some shows - a an electric link that produced some of the best music I've ever experienced. Also by that time, Bobby's guitar playing skills had developed and improved immensely. It's hard to pick a favorite show but I like the summer solstice show at Shoreline (6/21/89). But I won't complain. I'm happy the dead are being honored by our nation's library. And I never saw the dead play a bad show.
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I find it hard to really find a show that would be fair in terms of representing the Dead as whole for the simple fact that the Dead were constantly evolving; it seems like every 5 years they were practically a different band, but I do agree with this show for one simple reason: this is the show that really, really turned me on to the Dead, and I don't think I'm alone in that. My buddy at work recommended Cornell to me after he heard me listening to the Morning Dew from Europe '72 one night when i had first started working there; i downloaded it off archive when i got home that night and i was totally melted by the end of it - not long after that, him i were closing the kitchen to a show whenever we worked together, which is still the tradition over a year later. This show opened my mind to what was out there and i haven't stopped since. This isn't my favorite show by any stretch, I've tried pickin one but there's always a hundred "but this shows got" afterwards, so I've given up on favorites. I have my go-tos, but as others have said - my favorite show is the one that's on right now!
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8 years 11 months
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I would tend to agree that this show is overrated. Good show but certainly I agree with the 8/27/72 comment. Truly a Dead classic. I must take issue, as has been known to happen on boards like these, that the Dead were better in the 80s. That's when I started seeing them in the late 80 through the end and while I have fond memories of my experiences to make this contention is absurd. Bobby's playing did not get better nor did his tone(mosquito tone anyone?). Jerry's tone got worse(Heavy Metal Pedal anyone?) and the overall sound of the band got worse. The band peaked in the Mickey-less years. Coincidence? I think not. Jerry's voice was at his sweetest, Bobby's tone and playing were at their peak and the band took the music and jams further out since Billy did not have to drag anyone else along(The boys never needed more than one drummer). Also the sound of the band/blend of tones was at its peak. Keith was the best keyboard player the Dead ever had when he was in his prime. Thats my opinion and happy to have gotten an opportunity to share it. I'm sure many agree and I'm sure many disagree.
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10 years 8 months
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musigny23 has it right. Once you get beyond 1972 alot of the songs became what I refer to as "Mama's Family" versions. They don't rock, they don't swing. Just like Lawrence Welk drained the soul out of anything he touched, some of the tunes became ghosts of their former selves. Specifically, the OMSN encore that follows one of the most breathtaking Morning Dew's ever from Cornell. Aack! I really don't have a problem with the choice of 5/8/77 and I'm glad they're now enshrined but to really "get it" you have to go back to the glory years.
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10 years 6 months
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Driving to my home Costa Rica hearing it announced on the local radio station , was thrilling as only deadheads know it can Be, In my house here, I have the poster hanging in a frame that I ripped off the sidewalk when I bought my ticket outside Barton, Hall, ( Has a rip down the middle , the promoters thought if they ripped the posters no one would take them, ha ha, )On occasion I hear from people that it was the best show, For some reason, from the 100's of tapes I have to say that is one of the top played, other's are the :LIVE DEAD and Englishtown but for sure, never had such a good time and would like to have one time more,, You know I never really like hearing people talk about the best this or the best that,,It was all incredible, I just was a skinny College Kid squezzed up against the stage in a GYM. Every time someone comes to my house, they see the poster and I explain the nigth, man that was cool .. My daughter were's the shirt I bought that night As for now I would do almost anything just to see the" worst" show tonight
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.......I was 13 years old thumbing through my brother's album collection ....reading vertically, my eye caught "Moody Blues" so thinking I wanted to hear Knights in White Satin I grabbed for the album......but I didn't pick out the MB album, my greasy little fingers snagged the Skull and Roses album by mistake.......placing it on the turntable, still not realizing I had made a fundamental error, Bertha and Phil's bass line lit up the room.....I remember thinking, damn, the Moody Blues are pretty good...... .....that was 1973....and the Moody Blues are pretty good......but the Dead have been my favorite ever since......I wore out that album......my girlfriend got tired of it so she bought me American Beauty and Live Dead for my birthday.....I could never quite reconcile at that early age that the same band produced both albums....AB was easy to love for a (then) Eagles fan......LD was an acquired taste and took a little more listening before I was in love with that album too.......but it took me til college to see them live....1979.......so that should be my favorite era , right? '79,80,81,82......all great and some of the best times of my life.......but if I'd have to vote, I'd vote for any of the best of '72.....5/26/72 is tuff to top, imho.....to me it is the quintessential Dead sound....maybe not as polished as later on......but for me that's the appeal...(it is rock 'n roll afterall).....Keith and Pig.....piano and organ.....Bobby's chopping rhythm......Phil...well Phil is and was and will be the alpha and the omega.....billy filling ALL the voids...just dancing....and Jerry on the Strat'....all of it's good but good '72 just makes me smile, smile, smile......
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11 years 5 months
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I've wondered what the story was all about concerning the Betty Boards and how they got leaked. It is my viewpoint that it is impossible to sum up the Grateful Dead by one mere show out of thirty years worth of shows. Granted, Cornell '77 is popular, as is 2/13/70, 5/2/70, 8/27/72, 12/31/78 ect ect ect, but no one year can ever fully represent what the Dead were all about.
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8 years 7 months
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I don't understand the comment how nothing after 72 rocks. I listen to The Music Never Stopped from Dick's Picks 18 and to me it is a band at one of the peaks of their powers. Which brings me to my point. Listening closely to what they accomplish musically in 77, I feel there's a period of time where the band took this accomplishment further. I hear it in the Fall of 77, and Dick's Picks 10 is an exclamation point to this sentiment. Then Dick's Picks 18 blows the roof right off. Cornell to me is one of the finest from 77, and the Morning Dew is what catapults it's status to legendary. And then listening to The Other One or the Scarlet-Fire from DP 18- the boys knew exactly what they created, and how to increase the intensity as the bus traveled on.
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10 years 2 months
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Zuckfun, to "rock" to really "rock" one cannot be super clean, polished and in constant control. For whatever reason, the band felt compelled to be more professional as the 70s progressed, and by making that choice, they gave up their ability to "rock". The Grateful Dead became an ingrown, inbred, insular thing unto themselves. It was fine if you could enjoy it for what it was, but it wasn't truly rockin', not like they had earlier. In the late 60s/early 70s they were youthful, in debt and broke, not yet "rock stars", they traveled and hung out together all the time and they were fighting to be successful among all the other major rock acts at the time. A completely different dynamic existed then. Once real success arrives, in '71-'73, the changes begin and they evolve away from being a true "rock" band. The late 70s, especially 1977 saw the explosion of punk and new wave, those being largely sparked by the fading of the 60s supergroups as leading creative forces. In Pop, it was also the Disco era. As a passionate angry male teen, I despised disco as being a crime against good music. When the Dead rolled out the disco arrangement of "Dancing In the Streets", I was mortified, confused and felt betrayed. What the fuck were they thinking? Whatever funky groove you find enjoyable now in retrospect about that arrangement, it did not, could not, rock. Take "Good Lovin'", versions from the fall of 1970 ROCK. The 10/04/70 is a perfect example. The later Bob versions, with their "happy samba" arrangement do not. The early good versions in '71 of "Bertha" rock, later ones don't, no matter how spirited you might think they are. There are plenty more examples. At the August 79 shows in Denver I met a guy visiting from England who when I asked him what he thought, emphatically stated that "It was bloody horrible" and while I enjoyed it pretty much, because it was a ROCK show he wanted to see, I knew exactly what he meant.
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    D10S
    5 years 4 months ago
    Best official live
    So what are the BEST live shows that have been officially released on cd?
  • Anna rRxia
    5 years 6 months ago
    Was your house
    A version of "That 70s Show"? Mom and Dad were always on the road attending a Grateful Dead concert somewhere -- they were probably at Cornell... I hope it was worth it!
  • Default Avatar
    azforker
    5 years 6 months ago
    Boston
    5/8/77 indeed was great, I was in Boston the night before ,and I recommend you give that a spin,and Buffalo 5/9/77. I would say its safe to say that was a magical week for the Band ,firing on all cylinders! Spent the next 30 years chasing that high of that 1st show in Boston .
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    Zuckfun
    6 years 5 months ago
    Forbidden fruit
    borncrosseyed56 raises an interesting point. There exists a disparity that great sounding copies circulate of some of the finest shows and yet these shows don't exist in the Vault. Dekalb 77 and Red Rocks 78 to name a couple. Obviously I can't speak for all fans, but I want the greatest performances released. Of course we want great sound, but sometimes sound quality needs to be compromised if the performance is great. Just listen to Dick's Picks 22. As fans we know it may not sound perfect- I'll take an average sounding stellar performance over a superb sounding mediocre show every day of the week. The blockade of- 'it's not in the vault' should be smashed into little pieces with a sledgehammer.
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    borncrosseyed56
    6 years 5 months ago
    Great subject
    Thank you very much, Blair for this blog.