Grateful Dead

Dave's Picks Volume 1

Dave's Picks Volume 1
May 25, 1977

Dave's Picks Volume 1 is officially SOLD OUT.

Have no fear, you can join the fun with our next release Volume 2, the complete Grateful Dead performance from the Wall of Sound tour, recorded live on 7/31/74 at Dillon Stadium in Hartford, CT. This was one of the final East Coast appearances by the Grateful Dead for almost two years, and is one of the longest, most exceptionally well-played shows of the entire year. The big jams stand out, of course, including "Weather Report Suite," "Eyes Of The World>China Doll" and "Truckin>several thematic jams," but the smaller songs, like a rare show-opening "Scarlet Begonias," "Mississippi Half-Step," "Big River," "Greatest Story Ever Told," "Uncle John's Band" and countless others are also excellent at this A+ show.

In addition to all the great music, you can look forward to another digipak with trays made of 100% recycled and PCW materials (and of course a booklet featuring a historical essay and photos). Due to popular demand, we'll be using a heavier paper stock for Volume 2 and all the great Dave's Picks releases to come.

Dave's Picks Volume 2 ships this May. Stay tuned for pre-order details.

Learn More About Volume 1 here...

Dave's Picks Archival Series Kicks Off With 5/25/77

Chances are if you’re a Dead Head you’re already well-versed in the glorious spring of 1977. Back a year since their mid-’70s performing hiatus, and fresh from recording their Terrapin Station album in L.A. with producer Keith Olsen, the Dead returned to the road invigorated and excited that spring. There were fantastic new songs (including the “Terrapin Station” suite, “Estimated Prophet” and “Fire on the Mountain”) and their older tunes seemed imbued with new vigor and vitality. Every stop of the tour, which stretched from the third week of April (beginning at the Spectrum in Philadelphia) through the first week in June (back at Winterland in San Francisco), presented some new wrinkle or interesting variation on the repertoire, as songs were moved around, unusual combinations were explored and the septet continue to solidify and mature. Which is a fancy way of saying the band was on fire—y’see, there’s a reason why this is the ninth show from that tour to be released!

The song list from 5/25/77 might not reveal much out of the ordinary (though it’s great selection of tunes), but the playing is definitely extraordinary. The first set contains outstanding versions of favorites such as “Mississippi Half-Step,” “Jack Straw,” “Cassidy” and “Lazy Lightning” > “Supplication.” And the second set is primo-grade ’77 from start to finish. The buoyant “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain” that kicks things off sets the tone, but then the rest of the set is a deftly played medley starting with “Estimated” and moving into “He’s Gone,” a primal drum workout from Mickey and Bill, a heart-pounding version of “The Other One” that’s split by “Wharf Rat” (the only time those songs were played in that sequence), a joyful “Wheel,” and then a double-dose of Chuck Berry to bring it all back to rock ’n’ roll basics. Talk about a thrill ride!

— Blair Jackson


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Hunter's picture
Joined: Jun 5 2007
Here Here!

Here Here!

Gr8fulTed's picture
Joined: Jul 9 2007
Long time for the mail, eh CB?

Does the postman ride a mule or wear snowshoes in Albi? I like your review of Dave's Picks #1. It is remarkable how Betty added reverb to enhance the concert hall sound.

cosmicbadger's picture
Joined: Jun 13 2007
Well the postie struggled

Well the postie struggled through the snow and so now I have had the chance to listen. It has been a real pleasure and I echo the positive words of others here.

As mentioned Set 1 is very played and nearly flawless. I love the Half Step opener The Mexicali Blues which normally passes me by is a revelation.

The jam out of Scarlet Begonias in set 2 is just brilliant (actually I think Donna is quite restrained) and I think the Fire on the Mountain is good too but falls away a little (there are better examples from the tour). Estimated is good as ever; the transition to He’s Gone is a bit of a disaster but once they get going it is a very strong rendition with a delightful outro into Drums. Not too keen on the fade out/in on drums but it is not a serious matter. Disc 3 has some tasty jamming, but again perfunctory transitions and I wish they would have carried on exploring a little more out of Wharf Rat. Three Chuck Berry’s in one show is one too many for me but was probably great fun if you were there.

I don't like the cover art. The booklet and Blair J's essay are good, but after telling us how amazing the theatre looks, why are there no photos of it? I like the Digipacks, but yes the card is too flimsy and the folds will tear I am sure. I am pleased that this will be rectified.

The sound is excellent throughout although it does seem a little patchy on places in Set 1. I am not sure how Betty set things up, you definitely get a great feel for the hall the PA and the crowd (did they have a mic in the hall I wonder?). As well as the irregularities in Promised Land it does sound a little compressed in parts of Set 1. What is pleasing is how well Keith comes through…he often gets lost on the 77 recordings. They still have that crisp two drummer sound that started to deteriorate in the next year or so, Phil is playing more conventionally than he used to, Weir and Garcia are in step the whole way and Jerry is on top of his game. They seem to focusing more on ensemble playing in this show, unlike in many other 77 shows Jerry does not step forward for a really big guitar work out (e.g Sugaree, Dancing, Comes a Time).

Overall I give this 8/10. Immaculately played, tight (for the Dead),nice sound, great renditions of many songs, some inspired (albeit limited) jamming, but perfunctory transitions and too much Chuck. The trade-off for paying so much attention to crisp and accurate playing seems to be that they keep within certain limits that did not exist before. But then again that means less noodling and hardly any flubs. That’s what makes 77 the last of the very best for me…from then on the crispness slowly fell away but the inspiration did not come back to replace it.

All in all a very welcome release. The next Dave’s Picks should provide a real contrast. Keep ‘em coming. Thanks.

PalmerEldritch's picture
Joined: Jul 25 2011
spring 77?

Got mine a week ago. To me, it's probably the best show and best sound of any official 1977 release so far. I admit I never quite understood the great love so many have for spring 77, but this may be the release wherein I see the light. I'm still stuck on disc 2 with phil thudding the walls of my corolla and Jer's smoldering leads. I don't get how anyone could dislike Donna's wails on Scarlet- I think they are perfect. Looking forward to going back to disc1 and digging the highly touted "Mexicali" and "Cassidy"!

Joined: Feb 2 2011
The Book of Genesis, Life and Excellence.

"Great Googly Moogly!" As Zappa sang in Nanook Rubs It.

Reading that, or those, lists of music makers in that Battle Royal ( toyed with the verbiage, musicians?, artists?) reminds me of reading the Book of Genesis which could put one into a coma!

As the poster above said this is an excellent show. Did they do a bad show in 77? The tightness of the first set is part of it. All of that demanding studio work for Terrapin Station pays off for us in the first set and that GD spirit to 'break the chains' pays off in the second set too.

It is a solid A.

A very worthy release and great value for the $ spent.

I can not wait to open my mail box and find another gift to myself.

Thanks to all involved.

Joined: Mar 18 2010

There is Seastones performed on 7/31. Dave described on the GD Hour how Volume Two fills up 3 full discs- There's probably not enough space for Seastones to fit. Is a show considered complete without it- great question

Joined: Jun 4 2007

So I 'spose what yer sayin' is there's a reason he picked this one first? :-)
This pick is certainly gonna be in the rotation for a long time with me.
I'm lookin' forward to takin' it on the road to Cleveland in April with my pops. :-)
BTW, anyone know if there was a Seastones at the 7-31-74 show?
If so, would a release that snipped it out be considered complete?

Joined: Mar 18 2010
Level of excellence

I'm not great at writing reviews, so anyways...I've listened a few times, and wonder where does this show rank in the Spring Tour? Not an easy question. What I find in this show is a brillant display of perfection. The first set, while not containing a large jamming vehicle of Dancin or Sugaree- the longest jams of the set are found in Half Step and Supplication- it does contain flawless, often intense renditions of nearly every song in the set. Lazy Lightning-Supplication and Brown Eyed both smoke, as does the Half Step- Jack opener. Mexicali- Cassidy- Peggy-O and Loser are perfect renditions of these songs. Garcia playing some lines in Mexicali that are about as perfect as can be. I find more of this in Set Two- The Scarlet is bouncy, and in Fire the band really begins to flex it's muscles. Estimated continues this fierce energy, and He's Gone is solid with a strong closing jam. The Drums is a powerful rhythmic display, and Jerry seems to be on the edge of explosion before Bob starts singing the first verse of The Other One. Some of the show's finest explorations are found after the first verse, and as The Other One dissolves and Wharfrat takes shape. An excellent Wheel- Around And Around ends the set like it began- with a great display of 77 intensity. This gem contains a level of excellence from start to finish that we can expect when Dave picks them. Thank You!

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007
Okay guys...

enough of this amusing little interlude. We return to the Picks of Mr. Lemieux.

Thank you. I remove the mod hat.

PatagonianFox's picture
Joined: Oct 25 2011
that is just the kind of response....

that is just the kind of response that tells me you know nothing about music. justin bieber sucks plain & simple, and lady gaga isn't all that much better. comparing them to kanye west, because they all get radio play is just sad.

with that said... if you haven't listened to kanye west's "my beautiful dark twisted fantasy" you have no stake in this argument. the album has received far more praise than his previous works, and it contains some really interesting samples (ie king crimson).

does 99% of today's popular music suck ass? yes, it does, but when you talk about music you haven't heard its almost as nonsensical as discussing a film you haven't seen.



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