Dave's Picks Volume 2
July 31, 1974
Dave’s Picks Volume 2 is officially SOLD OUT.
Stay tuned for an upcoming seaside chat with David Lemieux as part of our Dave’s Picks series.
ABOUT VOLUME 2
We warned you. We said there was a chance that the limited edition Dave’s Picks releases could sell out. And sure enough, Volume 1 is a goner. No copies left. (OK, even we were a little surprised it sold out so quickly.)
Which brings us to Dave’s Picks, Volume 2. The thousands of you who bought the full-year Dave’s Picks subscription have nothing to worry about. Your CDs (and the bonus disc that comes with this one for subscribers) will be winging their way to you shortly. But NOW is the time when all you other good people who are interested in purchasing this potent slice of Dead history can submit your orders.
The show in question is a three-set wonder from Hartford’s Dillon Stadium during the heart of the Wall of Sound era, July 31, 1974, four days after the release of the Dead’s fine Mars Hotel album. Dwarfed by the Wall’s irregular columns of speakers on a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon, the band thrilled the sold-out crowd of 20,000 with a far-ranging collection of tunes and jams that showed how far they’d come as musicians, songwriters and interpreters of others’ songs in their decade together.
The 12-song first set kicks off with the still-new “Scarlet Begonias” (opening a show for the first of just three times in the Dead’s entire history), and includes such other early ’70s favorites as “Jack Straw,” “Brown-Eyed Women,” a pairing of “Mississippi Half-Step” and “Must’ve Been the Roses” and “Row Jimmy.” The '73-’74 versions of “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” have a unique character, and this one exemplifies that nicely.
Things start to open up a bit more in the second set. An expansive “Eyes of the World” is partnered with a particularly fragile “China Doll” mid-set, and the concluding take on the complete “Weather Report Suite” is filled with impressive shifts in dynamics and purposeful jamming during a 12-minute “Let It Grow.” That set also has a good “Big River” and an excellent “Ship of Fools” (another new song that year).
Set Three starts with a couple of short selections, hits an early emotional peak with one of the better versions of “To Lay Me Down” from that era, and then really goes into gear with the onset of “Truckin’,” so often a gateway to wondrous possibilities. This one rumbles and wanders and flits and crashes and dashes all over the place during a half-hour exploration that includes what is popularly called the “Mind Left Body” jam and a full-blown Spanish jam, before eventually winding up at the docks for a deep “Wharf Rat.” The set closer, “U.S. Blues,” was one of the anchors of the Mars Hotel album (and an FM radio hit at the time); a perfect summer anthem.
All Dave’s Picks releases are mastered to HDCD specs from the original vault tapes by Jeffrey Norman, and include a booklet containing an essay about the show and period photos. The Digipak is made of 100% recycled and PCW materials on heavier paper stock due to high demand. The limited edition consists of 12,000 numbered copies.
— Blair Jackson
DAVID LEMIEUX ON VOLUME 2 & MORE
David Lemieux sits down for a seaside chat about his favorite moments on Dave's Picks, Volume 2: Dillon Stadium, Hartford, CT - 7/31/74 and sheds a little light on how Dave's Picks are selected. Watch the video here:
I am still just totally loving the music created by this wonderful group of musicians. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this "environment". Every time I hear these familiar sounds I feel like I am safe at home. To love this particular music so deeply and to have so much of it to dig into is a dream come true. ❤⚡
Well, as usual us Heads have a wide range of opinions. Got #11326 in the post the other day and have ran through it now 5 times. 74 is a tricky year I think. One, 74, to my ear anyway, is a loose year overall. Takes awhile to see where the boys are going to take us, and this suits me just fine. Some Dead is hot burn, like much coming out of 77, and some is a slow ride. So here we have a slow ride, that for me really hits home after several listens. The fret work going on in Eyes is a worth the price of admission alone.I have also now taken to listening to much of the Dead on a very good quality pair of headphones. This show very much comes alive with full immersion...so adjust the horizon a wee bit ;), put a pair of cans on the old ears, and see what the boys were up to many years ago. I for one am pleased as punch to get these releases. I miss the tour every day, and am just so glad to have my favorite bunch of crazy guys sounding so good, in remixed and remastered splendor. Take care all and take care of each other. Let us respect what ever years float your boat more then others whatever they may be. 93 or 68 or 72... Its all Dead, warts and all, and the music has changed our lives all for the better.
Don't waste your time feeling sorry for us poor saps who have to get the subsequent releases! I, for one, am looking forward to them, and it's OK with me if you think that ignorance is bliss in my case. I would not trade places with you if given the chance. You are jaded beyond repair, and I will not waste my time venturing a guess as to what shows might please you. Unlike what Bobby used to say regarding the sound system, I do not need for everything to be just exactly perfect all of the time. I hope you find what you are looking for.
Hey One Man, I don't disagree with you. My overall impression of this release is "how in good sam did anyone ever decide that this show was worthy of a release!!" Personally I think I am done with buying anymore '74 (except a complete retirement show box), I think Dave very much has a say in what gets released at least that is the indication I get from the seaside chats he conducts. I bet he has a small team to bounce ideas off. If this is any indication of his taste in the Dead's music then I feel sorry for those of you who are stuck with two more shows. Consult Blair, he seems to have some great ideas I am sure.
I was listening to the Watkins Glen show from '73 the other night on Sirius and was hoping this would be like that-jammy and fun.
I have been wondering how many shows are left in the vault that are must have. I enjoyed the Pow Wow and Fillmore East-they were must have for me. For those of you who are Dead to the core, what shows are there that need to be released-I mean great shows will blow our socks off?? From what I heard, Watkins Glen could fit that description.
Please educate me. And please e-mail Dave these suggestions too.
My wife and I were out of town on a long weekend vacation, and my copy was waiting for me when we got home. What a lovely welcome home surprise! I quickly imported all four CDs into iTunes and am currently listening to the tail-end of the bonus disc (Capital Centre, Landover, MD - 7/29/74).
Having recently re-discovered my love for the Dead, I was a tad slow to jump on board for a subscription to Dave's Picks, but I'm more than glad I did (I subscribed to the Third Man Records Vault on the same day, which I've since cancelled 'cause I have yet to receive ANYTHING from them). In terms of the standard release catalog, I have everything from the self-titled debut through "Europe '72," so it's nice to step away from the more label-controlled releases that are hand-selected by select Dead-votees. What I think I like most about these releases thus far is that you get a feel of what it must have been like to hear the Dead play.
I'm having a hard time deciding which release is better, Vol. 1 or Vol. 2. I'm leaning more towards Vol. 2, but it's a close fight. There was something special about the tightness of the show at The Mosque in '77, but the Dillon Stadium show in '74 feels a bit more like vintage Dead. They're a bit looser and more on their game, blending one song into the next and having a bit of fun in between. The bonus disc is an added bonus and almost beats out Vol. 2 as a whole, except that it's 8 songs going up against 30. Not exactly a fair fight.
Vol. 2 also carries my so-far favorite versions of "Wharf Rat" and "Uncle John's Band," which don't tend to chart on my All-Time Favorite Dead Songs list.
Gratefuldean - I'm with you on the packaging. I was really pleased when they announced the recycled materials for the CD case, and equally appalled at the way it was shipped. Shit, if Deadheads don't care about that stuff, who will? (Even Jerry, remember, broke out of his usual political / issues aloofness to comment on the environmental nightmare of a vinyl record pressing plant).
I was thinking that too when the box arrived. I would think a secure bubble mailer would work. But I am sure people would complain about that as well. Bottom line everyone will not be pleased no matter what it is show, artwork, disc packaging, shipping packing, mail service.....
I am just happy to be getting excited about shows and products from Dead.net
... I do feel you on the idea that it seems like one LONG first set. For whatever reason, it never really seems to take off into that other-worldly place that so many second sets would journey. I do think that the absence of a major jam vehicle may be the culprit, though I would argue that Truckin' was often the very vehicle that would deliver us to that special second set place. It's just on this show, the band seems to peak during the Truckin' jam, (which IMO SMOKES!), but then take the foot off the gas for MLB and especially Spanish Jam, (which is basically some gorgeous noodling from Jerry and some random plunking from Keith... not really a cohesive jam for 3/4 of its running time.) Then into Wharf Rat, which is a great tune, but there is nothing spectacular about this one. Always a fan of US Blues, so glad to hear that up next, but then the Saturday Night - - has anyone else noticed that it sounds like the band turns WAY down for this and the UJB Encore? I checked my volume, and it was the same level as it had been for the entire disc. I don't know, it sounds like all of the life gets sucked out of the sound. Couple this with the fact that Disc III begins with To Lay Me Down, a WONDERFUL song, but a slow starter, and you end up with a pretty "meh" disc of Dead. (I found that it helps if you listen to all of Set III together...)
All of that being said, I am still enjoying this release A LOT. I think that discs 1 and 2 are worth the price of admission. Disc 1 starts off a bit rough,... and the BIODTL that Dave refers to is pretty bad listening, BUT, the Half-Step>Roses is GORGEOUS and I simply like the song choices: Row Jimmy is a fav, a strong Jack Straw, and a GREAT 74 China>Rider! Around and Around is a fun way to end the set too. Disc 2 is pure butter. Bertha and Big River are great opening numbers, followed by a FANTASTIC Eyes>China Doll. I have to disagree with the poster who said China Doll is one of the worst versions he has ever heard... On first listen I thought that it was beautiful and a very interesting followup to that mind blowing Eyes. Promised Land is pretty hot, and Ship of Fools is another example of why I just love the setlists from this period. (Wake of the Flood and Mars Hotel being my two fav. collections of studio songs.) And the WRS is an excellent, well played, well-sung version. Then the start of Set 3, El Paso (good version, if you like this song...) a great Ramble On Rose (BTW: I also disagree about the singing on these discs; I think they sound pretty good, especially Jerry!) and the Greatest Story (not one of my personal favs.. what are Bobby and Donna screaming about?)
All in all, I am very glad to have this in my collection, and while it doesn't rank up there with some of the best live releases, I certainly would stop way short of calling it boring. Let's see where Dave takes us next...
I think 10/16-20/74 is maybe my favorite run ever, but having already released a 5 CD set of highlights, I think it's doubtful they would go back and release the whole run. Too bad, in hindsight.
I don't agree with those that find this concert boring. I think there are many interesting passages. The main problem is the sound quality, Bob's guitar is sometimes completely buried in the mix, and it is almost impossible to enjoy the voices the way they sound (even then, there are some beautiful moments, like Jerry's singing in "To Lay Me Down").
The complete run from October 1974 in Winterland should be released one day, I think. It is the only source of really multitrack live recordings from the WOS era (it is worth mentioning that the recording was actually quite bad, that is why Steal Your Face sounds so terrible. Jeffrey Norman worked quite a lot to make them sound beatifully alive, and he made it!). It would be really nice to have a Winterland 1974: The Complete Recordings box set!
By the way, this Dave's Picks features one of the worst "China Doll" I ever heard. Kreutzmann is out of tempo throughout the whole song!