To Terrapin: Hartford, May 28, 1977
By Blair Jackson
And the whistle is screaming...
3 Disc Set
Whether or not the fabled spring tour of 1977 was, as many Dead Heads believe, the strongest Grateful Dead tour ever, it was unquestionably a magical time stuffed-to-overflowing with amazing shows. Say the word “Cornell” to any hardcore Head and it means one thing—the 5/8/77 show at Barton Hall on the august school’s campus. But there were numerous other stops on the tour that produced monster shows, as well, from the five-night run at the Palladium in New York, to the incredible Fox Theatre in Atlanta (5/19 was part of the two-show Dick’s Picks #29), to the two Florida shows—Lakeland and Pembroke Pines (Dick’s Picks #29 and Dick’s Picks #1, respectively)—Tuscaloosa, Richmond… the tour was a scorcher from beginning to end.
What was up? Well, by the spring of ’77, the Dead had been back on the road for nearly a year following their famous performing hiatus, so Mickey Hart was thoroughly re-integrated into the band, and the septet was hitting a new stride. There was a handful of great new songs being integrated into the repertoire, including Garcia and Hunter’s complex, epic “Terrapin Station” suite, Weir and John Barlow’s cool, off-kilter reggae tune “Estimated Prophet,” and Phil and Peter Monk’s rollicking “Passenger.” Those songs would form the core of the album that the Dead were recording in the winter of ’77 with producer Keith Olsen down in Los Angeles. Olsen was a sharp guy with good ears (as they say in the biz), and he worked the Dead hard in the studio, forcing them to play perhaps a bit more precisely than they were accustomed to. Now, one can endlessly debate whether the result of Olsen’s approach was ultimately an album that was a tad too precise—a criticism even the band leveled at Terrapin Station—but all the laboring over parts and arrangements in the studio seemed to have an extremely positive impact on how the band played live that spring.
Which brings us to Hartford, Connecticut on the night of May 28, 1977—the final night of this Tour for the Ages, and the source of our latest release, To Terrapin. You’d never know from listening to this show that the band had been on the road for more than a month and 25 previous concerts, because it has that sparkle and intensity the band only had when it was fresh, feelin’ good and in full exploration mode. From the rippin’ “Bertha” > “Good Lovin’” > “Sugaree” trifecta opening, through the spectacular second set sequence comprised of “Playing in the Band,” a brisk and buoyant “Terrapin,” a fantastic one-of-a-kind “Not Fade Away,” “Wharf Rat,” and the “Playing reprise.” Definitely the band at its best!
So, why put this out now? Why the hell not? And what’s with all the questions? Just enjoy it. OK, aside from it being a classic show worthy of release, we thought it might be fun to revisit a concert played in one of the venues The Dead are hitting this spring on their tour—that would be the Hartford Civic (now the XL Center) on 4/26/09… why, that’s the 31-year, 11-month, 2-day anniversary show of this epic ’77 show! Anyway, this three-disc complete show release has been lovingly mastered to HDCD specs from the original reel-to-reel tapes by Jeffrey Norman utilizing the usual array of mysterious black boxes and sonic tools unavailable to us mere mortals. Artist Scott McDougal, who’s done such a bang-up job for us on the Road Trips series, has designed a beautiful package, and the always erudite Gary Lambert has contributed a fine essay which is accompanied by glorious photos of the band in Hartford in 1977. And because we know that in these tough economic times everyone could use a bargain, we’re offering To Terrapin at the very low price of $17.98 for all pre-orders placed on dead.net before the April 7th release date. That’s $2 under the suggested retail price. For the complete track listing and ordering info, click here.
I'll wait for my copy to arrive, I know its going to be some solid jam. Please keep it coming, i'm ready for a big box set full of dynamic music.
Coconut Phil, living Free.
A Grateful thank you to all those who worked on getting this show out of the vault and released, you know who you are. And, of course, the Grateful Dead who produced this hot and wonderful music. It's a welcome addition to my collection. Yeah, I have a bootleg soundboard and an audience recordings of this show, but to show my gratitude, I must buy it. I pre-ordered it, so I can't wait until it arrives in my mail.
I just wish I had been able to attend this show, way back in the day ...
Rhino has been less than stellar with these releases,IE: bad disc's and poor customer support.Here is Rhino's chance to shine.with all the mistakes you have made since your first GDP release,You can hopefully get this one right.It is an awesome show,and i'm glad to see you are releasing more "Complete Shows".Although I have over 4,000 Sources of shows,I am always interested to see what you can do with your releases,Please Impress Me With This One.
(Cause There's An Easywind..Blowin' Cross The Bayou Today.)
All the Dick's Picks from 15 on are HDCD as well as all the Road Trips multi track releases and all the reissues with bonus songs. I agree abourt Hartford '83 being good shows. In fact, both shows are high on my list for '83.
IMO, the oft-maligned Hartford October '83 shows are good shows from an underappreciated tour. The DP's show, 10/14, features one of my favorite Scarlet > Fires.
I've seen many shows in hartford,for some reason the boys allways played amazing shows there. except for 1983,but that whole tour blew.just one mans opinion.check out 5-10-80 that was my 1st show,7 songs going into drums, hot shit for sure.ive seen close to 200 since then.they closed the place down for a while.SNOWED SO HARD THAT THE ROOF CAVED IN.my friend is convinced that phils sub sonic bass lines affected the strctural integratey of the place.he went RPI for engineering,who knows,but the roof caved in a few weeks after that show,due to the weight of the snow on it.anyway 5-28-77 is another great show from hartford
I checked with my intrepid dead.net colleagues and they confirm that this is the case!
Uakari, yeah, man! 5/5/77 is one amazing show. It's everywhere, but it's soooooo good.
dkramer173, yes HDCD will play in any CD player you have. All the multi-track vault releases are in HDCD. The 2-track Dick's Picks and Road Trip sets are not, I don't think.
Gratefuldaddy, I like the physical CDs with the packaging, but you're right on about the glue issues. I've noticed that more and more as everyone goes to cardboard. It's environmentally nice, but it does not last, and this makes it difficult to properly care for the product. Not sure if this is what you were referencing, but I've gotten them in the mail, brand new, with scratches, too from the way they are packaged. Aggravating as hell. Where is the quality control? I do agree with you that a download option should also be available (at a lower cost) for those who want it.
It says HDCD. Perhaps a stupid question, but will this play on regular CD players?