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.
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?
Another Bettboard, I cant wait, 5/5/77 was my first bootleg and stated it all and
I LOVE the May 1997 run even though I was one at the time.
1977 Dead Hell yeah, enjoy all!!!!!!!!!!
I'm green with envy! I spent Saturday nights drinking beer in my dorm room listening to really bad 80s Euro-pop (Dept. of Redundancy Dept.). Thank goodness for tapers! I can re-live a little of what you got to experience first-hand.
I could only see the Dead on Saturday nights because I could check out of the dorms and say I was going home to Maine. What I really did was go to Springfield, Boston, Palladium and Hartford. Not a bad Spring schedule. I remember tickets being about $7 to $10 approximately, but I did have to pay $25 from a scalper in NYC to see 4-30. Ummm good deal.
With tour tickets over $100 bucks, who can afford "new", already out there music???
I'm an Andover-grad head too. Never saw them while in school however...
I love how you keep releasing more of the seven 1977 shows I went to like 11/5 Rochester, 4/30 Palladium and 9/3 Englishtown. I'm sure you will get to 4/23 Springfield 5/7 Boston and 11/6 Binghampton in time. This Hartford show was very fun, the last of my 4 Saturday Night escapes from Andover during my senior year of high school. Thanks for the four offical releases of the shows I went to in 1977.
I was there, and sat very high up. Jed packed such a powerful surge that I remember thinking at the time that it was 'blowing the roof off'. Sure enough, a few weeks later, The Civic Center was forced to close down for a while due . . . to structural damage to the roof! That Spring I caught this, Springfield, and Barton, and the three complemented one another nicely.
This one will make most of us happy. I love turtles! Inspiration!!!
Thanks powers that be.
"Where does the time go?"