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 was scheduled to take the bus to San Francisco, when I heard the Dead were going to be in my hometown, Hartford, where I was born.I was hoping they would play "Estimated Prophet", a tribute to California. I was floored when they did. I left several days later.' I've gone cross-crountry by Greyhound bus three times(Simon and Garfunkles "America" was written for me.") I left for the Bay Area several days later.
I'm flying to my Favorite city in the whole world, San Francisco, June 16th. What cd will I play, just before I leave for the airport? This one!
Thank you, DEAD.NET!!
Sorry about the above post, I hit the "Post Comment" button a little prematurely. Okay, am I the only one who is totally upset about this release? Why aren't there more people complaining about this? How dare they release a full show AND give us $2 off the price is we preorder it? Plus, it looks to me that it was quite an awesome show. Why would they release such a good show AND make us wait a month to get it? This is ridiculous. I've wanted something to complain about and now I have it! Additionally, Terrapin is my favorite song and Wharf Rat is up there, too. Why would I want to hear another fantastic version of Terrapin AND Wharf Rat? I've never been so upset in my life.
Walk into splintered sunlight
Inch your way through dead dreams
to another land
"Rocking the Cradle disastor"?????? I thought that was a great release. Not a 'disastor' a'tall!! :o)
Listenin' to 5/13 Auditorium Theatre right now! Can't wait for Hartford. My cousin was at the Mosque show on 5/25, I'm so jealous. Looking forward to the Charlottesville show this spring - Happiness Abounds!
I'm glad that were getting a full show AND a regular 3 cd set instead of having to deal with bonus disc stuff. It never made sense to me to have what was sometimes the best part of the release as a temporary item. I've managed so far to keep up with the bonus discs but some of my friends haven't. It's nice to know that all true DeadHeads will be able to hear the entire release and not have to pay scalper prices on eBay.
My first Eastcoast show. What a weekend. New England Fiddle contest in the the park.
A tremendous Dead show. Samson & Dehlia came true as the next winter the roof collapsed, and saw Max Creek after the show. It's been a trip for sure! Nice to see this show brought back for others to enjoy.
Glad that Dead Net and Rhino finally put out an entire show for the heads, the partial shows and compilations weren't cutting it at all, Hopefully this makes up for the "Rocking the Cradle" disastor. I'm ready to get mine now!
...complaining about this release. This EXACTLY what people have been asking for - a complete show from a great period, in a great tour, with a great set list, (most definitely) in great sound quality, at a good price!! This should silence the doubters.
This is going to be a classic...I can feel it.
This is great, but I'd also like to see a May '77 box set, featuring this show, 5/7, 5/8 and 5/9 (Boston Garden, Barton Hall and Buffalo War Memorial) as well as remastered versions of the two May '77 Dick's Picks*, since, as awesome as the Pembroke Pines show is, it sounds really thin compared to the recent Road Trips and Winterland '73 box set. I'll have to hand it to the Rhino engineers, they really know how to extract every last ounce of sonic goodness from the vault tapes.
*And heck, since I'm dreaming, why not a bonus disc or two with material from Mosque 5/25/77 and the Springfield show on 5/5/77.