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.
...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.
i've got the charlie miller, but i'm gonna buy just to keep that release bus rollin'. pennies on the dollar boys and grrlz. no better investment in these times like the good ol' grateful dead. see y'all later!
My first show! I have had multiple copies over the years, each better than the next, but having an official release makes it even more special. I remember reading years ago that it was Dick Latvala's son's first show as well, but he was slightly younger!! Arriving into town on a clear Saturday afternoon, not really knowing what to expect, and then noticing that that no matter which direction I looked I saw nothing but hippies! As soon as I left the car I started floating, floating thru the crowds, getting inside and floating down the aisle, Bertha kicks in and leads to a classic 77' Good Lovin' which then leads to an awesome Sugaree. Some 30 minutes later and the band finally exhales!! 123 shows later, ending at RFK in 1995, sure there were better shows, crazier experiences, trips across this wonderful country, but nothing is like the first time, and no, I don't mean sex, but then again, that first time was fairly awesome too!! Thanks!!!
this run of shows is amazing.this is what got me into the dead and ive been on the long strange trip ever since.i remember hearing a live radio broadcasts of one of the shows from this tour,on WNEW fm. any one from the new york area who liked good music listend to WNEW fm 102.7. i was in 10th grade at the time i was listining to alot of led zep,yes,ELP,floyd that kind of stuff.i was at a party in my friend georges hood,some of the older dudes had been listining to the dead and hot tuna for years.i remember thinking wow this is good shit,so was the acid we took butt the cid wore off thank god the music never did.the release date april 7th happens to be my 47th birthday thanks for the memmories
Nice surprise..New Old Dead
Hey, man. I'm at wtofd at yahoo dot com. I'd like to talk to you about trading and those dvd's.
HURRY UP AND SEND IT PLEASE.......
And, since I sound like such a prick, I'll try making amends by offering a few B&Ps for anyone who wants DVDs of that circulate of 4/26 or 4/27/77. Please contact me directly, not here.
This definitely is "warts and all" video, but totally watchable, and pretty spectacular to see what the band looked like onstage while playing that oh-so-familiar and incredible tunage during the Spring of '77.
Charlie Miller did well on this one...thats fer sure. I'll give her a buy just for the HDCD fact though...
Oh...and one month...lord all mighty...it's 2009...we need it NOW!!!