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.
You've been very responsive. It seems that the term "pre order" doesn't mean what I thought it did. I could've bought the discs a week and a half ago now, and for all I know they're still sitting in a warehouse while my bank account is down twenty bucks. I never had these kinds of problems with Grateful Dead Merchandizing. So much for the efficiency of big business! I just hope that the people who care realize that Rhino seems to be alienating a lot folks.
Ok, I'm done now. It comes when it comes and It'll be a nice suprise.
"May the 4 winds blow you safely home."
I'm diggin it
"In a bed, in a bed, by the waterside I will lay my head.
Listen to the river sing sweet songs, to rock my soul."
Just talked to them. They said that there had been a really big demand for Terrapin, and that's why they were late sending them out. Made we wish I had pre-ordered, say back on February 24th. Anyway, I canceled the order. Maybe I'll pick it up at Amazon. Or maybe I'll get that new Ligeti box instead.
I was told Monday your order was about to ship and am awaiting more details. Hope to have more info shortly.
It was brave of smokenack to speak up about this being dull. I sort of know what you mean...that superslick Dead of 77 is a rather different beast from the prehiatus monster. Its not dull for me, but for sure it's not as 'out there' or spontaneously explosive as it once was. But then nor am I :-)
maybe they're all following the tour on the East Coast!
Sorry to hear you guys are having problems too. But at least it is good to know I'm not alone on this one. :-)
I agree with you guys. Next time I'll just pick it up at my local record store. When I was waiting on the Egypt discs, I had a very good experience with customer service, but it seems that they've totally dropped the ball with this one. It seems that even Marye can't get through to them, b/c I sent her a message and haven't heard anything since Monday. I'm kind of assuming that since my card was charged, the discs have shipped and I just didn't receive confirmation. We'll see....
"May the 4 winds blow you safely home."
I've sent two email requests to customer service at the beginning of the week and I left a voice mail asking for help but here it is Thursday and I've heard nothing from them. I'm really not sure what to do next. I guess maybe just buy it from Amazon, cut my losses and not order from Dead.net anymore. Not a big deal, just kind of disappointing.
I have heard the customer support is a little shoddy. I'll burn a copy and send to ya :-)
"When the smoke has cleared she said, that's what she said to me. You're gonna want a bed to lay your head and a little sympathy"