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.
The cardboard jacket did rip getting the CD out, not the first time it's happened. I bet some college design student could design a package that is eco-friendly and not a pain in the butt. It is pretty though, before it tears. That's the small bad; the major good is this great show with this great sound. The opening triple-play is dynamite, and I'm sure more will jump out at me as I listen more. I got my RT2.2 last week (which is also terrific [also tore the sleeve]) and the comparison of the two shows ten years or so apart is fascinating. Interesting that not one song from the '68 show is on the '77. I guess they had so much new stuff happening they just weren't that into the old. Anyway, it's all good.
Just received my copy of "To Terrapin". After listening to Minglewood, I realized again what an in-sync, finely tuned, well crafted watch the Dead could come across as when they were really on.
Mine arrived yesterday and listened to the 1st disc this morning, it was great,brings back
a lot of memories.I saw the Richmond show 3 days earlier and have to say it was one of the best shows I had ever seen.
I woke up this morning to find this on my doorstep. Apparently I stepped over it when I came home late last night from coming home from seeing Ramblin' Rose here in Portland. A great local Dead cover band. (For all you Portlanders out there, you should all get out there and see these guys, as well as the Garcia Birthday Band. Good times, good times)
Back to the CD though. I'm truly amazed by the sound quality here, as almost all '77 shows were recorded so well. You really can't go wrong with this one. It is classic. Even if you already have the other shows released from this tour, if you enjoy those, you'll love this one.
send me a PM with the details and we'll get it straightened out. Sorry for the hassle.
I preordered a month ago and it shows up on my order history, but I haven't gotten a notice that it has even shipped yet. Tried customer service and get an error message. Hey now!
"May the 4 winds blow you safely home."
and loving it. Crisp clear sound. The slight 'big room' echo on the vocals and audience sounds help create a concert hall ambience. The performance is great throughout; Disc 3 is a joy. Still, I don't quite buy Gary Lambert's suggestion that this show could be THE peak moment in GD history, but for me this (alongside the Winterland 73 set) is by far the best release to date in the Rhino era. Mind you, I am still awaiting the New Road Trips from '68.
And yup the packaging tore when I tried to get one of the CDs out. Grrr
after a very long day at work
this shiny parcel from the DeadStore shows up
you take icy vodka from the fridge
start grooving to this crispy mellow sound
new rising springtime vibes!
utterly love it!
first of all I got it right away and another thing I was quite please to find is that while ripping it to Itunes all of the discs had the same name. I can just go to my ipod and have the whole show in running order without having to change a thing or select anything else.
the cds themselves on the stereo system so far sound amazing.
It sounds so crisp