Grateful Dead

To Terrapin: Hartford, May 28, 1977

By Blair Jackson

And the whistle is screaming...
...Terrapin

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.

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Captain Stormfield's picture
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Joined: Nov 4 2007
Good Call

Nice work on the Road Trips Volume 2-Number 2! It seems so obvious in hindsight--why didn't I figure it out too? Anyway, we need to get the "PJ8" thing figured out now.

gratefaldean's picture
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Joined: Jun 22 2007
Good spot Mr Pid

On the RT reference. I can only surmise that the other plate is an old clue that Paul is dead.

Mr. Pid's picture
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Joined: Dec 22 2007
Europlates

Well, the one on the left is obviously Road Trips Volume Two, Number Two, but I'll be arsed if I can make head or tail out of PJ-8. Any other sharper synapses out there?

Conversation is always more interesting than recitation, so speak your mind and not someone else's.

gratefaldean's picture
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Joined: Jun 22 2007
Cars in focus

There are Dead stickers on the cars. Is that it?

Captain Stormfield's picture
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Joined: Nov 4 2007
Still Confused

The picture is now completely in focus...but I still don't understand the significance of it. Please, someone explain it to me. The license plates? Is that information meant to convey something?

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Joined: Jul 29 2008
70's Europe sounds good to me...

Been awhile since a Europe release, since Rockin' the Rhine?

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Joined: Jun 7 2007
Germany?

So you're thinking Europe 72, September 74 or an 81 or 90 show? The 90 shows would make sense after the previous release, although I don't know if a 90 release would be followed by a 90 release.

Zak Hagen's picture
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Joined: Jun 11 2007
Those look like early 70's

Those look like early 70's Volkswagon Bugs, and the elongate license plates with the big block letters look European in nature.

You do the math :)

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Joined: Jun 7 2007
Clutching at straws

OK, so if anyone can see what make of cars they are, perhaps we could conclude that the next release relates to the city where those cars were or are produced.

The image reminds me of the Neil Young website.

Captain Stormfield's picture
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Joined: Nov 4 2007
Surprise!

So behind the Easter Egg we have...two parked cars. Yay!!!!

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