The Wait Is Over… The Winterland 1973 Box Has Arrived!
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Sherman, set the Wayback machine for the second week of November, 1973. The Grateful Dead are on a roll…yes, again! The summer had seen the band playing triumphant mega-shows with the Allman Brothers at RFK Stadium in D.C. and at Watkins Glenn in upstate New York. With their popularity seemingly still escalating by the month, fall tours took them to various East Coast haunts and all over the Midwest. On October 15, they released Wake of the Flood, their first album on their own independent record label, and copies were flying out of stores coast to coast. So the mood in the band was WAY UP when their incredibly busy schedule brought them home for three shows at Winterland in San Francisco November 9, 10 and 11—before they set off again for points East.
Winterland always brought out the best—and the beast—in the band. Located across Geary Boulevard from the Fillmore Auditorium, the one-time home of the Ice Follies had hosted dozens of amazing rock shows since Bill Graham started putting on shows there in the late ’60s. It’s where the top tier of Bay Area bands would get together occasionally for marathon shows, and it’s where the most popular out-of-town acts—from The Doors, to Hendrix, to The Who, to the Rolling Stones—would play in the era before faceless sports arenas became an unfortunate fact of concert-going life. But nobody played Winterland as often as the Dead. By the time they’d trucked their ever-expanding sound system to the venue for their November ’73 shows, they’d already logged 31 concerts there—and there would be another 28 eventful Dead nights at Winterland before the old place was closed after the Dead’s New Year’s Eve show in 1978, and eventually reduced to rubble to make way for condos. Sure, the 5,000-capacity hall was acoustically challenging and a little frayed on the edges. But with its narrow open floor, shallow lower balcony that encircled the entire venue, its deeper back balcony chill zone, and serpentine walkways between floors, it was a tremendously fun and entertaining place to see a show—especially a Dead show.
Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings captures the Dead during one of their peak years and absolutely at the top of their game. Spread over nine discs, it includes every note of three complete consecutive shows (save for the encore of November 9, which was not recorded), so there’s plenty here to satisfy every fan: magnificent jams on “Dark Star” (which sprawls to 35 completely compelling minutes!), “Playing in the Band,” “Eyes of the World,” the still-new “Weather Report Suite” and more; kick-ass rockers of every variety (“Sugar Magnolia,” “Casey Jones,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Truckin’,” et al); haunting ballads including “China Doll,” “Stella Blue” and “To Lay Me Down”; a truly spectacular “China Cat”; and the first of just three versions ever of the dazzling sequence of “Playing in the Band” > “Uncle John’s Band” > “Morning Dew” > “Uncle John’s” reprise > “Playing” reprise. (For a complete listing of the contents of the nine discs, go here.)
All the music here was drawn from Grateful Dead crew member Kidd Candelario’s crystal clear and wonderfully present 2-track soundboard reels of the shows, and enhanced by the mastering work of the always reliable sonic wizard Jeffrey Norman, who used all sorts of arcane processes to bring it all into the glorious world of HDCD sound. This stuff will rattle your bones! The beautifully designed box also comes with a colorful booklet containing scads of great photos and a fine essay by Grateful Dead historian Dennis McNally.
We like to think of Winterland 1973 as being part of the noble tradition established by the ecstatically received Fillmore West 1969: The Complete Recordings, and as a precursor for other complete-run boxes to come. So clear out a chunk of space in the ol’ CD case, ’cause this mutha’ is a BIG ONE!
Don’t delay! You can order Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings right now by clicking here !
(To help get you in the mood, you can preview some of the music on the Winterland 1973 box by clicking here. And to give you a little glimpse of what Winterland was like, check out this video montage with audio from the ’73 shows and visuals from The Grateful Dead Movie, shot at Winterland a year later!)
Ben, I stand corrected:
I found something that used to be on the Grateful Dead site. And apparently "mastering" is sort of a loose term. But anyway, what follows, explains:
The primary difference between these two series of audio releases is the source material. The "Vault Release" series is mixed from the multi-track master tapes, whereas the "Dick's Picks" series utilizes 2-track master tapes. What this means is that a "Vault Release" can be mixed and manipulated to create as optimum-sounding a release as possible, with each individual instrument and vocal having the ability to be mixed to create as good a sonic blend as possible. The "Dick's Picks" source tapes, having been mixed to 2-track tape live at the concerts, or using the stereo PA tape, cannot be manipulated and mixed in the same way, as what was mixed to this tape is the extent of what we have to work with. The most that can be done in the production of a 2-track tape is to "master" the tape. This may be "equalization" (overall tonal improvements), "compression" (control of excessive dynamic problems), and/or "editing" (connecting songs together) the tape to create the best-possible release. As a side note, the "View from the Vault" series of DVD releases uses the 2-track source audio that is on the video master, meaning the "View from the Vault" series is more akin to the "Dick's Picks" series than to the "Vault Release" series. The video portion of the "View from the Vault" series is what was shown live, on the big screens at the concerts."
Grateful Dead Productions
Little Ben Clock
I would dispute your definition of remastering. Notice the careful wording:
"and enhanced by the mastering work of the always reliable sonic wizard Jeffrey Norman".
This is saying that Jeffrey Norman has done his best to enhance the sound on these tapes with his "mastering work."
When music is remastered, they go back to the 16 track source, and properly blend it to achieve maximum sound quality. A 2 track source is "locked up," and can only be enhanced by various filters, equalizing, etc. That is why the Dick's Picks releases have always had a poorer quality sound than the Vault releases. Listen to Cow Palace, then listen to any of the Dick's Picks, or Road Trips. There is a huge difference.
How about it, Blair? Any comments?
There are no plans currently for a smaller compilation a la the Fillmore West Box.
As for mastering/remastering, Jeffrey Norman definitely does some mojo on every tape that goes to his studio, and at the risk of sounding like a corporate shill (I'm always a fan first!) trust me when I say this box sounds REALLY good sonically, particularly the instruments. Some of the vocals maybe a little less so, but that's true on most late '73 through '74 recordings IMO...
was drawn following buisness day ...
Then about downloads ... perhaps that's a generation thing ... but I still prefer physical albums. If the day comes when downloads are the only way to get records, I will pick the nicest made bootleg of a certain album - even if the cost may be a little higher than the average package of records ...
Okey, I might not already own a lot of bootlegs compared to how many shows I have on tape but if the day comes when downloads is the ONLY LEGAL way to get new records, I will become an avid bootleg collector ...
PS! And by the way ... keep 'em compilations comin' ... I don't mind, as long as the music flows without flaws ... ;-) ds.
Now THIS is more like it!
This is exactly the type of product I'm looking for. I agree that it's a little pricey compaired to Dick's Picks but it's what I want and I'll buy it.
I'm generally not a fan of the 'bonus' CD gimmick -- just add it to the package already! -- but I do appreciate the advance notice and the announced cut off date of April 30. Now I know how much time I have to scrape together the $100.
Can't wait to get this box!
Of course 2-track recordings can be (re)mastered. Why do you think all the Dick's Picks have been "mastered"? What about the remastering of all the Dead studio albums? They would have been from the 2-track stereo mixes.
Why would only 16-track or more multi-track tapes be able to be (re)mastered?
3-track, 4-track, 8-track, 16-track, 24-track, whatever-track tapes have to be mixed down first, producing a 2-track tape/audio file/etc, then this 2-track source is mastered for CD. These, obviously, can be mixed for 5.1 releases as well, as took place for the Dead DVD releases.
Sure, they can't mix the Winterland '73 sources - the panning, levels, etc are fixed but they can definitely master them. That's why they say "and enhanced by the mastering work of the always reliable sonic wizard Jeffrey Norman".
Phil, these three shows have not been "remastered" because they cannot be remastered. These are only 2 track recordings, and can only be equalized and filtered. In order to remaster (like the Cow Palace vault release), the tapes have to be at least 16 track recordings.
The sound on this release will be much like the sound you hear on many of the Dick's Picks releases. So don't get your hopes up too high. That is why many here have said the price is high... because Dick's Picks have usually been the lower priced releases because of the 2 track limitations. This release will be no different. Though I will admit that the sound on many of the earlier 2 track recordings far exceed the sound found on the 2 track recordings of the latter years.
Thanks for the response on the order of the posts. I still think blog-style would be better. Also, any idea on whether a compilation CD set from this release will be offered? I think lots of folks would love it. (like me!! :))
What a treat to recapture these memories. On the way there, a boulder fell off the mountainside east of Donner in the rain and we ran over it ripping off the muffler and part of the tailpipe. First night was a promo for Wake of the Flood. We were in early and were given a poster, crow matches, rolling papers, and something to roll. Still have the matches somewhere. Weather Report, hell we already had that coming over Donner. Loved the floor, I was into the Mandela bogie. Party got so hot by the second set the walls going upstairs were sweating with condensation.
In my opinion 1973 is the most exciting year in the GD book. The last DP from Dick Latvala, DP 14, was a fine release. After that we have received two fine DP volumes from David Lemieux, DP 19 and 28. So, a complete Winterland -73 volume is something really exciting, and I look forward to receive it later this spring.