Grateful Dead

The Wait Is Over… The Winterland 1973 Box Has Arrived!

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!)

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Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2007
On First Listening

This is an excellent production, delivering a better calibrated version of Grateful Dead than Dick's Picks in its full show mode or the "highlights" approach of tour coverage like Steppin Out or the recent Road Trips releases. Only the '69 Fillmore West box rivals this as a document.

The sonics reproduction is a tribute to the skills of everybody involved. The band plays at the top of its game throughout.

I agree that the packaging, while very well executed, could offer better protection for the discs. Maybe the assumption is that everyone burns them to an ipod and listens from there these days but that is certainly not the way I operate.

My wife and I were listening to the 9 November Black Throated Wind while playing canasta when she popped a question that, amazingly, has not come up before: "Haven't you got this song on another album?" "Ummm, yes, I believe I do," I replied, mumbled something about how each version is different and quickly played a juicy discard to distract her. The conversation luckily did not turn to how many versions of Black Throated Wind I actually do have. But it does raise the question of how much Grateful Dead music is enough.

On the evidence of this box, we don't have to worry for a good while yet. Winterland '73 easily keeps rank with the top notch Grateful Dead releases. And just in this thread there are probably enough suggestions to keep up a stream of high quality whole run releases for years to come. Any support for Winterland '78?

Happy Trails

DarkMagus's picture
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Joined: Jun 6 2007
Shipping

I ordered this set on Thursday, April 24 and received it Monday, April 28. According to the invoice, I paid $8.50 in shipping. According to the postage meter, it cost $7.50 to ship. I've heard people complain about shipping costs but this seems like a pretty good deal to me.

I'm in the middle of 11/10 right now so I can't comment on the entire set yet, but so far the sound is nice and I really enjoyed the very natural transition between Let it Grow and Eyes on the third disk of 11/9. I'm looking forward to this big meaty Playin' sandwich coming up here soon.

The packaging and the disk art is beautiful but doesn't offer much protection for the disks themselves.

The button was a nice surprise.

Thanks

stone jack baller's picture
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Joined: Jun 8 2007
For those about to complain about the price, we falute you

Just another tweak for the price discussers....here's the price from 2 years ago...when the package was available for a day, then pulled.....

Dear xxxxxxxxx,

Thank you for ordering from the Grateful Dead Official Store. Your
customer number is xxxxxxxxxxx. Your order number is xxxxxxxxx
and is being processed.

Customer Name: xxxxxxxxx
Customer Number: xxxxxxxxx
Ship Method: USPS MMSP

Payments:

Credit Card Type: xxxx Expiration Date: x/xxxx
CC# (last 4 digits): xxxx
Authorization Code: xxxxxx
Authorization Amount: $77.29

Qty - Extended Price - Sku/Item Description
1 - $69.95 - DECD307/PREORDER Winterland 1973 Box Set
1 - $.00 - DECD308/PREORDER Winterland 1973 Bonus CD [Cinci '73]

Order Total: $77.29

The charge will appear on your credit card statement as
GratefulDead xxxxxxxxxxxx.

Thank you,
Customer Service
Grateful Dead Official Store

Offline
Joined: Apr 2 2008
To Bad

I have to say that this is easily one of the best box sets ever. Its just to bad that when they remastered it that Donna's screaming couldnt be removed. I cringe everytime I listen to Playin' and she starts wailing like she is getting murdered or something. There are a few other songs that pretty much get ruined by her screaming also. During "Greatest Story" it seems like she is purposly trying to sing louder than Bob which just makes me just want to skip the song. What the hell was the band thinking when they allowed her to join?

rdevil's picture
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Joined: Nov 2 2007
worth it w/ or w/o bonus

Wanted to wait until I was able to give all three shows two good listens before posting. Let me just say that this is what it's all about (for me, anyway) and these discs are worth every penny. This is a chance to go back in time and hear three straight nights of ALL of what the GD was doing at the time. This is really the perfect idea for releasing GD music. (Yes, most of us have tapes or other recordings of entire runs but the sound quality here is great--a lot better than anything I have.)
My order came promptly--ordered it on a Sunday got it on Friday.
The packaging is generally not that important to me but I have to admit this is really put together well and I was suprised how much I liked it once it was in my hands. My one complaint is the much talked about cardboard sleeves. I actually ripped one a little pulling out a disc. Let's hope they correct this for future releases.
As for the bonus disc, I forgot all about it until I'd been through all three shows twice. It's worth having but not essential to this box. Do not pass up this release just because you missed out on the bonus disc--trust me on this!
Finally, my original thought was that $100+ was too pricey to do more than once a year. After receiving this release, though, I might find a way to scrape up the money twice a year if given the opportunity.

Offline
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Antonjo

That sounds pretty good. I do like this Winterland release, but I also like the Road Trips concept. Only I am not overly happy with the Road Trips selections thus far. I think there must be far better recordings to glean from (including the bonus discs, I can only count 2 really good cd's (discs) released in the Road Trips series.

As for Kezar '75, since that was a radio broadcast, there is a real quality Johnny B. Goode out there to finish up the show. I have it. But also, the show (with the exeption of Johnny B. Goode), was put out there in the taper's section (before they locked up the downloadiing of those snippets). I have that, as well. But definitely an official release of that and all of '75 would make a great Vault Release.

Greg SC

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Joined: Jun 4 2007
I've got an idea.........

I've got an idea for a vault release.......how about the three shows played in 1975 other than American Music Hall? Since Kezar 3/23 would only be a one-discer (though it's arguably my favorite Dead performance ever), it would probably only be a 6 or 7 disc box at most. Yes, I'm one of the lucky ones that already has an officially released copy of 3/23 via the Beyond Description bonus disc, but it deserves more widespread distribution (and I still need Johnny B. Goode!) Perhaps a bonus disc could be rehearsals for the 8/15 show (of which a few nuggets have trickled out, including the Godchauxs' "Showboat" on said B.D. bonus disc, which I think is great~ quite unlike anything else the band ever played on)....maybe augmented by a few more Blues for Allah studio tidbits (early noodlings on Lazy Lightning, perhaps?)

I understand such a release might be a cult item even within THIS community. But there's my suggestion anyway.

Meanwhile, after much internal debate (really more about when than if, if I'm being honest with myself), finally ordering this one. Can't wait.

The Earth will see you on through this time......

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Joined: Apr 10 2008
Winterland 73 release

Thank you ! A decent release. The whole ROAD TRIPS concept is a poor one. I would like to see more complete run releases or at least complete show releases. I would also like to see Dick's Pick's brought back to life. The Rhino releases and ROAD TRIPS stuff aint cuttin' it.

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Joined: Apr 14 2008
packaging

sure its beautiful and everything, but these damn paper sleeves they keep using just destroy discs. Not to mention that you practically have to tear them to get the disc out. and printing the handwritten setlists on the inside. are we supposed to tear them open just to see that or what? these might be the coolest cds i've ever seen in my life though, very cool.

cheap but beautiful packaging aside. i can't wait for this weekend to sit on the porch and crank through these discs.

it should have been packaged more along the lines of the 69 fillmore west box. its better for the cds, and that's truly all i care about, because they hold the key.

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Joined: Apr 8 2008
Replacement Disc 2

After posting about my defective disc 2, I wanted to come back and post a follow up. I received my replacement disc at no cost and this disc plays/copies perfectly - no error correction on the last track at all. Thanks for correcting this problem so quickly and I look forward to the next box set.

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