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!)
the dark star is phenomenal!!!!!!, but i was surprised by how much i enjoyed the 11/10 el paso. really nice set.
Informed that was shipped on 4th April Actually posted on 9th and arrived today. No customs charges either. :-)
Listening to TLEO from 9th right now. Was a tiny bit disappointed with the sound at first, but a couple of songs into the set and a few adjustments here and there and suddenly and it sounds so bright and clear. There is a wonderful depth to the quieter passages too and its great to hear Keith so well for a change. I shall savour this over the next few days.
Congratulations and thanks to all involved (even Marye gets a name-check in the notes!). Some of us gave you a pretty hard time during the Tapers section debacle and the 'Silent Rhino Syndrome' months, but now the music is flowing like we hoped it would. I feel a whole lot better and I hope you do too. Keep up the good work!
I got hit with an even higher customs charge, Len. Worth it, though, because this is a nice package, and I'm just enjoying listening to the "Dark Star" now.
Got mine today in sunny South Wales. It was mailed on 4th April arrived UK on 8th. Then caught up in customs for a week until I coughed up a whacking £16.81 (US$35)! to release it. Kind of takes the edge off what looks like a great product. Listening to the bonus disc and it sounds great (already have the Cincinnatti show but this is much crisper with a better mix). Let's hope by Bertha doesn't jump as even if a replacement if offered, nit sure I want to pay another $35 to receive it!
By the by, the customer service links via the store sorted me out with replacement of the defective disc pronto. It shipped within a day or two of me submitting my note re the problems with uploading. Kudos.
...somewhat. I've had 11/10 and 11/11 for a long time and have loved them both. Now I have beautifully mastered versions that are far superior. But 11/9 leaves a lot to be desired. IMHO it is filled with lots of out-of-tune notes that mar the overall concert. But having said that I'm still glad I got this box set. And will still buy more.
Now if only there was a way to delete Donna Jean's painful wails and screeches...
Beautiful Package, beautiful music. What a gift you have given all of us.
So I placed my order on March 18th. I received an email on April 1st saying that it was being shipped. I thought I'd ask whether anyone has received theirs from the postal service yet before i start worrying. Maybe they held some up after realizing there were defects on the discs.
but i'm underwhelmed. i don't think they're playing as passionately as on other concerts. i don't think i would have chosen this run for release, but i appear to be in the minority here.
If you really want excellent sound, I recommend earphones specificaly made for your ears only. I have a pair from Ultimate Ears (www.ultimateears.com) that are superb for sound and are as good for noise cancellation as the bulky headphones. The sound quality, of course, depends on what bit rate you've converted your cds to. I personally do not hear much difference between 256 and 320 bit rates. I can't comment on other conversions besides mp3. There are a couple of problems with Ultimate Ears: they are expensive- >$500.00, and you would need to see an Audiologist for an impression of your ears to send in for ear phone fabrication. Ultimate Ears is made of hard plastic and there are other companies that make the same product but from a much more flexible material. I do not have the name(s) of those companies but they are out there. I highly recommend Ultimate Ears if you can overcome the above problems.