By mid-February, the Grateful Dead’s touring year was really getting under way, with the usual March madness just around the corner. This week we’ll check out some great stuff from 1973, 1974, some acoustic material from 1970, and we’ll look ahead to later in the year with come classic 1984 Grateful Dead.
It’s widely known that there isn’t too much in the band’s vault from the great year of 1970, especially disappointing because when the band was on in 1970, they played some of the best concerts in their career (2/13&14/70, 5/2/70, 11/8/70). One quirky little show in the vault is from 2/23/70, just a week after the Fillmore East shows, in Austin, Texas. The show is filled with some standard (read: very good) 1970 material, but we’ve received a few requests lately for some 1970 acoustic Dead to be played, so that’s what we’ll focus on here. A terrific Little Sadie shows off some excellent singing and playing by Jerry. This is followed by a Weir-alone version of Me and My Uncle, although Jerry does chime in on lead acoustic guitar at the very end. Finally, here is nice combination featuring a pairing of the rare and the sublime: Seasons>Uncle John’s Band.
This week in the Grateful Dead’s recorded history also featured the outstanding 2/21&22/73 shows in Champaign-Urbana, IL, recorded by Kidd on ¼” reels at 7.5 ips. This rendition of Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodel-oo from 2/21 demonstrates the confident sound the band would carry through the year, as well as the exceptional recording quality. Also from that tour, here is the final reel (reel #6 of 6) of the Iowa City, IA, show from 2/24/73. Unfortunately, reel #5 is missing from the vault, but what’s on reel #6 is certainly worth hearing: Jam>Bass Solo>Jam>Sugar Magnolia. Too bad the 46 minutes that precedes this jam is missing, but at least this excellent jam remains.
A year later, the band would start 1974 with a 3-night run at Winterland, with Donna back with the band after sitting out the final tour of 1973 on maternity leave. This run is certainly one worthy of hearing in its entirety, and with so many highlights, it’s tough to select just a little, but here goes: from 2/22/74, the first set ends with this very special Playing In The Band. What makes it unique is Jerry’s persistent teasing of what would become Slipknot! in 1975 with the release of Blues For Allah. Slipknot! would appear in various Grateful Dead jams throughout 1974, but this is one of the earliest. Also from 2/22/74 is this Me and My Uncle, which is one of the tightest, most powerful versions of this little song ever. Also, here is a typically hot China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider, also from 2/22/74. From 2/23/74, the second set jam is one of the finest of the era, and filled with noteworthy moments. With a sequence of He’s Gone>Truckin’>The Other One>Eyes of the World, you know it’s going to be good, but everything is given that extra effort. The He’s Gone ending jam is truly rocking, the Truckin’ is played with passion, and The Other One is WAY out there, filled with crazy, deep spaces. And, once again, there is that Slipknot! jam again. And top it off with a typically inspired 1974 Eyes of the World. A stunning 60 minutes of music.
Like last week, we’ll jump ahead a few months to play some 1980s Dead, specifically a nice Shakedown Street from Rochester, NY, on 4/16/84. For whatever reason, the Dead usually played spectacularly in upstate and western New York, and this night was no exception. Jerry’s REALLY into this Shakedown Street. Drawn from the cassette master.
Check in next week, when we have no idea what we’ll be playing, but we’re certain it’ll be good. Your comments and questions are always welcome, so feel free to get in touch.
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