Grateful Dead

June 6 - June 12, 2011

Tapers Section By David Lemieux

Road Trip to the Rockies, ’73 Style!

It’s been a while since we’ve dipped into the uniformly magnificent fall of 1973 (the epic Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings came out three long years ago), and we’ve never put out a Road Trips from that year, so it’s high time we did! And you’ll have a high time getting lost in the majesty and mystery of Road Trips Vol. 4, No. 3, which consists of the entire November 21, 1973 concert at the Denver Coliseum spread across two-and-half discs, and then an excellent sequence of tunes from the second set of the previous night’s Denver show (11/20/73)!

Colorado has been fertile Grateful Dead Territory since the band’s first foray at the short-lived Denver Family Dog in 1967, and by the time 1973 rolled around, the group had built a large and loyal following there the old-fashioned way—by playing killer shows! Y’know, we often talk about the deluge of great tunes that came into the Dead’s repertoire during that fabulously fecund 1969-70 time period, but from the summer of ’72 through the summer of ’73, there was a veritable psychedelicornucopia of wondrous new Dead tunes introduced, including a handful that appear on this edition of Road Trips: “Here Comes Sunshine,” “Mississippi Half-Step,” “Weather Report Suite,” “They Love Each Other,” “Stella Blue”; each a classic in its own way, and indicative of some of the exciting new directions the Dead’s music was heading.

All of those except “They Love Each Other” turned up on the Dead’s exceptional Wake of the Flood album, released in mid-October 1973. It was the band’s first studio record since American Beauty three years earlier, and also the maiden release on their own Grateful Dead Records label, so they were way jazzed to be out there on the road digging into their recent tunes, several of which proved to be fine jamming vehicles and were instantly popular with the group’s ever-growing fan base.

The first set of 11/21/73 is a rock-solid and varied collection of tunes, including several “western” numbers (“Jack Straw,” “Me and My Uncle,” “Mexicali Blues”), a lovely “Brokedown Palace” (remember when that could turn up almost anywhere in a show?), a lilting and crystalline “Here Comes Sunshine” and a beautifully developed “Weather Report Suite”—already a monumental song after just three months!

The second set is where the fireworks really go off, however. It’s dominated by a spectacular hour-long medley that begins with “Half-Step,” segues into “Playing in the Band,” travels 715 miles due south for a little gunplay in “El Paso,” dips back into the “Playing” jam for spell, then into a superb “Wharf Rat,” back to a dynamic “Playing” reprise, and is topped off by one of the best versions of “Morning Dew” from this period. Nice! There’s plenty of show after that, too, with “Truckin’” rolling into a rare “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” then “Goin’ Down the Road” and “Saturday Night” as the rockin’ capper. “Uncle John’s” is the perfect anthemic encore.

Filling out Disc Three is a meaty triumvirate from 11/20 consisting of “Truckin’,” a typically convoluted and exciting “Other One,” and then a lovely “Stella Blue” that ends this Road Trips on a particularly poignant note.

As always, there is a CD booklet containing an essay about the show and period photos, and sonically this is certain to meet (or exceed) your expectations—once again it has been mastered to HDCD specs for maximum punch and clarity.

To see the complete song list for the three discs and to order this satisfying slice of Rocky Mountain Dead, click here.

- Blair Jackson

Note: Subscribers to the Road Trips series will receive their exclusive Bonus Disc with the mailing of this Denver set.

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lamagonzo (not verified)
From the constellation Ventuar --

What a comfy venue with the horse stalls and the beach and the general air of privacy the heads had there. Just far enough North of LA to completely lose the city vibe. "I Just Want"
was one of those rare Jerry covers that was played like 5x.

I don't know about "penultimate" describing the 86 RFK shows. I heard Jer was pretty exhausted and the band never played another gig without air-conditioning after that.

Gr8fulTed's picture
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Ventura

Wish I could have attended a show in Ventura, like the one here from 7/22/84. I did catch a northbound train in Oxnard once, a long time ago...

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