Grateful Dead

Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5

Road Trips Series Ends with Boston ’76

1976 was a pivotal year for the Grateful Dead. After an 18-month hiatus that saw just four Bay Area appearances by the band, but also a phenomenal studio album, Blues for Allah, and a slew of solo projects, the Dead returned to the road at the beginning of June ’76. Mickey Hart was officially back in the fold after a long absence, and the band came back with a batch of new songs and fresh approaches to playing their old ones. It was the summer of America’s much-ballyhooed bicentennial, the country was still going through Watergate withdrawal, and we needed our Grateful Dead back!

During their time away, the Dead radically simplified their stage setup. They put their remarkable (but cumbersome) Wall of Sound P.A. out to pasture, in favor of a more conventional (but still great) system. And, as a treat to their fans, they booked their entire first post-hiatus tour into acoustically solid small theaters, eschewing the large arenas that their snowballing popularity and their massive sound system had forced them into. They hit the road well-rehearsed and refreshed; clearly thrilled to be out there playing Grateful Dead music onstage again. And we were, needless to say, psyched to be seeing them again!

This latest—and last—edition of our Road Trips series (more on that in a moment), ingeniously labeled Vol. 4 No. 5, was drawn from two shows early on what was dubbed by many Heads at the time as the Dead’s “comeback” tour. It contains the truly awe-inspiring complete June 9, 1976 Boston Music Hall show (just the third of the tour, but you’d never guess that), and also a handful of hot tracks from the June 12 show at the same venue. The 6/9 show has long been a personal favorite, so I’m really delighted that it is finally being released! It’s definitely one of the strongest of ’76.

The first set includes stand-out versions of then-new songs such as “Crazy Fingers” and “The Music Never Stopped,” just the third version of “Cassidy,” a neatly jammed “Scarlet Begonias” and a potent “Ship of Fools,” among other gems. The second set opens with a long, circuitous “St. Stephen” (the first in five years!), then goes into a tremendous “Eyes,” followed by “Let It Grow,” which was now independent of the first two parts of “Weather Report Suite.” “Samson and Delilah” and “Lazy Lightning” > “Supplication” were brand-new to the Dead repertoire, while the bevy of rearranged songs included “High Time” and the famous disco-influenced “Dancing in the Street.” The encore was another recent one: “Franklin’s Tower” (which would never be played in that slot again). For a band that hadn’t played together in eons, the Dead sound remarkably self-assured and on-the-ball throughout. The 6/12/76 songs include one of only five versions of “Mission in the Rain” the Dead played, “The Wheel” (a few years old, but new to the stage), the revived “Comes a Time” (last played in ’72) and a “Sugar Mag” sandwich with a great “U.S. Blues” as the meaty filling.

As with all the previous Road Trips releases, this final entry comes with a colorful booklet containing an essay and period photos. And needless to say it has been mastered to HDCD specs by Jeffrey Norman. You can find the complete song list for all three discs, as well as ordering information, by clicking here.

So, what’s all this talk about the end of Road Trips? Well, we figured that four years and 17 releases was a pretty good run for that series, and now it’s time to try something new. Don’t worry, there is definitely going to be another release program dedicated to putting out the best material in the vault. We’ll be revealing details of the new series very soon, so stay tuned!

— Blair Jackson

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simonrob's picture
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Download only?

I don't think so and I certainly hope not. Rhino do not sell their downloads outside the US so a download-only series would shut out (and certainly alienate) all their international customers. This bizarre policy was not in force when the "Download" series came out. I can only assume that Rhino suspects that downloads sold to foreigners may be used against the homeland in some way. Anybody got a better theory?

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The End (For Now)

It has been a GREAT run & I'm glad I was in from start to finish. Looks like another winner too. I don't know why there's a question in here about download only as this is not. Here's looking forward to both getting this & seeing what you have up your sleeves for the next time.

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Too bad....

I actually loved this series, but I was wondering about future vault releases. Whatever you decide, please put out a CD/DVD of Venate/Sunshine Daydream! :)

Better scoff them up now before they go the way of the DP series...

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Thanks for Road Trips! Now, how about November 1980?

Thanks for all the fine releases in the Road Trips series, especially the Fall 1979 edition. To have an officially-released copy of the monstrous Terrapin > Playin' from Philly 11/6/79 is one of the best things in my collection. I appreciate the effort made.

A request: While it does fall on the heels of the well-documented September - October 1980 runs at the Warfield and Radio City Music Hall, the November 1980 4-show mini-tour (3 in Florida, 1 in Atlanta) remains far off the radar for most folks. It would be a real joy to see some material from this run finally released:

11/26: Eyes, Satisfaction encore
11/28 Arguably the finest Little Red Rooster ever played
11/29: The entire second set, but especially Shakedown > Franklin's and Space
11/30 Space > The Wheel

Thanks for all you folks do!

Sean Kutzko

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Great choice, yet a mixed bag

Really like this choice a lot and the picture in time it captures of the "new" Grateful Dead, as well as the unique selections and fresh arrangements it has on it.

However, I am very sad that the Road Trips series is ending. I was a big fan of what this Series was announced as trying to accomplish: compilations from varous tours. I think the first few RT releases did a really really nice jobof presenting just that. Unfortunately the market strength of the very loud and passionate "completist camp" won out (I get it, I really do, I just don't know why BOTH couldn't have been accomplished with perhaps one compilation for every three complete shows) and RT morphed into pretty much a duplication of the DP series with a song missing here or there, or more bonus discs and additional partial shows tacked on to the end. I guess I was hopeful that at some point we'd see things revert back to what RT was intended to be with things like a Spring 1984 RT, or even a venue-based "Best of Merriweather Post Pavillion 83-85" RT. Not to be.

All of that said, I am sure the next project will be dynamic and I'd be really happy if Rhino got its sh*t together and brought downloads back again (and with a better system than current).

Just a few words of opinion, always appreciative of what we're given by the band and RT was no different.

ecb
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What Was Wrong with Road Trips?

Blair states:

"Well, we figured that four years and 17 releases was a pretty good run for that series, and now it’s time to try something new."

So, what needed to be fixed with the Road Trips release program? Except for maybe higher quality, less scratchy cardboard sleeves...

Maybe they are now moving to a "Tour Release" series...

Ed

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Road Trips IV, 5

Is this part of the subscription package?

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End of Road Trips

The "problem" with the RT series was that it was hijacked by the Complete
Show knuckleheads. It was a good idea to put together a package of highlights from a particular tour and the first one was an excellent model for the format. But the vociferous cries of "Complete show!" drowned out the compliments. Nice try GDM. I wish it had gone like you first planned it.

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I am glad the compliation

I am glad the compliation theme ended and complete shows were again sold. It indeed looks as if GD/Rhino will be trying out the whole venue/tour box sets and I for one welcome this arrangement.
Can't wait for the next box set - well, anything pre-'81.

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SHINE YOUR SHOES!!!!!

Every release despite it's series name (: Vaults, Dick's Pick's, Fillmore's, Winterland's, Road Trips, etc.) is a really just a Grateful Dead Concert, in my humble opinion, the best music ever played. As all shows are becoming available through file sharing, packaging is becoming a strong selling point for GD releases. I have been collecting music in it's various formats for 35 years now, and my most prized purchases have been those special releases where attention to quality and detail is front and foremost. Many of the best Grateful Dead releases are Japanese mini gatefold albums and box sets. They come with protective cd sleeves, booklets with photos and text from the venue, and exciting cover artwork and track listing. I believe the Grateful Dead have produced such beautifully sublime and timeless music that any future releases should preserve this content with equally beautiful, refined and durable packaging. The most recent past releases have been packaged in substandard cd cases, ie. Europe '72 and Road Trips, a real insult to such grand and triumphant musical accomplishments. PLEASE, PLEASE, step it up and release any future material in a manner that really suits the music up proudly. It deserves it!!!!!

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Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5