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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picc's picture
Joined: Sep 25 2009
Listening party correction: Eyes!

Instead of High Time a great upbeat Eyes is in it's place :)

Joined: Aug 20 2009
Orpheum box

I couldn't agree more. I've always wondered why nothing from this run has ever surfaced. I was fortunate enough to attend 4 of the 6 shows (even though I was in Europe when the tickets went on sale, and knew nothing about them. Thankfully, I had a lot of great friends!), and loved these concerts. The final night was spectacular, and so much fun. Bring it on!

Joined: Aug 20 2009
Included in the subscription?

It's still 2011. I think that's a given...

Joined: Mar 31 2009
First show

June 76 began the first Dead shows I experienced. After seeing Jerry and his side bands for the better part of a year and a half I was psyched to see the boys in action together. Boston, NYC, Passaic, and Philly in quick succession - June was a fine month. I remember the drive up to Boston and more eerily the drive back to NY. The musical highlight for me was the 2nd set opening St. Stephen. Well worth the wait.

greatnorthspecial's picture
Joined: Apr 12 2009
Boston '76

Great Selection! Just ordered this Road Trips with Grateful Dead Movie Blu Ray.

Looking forward to more!

How lucky we are.

rne's picture
Joined: Aug 29 2007

I love 1976 recordings, so it´s not hard to imagine that I already have placed my pre-order. Furthermore, I love the setlist, thus I am really looking forward to this release. Good choice, people, good choice!

Joined: Jan 18 2009
Very Curious

As much as I've complained about the poor sound quality of these releases, I hate to see it go. I really liked the packaging and the art work. It was a huge improvement over Dick's Picks.

I am very curious about what the new plans are. I wonder if the new plans will include two separate clearly defined series of releases. One series for better sounding recordings and another series for problematic recordings.

fmgsr's picture
Joined: May 11 2011

I just took a look at the subscription form, It reads " road trips - Vol 4 no.4
vol 4 no 3 , vol 4 no 2 road trips vol 5 no 1 and a 2011 Subscription bonus disc.
So, my guess is YES!!!!!

Captain Stormfield's picture
Joined: Nov 4 2007
New Series

I wonder if the new series will involve downloads (?) Just a thought.

I actually prefer buying GD on CD. I like actually having the physical product for GD shows for some reason. Maybe because one day I intend to will them to someone who will be blown away by them (I don't have any idea who that will be yet, as I plan to live for a few more decades). I think that would be a wonderful gift to someone who loves the music as much as I do.

Joined: Aug 27 2008
End of "Road Trips" series

When I bought the 2011 Road Trips subscription in January 2011, the 4th release was "Road Trips Vol. 4, No. 5" I knew something was up, then I began to think perhaps this is the end of the RT series. Those thoughts were confirmed today. Some of the releases were compilations, and I really didn't care for them as much, until I played them, now those releases I consider to be great, along with the full show releases.
I prefer full shows, and this last release is excellent, a great ending to a good series.
Thank you for a real good time!
Thank you!


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Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5