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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Joined: Aug 27 2008
Announced ending of this series

At least this was announced. I was of the ones clamoring for "Dick's Picks Volume 37" I was able to get the Download Series from dead.net in 2007, after that series ended. I anticipate the new series with great joy.

direwulf's picture
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Joined: Oct 15 2007
hometown release

All right I was wondering about the road trips series!! and how great that the last one is from my home! sing me back home!!!

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Joined: Apr 15 2009
Soldier field

I know I saw you guys video taping some soldier field shows, how about releasing some of that goodness on us! Or the 4,000,000 shows at the Omni, I just want it and I want it now. Please!!!!!!!

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Joined: Apr 28 2009
1976

Yay! Looking forward to this! It's gonna be great!

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Joined: Aug 27 2008
A new CD cover artist is needed

After several years of RT's and other releases, and 22 covers for the Europe 72 tour, I think it's time to replace Scott McDougall with someone else. Scott is great, but I need a change for my eyes.

ecb
ecb's picture
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Joined: Nov 3 2010
2011 Road Trips Subscription

When I ordered my 2011 Road Trips Subscription in November of 2010, the fourth disc was listed as

Road Trips Vol. 5 No. 1

So, it appears that they decided to end the Road Trips series sometime in late 2010 - early 2011.

Now who will be the first to whine about getting a "Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5" rather than a "Road Trips Vol. 5 No. 1" as promised by dead.net...? :-)

Enjoy,

Ed

Romberg's picture
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Joined: Aug 20 2007
Packaging for Next Series

I hope the next series is in nicer packaging. I don't like sliding the disc against the cardboard sleeve which scratches them up and leaves paper debris on the discs. Ideal would be a tri-fold on quality paper about a quarter-inch taller so the discs could be placed in protective envelopes to slide into each sleeve. That would provide much better protection and longevity. I just hope the next series isn't digital downloads because I only buy physical CDs.

peetstr50's picture
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Joined: Jun 25 2009
Boston '76 Road Trips: Excellent Choice, My Cozmic Compadres!

I was REALLY hoping that the Guardians of the tape vaults would get around to the Comeback Of '76 tour and this run is a most excellent choice! For 1976 the choices would HAVE to be either Music Hall Boston - Capitol Theatre Passaic New Jersey- Auditorium Theater Chicago- or the mind-blowing 15 October Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles. But the set list for this Boston show has the CHOICE cuts that represent that '76 tour, such as Let It Grow, Cassidy, Crazy Fingers, Music Never Stopped, lazy Lightning and the return of the Holy Man Saint Stephen. Yowza Yowza Yowza! Looking forward to the arrival of this Road Trips in the mailbox with the first '72 Copenhagen and '72 Lille, France. Tasty!

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Joined: Jun 11 2007
Subscription??

I'm glad to see this month/year combination is getting some attention. I always liked the 76-77 tours. There seemed to be so much energy with their getting back on the road after recharging their batteries. I will miss the artwork on the covers, and I never really had an issue with the physical covers once I learned how to get them out. I rip them to my iPod and put them back in the case, and all is good. I'm sure they'll cover this under the subscription program since there won't be a RT5.1. I really like that new aspect, it is unique and hope it continues with the new series.

Any thoughts that maybe the new series may be a download only, similar to the one that was around a few years ago, only expanded?

simonrob's picture
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Joined: Jun 7 2007
Subscription includes RT 4.5

I ordered my RT 2011 subscription at the beginning of January 2011 and it listed RT 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5 & the subscription bonus disc. It would seem that they changed RT 5.1 to 4.5 sometime late in 2010. I guess this means you are covered even if your subscription shows 5.1.

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Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5