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
My copy of RT 4.5 came yesterday and I'm currently on disc 2. I agree with all of Blair's superlatives on this release. The sound is amazing, the playing top notch. I can tell I'll enjoy this one for a long time.
Man... that "Eyes".....
Mine arrived on Saturday. I just love the St. Stephen > Eyes! Great way to end a great series. Bring on the DaPs!
Mine finally came yesterday. I was getting just a little nervous. I am so happy to have this release. I am swimming in Grateful Dead right now, with all the downloads, Europe '72 singles I have pulled and whatever else.
I am so glad to see all the positive responses to this final Road Trips release. I have been clamoring for another 1976 show for the last year. Thanks, and it's nice to read positive comments!
If you haven't hopped on the download bonanza, you really need to. It's making for an amazing playlist, and it snapped me back into all eras of the GD. The download process is so easy, even I can do it. There is also a guy who has a link to last years list posted on the November 8 download link, and I downloaded the whole thing in about an hour yesterday. needless to say, I put it on random and let it flow. It's like getting a big free box set from the Grateful Dead. That St. Stephen from Hartford '83 is EPIC!
Mine arrived yesterday and discs 2 and 3 are bad. This seems to be a common occurance with the Road Trips series for me.
The music that does play and load onto iTunes sounds great but need replacement discs. Marye? I just sent you a pm.
Like with Dicks Picks, I liked the Road Trips series and eagerly anticipate the forthcoming Dave's Picks.
I was away in Europe for the past couple of weeks and was happy to see RT V4 N5 in the mail box. I also immediately signed up for Dave's Picks. The subscription concept is brilliant.
Hey Spacebro, sorry to hear about the bad discs.
After reading all the raves about this as people got it in the mail, I finally got antsy enough to check my order status yesterday. I pre-ordered it at the same time I pre-ordered the DaP subscription, and sure enough when I went to check my order status, it says "shipment pending" on all of it, including RT 4.5. So I emailed customer service, and to their credit, they got back to me very quickly:
"The reason that it states pending is because the Roads Trips Vol.4 No.5 is being processed and getting ready to be picked for shipment."
In other words, when asked why RT 4.5 was "pending" they responded with, "because it's pending." :-)
PS - and I'm more excited than usual to hear this one, because for some reason, though I like 1976 a lot and have a healthy (or unhealthy) number of shows from the year, I've never listened to 6/9. Go figure. So it's going to be a totally new one for me... aaaaaaaaaaaaggghhhhhh I need my fix!
EXcellent recording, doesn't need the caveat "Portrait in time, not a modern recording" (paraphrase) -Love Jerry's Travis Bean , he sounded great playing that guitar, Real Nice "Scarlett Begonias" ,love Phil sliding into notes.
These June come-back shows of '76 are among my favorites, and I am very, very happy to have this one. Now, if they were to release Auditorium Theatre 6/29/76 before the end, I can die with a contented state of mind.
I wonder why the other Road Trips are on Amazon but not this one?
...is my favorite show from 1976 right up there with 10/9/76. My favorite Dead version of Mission in the Rain bar none. I've had great recordings of both, UIC and Oakland practically since the soundboards first arrived in trading circles. I was very happy when the "Day on the Green" shows became a Dick's Picks choice.