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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JackstrawfromColorado's picture
Joined: Jan 2 2009

I already have this show BUT if I did decide to purchase this RT, I will certainly avoid "negative baggage" by buying this and the GD Blue ray from Amazon. Sorry but the E72 thing was such a joke I will never pass money through this place again.

meadowlandschris's picture
Joined: Dec 21 2008
this show is on SO MANY

this show is on SO MANY BOOTLEGS..... And some are VERY Pristine recordings at that...... Great show, do not get me wrong, but they coulda picked something a little more obscure, say something 82, 83 maybe....

Joined: Apr 23 2008
Brain Surgeon?

Let's see the person who calls a whole group (possibly the largest) of deadheads names because they disagree with how the music should be released can't figure out if this is part of the subscription OK. Must be a Republicrat. How about going to the Zappa page it's full of personal attacks on people you don't agree with

Joined: Mar 25 2009
future releases

my take on future releases, packaging and downloads. While I am a fan of complete show releases, I dont object to compilations either especially when shows/ tours have selections within deserve releasing and other selections not so much be it sound quality issues or lacking energy or what not. I do believe packaging needs some redesigning attention I do like the gatefold style w/ protective sleeve maybe make the cd opening a little less snug may help. As far as downloads go I dont object to them I wish I had Downloaded the previous download series but its available on I tunes so the possiblity is still there which is nice. I do object to download only series, i do suggest the PTB take into consideration the way Phish markets there releases for audio being several different formats as well as hard copies that way the consumer can make his/her own decision which form they want the release in. Making everyone happy, is just never gonna happen but maybe this will help. Either way I really hope Rhino marketing has been taking the opportunity to regroup and fix issues that need well deserved attention. As far this final RT goes I will be purchasing it I believe its a solid choice and a welcome addition to my dead collection as I dont have a whole lot of 76' material. RIP RT.

Keep on Truckin : )

antonjo's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007

With all due respect, it's generally been the "completists" who've left no room for other views. Those of us who loved the original RT concept & releases ~ whose voices were not honored ~ LOVE complete shows, too, OF COURSE. (Especially for deep vault stuff like 2-14-68 & 5-15-70.) No one was ever petitioning that releases MUST NOT be complete. Only that they didn't have to be. So I think you're pointing the finger in the wrong direction regarding "those who disagree with how the music should be released." "Knuckleheads" may not sit well with the accused, but that's where the frustration is coming from. Blair's belief that there's room for both complete & non-complete releases is belied by the fact that the completists ~ a large group of deadheads to be sure, but perhaps merely the loudest rather than the largest ~ would concede no room for anything but complete shows. In exact running order to boot. And often belittled those who didn't agree as being a lesser tier of archivists who "didn't get it."

Anyway, this last RT looks great. I've loved all the '76 that's seen release (especially Dick's 33). And I've loved this series ~ nearly every volume has been stellar. I need to dust off 1.2 (Fall '77) ~ that was a great one.

Joined: Sep 4 2007
but what became of ...

1976 is a powerful year , but how about 1984 sometime ???

That year has been Absolutely neglected ....... Cheers folks : )

P.S. Don t be fearful , people will buy copiously 1984 music ...

Greetings from the sunny and spring blessed Southern hemisphere

Joined: Jun 4 2007
What's Next?

Perhaps a "Subscription Series"?

Considering the Road Trips subscription and the E72 Complete Tour box, and despite any negativity from a vocal few, 2011 was a great year for Grateful Dead releases.

Considering that since about this time last year, September in particular, an unprecedented 30 some odd complete shows have been released, the RT subscription bonus disc and plenty of highlights/bonus tracks.

All of my transactions with Rhino have gone smoothly and I think everybody involved in the Grateful Dead release foodchain has done a stellar job, from the band, the crew, everyone who writes the essays for each release, the DL, blairj, Marye, the mixing/mastering engineers, graphics artists and anybody else who contributes to each release. I thank you all! Keep the goodies coming! about that Fall '89/Spring '90 box...individual venue boxes (ala Warlocks) or complete tour?...

JeremyP's picture
Joined: Jun 8 2007
Link wrong

"Listen to free streams from Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5" takes you to 4.4. works tho'

Why the captcha when you have to log in to post?

Joined: Jul 9 2007
76 - about time!

I agree with the comments regarding the original intent of the Road Trips. Volume 1, number 2 is the RT I listen to most. I wish a happy medium would have been struck instead of completing caving into the side that wanted complete shows. Maybe alternating between complete shows and compilations. That being said, I m glad I went with the subscription. I am very excited about a 76 release.
Whatever release program is next, please stick to your guns and do not change it mid stream.

Joined: Jun 8 2007
Nice selection

Nice Selection,
happy to see a 76 selection. i would like to also echo the suggestion regarding the Orpheum release. clearly an amazinrgrun with unique musical performances.

end of the RT? something was not right with this serie, not sure what it was, i would say probably too oriented towards non full shows and different selection approach. i still have in mind the release of Louisville 74 with only some parts of the show. That was a disgrace!

So long live to the next serie, which hopefully will not make have the same approach..


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Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5