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
DP's 34, 35, 36 are for sale, pre-order through Amazon. Prices are near double what they charge here. I can't get to excited paying double for these.
Call them Dick's Picks, call them Road Trips--call them Sugar Magnolia's Antique Attic Treasures--who cares--you are remastering shows and releasing them--what's so new and wild to look forward to? 3D? A little weed in each digipack? What a joke. You can get everything free online, anyway, and Charlie Miller makes Jeffrey Norman sound like a piker mindlessly twisting dials.
1976 has to be arguably the lamest, most limp-wristed Dead year. This is the best they could do? How many of those interminable disco-Dancins can anyone endure? Puke-ville.
This show has been a favorite since I came across an audience copy of it decades ago. Thanks for making this classic officially available!!!!
Dick's 33/ Day on the Green is NOT limp-wristed ~ if you haven't heard that one, do yourself a favor. A pair of perfect shows as inspired as almost anything out there. The 25-minute Playin' & stunningly sweet High Time on the Download Series 4 aren't too shabby either, and the Dew on New Year's at Cow Palace is right up with the great ones. I may as well throw in that excellent Playin'->Supplication->Playin' sandwich & Crazy Fingers from the Cow Palace bonus disc.
I confess I'm no authority on '76, I never had tapes from that year, haven't sought much out on the Archive, and don't dust off Dick's 20 too often (trade someone for Dick's 18?). But based on most of the mere handful of official 76ers, I'm psyched to get another one, especially from one of the earliest shows back ~ I imagine this should capture a unique energy.
How 'bout Greek Theater '84 to kick off the new series ~ Everybody's Dancing to Crazy-Truckin' Fingers of Lazy Lightning Bolts volume 1.
Yes, the demand for us collectors will always be there. I would like to see a app for my iPod touch and phone. The Live Phish app is amazing, always a new show to stream for free everyday.
I'm looking forward to the new series. Really hate to read the negative post, some fans just will never be happy. I'll be playing my Grateful Dead until my expiration day.
First of all Big Donnie is "Gratefully Challenged" ... My opinion is that 1976 was a great year for shows. The Dead were in a mellow groove but a very hot mellow groove. Just listen to the St. Stephen and Eyes of the World from this show and try and tell me they are not smoking. Yes there are circulating SBD copies of this show that are pretty amazing quality although there are audience patches in cold rain, big river and st. stephen so it is worth it to get this upgrade for that alone. Also I believe strongly that if you collect the "free" circulating versions if you can afford it you should buy the commercial versions when they are released to keep the releases coming. Heads would probably be amazed at how few total sales there are of these releases.
I would really like the rhino crew to go all digital via download or perhaps some form of legal/licensed bit torrent which would remove all the delivery and packaging issues and allow them to concentrate on the order processing portion as oppossed to fulfillment. Probably more profitable as well to go all digital. Of course we need high quality Flac/Lossless download. I don't think the HDCD mastering buys you too much... Now if they want to issue a few 5.1 multi-channel hybrid SACDs... well that would be as good as it gets (but alas an even smaller market then these releases).
I agree with someone else that we need a 1984 release and I am still ranting and raving that we need 10-12-84 Augusta so we can enjoy one of the greatest morning dews of the 80's as that portion of the show does not circulate as a SBD.
Also another idea would be to use some social media skills here and perhaps engage the dead.net community on some on-line survey of shows to see what would create the most demand... heck why guess!
How come no releases from Garcia's late 60's and early 70's shows in small clubs like the Matrix? I remember those old Matrix tapes, some great ones with David Crosby, NRPS, Jorma, Elvin Bishop, Steve Miller. I loved those tapes, even though mine were all poor quality. How about some "Reconstruction" -the late 70's band with Jerry and Saunders? Why no more live Garcia/Grisman since that one that came out with the Garcia/Grisman movie? I would jump on any live Garcia/Grisman release. Am I the only one who would love to have chronological compilations of the early 80's "Space" portions of shows? Someone suggested box set compilations from one venue- that's a great idea- take Merriweather Post Pavilion, for example. All 6 shows from 83 - 85 are good and would reveal evolution through the years....Every show from 1975 would make a nice box, too...
Only 3 comments until someone whined about packaging
Cool that these are going to be reissued and already available on Amazon.com for reorder but that price hike is HUGE!