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
An excellent choice to wrap up the Road Trip series. I have a few SB’s from this tour, Boston, the Beacon and Tower Theater and look forward to this release. One small complaint, echoed in comments from earlier RT releases, again one of the bests parts of this show has been posted on the Taper’s Section, St. Stephens> Eyes of the World> Let it Grow is posted on the 06/09/08 Taper’s Section. Taking the fun / rush out of hearing a pristine copy for the first time, and this RT release will also have music that I have already paid for, in the Cow Palace Bonus. It seems like you don’t really know what you are eventually going to release in the future and thus these repeats. There is so much that we have never heard. From this era it would be great to have the Orpheum run and add Colt Park to it. Look forward to the next instalment, whatever it is call or whatever the format , entire show vs. compilations, I will buy it. I personally like the Disk 1 compilation of 1st set material and then the entire 2nd sets from 2 nights on Disk 2 & 3, but you need to get the encores in there somewhere, maybe just go to 4 disks. Keep up the good work and look forward to the next series.
Would it be too much to get an official statement from Rhino/GDM regarding the out of print stuff - intention to restock/re-release material, etc. The price hike on the Real Gone releases IS a bit much. I'd still rather give my money directly through this site than having to deal with a 3rd party and pay inflated prices.
Some of us spent the past decade in college and graduate school and couldn't afford these things when they came out.....
If you hate Road Trips so much and just want to listen to your supposedly superior Charlie Miller recordings, why are you even wasting your time on this site and poisoning it with your bad vibes?
Dude, I wish you could've been there when we sat around a table and asked, "Now if we want to REALLY piss off Big Donnie, which year should we choose for the last Road Trips?" It was unanimous: "'76!!!"
You missed my point. While I am a whole show kinda guy I never called anyone a silly name because they disagreed with me. My post wasn't about what was better but we can disagree without being disagreeable. If you haven't looked at the Zappa site try it you'll see what I mean. Kinda takes the fun out of reading the posts. One more point on another unrelated issue. I get people wanting things in download format. But what's with the it should only be deal. Another my way or the highway? Keep on truckin'
I truly hope, and beg for them not to go for downloads only. I hope for a combination thereof, and releasing more complete runs as a box set is a GRATE idea.
Really like the 76 stuff, so I think this was a fitting end to the Road Trips series.
I look forward to holding actual cds and I won't pay for another downloads only series. As far as someone pointing out that some of this was available on the bonus disc Spirit of '76, it was only two short songs. This release looks to run about 4 hours so an overlap of maybe 15 minutes at best isn't a big deal. Plus, some people (not me thankfully) might have missed that disc. By and large, David, Blair, Jeff and company have done an amazing job!!! Thanks you guys!!!!!
By the way, this IS one of the best of '76.
Keep in mind Big Donnie only joined Oct 1 2011, most likely just to agitate people. I am extremely happy with this release since I hesitated and didn't purchase DP 33 when it was available. This is an excellent choice for the last RT!
Blairj's response actually made me laugh out loud this morning.
downloads only which is more profitable
why RT's got stopped cold?
I, for one, am very excited about this release. I used to have a great sounding copy on tape but have not listened to it for eternity so it will be nice to revisit.
On a side note, I am loving the Europe '72 box set!
On a side side note, I want more Jerry releases!! What the hell is going on with the Pure Jerry series?!?!?!?!?!?