May 1977 Box (Digital)
• Five Complete Shows
• 5/11/77 St. Paul Civic Center Arena, St. Paul, MN
• 5/12/77 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
• 5/13/77 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
• 5/15/77 St. Louis Arena, St. Louis MO
• 5/17/77 University Of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
•14 Discs, 111 tracks
•Mastered in HDCD by Jeffrey Norman, Plangent Processes playback system for maximum sonic accuracy
•Artwork by Grammy Award-winning graphic artist Masaki Koike
•Period Photos by James R Anderson
•Historical Essay by Steve Silberman
•Individual show liner notes
MAGICAL, MYTHICAL MAY 1977!
If you're a Dead Head, chances are you've spent many an hour expounding upon the distinction of May 8, 1977, Cornell University, Barton Hall. Well, at the risk of preaching to the choir, we'd like to reintroduce you to a series of shows that matches said greatness from that same gloriously fertile season. While Barton Hall is well known, the astounding tour that surrounded it has occasionally flown under the radar due to the uneven quality of tapes in circulation. May 1977 is set to change all of that with a boxed set that zeroes in on this high-water mark in the Grateful Dead's long strange trip.
For a band resurrecting itself after a 20-month hiatus, there was a great frenzy of expectancy that surrounded the Spring of 1977. We anticipate a grand reoccurrence of this fervor with the release of May 1977, a 14-disc boxed set featuring five complete shows from consecutive stops on that magical tour. Mastered in HDCD by Jeffrey Norman at Mockingbird Mastering, the "psychoacoustic phenomena" as Jerry once put it, of St. Paul Civic Center Arena, St. Paul, MN (5/11) Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL (5/12, 5/13), St. Louis Arena, St. Louis MO (5/15) and Coliseum at the University Of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL (5/17) can now finally be appreciated. Each of these shows finds the Dead delivering punchier, more focused sets, tightening up the framework; each night turning out first-ever renditions ("Passenger,""Iko Iko,""Jack-A-Roe"), unloading potent new pairings ("Scarlet Begonias">"Fire On The Mountain", "Estimated Prophet">"Eyes Of The World"), classic covers ("Dancing In The Street") and soon-to-be staples ("Estimated Prophet," "Samson and Delilah"), and ultimately rising up to paradise.
And now for the nitty-gritty...
Due June 11, May 1977 is limited to 15,000 individually numbered copies. Presented in a psychedelic box that boasts an intricate die-cut design created by Grammy®-winning graphic artist Masaki Koike, the set also includes a book filled with stories about each show, as well as an in-depth essay by Dead historian Steve Silberman, who delves deep into the history behind the tour and the band’s return from its extended hiatus.
Once these 15,000 boxes are gone, May 1977 and its shows will never be available again on CD. However, the 111 tracks will be made available on release date as FLAC and Apple lossless full-set-only downloads for $99.98.
Like its predecessors Europe '72: The Complete Recordings and Spring 1990, we expect May 1977 to sell out. Your best bet is to pre-order it now, then sit back, relax, and enjoy all the exclusive content we'll be rolling out over the next few weeks right here and on Facebook.com/GratefulDead and Youtube.com/gratefuldead.
May 1977 Show By Show
Take a closer look inside of our numbered, limited-edition boxed set May 1977 with listening parties, videos, artwork and more from each featured show.
5/11/77 St. Paul Civic Center Arena, St. Paul, MN
5/12/77 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
5/13/77 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
5/15/77 St. Louis Arena, St. Louis MO
5/17/77 University Of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
"Wharf Rat" 5/11/77
"Mississippi Half-Step" 5/12/77
"Dancing In The Street" 5/15/77
"Terrapin Station" 5/17/77
David Lemieux on What’s Inside May 1977
If Keith is positioned Stage Left then he should be mixed to the Right since that is where he would be located relative to the audience (and the board). However, from this April 1977 photo, it appears he wasn't always to the audience's right.
I tend to skip "Terrapin Station". It's too lurching and halting to keep my foot tapping. I thought that I had finally "got" it when I heard a version from 4-11-87, but I just haven't been turned on by the song since. To me, "Terrapin" is only barely listenable when they played it perfectly and at a reasonable tempo. When they let the tempo drag (as they did too often the last 17 years on many a song), "Terrapin" becomes almost unbearable to me.
Anyway--this box set is incredibly gorgeous, both visually and aurally! What a great time to be a Deadhead!
p.s. My hope for DaP7 is something from 1967 or 1968. And I don't mind thoughtful compilations . . .
As you face the stage, Keith was always on the right hand side. But isn't this actually known as "stage left" as stage directions are notated from the eyes of the musicians? So if Keith is in the left channel of the recording, that would be correct. I think.
A couple of things I've noticed are UJB from the St. Louis show really struck me as really tight, they rock it up enough so it doesn't sort of drop the tranny the way it does a lot of the time so it has a great power to it.
In all of these shows, Donna is really on. She's great and all that but some of the '72-74 stuff she seems to be straining. She sounds so great on these tracks that it made me think maybe there was a balance issue that got fixed here for this tour, better stage volume so she could hear herself or something. There's a Dead Gear book at the library I want to check out again but I haven't had the 'woah' reactions I've had in some of the PITB versions I've heard.
While on the subject of balance, I'm liking how the keys sit in the mix too. Keith does a lot of nice playing here that shines in these recordings.
I do hope your intuitions are correct, segan; a '78 show in the class of DP 25's - or, dare I wish - 5/14...anyway, then we can move on to the 80s, allowing me to begin purchasing a la carte while imposing some degree of fiscal sanity to my procurement habits (of course all bets are off with that Fall '73 box (pleasepleaseplease pleasepurtypuhleeeze))...peace/katie
Well, the wait is finally over ...#8793 turned up here in New Brighton.
All 5 shows loaded onto my Creative music player...going to be a fun week at work.
Only downside was £26.60 customs charges to pay...no matter, I love this band and I just have to fuel the addiction.
Can someone help me.
what side of the stage was Godchaux's piano. When I listen on to the box set he is clearly on the left, is this correct or is the CD mastered with the channel's swapped?
Is it 4/24/78 for the next Dave's Picks. That wouldn't suck, but it would get the 80's fans in another uproar...
Wouldn't it be a great pick, Lil Ben?!! Fingers crossed... sometimes my Guinness-fueled calculations are a bit off...
...then I'm turning scarlet in anticipation...
Bolo's clues are clear. I digested them with a Guinness. My calculations indicate - with 73.8% certainty - that the first three tunes of DP7's first set will consist of Promised Land, Ramble on Rose, and Me & My Uncle (in that order). I'm sorry to say there's only a 6.7% chance of this show being from '80 or '88. Maybe DP8... :o)
If they are indeed pulling from shows featured from last years 30 Days of Dead, I'm hoping for 4/5/88 Hartford as my first choice.
Yeah! maybe new DP is from early 80's and maybe has a Heaven Help The Fool! I think bolo may be a legitimate insider. He broke my balls when I made an ignorant comment about the current dead artists/artwork. So I think he may be legit.
Perhaps one from the Radio City Music Hall run (10/22-31/80)? That was a slice of Heaven!
AHA. No Sugaree... fun show... 70's or 80's... I'm guessing the first three tunes are Promised Land, Ramble on Rose, and Me & My Uncle. Amazing what one can extrapolate from such scant evidence! :o)
If I were to divulge the show selected for DP7, I'd have to flee to Hong Kong like that NSA whistleblower. And I would never deny Mr. Lemieux the joy of holding one of his delightful seaside chats to make the big announcement.
I'll just say it's a fun show, not from the sixties or nineties. And no Sugaree.
I am enjoying this discussion very much. It certainly is eye-opening. Some folks would skip songs that I would NEVER even think to skip, like the cowboy songs like Big River, or Around & Around. It is the ballads that are always among my least favorite tunes. You need Bobby's songs to keep the tempo upbeat. Given his druthers, Jerry would get lost in his ballads. Bobby would always kick start things and get Jerry rockin'. But this forum has shown me how diverse we are in our love of the band. Something for every taste.
Speaking of Big River and Weir's other "cowboy songs:" I love 'em! They typically gave Jerry a chance to stretch his fingers with some of his best first-set solos. Listening to the sparkling 12/28/79 Mexicali Blues as I type.
Bolo - Still waiting on more DP7 hints..!
Wow, I think I like almost every version of Big River I've ever heard. Probably also true for FOTM. Two things I'll say about this discussion:
1) Sometimes hearing a song live changes your perspective on it. I used to find Stella Blue pretty slow and boring, but I remember seeing them do it at Cornell in around 1980 or so, and it made me appreciate it much, much more.
2) I defy anyone, anywhere, to say they skip Ripple! lol
Good discussion that is amazingly devoid of personal attacks!
Looking forward to reconnecting with "Wolf" tonight at Tanglewood for the Jerry celebration.
Skips: for me, Around and Around, Day Job, Victim, and Big River (until recently - Spring '77 box changed that for me)
Safely here (8299) but £26.60 in taxes too - still, I got away with the Europe '72 box.
Shame that it now goes away until Christmas but another thing to look forward to.
forever is a long time. long enough to remember his name was sam, haha.
Hey Palmereldrich:Say It , Say it, Say it!!!!!!!!!
Bobby is the greatest!
This Weir love-fest is startng to make me a little queasy. I thought I was one of the few who truly appreciated Weir. It was like being in on a secret. Now everyone here is on the bandwagon. Even his Wikipedia page is pretty right on. Kinda takes some of the fun out of it ;) But, more key than Jerry or Phil? Let's take a step back, take a few deep breaths. The greatest "rhythm guitarist" ever? Certainly. But lets not go overboard.
Bob's rhythm is not a conventional one and is what makes the Gd so unique. You have a powerhouse bass and lead both complementing each other and,yet, like a tug of war, pulling in different directions at other times.
How does a rhythm compete with this?
Bob is kind of weaving his rhythm around Jerry and Phil, much more so Jerry. rather like a ball bouncing off of different, opposing walls. Perhaps like a Remora fish trailing in the slip stream.
If that's not grand sounding enough. . .. and at the risk of having tomatoes thrown at me. . .. Bob's rhythm is kind of like 'light refraction,' a bending rhythm around Jerry's improvisational lead, yet still the same 'beam.'
Bob may be the hidden key to the GD's uniqueness more so than Jerry or Phil. OK, OK, let's not put to fine a point on it.
All this discussion about Sugaree has prompted me to post my license plate as my avatar.
Guess you can figure out where I stand!
Man that must be tough: loving Scarlet but not Fire!! Kind of like your right brain being at odds with your left. No criticism here, to each their own, just offering my condolences!
The above version of said song brought me one of my most profound Dead listening experiences; Jerry is, in my view, of course, just soaring higher and higher with each lead break; by the end the bottom of my jaw had just about separated from my head and there may even have been drool involved.
Just my Two Cents.
What an amazing salvo of confessions! I love us. Finally, some real-life sentiments. I would also say that I will hear any version of any song once, even LLR. Then I get more picky and that one always gets skipped, except sometimes the E72 pedal steel versions. But Stella Blue? Never. As for synths, I risked life and limb setting up an antenna on top of my 10-story dorm so I could record that 3/1/80 Jerry show off the airwaves, so I was kind of obligated to love it. Then it ended up on Garcia Live Vol. 1, and every note (of the first show) was long ago burned into my memory banks. So I still feel kind of obliged to like it, even with those ridiculous synth keys. I got used to them somehow. The GD MIDI stuff, not so much. I appreciate their willingness to continue the long experiment, but that little detour was a dead end, and good riddance to it except for some prime Space moments.
On page 30 of the notes, Blair Jackson refers to something he calls a "Childe ballad". I know "childe" sounds appropriately Old (or Olde) English, but he means "Child ballad". In five volumes published between 1882-1898 Francis James Child compiled texts to 305 traditional English and Scottish ballads, that have ever since been known as the Child ballads. But I do think Blair's notes are great.
i usually skip "fire on the mountain"...it ruins the the best song the dead ever wrote (scarlet)
there, i feel better now
that said i am loving the 5/77 box
particularly bob's guitar and keith's keys up high in the mix, and even donna is right on the money
other skippers are row jimmy & sugaree, but only after the first pass thru. i dont really own any 80's stuff, but it goes without saying that the abominable "cc rider/walkin blues/red rooster" quickly causes the XM channel to change, plus any brent song
LLR appears to be a popular skipper, but for me, the post 74 versions with donna harmonizing are some of the best vocal performances the band ever did
As Allman said, audience participation "never translates very well to recorded music". Well, almost never. Quicksilver's "Happy trails" is a notable exception to this. The band and audience were really working together that night. At the other end of the scale, we have all surely cringed when the singers shouts "Sing this with me!", points the mic at the audience and is greeted with an embarrasing silence. This translates particularly badly to recorded music as the audience, if recorded at all, are at such a low level compared to the band that they might as well not be there. It is also possible that the band were playing to an empty hall!
Wow - The audience chanting "Know my love..." as the band exited always gave (and still gives) me goosebumps. My favorite: Alpine '89. Absolutely transcendental.
My skip song is always Not Fade Away with the audience participation mostly from the 80’s. Audience participation is one those “had to be there” situations. Never translates very well to recorded music.
I know a lot of people don't like the Mutron III or the MIDI rack, but I have grown to love it. The synth keys (played by Ozzie Ahlers) from GarciaLive Vol. 1 sound great to me, but then, I love early synth music. The synth on "Feel Like a Stranger" is probably my favorite, and Keith does some cool work on "Lazy I will say that nothing ruined a good Ramble on Rose like Jerry switching off the Mutron (which I like quite a lot for that tune) and turning on the MIDI trumpet. Godawful.
I will say that nothing ruined a good Ramble on Rose like Jerry switching off the Mutron (which I like quite a lot for that tune) and turning on the MIDI trumpet. Godawful.
I know a lot of people don't like the Mutron III or the MIDI rack, but I have grown to love it. The synth from GarciaLive Vol. 1 sounds great to me, but then, I love early synth music. It all comes back to taste, I suppose. I will say that nothing ruined a good Ramble on Rose like Jerry switching off the Mutron (which I like quite a lot for that tune) and turning on the MIDI trumpet. Godawful.
I loved the MIDI! Every time I hear Jerry go full MIDI I feel a great wash of relief- the freedom of no possible comparisons to pre-hiatus Dead. It's easier for me to accept late-era Dead on its own terms when MIDI was used. Otherwise, comparisons to the golden era keep creeping up.
Of course, Jerry never abandoned acoustic music, and was playing some of the best in his life at the same time (with Grisman).
As for song skips, for me this depends a lot on the era. I love all of 68-74; nothing is skip-worthy. Even my least favorite songs (e.g. Looks Like Rain) were magic during Europe 72. After that I am more picky. And some songs really require a certain mood from the listener. "Stella Blue" might be my favorite song of all, but I seldom listen to it and usually skip over it. I mean, you have to be in the right mood for it and give it full attention. It doesn't work as background music.
p.s. thanks syracuse78, I'll take that Road Trips suggestion
"It always surprised me that Jerry, who loved traditional and acoustic music, felt the need to embrace MIDI and the like. What do others feel about this?"
I see what you mean, but to me this was totally consistent with his need to experiment - the same impulse that was behind his switch from acoustic jugband music to electric rock music. It's easy to forget what a radical step that was in 1965 ("JUDAS!!!"). I don't like the MIDI sounds myself (too bad because I recognize the greatness of their 1989-90 stuff, and often enjoy it, but the MIDI wears on me... but then I think they were playing so well in part because it made it feel fresh to *them*).
As for skip songs - Clarification: I always listen to the complete show the first time, the skipping comes on subsequent listens. And this is not just to get the context of the show - sometimes a "skip" song has some unique quality that brings me back, hence I would never skip a song without at least one listen through. This might get put to the test when I get to my fifth consecutive Estimated, ha ha....
Working my way through 5/13 now, which I already had. The sonic upgrade is astonishing, natch. Still, and to my surprise, loving 5/11 the best so far...underrated indeed. But I've never heard 5/17 at all (except the Jackaroe), so I'm anticipating a real good time with that one.
OK, Bolo... Bozo here... yer drivin me nuts. Another DP7 hint please... and are you on da inside? :o)
no argument from me on the Brit. proggers although I liked a lot of King Crimson, whether over the top or not. With Jerry and MIDI, I always thought part of his interest was new palette of sounds available to him to keep it fresh for him but part of it was different physical skills avail. to him after the coma. If the MIDI wasn't abused it could lead to some pretty classy music which was spacey, elegant and jazzy as well.
There is a world of difference between British prog rock bands and American rock bands. To me the difference is that American bands such as the Dead, ABB and many others have a natural sound whereas British prog rock bands have a more contrived sound to my ears. As such, synthesizers do fit well in '70's prog rock, but by the '80's their music had become so self-indulgent, overblown and pompous as to be unlistenable (for me). Synthesizers and the like which (rather obviously) produce synthetic sounds have no place in the more natural sound of American rock bands. Of course, in the '70's there were some British bands that had a more American sound - Man, Help Yourself and Brinsley Schwarz to name but three - and there were undoubtedly American bands that sounded somewhat like British prog rock bands (though I cannot think of any offhand). I guess it has more to do with whether the sounds fit the music than the music itself. If it sounds good, why change it just because new devices are available. It always surprised me that Jerry, who loved traditional and acoustic music, felt the need to embrace MIDI and the like. What do others feel about this?
Same thing here... the box (looking fantastic by the way) got as far as my local post office but stuck there until I coughed up £26.60... I know that this isn't the fault of the Dead... but I do feel kinda stung by someone...
You can rest easy - no Sugaree on DP7
Yes Garcia vol 1 becomes a difficult listen because of those ridiculous synth keyboard sounds. When he plays a solo it sounds like he is playing a toy casio with little alien blurps & beeps coughing out of it. And then thankfully Jerry takes a guitar lead & saves the day. It's certainly an odd juxtaposition to say the least & it does not work at all. I'll stick to my Let it Rock Jerry & Nicky Hopkins set.
As for synths, there are times when used tastefully they they do not sound like an overproduced 1980's train wreck. For reference just listen to Rick Wakeman's work on Yes' mighty fine Close to The Edge LP. Just hearing that 20 minute title track in my young teenage years made me feel like I was tripping, years before I experienced it for real. Thank goodness that Music can have special powers.
Sugaree - I love it when Jerry goes nuts in the middle, then wrestles it gently back down to earth. I always knew a show was going to be a good one when "Sugaree" was the second song of the night. Happened often in Europe 72.
Skippers for me - Stagger Lee, It Must Have Been The Roses (though I like the lyrics and acoustic versions). Never cared much for Dupree's Diamond Blues, though it was seldom played.
Great songs that suffered from latter day tempo changes: The Wheel, FOTD, TLEO, and, at the risk of being labeled a blasphemer, St. Stephen (what a juggernaut that was in the sixties).
There. I feel better. Though I'm not a Catholic, I feel like I just went to confession!
Hey davey concepcio..., I really agree with you on Phil's singing. I commented on that on the DaP6, because, as you said, he off-key singing in, for example, Cold Rain and Snow, or High Time, really ruins it for me. It's so terrible that sometimes I decide not to play those live versions to friends because I'd feel embarrassed.
Synthesizers in general and MIDI in particular are an abomination, the evil spawn of the digital revolution with a nod to the disco era. I cannot recall hearing a "digitally enhanced" version of an old song that sounded better than the original. A recent classic example is "GarciaLive Vol. 1" where the highly talented Ozzie Ahlers produces endless annoying sounds on his keyboard when he should be playing a B3 or something of that ilk. The MIDI sounds that the Dead embraced only detract from what was otherwise a great mix of sounds. That is just my personal opinion but when I become ruler of the cosmos things will be different.
Rarely skip when listening to a show for the first time. But, on repeats listens, I must confess to hitting the "skip" button on Loser and Looks Like Rain. I also confess that on the most recent Dave's Pick 6 - which is generally simply amazing - I am tempted to skip any song in which Phil sings. My Lord, that man not only cannot sing, but in the early years it can, and sometimes does, ruin songs. I've never understood why he felt the need then or now - I've seen many of the iterations post-Jerry, and though his playing continues to sparkle, surprise, elevate the entire music (greatest Rock bass player ever? IMHO, yes), his singing is simply not worthy of a professional performance . . . a campfire, yes, but not a stage.
Love and Hugs to all!
DCFHOF (its time)
Good to hear that you got yours. Unfortunately mine didn't arrive today and I don't think DHL deliver on Saturdays (I hope I am wrong, otherwise I will have to wait until next week). Indeed delivery is slower than expected - tracking shows that it left Des Plaines, IL, on June 10 at 3:03pm which is 11 days ago. If that is DHL's idea of Express then they must be using the FYRA Express model (Dutch in-joke!). Also good to hear that no extra charges were levied. I seem to recall that there were no extra charges for the "Spring '90" box either.
I haven't listened to a Row Jimmy in so long I blanked on that one! Thanks for reminding me, reijo. I also fully agree on the midi effects. I just received the All the Years Combine DVD set and put in the bonus DVD and the midi effects ruin an otherwise fine Shakedown at Soldier Field (I was at that show and remembered thinking the same thing). I long had the 7/8/90 Pittsburgh DVD and the midi ruins some of the songs on that one as well. Whenever Jerry uses it, all I can think is, "Jerry, I would like your guitar solo to sound like a guitar, not a breathy horn."
Mustin, I should amend my original post-- many of us have skip songs, not all of us. I tried to go the completist route for awhile, and then I would come to a Row Jimmy or LLR knowing a Jack-a-Roe or something hot was right after it. I couldn't do it.
Regardless of who I saw, there were always "bathroom songs" for me-- Clapton shows, Wonderful Tonight; Stones, Brown Sugar or another of the many war horses depending upon placement in the show; Dead, see above. I guess I fall into the rocker camp rather than the ballad camp.
I am really starting to wonder what DP7 will be. I hope an 84, 85 or 87 show myself.