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
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I think sometimes people here talk past each other on sound quality so I thought I'd see if I could inject some clarity. Here are some of the different elements to a good sounding recording that I see folks mentioning (my own terms):
1) Mix - how loud is each musician? The fewer tracks you have, the less you can tweak this. I think this is primarily why people care about the multi-track issue.
2) Balance - how much bass, how much treble, etc. (for all players); too little of one and you lose notes, too much and things sound unnatural.
3) Pitch - changes in how fast the tape plays affect tone (think Alvin and the Chipmunks); people with perfect pitch can detect slight variations apprently. I count myself lucky that I cannot.
4) Zits - tape hiss; skips; scratchy bits. Older tapes have more.
5) Separation - how easy is it to locate each sound spatially when you're listening on headphones/stereo systems? How easy is it to distinguish sounds from different instruments?
6) Other quality factors - do the voices sound tinny? Is the bass muddled? Do you get all the overtones on Phil's bass? Are notes amorphous "blrrrps" or do you hear the sound of a string being struck?
It strikes me that the Spring '90s stuff had balance problems - lower bass frequencies were quiet and sort of muddled - listen to how much louder Phil gets as he plays up the neck. And I felt it had some mix issues - Jerry's voice was often low, sometimes his guitar was, cymbals were very high, Phil was relatively low. However, outside of that, they sound fantastic. Brent's keys, in particular sound amazing to me. They're round and full and they shimmer. Older recordings tend to be flatter, tinnier, scratchier, and hissier, but to my ears a lot of them have superior mix and balance.
I personally think the Europe 72 stuff sounds great all around. I think Rockin' the Rhein was a multi track release, so that would explain the mix differences.
In response to two groups of people on this thread, the people complaining about sound quality and the people complaining about the dearth of mid to late '80s releases.
I believe I've read and heard several places that aside from the inconsistent performance quality in the mid to late '80s (due in no small part to the ravages of various powdered drugs' effects on men become rich old and famous rather than young, hungry and ambitious), there were not very good recording media in use for sound board recordings. THerefore, a lot of '80s shows will either sound crappy or not be released. Hey, at the time, they weren't always hauling around excellent recording gear with the intent to release these shows, and we're lucky to have what we have. I am amazed that I can have access to the shows that predate my '80 to '88 touring years. Sure, I'd love to see commercial releases of, say, Alpine Valley '88, but if the tapes in the vault aren't the highest quality, well, neither were the performances, and therefore maybe not worthy of the full treatment.
I will listen to them all in chronological order, from start to finish. Depending on what day they arrive, of course, I may not get to listen to them all in one day. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to listen to one show per day over the course of a week or so, with various family members enjoying them in the car or in the living room stereo, or on headphones in my computer at work.
RE: Sunshine Daydream. I wonder if this isn't some cross-promotion between the movie owner and the GD. Maybe we will see the movie come out on Blu-ray, but not from the Grateful Dead & Rhino. Hopefully the soundtrack would be available as a physical release or download from dead.net. Would work out well for all parties, I think...
Yes, I checked out the teaser China Cat video. Great to see a youngish GD jamming out in the daylight. Not so great seeing a bunch of completely wacked out nude topless & bottomless hippies frolicking about.....
I've just received an e-mail talking about the one-day-only screening of "Sunshine Daydream", restored, with new audio mixes by Jeffrey Norman. I guess this will be released on a CD/DVD set soon, won´t it??
I can't bring myself to get the DP vinyl because the flips would kill me. I'm too used to the seamless jams on the cd. I did go with this year's 'Rare Cuts' and last years 'Winterland '71'. They are fantastic quality (art and soundwise) and I would very highly recommend them...
I'm a Dead newcomer (post-Dead mostly, although I did enjoy a single show in 1985...ahh...) and, while I've gotten into it, I'm not sure if there's a special moment that is *the* highlight that's worth targeting for a first spin or if I should just fire them up in order? I have a couple weeks off at the end of June and will spend some time checking them out in detail then but, for now, do any of the people who've got boots of these shows have a priority as it were?
I agree the vinyl conversation is interesting. I miss my vinyl sometimes but have become a creature of convenience.
Thanks everyone for giving me some insight on vinyl vs digital. When I have the $ it looks like I'll invest in a turntable and a lot of Good Ole Gd Vinyl!
Nice thread. A few comments from an old man (53). You could buy vinyl bootlegs from used or independent record stores back in the day, but had to know the owner or a clerk really well as the copyright folks were very tough. If caught, an owner could lose all his boot inventory in no time. Interesting that some bands like The Who, Neil Young put out live to foil the bootleggers.
My favorite unofficial boot I bought in 1980 in a store in DC was "Farewell to Winterland". The entire last show. The gatefold LP had a pic of Jerry holding up a glass of champagne. My favorite "official" bootlegs were the two releases on, I think, Sunflower: Vintage Dead and Historic Dead (this one had a great blue-grey cover).
One thing being older gives you is a bit of cash flow. I've bought the four DP vinyl releases and have been very, very, very pleased . . . as I also have with the Dead's Record Store Day vinyl releases. Frankly, even if you have a reasonably good turntable I expect you will note the difference. A great investment for a sonic experiment to see if you like them is the Columbus, Ohio, DP 2. Its only, I think, 3 sides, and that Dark Star>Sugar Mags is simply spectacular. I have all real old equipment I've kept: Denon turntable; Pioneer tuner and pre-amp; and, 2 pairs of AR speakers. Niiiiiice sound.
Now, one last thing, ship that Damn 77 Box . . . GOT IT!
Hugs n kisses,
Yep. Especially being 6 of them. Thing weighs a lot even shipping would be a pain to pay for. I love it. It's hard to keep up! They have been releasing the Dicks Picks CDs too for the past year. They sound absolutely fantastic, i still have to say to me the vinyl is the way to listen. My boss used to disagree with me until he listened once. He is stuck on the vinyls now too. I get them through the company where we get all of our new stuff for the store. They started at 36 and re-released every CD,they are on 23 now. Just ordered it and they are counting up with the vinyls so its just interesting to see happen. Sorry I ramble, but yea dicks 4 is rad ;)
Sorry for double post .
Do you think the vinyl DP 4 is worth $125?
I have bought the first 4 DP on vinyl and the turntable I bought was about 75 bucks new making it more affordable than 3 of the 4 vinyl releases so far. I think they are well worth it. The packaging is awesome, hand numbered,looks like in sharpie. The sound quality is better than anything I've heard and I don't need to have a $200 turntable to reflect that.. I have the Spring 90 vinyl as well and that's on 180g and sounds just as good if not better than the DP. I saw the import of that 1987 show too. Yikes. I work at a music store in PA so these are a little easier to get but there goes another $80. I can't imagine what DP 29 vinyl will be.
There are other factors which contribute to how vinyl will sounds compared to a digital file. For example I have a very nice turntable and cartridge and the quality of both has a effect of how the vinyl sounds. Now the question of if a person can hear the difference between a high resolution file and a vinyl pressing is subjective but if money is no object and the quality of the vinyl pressing in excellent, I'll take the vinyl any day on my system.
Thanks for enlightening this techno-ignorant person. Seriously.
Let me get this straight: The pricey vinyls are remastered from digital at 24/96 yet the vehicle for listening to this 24/96 resolution -- vinyl -- is not necessarily superior to a cd with 24/96. The relevant factor for superior sound which some describe as 'black and white' vs. 'in living color' is not vinyl or cd but 24/96 resolution?
If I have that right? Can we get cds or downloads with 24/96? Is that feasible both technically and economically?
Do you think if you played vinyl 24/96 and cd/download 24/96 to blindfolded Heads would they tell the difference?
I want the best sound period but do not have a turntable.
It is true that DP 3 and 4 are being remastered from the original reels. However, they are being DIGITALLY remastered to a higher resolution (24/96 I believe). They no doubt sound superior to the 16/44 cd resolution, but releasing them on vinyl serves no real advantage to a straight digital release (other than to sell limited pricy sets). Sure the vinyl will sound great, but its still a digital remaster. Why not release these masters as straight digital downloads? The main point of vinyl is to reproduce the original analog sound, right?
Hi Unkle Sam,
Only the first two DP vinyl releases were from the CD's. It was explained that, inexplicably, the master reels had gone missing. But the remaining DP's, starting with DP3, are from the original master reels.
I personally feel the mixes that J. Norman has done sound excellent, I especially enjoy the Europe 72' box. and Dave's 1 wow what a listen Bringing tapes that in some cases are 40+ years old back to life and make them sound like they were recorded yesterday has got to be no easy task. Especially some material that was recorded with no intent of ever being released. if you would compare the original E72' release to the box set and still say the box sounds "thin and shitty" ? come on........ you my friend need a new sound system! I really don't understand why you have a beef with J Norman or rhino and bitching that it's all about the money. Lighten up dude if your maxell II 's sound so much better what the hell are you buying these releases for? Relax and be grateful that these snapshots of music are being restored and made available at very reasonable prices for those who truly appreciate the music and understand what it represents.
Hey Dead.net. . .. Show us some love. . .. Ship May 77 Now. . .. Today. . ... Please.
I think if it were sold out, it would've already shipped. The Spring 90 box set sold out quicker and arrived almost 2 weeks early. The E72 box set also arrived earlier than expected.
Due June 11, and downloads are available on this date, is it reasonable to guess June 11 is when packages will be arriving (and not shipping)? Maybe it's a case of wishful thinking...
I have not really noticed sound quality issues on the box but given the magnitude of the work and the variation (I would think) of quality of the condition of the original tapes there would be differences on the final product no matter what. I think Jeffrey Norman has consistently done an exemplary job with all of the projects he has been involved with. To be sure there are standouts -I am particularly impressed with the Grateful Dead movie soundtrack-but all in all nothing in the body of work to be embarassed about. To me, the rush of the 72 box was shown more by lack of doodads enclosed-contrary to the implied promise of the promotional pictures. I kept looking for "the secret compartment" which I thought must be in that trunk somewhere holding the stash of teased goodies. The one sticker? Is this it? Oh well. I also like the Plangent process which has been used on some of these, especially the Cow Palace New Year set.
and I'm listening to 1977-specifically to the "To Terrapin" to start off.
I can't tell if the E72 box mix was rushed or not. It is true -because Jeffrey Norman said it on an interview featured on this site- that his usual way of working had to be accelerated in order to meet the deadline. Anyway, I think he made a great job. Could have he done it better if given more time? We'll never know, but we have to take into account the limitations of the tapes themselves too. The 1969 Fillmore West box sounds great, but I sense more space between instruments on E72, and, in addition, you can listen to each hall (or field, it depends), which is really nice. I think, though, that the E72 box could have been done better, with more memorabilia, more technical details about the mixing process, etc etc. But it is an OUTSTANDING set anyway. It's really unfair to attack Norman in the way some people are doing it here. "Crappy sounding CDs"? C'mon, give me a break!
Winterland 1973 features some of the nicest, warmest and highly-enjoyable 2-track recordings you will ever hear, period.
Winterland 1977 is made of Betty recordings, ergo, it sounds wonderful.
I can't say anything about the Warlocks or Spring '90, I'm not interested in that era. However, I bought "So Glad You Made It", and I remember not feeling very enthusiastic about the mix.
I think I was the first one to say that e72 sounded like crap, the first 3 shows are almost unlistenable, I thought it was the disc, so asked for replacements, got them a year later and they sound the same, thin, shallow and crappy. The mix does get better down the road in the tour, but not much, then, we come to Dave's picks 6, what's up with the pitch? why so shallow, no depth, can't hear certain players during the tunes, sometimes they come up, sometimes they disappear, what the hell is going on? I haven't heard warlocks or sping 90 but if these others that I have mentioned are any indication of the mixing, then they proubly sound thin and shitty too.
Dare I say it, who is this Jeff Norman guy? where did he come from? Hired by Rhino or the dead? I mean they remixed the e72 box in 3 months, right then I knew that it was a rush job, you know, we all love this music and this band, yet we get rushed mixes, bad pitch and just crappy sounding cd's, maybe that's why they are cheaper than say the rolling stones box set or any other box set, they are rushed, with no soul. I have said it from the getgo, Rhino is a ripoff, all they care about is the money.
Mr Norman, how about doing a mix right for once, tell the powers that be that you won't do it if it ain't right.
I agree with one man, Rockin the rhein is a way superior mix than the rushed mix by norman. I sold my e72 box due to this fact, I want the real deal, not this plastic crap that norman puts out. Most of my old tapes sound better than these releases.
As far as vinyl, I heard they cut these dick's picks vinyl from the cd, so how could it sound any better? The source is fucked up, so even putting it on vinyl can't make it sound any better, if they wanted to do it right, a total remix from the master tapes would have been in order, not a copy from the cd, I love vinyl and most of my listening pleasure is found in vinyl recordings, but I ain't gonna pay a hundred bucks for a copy of the cd on vinyl. As far as Mr Norman's comments, he works for rhino so he will say anything to sell a product, even if it ain't all it's cracked up to be. The business of selling the dead's vault is just that, a business, let the buyer beware.
Little Ben, the best example of the E72 box audio issues is on the 4/24/72 show. The "old" mix released on Rockin' the Rhein sounds rich and warm, with little distortion. The version of this show released with the box set uses a new mix for the first two discs, and they sound grossly distorted to me, as if a bad analog-to-digital transfer was made. They also suffer from lack of attention to details like instrument levels, reverb, compression, etc. Now listen to the second two discs from the newer (box set) version. Those two (for some reason -- I guess to save time) are the nice "old" mix. It's like night and day to me.
This problem starts at the first show and continues up to the Paris shows, where apparently some improvement was made in the new A-D conversion (or other change of procedure). The sound improves noticeably for the rest of the shows, but still suffers from "rush mixing" where the levels are apparently adjusted on the fly and details are ignored. It ends up sounding like a live-to-2-track mix, which is a travesty considering the multi-tracks will now never be heard in their full glory.
I've seen lots of comments in various places about the Europe '72 box sounding bad but very few examples. What I've heard of it sounds pretty good. I actually don't think the recordings are that fantastic - some are better than others. What are some examples of the rough/bad mixing though?
This wasn't my favourite release - and in fact I thought Spring 1993 ran it close for the being the last great run - but I did love the sound. I was playing a couple of the shows just this weekend and I thought it sounded deep, rich and very clear, especially the drums.
I am willing to bet the Dick's Picks vinyl sounds much better than the CDs, just like Jeff Norman says. It's hard to imagine the superiority of vinyl until you listen to the same recording back to back on both formats. Even mp3s sound okay until you compare them to a lossless format -- then you realize what you are missing.
Zuckfun, that is a good point about the upgrade from hissy cassette bootlegs. I had about a hundred of them back in the day, and now my memory of them is dim. I also spent a lot of time zeroing in on good audio from other sources, and that is where I am coming from these days. I'm an amateur recording engineer, so I know specifically how some of these releases could be better. But as you said, everyone hears something a little different. Besides the original albums (which all sound great to me each in their own way), my favorites are the Fillmore 1969 box, the movie soundtrack, and the Closing of Winterland -- all multi-track recordings professionally mixed by Jeff Norman before he was required by Rhino to cut corners.
I am not sure about Warlocks vs. Sprig 90 but I concur that Winterland 73 & 77 sound great to me. The Closing of Winterland release sounds equally great.
What do you guys think of the 180 gram Dicks Pick's releases? I have heard these 'albums' being 'in living color' sound-wise as opposed to to 'black and white' cd Dick's.
Just wondering if when I have the money for a turntable and albums,, etc.. Is it worth the investment? Is the sound that good?
How everyone hears different things. Spring of 90 is the first release (with maybe some 80's releases) where I wasn't thrilled with the sound quality. It still sounds great, it's just bass shy. Check out the bottom end of the Warlocks Box- that is very absent from most of Spring of 90. They're both great recordings, just very different flavors, at least to me. Maybe I'm in the minority, but most of Europe 72 sounds fantastic to me. Is it perfect- of course not, they're not modern professional recordings. Winterland 73 and 77- the sound is about just exactly perfect for me. Maybe it's my memory of hissy distorted cassettes, but I'm consistently thrilled with the sound quality year after year.
I too want ALL THE WARLOCKS 1989 Shows released as a box, please.
I have "American Beauty and Workingman's Dead" dolbyD DVD Audio and so far nothing touches those mixes.
But of course those were mixed by band members too.
I gladly went furthur and purchased my 77 box over tickets.
I find the Warlocks box almost unlistenable because of edgy, digital harshness, among other things. The Spring '90 box is much warmer, but suffers from on-the-fly mixing decisions and therefore unbalanced instrument levels at times. The last release that sounded professionally mixed was (gasp) the Fillmore 1969 box. That one has some ill-matched patches, but that's better than missing parts of the shows. I do like the Betty Boards in general because she obviously paid a lot of attention to making a nice reference tape, even though they were not designed for release. I dare say we will never see another professionally-mixed release from multi-track. The budget has been drastically slashed (hear the Europe box for example) and I think that is a travesty. By cutting corners now, the multi-track archives will never be professionally mixed in our lifetime because profit rules the day and no one cares that the audio quality is getting short-changed when it could in many cases be much, much better. I'm glad I'm not Jeff Norman. That would be painful.
Save your $$$ for the house payment. There is plenty of GD around to listen to.
Spring of '90 sounds great- Every release sounds amazing to me. Such a huge improvement from the sound quality I grew up with. Lucky time to be a fan, that's for sure. Hope things pick up quick for you Spacebro
...both sound great on my home system, my computer, my iPod and my car stereo.
As of yet, I still haven't ordered the May '77 box. I really want to, but for the last several weeks and through at least the next couple of weeks am financially strapped. I've hit a point of being between jobs and actually hope to keep my home. Bummer. :(
I like the Spring 90 sound better than the Warlocks box which I find rough and boomy to my ears. Of course, all this is highly subjective and probably system dependent. I'll keep both of them and happy to do so.
Betty certainly had the magic touch - in part b/c her mixes were - as I understand it - "off board" and thus much more malleable than the typical SB recording. Owsley's belt buckles and steaks put both his mixes and aggressively egotistical personality to shame - but I digress.
If we could only know how a "Betty Board" of 1989-90 would have sounded... :o)
One thing that is most definitely a certainty: Betty Boards always and I mean always sound so sweet.
I think the Warlocks recording has a bit more presence in the sound but I too was always a bit disappointed with the performance. I think Spring 90 is better & Nightfall of Diamonds from Oct 89 also. The drums sound on Warlocks & Spring 90 is a bit too boomy for my tastes. Nightfall drums sounds crispier to me.
I don't think anyone would disagree about the merits of multi-track recording. With regard to Fall '89: cool "breakouts," but sloppy playing compared to Summer '89 and Spring '90. (I suppose that assessment puts me in the minority, but the Warlocks shows were - to my ears - a bit disappointing versus gigs from the other two periods.)
Is it just me, or does the sound quality of The Warlocks box blow away the sound of Spring 1990? I listened to 3/30/90 and then popped in 10/9/89, and it's really no comparison. The moral of the story- If shows are recorded on multi-track, please seize this opportunity. Here's to the May '77 Box sounding amazing!
Oh, well, looking forward to this box; overwhelming though it shall be.
Listening to Dick's Picks 8, after and during a few deep breaths...
Endless options after this...
So many amazing shows/so many amazing years.
Shall I dare to play other than The Dead?
It could be good to listen to...
But I haven't given Dave's Picks 6 too much time...
Oh, wait Harpur College is still Groovin'
Sit and listen.
bambini is right of course, we should be talking about the May 77 box and its music. but after 70+ posts maybe the discussion has run out of steam. We've discussed the artwork, the show selections, the inevitable "era" controversy. What's left? at least until the box starts being received. Ergo, posts about hatwear fashion and cured meat.
Turkey Bacon. Whole Foods has a beef bacon which is the best pork-bcon substitute I ever tasted.
Hey Dave please send us some Bacon with May 77. Please.
I love that Bambini wanted to talk about the music and everyone went for bacon instead. But where does this leave our Jewish and Muslim friends?
Awesome clip on Bacon Burger Dawgs which I hope to see in the ShakeDown Street lot someday. We can talk about music, May 77 specifically, and bacon at the same time. They are compatible. I'll have to listen to St. Stephen again and see if I can get a bacon reference.
Dave as the Unabomber? OMG!!
listen to Live Dead's St. Stephen...somewhere in there is someone saying "bacon, I smell bacon". I think it's after "one man gathers..."
anyway, bacon = yummy.