• May 25, 2012
    https://www.dead.net/features/blair-jackson/blair-s-golden-road-blog-cornell-77-enshrined-ages
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog — Cornell ’77 Enshrined for the Ages

    On May 23, the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry announced this year’s list of 25 songs, instrumental pieces and historic recordings to be added to the prestigious institution’s permanent collection. There’s lots of great stuff on the list: Prince’s “Purple Rain”; Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”; Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; Donna Summer’s euro-disco “I Feel Love”; the first-ever commercial recording—a version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” created for the first talking doll by one of Thomas Edison’s employees; the only surviving record of early 20th century Broadway sensation Lillian Russell; the 1943 NY Philharmonic debut by conductor Leonard Bernstein; the Grateful Dead’s May 8, 1977, concert at Cornell University’s Barton Hall… Whaaaaat? Where did that one come from?

    Maybe it helps to have friends in high places. After all, Mickey Hart has been associated with the Library of Congress for many years. But when I asked him about it the morning the list was announced, he denied any involvement. “What can I say? The people have spoken!” he said with a laugh. “It’s true that I wrote part of the legislation for the [LOC’s digitization and preservation] project in 2000. It was copied after the Lucas-Spielberg Film Preservation Act. But when it came to voting, I recused myself.”

    Voting? “People have been voting all year, and then the board decides what is culturally significant, and the librarian, James Billington, makes the final cut and the call.”

    Ah, the power of Dead Head unity in action. Stuffing the ballot box—a tradition as old as this great republic itself!

    All kidding aside, a copy of Cornell 5/8/77 is a perfect choice for the National Recording Registry. Consider this: It has never been released commercially (legally), yet it is probably among the most collected, traded and downloaded concerts by any band ever. That’s not hyperbole, either.

    The original pristine audience recordings of this show started circulating among tape collectors very shortly after the concert, and quickly became a favorite of everyone who heard them—this at a time when Grateful Dead tape trading was just beginning to explode nationwide. In the pre-digital age, when all we had were cassettes, the show was part of any respectable tape collection, passed among untold thousands of people. It was always big news each time a cleaner, lower-generation copy would come through my circle of traders; had to have it! (It was also bootlegged as vinyl records and, later, CDs, and sold — boo, hiss! Not cool!) One of the late, great taper Jerry Moore’s greatest legacies is his audience recording of 5/8/77. I'm not sure whose recording I had originally; I didn't know any tapers by name back then.

    But we really thought we’d gone to heaven when the much-ballyhooed show turned up among the famous “Betty Boards” in 1986-87—200+ hours of soundboard masters recorded by Grateful Dead sound engineer Betty Cantor, who stashed them in a storage locker for years, until they were auctioned off (due to non-payment of storage fees)—and bought by Dead Heads! What a treasure trove of tapes that turned out to be! So, gorgeous new SBD copies of 5/8/77 soon circulated to hundreds of thousands of collectors, further solidifying its reputation. (This chain of events also explains why 5/8/77 is, alas, not in the Grateful Dead tape vault, where it rightfully belongs, as the Dead, not Betty, were the rightful owners of their own master tapes, auction be damned.)

    Jay Mabrey, Cornell class of ’77,
    designed this poster
    for the show.

    The show was reproduced many thousands more times when collectors transferred their tapes to CD. “Gotta get Cornell!” Again. By the time online live music repositories started popping up in the late ’90s—such as etree and the Internet Archive (Archive.org), who entered into a cooperative arrangement—high quality versions of the show became available to anyone with a computer, for streaming or downloading. There are currently 15 versions of 5/8/77 up on Archive—audience recordings, soundboards, and matrix combo versions. I frankly haven’t investigated deeply enough to know what the differences are—which came first, which is an “upgrade,” etc. (My own rule of thumb with Archive Dead shows is I look for Charlie Miller’s name, and if it’s attached to a recording, I’ll usually check that out first, since his name is synonymous with the highest quality transfers and upgrades.) Want to know how many times 5/8/77 has been downloaded from Archive.org? Are you sitting down? I added up the numbers beside each version: 928,006 as of May 23! I’m guessing that adding in all the copies that were made (tape and digital) in the years when the Grateful Dead was actually around, and when collecting was at its apex, the number could easily reach 2 million. Incredible for a so-called bootleg recording!

    Is Cornell ’77 the greatest Dead show ever, as many have asserted through the years? (It’s been a consistent poll-winner.) Is it even the best show of the justly heralded spring ’77 tour? It doesn’t matter. It’s all opinions in the end, and we each have our own preferences for certain years, certain songs, etc. I don’t like to deal in those sorts of absolutes.

    But it’s indisputably an amazing show. (OK, some might even dispute that. Sorry, this time you’re wrong!) The first set is solid and occasionally spectacular—the “Loser”; that speedy-confident “Lazy Lightning” > “Supplication”; “Row Jimmy” with beautiful Garcia slide, a fantastic “Dancing in the Street” that puts every disco song on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (released fall of ’77) to shame. The second set reaches some of the highest moments the Dead ever attained—particularly the jam after the second (final, in those days) verse of “Fire on the Mountain” and the completely transcendent version of “Morning Dew,” which has to be heard to be believed. Throw in “Scarlet,” “St. Stephen,” a really dynamic and elongated “Not Fade Away” and the then-new “Estimated Prophet”—each played with unbridled energy and enthusiasm—and you’ve got one helluva set. Is it perfect? No. Does that diminish its greatness? Not at all.

    I asked Mickey what, if any, recollections he has from the show? He laughed. “Oh, I don’t remember shows that way. I know it’s famous. I guess there’s a great ‘Morning Dew’ and some others. I haven’t heard it in many years. But if the Dead Heads say that it’s one of the best shows, I believe them. They know.

    “What’s funny is my wife [Caryl] was a student at Cornell at the time but she didn’t go to the show. She was off with her boyfriend seeing Barry Manilow or some dumb thing! She never got to see the Grateful Dead until we met in the ’90s.”

    Well, it’s never too late to get into 5/8! Dig it now, Caryl!

    All right, now it’s time to put you on the spot. If you were to choose just one Dead concert to represent the band forever in a digital archive, which would you pick and why?

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On May 23, the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry announced this year’s list of 25 songs, instrumental pieces and historic recordings to be added to the prestigious institution’s permanent collection. There’s lots of great stuff on the list: Prince’s “Purple Rain”; Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”; Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; Donna Summer’s euro-disco “I Feel Love”; the first-ever commercial recording—a version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” created for the first talking doll by one of Thomas Edison’s employees; the only surviving record of early 20th century Broadway sensation Lillian Russell; the 1943 NY Philharmonic debut by conductor Leonard Bernstein; the Grateful Dead’s May 8, 1977, concert at Cornell University’s Barton Hall… Whaaaaat? Where did that one come from?

Maybe it helps to have friends in high places. After all, Mickey Hart has been associated with the Library of Congress for many years. But when I asked him about it the morning the list was announced, he denied any involvement. “What can I say? The people have spoken!” he said with a laugh. “It’s true that I wrote part of the legislation for the [LOC’s digitization and preservation] project in 2000. It was copied after the Lucas-Spielberg Film Preservation Act. But when it came to voting, I recused myself.”

Voting? “People have been voting all year, and then the board decides what is culturally significant, and the librarian, James Billington, makes the final cut and the call.”

Ah, the power of Dead Head unity in action. Stuffing the ballot box—a tradition as old as this great republic itself!

All kidding aside, a copy of Cornell 5/8/77 is a perfect choice for the National Recording Registry. Consider this: It has never been released commercially (legally), yet it is probably among the most collected, traded and downloaded concerts by any band ever. That’s not hyperbole, either.

The original pristine audience recordings of this show started circulating among tape collectors very shortly after the concert, and quickly became a favorite of everyone who heard them—this at a time when Grateful Dead tape trading was just beginning to explode nationwide. In the pre-digital age, when all we had were cassettes, the show was part of any respectable tape collection, passed among untold thousands of people. It was always big news each time a cleaner, lower-generation copy would come through my circle of traders; had to have it! (It was also bootlegged as vinyl records and, later, CDs, and sold — boo, hiss! Not cool!) One of the late, great taper Jerry Moore’s greatest legacies is his audience recording of 5/8/77. I'm not sure whose recording I had originally; I didn't know any tapers by name back then.

But we really thought we’d gone to heaven when the much-ballyhooed show turned up among the famous “Betty Boards” in 1986-87—200+ hours of soundboard masters recorded by Grateful Dead sound engineer Betty Cantor, who stashed them in a storage locker for years, until they were auctioned off (due to non-payment of storage fees)—and bought by Dead Heads! What a treasure trove of tapes that turned out to be! So, gorgeous new SBD copies of 5/8/77 soon circulated to hundreds of thousands of collectors, further solidifying its reputation. (This chain of events also explains why 5/8/77 is, alas, not in the Grateful Dead tape vault, where it rightfully belongs, as the Dead, not Betty, were the rightful owners of their own master tapes, auction be damned.)

Jay Mabrey, Cornell class of ’77,
designed this poster
for the show.

The show was reproduced many thousands more times when collectors transferred their tapes to CD. “Gotta get Cornell!” Again. By the time online live music repositories started popping up in the late ’90s—such as etree and the Internet Archive (Archive.org), who entered into a cooperative arrangement—high quality versions of the show became available to anyone with a computer, for streaming or downloading. There are currently 15 versions of 5/8/77 up on Archive—audience recordings, soundboards, and matrix combo versions. I frankly haven’t investigated deeply enough to know what the differences are—which came first, which is an “upgrade,” etc. (My own rule of thumb with Archive Dead shows is I look for Charlie Miller’s name, and if it’s attached to a recording, I’ll usually check that out first, since his name is synonymous with the highest quality transfers and upgrades.) Want to know how many times 5/8/77 has been downloaded from Archive.org? Are you sitting down? I added up the numbers beside each version: 928,006 as of May 23! I’m guessing that adding in all the copies that were made (tape and digital) in the years when the Grateful Dead was actually around, and when collecting was at its apex, the number could easily reach 2 million. Incredible for a so-called bootleg recording!

Is Cornell ’77 the greatest Dead show ever, as many have asserted through the years? (It’s been a consistent poll-winner.) Is it even the best show of the justly heralded spring ’77 tour? It doesn’t matter. It’s all opinions in the end, and we each have our own preferences for certain years, certain songs, etc. I don’t like to deal in those sorts of absolutes.

But it’s indisputably an amazing show. (OK, some might even dispute that. Sorry, this time you’re wrong!) The first set is solid and occasionally spectacular—the “Loser”; that speedy-confident “Lazy Lightning” > “Supplication”; “Row Jimmy” with beautiful Garcia slide, a fantastic “Dancing in the Street” that puts every disco song on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (released fall of ’77) to shame. The second set reaches some of the highest moments the Dead ever attained—particularly the jam after the second (final, in those days) verse of “Fire on the Mountain” and the completely transcendent version of “Morning Dew,” which has to be heard to be believed. Throw in “Scarlet,” “St. Stephen,” a really dynamic and elongated “Not Fade Away” and the then-new “Estimated Prophet”—each played with unbridled energy and enthusiasm—and you’ve got one helluva set. Is it perfect? No. Does that diminish its greatness? Not at all.

I asked Mickey what, if any, recollections he has from the show? He laughed. “Oh, I don’t remember shows that way. I know it’s famous. I guess there’s a great ‘Morning Dew’ and some others. I haven’t heard it in many years. But if the Dead Heads say that it’s one of the best shows, I believe them. They know.

“What’s funny is my wife [Caryl] was a student at Cornell at the time but she didn’t go to the show. She was off with her boyfriend seeing Barry Manilow or some dumb thing! She never got to see the Grateful Dead until we met in the ’90s.”

Well, it’s never too late to get into 5/8! Dig it now, Caryl!

All right, now it’s time to put you on the spot. If you were to choose just one Dead concert to represent the band forever in a digital archive, which would you pick and why?

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On May 23, the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry announced this year’s list of 25 songs, instrumental pieces and historic recordings to be added to the prestigious institution’s permanent collection. There’s lots of great stuff on the list: Prince’s “Purple Rain”; Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”; Vince Guaraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; Donna Summer’s euro-disco “I Feel Love”; the first-ever commercial recording—a version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” created for the first talking doll by one of Thomas Edison’s employees; the only surviving record of early 20th century Broadway sensation Lillian Russell; the 1943 NY Philharmonic debut by conductor Leonard Bernstein; the Grateful Dead’s May 8, 1977, concert at Cornell University’s Barton Hall… Whaaaaat? Where did that one come from?

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Thanks for the explanation musigny23, it is appreciated. And thanks for the tip about the Good Lovin from 10/4/70. I hadn't heard that in a long time- They're on fire, and it illustrates the point very well. I remember Mickey Hart's comments once when asked if he listens to shows they played from early in their career. It was something like he hears all the notes they should have played. This is what I find as the band went on- a strive for the perfection of their art. Maybe this is why any show on any given night can thrill me. Speaking more to the point, I can't compare 70 to 74, or 69 to 73. Primal dead is unrestrained rock. Although the intention- to transcend the ordinary and thrill through music- I find this on many performances throughout their career.
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Thanks for the DP 18/ Cornell combo idea. I have a cd burning right now. The Music Never Stopped (DP 18) Scarlet Begonias > (DP 18) Fire on the mountain (DP 18) St. Stephen > (Cornell 5-8-77) Not Fade Away > (Cornell 5-8-77) St. Stephen > (Cornell 5-8-77) Morning Dew (Cornell 5-8-77)
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So is there any good reason AT ALL that there isn't a legal CD of this from you guys? Starting with Dick's Picks right up to today.
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So is there any good reason AT ALL that there isn't a legal CD of this from you guys? My guess? A) It's not in the vault, although obviously it's readily available, and B) It's so widely circulated already.
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Given the factors of performance, set list, sound, etc., I see why this was put into the LoC. Calling 5/8/77 over-rated is crazy in my opinion. JUST ENJOY IT!
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I think 9 June '77 would have been the perfect choice - the Dead playing one of the greatest shows, in one of their greatest years, at their home base, in their home town. Barton Hall is a fabulous show and, as far as I can recall, was the very first live Dead I heard but it makes more sense to me to select something from San Francisco. I can't think of a better, more accessible show than 9 June '77 that is representative of the Dead in their natural state at one of their many peaks..
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To say that nothing after '74 "rocks" (I still don't understand the distinction between "rocks" and "really rocks") strikes me as insane. To me, the thread of the Dead's essential greatness goes through every era and manifests itself in different ways with each lineup. Personally, I'd rather hear a great '80s "Scarlet-Fire" than another endless '69-'72 "Lovelight" or "Good Lovin'" any day (and I saw a bunch of both of those with Pigpen). To me, a lot of those are treading water half the time, whereas a great "Scarlet-Fire" ROCKS. Whatever that means. ;-) But each to his or her own. I also don't buy the notion that the Dead after '72 becomes some polished, successful sell-out... If that had been the case they wouldn't have kept playing "space" until the bitter end...They stayed plenty weird...
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The answer to this question is always going to be subjective, and so many things influence ones choice. My first two shows were 11/5 and 11/8/1970 .... 18 years old, I was a lucky boy. but I'll choose my third show, 2/18/71. Blair, you and I have talked about this a little bit, since you saw two of the shows at Portchester from that six night run. For me, it was my first show where I attended from an exalted sense of reality, helped out by a generous helping of a certain three letter substance that some of us were getting involved with those days. It was also the last night of what I think of as 'the first Mickey Hart era'. Of course, we didn't realize this was going to be Mickey's last night night for a few years, and that is not one of the reasons I chose it, it's just an interesting coincidental historical factoid. It was also the night that the Dead introduced Bertha, Loser, Wharf Rat, and Playing in the Band. That is also not the reason I choose this show, although it is also an interesting historical curiousity. No, I chose this show because after listening to it for 40 years, I still can't find a show I like more. The opening set with Jerry playing pedal steel with NRPS was absolutely excellent, they played a truly flawless set with great creativity and energy. I didn't get it at the time, but it also got Jerry good and warmed up for what was to come, although he played so fine it didn't sound at all like he was warming up. After the break, the Dead came out for their first set. They opened with first Bertha every played and I defy anyone to find a better played version. Jerry positively leaned into his guitar and there wasn't a wasted note or one note in excess. The audience literally leaped up with excitement from this new song we had never heard before, played with such verve. Listen carefully to this version because being the first time played is not the only reason it's unique, they also played a short instrumental coda at the end that I have never heard them repeat on any version, and it really functioned as a coda should. A smoking Truckin, lots of fun, then a somewhat dragging version of It Hurts me too, and then into the first Loser, spooky, VERY psychedelic and other wordly .... Johnny Be Good, also absolutely smoking and another first. A sweet Momma Tried, Jerry's lead with such a deft and light touch, and then Pig struts out and say's 'This microphone has a rubber on it' ... everyone laughs and wham, Hard to Handle, also absolutely smoking (I have to find another adjective, that's three smokings and we're still in the first set). And then ..... a first set Dark Star .... and after the first verse they got quieter and quieter till you could literally hear a pin drop, and then Jerry started something that sounded like you had heard it before, maybe in another life, and it kept building, stately, in that minor key, and Wharf Rat emerged for the very first time .... a beautiful, soaring, fresh version played with deep feelings of redemption and we're all saying what the fuck, is this Jerry's way of putting out a Dark Star level kind of song every year or two? (I had made a cassette tape of the show and me and my buddies listened to it for months, and we actually used to call Wharf Rat by the name Dark Star 2 until we found out the name and then it was what the fuck, what does Wharf Rat mean? ... lol) .... and at the end, a jam that later was labeled as 'the Beautitul Jam' on box set that came out a few years ago. There is a story that Latvala played Beautiful Jam for Phil once a few years later and he wept .... and I get that, it was beautiful like a lightening bolt from Jerry's deepest heart to us all, you could feel it .... and the whole show was like that ... And it was beautiful, the boys playing as if they were in each others minds, and hearts, with Jerry leading the way in a soulful, lovely and somewhat sad kind of sound .... then back into the second verse of Dark Star, and a little teaser would they do St Stephen ? .... and instead into a great version of Me and My Uncle and then 'we're gonna take a short break, everyone gets to take a short break' .... That was a part of the first set. I was stunned. A short break? You mean after the New Riders set and incredible set they were gonna play another set? Holy crap, we'd already been there 3 hours, how could they top that? But they did come back and the second set was absolutely fabulous. I won't describe how wonderful it was, just get a download and listen to it. Ole Dov knows of what he speaks. You'll thank me. For those of us lucky enough to see the Dead play at Porthchester, and I did three times including the famous 11/8/70 show, th 2/18/71 show is is my favorite. It may never be released since 'Beautiful Jam' has already been published, but I invite my fellow music loving freaks to check it out and enjoy what I think is possibly the best unknown Dead show. Dov
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Not sure why, but "Bertha" felt like a gift from the gods the first time I heard it. It immediately became one of my favorite songs. Still is.
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How about a box set of everthing from 65 to 95.
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First off, that is excellent news. There are hundreds of thousands of American musicians who are not represented in the Library of Congress, so this is quite an honor (whether Mickey had anything to do with it or now). Dead Heads can debate till the end of time and everyone would never agree on which show to put in. Personally, 5/8/77 is not my favorite show, but it is a very good one from a highly regarded tour and the most downloaded show ever. This rockin' debate is strange. To argue that the Dead was not a rockin' band after 1974 when Mickey came back in the fold is plain silly. Someone has a very limited sense of what constitutes rock and roll. So, once a band is successful and not "hungry" anymore they no longer rock? By this definition, Led Zeppelin c. 1974 doesn't rock? They were clearly successful and wealthy. Per Zuckfun, give DP18 a good listen-- that Scarlet/Fire/Truckin'/Other One sequence with brief Drums is my favorite piece of rock-n-roll music ever. They were definitely a different band post-break and the one drummer period had a "swing" to it that changes with Mickey's return. I find that period to be their jazzy period and not their rock period because of that "swing." You know, it don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing....
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yeah, the rockin debate is kind of odd. how about Jazzin? As the Dead went through the years and their musicianship got better and better, the level of their musicianship and improvisational abilities also got better and better, so maybe if they lost some 'Rockin' quality, they picked up some 'Jazzin' to compensate. There are times, if your 'mind is right' when you can listen from stuff from 67-73, where you feel that you are hearing the music from a different persction and the music can strike deep into your inner being. Back in those days, there were times when some of the boys in the band would be onstage, and their minds were also in the right place, if you get my drift, and a union of souls through the invisible medium of spontaneous music was achieved. That was a powerful experience for all involved. Anyone who experienced that knows exactly what I am talking about. It's hard to describe in words, yet the experience left it's mark. In later years the boys in the band didn't go on stage very often in that frame of mind. Garcia once remarked in an interview it was way to stressfull to play under those conditions. So, some of the magic of the early days definitely disappeared or at least became rare. But, that doesn't mean that the Grateful Dead weren't a uiquely fabulous band in every era they played in. I'm not claiming they didn't have bad nights, anyone who followed them saw bad nights. But they still had magic nights in the 80's and even in the 90's. It was a different kind of magic to be sure, but nothing stays the same forever, or as Hunter once said 'There's nothing you can hold for very long'. Each era had it's magic. the problem is that when miracles happen, they are so intoxicating, so profoundly impactful, that we don't want to let them go. But if we let ourselves become desparate to hold onto miracles, then we don't see the miracles that are right in front of us. Dov
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Dov wrote: "a union of souls through the invisible medium of spontaneous music was achieved." I can relate to that experience very strongly. It was one of the things that got me interested in the Drateful Dead and fueled/influenced many parts of my life ever since. The other night I went to Phil's Telstar performance at Terrapin Crossroads and felt that synesthesia between band and audience, within and between both entities for the first time in 20 years or more. It was perhaps the most magical post-Grateful Dead moment I have experienced. For those who don't know, Telstart was billed as a night of improvisation, no songs, no setlist. Just improv without a net. Dare I say it, the band seemed really high, whether or not they had ingested anything. They just went into the stratosphere in the most musical and connected way possible. There were moments when, as Dov said, you could here a pin drop. The jams turned on a dime and Phil even did some spoken word weirdness at one point. I would do almost anything to have a recording of the evening. They "broke format" twice during the evening to sing the verses of Dark Star (1st by Phil, 2nd by John Kadlecik) and to close the hour and forty five minute set with Morning dew, but even those felt totally loose, unexpected and appropriate. Not a moment of contrivance. After the set ended, Phil said something like "That's all we have for you tonight." Although I would have liked a second set, it would have been gilding the lily. A most extraordinary night of music. I highly recommend people check out the next time Phil does this type of thing. By the way, Jon Graboff was a revelation to me. Did not know anything about him before the show, but had been intrigued that Phil would include pedal steel for two weeks of shows. He was pure magic. Very beautiful and intuitive player. The rest of the musicians were also wonderful and the whole evening felt like the ghosts of Miles Davis, Jerry, and Albert Ayler were haunting the place.
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I think the choice of 5/8/77 is an excellent choice to add to the Library Of Congress' National Recording Registry. But somehow there is a political ploy to this. The original master tapes do not reside in the GD audio/visual recordings at Warner Brothers Vault or where ever they are kept. I think this is a call out to the owner(s) of these original tapes to return them to their rightful owners, similar to, but not the same as, the tapes known as "The Houseboat Tapes" which became Dick's Picks Volume 35.Maybe someday soon this will happen and the show will get an official release. My personal choices for inclusion to the Library Of Congress National Recording Registry are either 4/8/72 Wembley Empire Pool or 6/9/77 Winterland. Both shows master tapes reside in the GD vault, both have seen the light of day as official releases. 6/9/77 was recorded in the band's "hometown" of San Francisco, California USA, so therefore, a completely American product.
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I'll concede the treading water aspect of some old Lovelights and Good Lovin's and also that there are plenty of great Scarlet-Fire's, Samson & Delilah's, etc. Different era, different sound, but if I were trying to impress someone with a rock'n'rollin' One More Saturday Night or Bertha, I wouldn't go beyond Europe 72. As far as the sell-out issue is concerned, until I hear Truckin' used to sell pick-ups or Touch Of Grey for that Cary Grant look, I choose to believe in the integrity of those concerned. Back to the question of a representative show, in addition to my first choice of 5/2/70, I've always thought 12-31-80 has been a vastly underrated show. Great acoustic set, first set is great once it gets past Alabama > GSET, and set 2 is fantastic with an amazingly powerful SSDD (it rocks) to wind it up before the Satisfaction encore. The recordings I've heard are less than pristine however. Ah, well.
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$6.50!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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For my money I may edge out Cornell with the 5-18-77 show. It has a different vibe than Cornell but from start to finish the band was creating the magic. The Stella Blue is amazing, brings you to tears; very beautiful. The debate could go on forever but that's part of the fun...
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Since I complained previously, and under the credit where credit is due category, I gotta sway that your liner notes for the most recent release -- the 1974 three set show that just came out -- were tremendous. Interesting, informative and I loved the technical details about the wall of sound system you included. Thanks.
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No way. BJ's question cannot be answered. One show obviously can't represent. I'm thrilled the popular Cornell '77 show made it to the LoC. Better than none. Maybe someone will hear it some day and get turned on. Good chance, actually, compared to many of the official releases. I think it's fitting a bootleg made it rather than a legit title.
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Whoa, I know what I'll be watching tonight. thanks alot
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While there are a ton of shows that I would like to see enshrined, the one that I am currently digging is the 5/6/70 outdoor show at MIT in Cambridge, MA. According to Bobby, it was fucking cold out. You can feel it through Jerry's guitar. The solos have never been more raw and dominating as it was during Not Fade Away...
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Literally one of the first tapes I EVER got back in 1982. HOT show in cold air.
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one down, 2,317 to go...good call by the L.O.C. N.R.R. to recognize the band, the fans, and it's taping/preservation of moments culture. i love the cornell show, though don't consider it to be the best of the month of may, of the year, or of all time. it is, however, a wonderful show...the morning dew feels like it makes time stop and float in the ether before moving on - and that's on tape 35 years later, i can only imagine the impact on those who were there. narrowing it down to one show to preserve is proving to be a tough task. can't we just put the entire months of november and december from 1973 in there? the east coast tour in september of '72? the one i'll throw in is 6/10/73. is it the best, no, but to me it's a show that's a great representation of everything the band could do at the time. a morning dew to open the day followed by long sets of psychedelic ragtime, jazzy, spacey, floating, meandering jams, and great playing by the band while playing in the band...oh yeah, and a third set with members of the allman brothers, who had shared the bill with the dead for that say (and the day before i believe). good stuff.
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14 years 10 months
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As a Cornell Alum, (yes, it was snowing!), I thought I would chime in. No comments today on the show, how good it was, etc and so forth, I thought I would approach this topic from the other direction so to speak---given the critieria of recordings being placed in the LOC, is this the show to place? I think not (and this is not a criticism per se of the show). The LOC recordings should contain essential recordings that represent what is distinctive and special about the artists so recorded. Now Cornell is great music, but does not, I think, capture what makes the Dead distinctive, and so worthy of this sort of documentation, or at least does not as well as many other (earlier shows). For me that would be a show that shows more clearly their genre-bending and moving between different aspects of American popular (and not so popular) musics. So a show that goes from a jig to a shanty, to a bit of musique concrete, to a rocker, and so on, and shows the musical relations between these distinct forms would better capture what to the non-Head, and to history, makes the Dead distinctive. I love the Spring '77 show, but by then the Dead formula was somewhat in place, and early shows which experiement more with genes, would be my choice.
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12 years 6 months
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I heard One From The Vault was on a summer hike up to Sunfish Pond in the Deleware Water Gap. The year was 1981 and the Walkman was the latest must have. Actually it wasn't even an official release at the time. We all took turns listening every mile or so. The audio quality along with the superb performance and hiking with headphones made it kind of a no-brainer for me. But then again this was 1981 and with a couple of great shows under my belt already that year, I wouldn't be finished until 9-26-81. 5-6-81 along with 5-15-81 and finally 9-26-81 were all Great Shows Not to mention 9-3-77 my first show or 6-18-83, Hershey Park, 3-23-87 or any number of shows from Brent's final years. 6-25/26-93 were the last Really Good shows that I caught. Never could fully understand why 5-8-77 is the Chosen One. Although those warm analog audio recordings from that time were out of this world. What I'm trying to say is you'll find my favorite somewhere between the starting gun and the closing bell.
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12 years
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I think that to represent the GD in the LOC, a show that includes an acoustic set is imperative. I would nominate 5/15/70. If Blair's "rules" allow for one date, then the early and late show, with the NRPS sets, would squeeze an awful lot into the Library. If not, I would say the late show from 5/15/70. Acoustic and electric sets, China>Rider, Dark Star, St. Stephen, Cold Jordan encore. What more could you want to represent the vast catalogue of the GD and a representative sample of all that they could offer?
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13 years 4 months
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with about a dozen high quality tapes, shows I now know are considered essential, covering all of the Grateful Dead's eras. They were all interesting, and also had parts that I was more or less indifferent to. But when I listened to Barton Hall, Cornell University 5-8-77, I realized there was something very special going on. Thus began my quest to find more of that same magic. Many, many, many people have shared that experience, and it is undoubtedly why this show has been put in the Library of Congress. It may not be the best show, but because of the spell it cast upon so many an unsuspecting listener, it may well be the most important.
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15 years 2 months
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...it's a digital library, so we don't have to worry about space! (Besides, I have no "rules.") I must say, in reading all these responses I have thought more about whether a '70 show with an acoustic set and maybe including the New Riders would be cool to have in there. (I like the idea of both shows of 5/15/70 and, as several have mentioned, Binghamton is just about perfect; a better show than 5/15 IMO). Not sure any of the '80 show with acoustic sets would quite fill the bill, though 10/14--final might at the Warfield--is pretty damn cool. The full 10/31/80 audio and video (including comedy interludes and crowd stuff) would certainly provide a window into the GD experience... but then so does the original GD movie. But I still believe that 5/8/77 is a good enough and representative enough show, lack of "Dark Star" or "The Other One" notwithstanding...
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13 years 7 months
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While the idea of a show with an acoustic set (1970) is interesting, it was not a major component of the band's live shows for most of its history. With the exception of two tours (1970 and 1980), the GD did not play acoustic often, so why should it be a part of its representation for all time? Listening to Europe 72 shows, I can see putting one of those shows in-- it shows the range of the band unlike any other tour, IMO. From country and western, rock and roll, jazzy jams, acid rock jams, A Europe 72 show would be a great representation. However, they were recorded in Europe and the LOC show should have been recorded in the good ole USA. :)
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12 years
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est'd-eyes: The question was "If you were to choose just one Dead concert to represent the band forever in a digital archive, which would you pick and why?" I agree that acoustic Dead was not performed live that often (or often enough). But given that it was an extra set at Radio City and elsewhere, it was kind of a "freebie." And it represents one aspect of what made the GD so great. Think of all those Workingman's Dead and American Beauty songs that sound so much better acoustic, or at not even done electric. It is a *part* of what I think represents the GD at their best. And you still get the first set songs and the second set jams that were more or less a constant at GD shows thru most of their history. That's why I chose it, but there obviously are lots of opinions out there and different opinions will resonate with different people.
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13 years 11 months
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If the tapes from May 8, 1977 are not in the Vault, what is the source of the bonus track, Dancin' In The Streets? The credits in the booklet that came with the box set Beyond Description first issued in 2004, state that this track was Recorded live at CORNELL UNIVERSITY, Ithaca, NY (5/8/77) The sound is amazing!
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13 years 11 months
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Thank you very much, Blair for this blog.
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12 years 4 months
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borncrosseyed56 raises an interesting point. There exists a disparity that great sounding copies circulate of some of the finest shows and yet these shows don't exist in the Vault. Dekalb 77 and Red Rocks 78 to name a couple. Obviously I can't speak for all fans, but I want the greatest performances released. Of course we want great sound, but sometimes sound quality needs to be compromised if the performance is great. Just listen to Dick's Picks 22. As fans we know it may not sound perfect- I'll take an average sounding stellar performance over a superb sounding mediocre show every day of the week. The blockade of- 'it's not in the vault' should be smashed into little pieces with a sledgehammer.
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12 years
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5/8/77 indeed was great, I was in Boston the night before ,and I recommend you give that a spin,and Buffalo 5/9/77. I would say its safe to say that was a magical week for the Band ,firing on all cylinders! Spent the next 30 years chasing that high of that 1st show in Boston .
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12 years 7 months
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A version of "That 70s Show"? Mom and Dad were always on the road attending a Grateful Dead concert somewhere -- they were probably at Cornell... I hope it was worth it!
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10 years 11 months
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So what are the BEST live shows that have been officially released on cd?
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    D10S
    9 years 1 month ago
    Best official live
    So what are the BEST live shows that have been officially released on cd?
  • Anna rRxia
    9 years 2 months ago
    Was your house
    A version of "That 70s Show"? Mom and Dad were always on the road attending a Grateful Dead concert somewhere -- they were probably at Cornell... I hope it was worth it!
  • Default Avatar
    azforker
    9 years 2 months ago
    Boston
    5/8/77 indeed was great, I was in Boston the night before ,and I recommend you give that a spin,and Buffalo 5/9/77. I would say its safe to say that was a magical week for the Band ,firing on all cylinders! Spent the next 30 years chasing that high of that 1st show in Boston .