First up is some stellar music from Winterland on 5/30/71, part of a two night run of shows coming a month after the Grateful Dead’s final week of shows at the Fillmore East in New York. From 5/30/71, we have this terrific Big Boss Man, and a very tight 1971 rendition of Cumberland Blues, the year that many feel the song was at its best live.
Next on the play list this week is some music from the final night of the Spring Tour of 1977, from the show in Hartford on 5/28/77. This show-opening Bertha>Good Lovin’>Sugaree is excellent, and although you can hear slight strains of fatigue in the music, it’s still remarkable how consistently good this tour was. From 4/22 through to 5/28, every night featured some form of magic, and on some nights, three solid hours of bliss. Without a doubt, along with Europe ’72, one of the finest tours in the Grateful Dead’s history.
Lastly in the date-appropriate files for this week is a nifty pre-Drums segment from Minneapolis on 5/31/80, a unique pairing of Lost Sailor>Saint of Circumstance>Wharf Rat>The Other One. These pre-Drums Other Ones are always a nice surprise. This segment is drawn from the cassette master.
Going back a bit to 1971, specifically to the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton, PA, we have another nice segment of music from this show that we didn’t have time to play last month, the second-set opening Truckin’>Drums>Good Lovin’, featuring a good dose of everything you want from the era: a kicking rock and roll jam, and a healthy amount of Pigpen. Another neat little thing from 1971 this week is a very cool Get Back, played during the soundcheck on 10/21/71 in Chicago, with Jerry singing lead vocals (when the band would next attempt this song, on 1/28/87, Bobby sang lead).
Going ahead a year to 1972 is this excellent Playing In The Band from 11/18/72 in Houston, just because it’s so darn good, and if you haven’t heard it yet, you should. Also from 1972, and by special request, is Caution>Who Do You Love>Truckin’ from 5/11/72 in Rotterdam.
Also by request is the encore from 4/29/77 (another magical night on that Spring Tour of 1977), a great Uncle John’s Band. That song turned up all over the place on that tour, always to great effect.
Another couple of tunes that just feel right for this week are this Stagger Lee and this Looks Like Rain from 10/18/78 at Winterland.
Finally this week, from a soundcheck of unknown-date in 1995 is this very cool Take Me To The River, likely the first time the band attempted this song.
As promised last week, we are going to reveal what’s so special about the 5/23/72 Good Lovin’ we played last week: during the first part of the song before the jam, while Pigpen is singing, that’s Jerry playing organ. The master 16-track analog tapes clearly had a notation “Jerry on organ” beside “Good Lovin’,” and after listening to this version, it’s very clear that this is the case: Jerry’s guitar stops playing, and while Pigpen is singing, you hear very prominent organ. What’s best is that as soon as Pigpen stops singing and they launch into the jam, Jerry hits a big note on his guitar to signal that he’s back, and he tears it up on his guitar from then on.
Check back in next week when we’ll have some music from 1969, 1970, 1973, 1978, 1991, and a few other odds and ends. As always, feel free to write with questions, comments or suggestions.