Grateful Dead

Dick's Picks Vol. 20: Live at Capital Centre, Landover, MD and Onondaga County War Memorial, Syrcause, NY

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Dick's Picks, Vol. 20 finds a revived Grateful Dead circa autumn 1976, after a self-imposed 20-month touring sabbatical. Barely three months back on the road and the Dead are forging unique performance characteristics -- some of which they would retain for the remainder of their touring career. This massive set celebrates the Dead's triumphant return with over five hours of music spread among four discs from two nearly complete performances. This collection is actually two songs shy of containing both shows. According to Grateful Dead tape archivist David Lemieux, the absence of "All Over Now" from September 25 and "Bertha" from September 28 owes to irreparable flaws in the respective master tapes. However, both songs were played at both shows and therefore appear on this volume at least once. "Let It Grow" and a decidedly disco "Dancing in the Streets" are among the other titles performed at both concerts and duplicated on this set. The return of the Grateful Dead in 1976 also heralded the restoration of rhythm devils Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart for the first time since early 1971. Their frequent percussive excursions -- such as the exquisite sequence that links "Comes a Time" to a feisty "Eyes of the World" -- melt away the intervening years as if the two drummers had never been apart. Notable among the material showcased by the Dead during this tour are the addition of new songs and the revival of some old ones. Chief among the new tunes are Bob Weir's "Lazy Lightning" and "Supplication" -- originally performed by Weir and Kingfish during the Dead's hiatus. Among those returning are "Cassidy" -- which had been sparsely performed before the break -- as well as primal Deadhead favorites "St. Stephen" and "Cosmic Charlie." The latter popped up six times only -- the performance found here being the final.

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