Released in 2008, Road Trips, Vol. 1, No. 2 is derived from key performances during the Grateful Dead's fall of 1977 jaunt that hit the respective campuses of the University of Oklahoma's Lloyd Nobel Center in Norman, OK (October 11), the Hofheinz Pavilion at the University of Houston, TX (October 14), and Louisiana State University's Assembly Center in Baton Rouge (October 16). The mid-'70s lineup of the Dead included Jerry Garcia (lead guitar/vocals), Phil Lesh (bass/vocals), Bob Weir (guitar/vocals), Bill Kreutzmann (percussion), and husband-and-wife team Keith Godchaux (keyboards) and Donna Jean Godchaux (vocals), as well as the reinstallation of Mickey Hart (percussion), who had been on hiatus since 1971. The selections uniformly highlight the renewed energies that were infused into the reworkings of established favorites -- such as Weir's authoritative "Let It Grow" movement from the "Weather Report Suite" or the 17-plus-minute reading of "Sugaree" that contains several incendiary and driving Garcia-led jams. The triad of "Help on the Way," "Slipknot!," and "Franklin's Tower" is especially worthy, as it would be the last time that this incarnation of the combo would perform it live -- not to mention nearly six years and 400+ gigs before the Dead would play it in its original context again. The clever reconfiguration of songs allows for the sonically probing "Playing in the Band" to bookend the contents of the entire second disc -- most of which comes from the Baton Rouge show two days later. The highlights are wall to wall, particularly from the Baton Rouge date, with a deliciously exploratory "The Other One" that yields to a powerful "Good Lovin'," and the sublime coupling of "Terrapin Station" with "Black Peter." The lengthy show-stopping overhaul of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around" is followed by a return to Houston for the encore of "Brokedown Palace" that comes full circle back to a reprise of "Playing in the Band."
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer