Grateful Dead

Dave's Picks, Vol. 14: Academy of Music, New York, NY, 3/26/72

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The 14th installment of Dave's Picks is devoted to another 1972 show, this one taken from an appearance at New York's Academy of Music on March 26, 1972 -- i.e. before the Dead headed across the Atlantic for their legendary series of European shows. Generally, it's a pretty muscular performance, getting off the ground with a driving "Greatest Story Ever Told" and featuring a hefty dose of Pigpen in the first set, including "Mr. Charlie" and the one-two punch of "Big Railroad Blues" and "Big Boss Man." Here, his blues leanings seem of piece with the other roots the Dead lay down early-- Jerry Garcia sings Hank Williams' "You Win Again," Bob Weir turns Marty Robbins' "El Paso" into one of his signature cowboy rambles -- but by the time Pigpen surfaces toward the end singing the crawling "The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)," he's been eclipsed by a stellar, spacy second set kicked off by "Truckin'" and leading into an epic 23-minute "The Other One." Elsewhere, "Wharf Rat" and "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad" are opened up and expanded, another indication of how far the Dead could fly in 1972, and even if further proof that the Dead were at a peak in 1972 is not needed, it is nevertheless welcome all the same.