Grateful Dead

Dick's Picks, Vol. 18: Dane County Coliseum 2/3/78 & Uni-Dome, University Of N. Iowa 2/5/78

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The first 17 volumes of Dick's Picks never got around to including Grateful Dead concert material from the year 1978, an oversight corrected with the 18th volume. The archivists have avoided obvious choices, instead focusing on a brief Midwest tour and constructing a lengthy three-disc set from three successive shows: February 3 in Madison, WI, February 4 in Milwaukee, and February 5 in Cedar Falls, IA. (Only the Madison and Cedar Falls shows are credited.) A composite first set has been assembled on the first disc, with the second disc containing the second set in Madison from the third song on, and the third disc containing all of the Cedar Falls second set except the encore. The jury-rigged first set is an interesting combination of old and recent material, but the meat of the album comes on the second and third discs, which feature long medleys full of exploratory instrumental passages. The second disc contains a combination of four songs that runs more than 66 minutes without a break; the third disc has three sections, including two medleys of approximately half an hour apiece. The song selection and the band's treatment of the material provide a representative look at the Dead's career in 1978. Seven of the tunes are among their ten most played songs of that year, each turning up more than 30 times in 80 shows. And the performances are typical, with first-set songs like "Passenger" and "The Music Never Stopped" getting feisty treatment, while the second sets run on and on with the kind of unhurried improvising that delights Deadheads and bores people not attuned to the band's tendencies. Dick's Picks, Vol. 18 is not one of the Dead's best live albums, but it does provide a previously missing part of the ongoing aural history of the band, and so will be valuable to fans.

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