Grateful Dead

Dick's Picks, Vol. 19: Fairgrounds Arena Oklahoma City, OK 10/19/73

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This triple-disc installment captures the Grateful Dead on the road in the American Midwest -- Fairgrounds Arena, Oklahoma City on October 19, 1973, to be exact. Enthusiasts have long agreed that the Dead's performances during this era contain a virtually tangible and overtly emotive quality. This three-plus hour show is persuasive testimony to the allegations that the Grateful Dead were making considerable progress in the musical research and development they had begun nearly a decade earlier. A primary motivation to keeping the tour machine on full-throttle was to help defray the expenses of their new in-house Grateful Dead Records label. Wake of the Flood -- the first group effort on their new moniker -- had been issued only a few days prior to this show. While over half of the tracks from the album are presented here, from that cache comes a particularly inspired combination of "Eyes of the World" and "Stella Blue." The joy of rediscovering these gems night after night fuels the Dead's passion to expand the music into new malleable forms of expression. A well-developed "Playing in the Band," as well as the intertwining couplet of "Dark Star" and "Morning Dew," best demonstrate the advanced state of the Dead's instincts to explore and uncover new variations on a theme. The incorporation of the "Mind Left Body Jam," as a conduit between the songs, is an example of this process in motion. Rather than forcing the music down a pre-determined path, they allow it to progress and unfold organically. This rare commodity seems to unite both performer and audience -- at least on this occasion it does.

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