Grateful Dead

Dick's Picks, Vol. 22: Kings Beach Bowl, Kings Beach Lake Tahoe, CA 2/22-2/24/68

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There are many reasons the Grateful Dead are cultural icons; primary among them is their uncanny ability to stretch the boundaries and test the limits concerning any preconceptions or expectations from their music. Dick's Picks, Vol. 22 examines a band wrought with experimentation fuelled by the vigor of youth. This double-disc release compiles four sets -- two nights, two sets per night -- documented at the Kings Beach Bowl bowling alley in Kings Beach, Lake Tahoe, on February 23 and 24, 1968. The Dead were on the very cusp of what would become the band's second phase -- highlighted by the inclusion of keyboardist Tom "T.C." Constanten less than a month after this performance. His avant-garde influence can already be heard on some of the burgeoning material, such as "Born Cross-Eyed," and the "Alligator"/"Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)"/"Feedback" montage -- all of which would be included on their second long-player Anthem of the Sun. Even the Ron "Pigpen" McKernan-led blues standards -- which have been featured in the band's performance repertoire since their pre-Dead days as the Warlocks -- have somehow shifted during this era. The exemplary readings of "(It) Hurts Me Too" and "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" on this set are exceedingly frenetic. In true Grateful Dead style, the performance is replete with surprises and musical diversions -- some anticipated, others not. The incipient "Dark Star" -- which clocks in at a relatively brief seven minutes -- is notable as a vehicle for Garcia's crystalline-toned fretwork. Deadheads with keen ears may note something familiar during "Feedback." A few seconds of this performance is included on Anthem of the Sun, during the album's waning "Feedback" section. Garcia returned to that segment when scoring a scene during the opening animation sequence of The Grateful Dead Movie.

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