Grateful Dead

Dick's Picks, Vol. 25

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This 25th installment of the Dick's Picks series, featuring live archival Grateful Dead performances, gathers the lion's share of two consecutive shows -- May 10 and 11 -- during an extended run on the East Coast in the spring of 1978. Although modern Deadheads are generally enthusiastic about the late-'70s era of the band, the avid as well as the somewhat more critical fans often refer to 1978 as a year of transition. 1977 is so replete with undeniable energy that comparatively, the Grateful Dead began to demonstrate increasing signs of restlessness within the following months. Luckily, tape archivist David Lemieux chose not only two of the better shows from the year, but also a pair that had not fallen prey to international CD bootleggers or otherwise been widely liberated into tapers' circles. Both the set list -- with a few exceptions, such as the title suite from their most recent studio release, Terrapin Station -- and the seemingly intuitive improvisations that the Grateful Dead unleash reveal much of what remains special about the band's revival in 1976. Easily discernible are the jazz-influenced elements that musically motivated and seamlessly pair older tunes such as "Scarlet Begonias" and "Eyes of the World" with more recent material such as "Fire on the Mountain" or "Estimated Prophet," respectively. Other not-to-be missed highlights include the lilting Garcia/Hunter ballads "They Love Each Other," "Pretty Peggy-O," and a heartbreakingly poignant "Stella Blue." The immediate segue from the "Drums" section -- during the second show (May 11) -- is conspicuous due to the lack of the instrumental free-form "Space" segment that was to become a regular feature and sonic landmark during the second set of each performance. Another rarity worthy of note is the double encore on May 11 -- which includes a rollicking cover version of the under-performed "Werewolves of London." Although the band is ideally suited for the track, they only played it a dozen times.

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