Jerry Garcia / Legion of Mary

Garcia Live, Vol. 3: Dec 14-15, 1974 Northwest Tour

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The third installment of the Garcia Live series, an ongoing concert-recording archive for die-hard Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Band fans, finds over two and a half hours of previously unreleased material from a two-night stand by one of Garcia's more obscure incarnations Legion of Mary. The project quietly grew during a year-long Grateful Dead hiatus in 1974, starting out as a collaboration between Garcia and organist Merl Saunders and quickly expanding to include drummer Ron Tutt, bassist John Kahn, and multi-instrumentalist Martin Fierro. Garcia Live, Vol. 3 includes unheard audio from some of the group's first shows, and the vibe is more experimental, proggy, and coldly adventurous than much of the rest of Garcia's massive ouvre. Beginning with an incredibly jammed-out 18-minute cover of Stevie Wonder's "Boogie on Reggae Woman," things just get wilder from there. A painfully slow reading of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," jazz improvisations, and burning, manic renditions of classic soul tunes make up a large patches of the set, and things culminate with the unbelievably slow-burning intensity of the almost half-hour-long Saunders tune "Wondering Why," which simmers endlessly in a silent, moody fog without ever reaching a predictable boiling point. With the oceanic amounts of live recordings from Garcia and the Dead, even the biggest Deadheads can get bogged down by the repetitive elements of their complete catalog of live shows. Legion of Mary represents some truly reaching and challenging sounds even for the ever-searching Garcia. It's an anomaly and a somewhat lost page in the Garcia history book, certainly one of the more interesting releases of its type, and a must-hear addition to anyone even remotely interested in the countless hours of Dick's Picks/Live Dead material.

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