Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead Download Series, Vol. 4

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The fourth installment in the Grateful Dead's Download Series -- a series inaugurated in 2005, initially available as downloads on their website but popping up at various digital outlets later -- showcases two 1976 concerts from the band: a June 18, 1976 show at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey, followed by a gig at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia three days later. Nearly all of the Passaic show is here, running 20 tracks over the equivalent of two discs, while the excerpts from the Philadelphia show run nine tracks, all containing songs unplayed in Jersey. This includes a rather epic "Playing in the Band" -- 23 minutes that lead into "Drums" and "The Wheel" before returning for a three-minute reprise of "Playing." Such bravura jams are largely absent on the low-energy Passaic show, which starts with a fairly nimble "The Music Never Stopped" and does get moving on occasion ("Big River" gallops) but is generally a lazy stroll through a fairly familiar set list; pleasant, but not especially memorable. The Dead show more pep on the June 21st show and the energy, along with the will to open up the songs, makes the Philadelphia addendum to this set quite welcome.

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