Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Dave's Picks" #1: Grateful Dead-May 25, 1977

The Grateful Dead have just started up a new Live Release series called "Dave's Picks", and their first one is a whopper! Most Deadheads love to argue about which year was their best for quality live shows. 1969? 1974? 1989? But I would say this show pulls from the best month in Grateful Dead history; May 1977!

Felling rejuvenated coming off the release of their new studio album "Terripin Station", the band sounds so smooth, so together, yet with the sense of their customary exploration reaching almost a dare I say it; "professional" level of precision. The standout for me with 1977 Grateful Dead music is Jerry Garcia's tone. The mere sound of his guitar in this era just makes me smile from ear to ear all while hanging on ever note.

The show itself doesn't have anything out of the ordinary setlist-wise for this time period of the band, but the playing is anything but ordinary. As the cover art hints at; the Force was strong with them this night. As a jaded Deadhead of 25 years now, it's been a long time since a single show knocked my socks off like this one. The first set is complete high-energy bliss and the entire second set is simply one for the ages. While the newly released multi-track CD sounds eons better then this audience tape, you can listen to the classic "old-school" recording below.

As Garcia gleefully howls in the 13 minute epic "He's Gone"; Nothing left to do but Smile, Smile Smile indeed!

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