There's much that's distinctive about Dave's Pick's Volume 12, not the least of which are concert notes by the late Dick Latvala on the fold-out insert included in the 3CD digi-pak package. This inclusion in lieu of the customary essay by one esteemed Deadhead or another is particularly appropriate as the latter-day archive series, the followup to 'Dick's Picks,' the original project in the same mold, wends its way to its third year of existence, simultaneously moving one step closer to the official documentation of one of the most highly regarded years in the touring history of this iconic band.
The 1977 roadwork that surrounded the release of Terrapin Station (Arista, 1977), the spring portion of which has been partly collected into a mammoth box May 1977 (Grateful Dead/Rhino,2013),contain an elevated of playing that is the stuff of legend, and rightly so. The verve in the musicianship is palpable as the group bounces from a somewhat halting "Bertha" into a high-spirited "Good Lovin,'" and by the time the Dead reach (back for) "Dupree's Diamond Blues," the swing with which they're navigating the expanse of material is equally obvious, particularly in the tandem kit work of drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Micky Hart.
The detail in their percussion, not to mention the sensation of motion it generates, wouldn't be so clear without the presence and clarity of the recordings. Betty Cantor-Jackson's work is always redolent of a realism in the Dead's mix of instruments and it's further tribute to engineer Jeffrey Norman that he preserves that quality through the HDCD mastering. Guitarist Bob Weir's rhythm work is as easy to discern as keyboardist Keith Godchaux' piano playing, while bassist Phil Lesh's instrument, simple to follow at any given moment, never becomes intrusive. And when lead guitarist Jerry Garcia solos, as he does with such sparkling imagination on "Let It Grow," his intuitively logical lines weave in and out of all the sounds around him with nary a collision.
Likewise, the Grateful Dead maintain a seamless continuity of the songs within the complete show here from Colgate University on 11/4 and the excerpt from a show at Seneca College from two nights prior that fills the third disc in this set. Appearing near the end of the latter segment, "Fire on the Mountain" would not grace a studio album til Shakedown Street (Arista, 1978) the next year, while "Iko Iko" had just made its debut in the band's repertoire this momentous year. the New Orleans staple is part of an extended suite comprising the bulk of the second set along with a version of "Stella Blue," about which Dick Latvala makes special mention, and deservedly so, in a 1993 entry: the utter majesty of this performance has its corollary in the "Terrapin Station" which closes the final CD, reaffirming the logic of its beginning with "Promised Land," just as the preceding disc also closed with a Chuck Berry song, "Johnny B. Goode."
While the integrity of this septet's personnel was beginning to unravel at this pointvocalist Donna Jean Godchaux and her husband would leave the band in 1979-no frayed or loose ends are apparent in the music, which the Grateful Dead parlay with a radiant confidence befitting their success on stage earlier in the year. Such virtue certainly isn't uncommon in the group's discography, only rare in that it is so robust throughout in this set.
CD 1: Bertha>Good Lovin’; Brown-Eyed Women; Cassidy; It Must Have Been
the Roses; Let It Grow; Jones Gang Introduction; Samson And
Delilah>Cold Rain And Snow. CD 2:Playing In The Band>Eyes Of The
World>Estimated Prophet>The Other One>Drums>Iko Iko>Stella
Blue>Playing In The Band; Johnny B. Goode. CD 3: Promised Land; They
Love Each Other; Me And My Uncle>Big River; Candyman; Looks Like Rain;
Ramble On Rose; Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain; Terrapin
Jerry Garcia: vocals, lead guitar; Bob Weir: vocals, rhythm guitar;
Phil Lesh: vocals, electric bass; Keith Godchaux: keyboards; Bill
Kreutzmann: drums; Micky Hart: drums; Donna Jean Godchaux: vocals.
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