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Grateful Dead: Multiple Metamorphoses


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The ongoing Grateful Dead archival series, Dave's Picks, is becoming more fascinating as it evolves. Together and apart, Volumes 46 and 47 are cases in point: the former comes from that early flashpoint of inspired material and musicianship epitomized (but not wholly encapsulated) by Europe 72 (Warner Bros., 1972), while the latter takes place in the first year of keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter Brent Myland's decade-long tenure with the group. The irony of all this, however, is that to compare and contrast the content of these two titles is to reveal the abiding continuity in the work of these psychedelic warriors, a factor involving the iconic band's continuous retooling of their writing and playing, a factor reaffirmed by the 'filler' on the second set as well as the bonus disc available with the first.

Grateful Dead
Dave's Picks Volume 46: Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, CA 9/9/72

The Grateful Dead were in the midst of multiple metamorphoses at the time of this September 1972 appearance at the Hollywood Palladium. Roughly a year after the release of their now iconic eponymous live double album, the group was approaching the one-year anniversary of recruiting keyboardist Keith Godchaux into the lineup (see Dick's Picks #35 (Grateful Dead Records, 2005) 'The Houseboat Tapes'). Accordingly, they were reconfiguring their approach to live performance, balancing the new-found appreciation for structure arising from the studio albums of two years prior, Workingman's Dead (Warner Bros., 1970) and American Beauty (Warner Bros., 1970) plus the attendant touring with the New Riders where acoustic-folk elements coincided with electric improvisation. At this early autumn tour stop, material destined to appear on Europe '72 (Warner Bros., 1972), like "Tennessee Jed" and "Jack Straw'' (as well as the as yet unrecorded likes of "Stella Blue") was juxtaposed with already durable originals such as "Playing In The Band:" the coexistence of such well-wrought material imbued the sextet with unusual confidence to stretch out—see this half- hour plus rendition of "The Other One"—knowing they could return to the stable touchpoints of their repertoire (within which vaunted storyteller Chuck Berry still had a favored position via "Promised Land"). The nonchalant fluidity is as much a wonder as a joy to behold over the course of this triple-CD set and three hours-plus playing time.

Grateful Dead
Dave's Picks Volume 47: Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO 12/9/79

As documented on this triple-disc set of a complete show recorded by Dan Healy at the end of the Seventies, the advent of keyboardist/vocalist/composer Brent Mydland considerably brightened and lightened the sound of the Grateful Dead as a performing unit. In doing so, he helped hone an agility comparable to the period Bill Kretuzmann was the sole drummer, even as the latter rediscovered his bond with rhythm partner percussionist Mickey Hart. In contrast to his predecessor's customarily unobtrusive presence on keyboards, Mydland's assertive jubilation also took the form of vocals that, as much in evidence during the heated group singing on effervescent "Bertha" as well as the neo-soul shouting of the (Young) Rascals' "Good Lovin,'" posited the best combination of voices in Dead history. The one-time member of Bobby (Weir) and the Midnites had such a catalytic effect on the band, in fact, that the collective abandon conjured up extended segues like the six-part sequence that brings the main content of this performance to such a frenzied close. Pictured in almost saintly light in one photo within the colorful package, Brent Mydland's decade-long tenure with the Grateful Dead is the longest of any keyboardist they ever employed, so it's only appropriate that the curators of this archive series see fit to honor the legacy of the now-deceased individual with releases like this one.

Tracks and Personnel

Dave's Picks Volume 46

Tracks: CD 1 -Promised Land; Sugaree; Me and My Uncle; Bird Song; Black -Throated Wind; Tennessee Jed; Mexicali Blues; Deal. CD 2: Playing In the Band; Loser; Johnny B. Goode; China Cat Sunflower; I Know You Rider; Friend of the Devil; Jack Straw; Casey Jones; Sugar Magnolia; One More Saturday Night. CD 3: He's Gone; Truckin'; Drums; The Other One; Stella Blue; El Paso.

Personnel: Jerry Garcia: lead guitar, vocals; Bob Weir; rhythm guitar, vocals; Keith Godchaux: keyboards; Donna Jean Godchaux: vocals; Phil Lesh: bass guitar, vocals; Bill Kreutzmann: drums.

Dave's Picks Volume 47

Tracks: CD 1 -Alabama Getaway>Promised Land; Brown-Eyed Women; Cassidy; Row Jimmy; New Minglewood Blues; Candyman; Lazy Lightning>Supplication; Deal.CD 2: Shakedown Street>Samson And Delilah; High Time; Easy To Love You; Terrapin Station>Lost Sailor>Saint of Circumstance>Jam>Drums. CD 3: Space>Black Peter>I Need A Miracle>Bertha>Good Lovin'; Don't Ease Me In. Uptown Theatre, Chicago, IL (12/04/79) -Space>Not Fade Away> Stella Blue>Sugar Magnolia>U.S. Blues.

Personnel: Jerry Garcia: guitar, vocals; Bob Weir: guitar, vocals; Brent Mydland: keyboards, vocals; Phil Lesh: bass; Bill Kreutzmann: drums; Mickey Hart: drums.

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