Grateful Dead: Grateful Dead: Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 1

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Grateful Dead: Grateful Dead: Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 1 Recorded in May, 1969 at a Seminole Reservation in Florida, Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 1 hearkens back to the first golden age of the Grateful Dead. The previous twelve months found the group solidify its personnel lineup with the addition of drummer Mickey Hart, nurture a prolific songwriting relationship with lyricist Robert Hunter and hone a collective and individual improvisational sense, the chemistry of which allowed for what was to be the comparatively short-lived, but nonetheless significant inclusion of keyboardist Tom Constanten.

All the while, Owsley Stanley's industrious nature took many forms, most productively in the context described above, by stabilizing the Grateful Dead's own sound system and formalizing its habit of recording its performances. No doubt mastering engineer Jeffrey Norman enhances the depth of detail obvious on these three CDs, but as with all such recordings, the source is the most important element. Small touches of percussion are clearly audible and bassist Phil Lesh's instrument has just the proper balance in the near-nineteen minutes of "Dark Star," taken from the first of the group's two headlining nights at the comparatively small Big Rock Pow Wow festival (larger festivals were yet to come in an era so succinctly described by Blair Jackson in his essay in the accompanying booklet).

Of course, the cultural context, not to mention the above mentioned technical expertise and philosophical leanings, all fed upon the music the Grateful Dead worked so assiduously to create. Months of wood-shedding with Hunter and each other had borne their first clutch of compositional classics, all of which comprised much of their repertoire of the times and the bulk of their sets night in and night out during this phase of their career. Yet it's long before "St. Stephen" segues into "The Eleven" that a certain unpredictable ragged quality arise from the band's playing: on a punchy rendition of Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle," fronted by the inimitable Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.

The founding member and vocalist of the Dead remained a prominent presence onstage, in the midst of the group's increasingly exploratory sensibility. The group's increasing openness to serendipity benefited from the structure of such songs (and the suites formed when played in sequence) just enough to contrast its earthy persona as a dance band. It's telling that the two workouts of "Turn On Your Love Light" on this archive title run longer—each one clocking in at over twenty-seven minutes—than the shape-shifting improvisations on other originals such as "China Cat Sunflower."

As presented on these vintage recordings, the Grateful Dead was well on its way to an all-around mastery of concert dynamics. It's not quite entirely accurate to say performances like this one merely sowed the seeds for the continuing evolution of the Grateful Dead; it's more accurate to state the sound and overall approach of the group is in its first full flowering, as the 1960s it epitomized drew to a close.

Track Listing: CD1: Hard To Handle; Dark Star; St. Stephen; The Eleven; Turn On Your Lovelight. CD2: Introduction; Turn On Your Lovelight; Doin' That Rag; He Was A Friend Of Mine; China Cat Sunflower; The Eleven; Death Don't Have No Mercy. CD3: Morning Dew; Me and My Uncle; Yellow Dog Story; Alligator; Drums; St. Stephen; Feedback; We Bid You Goodnight

Personnel: Jerry Garcia: guitar, vocals; Bob Weir: guitar, vocals; Rod "Pigpen" McKernan: vocals, keyboards; Tom Constanten: keyboards; Phil Lesh: bass, vocals; Bill Kreutzmann: drums; Mickey Hart: drums, percussion.

Title: Grateful Dead: Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 1 | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Grateful Dead Productions


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Roll On CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 25, 2017
Read Pandora's Bag CD/LP/Track Review Pandora's Bag
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 25, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 25, 2017
Read The Attic CD/LP/Track Review The Attic
by John Sharpe
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Outside The Comfort Zone CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "And to the Republic" CD/LP/Track Review And to the Republic
by Mark F. Turner
Published: October 12, 2016
Read "Strunkin'" CD/LP/Track Review Strunkin'
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "High Noon" CD/LP/Track Review High Noon
by Anthony Shaw
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "Nomade Orquestra" CD/LP/Track Review Nomade Orquestra
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "Generations" CD/LP/Track Review Generations
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "The Good Life" CD/LP/Track Review The Good Life
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 8, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.