Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

250

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

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
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

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Book Reviews
Album Reviews
Book Reviews
Album Reviews
Book Reviews
Extended Analysis
Film Reviews
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Film Reviews
Book Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Pacific Northwest '73-'74: Believe It If You Need It

Pacific Northwest...

Grateful Dead/Rhino
2018

buy
The Best of the Grateful Dead Live

The Best of the...

Rhino Records
2018

buy
Anthem Of The Sun 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

Anthem Of The Sun...

Grateful Dead/Rhino
2018

buy
Grateful Dead: Cornell '77

Grateful Dead:...

Grateful Dead/Rhino
2017

buy
Cornell '77

Cornell '77

Grateful Dead/Rhino
2017

buy
RFK Stadium 1989 Box

RFK Stadium 1989 Box

Grateful Dead/Rhino
2017

buy

Related Articles

Read Day to Day Album Reviews
Day to Day
By Paul Naser
May 24, 2019
Read Theia Album Reviews
Theia
By Jim Worsley
May 24, 2019
Read Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You Album Reviews
Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You
By Dan McClenaghan
May 24, 2019
Read Nexus Album Reviews
Nexus
By Jakob Baekgaard
May 23, 2019
Read The Second Coming Album Reviews
The Second Coming
By Daniel Barbiero
May 23, 2019
Read Luminária Album Reviews
Luminária
By John Sharpe
May 23, 2019