Friday, March 25, 2011

Grateful Dead: Dick's Picks Volume Twenty-Three (2001) CD Review


Grateful Dead released a series of live albums called Dick's Picks. Most of these CDs are entire live concert recordings. Volume Twenty-Three is from a show at Baltimore Civic Center in Baltimore, Maryland, September 17th, 1972.

The first disc has a great "Black-Throated Wind." Bob Weir's voice is nice and rough, crackling with energy. There's also a really cool "Bird Song."

"Playing In The Band"

The second disc starts with a great "Playing In The Band." Any "Playing In The Band" from the 1970s is a treat because of Donna Jean Godchaux's excellent backing vocals, especially that near-scream as the band ventures back from foreign territories into the chorus near the end of the song.

The jam section of "Playing In The Band" is fantastic. Sure, there is a section where it gets a little messy, but hey, that's what happens when exploring new territory. At 18:48, it's certainly not the longest "Playing," but it is a fun ride.

"The Other One"

Of course, the main piece of the third disc is a thirty-nine minute version of "The Other One." This jam comes out of the end of "He's Gone," and very quickly breaks down so that Bill Kreutzmann is left alone on the drums. After a few minutes, Phil leads the band back into the jam with that monster bass part. And at this point the band is performing with an fierce intensity, and they're not even ten minutes into the song.

"Sing Me Back Home" - Merle Haggard Song

From "The Other One" the Grateful Dead seque into "Sing Me Back Home," a sweet and sad song written by Merle Haggard. It's about a man on death row who is about to go to his execution. His last request is to hear a song from his youth, to make his old memories come alive.
The Grateful Dead only performed this song for a few years, but it's a wonderful song, and this is a good version of it.

No Mickey Hart On This Recording
This recording is of a show from those few years when Bill Kreutzmann was the lone drummer. As a result of just one drummer, the jams in those years were looser, and the band ventured off into weird areas.

Mickey Hart had left the band after his father - acting as the band's manager - embezzled money. The band knew it was not Mickey's fault and did not ask him to leave, but those were some serious things for him to deal with, and so he stepped aside until late 1974. (His return to the band was captured in the film The Grateful Dead Movie.)

The Band

As mentioned, Mickey Hart was not in the band at this time. Also missing was Ron McKernan (known as "Pigpen"). Though still alive at the time of this recording, his health had deteriorated to the point where he was unable to go on the road with the band. His final concert had been earlier that year, on June 17th. He died March 8, 1973.

The band was Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals, Bob Weir on rhythm guitar and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass and vocals, Bill Kreutzmann on drums, Keith Godchaux on piano and Donna Jean Godchaux on backing vocals.

This CD does not include the encore played that night, which was "One More Saturday Night."

CD Track Listing

The following is the track list for Grateful Dead's Dick's Picks Volume Twenty-Three:

CD One

  1. Promised Land
  2. Sugaree
  3. Black-Throated Wind
  4. Friend Of The Devil
  5. El Paso
  6. Bird Song
  7. Big River
  8. Tennessee Jed
  9. Mexicali Blues
  10. China Cat Sunflower >
  11. I Know You Rider

CD Two:

  1. Playing In The Band
  2. Casey Jones
  3. Truckin'
  4. Loser
  5. Jack Straw
  6. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo >
  7. Me And My Uncle

CD Three:

  1. He's Gone >
  2. The Other One >
  3. Sing Me Back Home
  4. Sugar Magnolia
  5. Uncle John's Band

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