Thursday, March 24, 2011

Grateful Dead: "Dick's Picks Volume Thirteen" CD Review

This three-disc set contains the entire live concert the Grateful Dead performed at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY on May 6, 1981.

The first CD kicks off with "Alabama Getaway." The mix is a little weird, with certain instruments much louder than others. Brent Mydland's keyboard continues to be louder than the other instruments during "Greatest Story Ever Told."

"They Love Each Other" has some forgotten lyrics, but Jerry Garcia's vocal is really sweet at times. Brent's keyboard is still louder than the other instruments.

"Cassidy" With Lyrics By John Barlow

By the time the band got to "Cassidy," the mix seems about right. "Cassidy" is one of the best songs the band ever did, with wonderful lyrics written by John Barlow. The lyrics start off with, "I have seen where the wolf has slept by the silver stream/I can tell by the mark he left you were in his dream/Ah, child of countless trees/Ah, child of boundless seas/What you are, what you're meant to be."

(While Robert Hunter wrote most of the lyrics to the songs that Jerry Garcia sang, John Barlow wrote the majority of lyrics for songs that Bob Weir sang lead on.)

The first CD also features an excellent rendition of "Jack A Roe," with playful guitar work by Jerry Garcia, and a really nice "Dire Wolf." There is also the always beautiful "Looks Like Rain." This version is somewhat relaxed, with an easy feel and flow.

"Let It Grow"

The highlight of the first CD is "Let It Grow." This is an excellent version. Bob Weir's vocals on this night were so clear and heartfelt, especially in the quieter moments. He's not straining at all. And Jerry's guitar work is incredible. The whole band kicks this song into high gear on the jams.

The first CD ends with a really good version of "Deal." This version has high energy, especially toward the end of the song, in the jam section.

The second CD opens with "New Minglewood Blues," and once again the mix seems a bit odd. Bob's vocals and Brent's keyboards are louder than everything else.

"High Time"

"High Time" is really nice, though creeping into Jerry's voice are hints of the strain that would be obvious a few years later. But it works for this song.

"Lost Sailor"/"Saint Of Circumstance"

The second disc also features a pair of tunes from the previous year's studio release, Go To Heaven. The first, "Lost Sailor," is a nice mellow song. This slides into "Saint Of Circumstance." "This must be heaven" is the first line of this song, and it's the way many fans felt at Dead concerts.

"Saint Of Circumstance" also has the wonderful line, "I'm still walking, so I'm sure that I can dance." This is an excellent version of the song, with a tremendous build, and that wonderful burst through onto a higher plateau.

Second Disc Has Hidden Bonus Material

"Saint Of Circumstance" is only 6:35 long, but there are thirty-six minutes left on the track when the song finishes. After a minute of silence, the hidden track starts. It's "Scarlet Begonias" with a fantastic jam leading of course into "Fire On The Mountain." The jam out of "Scarlet Begonias" might be the best thing on this entire album. It's incredible.

"He's Gone" Dedicated To Bobby Sands

The third disc starts with "He's Gone." Bob Weir introduces it by saying, "This one is for Bobby Sands." Bobby Sands died the day before this concert while on a hunger strike. Bobby Sands was the leader of that hunger strike, in which Irish prisoners protested against the removal of Special Category Status. They wanted to be classed as political prisoners and not as criminals.

This version is a bit messy at times, but the end of the song is excellent, when it's mostly the vocals. "Nothing's gonna bring him back."

The third disc also contains a wonderful lively version of "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad" and a rousing rendition of "Good Lovin.'" The encore that night was "Don't Ease Me In." Brent's keyboard work on this song was always fun. This is a good, rockin' song to make everyone feel great - an excellent way to end the night.

Grateful Dead Band Members
The Grateful Dead at the time of this recording were Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals, Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass, Bill Kreutzmann on drums, Mickey Hart on drums, and Brent Mydland on keyboards and vocals.

Brent Mydland had been with the band only two years at this point. Word has it that he would never stop feeling like the new guy, even though he played with the band longer than any other keyboardist.

CD Track List
The following is the track list for Grateful Dead's Dick's Picks Volume Thirteen:

CD One:

  1. Alabama Getaway >
  2. Greatest Story Ever Told
  3. They Love Each Other
  4. Cassidy
  5. Jack A Roe
  6. Little Red Rooster
  7. Dire Wolf
  8. Looks Like Rain
  9. Big Railroad Blues
  10. Let It Grow>
  11. Deal

CD Two:

  1. New Minglewood Blues
  2. High Time >
  3. Lost Sailor >
  4. Saint Of Circumstance

CD Three:

  1. He's Gone
  2. Caution/Spanish Jam >
  3. Drums >
  4. Jam >
  5. The Other One >
  6. Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad >
  7. Wharf Rat >
  8. Good Lovin'
  9. Don't Ease Me In

Dick's Picks is a series of live recordings started by the Grateful Dead's tape archivist, Dick Latvala. Many of them contain complete concerts. Volume Ten contains nearly the entire concert the Grateful Dead performed at The Winterland on December 29, 1977. Volume Fifteen contains the entire show the Grateful Dead performed at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey on September 3, 1977.

1 comment:

  1. DICK'S PICKS VOLUME THIRTEEN is the thirteenth in a series of archival live Dead CDs that were overseen by the late Dick Latvala. It differs from the band's "From The Vault" series in that the "Dick's Picks" releases do not feature entire concerts and are mastered from two- and four-track recordings, rather than eight- and sixteen-track recordings. Latvala was the official keeper of the Dead's tape archives; the Grateful Dead organization describes him as "one of the original Dead tapers."

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