Thursday, March 24, 2011

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

This three-disc CD, released in 2000, contains a great show from the Grateful Dead's best year, 1973.

This three-disc set contains the complete concert that the Grateful Dead performed at Fairgrounds Arena, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on October 19, 1973.

1973 Was Best Year For Grateful Dead Concerts
Most Grateful Dead fans (or Deadheads) will agree that 1973 was the best year for the band, as far as live performances are concerned. The jams were lively and numerous. The band was both tight enough to be completely comfortable with one another and loose enough to go off exploring new musical territory. Both individually, and as a unit.

At this point, they'd been together for eight years. They were confident enough in their playing, and yet still young enough to still be learning, to make mistakes. A lot of the material on this album was still relatively new at the time.

Wake Of The Flood

Several songs were from Wake Of The Flood, their 1973 studio release, and the first album to be released on their own label. Wake Of The Flood was released just four days before this concert. This 3-disc CD set includes a sticker of that album cover.

First CD Features Great Version Of "They Love Each Other"
The first CD opens with a rocking version of Chuck Berry's "Promised Land." In fact, this show opens and closes with Chuck Berry tunes. The first CD also features a really good "Sugaree" and a quiet, pretty "Looks Like Rain." "Mexicali Blues" is a bit messy. Forgotten lyrics were a minor problem throughout the band's career.

The first disc also features a really fun "They Love Each Other." Versions of the song from this period have a section that they later dropped during concert performances. The first disc ends with an excellent version of "Row Jimmy."

Incredible "Playing In The Band" Opens Second CD

The second CD starts with the last song of the first set, "Playing In The Band." It's an incredible version, with an amazing jam. Pretty much any "Playing In The Band" from this period is good, but this version is particularly wonderful. It's always so great to hear Donna Jean's near-scream bringing the band back into the song's chorus near the end.

The "China Cat" jam is really sweet too. And in "I Know You Rider," listen to Jerry's shredding vocals on "I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train." Ooo-wee.

"Dark Star" Opens Third CD

A really interesting, spacey "Dark Star" starts the third disc. It leads into "Mind Left Body Jam." This was the first ever performance of "Mind Left Body Jam" and it is certainly out there. Jerry goes off on his own for a while, and when he returns, the band goes into "Morning Dew," which is always moving.

The second set ends with "Sugar Magnolia." The last three songs on the third CD are the encores. The highlight is "Eyes Of The World," one of the Grateful Dead's best songs. And during this period when the song was new there was another musical section to it that the band later dropped. It happens approximately eleven minutes into this version, and is excellent.

Grateful Dead Members In 1973

The band at this time was as follows: Jerry Garcia on vocals and guitar, 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.

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan had died earlier that year. Mickey Hart had left the band in 1971 and wouldn't return until late in 1974.

CD Track List

The track list for this CD is as follows:

CD One:

  1. Promised Land
  2. Sugaree
  3. Mexicali Blues
  4. Tennessee Jed
  5. Looks Like Rain
  6. Don't Ease Me In
  7. Jack Straw
  8. They Love Each Other
  9. El Paso
  10. Row Jimmy

CD Two:

  1. Playing In The Band
  2. China Cat Sunflower >
  3. I Know You Rider
  4. Me And My Uncle
  5. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
  6. Big River

CD Three:

  1. Dark Star >
  2. Mind Left Body Jam >
  3. Morning Dew
  4. Sugar Magnolia
  5. Eyes Of The World >
  6. Stella Blue
  7. Johnny B. Goode

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