What does it sound like?:
If there’s one show that’s gone down in the annals of Dead history as a must hear, then it’s this show recorded at Cornell University in May of 1977.
Finally getting a long overdue official release, this three cd set is maybe THE Dead show to own, capturing the band at their mercurial best. So what’s here….?
Disc one showcases shorter songs on the whole. Not everyone is a fan of their more countrified covers like El Paso and Mama Tried, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them. There’s great takes of New Minglewood Blues, Brown Eyed Women and Lazy Lightning>Supplication, and that still leaves ample room for songs like Deal, Jack Straw and another personal favourite, the epic Row Jimmy.
The second disc kicks off with the band’s interpretation of Dancing In The Street, not one I’m particularly fond of to be honest, but then moves into probably the highlight of the whole show with an absolute killer version of Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain, both new additions to their set at the time. This segment really shows the band at the top of their game, with Garcia’s quicksilver guitar work reaching new heights.
The final disc is another corker. There’s no Drums>Space section I’m pleased to say as I tend to find those particular improvisational pieces usually outstay their welcome. Instead, a magnificent St Stephen segues into a beautiful Morning Dew before the evening draws to a close with a suitably rousing One More Saturday Night.
What does it all *mean*?
This is a superb performance without a shadow of doubt. If you ever wondered what all the fuss was about this American institution then go and have a listen to this, and be prepared to be converted!
The original soundboard tapes from this show were donated to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress back in 2012, which gives some idea of the stature in which this performance is held.
Goes well with…
Long free evenings with nothing to do but absorb the music and the vibes.
Might suit people who like…
The Dead, improvisation, discovering what they’ve been missing out on all these years.