One More Saturday Night

Thanks for the b-day wishes, and the excellent 'promo' copy of Live at the Cow Palace, NYE, 1976! I was indeed listening to this fine release at 4:08am... GMT; which means I shut the listening party down a little after 11pm CST. I can assure you that the reason was not due to any defiency with this recording but, rather, a pressing need to sleep.

Since this show is the real opener of 1977 it is only fitting that my thoughts on it serve as some sort of prequel to our series.

The Dead stuck close to home to close out what was a fantastic year of touring after their year-long retirement and played a very solid gig at the Cow Palace just on the other side of the bay from Marin County on the south side of San Fran. The show was broadcast live on KSAN and this release is remastered from the board's recording of the show and presented in HDCD. One notable factor of the remix is that Jerry's guitar seems noticeably lower overall than the raw-ish Betty Boards that document '77.

The opener is a suitably vibed Promised Land and Jerry is on top of things as far as his guitar is concerned. Unfortunately he manages to botch every verse of the Bertha that follows. The first disc closes with an adequately spacey Playin' which clocks in at over 23' and is a bit of an omen for what follows.

There was a celebration to mark the turning of the calendar but the real kick-off to New Years was the positively energetic Sugar Magnolia that kicks off:

Sugar Mag > Eyes > Wharf Rat > Good Lovin' > Samson

The second set is , in fact, two extended jams surrounding a little chestnut called Scarlet Begonias (which would soon -- on 3/18 -- be paired with Fire on the Mountain). After the first and somewhat more rolicking grouping of songs the setlist proceeds:

Around and Around > Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Drums > Not Fade Away > Morning Dew

Just think about that for a while. Then listen to it. There are some real treats on this release. Even Jerry is excited and the band sounds positively thrilled to be playing. The Eyes of the World is quite nice as is the Not Fade Away > Morning Dew.

This is one of the better 'From the Vault' releases that I have heard in a little while. Too many of the more recent shows have some serious issues -- songs, flubs, what-have-you that can detract from the release. While it may be nice to have these from a completist perspective it also means that the pool of shows that can be traded freely is rapidly shrinking. So it is nice to hear a show that I hadn't heard in its entirety before that has so few low points and some truly sparkling versions of old favorites.

I'd love to hear anyone else's comments on this here show and I'd hope that some aspects of this resemble a discussion more than strict essaying. If you wanna join the panel just let me know as we some pretty esteemed readers judging from the comments, etc. Happy listenin'

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