Friday, December 4, 2009

Grateful Dead - Road Trips Vol. 3 No. 1 12-28-79

This is the second full show from this run of New Year's shows to be officially released. Not quite the powerhouse that the other show is, this one still has many highlights to recommend it. Starting with a completely soaring “Sugaree” the band is clearly psyched. Other first set highlights include a hypnotic “Row Jimmy” and a beautiful version of the rare “High Time.” The fireworks really start in the second set where a “Terrapin” for the ages gives way to a “Playin’ In The Band” for the ages - spacey and exploratory, they don’t rush it at all. The bonus disc also has a remarkable sequence of songs with “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire On The Mountain” slipping seductively into a letter perfect “Let It Grow.” This period of The Dead is characterized by the high-energy addition of keyboardist/vocalist Brent Mydland and the large amounts of time the band was putting into rehearsing with him. They play with a speedy precision that they would never recapture again. In particular, the three guitarists are playing with chattering intensity and seemed more tuned into each other than at any time since the late 60’s. It is not long, languorous jams but bright, to the point virtuosity that drives this show - exhilarating.

Paul Epstein

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