Friday, March 5, 2010

Grateful Dead - Road Trips Vol. 3 No. 2 Austin 11/15/71

I’ve often considered 1971 to be one of the real transition years of the Grateful Dead. They were leaving the frenetic psychedelic explorations of the late 60’s behind, embracing a more song-based approach to their music with the albums American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead and making their in-concert performances more about crisp run-throughs of newer songs and less about long improvisations. Also, the recent loss of 2nd drummer Micky Hart and the addition of technically superior piano player Keith Godchaux made the band as tight as they had ever been, if not as spacey or experimental. Thus this concert from the end of 1971 is something of an anomaly as it incorporates lots of tightly played new songs and some longer improv barn-burners as well. Songs like show opener “Truckin,” a lean “Playin’ In The Band,” a beautifully sung “Brokedown Palace” and a hot-shit “Cumberland Blues” show the band smartly running through their paces and putting extra effort on the vocal front. The real highlights come at the ends of both sets when they break out unexpected longer jams. The first set reaches it’s climax with a “Dark Star” that goes into deep space, comes out improbably into “El Paso” and then descends back into the maelstrom before exploding into “Casey Jones.” The second set seems to be ending in a pretty standard fashion with the crowd pleasing “Not Fadeaway” when the band slips into about 7 minutes of extreme high-energy imrov touching on lots of familiar themes in an exhilarating fashion. They then go into one of the great versions of “Goin’ Down The Road Felling Bad” before finishing up with a reprise of “Not Fadeaway” and “Johnny B. Goode.” That sequence is played with such vim and vigor it will leave you breathless.

We currently have the version of this release that comes with an extra bonus disc from the night before when they played in Fort Worth, Texas and it contains some great playing, in particular a long and exploratory “Other One” with “Me and My Uncle” galloping out of the middle of the jam.
Paul Epstein

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just listened to the darkstar of this night on the grateful dead hour and I must get a hold of this show! Very tight, intricate playing with some nice notes from Phil, and Bill is filling the void left by Mickey very nicely with some fast, loose drumming, lots of cymbals.Love to hear the spacey jamming with Kieth's jazz chops.Everyone is obviously feeding off of eachother. Good, good stuff!Can't wait to hear the rest of the show!