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The Loop

Published: 2012/08/01
by Dan Alford

Dick’s Picks 1-25, A Guide to the Silver Mine

It seems like fine a day to revisit this piece…

[Editor's note: this piece originally ran over two days in our Terrapin Station Tribune.]

In 1993 Grateful Dead Archivist Dick Latvala began to mine the Vault for what has become the greatest archival release series in the music world, Dick’s Picks. Just a couple years earlier, the Dead also initiated their other archival series, The Vault, which has long since dropped the moniker but which continues to offer some of the best live Dead with releases such as Hundred Years Hall, Dozin’ at the Knick, and most recently, Steppin’ Out. The difference? The Vault Series releases only multi-track recordings, and as such has a relatively (heavy emphasis on relatively) limited base from which to work. Much of the material in the Vault exists as two track recordings, and that material is the source for Dick’s Picks.

Slow to get started (there was a gap of two years between Volume 1 and Volume 2), Dick’s Picks has settled into a pattern of 3-4 releases each year, while The Vault produces two annually. Initially the recordings were indeed Latvala’s own choices, but sadly Dick passed away in 1999, leaving the Vault in the capable hands of archivist David Lemieux. As a series, Dick’s Picks has always favored, as did Dick himself, material from the 70s, although there have been brief forays into the 80s and beyond, and even briefer forays into the 60s. According to Lemieux, releases are considered based on performance, quality of recording and durability (can you listen to it everyday without being bored?), but there is also the question of what is in the Vault. It is not, despite the rumors, complete. For instance, 5/8/77 is not there, and so there is not, nor will there be, a Cornell release. But fret not, Cornell circulates widely in trading circles, and the Vault is stocked with a multitude of other treasures, ripe for the picking.

Once chosen, Dick’s Picks tend to fall into three categories. First, and probably most popular, are the complete shows; 15 of the 25 volumes are within one song of being complete documents. Certainly such releases should be the goal of any archival series- history in its entirety for your consideration. Secondly, there are those Picks that offer the meatiest jams and suites from multiple nights, either from a single run of shows or from a single leg of a tour. These constitute highlight discs, sometimes capturing entire sets, sometimes just samples. The final type is the mixed Pick. These also come from multiple nights, but are highly edited in terms of song order and rarely maintain the integrity of an entire set. Usually these releases fabricate an omni-first set, giving either two shortened second sets or one long, fabricated second set. While these offer some fine listening, they are seriously flawed as historical documents. Regardless of type, Dicks Pick’s is a fantastic source of Grateful Dead music, for the beginner and the hard-core alike, and as the caveat emptor on Vol. 9 states:

Initial studies have concluded that repeated exposure to Grateful Dead music maybe habit forming, and can result in a permanent change to the psyche of the listener. While no one has ever successfully reversed this condition, it can sometimes be controlled by repeated exposure to Grateful Dead music.

Vol. 1 12/19/73 Tampa, FL
This is the one that started it all, the first Dick’s Picks. It’s actually a pretty telling choice. Dick heavily favored 1973, and began his series with a solid show that includes moments of brilliance, and a page from the songbook that wasn’t often seen on official releases up till 1993, featuring tunes like Here Comes Sunshine and Weather Report Suite. This initial volume is, unfortunately, highly edited in terms of set arrangement, and it is also missing many songs, including Sugaree, Jack Straw and Black Throated Wind (every B.T. Wind from this era should be heard), not to mention the entire first half of the second set.

The jam that does appear from Set II is another side of the Dead too long overlooked by most GD releases, the long form. A lingering, bluesy segment, it includes He’s Gone > Truckin’ > Nobody’s Fault, Keith’s piano being particularly praiseworthy as he switches from leads to accompaniment to percussive, rhythmic playing. Nobody’s Fault is a full version, Garcia nailing it down lyrically, as well as instrumentally. This is the vision of the Dead that Dick’s Picks strives to paint- a wonderfully tight, cunningly improvisational band of musicians- the best of their kind.

Vol. 2 10/31/71 Columbus, OH
This release is immediately noteworthy as it is the only single disc dick’s Picks volume. It captures one long splendid stretch of music- a legendary jam that remains compelling through endless listenings. The last ten minutes of Dark Star are absolutely ecstatic and foreshadow both Eyes of the World, and to a lesser degree, Mind Left Body Jam. A truly fantastic choice.

Vol. 3 5/22/77 Pembroke Pines, FL
Vol. 3 is a very high energy performance from the glorious month of May in 1977. Phil’s tone never sounded better, and he dominates the performance, especially on the Music that opens disc and the Help > Slipknot! > Franklin’s that closes it. Listen to his playing at the start of Help, just bounding over the rhythm with grace and ease. But it’s the whole band playing as "one dumb guy" that makes this pair of discs really swing- everything is right on the mark, all the gears meshing to create a locomotive tour de force. Unfortunately, this release is missing 8 songs, although what is presented is presented in the correct sequence. Full copies of this show circulate, and some may remember David Gans broadcasting the missing material soon after Vol. 3 was released. Most traders will only trade the full show if you already own the official release, out of respect for the Dead’s taping/trading policy, so check it out and see if you want more. Incidentally, soundboards of 5/21/77 in Lakeland, FL also circulate and the two shows compliment each other perfectly.
I’ve probably listened to Vol. 3 more than any other Pick- it’s just too sweet. Disc 2 includes a fine, dramatic version of Sunrise and a final jam that climaxes in the devastating coupling of Terrapin (still young, but already feeding on the inherent power of the composition) > Morning Dew. Turn it up and shake the rafters of your home.

Vol. 4 2/13-14/70 Fillmore East, New York, NY
This performance really needs no introduction; it’s one of the most famous two night stands in the Grateful Dead’s history, and if you don’t think 5/8/77 is the best GD performance, it’s possible you think 2/13/70 is. The acoustic sets from both nights were the source for the Bear’s Choice recording, but what appears on Vol. 4 is the complete second set from each night, the two suites from 2/14/70 being split between disc 1 and disc 3. Sandwiched between is the absolutely sublime Dark Star > That’s It For The Other One > Lovelight from 2/13. It’s not worth trying to express the grandeur contained therein- words will necessarily fail. Easily one of the best moments of the 30 year trip.

Vol. 5 12/26/79 Oakland Auditorium, Oakland, CA
A show from relatively early in Brent’s time in the hot seat, Vol. 5 is gritty powerhouse show that contains a uniquely-styled second set. Opening with the first Uncle John’s Band in over two years, the Dead tear through two discs worth of material before finally closing the tune as a capper to the Shakedown encore. Initially the Uncle John’s Band has some nice playing, but it quickly descends into Estimated. Jerry and Brent both excel here especially on the exiting jam that marches with purpose before loosing shape and reforming as a Caution jam- not a distinct as that on Vol. 13, but very cool anyway. Later in the set a strange, spacey jam into a weirdly strutting Not Fade Away gives way to another bust out, the first Brokedown Palace in over two years. While this release has a couple vocal stumbles from both Jerry and Bob it also has an explosive energy just under the surface of the music. The band is loose and exploratory, and periodically the energy bursts through the surface to light the way. It’s a show where the performance definitely lives up to the interesting setlist.

Vol. 6 10/14/83 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT
A fun, somewhat goofy choice, this complete show is the first of two nights at the Hartford Civic Center. It is also the first 80s era Dick’s Picks. The East Coast tour included a number of two night stands, New York just preceding Hartford, and Worcester following less than a week later. This was the tour during which St. Stephen made its return (whether it was triumphant is debatable), and in fact a Stephen exited Space the second night in Hartford. But this show has some respectable highlights of its own, including a scorching Althea > C.C. Rider, the Garcia/Hunter tune seeing too little light on official releases. The second set opens with a sparkly version of Scarlet > Fire- great machinations- and also features a neat Spanish Jam > Other One out of Space.

Vol. 7 9/9-11/74 Alexandra Palace, London, England
This Pick is culled from the first three dates of a seven date European mini-tour with the Wall of Sound. The release is very song-oriented with strong performances of any number of tunes. Check out Black Throated Wind with Phil’s potent bass, Brown Eyed Women and the exceptionally fluid, 16 minute stand alone Not Fade Away. The jams include a slow, ethereal Dark Star > Morning Dew, a classic Meltdown Playing and a perky Truckin’ > Wharf Rat from September 9. The last one is missing the culmination of the jam, Uncle John’s Band, and that is an indication of the flaw with Vol. 7: it’s too much of an amalgamation for an archival release. Most of what is here is taken from 9/10, and it would’ve been a stronger release if the whole show was included and samples from 9/9 and 9/11 were used as filler. Be that as it may, this selection does include some great listening and is worth hearing.

Vol. 8 5/2/70 Harpur College, Binghamton, NY
Another long time fan favorite, Vol. 8 features the entire performance from Harpur College, including the warm, woody, highly original acoustic set. Although it’s acoustic, there is electricity in the air that is tangible through the recording, and it sparks on the first note of Don’t Ease. There is some classic stage banter and tight playing here, but what really glows is the uniquely slinky Deep Elem and the Cold Jordan with members of the New Riders, who played between Dead sets at this show. Both electric sets have a straight ahead, high stepping vibe that bristles with energy. Be sure to give a close listen to the short second electric set, Morning Dew, Viola Lee Blues > Goodnight- it’s an example of pure brilliance. This release is a truly important document, arguably one of the top ten performances in the Dead’s history.

Vol. 9 9/16/90 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Vol. 9 is the first of only two 90s era installments, but with the ferocity of the MSG run alone, not to mention the European tour, you can certainly count on hearing more from 1990’s fall tour. Bruce Hornsby joined the band for a limited time and he brought an unmistakable spark of inspiration to the group, while Vince brought a new eagerness. It’s often noted that Welnick was very loud in the mix, much louder than Garcia, but the fall tour proves that Garcia could turn it up too when he wanted.

The third of six nights, there is some solid playing in the first set, but the second set has the band playing hard, really pushing themselves. He’s Gone morphs into an aggressive, distorted jam before Drumz, and Standing on the Moon rises from a wild, loopy space, only to fall back into a wilder meltdown- excellent insanity improvisation. Almost everything from this run is worthy of release- perhaps an enormous box set is in order.

Vol. 10 12/29/77 Winterland, San Francisco, CA
The second of three Picks from 1977, this complete show is part of the New Year’s Eve run that closed Winterland, and a legendary show at that. It’s all about power, raw energy from the first note of Jack Straw to the last note of Brokedown Palace. The legend comes from the return of the old Irwin Wolf guitar, it’s sound is so distinct compared to other late seventies performances, and the glistening bust out of China > Rider in Set II. There is a lot to hear on this release, including a fantastic segment from 12/30/77, Estimated > Eyes > St. Stephen > Sugar Magnolia. The St. Stephen jam alone is worth the price of Vol. 10. A must have.

Vol. 11 9/27/72 Jersey City, New Jersey
This is the fourth in a string of complete shows and a very popular release showcasing phenomenal stateside playing from a year with lore dominated by tales from the other side of the pond. It’s the middle of three nights at the Stanley Theatre, and the boys and Donna have hit a sweet spot. The show opens with Morning Dew, Phil thundering like it’s a closer, and that sets the tone for the rest of the show. The early Birdsong is particularly fine, a composed reading of the song, as is the misty, swirling Playing on disc 2. You can’t beat a 72 Playing- all the scope and wildness of a ’74 packed into a tightly focused tunnel of music. Shredding versions of Deal and Greatest Story proceed to the heart of Set II, an epic 38 minute Dark Star > Cumberland. As Paul Grushkin’s liner notes say, "everything else tonite may be just a lead up." The first 15 minutes are some of the most thick, lush playing, Billy’s drumming exuding a deep magma glow as the others spin and roll. And it just keeps going on into eternity. Couple this with the overall level of musicianship and you’ve easily got one of the best Dick’s Picks.

Vol. 12 6/26/74 & 6/28/74 Providence, RI & Boston, MA
The 12th selection for Dick’s Picks includes complete versions of two of the strongest second sets of 1974, sets that shine unbelievably bright. Also included are both encores, 6/26’s being an isolated Eyes of the World, and a short snippet from one of Phil and Ned Lagin’s electronic music mini-sets.

Disc 1 opens with a warm, silky space jam into China Cat, and from there on there isn’t a flawed note. Sounds are pristine through the bulk of the set, including a smoking Truckin’ > Spanish Jam > Wharf Rat, the Spanish Jam being framed with brief, fully formed Other One teases. The amazing Eyes of the World encore begins disc two, so vibrant you could swear it was the heart of a second set. 6/28’s set has Sugar Magnolia and Sunshine Daydream bookends, and in between strong performances abound. What is truly mind boggling, however, is the Weather Report Suite that blossoms into a passionate celebration and gives birth to a soaring Mind Left Body Jam- arguably the best version. A jazzy, groovy, maddeningly gorgeous jam follows, eventually closing the 50 plus minute segment by oozing into U.S. Blues. Vol. 12 is unquestionably a highlight of the series.

Vol. 13 5/6/81 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
This is easily the most famous show from the early 80s and one of the four most famous shows of the entire decade, the others being the Hampton "formerly the Warlocks" stealth shows, and 10/16/89, recently released from the Vault as Nightfall of Diamonds.

Vol. 13 is a full concert recording with a fantastic Cassidy and a scorching Let It Grow > Deal to close the first set. It’s fame, however, comes from the He’s Gone dedicated to Irish peace activist Bobby Sands and the ensuing jam from Set II. The jam starts with a full blown instrumental version of Caution that deflates into a long, sinuous Spanish Jam- it’s a golden moment of the Brent years. But on Dick’s Picks there is a bonus. Disc 2 officially closes with Sailor > Saint, but after some dead air, at 7:45, an outrageous Scarlet > Fire surfaces. The hidden track, taken from 11/1/79, is absolutely over the top. Listen to it with headphones, Brent playing super fly funk keys over your left shoulder, while Garcia picks at incredible speed over your right. It’s so long and thrilling, you’ll forget where you are. Many folks already have 5/6/81, but this hidden filler is worth the extra purchase, and helps to make Vol. 13 one of the very best Dick’s Picks.

Vol. 14 11/30/73 & 12/2/73 Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA
Vol. 14 is the first in an infrequent series of 4 disc releases. The others, Vol. 18 & Vol. 25, each present two nearly complete shows, but Vol. 14 has many songs missing from both nights. Be that as it may, it is really great snapshot of a three night stand when the band was just Phil, Bob, Jerry, Billy and Keith- serious playing with a myriad of deep recesses and hidden passages. It’s a murky, hazy world to explore. The set, though edited, is edited with the fan in mind and includes multiple repeats, including Morning Dews to open and close, two Playings, and two full Weather Report Suites, each unique in its rendering. The delicate early passages of WRS from 11/30 move into Let It Grow and strong, tall playing follows, eventually collapsing after the Dark Star theme is declared. The band then weirdly wanders around the song before taking off from a stand still with a very slick Eyes. Deep, deep music.

The entire second set from 12/2 (minus a stand alone Sugar Magnolia) is included, spanning discs 3 and 4, and it’s some of the most emphatic discovery-minded playing from the period. One of the best Half Steps ever leads to a strange, cacophonous, dinosaur-sized Playing which in turn leads to a crisp, clearly defined Mind Left Body Jam- an amazing, jaw dropping 35 minutes of music, and that’s just the beginning of the set! While these shows may not be on everyone’s top ten list, they include a sincerity and wealth of far reaching improvisational playing that help make Vol. 14 a most highly recommended Dick’s Picks. You’ll discover something new every time you listen.

Vol. 15 9/3/77 Raceway Park, Englishtown, NJ
This is the most recent release from ’77 and the second from somewhere in Jersey. A massive festival gig, the performance is big enough to match the crowd. The whole first set has a tall, rock star feel to it. Disc 3 opens with a colossal He’s Gone > Not Fade Away that spans almost 35 minutes. The transition is smooth and raucous at the same time, Bobby and Jerry playing as a single entity- this is what makes 1977 such a popular year. 16 minutes or so into NFA the band falls into a slick breakdown, verifying that the Grateful Dead is one of the coolest bands ever.

Vol. 16 11/8/69 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
A complete show from 1969 with a marathon jam for Set II, Vol. 16 nonetheless has clumpy sound. The band plays in bursts, like a field of small crackers, rather than one huge firework. There is a raw, garage band quality to the performance. This one is most notable for a wild, throaty Dark Star > Uncle John’s Band Jam > Dark Star, and the super tight 25 minute Lovelight filler from 11/7/69.

Vol. 17 9/25/91 Boston Garden, Boston, MA
The third release from Boston, this one is only the second Pick featuring 90s era Dead, although the View From The Vault series also makes use of the two-track tapes, and has released a number of DVDs, and more importantly soundtracks, from the 90s. The ’91 fall tour had a number of fun and interesting shows, but unfortunately this isn’t one of them. While it’s solid, it’s nothing to write home about. Garcia’s vocals are dead on, and there some different song choices (the first That Would Be Something and Roses > Dire Wolf) but the performance lacks that fiery spark. As if to make that plain to everyone the highlight of the release is the filler from 3/31/91, an explosive Samson > a long rolling Eyes. Hopefully there will better 90s Picks in the future.

Vol. 18 2/3/78 & 2/5/78 Madison, WI & Cedar Falls, IA
Another collection release, the material on Vol. 18 comes from two shows on a rare early-in-the-year tour. The first half of 1978 is a rich musical vein that maintains the energy and sonic quality of ’77 and adds a level of subtly and precision.

The first disc is pieced together to look like a single first set, but listen to Garcia’s solo on Minglewood, the Bob and Jerry show on Brown Eyed Women and the blistering orchestration of Looks Like Rain- just excellent! Disc 2 is the final suite of 2/5’s second set, with a molten jam out of Estimated Prophet into Eyes, itself a ferocious, majestic bird of prey. The centerpiece is a mammoth Playing > Wheel > Playing, a throw back to 1974. Disc 3 is almost the whole second set from 2/3- it’s missing Ship of Fools and presented slightly out of order. The Scarlet > Fire transition is excellent, Jerry tearing along an endless, narrow trail. There’s a sense that he could have just kept going if Mickey and Billy weren’t so focused on the goal ahead. And what a goal! At 17 minutes this Fire is an inferno. Although Vol. 18 is pretty chopped up, it’s definitely one to keep handy.

Vol. 19 10/19/74 Oklahoma City, OK
A very dreamy selection, this complete show from America’s heartland features many mellow tunes played in heady fashion. There’s an admirable fullness of sound, as though each instrument is glowing beyond its normal bounds and blending with the others. Both the Row Jimmy that closes disc 1 and the Half Step near the end of disc 2 epitomize the fuzzy warmth of the release- really nice.

Disc 3 opens with a foggy, pleasant Dark Star into a long, languorous Mind Left Body Jam that never blossoms, but melts down instead into Morning Dew- a stony, blissed out vibe throughout. Vol. 19 is a good rainy day soundtrack- by the time you hit Eyes, the sun may just have broken through the clouds.

Vol. 20 9/25/76 & 9/28/76 Landover, MD & Syracuse, NY
This is the second of three four disc releases, taken from two nights at the very heart of the fall tour, and both shows have that mid-tour confidence about them. Both are also complete except for one tune, but in both cases the missing tune is a repeat. (Bertha only appears on disc one of 9/25/76 and All Over Now only appears on disc one of 9/28/76.) There is a lot to appreciate in the first sets including a bright and shiny Peggy O and a riveting Loser from 9/25, and from 9/28, a great Let It Grow, where the drummers take over in mid-song, pushing Jerry into an angular solo that he uses to land a jam that was building momentum and had threatened to run away. The band then moves into a crispy GDTRFB set closer, a rarity at the time.

Disc 4 is a quite impressive second set jam that is entirely enclosed between Playing bookends. The transitions are by turns thrilling and interesting- some (into The Wheel and into Dancing) are drum segues, some are so fluid you don’t even hear it coming (into Samson and into Comes a Time). There is also a unique Tango jam out of a breakneck Eyes of the World that should be more highly touted than it is.

Vol. 21 11/1/85 Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA
While the setlist from Vol. 21 looks pretty cool, the performance is simply sloppy. Granted it is taken from the drugged out years, often criticized by fans for the lazy playing and awkwardness, but there were still many excellent, fun shows. This one certainly has energy- it is well known for the loud, rowdy Gloria that comes out of She Belongs to Me- but there is little mastery of that energy. Check out the Saint > Good Loving for the clunkiest, most lopsided intro around- ick! Even the Gloria stumbles and looses step at the end. This one really is only for completists.

The highlight is the filler from 9/2/80 in Rochester, NY, the end of Set II. Beginning with highly stylized, Rhythm Devils-style Space, the band slinks into to hot, lazy day Iko and then right into a big, shocking Morning Dew. It’s too bad this show wasn’t released instead.

Vol. 22 2/23 & 24/68 Kings Beach, Lake Tahoe, CA
This is what an archival series should be. Vol. 22 is a gem from the Vault, a pair of sets that aren’t even properly listed in Deadbase. Taken from the Anthem period, the music is raw and electric, at times even aggressive, as in the Viola Lee Blues that opens the first disc. Also noteworthy is the tightly packaged That’s It For The Other One > New Potato Caboose from disc 2- a heavy dose of psychedelic rock as it happened- and the rare Born Cross Eyed. Vol. 22 also shows off Pigpen’s skill as an organist- listen to him fly on The Eleven! The quality of recording is a bit rougher than most, but it’s more like a nice patina than a drawback. Fans of vintage, crazed psychedelia will really dig this one.

Vol.23 9/17/72 Baltimore Civic Center, Baltimore, MD
This is the second full show release from the fall of 1972, a year seemingly limitless in terms of exceptional Grateful Dead music. In fact, the liner notes include the Dead Heads fall tour bill, which has 9/27/72 at the Stanley Theatre listed. That show was, of course, released as Dick’s Picks Vol. 11. Consider all material from 72: Europe, Steppin’ Out, Hundred Years Hall, Vol. 11 and Vol. 23, and we’ve just scratched the surface.

It is admittedly strange to focus on a tune like the prison ballad Sing Me Back Home from a show that boasts many other fine performances, including an 18 minute Playing and a 50 minute He’s Gone > Other One, but this version is so incredibly heartfelt and potent that it deserves the highest distinction. It is actually the culmination of the aforementioned monster jam from set II, a destination worth traveling for. Jerry’s vocals quaver with such authentic emotion that when he peels out a solo 6 minutes in, it is like a punch in the gut. It’s not over-long, but each note shines like a diamond. And the repeated final verse features a howl from Garcia that’ll just about stop your heart.

Vol. 24 3/23/74 Cow Palace, Daly, CA
The Wall of Sound soundcheck at the Cow Palace is a truly fun filled moment in the history of the Grateful Dead. It’s the sort of piece that should be documented by an archival release series. Aside from unveiling the greatest sound system in the modern world, a system so great it couldn’t last, the Grateful Dead also unveiled Scarlet Begonias and Cassidy at this show. While Vol. 24 is missing 10 songs, it still has the heart of the show and is a worthwhile recording. Also, many Dick’s Picks include informative liner notes from Dead scholars, or local newspaper clippings from the date of the show in question, but this one also has very informative comments from Bear himself on the nature of the Wall.

The suite that opens disc 2 is particularly interesting. Despite the much ballyhooed 8 million vocal speakers in the monstrous PA system, Bobby’s vocals disappear less than a minute into Playing. As it is just a test, the band actually restarts once the vocals reappear, this time tearing into to the classic tune with renewed vigor. By the time they reach Uncle John’s Band the energy is so high that the band can’t control it anymore. There is some horrendous singing that nonetheless brings smiles with it- they’re plugging away with such intensity! There’s also a weird Morning Dew where the first jam peaks almost immediately, and wanders slowly back to the song- like a jam in reverse. A nice return to Uncle’s John’s Band eventually brings the movement back to Playing, Garcia just itching to go full meltdown, but being held at bay by the infectious rhythm work that just won’t quit. Vol. 24 is admittedly a bit cartoony, but cartoons make me smile.

Vol. 25 5/10/78 & 5/11/78 New Haven, CT & Springfield, MA
Dick’s Picks recently celebrated its 25th release with another four disc set, this one taken from two shows on the Northeast leg of the spring tour. 5/10 is missing Roses and US Blues, and 5/11 is missing Mexicalli Blues > Mama Tried and Peggy O from the first set, but they are both essentially complete shows, not to mention great choices for the anniversary.

5/10 has some excellent first set performances, including a hoppin’ version of Cassidy, a beautifully detailed Peggy O and a lengthy Deal that’s just bursting with excitement- a really great set closer. Set II has a powerful Estimated with an effortless transition to Eyes, and an incredibly long Drumz. Many pre-80s version are either short, or not much more than a traditional drum solo, but this is an 18 minute jungle groove that is loaded with texture and color. And it precedes a great climactic Other One > Wharf Rat > Sugar Magnolia that closes the set. 5/11 is a very nice complement with more strong first set material, such as Lazy Lightning > Supplication, and a great Dancing > Drumz that opens disc 4- a brother to the previous evenings performance in every way.

Vol. 12 6/26/74 & 6/28/74 Providence, RI & Boston, MA
The 12th selection for Dick’s Picks includes complete versions of two of the strongest second sets of 1974, sets that shine unbelievably bright. Also included are both encores, 6/26’s being an isolated Eyes of the World, and a short snippet from one of Phil and Ned Lagin’s electronic music mini-sets.

Disc 1 opens with a warm, silky space jam into China Cat, and from there on there isn’t a flawed note. Sounds are pristine through the bulk of the set, including a smoking Truckin’ > Spanish Jam > Wharf Rat, the Spanish Jam being framed with brief, fully formed Other One teases. The amazing Eyes of the World encore begins disc two, so vibrant you could swear it was the heart of a second set. 6/28’s set has Sugar Magnolia and Sunshine Daydream bookends, and in between strong performances abound. What is truly mind boggling, however, is the Weather Report Suite that blossoms into a passionate celebration and gives birth to a soaring Mind Left Body Jam- arguably the best version. A jazzy, groovy, maddeningly gorgeous jam follows, eventually closing the 50 plus minute segment by oozing into U.S. Blues. Vol. 12 is unquestionably a highlight of the series.

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