Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Album Review: Dave's Picks Vol 32: Philadelphia, PA 3/24/73

Grateful Dead 
Dave's Picks Vol 32: Philadelphia, PA 3/24/73
****and1/2 out of *****

It was 47 years ago today.....

The continuation of the Dave's Picks series (Dave Lemieux took over the Dick's Picks series started by Dick Latvala in 1993) proves how many nights The Grateful Dead were truly on and flowing. This is the fourth time a show from 1973 has been selected in Dave's series after four shows from 1973 arrived in Dick's original series, slotting in behind 1972 and 1977 respectfully rounding out the three best years of their career.

The most recent selection finds the band playing in one of their "home away from home's", the Philadelphia Spectrum. The band had recently lost one of it's original members as Ron "Pigpen" McKernan died earlier that month and the group was still feeling the loss on this night. Also of note Mickey Hart was no longer in the band leaving Bill Kreutzmann the lone man on the drums during this period and on this night he is the MVP of the show.

The thirty one tracks over three CD's are prime Dead as they start off with the rollicking "Bertha" to kick start the show with Jerry Garcia's fluid lines wrapping around Phil Lesh's upbeat bass bumps. Early highlights are a moving "Cumberland Blues" a Lesh vocal lead on the rare live version of "Box of Rain" and great take on "Me and Bobby McGee" lead by Bob Weir who also closes the set by singing "Playing In the Band", but this version does not reach the heights other '73 versions do.

A fine jolt of poetry and playing is rolled out for the "China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider" pairing and an excellent mid set "Stella Blue" beautifully shines giving Keith Godchaux (who is noticeably low in this mix) some space to roam around the piano, but the real reason for seeking out this release starts on the third CD as the end of this show is one for the ages.

The disk starts with a gorgeous version of "He's Gone", a heartfelt tribute to Pigpen, as the band winds it's way through adventurous and exciting musical passages. "Truckin'" picks up the pace with a tightly played version that should be in the all-time great conversation before things morph into the unknown.

When an official release from the band states "Jam" as a track, there is always a skeptical pause needed, but what flows out from the end of "Truckin'" is truly a jam in the best sense of the label. The playing is a melodic mix of blues and jazz interplay as Kreutzmann seems to be pushing the way forward before Jerry takes over, then approximately twelve minutes in Lesh steers the band into their version of "Spanish Jam" based around "Solea" from Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain.

Things then freak out back to the groups acid trip roots while winding down into a brief journey into "Dark Star", but for once that song singles the end of the experimentation, not the beginning. This sequence is a glorious collection of improvised communal playing which ranks with some of the best the band has ever produced. Stout versions of fan favorites "Sing Me Back Home", "Sugar Magnolia" and "Johnny B. Goode" end a truly memorable set of music.       

It is hard to go wrong with any entry in the Dave's Picks series and Volume 32 is just another example of the bands, flexibility, durability and talent. Fans need to hear this show (if they haven't already), newcomers to the band can also very easily start here as this night in Philly has it all from the psychedelic folk'nicks as they pay tribute to a fallen brother with the best way they know how; great music.   
Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below (Not official album sound source):

1 comment:

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