Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Album Review: Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks 38: 9/8/73 Nassau Coliseum

Grateful Dead
Dave's Picks 38 
9/8/73 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
*** out of *****

On this day 48 years ago, the Grateful Dead played a show that has now become the 38th entry in the ongoing Dave's Picks series. This was an early part of the Fall 1973 tour, when the band was excited about their upcoming Wake of the Flood album which would be released a month later. The night in Nassau Memorial Coliseum captured here was the second night of the tour which would find the Dead criss crossing the country, playing some excellent shows to wrap up a very productive year for the band. 

The Long Island event kicked off with a cooking "Bertha" as the band seemed locked in from the get go, in fact this is one of the shows where the first set outshines the second in all aspects. The show overall is a bit unique for the band during this time period as it doesn't contain any of the big jam vehicles from the group. No "Playin' In The Band", "Dark Star" or "The Other One" but the players just make the most of the songs presented. In particular Bob Weir and Phil Lesh are especially on their game this evening as Bill Kreutzmann pushes the beat while Keith Godchaux twinkles the ivories. 

As always Jerry Garcia leads the way and brilliant versions of "Sugaree" and "Row Jimmy", his guitar and voice primed, ring out strongly. Clear crisp versions of tunes like "Tennessee Jed" and "Jack Straw" solidify the early section of the show with Weir delivering a gutsy "Looks Like Rain".  As always Dave Lemieux and the Dead team have delivered top notch audio quality for the listening public as all of the songs vibrate beautifully placing you in the Coliseum on this night with the best seats in the old barn. 

The highlight of the show as a whole happens at the end of the first set as "Weather Report Suite" complete with "Prelude" drips gorgeously out into the air delivering over fifteen minutes of blissful emotion, being played live for only the second time ever. Not to be outdone a "Eyes Of The World" drips, mellower then other versions, but still strong before a sorrowful "China Doll" shows off Garcia's wizardry with a slow ballad, ending a strong set.

Things become noticeably more relaxed, slower/sleepy and a bit less cohesive for the second set. Some interesting moments are "Let Me Sing Your Blues Away" which allows Keith to do a rare lead vocal and a messy "China Cat Sunflower" which recovers with a "Feeling Groovy" jam in the following "I Know You Rider". The best song of the underwhelming second set is "He's Gone", this show was played on Pigpen's birthday exactly six months after his death and there is a hypnotic spiritual quality to this jam that speaks to something higher as the band delivers the languid tune. 

The encore picks back up that vibe as a gorgeous "Stella Blue" and and a succinct "One More Saturday Night" wrap up a mixed bag of a show. After so many official releases, not every one is going to be in the best-ever category and while there are certainly many better official releases from this 1973 Fall tour (Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings, Road Trips Vol 4 No 3) this offering is pleasant, relaxed listen. 

Dave's Picks 38 is far from vital, except for completists, but it is always worth checking in on the outfit night in and night out to see what they are up too, especially during 1973, a very fruitful year in their long career.       
Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below:

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