Wall of sound...
|6/30/74, courtesy James Anderson (no hard feelings, I hope)|
vs. toadstool of sound?
|9/2/74, courtesy Ed Merrin, though I've also seen this dated April 74?|
Anyway, the music is just wonderful: "simple precision and mountain lake clarity" indeed. I presume it was a more-or-less 90 minute set, if Second That Emotion was the first tune (it sounds like Betty's getting her mix settled, so I'm assuming it was). Expressway to Your Heart particularly soars -- as much as I love this song, I find G/S performances of it tend to be a little draggy as often as not, but this one really cruises along at a smooth pace from start to finish, and Garcia is in prime form. The video reveals that Sitting in Limbo breaks down midway, stopping dead due to some technical issue; on the tape this is edited and sounds like a tape cut, but you can hear Kreutzmann and Garcia restarting the song as it's fading back in. Until I saw the video, I had never noticed the baritone sax, which is very low in the mix and nearly inaudible at times compared to Martin Fierro, but Flowers(?) is a cool and unusual addition -- this band was pretty open to guests, but as far as we know, those were rarely saxophonists (for whatever reason, mystery trumpet player(s) were less unusual). He sticks around for Neighbor, Neighbor and Mystery Train, both of which are outstanding versions (Billy K knew how to really swing Mystery Train), and Fierro and Garcia glide through a top-notch La-La, a tune that sounds made for a late summer afternoon in the park. Jerry drily announces that the permit time is up and closes up with a fast, very energetic How Sweet It Is.
Summer '74 was a good time for this band, and I have to think that the exaggerated contrast between the Dead's unsustainably huge touring setup versus the casual local nature of these gigs must have played a part in that. The June '74 shows with Tony Saunders on bass are outstanding, and I also particularly like 8/15, 8/30 (another shorter show in excellent sbd), and 8/31. Then the great Paul Humphrey joined in October-November on drums, which is another story for another post.