Picks 35 review
Have you heard about the background of the tapes used for
Dick's Picks 35, The Legend of the Houseboat
Tapes? From this discovery, this tasty release packs in (can you
believe?) one complete concert from 8/7/71, one very lengthy
segment (all that's available) from 8/24/71, and a stunning excerpt from
8/6/71. A generous serving of music for sure. I hope you're hungry!
The year 1971 was a transitional period
for the Grateful Dead with Mickey leaving the band and Pigpen taking
a less dominate role. As a result, much of the music was a four piece band.
One benefit of the small line-up is being able to hear each member
Throughout the three performances one overwhelming theme that thrilled me is Phil's dominance; whether pushing the band through basic Pigpen R&B numbers,
the dancing bass lines through tracks like "Cumberland
Blues," or dropping the bombs on fan favorites like "China Cat Sunflower" > "I Know You Rider," and "Morning
Dick's Picks 35 begins with the complete show from 8/7/71, from San Diego. It is a high-powered, energetic affair, both sets. In fact, the only slow song is the soulful "Sing Me Back Home."
The show includes several country numbers and this line-up nails this material.
"Hard to Handle" is a scorcher. Phil dominates early and doesn't let up.
Too, Garcia is brilliant,
first, with his crunchy rhythm chops. Eventually Jerry and Phil lock into jam that goes on for some time that hits several peaks and
yields an explosive conclusion that rivals the rendition from
Ladies and Gentlemen. That's not all, the flatpick / fingerpicking runs that Jerry
expresses to bring the song to a conclusion is ear
catching and will be music to your ears.
Next up is the
Chicago, which begins on the end of disc 2 and continues through to the beginning of disc 4. This show includes a few rarities. The
Pigpen song "Empty Pages" was only played three times. It is a ballad
rather than a typical
Pigpen led blues track. Jerry helps define the composition with a melodic guitar solo. A very early (first or second) performance of "Brown Eyed Women"
caught me off guard without the developed introduction that is so
familiar. From what I can gather, Chicago was the only performance of "Brown Eyed Women" prior to Keith's arrival.
A superb selection of filler was included from the 8/6/71 show,
basically the end of the concert. It begins with "The Other One"
and squeezes "Me and My Uncle" within it. The jam portion after
"Uncle," Bobby plays portions of what would later be
Picks 35 includes a few Pigpen showstoppers, "Good Lovin'"
and a 25 minute rendition of "Turn On Your Lovelight." One
of 1971's signature Grateful Dead musical passages is the "Not
Fade Away" > Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad" medley. This release includes two strong renditions;
the 8/7 version has a spacey jam segment conclusion with a good transition into "Johnny B. Goode," while 8/24 is preceded
with an energy packed "St. Stephen."
Dick's Picks 35 compare with
Ladies and Gentlemen you ask?
Very well. Ladies and Gentlemen is better sonically and the two major jams from disc three and four
from it still reign. However, the jam segments on Dick's Picks 35 are solid, and the
stand alone songs
as a whole are at least equal, and in most cases preferable. Jerry is aggressive, sharp, crisp, and
Dick's Picks 35 offers a very
generous dose of musical gems from 1971. The missing treasure has been
found and can be yours.
Grade B +
of Jerry and more!