Today In Grateful Dead History: August 18, 1970 – Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

skeleton&rosesToday is a big day in Grateful Dead history – the live debut of Truckin’, Ripple and Brokedown Palace (along with Operator) in a performance at the Fillmore West (formerly the Carousel Ballroom).

This show consisted of an acoustic first set and a second electric set, book-ending a performance by the New Riders of the Purple Sage.  The Truckin’ premiere leads off the acoustic set, with Pigpen playing piano – an infrequent event outside of these 1970 acoustic performances, and a pleasure to hear, even if he doesn’t possess Brent level skills on the instrument.  Other hall of fame Grateful Dead numbers follow, including a bunch of songs that would be reprised during the 1980 acoustic performances like Dire Wolf, Friend Of The Devil and Dark Hollow.  Then we get to the back to back Ripple / Brokedown Palace, two of my favorite songs.  A word of warning – the Brokedown Palace features a pretty distracting tape squawk near the beginning of the song, but it’s still awesome to hear these two wonderful songs played together like they’re found on American Beauty.

The electric set starts with Dancin’ in the Streets, and it’s pretty much a party night from there on out (It’s a Man’s World with Pigpen coming as close to James Brown as he’s ever going to get and Not Fade Away rocking for a solid 10 minutes), with a little dip into psychedelia during The Other One.  When the band ends the show after Uncle John’s Band, someone in the audience right next to the taper shouts “No!” immediately before the tape cuts off.  My thoughts exactly.

Speaking of that shout, be advised that this is an audience recording, and not a “great” one in terms of quality.  It’s plenty listenable, but there are cuts, lots of crowd noise and Phil is almost completely buried at points.  There’s also a great deal of microphone movement and related chaos.  But none of this should detract from your experience with this show.  Between the premieres and the second set party, it’s a keeper.

Here’s the only version posted online:


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