Gentlemen, start your engines! (No, not the song). We’re here at Raceway Park in mid-Jersey for this barn burner of a 1977 show that has been released as Dick’s Picks Vol. 15.
The Dead headlined this show for over 100,000 people after taking almost three months off since their last performance on June 9th. During that time, Mickey Hart almost lost his arm in a car accident, but it didn’t stop him from going full throttle here.
I’ve never thought that this show was as consistently good as some of the other famous 1977 gigs, but the highlights are tremendous. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo soars, with Jerry Garica and Keith Godchaux playing together beautifully during the middle passage and Garcia tearing the final solo to shreds. After Looks Like Rain we’re treated to an incredible version of Peggy-O. It seems as if Jerry simply doesn’t want to stop soloing, and every single passage is perfect.
Bertha opens the second set. I often take this song for granted – it always seems to be “on” but during this show it really gets moving. The second set highlight, for me, is the incredible He’s Gone, especially at the end where the band just kicks it into another gear instead of slowly fading out like they typically do with this tune. This leads into an almost 20 minute version of Not Fade Away, which is not a subtle song to begin with, and the Dead plow through it with reckless abandon. It’s fantastic. After a surprise version of Truckin’ the Dead play Terrapin Station as an encore and we’re done with this thrilling ride.
If you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for the Dick’s picks, you can listen on the Archive here: https://archive.org/details/gd1977-09-03.131317.mtx.dusborne.flac16