Today In Grateful Dead History: September 11, 1974 – Alexandra Palace, London, England

stealie Parts of this show were included on Dick’s Picks Vol. 7, but in my humble opinion (and in the opinion of most of the commentators on the Archive), they were the wrong parts.  The craziest, most interesting portion of this performance from the Dead’s brief 1974 European tour is the extended Phil & Ned / Seastones performance, followed by an epic Eyes of the World.

For those of you who don’t know, Phil Lesh and experimental musician Ned Lagin used to perform a feedback laced piece of electronic music during what would normally be the intermission of a bunch of Dead shows in mid-1974.  Sometimes called Seastones, the title of Phil and Ned’s album together, this performance typically went way beyond way out there.  Almost completely atonal, with no real beat and lots of high pitched screeching, this particular piece is probably the most often skipped song in the Dead’s repertoire.  At its best, it’s a challenging beast.

At tonight’s show, Jerry and Bill actually sat in with Phil and Ned, which added a lot to the performance which stretched out over almost 45 minutes.  At the end, they transition into a massive 20 minute Eyes of the World, with Ned remaining on organ throughout.  This Eyes of the World is as close to fusion as the Dead would ever come and is an amazing display of the band at the height of its jazz powers.

There is a further 10 minute very free and spacey jam out of Eyes of the World that eventually leads into a great version of Wharf Rat that explodes for a while before petering out at the end.

Since this is 1974, there are other treats all over this show, including the also-very-jazzy Playin’ in the Band that caps the first set (and which is included in Dick’s Picks Vol. 7).  This 23 minute behemoth is a spiritual cousin to the Eyes of the World that follows – free and jazzy throughout, with a ton of swing from Billy.  The show opens with an unusually jammed out Scarlet Begonias that is marred by some technical problems but is well worth your time.

The rest of the songs included on Dick’s Picks, Beat it on Down the Line, Tennessee Jed, Jack Straw, Brown Eyed Women and Big River, are all fine, but they miss the experimental, jazzy heart of this show, which is found elsewhere.

Lots of copies of this show circulate.  Here’s one soundboard:


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