It took almost 100 posts before we got to a show from 1967, not because this is a bad year, but because there are very few recordings available from this pivotal time in Dead history. Today’s show from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles is part of the 30 Trips Around the Sun box set and for good reason – it is a stunning psychedelic journey from start to finish, and a great example of what makes 1967 such an interesting year – the band is still experimenting with the sounds and techniques that will make 1968 and 1969 the raging monster years that we’ve come to know and love.
The Dead get off to a huge start with a miraculous Viola Lee Blues. As one of the commentators on the Archive remarked, this was the Dead’s Dark Star before that song existed, and they push the envelope here with multiple tempo changes and some serious jamming throughout this excellent song. After It Hurts Me Too and Morning Dew, we’re really off to the races with a monster version of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl that morphs into Cryptical Envelopment and then The Other One. This entire passage is soaked in psychedelia and strange detours – it appears that the band was treading close to that fine line between hitting all the right notes and total collapse. This tension, coupled with Bob Weir’s still unharnessed talents as a guitarist, lend just enough messiness to this show to make it really thrilling without sounding off.
After a brief interlude from Neal Cassady (not recorded at this show) the Dead are back with a stunning display of Pigpenitude – Alligator>Caution. Pigpen still had his pipes back in 1967, and he shows them off with blues howls that rival anything he’d ever done. His organ also contributes that full 1967 sound that just launches these songs out into space, to say nothing of Jerry Garcia just wailing away behind him.
If, after listening to this, you still don’t get what was going on with the Grateful Dead in 1967, go back to the beginning of the show, turn it up louder and play it through again. You’ll get it: https://archive.org/details/gd67-11-10.sbd.sacks.1612.sbeok.shnf