Today In Grateful Dead History: January 26, 1969 – Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

skeleton&rosesI’d listened to quite a bit of Grateful Dead before I ever heard Live/Dead, but for me, hearing that album for the first time was my road to Damascus moment, which makes today’s show extra special.  As you probably know since you’re reading this, Live/Dead is made up of performances from several different concerts that the Dead performed in January – March 1969, and today’s show from the Avalon Ballroom supplied the versions of The Eleven and Turn on Your Lovelight that ended up on the album.

If it wasn’t for the sound issues at the start of The Other One, there is no reason why this entire show could not have been Live/Dead – it’s that good.  Speaking of The Other One, ignore the commenters on the Archive who complain about it – there is a brief interruption, but once the band gets going, this song goes ballistic.

After The Other One, the Dead play Clementine>Death Don’t Have No Mercy.  If you’re not familiar with Clementine, introduce yourselves.  This song doesn’t end up on many recordings (according to Deadlists, only five performances exist and this is the last one), but it’s an interesting tune despite some lyrical flaws.  Death Don’t Have No Mercy was a staple around this time and the Dead show you why with an impassioned performance.

Where to begin with the second set?  There’s not much to say when it comes to this sequence – how can you go wrong with Dark Star>St. Stephen>The Eleven>Turn on Your Lovelight from 1969?  The answer is – you can’t.  Just turn this up incredibly loud and enjoy every minute of peak Dead.  Some would argue that it truly doesn’t get any better than this and it’s hard to disagree.

This one is a must listen.  Check it out here:  https://archive.org/details/gd1969-01-26.sbd.miller.109642.flac16

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