The Grateful Dead began 1974 in the same place they would end it – Winterland. This show, the first of the year, has almost everything that makes 1974 great – long, gooey, jazzed up versions of great songs with a ton of room for improvisation.
1974 saw some of the longest Grateful Dead shows ever performed, and this three set monster is a good example of the format. There are great versions of songs of all lengths here: short songs like U.S. Blues and the fast (i.e. good) version of They Love Each Other, medium ones like Wharf Rat and Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo and the show highlights, Playin’ in the Band and Truckin’. In between these tunes, there is still another two hours of music.
Let’s talk about Playin’ in the Band for a minute, because this is one of the first times that I remember Slipknot making an appearance as a motif in a Grateful Dead jam. This comes 2/3 of the way through an expansive, dialed in Playin’ that amazed me given that this was the band’s first show in a couple of months. Later on (like almost an hour later on), Truckin’ also goes far out there, like many good versions of the song did in 1974.
The Dead would get crazier and crazier as 1974 progressed and things like Seastones started to happen, so this relatively laid back affair is a fantastic introduction to 1974, a hell of a way to start the year, and it features an all time great Playin’. Check this one out.
Listen to the soundboard here: https://archive.org/details/gd1974-02-22.sbd.gans-latvala.samaritano.26763.shnf