Today In Grateful Dead History: September 28, 1975 – Lindley Meadows, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA

stealie This short concert from the Dead’s most consistently great year is also one of the best audience recordings you’ll ever hear.  If you want to know a lot more about this show, you can check out The Grateful Dead Listening Guide’s post on it here, but instead of reading everything right now, I suggest that you jump right in.

The Dead get off to a rousing start with Help on the Way and Slipknot!, two very new songs, but instead of jumping into Franklin’s Tower like they usually will, they shut things down.  After a brief pause, we get a terrific, sloppy version of The Music Never Stopped.  You’ll notice that the band is very loose here, which is apparently due to them all being completely off their rockers on acid during the show.  In any case, this show stands out from the other ’75 gigs due in large part to this free-flowing dynamic, which doesn’t let up throughout the entire performance.

Two songs later, we finally get our Franklin’s Tower and it’s another messy delight.  After a couple more songs we arrive at Truckin’.  Now, in his defense, before starting the song, Bob Weir warns the crowd that he’s not going to remember the words, and he makes good on his promise by not only forgetting most of them, but also forgetting to sing part of the second verse at all.  No worries.  The jam is great.  You’ll hear all sorts of things here, including parts of King Solomon’s Marbles, before we get to an out of control Not Fade Away that dumps into a Going Down the Road Feeling Bad that is the polar opposite of its title.

As I said before, this is one of the all-time great audience recordings (not least because a woman is giving birth at the show and the band, tripping out of their minds, is trying to coordinate a doctor and ambulance from the stage) and is thus available for download.  You should do that here:  https://archive.org/details/gd1975-09-28.fob.menke-falanga.motb-0069.91769.flac16

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Today In “Grateful Dead” History: June 17, 1975 – Winterland, San Francisco, CA

stealie I’m going to make a really dumb argument and say that 1975 was the Dead’s most consistently excellent year.  They played four shows and they were all great.

I’ve put “Grateful Dead” in quotes in the title of this post because the band was actually billed as Jerry Garcia and Friends for this benefit concert for poster artist Bob Fried, who died earlier that year.  But make no mistake, this is the full Grateful Dead.

On top of being important because it’s one of only four 1975 shows, this show also stands out because it’s the first time the Dead played Crazy Fingers, Help on the Way and Franklin’s Tower.  It’s amazing to hear how good they sound, especially on Crazy Fingers and Help on the Way, which are two of the band’s more difficult pieces.  Since it’s the first time these songs have been played before a live audience, the crowd response is muted and you don’t get the normal roars that you’ll hear in later years when Garcia sings “if you get confused, listen to the music play” in Franklin’s.  But this just gives us more room to hear the band really jam out, and jam out they do, especially during Slipknot! and later during King Solomon’s Marbles and at the end of Blues for Allah.

If all of this wasn’t good enough, the band plays a stellar (but very slow) Peggy-O.  Normally, I’d think that a tempo like this would be bad for a song with so many verses that is already pretty slow to begin with, but it just opens up the space for Jerry to solo and he plays a couple of beautiful passages during this song.  It’s one of my favorite versions, despite the pace.

There are a lot of good versions of this show out there.  I’ve included Rob Bertrando’s excellent audience recording here:  https://archive.org/details/gd75-06-17.bertrando.unknown.233.sbeok.shnf