Sunday, January 22, 2012

GRATEFUL DEAD "Dane Country Coliseum, Madison, WI 2/15/73" (soundboard)


I always find Grateful Dead tapes at yard sales and junk shops and I've thought for awhile that it would be cool to review some of the best ones for Cassette Gods. I found the complete recording of this show on two Maxell XLII c90s at the flea market in Searsport, ME earlier this summer. At first I planned on reviewing it myself, but then I figured it might be more interesting to type out the review found in The Deadheads's Taping Compendium: An In-Depth Guide to the Music of the Grateful Dead on Tape, of which I own all three 600 page volumes. So this is a "guest review" of sorts. None of these reviews are archived anywhere online. I bought the books for $3 each about ten years ago and it looks like they've gone up quite a bit in price since then (see). Still, I think they are an invaluable resource for fans of the band and worth buying at any price. This review appears in Volume I: 1959-1974 and is written by Harry Hahn. Let it be known that this show was one of former GD tape archivist Dick Latvala's favorite shows, may he rest in piece.

Grateful Dead 2/15/73 (Thursday)
Dane County Coliseum, Madison, WI
1: Loose Lucy, Beat it on Down the Line, Brown Eyed Women, Mexicali Blues, Tennessee Jed, Looks Like Rain, Box of Rain, Row Jimmy, Jack Straw, China Cat> I Know You Rider, Me & My Uncle, Bertha, Playing in the Band, Casey Jones
2: Here Comes Sunshine, El Paso, You Ain't Woman Enough, They Love Each Other, Big River, Dark Star> Eyes of the World> China Doll, Promised Land, Sugaree, Sugar Magnolia E: Uncle John's Band, One More Saturday Night
sound check: "Loose Lucy," "Jack Straw," "Box Of Rain," "Uncle John" - first "You Ain't Woman Enough"

Highlights: Loose Lucy, BIODTL, Playin', H.C. Sunshine, Dark Star > Eyes > China Doll, Sugaree, Sugar Magnolia

This show opens with a tasty, hip grinding "Loose Lucy." It's the Grateful Dead just the way we like them: Jerry in command while Bobby, Phil and Keith hold their own. Phil steps up boldly to lead them into a perfect, burbling "Beat it on Down the Line." The cut in "Looks Like Rain" is quite bad. The rest of the songs in this set, not standouts in any way, are great archetypal renditions of Grateful Dead standard bearers. The set ends with a long, juicy "Playing in the Band" with the Dead at their best during the extended journey back from the deepest Milky Way to the final vocal break.

"Here Comes Sunshine" displays a lot of progress since February 9, 1973, the last time it was played. This version is more confident and more jammed out. The unfortunate "You Ain't Woman Enough" has failed to grow on anyone after all these years. The entire set is very good, but the real magic happens during "Dark Star." It's actually a relatively short and nondaring version until Phil takes a unique solo. It seems as though his notes are divided into two different registers. The Wall of Sound system eliminated the difference between PA and stage monitor; the two registers of Phil's sound seem to be delivered through two different sets of speakers within what was essentially a giant stage monitor. This creates something of a call-and-response quality that isn't replicated at any other show that I've heard (although tapes of early Michael Hedges concerts occasionally display the same effect). As his solo progresses, Phil begins to strongly suggest "Eyes." There is a stunning moment in which Jerry comes back in to build one of the sweetest jams the Dead ever played. The rest of the band falls into formation, and we find ourselves beautifully transported into the summer day that is "Eyes of the World." "China Doll follows with equal beauty and the dead serious silences of a funeral. "Sugaree" and "Sugar Magnolia" are highlights of the rest of a nice set.

You can stream the soundboard source of this show by clicking on this link to archive.org.

Setlist from deadbase.com

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