Real Gone Musicâ€™s reissues of the Grateful Deadâ€™s archival Dickâ€™s Picks series continue to highlight unique performances including two sets focusing on the groupâ€™s early 1970s performances. Dickâ€™s Picks 30 explores the 1972 run at the Academy of Music in New York City, New York, that took placeÂ March 25-28. The contrasting Dickâ€™s Picks 31 spotlights 1974, and the bandâ€™s shows on August 4-6 at the Philadelphia Civic Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and August 6 at Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ. Together, these releases illuminate the limber nature of the band during these halcyon days.
The most impactful element of Dickâ€™s Picks 30 emerges from the outset through a five-song collaboration with Bo Diddly. Opening with the apropos â€œHey Bo Diddly,â€ the Dead settles in nicely outside of the spotlight, albeit with heady contributions to the song set. The band steers into obscure waters on discs three and four with breakouts of the late Ron â€œPigpenâ€ McKernanâ€™sÂ rarely played Â â€œThe Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)â€ and a reading of James Blakeâ€™s waltz, â€œThe Sidewalks of New York.â€
Dickâ€™s Picks 31 opens with the classic â€œPlaying in the Band,â€ indelibly marked by vocalist Donna Jean Godcheauxâ€™s cringe-worthy opening wail. It wasnâ€™t uncommon during the Godcheaux years, but this off-key mishap proves prominent. Not to be deterred, the band takes off, navigating the composition over the course of 25-plus mind-boggling minutes. There are plenty of gems here, particularly on disc four and the expansive set taken from the August 6 show. Crowd favorite â€œEyes of the Worldâ€ stretches long, and the Dead pushes a repeat of â€œPlaying in the Bandâ€ out into the stratosphere yet again, displaying the air-tight improvisation of this era.
The early 1970s markedÂ critical years in Grateful Dead history, including the loss of Pigpen, the addition of the Godcheaux’s, performances amplified by Owsleyâ€™s massive Wall of Sound, and the five-night run at The Winterland in 1974 that boasted the last shows before a year-and-a-half hiatus. The magic of this period is clearly articulated on Dickâ€™s Picks 30 and 31.
Dickâ€™s Picks 30 and Dickâ€™s Picks 31 are out now on Real Gone Music.