Grateful Dead: Winterland '73 Box Set

CD355 - 9-CD box set
Grateful Dead Productions, GRA2-6101, 2008

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Winterland '73
9 - 10 - 11 November 1973

San Francisco’s Winterland Arena was home court during one of the Dead’s most glorious eras, and Winterland gigs there were not just events, they became an institution. Grateful Dead played more shows there than any other artist, including the venue’s epic closing in 1978. This nine-disc box set captures every mind-bending note recorded at Winterland during the band's legendary three-night residency in November 1973—a run of shows that Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux argues is among the very finest contained within the band’s vast tape vault. Winterland 1973, is the long awaited “Complete Run” follow-up to the ecstatically received Fillmore West 1969: The Complete Recordings, which sold out almost immediately in 2005.

Housed in in a deluxe archival box, Winterland 1973 contains a portfolio of 72 previously unreleased tracks, presented in HDCD and mastered from the original two-track soundboard tapes using a cutting-edge process that delivers unparalleled sound quality. We’re certain that these recordings are among the very finest two-tracks ever produced. The box also includes an in-depth 28 page booklet and two surprise pieces of memorabilia from the Winterland era.

Track Listing:

Disc 1: 11/9/73
1. “Promised Land”
2. “Brown-Eyed Woman”
3. “Me & Bobby McGee”
4. “They Love Each Other”
5. “Black-Throated Wind”
6. “Don’t East Me In”
7. “Mexicali Blues”
8. “Row Jimmy”
9. “The Race Is On”
10. “China Cat Sunflower” >
11. “I Know You Rider”

Disc 2: 11/9/73
1. “Playing In The Band”
2. “Here Comes Sunshine”
3. “Me & My Uncle”
4. “To Lay Me Down”
5. “Big River”
6. “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”
7. “Greatest Story Ever Told” >
8. “Bertha”

Disc 3: 11/9/73
1. “Weather Report Suite” a. Prelude b. Part I c. Part II (Let It Grow)
2. “Eyes Of The World” >
3. “China Doll”
4. “Around And Around” >
5. “Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad” >
6. “Johnny B. Goode”

Disc 4: 11/10/73
1. “Bertha”
2. “Jack Straw”
3. “Loser”
4. “Looks Like Rain”
5. “Deal”
6. “Mexicali Blues”
7. “Tennessee Jed”
8. “El Paso”
9. “Brokedown Palace”
10. “Beat It On Down The Line”
11. “Row Jimmy”

Disc 5: 11/10/73
1. “Weather Report Suite” a. Prelude b. Part I c. Part II (Let It Grow)
2. “Playing In The Band” >
3. “Uncle John’s Band” >
4. “Morning Dew” >
5. “Uncle John’s Band” >
6. “Playing In The Band”

Disc 6: 11/10/73
1. “Big River”
2. “Stella Blue”
3. “Truckin’” >
4. “Wharf Rat” >
5. “Sugar Magnolia”
6. “One More Saturday Night”
7. “Casey Jones”

Disc 7: 11/11/73
1. “Promised Land” >
2. “Bertha” >
3. “Greatest Story Ever Told”
4. “Sugaree”
5. “Black-Throated Wind”
6. “To Lay Me Down”
7. “El Paso”
8. “Ramble On Rose”
9. “Me & Bobby McGee”

Disc 8: 11/11/73
1. “China Cat Sunflower” >
2. “I Know You Rider”
3. “Me & My Uncle”
4. “Loose Lucy”
5. “Weather Report Suite” a. Prelude b. Part I c. Part II (Let It Grow)
6. “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”
7. “Big River”

Disc 9: 11/11/73
1. “Dark Star” >
2. “Eyes Of The World” >
3. “China Doll”
4. “Sugar Magnolia”
5. “Uncle John’s Band”
6. “Johnny B. Goode” >
7. “We Bid You Goodnight”

The Wait Is Over… The Winterland 1973 Box Has Arrived!

The Shows:
Winterland - November 9, 1973
Winterland - November 10, 1973
Winterland - November 11, 1973

Sherman, set the Wayback machine for the second week of November, 1973. The Grateful Dead are on a roll…yes, again! The summer had seen the band playing triumphant mega-shows with the Allman Brothers at RFK Stadium in D.C. and at Watkins Glenn in upstate New York. With their popularity seemingly still escalating by the month, fall tours took them to various East Coast haunts and all over the Midwest. On October 15, they released Wake of the Flood, their first album on their own independent record label, and copies were flying out of stores coast to coast. So the mood in the band was WAY UP when their incredibly busy schedule brought them home for three shows at Winterland in San Francisco November 9, 10 and 11—before they set off again for points East.

Winterland always brought out the best—and the beast—in the band. Located across Geary Boulevard from the Fillmore Auditorium, the one-time home of the Ice Follies had hosted dozens of amazing rock shows since Bill Graham started putting on shows there in the late ’60s. It’s where the top tier of Bay Area bands would get together occasionally for marathon shows, and it’s where the most popular out-of-town acts—from The Doors, to Hendrix, to The Who, to the Rolling Stones—would play in the era before faceless sports arenas became an unfortunate fact of concert-going life. But nobody played Winterland as often as the Dead. By the time they’d trucked their ever-expanding sound system to the venue for their November ’73 shows, they’d already logged 31 concerts there—and there would be another 28 eventful Dead nights at Winterland before the old place was closed after the Dead’s New Year’s Eve show in 1978, and eventually reduced to rubble to make way for condos. Sure, the 5,000-capacity hall was acoustically challenging and a little frayed on the edges. But with its narrow open floor, shallow lower balcony that encircled the entire venue, its deeper back balcony chill zone, and serpentine walkways between floors, it was a tremendously fun and entertaining place to see a show—especially a Dead show.

Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings captures the Dead during one of their peak years and absolutely at the top of their game. Spread over nine discs, it includes every note of three complete consecutive shows (save for the encore of November 9, which was not recorded), so there’s plenty here to satisfy every fan: magnificent jams on “Dark Star” (which sprawls to 35 completely compelling minutes!), “Playing in the Band,” “Eyes of the World,” the still-new “Weather Report Suite” and more; kick-ass rockers of every variety (“Sugar Magnolia,” “Casey Jones,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Truckin’,” et al); haunting ballads including “China Doll,” “Stella Blue” and “To Lay Me Down”; a truly spectacular “China Cat”; and the first of just three versions ever of the dazzling sequence of “Playing in the Band” > “Uncle John’s Band” > “Morning Dew” > “Uncle John’s” reprise > “Playing” reprise.

All the music here was drawn from Grateful Dead crew member Kidd Candelario’s crystal clear and wonderfully present 2-track soundboard reels of the shows, and enhanced by the mastering work of the always reliable sonic wizard Jeffrey Norman, who used all sorts of arcane processes to bring it all into the glorious world of HDCD sound. This stuff will rattle your bones! The beautifully designed box also comes with a colorful booklet containing scads of great photos and a fine essay by Grateful Dead historian Dennis McNally.

We like to think of Winterland 1973 as being part of the noble tradition established by the ecstatically received Fillmore West 1969: The Complete Recordings, and as a precursor for other complete-run boxes to come. So clear out a chunk of space in the ol’ CD case, ’cause this mutha’ is a BIG ONE!