Grateful Dead: Road Trips
Vol. 2 No. 2 - Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco CA

CD363 - 2/14/68 - 2-CD set
Grateful Dead Productions, 2009

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Grateful Dead: Road Trips
Vol. 2 No. 2 - February 14, 1968,

Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco CA

In the winter of 1968, the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service embarked on their first major tour of the Pacific Northwest. Now, this wasn’t an era when bands traveled in plush custom tour buses and stayed in luxury hotels. Rather it was a caravan of funky cars and semi-dilapidated equipment trucks bombing up US 101 from the Bay Area to points north and hotels that probably weren’t going to make the AAA guide book. But the bands played like beasts in Washington and Oregon, spreading San Francisco magic in an assortment of small auditoriums and ballrooms. The Dead, in particular, were really spreading their creative wings, exploring and honing what were unquestionably the most ambitious original songs they’d written to date. Their old friend Robert Hunter had penned lyrics for unusual songs called “Alligator,” “China Cat Sunflower,” “Dark Star” and “The Eleven,” and there were also mind-boggling new tunes such as “That’s It for the Other One,” “New Potato Caboose” and “Born Cross-Eyed.” Say whaaaat?

Now, while the Dead were on the road blowing minds in places like Eureka, Seattle, Portland and Ashland, Oregon, a couple of their “people” back home were busy signing a lease that would give the Dead, Jefferson Airplane and other interested freaks, control over a fantastic new venue: San Francisco’s venerable Carousel Ballroom, a one-time Big Band dance hall that was little-used by the mid-’60s. In January, before the Northwest tour, the Dead and Quicksilver had put on a successful dance there (a “Ben Franklin’s Birthday” celebration, the poster said), but the Grand Opening of the ballroom was slated for Valentine’s Day, with the Dead and Country Joe & the Fish on the bill. One of the scene’s budding artists, Stanley Mouse, produced a poster for the event with a jug-eared, retro geek imploring his prospective romantic conquests to “Be Mine,” and a pair of local FM rock stations carried the show live on radio.

This magnificent show—long admired by Dead Heads (and the band—it’s a Phil Lesh favorite)—captures the Dead at a real turning point in their career: When they tossed out the rock rule book and truly found their own sound. They tried out nearly all their new songs that night, and everyone was amazed at how effortlessly—yet powerfully—one flowed into the next and how their sets ebbed and flowed and exploded and got quiet and covered such an incredible range of textures and emotions. This wasn’t just a good-time dance band. This was serious… and still a good time!

Because the Valentine’s Day dance was a hometown show, on the radio and also being recorded for possible use on the Dead’s then-in-progress second album, Anthem of the Sun, soundman Dan Healy captured the music on an 8-track tape machine, and this Road Trips set marks the first time that those 8-tracks have been completely, properly mixed down—by ol’ reliable, Jeffrey Norman, of course—and released (aside from a few short missing passages on the multitrack masters, which are included from another source). So forget any version you might have heard before—this is state-of-the-art ’68 Dead, and you’re gonna love it! This is also the complete show, another first for the Road Trips series. As always, the discs are mastered to the HDCD standard and the package includes an entertaining and informative historical essay.

The first set of 2/14/68 was relatively short, so we’ve also packed the last third of Disc One with a selection of tunes from the Northwest Tour that were just recently discovered in a collection of tapes that had been languishing in a long-defunct San Francisco recording studio. Alas, there were just isolated songs on reels (not full shows), and the sound is variable, but the performances are, as they say in Boston, wicked-awesome, from an almost punky “Beat It on Down the Line” to a truly hair-raising “Viola Lee Blues.”

Could there be a better diversion from these—or any—stressful times than this scorching set of Primal Dead? We don't think so. Impress your lovers and friends! Blow your own mind! You can find out more about the songs lineup below, and you can place your order by returning to the catalog page.


Disc 1
1. Morning Dew
2. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
3. Dark Star>
4. China Cat Sunflower>
5. The Eleven>
6. Turn On Your Lovelight
Bonus tracks from Early 1968
7. Viola Lee Blues (1/20/68 Eureka)
8. Beat It On Down The Line (1/23/68 Seattle)
9. Hurts Me Too (1/23/68 Seattle)
10. Dark Star (2/2/68 Portland)

Disc 2
1. That's It For The Other One>
i. Cryptical Envelopment
ii. The Other One
iii. Cryptical Envelopment
2. New Potato Caboose>
3. Born Cross-Eyed>
4. Spanish Jam
5. Alligator>
6. Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks)>
7. Feedback
8. In The Midnight Hour