CD374 - 3CD
Trips Vol. 3 No. 3
Can it really be 40 years since Workingman’s Dead was released? Why, it feels like only yesterday that “Uncle John’s Band” first started wafting out over the FM airwaves, spreading its warm smile coast to coast and announcing to the world that the Good Ol’ Grateful Dead were now traveling to some cool new spaces (in addition to most of their deliciously weird old ones). This edition of Road Trips (Vol. 3, No. 3) celebrates that magical and transformative spring of 1970 with one of the best-loved aural documents of that era: The Dead’s early and late shows at the Fillmore East on May 15, 1970, presented nearly in their entirety over the first 3-CD set in this series (plus the accompanying Bonus Disc).
This was a big tour for the Grateful Dead family. For one thing, it was the first jaunt the Dead undertook with their country-rock offshoot, the New Riders of the Purple Sage (which at this point still included Garcia on pedal steel guitar), as their opening act. As an added treat, at a number of shows that spring—including these two—the Dead started the evening by playing a casual and intimate acoustic set consisting mostly of old folk and blues tunes, but also usually featuring a few songs from the (still unreleased) Workingman’s Dead.
Over the course of the two acoustic sets that night the group tackled such tunes as “I Know You Rider,” “The Rub (Ain’t It Crazy),” “Deep Elem Blues” (which does not appear on the previously circulating recordings of the late show), “Uncle John’s Band,” “Black Peter,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Candyman,” “Friend of the Devil” (those last two wouldn’t turn up until American Beauty later in 1970), and these four which have never before appeared on an official GD release: “The Ballad of Casey Jones,” “Long Black Limousine,” “She’s Mine” (sung by Pigpen) and “A Voice From on High,” the last featuring John “Marmaduke” Dawson and David Nelson from the New Riders. There’s plenty of charming between-songs banter and the sound is crystal clear.
There is lots to love in the electric sets the Dead played at the Fillmore East, too, including truly epic versions of “Dark Star,” “That’s It for the Other One” and “Morning Dew”; favorites like “China Cat > I Know You Rider,” “St. Stephen” and “Cosmic Charlie”; the exciting new tunes “Casey Jones” and “Cumberland Blues” (which they also played acoustic); and Pigpen workin’ it on out on “Hard to Handle,” “Good Lovin’” and a fantastic “Lovelight.” The Dead always played great at the Fillmore East—this was already the group’s third headlining stint there in 1970—and it was shows like these that established the band as a top East Coast draw during this era.
As with all our releases, Road Trips Vol. 3, No. 3: May 15, 1970 was culled from the Grateful Dead’s original tapes by Mr. Jeffrey Norman—the Pride of Petaluma—and mastered to the demanding HDCD spec for maximum power and clarity. The accompanying booklet for this 3-CD set includes vintage photos by Amalie Rothschild and Peter Simon and a historical essay by yours truly. All in all, it’s sure to become another treasured favorite.