Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 1971: A Forgotten Pinnacle of the Grateful Dead's Career

Hi David. It's me again with a suggestion for a Dave's Pick or Box Set release. It's December, 1971.
Yes, every once in a while, I blog here about shows that are not my own. I was only 12 then, soon to be 13. But, there is a  wrong that needs to be righted. It's 1971 and it can easily sell 15,000 CDs.
(January 2017 edit, thanks David for Dave's Pick 22, December 7, 1971 Felt Forum! and Dec 2017 edit, thanks for 12-14-71!)

There is a great resource for Dead Heads at deaddisc.com.  Today, I double checked and saw that the only official release from this month is two tracks from New Year's Eve at Winterland of Jam>Black Peter. http://www.deaddisc.com/disc/Closing_Of_Winterland_Bonus_CD.htm  This appears in a very rare bonus disc to the Winterland Closing 1978 DVD or CD, so basically nothing has been officially released from a very high point of the Grateful Dead's career.  This might be a bigger omission than the Berkeley Greek shows void (My Berkeley Plea).

What is special about the 11 shows (there's that number again) in December 1971 is the New Riders opening act, the energy of the performances, the great sounding FM broadcasts (covered so well here at Lost Live Dead), and the first two weeks that paired Pigpen with Keith.  Let's look at the possibilities.

December 1-2  Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA

December 4-7 Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

December 9-10 Fox Theater, St Louis, MO

December 14-15 Hill Auditorium Ann Arbor, MI

December 31 Winterland Arena San Francisco, CA

Four cities that loved the Dead, Boston, New York, St Louis and SF, and a great two night stand up at the University of Michigan. How about Dave, a nice 30 CD set of December 1971?

After Keith's debut, sans Pigpen, on October 19, 1971 in Minneapolis, the Dead embarked on an 18 show tour ending on November 20th at UCLA. We saw some shows as:

Oct 21, 1971 10 live songs Dave's Picks Volume 3, Grateful Dead, 2012
Oct 22, 1971 Live Dave's Picks Volume 3, Grateful Dead, 2012
Oct 26, 1971 Live Download Series, Vol. 3: 10/26/71, Grateful Dead, 2005
Oct 31, 1971 Live Dick's Picks, Vol. 2, Grateful Dead, 1995
Nov 14, 1971 9 live songs Road Trips: Vol 3, No 2: Austin, Nov 15, 1971 Bonus CD, Grateful Dead, 2010
Nov 15, 1971 Live Road Trips: Vol 3, No 2: Austin, Nov 15, 1971, Grateful Dead, 2010

Pretty choice stuff for a debut tour of a new keyboard player, but Keith hit the grown running. I saw an online poll yesterday of best Dead keyboardest and Keith finished behind Brent and Pigpwn with 15% of the vote. Crazy, I think. Keith was the bomb from 1971 through 1977. No question, hands down the spark and the best keyboard player from the start. Listen to the Charlie Miller SBDs of his first shows that came out over the oast few years, or any of these releases above, especially Halloween 1971. These shows are priceless. But December is even better.

I know, deadbase 11 reviewers, April 71 at the Fillmore, the 2-18 breakout show with the beautiful jam, the Fillmore West closing 7-2 and The Harding on 11-7 are awesome shows, but I can not agree with those that place the December shows so low in the rankings. From Deadbase 50, page 651:

My six top moments of December, 1971

6. December 1 at the Boston Music Hall

Set Two: Pigpen returns after missing a few months with a swell Big Boss Man and the Dead follow with a Crytical>drums>The Other One>Me & My Uncle>The Other One.  deadlists.com comments that The Other One is comprised of " { theme [2:41] spacey jam [1:00] space [0:44] spacey jam [0:33] space [0:28] Jam [2:14] theme [0:34] verse 1 [0:37] theme [0:34] spacey Jam [0:44] space [3:59] } (2) { theme [1:22] space [3:47] spacey Jam [0:50] Jam [1:11] theme [0:51] verse 2 [0:38] outro [0:12] }"

5. December 31 at Winterland

Rare Dancing In The Street opener (only one between 1970 and 1976 revival), and nice Truckin>Other one jam>Me & My Uncle>The Other One followed by Jam>Black Peter to Open Set Two.

4. December 15 Ann Arbor

Awesome recordings, well played, super spooky six minute Playing In The Band ,another of the first class Pigpen Run Rudolph Run, a Dark Star>Deal that opens the second set, and a Pigpen extravaganza that deadlists calls " Turn On Your Lovelight [10:44] > I'm A King Bee [1:38] > I'm A Man [2:07] > Turn On Your Lovelight [1:06] > Two Trains Running (1) [0:16] > Turn On Your Lovelight (1) [2:50#]"

3. December 4 has a once only jam that surrounds The Other One with the cowboy songs

Me & My Uncle>The Other One>Mexicali Blues>The Other One>Wharf Rat

2. December 10 in St Louis at The Fox has a world class set two

Good Lovin'
Brokedown Palace
Playing In The Band
Run Rudolph Run
Sugar Magnolia
Comes A Time
Truckin' > Drums > The Other One> Sittin' On Top Of The World > The Other One > Not Fade Away > Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad(with China Cat Tease) > Not Fade Away

1. December 5 improves upon that with my favorite show of 1971. The Charlie Miller SBD that is included in the music section is 210 minutes of pure Dead bliss.  You can get that FLAC in the music section as always. You are now hearing the crunchy pre-SBD which I like just as well.  Maybe I love this show so much is that I originally heard part of it on a great sounding bootleg record I bought in 1975 or 1976 in one of those indie record shops down some steps in Cambridge, MA near Harvard Square.  The cover is that shot of Jerry you see in the soundcloud photo.

This is just such a great sounding show with great FM commentary, and maybe the second best Bill Graham introduction (after August 13, 1975.  Muddy Waters should have been played more than this time. The second set Dark Star Jam (no lyrics at all) weaved into Me and My Uncle and Sitting On Top of The World is sublime. Get the Flac.

For those of you that have made it all the way here, I have an early Christmas presents. It's all eleven shows. Note the December 5 mps are the crunchy one, and the Flac is the Charlie Miller.

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