Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings

Late 1973 was a high time for the Grateful Dead. In October, they issued the first album on their own label, Wake of the Flood, a Top Twenty hit. The Dead had also beat the devilry of arena acoustics with amonstrous, traveling PA that was worth the bills just for the ice-knifeslice of Jerry Garcia's guitar solos. A running joy across this nine-CD box, recorded November 9th-11th in the Dead's Seventies Bay Area playpen, is the clarity and agility of Garcia's outbursts in the roamingspells of "Eyes of the World" and "Weather Report Suite." Oiled and armed from a good year on tour (including the Watkins Glen festival in July), the entire band is in buoyant form, juggling dynamics — country, psychedelic strut and spaced exploration (a gorgeous free-fall "DarkStar") — with a connected poise that peaks on the 10th in awinding-river ride in and out of "Playing in the Band," "Uncle John's Band" and "Morning Dew." These shows were a return to balance for the Dead. In March 1973, organist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan died, and the losslooms big in the slow, deep breaths of "Row Jimmy," "Wharf Rat" and the11th's closing hymn, "And We Bid You Goodnight." As the Dead would cometo know, over and over, the road goes on forever. But the warriors donot.

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