The Grateful Dead stretch out early cover tune “Morning Dew” into a 14-minute psychedelic epic in this blissful preview of the band’s upcoming box set Get Shown the Light. The 11-disc package, available May 5th via Rhino, documents perhaps the most legendary of all Dead concerts: May 8th, 1977, at Cornell University’s Barton Hall, a stop on their Terrapin Station tour.
David Lemieux, Grateful Dead archivist and Light producer, calls this “Morning Dew” take “quite possibly one of the Grateful Dead’s best-ever live performances,” with the septet line-up – Jerry Garcia, Donna Jean Godchaux, Keith Godchaux, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir – “singularly focused on achieving the cathartic, frenzied release of the climax of this song.”
The near-mythical, frequently bootlegged Cornell show will be available in its debut commercial form, alongside three other previously unreleased full-show live recordings from the same trek: Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum in New Haven, Connecticut (May 5th, 1977); Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts (May 7th, 1977); and Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York (May 9th, 1977). The recording source for the shows is the iconic Betty Boards, the soundboard tapes created by the Dead’s live recording engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson.
“Since the moment that the board tape of Cornell began circulating in the late 1980s, its legend was instantly created,” Lemieux told Rolling Stone in a statement. “Although plenty of Grateful Dead shows have been called their ‘best ever,’ in the case of Cornell this statement is rarely contested. It’s long been a dream of everyone in the Grateful Dead organization to release the definitive version of Cornell, drawn from the master tapes, and we’re as thrilled as the fans are that this show is finally being released.”
Get Shown the Light, limited to 15,000 individually numbered copies, is available to pre-order exclusively from the Dead site. The Cornell set will also be available as a digital download in Apple Lossless and FLAC formats beginning May 5th. The Barton Hall concert will also be available in three-CD, limited-edition five-LP, digital download and streaming formats.
“Rather than listening to the four shows in the new May 1977 box set as four distinct experiences, I’ve always preferred to hear them as one, continuous stretch of excellence that lasts more than 10 hours,” Lemieux added. “This is arguably the Grateful Dead’s strongest four-night run of shows in their entire 30 year performing history, with every song, every set being a work of art, with not a single let-down or a moment of averageness or mediocrity. From the set’s opening ‘Promised Land’ in New Haven to the closing ‘Uncle John’s Band’ in Buffalo, the listener is going to be taken on an unparalleled aural voyage, with the captain of the ship being the Grateful Dead at the height of its powers.”
The full Light set will come in an elaborate box constructed by Masaki Koike, featuring a book by Peter Conners, Cornell ’77: The Music, the Myth and the Magnificence of the Grateful Dead’s Concert at Barton Hall, and an essay by Dead scholar Nicholas G. Meriwether. (Conners’ book will also be available for purchase separately.)