Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dave's Picks 18!

     Today's supplemental post is kind of a prelude to this Sunday's more general post on the Dave's Picks series so far.  Today I'll go through Dap 18 with some more detail, but I'll keep it short because it's a Thursday and this two-week old tradition of doing shorter posts on Thursdays must be preserved!
     Dave's Picks 18 is comprised of one-and-a-half shows from the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, all of 1976-07-17, and some of the night before.  More of the previous night was released on the 2016 Bonus Disc, available to subscribers of Dave's, which I also have!  These shows have been in my collection for a while, so I was already familiar with them, but Jeffrey Norman has proved once again that he is a master of sound quality.  What I'll do is lay out the setlist, and put any relevant annotations below the corresponding songs.  So it might look long, but it really won't be...I hope.
Dave's Picks 18 Disc One
  • Promised Land
    • Chuck Berry opener, real hot.
  • Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
    • Maybe a little slower than I'd like, but a great version.
    • Also a great example of how the new formation of the band was maturing and coming into their new sound.
  • Mama Tried
    • Played this a few times this run, but this is a fun version.
    • Jerry seems to be playing really loose the whole show, what you might call acid flexibility; plays around the song instead of playing the song itself.
  • Deal
    • Makes me wish Donna had come to Fare Thee Well!
  • New Minglewood Blues
    • Again, a little too slow, but you can tell they're having a ton of fun and figuring out what this song is.
    • Keith is on fire this show, and this may be the best "Minglewood" solo he ever played!  I wish it went on for at least ten minutes.
  • Peggy-O
    • Solid, exactly what you would think a '76 "Peggy-O" would be.
  • Big River
    • Same as "Peggy," but with some really fireworks from Jerry, as always.
  • Sugaree
    • Long-time readers may remember I have a strange relationship with this song, with my opinion ranging from "overplayed and boring" to "what a gem of a song, it's so exciting!"
    • This one falls in the latter category with an unexpected solo from Keith!
  • Johnny B. Goode
    • Chuck Berry set-closer, surprising and also hot!
  • Samson And Delilah
    • Again, what you would expect from '76
 Dave's Picks 18 Disc Two
  • Comes A Time
    • One of the best versions there is!
    • Starts with kind of a tuning jam, a little rough in the beginning as the drummers try to figure out what speed Jerry wants to play the song.
    • You could probably call it "Comes a Time > Jam," if you really wanted to, because they drift away from the theme and play in 11/4 time for a bit.
  • Drums
    • Short, sweet, and doesn't betray where they're going until...
  • The Other One
    • Phil does his intro!
    • All of the comments for this and "Space" are going here, because I don't think they should have listed "Space" as a separate track...but I can see (hear) why they did.
    • Another one they did a lot this run, and they sandwiched it each time they did it!
    • Very different from the other versions, more uncertain space than driving madness.
  • Space
  • Eyes Of The World
    • Love me some '76 "Eyes"!
    • Again, I'm putting the comments on "Jam" here, but I once again see why they labeled it this way.  If you want to know more of why I think this, refer to this post.
    • Very laid-back version of the song, and a good length if you put it together with the next track (as you should).
    • The outro jam almost goes a few different places, Jerry hints at "GDTRFB," Phil teases "Brown-Eyed Women."
  • Jam
  • The Other One
    • Just a short stop to pick up those last verses!
  • Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad
    • Great version, fades away into "Saturday Night"
  • One More Saturday Night
    • Definitely too slow, this one's supposed to be fast even if it means it's a bit sloppy.
  • U.S. Blues
    • Not the encore, believe it or not!
 Dave's Picks 18 Disc Three
  • Not Fade Away
    • Surprising as an encore, especially at almost 15 minutes!
    • Really good, you can see the beginning of the drawn-out, rock n' roll monster it would turn into in the next two years.
  • Big River (this and the rest are from the 16th)
    • Not sure any one release needs two "Big River"s, but it's still another great version!
  • Brown-Eyed Women
    • Like with "NFA," you can see they've realized this song is about to get a lot bigger, and is already stretched out in the solo section.
  • Looks Like Rain
  • Peggy-O
    • See notes on previous "Big River."
  • The Music Never Stopped
    • Goes into "Scarlet," which is cool and unusual.
    • Really good, I just wish the '76 versions stayed on the jam longer.
  • Scarlet Begonias
    • Also really good, and another they did a lot in this run.
    • Maybe not the best version from the run, but a solid "Scarlet."  Weird to have it not go into "Fire," but that wouldn't last too much longer.
  • U.S. Blues
    • Another one??  Really good, but come on, Dave!
Bonus Disc
  • Playing in the Band
    • This has always been one of my favorite "Playing" sandwiches, great to have a crystal clear version!  Thanks, Jeff!
    • Some people label a "King Solomon’s Marbles/ Stronger Than Dirt" between this and "Charlie," but I think it's best left unlisted.  Really it's just Phil kind of teasing it while "Playing" unfurls.
    • '76 is when they really perfected the "Playing" sandwich, and by this show they really knew what they were doing.  This and others from this year (like Dick's Picks 20 or the '76 show from 30 Trips Around the Sun) also have sprinklings of unique jams in the song transitions, sometimes on the "Playing" theme, but often totally unique!
  • Cosmic Charlie
    • I think they should have stuck with this for a bit longer in '76, I think it had all the makings of becoming a regular staple in the repertoire.
    • Donna's voice goes very well with this song.
    • Maybe they should have brought back some other oldies in this period of '77 -- they did bring back "Dupree's Diamond Blues" the next year, so I guess I can't complain.
  • Spanish Jam
    • Only version in '76 and I'm not sure why, they kill it!
    • Probably my favorite thematic jam of the Dead's, and definitely the longest lasting.
  • Drums
    • The "Drums" from '75-early '78 are my favorites, so tight yet so expansive.  You can taste the telepathy!
  • The Wheel
    • The "Drums > The Wheel" transition was great while it lasted.  The drummers get into a definite rhythm and then Jerry jumps in on the off-beat and the rest of the band lands on the next beat.
    • Such a great version, one for the books
    • How do you tell when "Wheel" ends and "Playing" begins?
  • Playing in the Band
    • How do you tell when "Wheel" ends and "Playing" begins?...wait...
    • Fades out before they finish, maybe a tape cut?  You get all the important bits, though, and no one misses a beat!
  • High Time
    • Oddly a frequent song in '76, when it was more of a rarity in other years.
    • Not the best version, but I've recently realized what this song is all about and now I'm all about it!
  • Sugar Magnolia
    • Before the song, Bobby and Phil point out that sometimes drum sets break because people keep hitting them with things.  They also ask the crowd to wish Bill Graham a happy birthday...even though his birthday is in January.
    • Great "Sugar Mags" to close out another awesome Pick from Dave!
I'd say you should all go out and buy this, but it's allegedly sold out, so hope you already ordered it!  Let me know what you think of DaP 18, and what you think Dave's Picks 19 should be in the comments below.  Also, stay tuned for my Dave's Picks review on Sunday, where I do something like this for each previous release, but album-by-album instead of song-by-song -- ain't nobody got time for that with 17 releases!


  1. The mix on this is astonishing. You can hear everybody, but not too much of anybody. This is especially a treat for Donna's vocals. The slower pace (than in later years) on many of these songs is a better fit for her voice.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. It's about living the natural life in the mud and the damn girl not liking it. Man, I've been there.

  4. Who doesn't like mud?

  5. Just discovered this blog. Nice!

    Anyhow, the reason for the fade after the Playin' reprise is that "Around and Around" happened between the Playin' reprise and "High Time".

    Also of note on that bonus disc, while the "Spanish Jam" is after "Cosmic Charlie," all setlists I've seen for the full 7/16/76 have "Charlie" leading into "Samson" (and then "Samson" into "Drums") and the "Spanish Jam" coming out of the Drums and into that Playin' reprise! So... A little revisionist history here by playing the Jam out out order?

    The disc is pretty great, so I can't bitch too much, but I would've preferred the full Playin' reprise into "Around" and, if there was room, keeping "Samson" and the correct running order of the set.

    Maybe they couldn't have fit all of that one disc ("U.S. Blues" was the encore -- for the second straight night -- and was already on disc 3 of DP 18 itself), or perhaps there was a cut, tape flip, or other problem that meant leaving "Around" off, so I get that something had to go. Would've loved that whole second set though.