No one likely has as rich and as deep a selection of recorded material as Grateful Dead. Recently, Rhino has, once again, reached into the Grateful Dead closet, this time retrieving the band’s New Year’s Eve party at San Francisco’s The Cow Palace, performed 1976 leading into 1977. What Rhino produced is a 3CD behemoth that contains 21 live song performances.
The music found on this set is a great overview of the band’s music as well as their multiple styles of play, a trait that endeared a generation (or two) of DeadHeads to become entrenched in the Dead phenomenon. The music is encoded with the usual HDCD clarity that is found on all Grateful Dead reissues, making the music on this set a joy to listen to. Highlights include “Deal,” a Jerry Garcia solo song that sounds great with the Dead performing it here, even if other versions of it is found on previously released live sets from Grateful Dead. It also includes a great performance of “Eyes of the World.”
I’m linking Lindsay Planer’s excellent evaluative study of this album as his review of the music and the history is stated better than I could have worded. However, with our combined excitement of the document that this album is, it should be no surprise that we both enthusiastically recommend the inclusion of it into your Dead library. The triple gate-folded set adds a 16-page booklet filled with photos, and two well-written essays, one from David Lemieux and the longer, more informative and definitely humorous ‘look back’ from Glenn Lambert. Under each CD, are excellent photos recounting this event.
Grateful Dead was an experiential phenomenon, likely never to be repeated…ever! And while having been at a Dead show can never be replaced by sets like this, these sets can be quite immersive. Pop it into your CD player, slip on the headphones (or just turn it up and listen via speakers), close your eyes, and you can be at The Cow Palace on New Year’s Eve, 1976. That’s the magic of music.