Grat

Grateful Dead (USA): Europe ’72 (Warner Brothers 2668, triple, with booklet, 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic/Progressive
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This mammoth triple album is a game of two halves (or, strictly speaking, just under three-quarters and just over one-quarter). The first four-and-a-bit sides are given over to relaxed, noodling soft rock with a country tinge, similar to the band’s studio work of the period. ‘Truckin’’, which takes up most of side five, is a slightly more experimental long jam, and the final side is downright avant-garde and much more unfocused. Whilst the weirder stuff towards the end definitely has the edge, this is an enjoyable set throughout, and bound to please anyone who likes this perennially eccentric band. The band later decided to release the entire 1972 European tour as a boxed set comprising more than seventy CDs. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Wake Of The Flood (Grateful Dead GD-01, 1973)
Rock/Progressive
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Building on the style established on the first four sides of Europe ’72Wake Of The Flood would be horizontal if it were any more laid-back. I love it. Anyone expecting variety, excitement or fiery musicianship will be sorely disappointed, but the Dead do what they do brilliantly, creating some effortlessly captivating, floating grooves. The final – and most important – element in the mix is some truly great songs, including one very ambitious piece (the proggy thirteen-minute closer ‘Weather Report Suite’). GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): From The Mars Hotel (Grateful Dead GD 102, 1974)
Rock
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Much inferior to the two albums that bookend it, this mostly consists of catchy, lightweight boogie rock. It’s far from bad, of course, but this particular line-up of the Dead could turn stuff like this out in their sleep. Two cuts stand out: the mournful and heartfelt ‘China Doll’ and the superb ‘Unbroken Chain’: a long, eerie piece filled with weird electronics and restrained yet intense jamming. GRADE: C+.
Grateful Dead (USA): Blues For Allah (Grateful Dead GD LA 494-G, with insert, 1975)
Rock/Progressive
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Probably the last thing anyone expected the Dead to do at this stage in their career was go avant-prog, but that’s exactly what they did with the brilliant Blues For Allah. Certainly, there are strong elements of their old sound – catchy songs like ‘Franklin’s Tower’ and ‘The Music Never Stopped’ could have appeared on an earlier studio album, whilst the long instrumental jams build on the sound established by Live Dead and Europe ’72. But there’s also a strong sense of a mature band venturing beyond its comfort zone, which is rare in itself, and the stitching together of jaunty tunes and free-form instrumentals is unusually cohesive. Altogether, this is a remarkable album, and one that could appeal to many adventurous listeners who don’t normally like the Dead. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Terrapin Station (Arista AL-7001, with inner, 1977)
Rock/Progressive
Donna Godxhaux (joint lead vocals)
This was the second consecutive Dead album to take its cues from progressive rock, although strangely of a completely different kind. ‘Terrapin (part one)’, which occupies the whole of the second side, is an exquisite piece of pastoral prog, weaving together several songs and instrumental passages into a superb suite. The band was apparently very upset at producer Keith Olsen’s decision to add an orchestra and choir, but I feel he made the right call, giving the piece the epic dimensions and multi-layered textures it deserves. (I am, however, a little baffled as to why he faded the suite at the end.) Side one consists of shorter songs, mostly of a very fine standard. The eerie, reggae-tinged ‘Estimated Prophet’ has been widely acclaimed, and most critics seem to like the bouncy ‘Passenger’ (apparently based around the riff from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Station Man’ played backwards) as much as I do. However, I can’t agree with the prevailing opinion that ‘Sunrise’ is a disaster – I love it. Assuredly, it’s a strange piece of music, always going in the opposite melodic direction to what one expects: overall, it sounds as though Donna Godchaux attempted to pen a passionate singer/songwriter ballad without ever having listened to any. But to me, that’s part of its distinctive charm. The weight of opinion has it right about ‘Dancing In The Street’, though – whilst it might have worked well enough in concert, I’m baffled as to why they bothered to include this muted rendition here. That misstep (and ‘Samson And Delilah’, about which I’m lukewarm) aside, this is another brilliant and daring album, and every inch the equal of its predecessor. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Listen To The River: St Louis ’71 ’72 ’73 (Rhino R2 645687, 20CD, with gatefold minisleeves, book, stickers, patch, box and carton, 2021, recorded 1971-1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
When the Dead’s latet gargantuan live retrospective was announced, some cynical souls suggested they were starting to use such releases as dumping grounds for shows unworthy of consideration as Dave’s Picks. The first show eligible for review – a mammoth 31-song set from 17 September 1972 – reinforces the theory: whilst consistently enjoyable, it only takes flight once, on a superb 23½-minute ‘Playing In The Band’ (B–). The first set from the following night is similarly solid rather than outstanding – notwithstanding a lively opening version of ‘Bertha’ – but the second features a superb jam encompassing ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘Dark Star’ and ‘Morning Dew’ that showcases some stunning bass playing from Phil Lesh (B). The next night’s gig is also a good one: the first set is unspectacular but particularly well performed (notwithstanding recording issues placing the vocals off-centre for the first few songs) and the second features a fine jam embracing ‘Truckin’’, ‘The Other One’, ‘He’s Gone’ and ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’ (another solid B). The show from 29 October 1973 is a solid B too, taking flight on an excellent segue of ‘Eyes Of The World’ and ‘China Doll’ in the first set and ‘Truckin’’, ‘The Other One’ and ‘Wharf Rat’ in the second. In particular, there are some truly wild moments during ‘The Other One’, including some astonishing bass playing from Phil Lesh that at one point made me wonder whether my speakers had started to malfunction. The final show, from 30 October 1973, is by some margin the best: the first set features many of my favourites like ‘Here Comes Sunshine’, ‘Looks Like Rain’, ‘Row Jimmy’, ‘Jack Straw’ and ‘Playing In The Band’, whilst the second has a stunning segue of ‘Dark Star’, ‘Stella Blue’, ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘Eyes Of The World’ and ‘Weather Report Suite’ (B+). GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Shakedown Street (Arista AB-4198, 1978)
Pop/Rock
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
The Dead’s final album of the seventies, and their last with Keith and Donna Godchaux, is a huge disappointment after its two predecessors. Returning to a simple song-based format, they shifted direction yet again to make a funky, bouncy pop record driven by layers and layers of sparkling percussion. I like it (especially the disco-flavoured title track, which suggests they could have rivalled the Bee Gees in mastering the form had they really tried), but as with From The Mars Hotel, they’ve retreated into their comfort zone. GRADE: C+.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks 30 (Grateful Dead GDCD 4050, quadruple HDCD, 2003, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
I have mixed feelings about 1972 Dead: their spaced-out jamming was at its peak, but many of my favourite songs had yet to enter their repertoire, and the Pigpen R&B numbers and Bob Weir’s nods to fifties and country music don’t match my tastes. Nonetheless, this is a fine set that wins through on sheer consistency – whilst it doesn’t have as many highpoints as some other Dick’s or Dave’s Picks, it also contains very little that’s amateurish, misjudged or unenjoyable. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): Steppin’ Out With The Grateful Dead – England ’72 (Rhino 8122-789-49-2, quadruple HDCD, 2004, recorded 1972)
Blues/Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
As the title suggests, this set compiles material from the band’s seven UK shows during April and May 1972. Showcasing some of Ron McKernan’s last performances with the band, as well as some of Keith and Donna Godchaux’s first, it’s a good deal bluesier than most of their other live retrospectives. That’s for the first two-and-a-bit discs, anyway: as was typical for individual Dead performances from the era, they move into full improvisational mode partway into disc three and the music really lifts off. GRADE: B+.
Grateful Dead (USA): Rockin’ The Rhein With The Grateful Dead (Rhino R2 78921, quadruple HDCD, with digipak and poster booklet, 2004, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This live set was mostly recorded at the Düsseldorf Rheinhalle, though two bonus cuts appear from the Lyceum in London exactly a month later. In addition, pre-ordered copies came with a bonus disc featuring material from concerts at the Academy of Music in New York from March 1972. This is a fine live set, though the album adjusts the running order to accommodate the music on three discs; it would later be issued in sequence, and with a different mix, on the gargantuan Europe ’72 box. GRADE: B+.
Grateful Dead (USA): Europe ’72 (Rhino GRA2-6023, 73 HDCD, with gatefold minisleeves, book, booklet, certificate, sticker and trunk, 2011,

recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This gargantuan set features almost every song played at the Dead’s 22 European shows during April and May 1972, lovingly packaged in a replica steamer trunk with a hardback coffee table book and reproduction of the original tour brochure. Amazingly, the 7200 numbered copies sold out within four days, necessitating a further edition without the deluxe packaging; each concert, ranging from one to four discs, was also released separately. The individual gigs are London Wembley Empire Pool on 7th April (B), the following night’s gig at the same venue (B– for a rather patchy set, though some consider this one of the Dead’s finest), Newcastle City Hall on 11th April (also B, with a bit too much good-time material though some superb jamming in the second set), Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen on the 14th (B+ despite a deadly dull ‘Good Lovin’’/’Caution’ segue that seems to go on forever), Aarhus University on the 16th (B, with Donna Godchaux absent for this show), the Tivoli Concert Hall again on the 17th (B), a short TV performance without an audience at the Beat-Club in Bremen on the 21st (B for this unusual set, dominated by Bob Weir, containing two versions of ‘Playing In The Band’, and featuring several false starts), Düsseldorf Rheinhalle on the 24th (B+ – this set had previously been released separately, with a different running order, two bonus tracks and a limited edition bonus disc, as Rockin’ The Rhein With The Grateful Dead), Frankfurt Jahrhundert Halle on the 26th (B – most of this concert had previously been issued, with a different mix, as Hundred Year Hall), Hamburg Musikhalle on the 29th (B+ thanks to a remarkably creative and avant-garde ‘Dark Star’), Paris Olympia on the 3rd of May (B, peaking on a remarkable ‘The Other One’), the same venue on the 4th (B– for a rather average performance), the Bickershaw Festival in Wigan on the 5th (B+ for an epic show lasting nearly four hours), Amsterdam Concertgebouw on the 10th (B), Rotterdam Grote Daal De Doelen (B, peaking on arguably the best ‘Dark Star’ of the entire tour), Lille Fairgrounds on the 13th (B– for a solid set lacking in real highlights), Luxembourg Grand Theatre on the 16th (B for an excellent if comparatively short show broadcast on Radio Luxembourg), Munich Kongressaal on the 18th (B– since the show is solid but unspectacular) and finally four nights at the London Lyceum, on the 23rd (B), the 24th (also a B), the 25th (another B despite a ponderous ‘Uncle John’s Band’/‘Dark Star’ segue) and – the final night of the tour – the 26th (B+ for some stunning jamming and improvisations). GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 10 (Grateful Dead Productions, download, 2006, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This release of (almost all of) the band’s July 21st gig (plus a few numbers from the following night, including a second version of ‘Playing In The Band’) peaks on a superb 22½-minute ‘The Other One’, but is elsewhere mellow rather than electrifying. Godchaux is not heavily featured on the album, and indeed seems to appear only on ‘Playing…’. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 24 (Rhino R2-557456, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2017, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Apparently the band were warned that a curfew was imminent, forcing them to curtail their second set, but that’s the only criticism I can make of this stellar Dave’s Picks instalment. The long jam involving ‘Truckin’’, ‘The Other One’ and ‘Stella Blue’ is classic 1972 Dead, and everything else is played with aplomb: even the good-time material is enjoyable. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Sunshine Daydream – Veneta, Oregon 8/27/72 (Rhino R2-536030, triple HDCD plus blu-ray, with digibook, book and slipcase, 2013, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Amazingly, this DVD-plus-CDs set of a legendary Grateful Dead gig gave them their first American top twenty entry in more than two decades. The performance is occasionally a touch ragged, even by their usual standards, but the tracklisting is sublime and the 31-minute ‘Dark Star’ is among the all-time greats. Meanwhile, the film captures the ambience of the gig very well, including some psychedelic effects and plenty of footage of the hippie audience. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Twenty-Three (Grateful Dead GDCD 4043, triple HDCD, 2001, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
The keynote cuts here are 39 minutes of ‘The Other One’ and 19 minutes of ‘Playing In The Band’, which are little short of stunning. However, this is a great gig throughout, with a particularly relaxed and organic vibe. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks 36 (Grateful Dead DECD295, quadruple HDCD, 2005, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Typically for ’72 Dead, this contains a fair amount of middling-to-decent rather than great material, and it’s curious to hear them switch from good-time Americana to soaring space-rock excursions (and back again). However. 37 minutes of ‘Dark Star’, 17 minutes of ‘Playing In The Band’ and 29 minutes of ‘The Other One’ (the latter from the bonus material appended to the main show) ensure that there is plenty to enjoy here. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Eleven (Grateful Dead GDCD 4031, triple CD, 1998, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This live set is excellent throughout, peaking on an unusually sprightly half-hour ‘Dark Star’. Whilst almost everything else works well too, it’s odd to hear ‘Friend Of The Devil’ played at its original fast tempo, rather than as the atmospheric dirge it would later become. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 11 (Rhino R2-541135, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2014, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
The eleventh instalment of the Dave'’s Picks series showcases a November 1972 show in Wichita, Kansas. It’s a solid enough show, with the second set being notably better than the first, but not among the best entries in the series. The third disc is bolstered with bonus cuts from another November 1972 date, including a 31-minute ‘Playing In The Band’ – these are excellent and vastly superior to the main show. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Houston, Texas 11-18-1972 (Rhino R2-545049, HDCD, with digipak, 2014, recorded 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Unlike most Grateful Dead live retrospectives, this only features their second set, as there were problems with the tapes for the first. It’s mostly an excellent performance, peaking on an incendiary 26-minute ‘Playing In The Band’, though a 16-minute ‘He’s Gone’ is rather aimless and somnolent. Oddly, Phil Lesh’s bass is the most prominent instrument, though this makes for an interesting listening experience. Equally oddly, the digipak has space for a booklet, but one was never produced. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks 28 (Grateful Dead GDCD4048, quadruple HDCD, 2003, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
To describe this February 1973 show as an epic would be an understatement: the Dead played for more than five hours, covering all facets of their early seventies sound. With vast, sprawling jams based around ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘Dark Star’, ‘Eyes Of The World’ ‘Truckin’’, ‘The Other One’ and ‘Eyes Of The World’, it’s stunning stuff and one of their best archive releases. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 32 (Rhino R2-573510, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2019, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This March 1973 show is an odd one – the first disc is barely a B–, mixing too many fifties and sixties covers with ragged (even by the Dead’s usual standard) versions of some of their better originals. Yet it all takes flight at the start of disc two, with excellent versions of ‘Here Comes Sunshine’ and ‘Playing In The Band’, and the jam in the second set is simply stunning. Even ‘Big River’, ‘Me And My Uncle’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’, all putting in unwelcome second set appearances, can’t prevent this from scoring a B overall. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 21 (Rhino R2-557452, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2017, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
With 34 songs and a total running time of more than three and a quarter hours, this is one of the Dead’s more substantial live sets. It’s also one of their most legendary, and its reputation is well deserved – the long jam, mainly built around ‘Here Comes Sunshine’ and ‘Eyes Of The World’, is superb, whilst the short songs include many of my early seventies favourites. There’s perhaps a little more good-time stuff from Bob Weir than I would have liked, but that’s par for the course for the Dead from the era. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 16 (Rhino R2-552533, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2015, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Another solid entry in the Dave’s Picks series, this has a few too many good-time Americana numbers in the first set and a rather ponderous ‘Dark Star’ in the second, though there are numerous highpoints. A somewhat superfluous cover of ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)’ isn’t among them, but it represents one of Donna Godchaux’s few lead vocals with the band, so it’s nice to have at last. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 38 (Rhino R2 645920, quadruple HDCD, with digipak, minisleeve, booklet and sticker, 2021, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
The main show here, from 8th September 1973, has something of the fabled 8th May 1977 about it – with the exception of an appallingly-sung ‘Let Me Sing Your Blues Away’. the performances are remarkably slick and the band sounds like a well-oiled machine. However, the track listing isn’t the most exciting, so the real meat is to be found on the bonus disc from the previous night, which is frequently stunning. Indeed, the two bonus tracks from that night on the main album outclass just about anything else, making one wonder whether Dave picked the right night for the full set.

GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Nineteen (Grateful Dead GDCD 4031, triple HDCD, 2000, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
The Dead hit some remarkable peaks during 1973, and this is one of them – a sublime show that immediately grips the attention and never lets go. Even the numbers I don’t particularly like (step forward, ‘Promised Land’ and ‘Big River’) sound great; those I do (‘Sugaree’, ‘Tennessee Jed’, ‘Jack Straw’, ‘Row Jimmy’, ‘Playing In The Band’ et al) are excellent, and the two long jams (‘Dark Star’/‘Mind Left Body Jam’/‘Morning Dew’ and ‘Eyes Of The World’/‘Stella Blue’) are simply stunning. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Winterland 1973 (Grateful Dead GRA2-6101, decuple HDCD, with gatefold minisleeves, minisleeve, booklet, insert, poster, badge and box, 2008, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Thie elaborately packaged nine-CD set (with a bonus tenth CD for preordered copies, although the box was still shipping with it as of late 2013) showcases a run of three consecutive concerts at the Winterland in San Francisco. The show from the 9th of November is frequently stunning, peaking on an absolutely stunning 21-minute ‘Playing In The Band’. The following night’s performance also has an attractive track listing, including a fine medley of ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘Uncle John’s Band’ and ‘Morning Dew’, but the band occasionally sounds subdued in comparison and there are a few fluffed notes. Finally, the 11th November show has a slightly different tracklisting that is rather closer to the shows included on the Europe ’72 box, including a decent 36-minute ‘Dark Star’. Finally, the bonus disc features nine songs recorded in Cincinatti on December 4th; these are mostly good rather than great, but the segue of ‘Eyes Of The World’ into a minimalist improvisation (credited as ‘Space’) is quite remarkable. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 3 – Denver ’73 (Grateful Dead GRA2-6020, quadruple HDCD, with gatefold minisleeve, minisleeve and booklet, 2009, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Another excellent live set, peaking on the second dic, with a segue of ‘Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo’, ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘El Paso’, ‘Wharf Rat’ and ‘Morning Dew’ lasting for more than an hour. There’s also one of the longest versions of ‘Dark Star’, clocking in at over 43 minutes, on the bonus disc included with subscriber copies. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 5 (Rhino R2 523995, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2013, recorded 1973)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This is probably the best Dead performance I’ve heard from 1973: several of my period favourites are present (notably ‘Here Comes Sunshine’ and ‘Eyes Of The World’) and the segue of ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘Uncle John’s Band’ and ‘Morning Dew’ is probably better than that on Winterland 1973. GRADE: B+.

Grateful Dead (USA): Pacific Northwest ’73 To ’74: The Complete Recordings (Rhino R2 556110, 19 HDCD, with digipaks, book, boxes and shipping carton, 2018, recorded 1973 & 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This lavishly packaged set, limited to 15,000 copies, comprises six Dead shows from 1973 and 1974. The first show, from June 22nd 1973, is a little ponderous during a couple of the jams but is nonetheless a fine show throughout (a solid B). The second show, from the 24th, is just a notch below, despite a rather ponderous ‘Dark Star’ (B–). Show number three from the 26this another winner, with consistently good performances of the shorter material and a wonderful, far-out deconstruction of ‘The Other One’ (B). The first 1974 show, from 17th May 1974, is consistently good without any particularly stunning moments (B–). Notwithstanding some technical problems with the recording of the vocals in set one, show five, from two days later, is a surefire winner, with some great jamming in the second set (B). The final show, from 21st May 1974, ends the set in fine style, with a remarkable 47-minute version of ‘Playing In The Band’ (B). GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 13 (Rhino R2 547316, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2015, recorded 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This February 1974 show finds the Dead in typically relaxed, spacious mood. Its highpoints include the always reliable ‘Weather Report Suite’ and a fine segue of ‘Dark Star’ and ‘Morning Dew’; as usual Bob Weir’s passion for fifties music provides a couple of lowpoints, but this is an accomplished set all through. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Twenty-Four (Grateful Dead GDCD4044, double HDCD, 2002, recorded 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This relatively slight instalment in the long-running Dick’s Picks series captures much, though far from all, of a March 1974 show. I presume that the other songs were excluded due to technical issues with the recordings; having seen the complete setlist, they probably weren’t any great loss. This finds the band in particularly relaxed mood, with plenty of jamming but none of the deep, weird space trips that were still a regular feature of their performances in 1974. The obvious highlight is an excellent sandwich of ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘Uncle John’s Band’ and ‘Morning Dew’, complete with false start, and there’s also a nice version of ‘Weather Report Suite’. The rest is less memorable, but this is a highly enjoyable set throughout. 

GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 9 (Rhino R2 541133, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2014, recorded 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
With a good tracklisting, this features some rather ragged performances, including an unfocused ‘Dark Star’ during which nothing much happens. Nonetheless, there’s also plenty of good stuff, making for another solid archive release. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): Road Trips Vol 2 No 3 – Wall Of Sound (Grateful Dead GRA2-6007, triple HDCD, with gatefold minisleeve, minisleeve and booklet, 2009, recorded 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Disc one features excerpts from a show on 16th June and disc two highlights of another show two days later; the bonus disc issued with pre-ordered copies contains additional songs from both shows, creating a rather odd release that gives no indication of an individual concert’s flow. Nonetheless, it’s a superb release, peaking on a stunning 20-minute ‘Eyes Of The World’ from the first show and including some excellent jamming from the second. Only a rather tedious 29-minute ‘Playing In The Band’ really lets the side down. GRADE: B+.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 34 (Rhino R2-607312, quadruple HDCD, with digipak, minisleeve and poster booklet, 2020, recorded 1974)

Rock/Psychedelic

Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)

I’ve never made any ’74 Dead I didn’t like (actually, that goes for most seventies Dead) and whilst this show is a bit short on wild jamming – there’s a 16½-minute ‘Weather Report Suite’, brief improvisations around ‘Dark Star’ and ‘The Other One’ and that’s about it – it’s an accomplished show throughout. As if to make up for it, the bonus disc for subscribers, recorded on the following night, opens with a 29-minute ‘Playing In The Band’ and includes a 15-minute ‘Eyes Of The World’ among other treats, adding up to an impressive set. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 17 (Rhino R2 552287, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2016, recorded 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
The first set is decent, though the mix on the opening ‘Bertha’ is decidedly odd; the ‘Seastones’ interlude is, well, ‘Seastones’; and the second set starts slowly but takes flight with long jams around ‘He’s Gone’, ‘Weather Report Suite’ and ‘Eyes Of The World’. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 2 (Rhino R2 529204, quadruple HDCD, with digipak, minisleeve and booklet, 2012,

recorded 1974)

Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This triple-CD set was recorded on 31st July 1974, with subscribers’ editions featuring a bonus disc recorded two days earlier. The main set starts poorly, with rather average playing and some off-key singing but improves steadily, with a superb 43-minute segue of ‘Truckin’’ and ‘Wharf Rat’ on disc three. The bonus disc is no slouch either, with a 20-minute ‘Weather Report Suite’ and a 39-minute segue of ‘He’s Gone’, “Truckin’’ and ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks 31 (Grateful Dead GDCD 4051, quadruple HDCD, 2004, recorded 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Compiled from three shows, this mammoth five-hour set showcases the Dead at their most laid-back. However, it also contains plenty of complex jamming, adding up to one of their finest live outings. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Seven (Grateful Dead GDCD 3 4027, triple CD, 1997, recorded 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Recorded at the Alexandra Palace in London, this offers a fine cross-selection of material, mixing songs from Wake Of The Flood with older material. As usual, I prefer Jerry Garcia’s numbers to Bob Weir’s and as usual the band sometimes meanders aimlessly, but there’s plenty of good stuff here, including a truly astonishing ‘Dark Star’/‘Spam Jam’. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack (Rhino 8122-79583-2, quintuple HDCD, with booklets and slipcase, 2005, recorded 1974)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This CD version of the band’s fabled film is a worthwhile purchase in its own right, adding a large amount of music not contained in the movie itself. This shows the Dead in particularly exploratory mood, with lots of extended improvisations: sometimes these outstay their welcome (notably disc one’s ‘Playing In The Band’, which runs for more than half an hour) but mostly this is an amazing set. GRADE: A–.
Grateful Dead (USA): One From The Vault (Grateful Dead GDCD40132, double CD, 1991, recorded 1975)
Rock/Psychedelic/Progressive
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
The first of what would turn out to be a tsunami of live Dead sets showcases the Blues For Allah album – previewed in its entirety for the first time. A number of other songs are interspersed, with a bit too much emphasis on the good-time side of their repertoire, but this certainly contains some stunning moments. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): Road Trips Vol 4 No 5 (Grateful Dead GRA2-6022, triple HDCD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
The final volume in the Road Trips features an entire concert from the 9th June 1976 plus half-a-dozen numbers performed at the same venue three nights later. With a solid tracklisting but no really incendiary jams, it’s another solid live set. GRADE: C+.

Grateful Dead (USA): June 1976 (Rhino R2-624961, 15HDCD, with gatefold minisleeves, booklet and box, 2020, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
The packaging may be a bit spartan compared to other Dead boxed sets, but there’s plenty of fine – if über laid-back, typically for 1976 – music to be enjoyed here. The first show from Boston Music Hall on the 10th has no really incendiary moments, but no obvious weak points either, and with some excellent jamming in the second set is just about a B. The second show, from the same venue the following night, is similarly a little short on excitement, but it’s very high on consistency, with some superbly slick playing on ‘Dancing In The Street’ and ‘Eyes Of The World’ (the style decried by some detractors as ‘Disco Dead’) in particular (again just about a B). The third show, from the Beacon Theatre on the 14th, is a bit of a step, up, with a 20-minute ‘Playing The Band’, a fine jam around ‘Crazy Fingers’, another slick ‘Dancing In The Street’ and best of all a 29-minute ‘Help On The Way’/‘Slipknot!’/‘Franklin’s Tower’ (B+). Show four, from the same venue the day after, is also extremely solid, though again it’s more about consistency than individually amazing moments (B). The final show, from the 19th, maintains a remarkable level of consistency, and is once again a solid B; the version presented here is significantly better than that on the grey market radio broadcasts compilation 76, where it was in mono, with very mediocre sound quality, and missing the encore (‘One More Saturday Night’). GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): 76 (Sandoz SNZCD2004, 12CD, with minisleeves, booklet and box, 2017, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This excellent set compiles five complete shows by the Dead, originally recorded as radio broadcasts. The set from Boston Music Hall on 12th June features most of my period favourites and showcases the Dead at their most relaxed and laid-back (comfortably a B, maybe a B+). The show from the 19th is a bit of a step down, due to mediocre mono sound quality and quick cuts between tracks, though it features some unusual songs and mostly excellent performances (between a B­­– and B). The 24th show has slightly better sound quality, though none of the vocals are centred, creating an odd effect (still about a B given the excellent performances). Meanwhile, the show from the 29th (also released as a standalone set) has an excellent recording and consistently solid performances (B). The final show from 18th July has the most substantial setlist, excellent performances and strong sound quality (despite a few extraneous noises), rounding off the set in fine style (B to B+). GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 4 (Grateful Dead Productions, download, 2005, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This instalment in the Download series features all but one song of the band’s June 18th 1976 performance, plus about seventy minutes of bonus material compiled from three other nights. The main set is pleasant and laid-back, but the band never really catches fire and it’s certainly not one of their best performances from the era. The bonus disc is slightly better, with a lengthy version of ‘Playing In The Band’, though even this is somewhat lethargic. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 28 (Rhino R2-565022, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2018, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This is one of the most laid-back entries in the Dead’s extensive live catalogue: the music never seems to get even moderately heavy or energetic. That said, as relaxed Dead goes, this is extremely good relaxed Dead, with few obvious weak moments. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 4 (Grateful Dead Productions, download, 2005, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This instalment in the Download series features all but one song of the band’s June 18th 1976 performance, plus about seventy minutes of bonus material compiled from three other nights. The main set is pleasant and laid-back, but the band never really catches fire and it’s certainly not one of their best performances from the era. The bonus material is slightly better, with a lengthy version of ‘Playing In The Band’, though even this is somewhat lethargic. 

GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 18 (Rhino R2 552288, quadruple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2016, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
The first two discs (and the first song on the third) comprise the band’s entire July 17th 1976 show, whilst the remainder of the third disc and the whole of the subscriber-only fourth are given over to highlights from the previous night. Whilst the complete set is solid, with an unusual though slightly ponderous second set jam, the band ironically sounds far more energised on the superb show from the 16th, making one wish they had done things the other way around. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 4 (Rhino R2 529205, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2012, recorded 1976)

Rock/Psychedelic

Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)

This enjoyable set has an appealing track listing sprinkled with my mid-seventies favourites (‘Sugaree’, ‘Row Jimmy’, ‘Tennessee Jed’, ‘Playing In The Band’ et al). However, as usual it peaks on the final disc, with a 35-minute ‘Help On The Way’/‘Slipknot!’/‘Franklin’s Tower’/‘The Music Never Stopped’/‘Stella Blue’. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Vol 20 (Grateful Dead GDCD 4040, quadruple HDCD, 2001, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This five-hour-plus instalment features two virtually complete shows from three nights apart (with each having a single short song excised due to space limitations). The first show, from the Capital Center, Landover, Maryland on 25 September 1976, is solid enough, with a reasonably appealing tracklisting, but the music only occasionally seems to take flight. The first set of the second show (at the Onondaga County War Memorial, Syracuse, New York, three days later) is also good rather than great, but the second features an excellent long sequence based around ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘The Wheel’, ‘Samson And Delilah’, ‘Comes A Time’, ‘Eyes Of The World’ and ‘Dancing In The Streets’, though the band still sounds relaxed to the point of being borderline comatose. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks 33 (Grateful Dead DECD274, quadruple HDCD, 2004, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This Pick consists of two entire concerts from consecutive day at the Oakland Coliseum Stadium in October 1976. The first show, from the 9th, is excellent throughout, particularly the second set, which consists of a stunning continuous sequence taking in ‘St Stephen’, ‘Not Fade Away’, ‘Help On The Way’, ‘Slipknot!’, ‘Samson And Delilah’, ‘Franklin’s Tower’ and ‘One More Saturday Night’ (B+). The show from the 10this perhaps a shade below the first, but still just about a B+ thanks to a nicely relaxed first set and some excellent jamming in the second (based around ‘Playing In The Band’, ‘The Wheel’, ‘The Other One’, ‘Stella Blue’ and ‘Sugar Magnolia’. As such, this is one of the finest instalments in the Dick’s Picks series (or of live Dead in general). GRADE: B+.
Grateful Dead (USA): Live At The Cow Palace – New Year’s Eve 1976 (Rhino R2 74816, quadruple HDCD, with digipak, minisleeve and booklet, 2007, recorded 1976)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This triple CD features the band’s entire performance from New Year’s Eve 1976/77, plus a limited bonus disc featuring selected recordings from Autumn 1977. The latter (easily a B, if not a B+) is actually better than the set proper, which gives a little too much space to Bob Weir’s good-time material, although the third disc picks up the pace somewhat. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 29 (Rhino R2-565022, triple HDCD, with digipak and poster booklet, 2019, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
The Dead’s concert from 26th February 1977 (augmented here by three numbers from the following night) was long a legend among tape traders. It’s certainly very good, with an attractive tracklisting and a slightly hesitant ‘Estimated Prophet’ (making its live debut) more than balanced out by some fantastic jamming during ‘Help On The Way’/‘Slipknot’/‘Franklin’s Tower’. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 1 (Grateful Dead Productions, download, 2015, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This April 30th show (plus three bonus tracks from the night before) is quintessential early seventies Dead, signposting the way to the legendary 8th May show. Thus, while it’s a little short on wild jamming and psychedelic experimentation, it’s supremely controlled and virtually note-perfect, making for an impressive listening experience. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): May 1977: Get Shown The Light (Rhino R2 557479, 11 HDCD plus gatefold sleeves, book, booklet and box, 2017,

recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godhchaux (occasional vocals)
This lavishly packaged set – complete with spindly die-cut gatefold sleeves (from which most of the discs fell out in transit), a 200-page hardback book, a separate booklet, a box with double magnetic closure and even a customised shipping carton – was long-awaited, as it contains reputedly the band’s best-ever show, from 8th May 1977. The 5th May show, which kicks off the set, is the shortest (and the only one spanning just two discs): it’s solid stuff with a light and playful mood and easily merits a B. The show from two days later is a definite step up, including some lovely jamming, and once again with the gentle, relaxed and self-assured quality typical of their Spring 1977 tour (B+). Approaching the hallowed 8th May concert with any kind of objectivity was difficult, but it is certainly pretty wonderful: not because the band explore the reaches of improvisational space as they did back in 1972 but because they create some of the most mesmerising melodic grooves imaginable, with every single musician at the top of his game (an easy A–). The final show from the 9th is every bit its equal, beginning with a blistering segue of ‘Help On The Way’, ‘Slipknot!’ and ‘Franklin’s Tower’ and never letting up; I can’t think of a better song to end the box than ‘Uncle John’s Band’. This is beautiful music in a beautiful package, and to these ears the best of the Dead’s big boxes. GRADE: B+.
Grateful Dead (USA): May 1977 (Rhino R2 535721, 14 HDCDs with gatefold minisleeves, book and slipcase, 2013, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This lavishly packaged set (featuring oversized envelope-style sleeves, a thick softcover booklet, an elaborate die-cut slipcase and a custom mailing carton) features five different shows recorded during May 1977. The first show from the 11th concentrates largely on early seventies material and is consistently pleasant without ever really catching fire. The other four, however, are uniformly excellent, showcasing all the material from the forthcoming Terrapin Station album in style, interspersed with some great jamming and fine versions of older classics. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Twenty Nine (Real Gone Music RGM-0060, sextuple HDCD, 2012, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Featuring two complete sets from May 1977 (plus several bonus tracks from October), this stunning 6CD release is packed with amazing music. For sure, they meander occasionally but they rarely misfire and at times – notably ‘Dancing In The Street’ and ‘Estimated Prophet’ from the first show – this features some of the best music the Dead ever produced. GRADE: A–.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Three (Grateful Dead GDCD2 4022, double CD, 1995, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This excellent live set (recorded the day after the second set on the above album) mostly features material from the Blues For Allah and Terrapin Station albums. With a well-chosen selection of tracks, it occasionally meanders (typical for live Dead) but even more frequently sparkles, with numerous highpoints including an unexpectedly wonderful version of ‘Dancing In The Street’. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 1 (Rhino R2 529201, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2012, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Despite an appealing tracklisting, this is mostly good rather than great. As usual for a Dead live set, things pick up as they move from discrete songs to longer jams, although there are a few fairly ponderous moments even on the third disc. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): To Terrapin – Hartford ’77 (Rhino 8122-79869-0, triple HDCD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2009, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Recorded six days after Dick’s Picks Volume Three (and three days after Dave’s Picks Volume 1), this has a slightly less appealing tracklisting (no ‘Help On The Way’, ‘Slipknot!’, ‘Franklin’s Tower’ or ‘Sunrise’, for starters) but is a longer set with some really outstanding moments. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Winterland June 1977 – The Complete Recordings (Grateful Dead GRA2-6011, decuple HDCD, with gatefold minisleeves, booklet, insert, badge and box, 2009, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
With three sets from consecutive nights spread across nine discs (plus a bonus tenth disc from other performances for pre-orders), this is a substantial slice of peak Dead. To these ears, the second and third sets are marginally better than the first, whilst there’s plenty of good stuff on the bonus disc as well; however, this doesn’t quite equal the incredible heights of Dick’s Picks Twenty Nine. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Fifteen (Grateful Dead 07822140352, triple HDCD, 1999, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Like many Deadheads, I love almost anything from 1977, and this is a good show (if not at the absolute peak). In many ways, it’s a game of two halves: the first set and the opening to the second are pleasant rather than thrilling, but everything catches fire when they begin to jam. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Road Trips Vol 1 No 2 (Grateful Dead GRA2-6002, triple HDCD, with gatefold minisleeve and minisleeve, 2008, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Recorded during October 1977, this often sees the Dead in all-out jamming mode, with songs frequently outstaying their welcome but just as many truly transcendant moments. For all my quibbling, only the ever-avoidable ‘Around And Around’ really fails to impress, with almost everything else being very listenable. Bizarrely, ‘Sunrise’ has a technical fault that renders Donna Godchaux’s vocal inaudible for the opening section. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 12 (Rhino R2-541136, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2014, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
I love ’77 Dead, and this instalment finds them in a particularly laid-back mood. The second set is the highpoint, with ‘Playing In The Band’ sandwiching ‘Eyes Of The World’, ‘Estimated Prophet’, a fiery ‘The Other One’, a drum solo, ‘Iko Iko’ and ‘Stella Blue’. However, the first set is no slouch either and the third disc of bonus tracks from another show has plenty of highpoints too. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 33 (Rhino R2-607312, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2020, recorded 1977)

Rock/Psychedelic

Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)

The liner notes describe this as a truly legendary show: I wouldn’t go that far, but it has their ’77 smoothness and slickness in spades and some genuinely impressive moments. As is often the case with the Dead, the long second set is the highpoint, particularly a supple ‘Estimated Prophet’ and an intense ‘St Stephen’. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks 34 (Grateful Dead DECD275, triple HDCD, 2004, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Like a lot of ’77 Dead, this is relaxed in the extreme, but they also get suitably intense during the jams on the third disc, resulting in a decent and satisfying release. The main set, from a show in Rochester, is bolstered by additional material from a show in Toronto. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 25 (Rhino R2-564621, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2018, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Whilst this November 1977 show has plenty of fine moments and an attractive tracklisting, the long jam in the second set only catches fire belatedly, the drum solo is remarkably mediocre and Donna Godchaux’s vocals are almost inaudible on ‘Sunrise’. Those quibbles aside, this is another strong addition to the impressive Dave’s Picks series. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Ten (Grateful Dead GDCD2 4022, triple CD, 1998, recorded 1977)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This Pick – virtually all of the band’s show from 29th December 1977 plus a four-song sequence from the following night – is a decent instalment of ’77, with an agreeable tracklisting and a typically mellow mood. However, it’s lacking in any truly transcendental moments, and the bonus material is actually better than the set proper. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks Volume Eighteen (Grateful Dead GDCD 4031, triple HDCD, 1998, recorded 1978)
Rock/Progressive
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Compiled from two concerts in early February 1978, this triple set depicts the usual flow of a Dead set by starting off tentatively (the first disc-and-a-bit are unremarkable, despite an attractive track listing – ‘Passenger’ and ‘Estimated Prophet’ sound particularly listless) before hitting some stunning peaks on the second and third CDs. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 15 (Rhino R2 550932, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2015, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
Even by the Dead’s usual standards, this April 1978 set is relaxed in the extreme. This isn’t always to the album’s advantage – ‘Estimated Prophet’ meanders aimlessly and 14 minutes of ‘Rhythm Devils’ is far too much. The ballads fare better, including nice versions of ‘Looks Like Rain’ and ‘Wharf Rat’, but this is definitely a good rather than great gig. Although she takes no lead vocals here, Donna Godchaux makes her presence felt, particularly during the closing section of ‘Deal’, making it clear how much the band lost when they replaced her and husband Keith with Brent Mydland the following year. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 23 (Rhino R2-557455, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2017, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This legendary show lives up to its reputation, with many excellent moments in both the first and second sets. In particular, ‘Terrapin Station’ is unusually aggressive, whilst the jamming during and after ‘The Other One’ takes the Dead into avant-garde areas recalling 1972 rather than 1978. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 37 (Rhino R2 645921, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2021, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
1978 produced some fabulous Grateful Dead shows, packed with energy and intensity. This isn’t one of them (or, strictly speaking, two, since the main date from 15th April doesn’t even fill two discs, meaning lots of bonus material from the 18th). Aside from an intense ‘Morning Dew’, this is a solid rather than exceptional collection, with the bonus material – which has a laid-back, ’77-like quality – sometimes faring better than the main event. On the plus side, it’s only occasionally shaky (a muted ‘Passenger’ and a very hesitant ‘Sunrise’), but on the downside we get ‘Rhythm Devils’ twice, though the version from the 18th thankfully only lasts a minute. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): Dave’s Picks Volume 7 (Rhino R2 523997, triple HDCD, with digipak and booklet, 2013, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Seven volumes in and Dave’s Picks still isn’t anywhere near the bottom of the barrel – this is excellent stuff, even if it’s remarkably laid-back even by the Dead’s usual standards. On the downside, they hit a few bum notes and the ‘Rhythm Devils’ section outstays its welcome by a good margin, but for the most part this is peak Dead having fun – witness their interpolation of elements of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ into ‘Me And My Uncle’. GRADE: B.

Grateful Dead (USA): Dick’s Picks 25 (Grateful Dead DECD275, quadruple HDCD, 2002, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This instalment of Dick’s Picks includes two almost complete shows (though two songs are omitted from the first and three from the second). What is not omitted is two lengthy drum solos: 18 minutes during the first show and nearly 20 during the second. Whilst inventive players, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart are hardly Ginger Baker or John Bonham in the showmanship department, making this more than half an hour of my life that I’ll never get back. Elsewhere, the first show is solid enough – energetic in the first set and relaxed in the second – and the second is consistently adequate, but I’ve heard much better ’78 Dead. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): July 1978 – The Complete Recordings (Rhino R2-554485, 10 HDCD, with gatefold minisleeves, booklet, box and carton, 2016, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Similar in both conception and packaging to the May 1977 set, this archive release captures five complete shows from early July 1978. The 1st July show is strikingly different from the norm, with an urgency and aggression usually missing from Dead performances (possibly reflecting a change in their chemical regimen). ‘Terrapin Station’ fares rather poorly, but otherwise it’s an excellent, if compact, show (B). The performance from the 3rd has a decent first set, but the second is pretty dull, including long, listless versions of ‘Scarlet Begonias’, ‘Fire On The Mountain’ and ‘Dancing In The Street’ (B–). In contrast, the show from the 5th is consistently strong, with both sets firing on all cylinders (and an unusual jam comprising ‘Estimated Prophet’, ‘Eyes Of The World’, ‘Wharf Rat’, ‘Truckin’’, ‘Iko Iko’ and ‘Around And Around’ being especially effective) (B). Meanwhile, the show from the 7th is similar to that of the 3rd inasmuch as it has a strong first set but a second that is rather insubstantial (B–). The final show, from July 8th, has a solid first set, a really excellent second (with another unusual jam comprising ‘Estimated Prophet’, ‘The Other One’, ‘Eyes Of The World’, ‘Wharf Rat’, ‘Franklin’s Tower’ and ‘Sugar Magnolia’) and a three-song encore including ‘Terrapin Station’ (B). This show was also released as a standalone triple CD. GRADE: B.
Grateful Dead (USA): Rocking The Cradle – Egypt 1978 (Rhino R2 512959, triple HDCD plus DVD, with gatefold minisleeve, minisleeve and booklet, 2008, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
This record of the Dead’s sojourn to the pyramids is beautifully packaged in a novelty fold-out sleeve with a pop-up sphinx and pyramid. Musically it’s a bit listless in parts, but steadily improves as the set continues (not unusual for the Dead) and includes some of the very best music on the limited edition bonus disc (ditto). The DVD, which has a different tracklisting to the CDs, is very enjoyable too. GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): Road Trips Vol 1 No 4: From Egypt With Love (Grateful Dead GRA2-6004, triple HDCD, 2008, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (backing vocals)
As the title suggests, this set was compiled from three shows recorded just after the band returned to the States from their sojourn in Egypt. Perhaps as a consequence, they sound a little subdued, and the sound quality on some cuts is below the Dead’s usual archive standard, but there is still some fine jamming here. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): Passaic Theatre NJ ’78 (Air Cuts AC3CD8040, triple CD, with minisleeves, booklet and box, 2016, recorded 1978)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
Taken from a radio broadcast (complete with station announcements), this is an enjoyable document of a particularly laid-back November 1978 set. The band doesn’t really indulge its penchant for spaced-out jamming here, but there is a pleasing track listing, including the rarely played ‘Ollin Arrageed’ amid a sequence comprising ‘Estimated Prophet’, ‘Shakedown Street’, ‘Fire On The Mountain’ and ‘Sugar Magnolia’. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): The Closing Of Winterland – December 31, 1978 (Monterey Video 319782, double DVD plus HDCD, with digipak, booklet and slipcase, 2004, recorded 1979)Rock/PsychedelicDonna Godchaux (occasional vocals)This gargantuan package features three full sets from the Dead, performed from midnight until the morning of 1 January 1979, bonus footage of support acts New Riders Of The Purple Sage and the Blues Brothers, a documentary about the Winterland Ballroom, interviews with the band and Bill Graham, a ‘making of’ featurette and a slide show. With the whole thing totally six-and-a-quarter hours, it’s a remarkable document of a historic night. Musically, the band turns in some fine performances of a broad spectrum of songs (with ‘Not Fade Away’ and ‘Dark Star’ being especially remarkable) but with a little too much Bob Weir-fronted good-time material for my taste. Early copies came with a bonus CD compiling recordings from other New Year’s Eve shows between 1970 and 1977 (but mostly the latter). GRADE: B–.
Grateful Dead (USA): The Closing Of Winterland – December 31, 1978 (Grateful Dead GDCD78055, quadruple HDCD, 2003,

recorded 1979)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
The audio-only version of the show really emphasises the outstanding musicianship on the best numbers, and is a very worthwhile set in its own right. GRADE: B–.

Grateful Dead (USA): 30 Trips Around The Sun (Rhino, 80CD plus gold vinyl 7", with gatefold minisleeves, book, scroll, ticket, pass, box and carton, 2015, recorded 1966-1995)
Rock/Psychedelic
Donna Godchaux (occasional vocals)
This mammoth collection, marking the band’s fiftieth anniversary, dwarfs even the Europe ’72 steamer trunk, featuring one show from each year of the Dead’s existence. As a result, seven of the thirty shows feature Donna Godchaux, and hence are eligible for review here. The 1972 show has an unremarkable first set, except for the closing ‘Playing In The Band’, but things really take off for the second set (overall B–). In contrast, 1973’s set is solid throughout, with lots of my early seventies favourites (a solid B); annoyingly, the tracks are out of sequence, as Rhino didn’t want to invest in an extra disc (despite the set costing a hefty $699). The 1974 set is also consistently impressive, and another B, though I can’t imagine myself wanting to hear the ‘Seastones interlude’ on a regular basis. In contrast, the 1975 set is much shorter, with an unusual track listing; whilst the versions of a few Blues For Allah numbers are excellent, the lack of the band’s usual gargantuan jams is notable (B–). The 1976 set is also lacking anything really incendiary, and the playing is even more ragged than usual on the early songs, but it has an unusual track listing and a nicely lighthearted atmosphere (B–). The comparatively short 1977 performance features a perfunctory first set, with the band only really taking flight on ‘Estimated Prophet’, but the second set is superb (overall just about a B). Despite an attractive track listing, the 1978 show – the last in the box with the Godchauxs – is good rather than great, with a second set that starts well but goes downhill after ‘Eyes Of The World’ (not helped by more than 12 minutes of ‘Rhythm Devils’) (B–). GRADE: B–.
See also Donna Jean, Jerry Garcia Band, Ghosts, Heart Of Gold Band, Keith & Donna, ZÓÉ