This show marked the beginning of the Fall '73 tour (okay, I know it was still technically Summer). After being off the road for a month, the Dead come back on one of the highest notes of the year. Refreshed, inspired, and ready to do business.
I come back to this show (both in AUD and Soundboard) often for the logical highlights. Fantastic quality renditions pervade the show. This night, and the night after, were always tapes that hid slightly from view on lists. Hard to find, typically in lack-luster quality AUD (especially 9/8), we were blessed by the leaking of the SBDs right around 2000, not to mention Jerry Moore getting his master AUD into circulation.
Also worth noting is that this night marked the debut of Jerry's Wolf guitar in a live show with the Dead. Judging from Jerry's inspired playing, he was putting it through its paces, and it was performing like a true champ. The extra hieghts he reaches seem to indicate he was really getting off on the new axe.
Bird Song. There were only a dozen of these in 1973, none after September 15th. Then the song got shelved for years. Sad. For those that we did get in 1973, they always go to wonderful places and find a special spot in my heart. This night's version is no exception. Waterfalls of notes that swirl the time signature. Jerry's solo seems to mark the downbeat and start of each measure as if he has tossed all the measures up in the air and let all the 1's, 2's, 3's, and 4's float back into the music of their own accord. This, meshed with Billy's sensational drumming that seems to be slipping its own count across a glass-like frozen lake, makes for an unmistakable 1973 musical sensation - like running too fast down a hill and being caught forever in a limbo somewhere pasts having your footing yet not quite tumbling head over heels. It keeps you perpetually falling forward, like forever tipping just over the edge of a slow motion waterfall. The first tape I heard that brought this image to my mind was 11/14/73 San Diego. In its multi-Other One layers that make up the massive jam cake of set two, this feeling is extremely pronounced. This is a hallmark of 1973.
New Potato Bird Song Caboose
I find myself compelled here to raise a thread of thought. If you look back and trace the grooves of this band from its dawn on up through the years, you can find that there are particular "grooves" that always found their way into the picture. Dig out your copy of Anthem Of The Sun and listen again to the Cryptical. The jamming has a certain triumphant march feeling to it - like the band is leading us into a parade of delights. This triumphant march is duplicated some years later in Truckin'. Listen and you'll see. I'm not talking about the obvious connection between Truckin' and Other One here. It's Crytical, and rooted in Billy's playing. You'll see. Similarly, give New Potato Caboose a good listen and follow it up with any Bird Song jam you like. You will find yourself in the same jam. It's awesome. It's these deeply cut veins that followed the band always. Bird Song was absolutely the latter-year outlet for this special primal Dead groove.
Here on 09/07/73, Jerry also does something that he otherwise seemed to always consciously avoid in solos - he finds a phrase, and repeats it over and over, letting his brushstroke cover the same arch again and again over the canvas. This show is full of him doing this. Very out of character, but oh so welcome. (see the 5:50 point in Playin' for example).
Let It Grow saw its debuts on this night - the band fresh out of the studio recording Wake Of The Flood. The jam turns very Playin'-like, yet Jerry is more lyrically minded in his phrasing.
Somehow, the band finds the ability to ratchet up the energy and power for the set two closing jam that starts with Truckin'. The Other One Jam (there is no sung verse) whips its tail around the hall. And the Eyes jam follows the band into nooks and crannies of jams that were never part of Eyes before or after. Set yourself to the 13:30 mark and you'll find the band bouncing on a solid refrain that comes and goes, a forgotten theme never developed. The entire song ends with Jerry bursting the sky apart with a staccato riff of Herculean strength and gusto (loving the Wolf), the band spiraling out on another lovely group-theme that comes and goes like a breeze, unique to this night's version only.
Whether you download the AUD (another stellar Jerry Moore tape - thank you!!) or enjoy the SBD stream, this show may well find itself in your regular rotation, again and again.