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Sunday, February 10, 2008

1974 May 12 - Reno, NV

Wall of Sound - Dillon Stadium, July 31, 1974

GRATEFUL DEAD
Sunday, May 12, 1974
University of Nevada - Reno, NV
Audience Recording

The Wall Of Sound outside in the sunshine. It was made for this.

I am a firm believer that the very best way to enjoy an audience recording is to listen to one recorded outside. There's no hall reverb to get in the way, and when it comes to the Dead's sound systems, you are always in for a treat.

A long while ago I wrote my thoughts down about the AUD portion of 05/12/74 that circulates. This was long before the SBD leaked out of the Vault. I've clean it up a little for posting here. Please indulge a full fledged "tape review." It's a little long. However, this is a recording worth grabbing indeed.

Now there are Truckin's and there are Truckin's. But there are only a few of occasions where I feel that a version goes over the top with energy. This is one of them. What is normally a good old raucous tune, is sometimes lit with a fire that burns white hot. Well here we go.

05/12/74 PosterThere are a few minutes before the band kicks in that are flooded with that certain audience-energy that let's you know that things are pretty "on." There's one fellow who's talking to (at) Bobby in that wonderful family-like sort of connection between audience and band. He says "Hey BOBBY! Bobby-eh! Let's hear some Fillmore power!" One guy yells out "Trrrrrrruckin'!" followed by another who adds, "Yeah, Truckin'!" Then our first guy shouts again, "Hey, Bobby!…" But as he's forming his next question, the band kicks into the song.

The band just erupts into a very up tempo Truckin'. They are so loud that you can't even hear that audience clapping on every beat that so typifies Truckin's of the time. It's knife-edge sharp. And it just flies! This is power. I find this, like so many others, to be a jam that is fully driven by Billy. He is at the peak of his powers, which may well have started the previous summer. His drumming energy is really the glue to this jam.

Phil Lesh - 05/25/74Now it bears mentioning the this was the first Wall of Sound show since March, and the first show of the true Spring tour. And the first Wall of Sound Truckin' ever! You get the feeling that the band is pretty excited. A good time being had by everyone.

Churning and burning it goes, faster than most any other Truckin' you've heard. With a "Woo!" (Bobby?), they launch into the after-jam. When they reach the standard rev up section, it is just one of those moments that leaves you breathless. While the whole band is pounding out the same notes, Phil is completely in another world. He breaks tune, tempo and rhythm all at the same time and it is masterful. Meanwhile, Jerry is soaring, and when they all converge for the last four bars you're looking for your jaw somewhere on the floor.

What follows is a prolonged jam which winds its way to a Nobody's Jam that is pretty unstructured. There's a sensation of each member of the band being a page of one book, each playing a different page, all of them fluttering around in the wind. This could be considered something of an unfocused jam with little direction. But because of the raw power of the Truckin' flowing into it, you don't get that aimless feeling at all. It's more measured chaos. Everyone is flying in different directions, but with such extreme energy that they just can't go wrong. The Nobody's Jam comes and goes and they are still in this wild, heart pounding, Billy-groove. This is sort of reminiscent of the jam style of the rest of May, but I'm always so much more impressed with this show (and 5/17) compared with the rest of the month's endeavors. The jam flows along and I find myself pondering on what it must have been like to be sitting there, in the same area of the crowd with this taper feeling the Wall of Sound descend upon me.

The wild disconnected nature of the jam finally sees a notion of semblance. Jerry is hinting at Other One. We know everyone else hears him, yet the chaos continues. Then, amid the fluttering of pages, Phil is ready for the next song. What we get is his rumbling intro not once, but THREE or FOUR times. Like he's trying to start a motorcycle. Finally he crescendos the intro, and off they go.

Or do they? While it's clear that they are all turning to the same page in the book, the chaos just can't be quelled. Before the Other One can fully form it's gone and we're back in the primordial ooze again. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Phil explodes with his Other One intro, AGAIN. BA-BOOM!!!! Now we are there. All on the same page. Jerry's lead style is still going off the charts in every direction, but the band is entirely focused now. A good, solid Other One ensues.

In almost a perfect counterpoint to how zoned into the jam the band is, Bobby completely blows the first verse to the song. He's like a mumbling fool. Sort of like someone had to shake him out of the "flow" so he could sing. He recovers in time for the end of the verse. You have to forgive him. The jam is just that intense. More sheer 74 power follows. It's chaotic again, yet after a time, deep down inside you hear Bobby hint ever so slightly at Mind Left Body Jam (the first one of 1974!). It doesn't happen right away, of course - this being typical of the jam. They do eventually all coalesce into a nice MLB Jam, with Jerry really stretching things with his slide. It's not perfectly structured. The fundamental chord shift into the chorus(?) of the piece is reached by half the band, then the other half. The piece staggers and leapfrogs itself some. But, the effect is great - really twisted. This is more than likely a musicianship blunder, but it flung me just far enough out in space that I got that giggly feeling associated with tremendous out-of-body-like Dead moments. They may as well have been fully in control.

The MLB Jam drops almost directly into Row Jimmy, catching you completely off guard. It's just perfect. This Row Jimmy is an all time favorite of mine. The solo sections go beyond description, with Jerry on slide and Keith on piano. They are just falling over you like a gentle rain, drawing from the rest of the big jam. It's unlike any other. The energy that pours into this tune is like the China Cat out of Here Comes Sunshine on 02/17/73, or the I Know You Rider out of Spanish Jam on 03/31/73. It's made all the better by the power of the jam before it. There are phases laid out by Keith that are burned into my head forever during this song. The fact that they end up on Row Jimmy makes this jam just all the more perfect. It's a perfect end.

6 comments:

  1. well - looking through your review made me want to listen and then make a matrix\dts out of this portion of that show.

    thanks
    kevin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kevin, Thrilled to have helped bring on the motivation. A great candidate for a Matrix SBD/AUD blend.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for this wonderful blog - very helpful to navigate the ocean of music available. One question - when I followed the link for the 5/12/74 show on Archive, the music files appear corrupted. Is it the way I'm accessing it or is the problem over at Archive? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You're right. Just looking at the file size of the "whole item" VBR ZIP file, somehting is off.

    You might try saving each of the Shorten files directly (those file sizes seem right), and then extracting them to .wav or MP3.

    I think that's how I grabbed the show before writing the review.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I live in Reno and was at this concert. I'm so grateful for your recollection as I was 14 and mine is extremely fuzzy...remember getting there, getting high and the rest was a blur.
    A good time was had by all, I know!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I was at this concert and what fuzzy memories I have as well... I was 19 at the time and a buddy and myself drove a beater truck from Park City Utah and back.... where is where I still live.

    We were in line when the gates opened and had a place right up front for the sound check and Phil and Steve Parrish came down afterwards to hang w us for a half an hour or so.

    Anyone remember what the sound check set list was????

    Thnx for the posting this....so lucky to have been to this show!

    ReplyDelete

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