Other 1976 AUD aficionados might beg to differ, and I’d agree that there are sonically better recordings from ’76 which I will feature here in due time. But this show (set two in particular) does that something special that only certain AUD tapes do – it captures the arena as an instrument. The sound of the hall on this tape is participatory, not distracting. The tape captures all instrumentation clearly. There’s wonderful separation. And Cobo Arena bounces everything from drums to vocals in a perfect outer layer – it all gels into the classic Dead AUD tape experience. I know this tape had a lot to do with my becoming a flag waving, card carrying, AUD loving Deadhead.
So, back when I got this show, it was only the second set that I found on some guys list. Set one emerged years later when the set two SBD made the light of day. The copy of set one that is part of this version I’m linking in this post isn’t quite up to par with the copy of the second set. While you owe it to yourself to hear the Scarlet Begonias from set one, I’m far more focused on your hearing the second set tape. Oh, and the SBD… Most all SBDs from the Fall of 1976 seem rather flat and dry. This show is a completely different experience in SBD. Not at all what I recommend here.
Allow me to share some thoughts on the big set two jam:
The Wheel is pretty standard fare for 1976, but the jam afterwards is nothing short of stunning, the first of many more fantastic improvisational passages from this set. The jam is picturesque, as many Wheel jams are, but here the band begins to play loosely with the upbeat jam normally associated with Comes A Time in the late 70's. You want to pinch yourself because it’s so joyful. Another moment in Dead tapes that approaches the satori moment. You’ll tell the story of this jam to your friends back home.
Bobby hints at Dancin', but after many bars of marvelous interplay between everyone, Phil and Jerry seem locked together on their way to Come A Time itself. However, we get Good Lovin' instead. It starts with the refrain we remember from the start of Good Lovin' back in 1970. The tune is incredibly hot. Jerry and Donna's background vocals are spot on. The lead break is sensational - all sorts of things are being toyed with here. But it's the jam out of the song that reaches the same levels of play that have been displayed time and time again over the last ten days of the tour. Each member of the band is listening to, and playing off of, the other. We even hear the familiar shuffle-like jam that came out of Eyes of the World less than a week earlier on 9/28. Near the end, with Jerry and Phil locked together again, they are getting completely in synch for Comes A Time. Then a glimmer of Slipknot appears that makes me think I had heard it before during an earlier jam (in Playin'?). But all things focus on a single point, and Jerry lets loose another stellar version of Comes A Time. Sweet and full of subdued emotion.
The all too short jam out of Come A Time is priceless. It's like a dawn breeze comes by and lifts you up into the air; the sun just peaking up over the horizon. Jerry orbits around a central theme while the entire band seems to search for the right direction to go. But it is as if they cannot help but be in the zone at the same time. I remember when I first got this tape I had never heard one of these late 70's post Come A Time jams before. I was awestruck. The fact that, after quite a few years of trading, I could discover something so unique and so utterly breathtaking from this band that I was already on such familiar terms with thrilled me to no end. And it occurs twice in this show; once out of The Wheel, and again after Comes A Time.
Out of this jam, Bobby finally gets the Dancin' he was hinting at earlier. Nothing stands out more than Phil seeming to sprout an extra left arm or two as he manages to be all over the neck of the bass at every moment. A very smooth transition into Not Fade Away follows. The groove is good, but can't quite match the levels from the rest of the set. Bobby pulls off a China Cat tease on the way back to Dancin', but the rest of the band has little or no interest at all. The crowd, on the other hand, sure hears it, and wants it. China>Rider had not been played since 1974, and wouldn’t again until the end of 1977. There is a brief Drums break before they bring Dancin' back for good and you can hear a big dude call out in a husky voice "I Know You Rider!!!!" Well, no chance tonight.
So, you want to know something that pains this AUD loving, old tape transferring deadhead’s heart? Check out the archive.org reviews attached to this version of the show I seeded (linked below) and note the message from the actual taper in 2005. Humboldt Dead, you came so close, and now I can’t find a way to contact you so we can digitally archive your tape as an upgrade. Oh the pain.