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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

1976 June 9 - Boston Music Hall

Grateful Dead 1976

Wednesday, June 9, 1976
Boston Music Hall – Boston, MA
Audience Recording

Back in the day, this was perhaps the most difficult of the circulating June ‘76 shows to find. I say “of the circulating shows” because a few shows from this month sat in the “holy grail” bucket – ones you saw absolutely nowhere (6/4, and 6/27 among them). I had an admittedly charmed trading life back in the 90s, and one trade in particular brought me 05/07/70, 05/12/74, and 06/09/76 all in one box. I don’t remember the trader’s name, but it was a guy with the classic “everything,” and I went for stuff on his list I had seen nowhere else. I probably sent him my A quality 04/29/71 and the composite of Watkins Glen 07/28/73 that I seeded out for the 25th anniversary. God, that Watkins tape opened any door I wanted back then. More on that when I work up the review.

That 06/09/76 was so hard to come by seems a cruel joke played on this year of Dead shows. As mentioned before, 1976 gets such a bad rap, and it is in no small part due to the fact that most of the best stuff imaginable from that year just never got into wide circulation. Now, not only does this AUD master circulate, but so does the SBD. I’m a firm believer that good AUDs from 1976 give off an energy that was often missing from soundboards from that year. That, and the purely nostalgic feelings I have for this tape lead me to talk about the AUD.

Jerry Garcia 1976The return of St. Stephen is only one stellar aspect of 06/09/76. The entire second set completely out performs how it looks on paper; and it looks mighty fine on paper:

St. Stephen> Eyes of the World > Let It Grow > Drums > Let It Grow, Brown Eyed Women, Lazy Lightning > Supplication, High Time, Samson, It Must've Been The Roses, Dancin’in the Streets > Wharf Rat > Around, E: Franklin's Tower

The first set is no slouch, looking like a dream set that might have been penned by some fans in the parking lot before the show. Cold Rain opens. It was only played three times in ’73, and once in ’74 on the last night of the farewell stand at Winterland (it was the opener that night too). Cassidy was played only once before, early in 1974. And then we get Scarlet Begonias, Music Never Stopped, and Crazy Fingers, all in a row. Whew! But set two opens with the song that most fans probably didn’t even allow themselves to think about ever hearing again.

The crowd’s reaction to St. Stephen is priceless stuff (equaled again upon its second return in 1983). The song’s jam demonstrates the 1976-typical slowly spinning kaleidoscope of sound right from the first notes. It swirls and swirls going further and further out – Jerry finding one beautiful space after another. They all key back together for the last verse as if they’ve been playing the tune every night since it was last played on 10/31/71. When they shift from “What would be the answer to the answer man?” into Eyes it is dreamy perfection. Is this really happening? You will be in the giddiest of Grateful Dead spaces here.

This Eyes is perfectly described as jubilant. The super up tempo treatment of the song is pure pleasure. Also, it has another new 1976 twist: they build the song backwards with the long exit jam coming before the song itself. This one goes on for 8 minutes before the first verse, and it serves to prolong the giddy zone all the way through. Your dog might even start twirling around the living room to this song, his or her little puppy paws rising and falling like incense smoke overhead.

Grateful Dead -August 4, 1976Not good enough for you? Try refraining from joy as the band eases out of Eyes into a light and dreamlike mist that sounds bound perfectly for Wharf Rat, only to have Bobby magnificently draw out Let It Grow. It fades into view like a ghost out of the fog. Brilliant. The Let It Grow is overflowing with more of the wonderful interlocking spinning wheel glory of 1976. In and out of Drums on a dime. And then there’s this perfect little Brown Eyed Women. The song hardly ever gets a second thought when it comes to “best of” conversations. But, I’ve always found this one somehow a cut above. The quickened tempo has a lot to do with it, I’m sure.

In many ways Supplication seems to define 1976. There was nothing like this happening pre-retirement at all, and it has a groove altogether new to the Dead's repertoire. The band stokes this fire nicely, but they don’t linger. That’s okay. Ounce for ounce, the Lazy Lightning>Supplication scores a 10 all the way through.

Finally, the return of High Time (last played on 07/12/70!) ushers in some space to breath. Gotta love the guy sitting next to the taper bellowing out “Dark Star” in a heavy Bostonian accent before it too.

Disco Dancin’. Many an old deadhead shudders at the thought of anything that happened after 1974. And the return of Dancin’ In The Streets in 1976, with its blatant nod to the disco beat of the times, is generally the first thing pointed to when marking the signs of the apocalypse. However one feels about it, 6/9 contains the third airing of the newly vamped version (debuted six days earlier after being shelved on 12/31/71). Still in its infancy, it’s mostly a group effort with no one taking center stage. This allows for lots of intricate play between the band members who are clearly listening closely to each other. They stumble and catch themselves nicely through the end themes, and Wharf Rat follows nicely, with Around & Around closing the set unsurprisingly, but the sizzling double tempo ending portion adds a welcome flair.

The Franklin’s Tower encore is a good ride. It feels like a pretty standard delivery until Jerry starts exploding in the leads sections. The final solo passage builds to a climatic fervor before settling back down and allowing the song to end. A nice end to a great show.



  1. Great review, but I am surprised it took you so long to find this one, I know I had the aud by the mid-80's.

    The energy was certainly up for this first East Coast show, and the first set sparkles and growls with energy. great playing all around!

  2. Glad you liked the review.

    I only started actively power trading around 1997, so it took me about a year to bump into this show.

    I'm guessing folks were trading and aquiring this aud starting in about 1976, let alone the mid 80's ;-). It all depends on when the bus came by for each of us, I guess.

    Thanks again!

  3. Oh, sweet 1976.

    The Italian HeAd

  4. After dl'ing the aud on your recommendation and listening a few times to the whole thing over the past few weeks, I must thank you for shining a light into another corner of 1976. This Eyes is joining a few others near the top of the pile, as far as I'm concerned. As excellent as the aud sounds, though, I'm going to keep looking for the sbd (which sounds lovely, going by the patch in Eyes). I agree with you that a lot of 1976 sbds lack a certain energy, but the gooey-ness of that 76 sound (the bass, the Fender Rhodes, the aluminum guitar) makes me want to savor every little detail of it in a way that the aud doesn't deliver. Still, I can't stop listening, though... thanks for pointing me towards this show!

  5. One of my all time favorites from any year. This was also my first trade in Relix back in '76 after a friend dared me. My original copy was pretty bad sounding but I still loved it. My favorite post 70 High Time. My current favorite is the matrix version.

  6. Exactly 34 years ago today, I was 17 and this was my first show :)

  7. I agree the matrix version is pretty awesome. To me this show is better than Cornell. Its much to obvious what the high points are so I won't repeat them, I dig the loose kaleidoscopic jamming a lot though. Much better than the stiff jams of 77. The set lists in this year are so amazing too, always quite varied it seems, lots of experimenting.

  8. Great show! Around and Around is smoooking and Franklins is a great relaxing closer. Once again, wonderful review. Keep it up!

  9. I highly recommend the commercially released version (Road Trips vol.4 no.5). The sound quality is exceptional, and the playing - well - see above. The Stephen>Eyes disk pretty much lives in my car CD changer.

  10. i may be having a good day but this tape has such an unusually strong sense of Flow and it's wonderful. songs arise, songs end, spaces happen in between, it's a universe in its own unfolding every second. i've been listening to this show on and off all day and it's so easy to slip into. after dancing into wharf rat i just had to make a note of it.

    the playing is uniformly exquisite throughout and there are so many pretty things happening all the time. i also have this intangible feeling otherness as if this is some slightly off alternate universe dead that crossed over, different from the one i've known for years. i would say it's like the first time hearing the dead all over again, but really, the first time wasn't like this...

    i love the audience tape-ness of this, its quality of being there, i think it has a lot to do with the special way whoever this was somehow captured the drums and bass and the shapes their sounds take in an actual venue space. i think this one probably has the most i've heard because it's so clean and while there are some others that have that, especially with the bass, there's something in the treb or mids sacrificed... not so here. it's all there. and the sounds of the audience are perfectly balanced with the rest, too. i am loving the audience response during this all over. i've forgotten gems from earlier in the show, but just now in around and around there was some guy you could hear yelling along to certain lines when he got especially excited. "LORD I HAD TO DANCE." i love it

    the audio of this is just, like, something about the sound, is one of the most... seeing people, seeing lights, seeing the band in your mind's eye, it's almost effortless. all you have to do is gently nudge your mind in that direction and you're there.

    this tape is just so happening for me right now. talking about the thing is never the thing. i dont even know man

    and it's so long. so much here. good to get lost in. this transcends.


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