Site Sponsor

Not Sure Where To Begin?

The intro posts are always a good start, followed logically by
my thoughts on Music & Being, which guide my writing.
You could also try my current favorite show on the blog,
plus there's good reading under the trading community label.
Or, take a walk on a
Listening Trail.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Listening Trail – Unsung Heroes

Another installment in the GDLG Listening Trails Series

This is probably my favorite topic of them all, and I could (and probably will) fill many listening trails with shows that fall under this category. Everyone likes to be turned on to a great show that they’d never otherwise give a second glace. With a music collection as big as the Dead’s, there are bound to be hidden gems hiding under rocks and around corners all over the place. Finding them is a challenge all its own, and in large part makes up a sizable portion of the inspiration for the Listening Guide in the first place. In many ways the entire guide is often one long unsung heroes trail.

It’s an extra special pleasure to give someone a show that they’d never thought of before and watch their eyes light up as the music takes over. Certainly one of the more exciting trails to follow, bumping into the unsung heroes among Grateful Dead tapes makes for some of the most satisfying musical experiences we can seek. I hope everyone can find a least a few eye openers while travelling along this trail.

We’re going to stick to the ‘70’s on this trail. Don’t worry. We’ll head down many different unsung heroes trails before it's all over.

Please follow the links below to fully enjoy this Listening Trail.

05/07/70 – This show scores a perfect 10 on both the acoustic Dead scale, and the raging psychedelic beast scale. From the nose to toes, this is one of the greatest Dead shows of all, yet it is so often overlooked. From the amazingly welcoming energy of the acoustic set (my favorite, by far), to the many worlds travelled in the electric set highlights, this show can’t be missed. Wood, organic, Grateful Dead.

03/18/71 – Worthy of the highest of praise, this show gets nearly no attention. Sandwiched between the long standing popularity of the month before and after, this gem from March, ’71 boils over with everything indicative of the Dead’s mastery at this stage of their career. A perfect slice of 1971, and the last known rendering of “Feedback.” The true end of the Primal Era? Let’s not start the debate here.

07/01/73 – I’ll happily talk to no end about my love of Summer ’73 Grateful Dead. A stellar AUD recording with one of the best Playin’ In The Band’s from the year, and a fantastic, deeply explorative set two jam, it makes me wonder why the rest of the world doesn’t share my belief that it doesn’t get much better than everything that this band played in the Summer of ‘73. Shorter lines for me, I guess, when we perfect time travel and can go back to see some shows.

10/03/76 – The latter half of 1976 was always the hardest to come by in tape trading circles, and with most of the year’s best music hiding there at the back end, it’s no wonder 1976 struggles to get its props; that, and big old 1977 coming right after. Hearing this show’s second set changed everything for me regarding 1976, and set me on a path to find every drop of nectar from this year. Multiple moments of inspired improvisation, and wickedly subtle psychedelic interplay throughout, make this show a constant favorite of mine, always one to share.

07/01/78 – Another year where the Summer seems to suffer from a lack of appreciation. The Red Rocks shows from a week later show up on everyone’s list, highly circulated soundboards. I find digging a bit more deeply into the first week of the month pays off even better dividends. No soundboards at all. No reason to worry. You won’t hear this one getting a lot of talk, but I find it to be a perfect stop in 1978.

In finishing this list, I find myself thinking of many many more shows that could be on this trail. No doubt, we’ll be back for more.


  1. I thought a section entitled UNSUNG heroes might involve instrumental tunes, or intro/outro jams that folks often overlook. Hope to hear some...

    Love the Blog. Great writing, fine detail.
    - jim

  2. I love this blog. Thanks so much for keeping it up. The reverence, depth of commentary and attention to detail and enthusiasm are unparalleled. I'm wondering if would ever do a show on really idiosyncratic versions. As I'm sure you know, the China Cat/Rider from December 29, 1977 is an example of this. This version comes out of a three year absence, and then the band doesn't play it again for over a year.

    I've also heard a '74 El Paso and a '77 Sugaree with incredibly heavy and intricate drumming. Not sure the dates of these shows, sadly.

    There's also the 'Maybe You Know' from April 21, 1986 and the notorious May 11, 1978 Dancin' In The Streets, but these are more the stuff of folklore than qualitatively different shows.

    Can you tell us about any other particularly idiosyn


Blog Widget by LinkWithin