Venue: Winterland - San Francisco, CA
Tape History: SBD
Release History: None
U.S. Blues, Mexicali Blues, Brown-Eyed Women, BIODTL, *Candyman, Jack Straw, *China Cat Sunflower -> *I Know You Rider, El Paso, Loser, *Playin' In The Band
Cumberland Blues, It Must Have Been The Roses, *Big River, *Bertha, WRS Prelude -> WRS Part One -> *Let It Grow -> Row Jimmy -> Ship Of Fools, Promised Land, *Dark Star -> *Morning Dew, Sugar Magnolia, NFA -> *GDTRFB -> NFA, E: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
11-21-2010: This was one of my first tapes along with 08-27-1972 and 05-08-1977, all from the nugs stash in early 2003. Love the opening comments from Bill Graham. Wonderful wah-wah solo by Jerome in "Candyman." Everybody's feeling pretty frisky in "China" -> "Rider," with Bobby playing some exceptional rhythm leads. The transition into "Rider" is invisible, and there Jerry picks up his playing. Surprisingly, the band goes into the "Feelin' Groovy" (or "UJB," if you prefer) jam in the middle. Big Phil bomb in the "headlight" verse. The first brilliant "Playin'" of the year, more mellow and exploratory than the intense, aggressive fall '73 style. Bill's drumming in the latter part of '73 and through most of '74 really drives the band forward. Listening to "Playin'" you could tell how much each member actually listening to one another, they never "went through the motions" in this period. Fiery "Let It Grow" gives way to a perplexing middle of the second set, where the flow is interrupted and song choices are confounding ("Row Jimmy" -> "Ship Of Fools," "Promised Land") before the majestic "Dark Star" -> "Morning Dew" pairing, one of the very best out there. (There's a short "Spanish Jam" near the 24 minute mark of "Dark Star.") I always felt this was one of my favorite '74 shows, but after digging the June, July, and August shows, I am unable to award this show a Lightning Skull.
"Playin'" notwithstanding, these February '74 Winterland gigs are more in character with the fall/winter '73 gigs than with the rest of 1974. Perhaps they should be heard as as continuation of the 1973 sound rather than straight up 1974 gigs. The band turned the corner after 03-23-1974 because that was when the Wall of Sound debuted. I like to say that the '74 sound came into being after that gig.
There are few tunes more cherished in the Grateful Dead catalog than "Dark Star" and "Morning Dew." When they are paired the results are often magnificent. This particular pairing, the tenth out of only 12 the band ever played, is enthralling. The band is patient and focused. A common description of this show is that it is "mellow," and though it may be somewhat of a cliche, it is also true. This "Dark Star" doesn't push to the outer realms, but it is beautifully developed. The "Dew" is an emotional landing point. I can't say enough about this sequence. For me, only 1972-09-21 (Dick's Picks #36) and 1973-10-19 (Dick's Picks #19) challenge this one. I'll be posting the review to 09-21 soon, so keep an eye out for that one!
Dark Star ->