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Monday, August 17, 2015

Real Gone Music presents: Grateful Dead Dick's Picks Vol Seven September 1974 - New release review

I just received the latest release from Grateful Dead's Dick's Picks, Vol Seven and it's a strong set. Opening with Scarlet Begonias the Dead wastes no time whatsoever getting the groove going. Western flavored Mexicali Blues has a great feel and Weir's vocals are strong and clear. Row Jimmy is a nice change up and Garcia plays some shimmery guitar riffs that are actually chilling. Very cool! On Black-ThroatedWind the Dead's blues influences are particularly strong. Lesh's contribution on bass are vital on this track. A cool little (extended) ditty, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo has a real nice swagger and clean guitar solos. Garcia's vocals are spot on and fine! Beat It On Down The Line is of course one of the band's rockers and has great drive. Keith Godchaux lays down some nice piano work on this track and Donna Jean adds nice vocal harmonies. Tennessee Jed has just the right groove and Garcia leads it perfectly. Keith, Jerry, Bob and Phil really get a solid footing on this track held tight by Bill Kreutzmann for my favorite track on disc one. Band hit, Playing In The Band wraps side one in classic style with a 23 plus minute jam.

 Opening disc two is Weather Report Suite, opening with it's classical nature but evolving into a rowdy Dead western rocker with Weir and Donna Jean taking the vocal lead. Stella Blue is a classic Dead blues ballad and finds Garcia in some of his best vocals for my own personal preference in a long time. Jack Straw has a particularly cohesive feel with tight overlayed guitar and bass work. Brown-Eyed Women is as straight up crowd pleaser with no extraneous jams as I've heard the band perform. It is well received and clear. Big River has a hard driving feel and Weir coupled with Keith really gets it going on this one. Of course there is plenty of guitar to go around but the boys keep it reeled in and tight. Classic Dead track, Truckin' is a very short 10 plus minute version of one of their mist popular tracks ever. Nice! Blending straight into Wood Green Jam the band get creatively loose and although cohesive, more expressive. Wrapping disc 2 is Wharf Rat. Compelling vocals by Garcia as well as bass work by Lesh, piano by Keith and tight rhythms by Bill give this track real texture.

Western flavored Me and My Uncle is a great opener for disc 3 featuring Weir on vocal and fast paced soloing. This is a great toe tapper and gives Garcia a real opening to play some of his best riffs on the release. Just the opening of Not Fade Away elicits a crowd roar. Weir and Garcia sing in tandem as Lesh and Bill drive the rhythm train. Melodic soloing by Jerry and Lesh gets this track flying and it doesn't land for over 16 minutes. Clocking in at over 24 minutes, Dark Star pushes the envelope for free form jamming, with a solid melody falling out of the mist a times but only briefly. A continuation of the jam, Spam Jam, is much more wide open and experimental although a really cool jazz formation does appear. Interesting. Morning Dew is wound way down from Spam Jam with cohesive bass lines from Lesh driving Jerry vocally. Nice tight piano work from Keith leads to some frenzied guitar work and nicely woven solo lines between Weir and Garcia. Wrapping the release is U.S. Blues, an all time favorite with ideal framing and strong closing capabilities. Tight and powerful, the Dead crushes it.

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