Picks 31 review
Picks 31 is a four disc compilation from:
Center, Philadelphia, PA ~ Aug. 4 & 5, 1974, and
Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ ~ Aug. 6, 1974.
the release is a compilation many fans will complain of it not being
a complete show, and even threaten boycotts. Personally,
I love the tone that the Grateful Dead produced in 1974, and looking
over the set lists from the three shows, there is plenty of material
left off that would have been a welcome fifth disc. But
focusing on the music that is included as opposed to what is
excluded, it's hard to find many faults or weaknesses with Dick's
nice aspect about this package is that each disc, while not a
complete set, is a final stand alone statement. They all have their
individual theme and each disc includes plenty of jams, and does not
require one to flip the disc to hear the conclusion; very helpful when
time is limited, or driving down windy roads!
first three discs include both meat and potatoes, that is, some jams
along with some shorter songs. The
first disc is a combination of set one material from different
dates. Its emphasis is clearly on
the jams rather than the songs, as it includes "Playing in the Band," "Scarlet
Begonias," (both repeated on disc 4) and "China Cat
Sunflower" > "I Know You Rider."
first disc is compiled from the first two nights and is excellent,
both in song selection as well as performance. The treatment Garcia gives to "Jack
Straw" warrants an immediate second listen. The version of
"China Cat Sunflower" > "I Know You Rider"
delivers exceptionally well too, though, that is standard for
discs two and three are the last segments of
the Grateful Dead's final set of their Aug. 4 and Aug. 5
performances respectively. Each includes a few shorter tracks of the warm up songs, while also
not including a few songs due to space constraints. Then the discs
weave into the jam portion of the performance.
second disc begins with "Ship of Fools" where Keith
has some beautiful runs. While the long and experimental "Let
it Grow" jam will get all the chatter, the ending jam of
"Wharf Rat" offers the charm of the disc. Why?, it
of "The Other One, then "Dark Star," then
"Truckin'," before Jerry throws out the "U.S.
Blues" riff leading to a high energy rocker.
three of Dick's Picks 31 offers a transition from
"Mississippi Half Step" > "It Must Have Been the
Roses," that works so well it is surprising that they did not
use it more often. The final segment offer jams, the first
taking an upbeat fusion feel, while the latter leads more to
final disc offers excerpts from 8/6/74. Word is that the last reel
from this show is missing from the Grateful Dead's vault after "He's
Gone." Thankfully, GDM took advantage of the opportunity with
this 1974 release to include as filler some gems from this show.
selected highlights from 8/6 are tremendous. In 1974, "Eyes of the
World" was generally quite strong and this version is no
exception. Though, the gem of disc 4 is the "Playing in the Band"
> "Scarlet Begonias" > "Playing in the
Band." The "PITB" opens and explores, taking one to the edge
and back several times, before ending in a nice melodic Garcia led jam that blends
brilliantly into "Scarlet." There is some excellent
jamming in "Scarlet Begonias," with a subtle transition
back to "Playing in the Band" reprise.
Picks 31 is not a complete show, rather, it offers four discs of
brilliant music. The overall tone of the band is sensational
with tight interplay throughout. Keith in particular is quite lively
and is heard every where, and his interaction with Garcia throughout
is a treasure. Though, his dominance does drown out Weir's guitar. Barry Small ©
Grade A -
If you looking for a 1974 Dick's Picks to complement Dick's
Picks 31 we suggest volume
7. That release includes brilliant versions of several set one
songs and a monster jam of "Dark Star" > "Morning