Download Series Family Dog
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Download Series  Download Series A Night At The Family Dog - Grateful Dead
A Night At the Family Dog
2/4/1970
 
 
 
 
 
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Grateful Dead Download Series A Night At The Family Dog review

Download Series A Night At the Family Dog
Family Dog At The Great Highway - San Francisco, CA
Feb. 4, 1970

The first rendition of the Grateful Dead's Download series that is not a numbered volume is entitled A Night At The Family Dog. The set is served up in its entirety and is from 16 track master tape. It only lasts around fifty minutes, but some sensation filler rounds out the disc.

During the bands short set, the band doesn't have time to launch a thirty minute "Dark Star" or "The Other One," but they pack a lot into the set, a whole lot. Pigpen leads the band to start and conclude the set in fine fashion. 

There are not too many Garcia numbers on this set, "Black Peter" is sung so sweetly with stinging guitar runs that are enhanced with Phil runs and Bobby fills talking right back at Jerry. You'll likely play this two or three times in a row so counting the multiple listens and with the addition of "China Cat Sunflower," one could unsuccessfully argue that there are really four or five Garcia songs. 

The "St. Stephen" is split with "Not Fade Away" in the middle. It is very, very well executed, all three sections, especially the transition from "Not Fade Away" back into "St. Stephen" and on through the powerful conclusion. It glides miraculously into "In The Midnight Hour," which is Phil's answer to Bobby's question, "what could be the answer to the answer man." 

There are three "filler" tracks. The sound quality is not as good as the featured show. The version of "Dancing in the Streets" is certainly worthy. Right as I was losing interest around the 8:35 minute they launch the "Tighten Up Jam" for around one minute before they lead back into the theme of the song. Really nice!

As the band concludes a strong version of "Good Lovin'" we hear the joyous introduction to "Uncle John's Band." I sure wish that track was included too.

The short and concise set from the featured evening is quite enjoyable and packs a lot into 50 minutes. Add to that two extended bonus tracks and we'd certainly highly recommend the Download Series A Night At The Family Dog
by Barry Small  
Grade  A - 

Review # 2: by Ramble On Joe

"Hard to Handle" -- not gonna rival your favorite, but a reasonable start to this set.

"Black Peter" -- I know some people aren't too fond of this song, but it's a strong reading and well performed.

"Me and My Uncle" -- likewise, I suppose.

"China > Rider" -- ah, now we're getting someplace. 1970 China>Riders have a certain quality owing to two drummers but no sympathetic keyboards to smooth out the sound. A mite more flinty, but certainly not lacking. All in all, the arrangement was already fixed, though, and here's the evidence.

"St Stephen">"Not Fade Away">"St. Stephen"> -- I've never heard these songs before, but it sounds OK ....psych!! "Stephen" is essentially just an intro to NFA, where the band really digs in. I don't think anyone can deny this is largely where the band was at in those days: check your brain at the door and lose yourself to a seemingly endless groove. Particularly interesting is how they pull the "Stephen" riff out of the heat of the NFA end-jam; there should be an award for that kind of thing. Of course, they follow that by botching the next transition between parts of "Stephen" itself, which should have been much easier :-)

>"Midnight Hour" -- Shrugging off one missed transition, they nail the next one and revisit some old material. This should be a step up but somehow seems like a step down, as the tempo drags more than swaggers. This might have you wondering why it was included. That question would be answered once they get past the established lyrics and Pigpen begins improvising; while not tremendous, it is yet another example of his value to the band. Running out of steam, he lets the instruments take over a while. But he ain't done: in a couple minutes he's back, and ready to talk to the young men in the audience a bit. While I can't say this is anywhere as notable as his pitch during "Lovelight" on LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, it is at least different than any other I've heard, and unusually strong on pitch accuracy.

"Dancin' in the Streets" -- The band really seems slow here; "Dancin" seems even slower than "Midnight Hour" did. Not bad, for that; Pigpen even contributes some nice organ backing on the chorus. Upon finishing the lyrics, Bobby invites the audience to dance, which suggests they weren't yet; perhaps this accounts for the diminished performance. Languidly, the band enters the jam as if they expect to be playing it for the next hour -- no hurry, no intensity, just a laid-back groove that sounds like it could last all night. Things pick up a bit after a few minutes, as Bobby introduces the "Tighten Up" chords; this seems to galvanize the band into something more like what we expect. Sure enough, even Pigpen participates, with results that are acceptable if not particularly noteworthy. Bobby finally resumes the lyrics with no sense of anything necessarily having been accomplished, but at least attempted.

Bobby then makes some announcements regarding trouble with Phil's bass, and fills time with a brief, no-solo "The Monkey & the Engineer" (which still seems to have Phil playing along). This is brief but exceptional, with Jerry providing accompaniment and harmonies, and no drums of note until the final chords.

A brief foray into the drum kits introduces "Good Lovin", and it ain't a short one; dispensing with the lyrics, the band goes deep for the jam -- someone walking in late could be excused for thinking they'd taken hours to get here rather than dived right in. No doubt about it: this is Class A jamming from the get-go, focused more on meaning, perhaps, than intensity. At one point, it even drops down to just Phil and the drums; soon, Phil drops out as well and it's mostly metals ringing ghostly through the room. This brings Bob and Jerry back in, and it's Phil's turn to give way; ideas swirl and flow like oil on water. soon enough, they settle into a throb, and Pigpen steps in to give us his special mix of confessional and advice. This, seemingly, is just what the band needed, and the simmer comes up to a boil. And that's where they form the perfect match: the anxiously assertive front man, the keenly whetted band swooping and circling behind him. Pigpen wheedles and declaims like the combination of faith healer and circus side-show barker he sometimes was; Jerry, Phil, Bill and Bob locked together into the formula racer he's driving. With no apparent cue or warning, they whip right back into "Good Lovin" with all the passion and fire they'd been building the previous twelve minutes. I doubt anyone went home unimpressed :-)

 
Grateful Dead Download Series A Night At The Family Dog review
Track List

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Feb. 4, 1970 
Family Dog At the Great Highway - San Francisco, CA

1 Hard To Handle (Redding, Jones, Isbell) 6:44
2 Black Peter (Garcia, Hunter) 9:33
3 Me and My Uncle (Phillips) 3:29
4 China Cat Sunflower > (Garcia, Hunter) 5:05
5 I Know You Rider (Trad. Arr. By Grateful Dead) 4:53
6 St. Stephen > (Garcia, Lesh, Hunter) 2:19
7 Not Fade Away > (Petty, Hardin) 6:59
8 St. Stephen > (Garcia, Lesh, Hunter) 2:23
9 In The Midnight Hour (Pickett, Cropper) 8:16

Bonus Tracks
10/5/70 Winterland
10 Dancing In The Streets (Stevenson, Gaye, I. Hunter) 12:14

12/31/70 Winterland:
11 Monkey and the Engineer (Fuller) 2:46
12 Good Lovin' > (Resnick, Clark) 15:08

Grateful Dead Download Series A Night At The Family Dog review
Musicians:       

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Grateful Dead
Jerry Garcia: Lead Guitar, vocals
Mickey Hart: Drums
Bill Kreutzmann: Drums
Phil Lesh: Electric bass, vocals
Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan: Organ, harmonica, vocals
Bob Weir: Rhythm Guitar, vocals

Grateful Dead Download Series A Night At The Family Dog review
Notes:

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Released - Dec. 6, 2005
Grateful Dead Download Series
CD Mastering by Jeffrey Norman

From the Grateful Dead website

Grateful Dead Download Series 
A Night At The Family Dog
Feb. 4, 1970
Perhaps you've seen a grainy bootleg VHS tape of the three songs from that show broadcast on PBS, but Jeffrey Norman has mixed the entire 50+ minute set from the original 16 track analog tapes, including the closing jam of "St. Stephen > Not Fade Away > St. Stephen > Midnight Hour," along with a poignant "Black Peter," "Me and My Uncle," and the "Hard To Handle" and "China > Rider" from the PBS broadcast.

It has never sounded so good. And, because we have some stray pieces of music in the vault on 16 track tape, we have also included the monster "Dancing In The Streets" from 10/5/70 and the meaty "Good Lovin'" from 12/31/70 to round out this wonderful CD of music from the under-represented year of 1970.

Grateful Dead Download Series A Night At The Family Dog review