Dick's Picks 20
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Dick's Picks Volume 20 Dick's_Picks_ Volume_20_Grateful_Dead

9/25/76 Landover, MD

9/28/76 Syracuse, NY 

 

 
Dick's Picks direct from the GD 
Order:Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks, Vol. 20: Capital Centre, Landover, MD 9/25/76 & Onondaga County War Memorial, Syracuse, NY 9/28/76
 
 

Dick's Picks 20 review

Dick’s Picks 20 is the first release from 1976. This year falls into the post retirement Keith era that also includes 1975, 1977, and 1978.  Of them, 1976 is generally considered the weakest year. I would have to agree, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have great moments; only that it is selectively great rather than consistently great.

Two major characteristics contributing to 1976’s lack of consistency include adding Mickey Hart back to the line-up after his departure in February 1971, and material changes that includes reworking many song arrangements and adding and subtracting others. Understandably, these changes take time to perfect. One thing I notice is that the rhythm section plays more in union than is typical for the Grateful Dead. That is, Phil Lesh’s bass lines tend to follow the beat of the drummers more than usual, rather than filling in the spaces with unanticipated notes and creating directions for the band follow.

Dick’s Picks 20 includes two concerts, one from Capital Centre in Landover, MD on September 25, 1976, and the other from  Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, NY on September 28, 1976. Only two songs are missing, "All Over Now" from September 25 and "Bertha" from September 28, though each of the songs was performed the opposite evening and is included.

The first and third discs are primarily the first sets of their respective shows. Both of the first sets have much in common. First, they start out average and get better as the go along. Second, they end with “Let it Grow” followed by a strong set closer, “Sugaree” from the 25th, and “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad,” from the 28th.  In addition, the bright spot in the middle of the sets are Garcia ballads, “Peggy-O” on the 25th and “Candyman” on the 28th.

The second disc of Dick’s Picks 20 is the last part of set two from the 25th; “Lazy Lightning” > “Supplication” opened the set and are on the first disc. Certainly the set list is mouth watering and the playing is nothing to complain about. Though some of the highlights when you break it down, “Mississippi Half Step,” while very well played, was generally much better in ’73, ’74, and ’77, and both “Cosmic Charlie” and “St. Stephen” peaked in ’69 and ‘70.

The strongest of the four discs is the last. The split “Playing in the Band (PITB)” to open and close the show is solid. The “PITB” leads into “The Wheel” which is quite good; although, it is interesting to hear the rough transition between the two songs. In later years those two songs would blend into each other effortless. The “Comes a Time” is my favorite part of this set. Warning, “The Eyes of the World” is played with an extremely rapid beat. 

Dick’s Picks 20 is a great representation of the band in 1976, which had a unique sound and set lists. I would get several other releases from 1977 and 1978 before (not instead) getting this.  by Barry Small © 
Grade 

DP20 review by  Joe Prisco

DP20: 9-25-76
I know everyone prefers the 9-28-76 half of DP-20, so these notes are for 9-25-76.

Performing musicians of any real creativity get tired of playing songs the same way, however cool they may be, and they must reinvent the way they think in the songs to keep it fresh. This is the tone of the whole show -- they set out not to impress, but rediscover these songs over again:

"Bertha" takes a bouncy feel that is just slightly different, but consequently refreshes the fun factor; Minglewood returns entirely different from its 60s incarnation, emphasizing the bluesy lyric; "Ramble On Rose" is so subtly changed I can't place the difference, but this is a very convincing RORs -- Jerry sings it with fire and conviction. "Brown-Eyed Women" shows some of this as well, with Mickey throwing in some judicious toms on the vocal line to good effect. Mickey's playing, so often decried in the years following, is inventive and enticing; he alternately drives and reigns in "Peggy-O" or "Let it Grow" like a rider at a gymkhana. Even on a simple backbeat like 'Sugaree" [growing the wings we expect in 1977], he's trying to find new rhythmic angles -- one reason why Jerry flies so high on that song; check the 8:20 - 8:25 mark for a great moment made by Mickey, Jerry and Phil.

"Mama Tried" reminds us of the more overt country influence at work here; on Loser, we hear Jerry altering the guitar line with the addition of a single bass note -- just enough to hint at a country swing not previously explored. In some ways, this song is a measure of Jerry's mood on a given date -- the arrangement is strict, right down to the note-for-note solo, so Jerry must wring out meaning in his tonality and timing. As always, Phil makes all the difference -- for example, his slow-motion notes leading into the line 'come to Daddy' is like watching a tree fall, sweetly agonizing and yet so powerful.

Special mention must be made for "Let it Grow," which shows all the jamming subtlety [at a much faster tempo] of the pre-retirement years combined with the Mickey-fueled power to come; especially nice is the drum break, which (can I really be saying this?) seems all too short. Vocals are strong and clean, playing is fresh and assured, ideas are interesting ... have I finally found a favorite rendition of this song? :-)

Set two: again, Phil makes "Lazy Lightning" almost impossible to nail and yet irresistibly compelling; they're in fine form when Jerry comes trickling in on the break, or Keith sneaks up to the transition to "Supplication"; Mickey alternately lays out in favor of Bill's easy-but-energetic groove or sparks up fantastic snare paradiddles -- like Bruce in 1991, he's obviously excited to be in the band, and not short on ideas. It's not unreasonable to listen to this from his perspective.

"Mississippi Half Step's" reinvention is back to the slower side, again hinting at country without actually going there, and the discofied "Dancing in the Streets" shows Jerry not yet processing his guitar. No competition for the 5-22-77 Dancing on DP3, but Jerry does get the fire nicely stoked around 7-8 minutes in, and they try on "Cosmic Charlie" for size; not really so different from 1968 but for Donna's new-and-improved vocals -- another point in favor of post-retirement shows; it sure is nice to hear Donna sounding like she intends to. "Scarlet Begonias" is strong and lively, and of course not yet attached to "Fire On the Mountain" (a tender subject for some). Interestingly, "St. Stephen" is not the strong part of the set; Phil wisely throws down the "NFA" riff, seemingly startling the rest of the band, who quickly pick it up. by Joe Prisco © 

Track List

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Disc 1
 1. Bertha (Garcia / Hunter) - 5:27
 2. New Minglewood Blues (Traditional) - 4:49
 3. Ramble on Rose (Garcia / Hunter) - 7:11
 4. Cassidy (Barlow / Weir) - 4:43
 5. Brown-Eyed Woman (Garcia / Hunter) - 4:56
 6. Mama Tried (Haggard) - 2:49
 7. Peggy-O (Grateful Dead) - 9:41
 8. Loser (Garcia / Hunter) - 8:18
 9. Let It Grow (Barlow / Weir) - 12:26
10. Sugaree (Garcia / Hunter) - 11:01
11. Lazy Lightning (Barlow / Weir) - 2:53
12. Supplication (Barlow / Weir) - 4:37

Disc 2
 1. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo (Garcia / Hunter) - 11:28
 2. Dancing in the Street (Gaye / Hunter / Stevenson) - 12:43
 3. Cosmic Charlie (Garcia / Hunter) - 8:39
 4. Scarlet Begonias (Garcia / Hunter) - 11:07
 5. St. Stephen (Garcia / Hunter / Lesh) - 4:12
 6. Not Fade Away (Hardin / Petty) - 9:57
 7. Drums (Hart / Kreutzmann) - 3:34
 8. Jam (Grateful Dead) - 2:05
 9. St. Stephen (Garcia / Hunter / Lesh) - 2:03
10. Sugar Magnolia (Hunter / Weir) - 9:40

Disc 3
 1. Cold Rain and Snow (Grateful Dead) - 6:36
 2. Big River (Cash) - 5:55
 3. Cassidy (Barlow / Weir) - 4:33
 4. Tennessee Jed (Garcia / Hunter) - 8:37
 5. New Minglewood Blues (Weir) - 6:06
 6. Candy Man (Garcia / Hunter) - 7:25
 7. It's All over Now (Womack / Womack) - 6:40
 8. Friend of the Devil (Dawson / Garcia / Hunter) - 8:44
 9. Let It Grow (Barlow / Weir) - 11:41
10. Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad (Grateful Dead) - 9:14

Disc 4
 1. Playing in the Band (Hart / Hunter / Weir) - 6:36
 2. The Wheel (Garcia / Hunter / Kreutzmann) - 7:07
 3. Samson and Delilah (Weir) - 8:01
 4. Jam (Grateful Dead) - 5:40
 5. Comes a Time (Garcia / Hunter) - 7:50
 6. Drums (Hart/Kreutzmann) - 4:58
 7. Eyes of the World (Garcia / Hunter) - 8:39
 8. Orange Tango Jam (Grateful Dead) - 4:46
 9. Dancing in the Street (Gaye / Hunter / Stevenson) - 9:15
10. Playing in the Band (Hart / Hunter / Weir) - 5:06
11. Johnny B. Goode (Berry) - 4:33

Musicians:       

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Jerry Garcia - lead guitar, vocals
Bob Weir - guitar, vocals
Phil Lesh - bass, vocals
Keith Godchaux - piano
Bill Kreutzmann - drums
Mickey Hart - drums
Donna Jean Godchaux - vocals

Notes:

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Released - Jan. 2001
Tape Archivists - Dick Latvala, David Lemieux
Label - Grateful Dead Merchandise