Habitual listeners of the Grateful Dead’s live recordings are known for their ability to identify the year of a performance by listening to just a few notes. But for even the most “dead”icated listener, the band’s 1976 New Year’s Eve concert presents a genuine challenge.
Rarely does any Dead show display the essence of several distinct periods of their sound, but this release contains the best elements of three or four clearly defined eras, and the sum of the parts adds up to one of the most interesting and inspired concerts of the band’s 30-year performing career. The Grateful Dead and Rhino Records ring in 2007 by turning back the clock 30 years to uncover the musical riches of this special performance with ‘Live at the Cow Palace, New Year’s Eve, 1976.’
The collection will be available January 23rd for the suggested price of $31.98. It is also available now for pre-order with exclusive incentives at www.dead.net.
Mixed from original 16-track master tapes, ‘Live at the Cow Palace’ contains all 22 songs played December 31, 1976, in pristine HDCD. The band’s line-up at the time featured Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann on drums, Phil Lesh on bass, Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, Keith Godchaux on keyboards and backup vocalist Donna Godchaux.
The concert takes flight in the first set with covers of Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land” and Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” coupled with Dead classics “Bertha,” “Deal” and “Playing In The Band.” After the countdown to midnight, the band kicked off the second set and two more hours of sublime music with “Sugar Magnolia” followed by a sustained 40-minute run of music that ranks up there as one of the best-played jams of 1976. Starting out with the new, faster, more powerful version of “Eyes Of The World,” the jam then slips into a beautiful “Wharf Rat.” Next up is only the third performance of “Good Lovin’” sung by Weir. As if this wasn’t enough, Weir then drives the band through a reggae-tinged beat that magically morphs into a remarkably smooth and funky version of “Samson & Delilah.”
After a note-perfect “Not Fade Away,” the band ends the massive second set with one of the longest and most emotionally draining versions of “Morning Dew” ever performed. This rendition is at the very top of many Dead Heads’ favorite “Dew” lists. A three-song encore ends the night, capping one of the most intriguing evenings of Grateful Dead music recorded, one that bridges the gap between the exploratory jazz of 1973–1974 and the orchestrated perfection of 1977.
The deluxe packaging features rare photos and extensive liner notes from Glenn Lambert, one of the DJs covering the show’s original live broadcast on KSAN.