Fine, energetic show on the day of Bill Kreutzman's 43rd birthday! Highlights include killer version of "Foolish Heart and a mighty "Other One". Broadcast by KZSU-FM and remastered for pristine audio quality.
Bill Graham rides in on a giant mushroom. Etta James and Tower of Power Horns featured as well as the mercurial John Cipollina on "Not Fade Away", "Deal" and "Sunshine Daydream".
Disagreements and debates are common among Grateful Dead fans but there is a surprising consensus that the show the group gave at Barton Hall at Cornell University on May 8, 1977 is one of the band's greatest. It, like so many Dead shows, first gained its reputation through tape trading, but its legend soon eclipsed Deadhead circles, culminating in its induction into the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry in 2012. Rhino/Grateful Dead Records' official release followed in May 2017 – just in time for the concert's 40th anniversary; it was also bundled as part of a big box called Get Shown the Light, which contains all the shows the Dead did in May 1977 – and it's worth the wait.
With 1970's Workingman's Dead, the Grateful Dead went through an overnight metamorphosis, turning abruptly from tripped-out free-form rock toward sublime acoustic folk and Americana. Taking notes on vocal harmonies from friends Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, the Dead used the softer statements of their fourth studio album as a subtle but moving reflection on the turmoil, heaviness, and hope America's youth was facing as the idealistic '60s ended. American Beauty was recorded just a few months after its predecessor, both expanding and improving on the bluegrass, folk, and psychedelic country explorations of Workingman's Dead with some of the band's most brilliant compositions. The songs here have a noticeably more relaxed and joyous feel. Having dived headfirst into this new sound with the previous album, the bandmembers found the summit of their collaborative powers here, with lyricist Robert Hunter penning some of his most poetic work, Jerry Garcia focusing more on gliding pedal steel than his regular electric lead guitar work, and standout lead vocal performances coming from Bob Weir (on the anthem to hippie love "Sugar Magnolia"), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (on the husky blues of "Operator"), and Phil Lesh (on the near-perfect opening tune, "Box of Rain").