Recorded but a few months after the shows that formed Live Dead, and featuring a spellbinding version of the “Dark Star”/”St. Stephen”/”The Eleven” medley that was that album’s centerpiece, this Dick’s Picks stands as a worthy counterpoint to what is one of the greatest live albums in rock ‘n’ roll history. Add in the fact it also captures the band working on material for the forthcoming album Aoxomoxoa—including an incredible version of Mountains of the Moon—and serves up a real live Dead rarity with Pigpen’s rendition of Jimmy Reed’s “I Know It’s a Sin,” and it’s little wonder that this volume is almost universally regarded as a prime Pick.
2CD version: Disc one presents excerpts from the Chicago show, leading off with four straight songs from Aoxomoxoa before diving deep into an epic “Cryptical Envelopment”/”The Other One” and concluding with the first three songs from the Minneapolis show, which appears here in its entirety. Disc two features the aforementioned “Dark Star”/”St. Stephen”/”The Eleven” medley and winds up with the always stirring “Morning Dew.”
4LP version: In addition to re-printing Bear’s notes from the original CD release on the LP insert, Bear’s son Starfinder Stanley provided some added context on behalf of the Owsley Stanley Foundation, from whence the tapes for these shows come. And speaking of those tapes, this 4-LP set is mastered for vinyl by Jeffrey Norman at Mockingbird Mastering, with lacquers cut by Jeff Powell, who got his start at Memphis’ legendary Ardent Studios and has worked with everybody from Bob Dylan to Gregg Allman to Irma Thomas. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Furnace Record Pressing, the whisper-quiet test pressings were approved by engineer Jeffrey Norman, Dead archivist David Lemieux, and Real Gone’s own Gordon Anderson, so the audio experience that awaits is truly a cut above. As for the packaging, each of the four LPs is housed inside a polyvinyl sleeve carefully nestled (with extra padding!) inside a two-piece hardshell box with insert. Limited to 1500 hand-numbered copies.