DICK'S PICKS VOLUME TWO is currently available through mail-order by contacting Grateful Dead Merchandising at 1-800-CAL-DEAD or online at www.dead.net.
DICK'S PICKS VOLUME TWO is the second in a series of archival live Dead CDs that were overseen by the late Dick Latvala. It differs from the band's "From The Vault" series in that the "Dick's Picks" releases do not feature entire concerts and are mastered from two- and four-track recordings, rather than eight- and sixteen-track recordings. Latvala was the official keeper of the Dead's tape archives; the Grateful Dead organization describes him as "one of the original Dead tapers."
Grateful Dead: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir (vocals, guitar); Keith Godchaux (piano); Phil Lesh (bass, background vocals); Bill Kreutzmann (drums, percussion).
Recorded live direct to two-track in Columbus, Ohio on October 31, 1971.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
Personnel: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir (vocals, guitar); Phil Lesh (vocals); Keith Godchaux (keyboards); Bill Kreutzmann (percussion).
The second of Dick Latvala's archival wanderings through the Grateful Dead's history is a compact gem from the fall of 1971. Featuring a still-green Keith Godchaux on the piano--he joined the band only a few weeks before this date was recorded--this version of the Dead was unlike any that preceded it, or any that would follow. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, the group's resident blues-man, was temporarily missing from the fold, ailing from a sickness that would force his permanent departure from the band in 1972. Also on the way out was the blazing psychedelia of the group's late '60s compositions, replaced by an exploration of American roots music. But the Dead's improvisational tendencies were still very much present and, with Godchaux's distinctive attack, took on a whole new flavor.
The group's signature free-form piece, "Dark Star" is the heart of this album and finds the group in an inspired groove. Jerry Garcia leads the ranks through a wide-bodied introductory jam based on the tune's striding theme, before singing the first (and only) verse. Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh then push the band into an extended up-tempo movement that clearly sows the musical seeds of "Eyes Of The World," a song that wouldn't make its album debut 'til early 1973. For the most part, Godchaux and Bob Weir stay on the sidelines, adding rhythmic parts from the periphery; but after a short space-y interlude, they drive the group headfirst into the rollicking country-rock of "Sugar Magnolia," complete with a ferocious Garcia solo. It is this juxtaposition of old Dead and new Dead--repeated again in a closing section that unites "St. Stephen" with an extended "Not Fade Away"--that makes VOLUME TWO a unique portrait of this American rock institution.