Entertainment Weekly (11/27/98, p.85) - "...capture[s] the band at their early '70s experimental peak..." - Rating: A
DICK'S PICKS VOLUME ONE is the first 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 characterizes him as "one of the original Dead tapers."
Grateful Dead: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir (vocals, guitar); Keith Godchaux (keyboards); Phil Lesh (bass, background vocals); Bill Kreutzmann (drums, percussion).
Recorded live in Tampa, Florida on December 19, 1973.
Personnel: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir (vocals, guitar); Phil Lesh (vocals); Keith Godchaux (keyboards); Bill Kreutzmann (drums).
Photographer: Bruce Polonsky.
The first release in Dick Latvala's series of "raw" Dead live recordings is a unique specimen from one of the band's finest years. In 1973, following Pigpen's passing, the Dead's music took on a more ethereal, jazzy groove, so that by the end of the year the solo interplay between Garcia, Lesh and pianist Keith Godchaux bordered on the telepathic. The new compositions on that year's WAKE OF THE FLOOD also betrayed a growing interest in fusion's textures and turns.
Garcia's ultra-lyrical "Here Comes Sunshine" gets the extended progressive juke-joint jam treatment from the guitarist and Godchaux. Most of the rest of the quintet's performance is typically flawless 1973, from the deep space excursion of "Playing in the Band," to the blues-infected dirge "He's Gone" to the anthemic strains of "Truckin'." Still, when escaping the latter song's reeling and rocking proclamations Garcia drops into the penitential brooding of the Delta standard "Nobody's Fault But Mine," and the band's translation of the American musical vocabulary and integration of it into a personalized existential roar becomes typical only by magician's standards.