In no particular order:
2/26/77 – An early indication of the heights of the coming Spring tour, this show is notable for the first live performance of “Terrapin Station” as the opening song. Must have been quite the experience: fans still shuffling in from the debauchery of the parking lot were greeted not with a familiar country shuffle but a prog epic of the sort the Dead rarely attempted before or since. What’s going on here? Is this the right band? Is the right universe? Oh shit, where’s my wallet?
9/10/91 – Branford Marsalis joins the fray for this MSG performance. I’d love to see a video of this show, with Garcia’s infectious joy at playing with new musicians, finding new corners in familiar set pieces. Great setlist with some unique highlights: a stately “High Time” lends a sense of hard earned wisdom to the defensive posturing of the lyrics, “Help On The Way” kicking into jazzy greatness, the closing “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” as always a sign of an epic show.
9/23/72 – Warm soundboard mix of a typically strong show for this era. Most notable for a cathartic “Wharf Rat” emerging from the wildly chaotic drums – it sounds like Garcia has been through a war, and considering the amounts of acid he consumed on a regular basis, he might as well have been. Thank you for your service, Jerry Garcia. Godspeed.
5/4/72 – From the otherworldly Europe 72 tour. They never sounded as tight as they do here, just cranking up song after song of country rock boogie that jumps right in the pocket and wiggles around like a naked hippie chick dancing Nixon out of office. Essential.
12/6/73 – Something in the water on this night. Something in the soda, in the brownies, in the cheese blintzes. “Row Jimmy” is taken at a snail’s pace (a very stoned snail) punctuated by spacey slide runs emanating from several galaxies away, “Here Comes Sunshine” features one of Garcia’s best all time lead performances, and a closing medley capped with a “Stella Blue” feels like the denouement of a dramatic epic. Then they play “Sugar Magnolia,” which stinks.