5.8.77 - Cornell University - 28 Years Later...

On the anniversary of one of the all-timers, this show is held so dear by so many deadheads that it is one of the true links for newbie to old-timer (as someone notes below).  It has almost invariably been one of the first tapes of a show that we first had our minds blown by and one of the first tapes that we literally wore out...most of us know the Betty Board with the Minglewood fade in and the chunk missing (Ouch!) from Lazy Lightning>Supplication which otherwise is of great quality.  My highest recommendation is to listen regularly to the Rob Eaton / Betty Board with the Audience splice for those two glitches, but there is something very special about an excellent audience tape (CD). Obnoxious fan comments and offbeat clapping are generally made up for by the ambiance and crowd response, making one feel even more a part of the original experience.  This is an excellent audience with a minimum of negative audience intrusion.

As for the show itself, there is little that can be added to the many previous reviews, except, perhaps, to note the sometimes unheralded gems of the first set.  Everyone knows how otherworldly the second set is and of course the Dancin' from set one is held as perhaps the finest version around.  But despite a somewhat disappointing Minglewood, almost every version of songs from set one could be thought of as "best" versions.  In particular my favorites are Loser, TLEO, Jack Straw (for its fluidity and perfect groove, how often do you think of this song for its groove?!), BE Women (again for the ease and fluidity of Jerry's playing and the rest of the band not getting in the way), Row Jimmy (some of Jer's best slide work ever!), and Dancin' (finding the non-stop, eternal groove).

The second set has the bonus of "everybody's favorite fun game Take-A-Step-Back". And beside the mundane Estimated, the set is perfectly, ineffably transcendent.  Scarlet>Fire is the version to which all Scarlet>Fire's are compared with a beautiful transition and explosive Fire! St. Stephen >NFA>St. Stephen is perfection containing some spectacularly relentless jamming and a wonderful mind trip segue out of NFA back into St. Stephen (nice fake out, aborting the move back into St. Stephen and finishing NFA before actually going back to complete St. Stephen...I am still occasionally surprised when this happens each time I re-listen!!!).  And then the Mother of Morning Dews!  Pure Bliss!  On this version, too, I am always surprised by the length, fluidity and power of the ending jam! Every member of the band gives their all, and it is an oversite to not mention the brilliance of the drumming which puts this version over the top.

This show can certainly hold its own against the great shows that are on the tip of the tongue for so many deadheads.  2/13/70, 8/27/72 and 5/8/77 may be the most talked about shows of all time.  And that is not to say that they are the "best" shows per se, because grading is always going to be subjective, but they definitely have whatever qualities it takes to be mentioned with the best!  And IMO it is just fun to listen and then attempt to explain what it is that made the experience so miraculous...enjoy!

At this point, in the spirit of favorites, I'd like to invite anyone to tell us your favorite shows and if you want to add why, please do, as this is always a fun things to discuss and remember! My challenge to you all is to make a list of favorites, one show (OK, maybe a pair or short run if that clinches a choice from a great year such as 73) from each year!  Here is my list today and thanks for this stroll down Nostalgia Street:

07/16,17/66 - makes a nice pair, nice snapshot of time...good sound (haven't heard much of 1966)

03/18/67 - for setlist and sound quality - representative of era (11/11/67 alternative is more like 68)

02/14/68 - Dark Star>China Cat>The Eleven! and 1st Spanish Jam!

03/01/69 - the whole Fillmore run is great! and 11/08/69 for its unusual set list

02/13/70 - must have Dark Star! 2/11 might be "interesting" because of guests...

04/29/71 - for the Aligator>GDTRFB, whole run is special; 08/06/71 special mention for Hard to Handle

08/27/72 - NOT overrated! Playin', Bird Song, Dark Star>El Paso>Sing Me Back Home - fall 72 is amazing

05/26/73 - 3 sets, but many of shows from 73 qualify...maybe the pair of 12/18,19 fully represents

06/28/74 - blew my mind the hardest, though it may have been the acid...2/22-24, 3/23, & 6/18

08/13/75 - this really was the best of the few from 75

10/15/76 - especially paired with 10/14...6/28-29 and 10/09-10 are excellent pairs, too

05/08/77 - hands down!  see above, too many honorable mentions

07/08/78 - the aborted Eyes that veers into The Other One first is only the beginning...

10/27/79 - love this for the Dancin'>Franklins and the Caution Jam

10/??/80 - take your pick, I can't choose - acoutic sets

10/19/81 - Barcelona for Scarlet>Fire, and Spanish Jam>Other One>Stella; 10/12 GDTRFB, plus...

04/03/82 - fave, not best; I love 82; 4/6, 7/25, 9/21 (set one Playin>Crazy Fingers!), 10/9-10

04/16/83 - with Stephen Stills; not high on 83-84, but some gems; 4/12 is good; st sephen returns 3x in October!

12/31/84 - AWESOME Shakedown!  great NYE!  6/30 is underated, 7/13 gets worthy mention

06/25/85 - underrated show in a favorite year - Jerry's voice is trashed, but his guitar wails; 6/30, 7/1 makes nice run

12/16/86 - esp paired with 12/15...Jer is BACK...like this one for Sugaree>JackStraw set 1 closer

09/18/87 - maybe best show of modern era! Shakedown and Dew are all-timers!

04/30/88 - for the Shakedown and encore of China>Rider>OMSN!

10/19/89 - another great year...this one for set 2; Alpine run 2nd to none, too

09/19/90 - this one for the Bruce and Jerry jam after set 2 Let It Grow; 3/29 for Branford!

06/25/91 - great Scarlet>Fire, Comes a Time; 3/21 for Scarlet>Fire>Stir It Up jam

06/28/92 - for To Lay Me Down and Casey Jones encore

05/16/93 - Best Help>Slip>Franklins in a LONG time, Looks like Rain; 5/15 Bird Song is INSANE; 6/22 also a fave

10/05/94 - for weirdness of set 2, very spotty year, St. Louis was a good run, except Jer's lyrics...Eugene, too

3/18/95 - there was not a great show this year, some memorable moments, though...

21 Comments

Chris's picture

11/29/80 is one of the "great shows" and probably better than the acoustic shows from October, but I would pick one of the shows with the acoustic set simply for the novelty of the acoustic material...maybe NYE

Mr. Charlie's picture

I like November 1980. check out the shakedown>franklins - 11/29/80

St Louis Blues's picture

I am sorry to say, but the St Louis run in 1994 was pathetic. 1994 was pathetic. the last few years of the grateful dead was pathetic.

don't let go's picture

IF you have not yet listened to or purchased "dont let go," please do yourself a favor. I think its 5/15/76 or something like that? but what a crisp recording and some of Jerry's finest playing...

Mr.Ned's picture

Best 3 year stretch, huh?

I have to agree with you about 72-74, although it pains me! I would love to say 70-72 for various reasons not the least of which is the very thing which you spoke of Chris; the musical growth...

I mean wow...

That being said, I can't possibly leave the wall of sound out in the cold.

After 72-74 I would say 76-78(for the grooves) then 69-71(for pig's raps and for jerry's SICK tone!!). hehe...

On the subject of 72 though, anyone know if the footage from Tivoli or 8/27/72(sunshine daydream) is going to get remastered and released? I keep expecting it, and it never happens! I have a bad bootleg of Tivoli on DVD and it is pretty classic!

bozos...

Chris's picture

70-72 might be a really nice choice simply for the variety...from the "live dead" sequences of early 70 to the pigpen raps to the acoustic sets to the beginning of the "jazzy dead" in 72 with Keith and only one drummer...I always felt they were lighter and freer without mickey and pig, which is not necessarily a plus, but I tend to like that better, hence my favoring of 72-74....not to mention the inclusion of songs like Eyes and Weather Report Suite and some of those thematic jams like Mind Left Body and Spanish jam...probably ANY 3 year period would be fine, though I would feel jilted if they were handing out tapes and I got either 65-67 or 79-81...though there are always some great stuff in the midst of the worst years

I have always heard about the video from those shows and the reports that it is so common, but I've never seen Tivoli, but some of the Sunshine Daydream video I have seen...though the naked dude getting down during the Dark Star, I believe, may detract slightly from the music, but it is funny and Fun to watch and the quality is decent...someone should definitely release that!

Chris's picture

Hey Mr. Ned, 77is definitely as solid a year as there is, but I just can't see saying anything else from 77 being any BETTER, as good,maybe, but certainly not better, too many songs you could think of as "best ever" versions...but then as someone from Deadbase had said, when comparing shows of that caliber, "they're all divine!"

Chris's picture

lovin cup - I meant 10/19/89 Philly (not the last night of Alpine, though I love that first set), that 2nd set never gets old for me...

and deadhead, I'll never forget those Phil Bombs in Jack Straw from 7/2/88...thanks for bringing that up

Mr.Ned's picture

Of course you're right Chris, if someone twisted my arm and said that I had to pick ONE show form 77, that would be it...

However, I am a big fan of 1970 for the acoustic sets and because Pig was still in good health. As for which show...I've never heard the full shows (with acoustic sets) from Fillmore East. I've only heard the stuff that was released on DP v.4 and B's choice. so...I guess...5/2/70...but both 5/15 and 9/20 are in the running too!!!

chris's picture

Mr. Ned -

5/2/70 is pretty Amazing! The first time I heard that Viola...wow...I always think of years overlapping...and 69 seems to end, to me, with those Fillmore East shows in February 70...and the May stuff seems like the transition to being a new kind of band...it seems like there is even a difference from 5/2 and 5/15...I think they got more "rockin'" as 70 wore on and 71, too...which wasn't always my favorite music by the band, but IMO laid a foundation for the really amazing stuf that came out of 72-74...which, to me, are no question the best 3 years in a row this band had...and it could be an interesting discussion which 3 years would be runner up...perhaps 89-91 is next "best", or 76-78...

I love to hear opinions on this stuff as I never get the chance to discuss music like this, especially this anal GD tapers stuff...thanks for the replies

mike from gweb's picture

i vote for the '76 - '78 period followed by '89 - '91. Fortunately, i saw a lot of good shows during the 89 - 91 period. Some of the best shows I've seen: 9/18/87, 3/30/88, 10/16/89, 3/29/90, 6/25/91, 6/28/92, 5/16/93. I'll put out my detailed list soon, Chris.

aaron's picture

how can you mention 6/28/92 and not bring up the china>rider? the transition between the two, though short, is an absolute mind bender!

mike from gweb's picture

9.18.87 was my first show! I was 16 years old and a high school student in Paramus, New Jersey. Scott Lagsin, Rob Meehan, Rosemary Dominquez and myself. still remains one of the greatest nights in my 34 yrs.

chris's picture

yes the China Rider from 6/28/92 is excellent and the Last Time is one of the better versions and there is something distictly superior to the Around and Around, too! Not to mention Speedway>Smokestack to close set One...and Mike, I will always be jealous about the 9/18/87 show, except tell us how much you remember from that night with out listening to the tapes?

Mr.Ned's picture

I've never understood the facination with this particular show...To me, nearly all of the shows from May '77 are AMAZING. Great performances, great sound etc. Why everyone singles out 5/8 doesn't really make sense to me.

However, I will say that although all of the shows 5/77 are amazing, some of the songs don't rock at all. It doesn't bother me with most of them, but Jack Straw from this period is soooo disco!! Just my opinion, but I like it better when it rocks!

Keep up the good work on this website!

lovin cup's picture

fall 89 - hampton, the byrne, philly, miami. all good stuff.

deadhead's picture

what about the Maine shows in 1988?

another picky deadhead's picture

could make an agrgument for 71,72,73 as best three years if only for the diversity

spring 71 for Pig Pen's peak performances...

and a view to the transition from the country rockin' dead of 71 to the jazzy dead of 73...

and are there really many better whole tours than Europe 72? maybe only approached by fall 72 and fall 73...

that would give us the most variety of music...even though there may be some of the greatest shows ever from 74, they are not appreciably different than 73, and same goes for 76-78, too much the same...

oregon's picture

Best three consequtive years? 1972, 73, 74, 77. Seriously though I always like to point out that 5/9/77 was a great night - it always suffers under the shadow of 5/8.

psymon's picture

72-74 is the best 3 year period IMO. 71 was a transition year, not as strong as 70 or 72, so 70-72 doesn't quite make it. I love 82, too; most consistent year of 79-86. 4/18, 8/10 and 9/17 are favorites but many good ones.

What do you think of 8/6/74, Chris? Huge show, and the PITB > Scarlet > PITB features some of the most advanced playing by Jerry ever amidst highly advanced group improvisation; this may be -time favorite GD improvisational piece.

Chris's picture

hey psymon! i agree with that assessment...I love that "Eyes" and the "Playin>Sacrlet>Playing" from 8/6/74, but IMO the 2nd set, despite amazing setlist, is spotty...those late summer shows don't have the consistency of the may and June shows...Miami through Providence and Boston especially...luckily Boston and Providnece are on DP 12 and 8/4-6/74 are on DP 31...

I am a fan of 82 also...and 85, 89, 90, 91...

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