5.8.77 - Cornell University - 28 Years Later...

Article Contributed by chris | Published on Sunday, May 8, 2005

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...