Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks, Volume 15

Grateful Dead
Dick's Picks 15

Raceway Park - Englishtown, NJ

[September 3, 1977]

First Appeared in The Music Box February 2000, Volume 7, #2

Written by John Metzger


Dick Latvala may be gone, but he certainly wonít be forgotten. The famed tape archivist for the Grateful Dead passed away last year and will no doubt be missed, though the series of live releases bearing his name will continue without respite.

As most are quite aware, Latvala was the biggest Deadhead of them all. His favorite performance of a song was always the one he had playing in the background, and his enthusiasm for the Grateful Dead was second to none. He held what was perhaps the most difficult job in Dead-land ó maintaining and organizing the bandís massive tape vault and balancing the demands of the groupís members with those of their loyal, but rabidly devoted followers.

Yet, Latvala thrived in this environment, bringing countless amounts of exquisite music to the masses. With nary a misstep over the course of 15 volumes ó which spanned a whopping 42 discs ó Latvala, in fact, excelled at what he did. The latest edition, which was recorded at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey on September 3, 1977, may not be the strongest set of the series, but as the music is playing, itís quite easy to see why he so badly wanted to release it.

Performing to a rather large audience ó 150,000 people were in attendance ó the Grateful Dead kept things noticeably on the mellow side, perhaps to keep the crowd in check.  During the first set, the group churned through They Love Each Other, riding guitarist Jerry Garciaís swooping leads with exalted intensity; Mississippi Half-Step faded into a beautiful jam as Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh intertwined their mellifluous melodies with ravishing results; Keith Godchaux showered Friend of the Devil with a cascading rain of notes that fell like tears; and the band ripped into The Music Never Stopped with an unyielding assault of tidal fury. The second set was equally solid, anchored by the mainstay pairing of Estimated Prophet and Eyes of the World. Garciaís sinewy solos tickled the synapses of Estimated Prophetís delectable groove, providing the perfect transition into the effervescent jingle of Eyes of the World. The band capped things off with a phenomenal rendition of Terrapin Station, which had debuted earlier that year.

There you have it ó another wonderful release in the Dickís Picks series. The 15th installment like the rest, should please the Grateful Dead's long-time fans, while, at the same time, it also should serve as an excellent introduction to the magic and power wielded by the legendary ensemble. Few truly have dared to tread the perilous musical terrain so often walked by the group, and far fewer have done it with such sophisticated style and grace. So letís say one last thank you to Dick Latvala for his attention to detail and for giving this music the attention it always has deserved. starstarstarstar


Of Further Interest...

Miles Davis - The Cellar Door Sessions

Grateful Dead - Road Trips, Vol. 1, No. 2: October '77

Grateful Dead - Terrapin Station


Dick's Picks, Volume 15 is available from iTunes.
To order, please Click Here!



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


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