Dick's Picks Volume 3
Sportatorium - Pembroke Pines
[May 22, 1977]
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 1996, Volume 3, #3
Written by John Metzger
Here's another masterpiece from the vaults. While not a full show, this one, recorded at the Sportatorium in Pembroke Pines, Florida, comes close. The 1977 period is one of my favorites — each show, while containing similar set lists, explodes into the unknown reaches of the Grateful Dead's musical jams.
The disc opens with a rather short Music Never Stopped that still manages to contain a tasty jam, while foregoing the space. It's enough to get the band warmed up though, as they launch into a classic 1977 Sugaree that manages to stretch out to nearly sixteen minutes of beautiful, lofty solos by Jerry Garcia.
Lazy Lightning sets the stage for the later performed Estimated Prophet and then veers off into a sweet, space-filled jam before concluding with Supplication. A fifteen minute version of Dancin' in the Street closes out the set, but not the CD. Tacked on the end is a superbly played trilogy of Help on the Way/Slipknot!/Franklin's Tower that picks up where the intensely funky jamming of Dancin' leaves off. Phil Lesh leads the way with a powerful bass line as Garcia's solos power the song into the heavens. Wow!
The second disc begins with the drummers driving Samson and Delilah and Donna taking control of an extremely pretty Sunrise. Then the highlight of the show begins with Estimated Prophet. This song clicked for the band right from the beginning, and in the span of three months blossomed into the masterpiece performed here. Garcia's guitar sets the tone with a drifting, reggae solo that pushes the boundaries of the song's structure. He floats the song right into Eyes of the World, picking up the pace a bit for a bouncing bit of lounge jazz, Garcia-style. Bob Weir provides excellent rhythm guitar work that fits perfectly with Garcia's cheerful playing. This slowly meanders away before quietly drifting into a magnificently played Wharf Rat. Garcia drives this one with his inspirational playing and singing. What makes this version even more unique is the way it takes an extreme left turn into the middle section of Terrapin Station. This is the only time the Grateful Dead pulled this one off, starting the song from the Inspiration verse. At first, I thought this was a weird tape splice, but it flows too tightly, and archivist Dick Latvala has stated that this is the way it was performed. As if this isn't enough, the final Terrapin jam trails into a powerful Morning Dew that is certain to top your list of favorites. Garcia takes this one from monumental peaks down to a whisper and back for a blistering ending. ½
Dick's Picks, Volume 3 is available from iTunes.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1996 The Music Box