Shortlist: May 25, 1974 – Santa Barbara, CA

57-minute 192kbps mp3 download

  • Sugar Magnolia
  • Deal
  • Mexicali Blues
  • Promised Land
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Let It Grow (instrumental) > (6:01)
  • Wharf Rat
  • Ship of Fools
  • Casey Jones

As a whole (2h40m), this isn’t one of the notable May 1974 shows. On the other hand, an hour comprised of 10 crackling performances by the May ’74 Grateful Dead is nothing to sneer at. If you were compiling a summary box set of the month, you’d want to take a close look at these performances.

This version of “Let It Grow” isn’t a particularly potent one song-wise, but the playing is excellent, so I took the vocal sections out to let the music do the talking.

"Wharf Rat" begins and ends in "Dark Starry" fashion. “Tennessee Jed” gets really deranged by the end. “Casey Jones” swings more gently than usual. And I very rarely pull aside a “Sugar Magnolia,” much as I love the song itself, but I haven’t gotten tired of this rendition.

Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is.