This post offers a three-piece, chronological survey of improvisational Grateful Dead performances from their first seven shows of 1973 – February 9th to 24th – none of which have been officially released. Highlights of the last two shows of the month (2/26 & 2/28) were released as “Dick’s Picks, Vol. 28” (2003).
These are older Save Your Face mixes, but I am taking the opportunity to re-share them now that streaming options are available, in addition to the blog's traditional mp3 downloads.
February 1973 was rough going for nearly all the many new songs the band was learning on-stage that month, and old standards weren’t often particularly tight or exciting, compared to late 1972 or later 1973.
However, the improvisational band leapt into 1973 with a big grin on its face – continuing its rapid expansion into the spaces opened up by Pigpen’s departure from the stage in mid-1972. (He died in March 1973). “Like a steam locomotive, rolling down the track,” the Dead were constantly departing and arriving in this period.
This mix is a dense collection of February’s more exploratory passages. I included full (sung) songs and made instrumental edits as I saw fit, in order to avoid anything that got in the way of the overall momentum and quality.
The two new-for-1973 songs that were on target, right out of the gate, were “Eyes of the World” and “China Doll.” Both are extensively documented on the mix. With “Eyes,” you can hear the band figuring out how to put the pieces together to create the the structured ’73-’74 jam. There’s no good execution of “Here Comes Sunshine” in the first seven shows of the year, but they nailed it musically once, and that performance flowed seamlessly into “China Cat,” so I took out the sung parts of “Sunshine.” (You’re welcome!)
February 9, 1973: Palo Alto CA (56 minutes)
- PA: Wavy Gravy
- China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
- Uncle John’s Band (instr. edit)
- Playin’ in the Band (instr. edit)
- Eyes of the World (1st time played) >
- China Doll (1st time played)
February 15-19, 1973: Madison WI, St. Paul MN, Chicago IL (107 minutes)
- Bertha (2/15)
- Here Comes Sunshine (instr. edit) > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (2/17)
- Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road > Not Fade Away (2/17)
- Dark Star (2/15)
- He’s Gone (2/19)
- The Other One > Bass & Drums (edit 2/19)
- Playin’ in the Band (2/15>2/17) > China Doll (2/15)
- Birdsong (instr. edit 2/17)
February 21-24, 1973: Champaign Urbana IL, Iowa City IA (86 minutes)
- Truckin’ > Bass & Drums (2/21) >
- Eyes of the World (2/21 > 2/22) >
- China Doll (2/22)
- Playin’ in the Band (2/22)
- Dark Star (2/22) >
- Space (2/22) >
- Bass > Feelin’ Groovy Jam (2/24) >
- Sugar Magnolia (2/24)