Dead-heads celebrate release of lost tapes
Just when it seems that every minute of the Grateful Dead's career has been released or accounted for in the band's famed vault, here comes "Dick's Picks 35."Dubbed "The Houseboat Tapes," the four-disc release has a story that's so unbelievable, so serendipitous, it could only happen to band as legendary as the Grateful Dead.The release captures the complete Aug. 7, 1971, San Diego show, most of the Aug. 24, 1971, Chicago concert and more than an hour of the Aug. 6, 1971, Hollywood performance.
Tapes from the shows were assumed to have been long lost. No soundboard recordings existed, either in the band's vault or among fans. Then family members of the former Dead keyboard player Keith Godchaux were cleaning out the family's old houseboat and found a box of tapes. Inside were original soundboard recordings given to Godchaux by Jerry Garcia as a way for the new band member to learn the music.Thankfully for Dead fans, the tapes were turned over to the band's archivist, who picked some of the choicest, and most well-preserved, bits for release.So, how's the music?Not bad, but certainly not the best of the Dead's long and varied career. The summer of 1971 was the one of the last tours with original keyboard player Pig Pen and just before the period that many consider the golden era of the Dead.There is some great playing, some lousy, and a little bit that's not quite on the mark. But listening to the shows, warts and all, sure beats having them bob along unnoticed on a California houseboat that apparently gets cleaned only once every 30 years.-- Scott Bauer, Associated Press