Grateful Dead – Live At The Cow Palace New Year’s Eve 1976 / 2007 Rhino / 22 Tracks / http://www.dead.net / http://www.rhino.com / Reviewed 25 February 2007
The Grateful Dead I primarily knew because of their “come-back hit”, “Touch of Grey”. It’s interesting how in a short period of time, both the Grateful Dead and the Beach Boys achieved massive chart success with a new song. One can almost see the same thing occurring around twenty years later, with Brian Wilson’s “SMiLE” having all sorts of critical acclaim and the Grateful Dead’s release of this, a mammoth three-disc live set capturing their performance at the Cow Palace, the California State Livestock Pavilion.
At some point, Deadheads have to buy this album because about two and a half hours of music await listeners. But, does this album have any allure for the casual music fan? Will the release of this album lead to a resurgence in Grateful Dead-mania? The production of this album is without criticism, even though the album is over thirty years old at this point, the richness that is the band’s compositions shine through as brilliantly as if individuals were by the stage that fateful day. There are not any extras to this 3-CD set beyond the music, but with so much music, how can individuals complain? Each release of this magnitude allows the vaults to be shrunk, and give collectors and completists another reason to open their wallets. Each performance that is released gives individuals a different conception about the Grateful Dead dynamic, while having some solid renditions of Dead classics. While I’ve not heard of many CDs using the HDCD format, this can only be a strength of this set, allowing for a level of polish that few discs have, and even fewer live shows were able to achieve.
The only thing that could be construed as any bit of a problem with this live show is that the vocals when the band is not playing are a little on the quiet side, but the most important part – the music – is not affected in the same way. While the Grateful Dead tracks were played and were meant to be experienced in 1976, there are parts of the band that still will affect individuals positively in 2007. Without Grateful Dead, there would be no Phish or Les Claypool; the importance of the band cannot be overstated in the slightest. Give these discs a spin if you like the Dead in the least, or can be impressed by acts that are important to the construction of an entire genre of music.
Top Tracks: Deal, Drums