Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Vol. 31-8/4-5 Philadelphia Civic Center 8/6/74 Roosevelt Stadium (4CD)
This Dick's Picks volume captures the Dead right in the thick of the legendary 1974 Wall of Sound tour and only two months away from leaving the road for a year-and-a-half hiatus. The Wall of Sound was, of course, the massive sound system designed by Owsley "Bear" Stanley that was so meticulously constructed that, for example, each string of Phil Lesh's bass had its own speaker (and was so daunting to transport and assemble that it was dismantled after the tour). The result was a crystal-clear sound that to this day stirs controversy among the band's fans. It certainly complemented and even encouraged the band's continued move away from the country-rock of Workingman's Dead towards a jazz fusion sound best expressed by the two epic versions of "Playing in the Band" found here. As opposed to most Dick's Picks collections, this four-disc set offers highlights from three consecutive nights of shows rather than presenting shows in their entirety; the result is that each disc stands on its own as a musical statement. Highly rated by aficionados, and possibly the best Wall of Sound set of shows available, in HDCD sound to boot. Never before available in stores.