Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Vol. 8-Harpur College, Binghamton, NY May 2, 1970 (3CD)
If there were a college course taught on Grateful Dead bootlegs (and if there isn't one, there should be!), the concert preserved on Dick's Picks Vol. 8 would occupy a prominent place on the syllabus. That's because this evening at tiny Harpur College in upstate New York was for years probably the most highly touted and sought-after single show on the tapers' circuit (Jerry Garcia himself later singled it out as a memorable performance); and it appears here, complete save for one song, on this 3-CD set. The first disc offers one of the most beguiling acoustic sets the Dead ever performed, full of gems ("Dire Wolf," "Black Peter," "Uncle John's Band") from the already-recorded-but-not-yet-released Workingman's Dead, plus a passel of old folk and blues tunes highlighted by a beautiful, slow-burning version of "I Know You Rider;" it's doubtful the band ever harmonized as beautifully as they do here, and the off-the-cuff atmosphere is simply charming. Discs two and three present the (very) electric Dead at their most probing, with a healthy dollop of greasy soul 'n' blues served up by Pigpen; highlighted by Garcia's guitar and Phil Lesh's bass spiraling ever upward in a lengthy solo section, the version of "The Other One" in the 40-minute medley that opens the second set is unsurpassed, and the third set's "Viola Lee Blues" sports not one, not two, but three mind-warping crescendos, while their version of the rarely-performed James Brown tune "It's a Man's World" is as gritty and gutbucket as the band got. The closing "We Bid You Goodnight" is twice as long as usual because the delirious crowd wouldn't let them go--out of print for years and a must for any self-respecting Dead library.
Release date 02.12.21