A new Grateful Dead mega-box is on the way - and it's rewinding the years all the way back to 1973. 50 years ago, the band's tour culminated in a pair of performances at Washington, DC's Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium as co-headliners with The Allman Brothers Band. The June 10 show, in particular, remains one of the Dead's best ever: an almost five-hour mega-concert with an encore featuring Dickey Betts and Butch Trucks of the ABB sitting in. On June 30, both of the Washington, DC shows will be coming to CD along with the three shows that preceded them in June 1973.
The 17-CD box set Here Comes Sunshine features the final five concerts of the Dead's spring 1973 touring season: Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, IA (5/13/73); Campus Stadium, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA (5/20/73); Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, CA (5/26/73); and RFK Memorial Stadium, Washington, DC (6/9/73) and (6/10/73). The box, which is available for pre-order now exclusively at Dead.net, is limited to 10,000 individually numbered units. The complete audio will also be released digitally at Dead.net in Apple Lossless and FLAC (192/24) formats.
These five concerts, all of which are presented in complete form, found the Dead performing in the wake of the March 8, 1973 death of co-founding member Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. "Pigpen" had played his final show with the band in June 1972, and Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux soldiered on in his absence. In spring 1973, the Dead tried out songs they would record in the summer for their studio album Wake of the Flood ("Mississippi Half-Step Toodeloo," "Row Jimmy," "Stella Blue," "Eyes Of The World," and "Here Comes Sunshine") as well as those that would appear still later on 1974's From the Mars Hotel ("China Doll," "Loose Lucy," and "Wave That Flag," an embryonic version of "U.S. Blues").
Dead archivist David Lemieux notes in the press release, "In my early tape-trading days, 1985-1987, I only had a few 1973 shows, but my goodness, did I ever love them. There was a fresh, nimble feel that was entirely different from the 1972 Dead sound taking all of the great elements of the Year of Europe and building upon that excellence. The few shows I distinctly remember having in my collection were 2/9/73, 5/26/73, and 6/10/73. Even with hundreds of tapes at my fingertips, I returned to these 1973 shows frequently. That old saying, 'I listened to that show so often, I wore the tape out?' It was created because of shows like this."
In his liner notes, Ray Robertson elaborates on the musical changes being explored by the band during this period: "[Maybe] what makes this year (and '74 as well) so endlessly compelling most of all is the jazzy direction the band had taken over the last year or so...This was a group of musicians that listened to each other's playing. The sum is greater than the already pretty great parts because the parts were paying attention to--and frequently being inspired by--the other parts. That's jazz. And 1973 is the Dead at their jazzy best."
The box was designed by Masaki Koike and features liner notes by Robertson, Lemieux, and The Owsley Stanley Foundation. Each of the five shows is housed in a custom-designed folio with additional notes by Robertson pertaining to that specific performance; swag includes a Tenugui (a thin Japanese towel) and a poster illustrated by Mary Ann Mayer. Audio has been mastered by Jeffrey Norman, with the original tapes restored and speed-corrected using the Plangent Processes.
The closing RFK Stadium show of June 10, 1973 will also be offered to general retail as a standalone 4-CD or digital release on June 30, with an 8-LP version following soon after on July 28. "Ramble On Rose" from that show is available now for digital download and streaming. You'll find pre-order links below for Here Comes Sunshine 1973 and RFK Stadium, Washington, DC (6/10/73).
Grateful Dead, Here Comes Sunshine 1973 (Rhino/Grateful Dead) (Dead.net)
Includes five complete shows on 17 CDs:
- Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, IA (5/13/73);
- Campus Stadium, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA (5/20/73);
- Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, CA (5/26/73);
- RFK Memorial Stadium, Washington, DC (6/9/73) ; and
- RFK Memorial Stadium, Washington, DC (6/10/73).
RFK Stadium, Washington, DC (6/10/73) (Rhino/Grateful Dead)
- "Morning Dew"
- "Beat It On Down The Line"
- "Ramble On Rose"
- "Jack Straw"
- "Wave That Flag"
- "Looks Like Rain"
- "Box Of Rain"
- "They Love Each Other"
- "The Race Is On"
- "Row Jimmy"
- "El Paso"
- "Bird Song"
- "Playing In The Band"
- "Eyes Of The World">
- "Stella Blue"
- "Big River"
- "Here Comes Sunshine"
- "Around And Around"
- "Dark Star">
- "He's Gone">
- "Wharf Rat">
- "Sugar Magnolia"
Final Set with Dickey Betts and Butch Trucks
- "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry"
- "That's All Right"
- "Promised Land"
- "Not Fade Away">
- "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad">
- "Not Fade Away"
- "Johnny B. Goode"