Saturday Dead (Zimmer's Picks): 7.31.74

Words By Andy Zimmer

Grateful Dead Live at Dillon Stadium on July 31, 1974.

This week I really wanted to pick a top notch show that was somewhat off the beaten path. And it would be even better if I could uncover a gem from the Wall of Sound era-Dead. I think that I may have found the cure for my fix with this July 74' show from Hartford, CT. As with most shows from this period, when they sound good... they sound really damn good. The Wall of Sound, while it may have proved to be impractical and a logistics nightmare, was truly an inspired idea and set a new standard for live music audio quality.

This week’s show sounds great, and includes some of my favorite Dead concert staples. I never get tired of hearing “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”, “Row Jimmy”, and “To Lay Me Down”. This three set, almost four hour long, monster of a show also has its share of deep, developed jams. The second set-ending “Weather Report Suite” is one of the finest versions I know of. However, the cherry of the show has to be the “Truckin’”>”Mind Left Body Jam”>”Spanish Jam”>”Wharf Rat”. The improvisational spaces and moods created by the band are both mesmerizing and moving. Additionally, I think that Keith’s playing is particularly strong throughout this show. I feel that, throughout 74', Keith’s playing continued to really blossom and take on a special character. This show highlights Keith at his finest.


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