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Music Review: Grateful Dead – Dick’s Picks Vol. 30 [4-CD Set]

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What a treasure Dick’s Picks Vol. 30 is for Deadheads everywhere. The four CDs catch the Grateful Dead live, which was always the best way to experience them, at the Academy of Music in New York on 3/25/72 for the first CD, and then performing another complete show in New York City three days later on the other three CDs.

While the sound here has been enhanced, it still sounds raw and unpolished. The “Caveat Emptor” on the back of the package explains that the songs were taken from two-track recordings that were 31 years old at the time.

But the rawness of the sound and the pauses, bits of tuning, and snippets of conversation here just add to the authenticity of the experience. And the Dead were all about authenticity.

The first CD offers the incredible boon of five tracks with the awesome, legendary Bo Diddley. The Dead very respectfully hold back a bit here, allowing Diddley to shine, which does them great credit.

The set also includes two songs that have never appeared anywhere else, the Dead’s only version of “How Sweet It Is” and “Are You Lonely for Me,” also on that first CD.

But the other three CDs also have plenty to offer! While I find that I no longer have the patience for a very long jam like “The Other Side,” that is a small matter when the show included great versions of so many favorite Grateful Dead numbers, like “Playing in the Band,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Tennessee Jed,” “Casey Jones,” “Sugar Magnolia,” and the theme song of my ’70s, “Truckin’.”

And that’s just a taste of the delights in the 37 songs presented here. There are blues, like the version of “Hurts Me Too” on CD four, which really showcases Bob Weir’s guitar skills, and country standards like Hank Williams’ “You Win Again,” and psychedelia like “China Cat Sunflower.” There is truly something here for nearly every taste.

If you have ever been a fan of the Dead, or if you are a fan of roots music or psychedelia, or a student of popular musical history, you need to own Dick’s Picks Vol. 30.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.