May 77 – Grateful Dead Box Set Review
This is the first time that I ever had the privilege to review a full Grateful Dead Box Set, very special, since it is one of my favorite years of the Dead, 1977. This set is done up very luxuriously, both the music and the Box itself, music is two track recording done by Dead recording engineer, Betty Cantor, she recorded it on a stereo reel to reel tape machine. The music was then mastered by Jeff Norman.
There are five shows here, May 11, St Paul, Minn. May 12 and 13 at Chicago Illinois, then May 15 at St Louis ,Mo. then finally at Tusc, Alabama on May 17 at University of Alabama Basketball Gym, which is a bit unusual, since they had never done a show in Alabama, but it is a very good show, and the football team was helping the sound crew set up their sound system in the gym.
All of the music is mastered down to HDCD, which really sounds good,especially if your CD player decodes HDCD. Still, the sound quality is excellent throughout the recordings. By the Way ,there are still around 2500 box sets out of the original 15,000 sets left. The recording quality is really especially good in these concerts, Rhino Records puts out a good product. I skipped around the first time thru these concerts, I’m listening to the last show recorded at the University of Alabama now, really a creative show. They have cut back on gear since the last huge tour in 74 “the Wall of Sound” tour. The quality is just as good or better, they learned from that that tour, you do not need all of that gear. The stereo spread and eq are perfect on most shows, this is one of the most audiophile recordings, that the Grateful Dead have ever put out. They so some of the same songs every show, but there is a good mix of songs. As the band goes on thru the tour, they are tight as ever, but you really pick up a sense of joy from their performance. They really had picked up a lot of discipline working with Keith Olsen on their last Album “Terrapin Station”. I think the icing on the cake on this recording was the incredible singing of Donna Godchaux on this tour. She is right on her game.