This may sound a bit crazy, but it’s only within the past 3-5 years that I’ve really gotten into “primal Dead.” Admittedly, I’m more inclined toward structured songs, especially those with evocative lyrics or ones that tell a story. On top of that, there really isn’t a lot of material commercially available from the 1965-1968 period, and the stuff that circulates can be very hit or miss, in my opinion. I don’t like to spend time listening to poor audio and the idea of slogging through the archive to find these old shows that do sound good does not appeal to me.
That said, when New Potato Caboose came up early in the 2011 edition of 30 Days of Dead I took notice. It offered a chance to cut through the noise and test a sure-fire, or so I hoped, primal Dead track. (I won’t waste too much space lamenting the lack of ’67 material in the vault, or the opponents of compilations, which would serve some eras better than full show releases, but I digress…).
So with renewed opportunity and ears I started to become more open to mining the early era stuff that I did have. New Potato Caboose is one of the songs that was a part of this mining. The song didn’t have a long run, with only about 27 known performances (this being one of the earliest), but it’s indicative of the complex, almost progressive type of songs they were writing in this period. Regardless of what you think of the song itself once the band was able to open things up they could really shred, as this version shows.