The spring 1977 tour is legendary in the Dead’s touring history. The band was playing very tight on this tour and equipped with a bevy of new and old tunes the band set the country on fire. From late April to early June the band criss-crossed the country. In total, the band played Eyes Of The World nine times in this span.
I haven’t done much A/B listening with the other versions (because hey, it’s enough work trying to keep up with things for THIS project) but the thing that struck me about this version was the pace. It’s a bit shorter, clocking in just under 13 minutes, but they fit a lot in there, mostly because they play so fast! It’s not unheard of for a version of Eyes of the World to stretch closer to 20 minutes than to 10, but it’s really cool to hear how the band traverses the same territory in different ways. Check out the previous selections below for comparison.
Sometimes you forget how the tempo of a given song changes from night-to-night with the Dead. This version of Eyes seems turbo charged and starts off with a nice jam for a minute or two. Phil dominates right off the bat, but he settles back a bit and makes room for Jerry. The big man starts singing at around the 3 minute mark. There’s some nice natural echo in the hall (at least I assume it’s not post-production). Keith plays mostly chords here, and even without many runs his playing fills out the band’s sound so well. Jerry leads by example and matches the tempo with intersecting runs that display his nimbleness and versatility as a player. After the final chorus there’s a noticeable shift in feel. At first it sounds like the band isn’t sure which direction they want to go, but Jerry taps the compass and sets a course. It seems like a great segue jam into another barn-burner but takes a bit of a turn and instead lands among the drums.