Day 30: Let It Grow, 10/11/77

Grateful Dead Road Trips 1.2 album cover artwork

I will go on record saying that I like complete show releases, however, I also recognize that that also places restrictions on a lot of material, especially from the 80s. The Road Trips series seemed like a wonderful remedy to this problem, however, it was quickly met with complaints about incomplete shows and David Lemieux quickly caved to pressure and started releasing full shows in that series. (I think part of the problem was that if part of a show was released the ENTIRE show was removed from archive.org.) It’s a shame really, and Dave even pointed out that a lot of the Dick’s Pick’s releases were compilations from one, two, or three shows. Of course, when DPs first started coming out shows weren’t as readily available as they are now. Road Trips, Vol. 1, No. 2 was one that adhered to the original ethos of the series and it’s a real corker! It starts off with Let It Grow from 10/11/77 in Norman, OK, which I’ve selected for today’s song.

The band almost seems to fade themselves in to the song. This version moves along at a brisk pace, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. Donna sounds really good here, too, which helps. She can be a bit pitchy at times, but not so here. She’s right in sync with Bobby. I can only assume that the person whacking away at an unknown percussion instrument is Mickey, and I like it! Phil really makes his presence known in the first chorus section, throwing in a few chords on bass in addition to his articulated runs. His tone is both fat and punchy, an interesting combination that sounds really good. The diminished chords in this song seem to give the guitarists some interesting options to play around with and they do so with aplomb.

Jerry dances circles around the fretboard with his fingers here in the solo. He really lets loose as the band works its way through all of the different sections. This section of Let It Grow is a favorite of mine. The main chord progression is relatively simple, but there are a couple different scripted passages that help keep things moving and really interesting. It rarely fails in my book.

Right around the 6:15 mark they enter a jam that I have not heard in a Let It Grow before. It’s a bit heavy and sounds really cool. This moves directly back into the chorus, which is very pensive as it begins, offering a sharp contrast in styles. Very cool. As they wrap up the singing and move to another solo section Jerry and Phil really shine. After another feverish solo they bookend the song by fading out quietly in the same way they started the song.

The circle remains unbroken.

Complete Setlist 10/11/77

Also In Rotation: Rory Gallagher – The Beat Club Sessions. A live version of Crest Of A Wave? Yes please! (Check out the DVD, too!)
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7 Comments
  1. That’s a great question. I don’t remember ever hearing that Blair was involved with the actual picks, but he may have been. I do know that he wrote most of the liner notes for these releases though.

  2. I think Blair Jackson had some role in the RT series. I corresponded with him about that time and while he was accommodating in his responses, we did not agree on much. I really respect his ability to provide context. He does the research and comes up with the goods. But I would not trust him to pick a good show (or even a song). He admitted that the RT 1.1 bonus disc was mostly crap. Here’s my take:

    When the Road Trips series began, I was thinking of giving up this crazy project [of reviewing every official release], or at least limiting it to only the pre-Brent years. So, I failed to order this one before the bonus disc sold out. Regrets? I have a few. Later, after much searching for a legit copy, I finally gave up and settled for a listen via archive.org. (I considered shelling out $75 for a copy on eBay, and I even asked Blair Jackson if he would burn it for me, but his was scratched from spending too much time on the floor of his car, he said. After hearing these performances I can’t blame him for treating it so insensitively, and I would have been embarrassed to have spent any real money for it on eBay.) Consequently, I can’t tell you anything about the sound quality of the official release, but the music shines through on the soundboard-sourced streaming version just fine. And, after all, I guess doesn’t matter anyway.

    In a nutshell, the performances contained herein are at best pretty good and at worst quite awful. It was a bold choice to launch the Road Trips series with selections from this tour, and especially to tout this disc as a “bonus”. It would be one thing to accept a few clams with a whole-show release but to individually hand-pick any crappy versions is inexcusable. (The mediocre ones are at least tolerable, and the good ones, well, at least there are a couple of them on this release.) I had hoped for saving graces in the form of the two selections titled “Jam” but the first is a weak example of what these guys were capable of, even on this tour. The real fun begins and ends with the second “Jam”.

  3. I went back and found Blair’s last blog on dead.net. He mentioned that he worked with Dave on the Road Trips series. The disappointment he expressed about the criticism of the series led me to believe he had a lot to do with the selection process, but maybe I’m reading too much into it.
    In any case, I find Dave’s Picks to be FAR superior. But I’m a huge fan of Blair’s writing.

    • Steve – Thanks for the run down. I haven’t listened to RT1.1 very much, but now that you mention it, wasn’t that first release the one that had the two full Spectrum shows released along side it? I know that there was a lot of rumbling about those because they weren’t pitch corrected. In that sense, it seems that the series got off to a rocky start, although I LOVE RT1.2. I think it’s phenomenal.

      Mike – Now that you mention it I too seem to recall Blair expressing disappointment about the RT series in that blog on dead.net. Either I didn’t realize he was involved with the selections or forgot.

      I do think that Blair’s strength is in providing context and I generally enjoy his liner notes very much.

  4. I guess my digression here about the RT 1.1 bonus had to do with BJ’s involvement in choosing song versions. This is more on-topic w/r to the RT 1.2 LIG:

    It is safe to say that the producers of the new Road Trips series are not really attempting to assemble these things to flow like an actual Grateful Dead concert of the era. No show would have started here. But there are first-set treats on the first disc and second-set ones on the second, and I am not complaining. Give me the wheat, keep the chaff, I say. And let it grow.

    As we fade in, the band is itching to start this galloping tune. And gallop it does, right out of the gate. There is a spurious undercurrent at work here. I could call it by a name, but you know what it is. The song flies by, and at 2:30 the first instrumental break hits and is a blur of really fine Spanish figures run down by one Mr. Jerry Garcia. The final verse is little more than a way through to the jam and when that is reached, it is fast and huge. You will hear some of the best and most twisted licks a fired-up Garcia ever mustered right here. The key change after 5:00 brings a more sinister feel with it and everyone is on board with that. Around 6:45 the expected breakdown occurs, suddenly erasing the slate and allowing the final chorus to enter. Jerry almost can’t wait for it to end, as he trills over the last “I AM!” leading to a more subtle jam than the earlier one. Here we have some more unpredictable nuances thrown by the Gar before the final breakdown ebbs to silence, but for the crowd’s warm answer. Fantastic.

    • Steve, I don’t know why, but I hadn’t really thought of the RTs in that way – first set cuts on disc 1, second set gems on disc 2 (and 3), but that seems like a perfect recipe. I don’t mind the mixed up positioning of songs either. It’s a bit Further-esque, no? I like the idea that any song could be anywhere in the set. It’s a shame they couldn’t keep that series going.

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