Picking a single favorite Grateful Dead song is an endeavor in futility if you ask me. However, of all the established song sequences the Dead played over the years my hands-down favorite it Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower
Really my only knock against Help On The Way/Slipknot!/Franklin’s Tower was that the Help/Slip section dropped out of the repertoire for years at a time for a couple of different spans. But that just made it that much more revered when the band brought it back. They simplified some of the diminished runs over the years, but the gist of it remained the same.
This is one of the earliest performances of the sequence and it shows, but in a good way. There’s a certain energy and sense of the unknown that accompanies a song that you haven’t worn like a glove for years. As the last Help/Slip/Frank for this project it seemed only fitting to hearken back to the song’s genesis to see how far it’s come in the past forty years.
One From The Vault is another must-have album, if you ask me. The Blues For Allah material was so important for many different reasons and the live rendering of that material is simply phenomenal. Plus there are plenty of other choice cuts on the album as well. It’s not difficult to understand why it was the first vault release at all.
Slipknot is in full effect here, and the band plays the full extent of the “whips” as JDarks calls them. The following A minor jam is always a foray into the interesting. Jerry’s tone remains clear and sharp, Keith’s piano more tapered, and the percussion chugging along. They move, eventually, into a chromatic progression for a few measures that gives way to a placid span, the calm before the storm, if you will, when the diminished runs return en route to Franklin’s Tower.
Franklin’s kicks off with it’s typical bounce and never looks back. Phil keeps things moving quite nicely here, and the band is attuned to dynamics as well, bringing it down during the verses and adding a bit more oomph! during the chorus. A shorter version of Franklin’s, notably the solos, which is understandable since the song was in it’s infancy – this was the second time they had played it live. There’s a reserved energy throughout the song though, as if something is just waiting to explode and the band is trying their hardest to not to let it escape too early. A little past the 5 minute mark the flood gates open and Jerry is off with the rest of the band closely behind. It seems like we’re in for the long haul here, but Jerry pulls up short about a minute later and they tag the chorus again, very softly, before one more charge to end the song.