By James Calemine

The Grateful Dead disappeared on a hiatus in 1975. Dick’s Picks Volume 33 captures the group’s stellar October 9 and 10 performances at the Oakland Coliseum in 1976. The Dead’s last studio album–Blues For Allah–permitted a wider range of material in their repertory during that Bicentennial year. These two shows proved when the band fired on all cylinders their music funneled a cosmic amalgamation of blues, country, R&B, jazz, reggae, southern soul, folk and rock & roll.

Bill Graham organized this ‘Day On The Green’ festival where other Bay Area groups, The Who and the Grateful Dead performed. The sonic quality of this recording sounds flawless. This 4-CD collection contains 45 tracks featuring some of the Dead’s strongest songs from that era. Highlights on Disc One emerge as “Cassidy”, “Tennessee Jed”, “They Love Each Other”, “Scarlet Begonias” and “Sugaree”.

Disc Two presents strong versions of “St. Stephen”, “Help On The Way”, “Slipknot”, “Franklin’s Tower” and “U.S. Blues”. Disc Three documents Set One from the October 10 gig. Favorites here include “Might As Well”, Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”, “Deal”, “Loser”, “Friend of the Devil” and “Wharf Rat”. Disc Four emerges interesting as the previous three with memorable renditions of “Brown Eyed Women”, “Playing in the Band”, “The Wheel”, “Space” and “Stella Blue”.

Real Gone records also recently released Dick’s Picks Volumes 3435 and 36. Volume 33 is a potent collection…a kaleidoscope of sound. Robert Hunter’s lyrics “I’m Uncle Sam/That’s who I am/Been hidin’ out/In a rock & roll band” epitomized the Grateful Dead’s rare spirit.

Read about Jerry Garcia recording on Ken Nordine’s Devout Catalyst with Tom Waits in Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2.