By James Calemine

Real Gone Music released the Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks Volume 34. On November 5, 1977, the Grateful Dead played the Community War Memorial, in Rochester, New York. This release sounds amazing. Dick Latvala served as the Dead’s official archivist until 1999. His sonic understanding of the group spawned the fabled Dick’s Picks series that includes 36 volumes. The Dead were in stellar form on this evening. Jerry Garcia’s guitar playing shines on this recording. It was no wonder that Duane Allman once said of Garcia: “I love the Dead. As far as Jerry Garcia, Jerry Garcia could walk on water. He could do anything any man could ever do. He’s a prince.”

Bob Dylan revealed this about Jerry Garcia: “There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or a player. I don’t think any eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great, much more than a superb musician, with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He’s the very spirit personified of whatever is Muddy River country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal.

“To me, he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There’s a lot of spaces and advances between The Carter Family, Buddy Holly and say Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep.”

This 3-CD set features some of the Dead’s strongest tunes. Disc One’s highlights include “Dire Wolf”, Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”, Johnny Cash’s “Big River”, “Candyman”, “Jack Straw” and “Deal”. Disc Two continues the cosmic fever with numbers such as “Eyes of the World”, “It Must Have Been The Roses”, “Might As Well”, “St. Stephen” and Chuck Berry’s “Round And Round”. Memorable renditions on Disc Three count as “He’s Gone”, “Rhythm Devils”, “Black Peter” and “One More Saturday Night”. The final two tracks–“Lazy Lightning” and “Supplication”–were recorded a few days earlier in Canada.

This recording takes you straight into the cosmos…

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