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Title - 'Live at the Cow Palace: New Years Eve 1976'
Artist - The Grateful Dead

This particular Dead show, from New Year's Eve 1976, is outstanding in many ways. But of course, being a live Dead recording, we are treated in the press and among the faithful to all of the conceits and prejudices that we tend to bring to the table when we get a "new" release. The playing in the band on this disc is one of the most amazing I've heard. And yet, I've had friends tell me, "But what about 12/29/77? Now THAT was an amazing playing!" And when I've expressed my thrill with the overall quality of the show, I've gotten, "But what about 2/11/69? Now THAT was a show!" Which all ultimately tells us what? That the Dead have a huge body of work out there, and that none of us will ever agree on everything. But do note a few things. Playing in the band here IS excellent, and 'Morning Dew' is absolutely shattering. Mind you, 'We Bid You Goodnight' is also pretty bloody sublime. Not to mention the 'Sugar Magnolia /Eyes' suite on disc 2. Heaven. And sonically, the boys have seldom sounded so good.

The final disc starts with a cool 'Around And Around.' The band then launches into 'Help On The Way/Slipknot!' which always does it for me. The band's last show prior to this on 10/15 featured a stand alone 'Franklin's Tower' so that may explain why on here they go into drums instead. The following 'Not Fade Away' is rocking but for me the ballad 'Morning Dew' (as mentioned above) is much better. The first encore is 'One More Saturday Night.' Next we get something missing from all the FM copies of this show (it wasn't broadcast due to time constrants) the first versions of 'Uncle John's Band' and 'We Bid You Goodnight' since 10/74. Rhino definitely deserves kudos here as if you weren't fortunate enough to be at the Cow Palace on this date - or hear it on KSAN at that time - this is by far the next best thing.