Grateful Dead – 9/9-11/74 London (Dick’s Picks 7)

Standalone Scarlets are my favorite Scarlets. This one, taken from mid-first set on 9/9, shows just a little age on the tape early on and Phil tries to come out of the intro on a different schedule than everyone else, but it comes together. All is right with the world for the main jam, which justifies the prime slot despite earlier sonic gremlins.

It’s a healthy jam, too, and the only factor tbd is whether or not they’ll stick the landing. They do.

Unlike Dick’s Picks 31, which covered the most recent officially released shows, this one finds Latvala drawing from all three nights for pieces of all three discs. A typically peppy Mexicali Blues gives way to a very nice Row Jimmy. A bit of a line hum is unusual for official releases but is not enough to be distracting.

After Black-Throated Wind, a sweet first break from Jerry is a good omen for the rest of the Half-Step. The rest is indeed strong, vocally and instrumentally. Check Keith sprinkling in a couple of twinkly bits reminiscent of the “Monkey Man” intro.

Boogie through BIODTL and do a countrified two-step through Tennessee Jed. Nobody buys releases for those songs, but they’re both exceptionally clean and well executed on this set, contending for best available official versions from the year.

People do, on the other hand, make buying decisions based in part on Playing In The Band, and this first disc closes with 23 minutes of it.

After the predictable 2:52, the band enters the initial jam in a more relaxed space than the no-time-to-wait pace from Philadelphia that opened Dick’s Picks 31. Jerry stretches out for a while, then Keith comes in with a perfectly tailored and repeated short riff to counter and spur on Garcia before they both twirl up and away a bit further.

The jam keeps its shape, but the situation intensifies around 10 minutes in. I think careful listeners can hear one, and maybe two, sounds of verbal approvement from somewhere onstage in this stretch.

The jam keeps its shape, but the situation intensifies around 10 minutes in. I think careful listeners can hear one, and maybe two, sounds of verbal approvement from somewhere onstage in this stretch.

They stay in this gear (it’s a good gear) as we cross the 2/3 mark.  Not long after, though, things take a more frantic and frenetic turn. As with Dick’s 31, though, they stop short of full-on freakout.

At the 19-minute mark, they start dropping elevation. Sparks peel of the ship as it meets and traverses the initial layer of the stratosphere. Bill tries a funk hustle to get through it, but they immediately reach the normal atmosphere and break into the reprise with some power.

It had been a long while since I listened to this performance. It’s a confident, muscular Playing that stands up to the year’s tough competition.

An unusually consistent string of first-set songs make up this first disc, bookended by two solid jam vehicles. Well played, Dick.

Weather Report Stella

Here’s a question. When Garcia makes his entrance on the slide for WRS, what kind of wacky interval is that high note? You don’t think it’s strange anymore because you’ve heard it so many times, but it’s highly unconventional. Like he played it that way accidentally the very first time and just kept it.

Around 8 minutes into Let It Grow, I started wondering if this is in fact he perfect tempo for it, a smidge but a noticeable smidge slower than many others. Then around 9 minutes in, Garcia’s solo exuded such an illusion of effortless fluidity that I became sure of it.

The jam through the second solo is so good that I didn’t even mind that they got a little turned around as a group about the way back out. Instead of plowing into the key descending riff, he gives a nice heads-up a couple of bars out to make for a smoother departure.

The last instrumental finds Garcia staying a little more chill, so it’s less of a solo than another jam starting out. He eventually works his way up the neck and Kreutzmann gets busier. His change to a completely different groove suggests they will forego the proper ending again and head somewhere else instead.

Which is what they do, except for one quick Bob trip through those final chords, instead easing into Stella Blue.

A little too much stereo flange/tremolo has worked its way into the mix somewhere, and with headphones, it’s a distraction. It can be effective for a well-chosen guitar or keyboard moment, but nobody wants to hear Jerry’s voice doing any sort of elastic ping pong between the ears while he’s singing Stella Blue.

Boy, the way the solo builds and builds but then exits on a whisper does pack a punch. Good reminder that not only were they excellent live performers and songwriters, they could also arrange the crap out of a song when they wanted.

Despite the unwanted effect (which does seem to ease off, fortunately), Garcia gives the Palace crowd a lovely vocal throughout.

A blessedly untrammeled ending lets everyone bask in the glow of the song, or the applause, or both.

Appetizer Trio

That much of the disc was drawn from the middle night, and now Latvala moves to a three-pack from the 11th.

Jack Straw picks up momentum, although around here the recording strikes me as more obviously a Wall of Sound era recording, for better and worse, than I’d noticed before. Maybe it’s just me.

Brown-Eyed Women benefits from being another one at a just exactly perfect tempo as well as from Phil’s “harmonies” on the chorus. Keith adds some gravitas in the middle, between some staccato pulsing chords and lower-register notes.

As they did so many times that year, the Dead chug their way through a retelling of “Big River”. Instead of the vocal, which is fine as usual, zone in on Bob’s rhythm part driving the song forward.

After some brief machine-gun work from Godchaux hurls “Big River” into and through its final chorus, Latvala shifts back to the 9th to wrap up the middle disc with the 27-minute Truckin’ > jam > Wharf Rat.


The vocal section of Truckin’ is nothing particularly special, but the energy picks up soon afterward. The band is dialed in; Garcia uses plain repetition more than usual in a couple of spots, serving well to set up subsequent runs.

It’s not exceedingly evident right away, but after around 10 minutes, what they’re playing differs enough to warrant giving the jam its own track. The Wood Green Jam might go to Spoonful for a minute, then you could imagine it delving into The Other One, and that’s only the first two minutes.

Garcia tries to wind it down to a ballad at the exact moment Bill decides to get more frisky. Jerry goes along with it, and we’re off for a couple minutes of the quick, jazzy jam that you could argue is the default undercurrent through the entire year of shows.

At nearly 5 minutes, Garcia lets out a rather pronounced riff that could also be considered Dark Star-adjacent, but the boys run right over and past that. Another 30 seconds and everyone instantly agrees on Wharf Rat.

Garcia tries to wind it down to a ballad at the exact moment Bill decides to get more frisky. Jerry goes along with it, and we’re off for a couple minutes of the quick, jazzy jam that you could argue is the default undercurrent through the entire year of shows.

The swift transition means no time for the tempo to die down, and Wharf Rat commences at a good pace. Recognizable tiny fills, almost ambient arpeggios, riffs to nudge into the next verse … yet another chance to come at a familiar song through the lens of Weir’s inimitable style, hard-baked into these arrangements but often overlooked.

With a couple of minutes left, Phil serves up a couple of different root notes. Jerry again lifts up a riff that shows some common ground between Wharf Rat and the Dark Star verse. Then they kind of just let off the gas and drift to a stop. A somewhat odd end to the sequence, followed in London but not on this release by UJB and Johnny B. Goode to close the set.

On the CD, it’s a “Thanks, folks” from Phil and a fade out to get ready for the exciting conclusion of Dick’s Picks 7.


The middle night gets the nod for all of disc three. After the lengthy conclusion to disc two, Latvala deploys a little chef’s treat of a Me & My Uncle to start.

If this edit is to be believed, the crowd at the Palace NFA-clapped their way to an actual Not Fade Away. I’ve heard slower and heavier; this one’s about right, although Keith is AWOL from the recording for the first chunk of it.

Despite 16 minutes, there’s not a lot to dissect here in terms of performance or arrangement. It’s a long NFA that lets people bob and dance and shake about. Keith tries out three sounds, finally settling on electric piano. Garcia backs off the soloing and they maintain a good simmer for a while before circling back to the head once more around 13:30 and coming to a complete stop after the final chorus.

Dark Star Into …

We get 30 seconds to reset before the first seconds of Dark Star waft out from the speakers. Serenity reigns over the first five minutes. Then Phil steps up a bit, and then Jerry issues some runs that suggest a little restlessness.

The mood shifts to something jazzier and quicker at 7 minutes, but only briefly before moving into a freer but still uptempo space. Jerry dotted-eighth’s his way back toward the Dark Star motif, but nobody is in a big hurry to come all the way back.

In fact, they sail further out instead, Phil and Jerry at the helm and Keith laying down some nice, thick chords. About halfway through this 24-minute version, Jerry steps back and Keith forward for a change of pace.

Everyone’s ready for something new by the 15-minute mark. Almost complete and then complete deconstruction. Then it’s just Jerry with noncommittal jazzy chords lines, with sparse accompaniment on the electric piano.

The others creep gently into the mix, emerging with a slow ¾ thing.

Finally, just past 19 minutes, Jerry returns with that syncopation again. They spin and flutter toward the motif one more time. Just when the crowd must think there will be no verse tonight, Jerry gives them one to tell their grandkids about after 22 minutes of prelude.

… Morning Dew (Eventually)

That would be the end of Dark Star for the evening. Seven minutes of “Spam Jam” follow. It would be a good name for it, too, if SPAM were filled with angst and insects. A full-on Tiger mauls the room before the rhythm section overlays a new beat. Weir beats that back with some scrubbing himself; the band plays to a standoff.

Jerry and Keith set off on unending single-note runs as Phil indulges in a little distortion. All settle into space for a minute before the molecules organize into Morning Dew.

Garcia starts on his first solo and Lesh again hammers some fuzzed chords. At least for this middle section, he has taken this version by the horns.

Lesh provides an Entwistleian, meaty fill followed by some good lower-register work from Godchaux as they enter the “Where have all the people …” verse. Kreutzmann gets more active in the next verse to avoid any drag.

Garcia starts on his first solo and Lesh again hammers some fuzzed chords. At least for this middle section, he has taken this version by the horns.

Keith pulls up that Wurlitzer-ish sound (think the jam before Ship Of Fools in Miami) and then goes to piano, all around delivering solid balance as Garcia escalates.

Jerry wails an appropriately ragged-but-right vocal conclusion, and the crowd shows them the love.


After a Sugar Magnolia that Latvala omits from this set, this almost impossibly American band ends the show with the introduction that is U.S. Blues.

It sounds like a rainy September night from some Phil banter, so summer must indeed feel a little too far away for many in the room. The band puts off the wet walk home a few more minutes, tearing it up as Phil again manages an especially phat tone about halfway in.

Keith also adds more flash than usual, and they move with precision down the homestretch to a satisfying “coliseum ending.”

Grateful Dead
9/9,10,11/74 London
Dick’s Picks 7
CD1: scarlet begonias / Mexicali blues / row jimmy / black throated wind / Mississippi half-step uptown toodle-oo / beat it on down the line / Tennessee jed / playing in the band
CD2: weather report suite > stella blue / jack straw / brown-eyed women / big river / truckin’ > wood green jam > wharf rat
CD3: me & my uncle / not fade away / dark star > spam jam > morning dew // u.s. blues

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