Grateful Dead: Dave’s Picks Volume 7: Horton Field House, 4/24/78
By 1978, the Grateful Dead had seen the creation of their own independent record label and the Wall of Sound come and go, yet the oft-delayed release of The Grateful Dead Movie plus the scintillating shows of May 1977 left the band largely inspired as they searched for purpose(s) simultaneously forward-thinking and self-renewing. So, while arrangements for the jaunt to the Great Pyramid in Egypt were in the works, the Dead retrenched to play live, displaying a lively sense of anticipation. Dave’s Picks Vol. 7 finds them concluding a tour in Normal, Ill., in late April, with the Rhythm Devils interlude and “Space” becoming formalized segments of their concerts. Yet neither of those moments, nor the increasingly common segue of “Scarlet Begonias” into “Fire on the Mountain,” betray any of the creeping stylization that, at times, afflicted their concerts. Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves Of London” is full of twisted glee, while the band zestfully renders the Donna Jean Godchaux sung “Passenger.” Here, Bob Weir begins teaching himself slide guitar and the results are more tuneful than many future attempts. It’s a novel exercise in self-education emblematic of the (mostly) charmed life of the Grateful Dead at this juncture of their career.