Jerry Garcia - vocals, guitars; Bob Weir - guitars, vocals; Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - acoustic guitar, organ, percussion, harmonica, vocals; Phil Lesh - bass; Micheky Hart - drums; Bill Kreutzmann - drums
Valentine's Day with the Dead at the Fillmore East in 1970 is of course familiar to anyone who knows the Dick's Picks series Volume Four set. However, this early show that same night pulls out all the stops and may be less-known to your ears….
The year 1970 in Grateful Dead history opened with a bust in New Orleans, but they kept on truckin' down the road and brought their live presentation into legendary peak form. Crisscrossing from the Fillmores East and West, the band had held forth in New York in January and returned again for the February dates and again later in the Spring following the recording of Workingman's Dead. Inspired by Garcia's new collaboration with lyricist Robert Hunter, experimenting with close harmonies and working in the classic six-man, they worked out on the epics "St. Stephen," "Dark Star" and "Turn on Your Lovelight" and turned them into jam classics, most all of them showcasing Jerry's guitar.
Following an introduction to the stage by Jerry Pompili, the Dead laid down a slow-grooved "Cold Rain and Snow" before launching into the big one, "Dark Star," the defining improvisational piece of music in their repertoire and the song that launched a thousand jam bands. As it happens, this "Dark Star" is a magnificent, chiming, feedback and silence-soaked tour de psychedelia that does the Fillmore location proud. Another revered classic, "St. Stephen," makes an appearance here, in all its twangin' glory.
"Turn on Your Lovelight," finds Pigpen rocking out against Jerry's guitar and Weir doing his Weir-thing. It is perhaps the only way they could possibly end this ever-lovin' Valentine's Night set, clocking in at over 20 minutes. Taking on various soulful permutations, this version of "Lovelight" keeps the boogie level quite high, though as ever, the potential for getting further out and ever higher is also palpable. What can you say except, "Wow." It's yet another illuminating and magical night involving the living, breathing, legendary live Dead.