Ron Pigpen McKernan - vocals, harmonica, organ, percussion; Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals; Bob Weir - guitar, vocals; Phil Lesh - bass; Bill Kruetzman - drums; Mickey Hart - percussion
This enticing clip was captured during a run of shows at Fillmore West, when the Grateful Dead had the daunting task of following Miles Davis (who had just recorded his Black Beauty album the previous night). The last half hour of the Dead's set, when the band was clearly a bit drained, this doesn't qualify as a landmark performance, but is still quite enjoyable. The recording begins at the tail end of the band tackling the classic "Live Dead" sequence, which by 1970, had them replacing the "Dark Star St. Stephen" follower of "The Eleven" with a raucous cover of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," before concluding with "Turn on Your Lovelight."
This recording begins at the tail end of "Not Fade Away" shortly before the band launches into a lengthy "Lovelight." Much of this performance features Pigpen trying his best to whip an uncooperative (or more likely also exhausted) audience into a final frenzy in his own inimitable way. Spontaneously rapping and cajoling specific audience members into pairing up, this remains a fine example of Pigpen's special brand of charisma, while the group casually jams on the main riff. The most interesting sequence, in terms of the musicians, occurs around the 17-minute mark, as Pigpen signals the band to take off. It begins humorously, as in response to the lack of direction; Garcia begins noodling on "The Merry Go Round Broke Down" better known as the closing theme to many a Looney Tunes/Merry Melodies cartoon! Bassist Lesh responds to this by pounding out a riff similar to Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady." Bob Weir and the drummers pick up on it, and the band veers into a nice little jam. A few minutes later this culminates with Garcia letting out one of the lengthiest sustained howls of his entire career. If nothing else, this brief midway jam makes this recording worth a listen. After that, the band resumes another 10 minutes of "Lovelight" riffing before bringing the night to an exhausted, but spirited close.