setlist & soundboard (SBD - Betty Board) mp3 download 320 kbpsGrateful Dead -- December 24, 1971
Hill Auditorium, The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
12-14-71 a.k.a. 12/14/71 aka 71-12-14
1st Set: Truckin, Sugaree, Mr. Charlie, Beat It On Down The Line,
Loser, Jack Straw, Next Time You See Me, Tennessee Jed, El Paso,
Big Railroad Blues, Me And My Uncle, Run Rudolph Run, Black Peter,
Playing In The Band, Casey Jones
Set 2: Ramble On Rose, Mexicali Blues, Big Boss Man,
Cryptical Envelopment-> Drums-> The Other One-> Wharf Rat,
Sugar Magnolia, You Win Again, Not Fade Away->
Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad-> Not Fade Away
I've listened to this show three times in a row and what's there to really say?
In the first set, that which isn't just well played, is played with plenty of emotion. Pigpen's vocals were always rather brief but each time he seemed to give an extra ounce of life to the set. I really dig the Tennessee Jed here; it's very cool the way Jerry gives a subtle vocal flourish here and there. In later years, the song is more like something for the crowd to make help make great but here it's Jerry putting himself into it.
I thought I'd try to describe a few more songs in the first set but seriously, there's no point 'cause they're all good!!! Big Railroad, though -- not just good but fun and rockin, love Jer's guitar, lots of energy here!
Okay, maybe I'll go with a couple more...
Run, Rudolph, Run makes this one of the Dead's only "Christmas" shows. I think they really should have brought this song with them beyond '71 -- Bobby could have handled it marvelously and with the Dead sometimes playing in December before Christmas, it would have been perfect. Oh well. It might be oh so brief but it's quite a fun, good time hearing Pig sing it.
One more quiet part of the set comes with Black Peter. Just two songs slow things down so it's almost oddly out of place. There are plenty of other Black Peter's when Jerry pours buckets of emotion into it... but this is so nicely played.
Playing In The Band seems to pack a lot of music into only seven minutes. Such a focused jam they get going that it's almost a shame they didn't keep it up for many more minutes. Ahh, but a super high energy Casey Jones closes the set on a way high note!
Despite being cut into a little bit, Set 2 has a really satisfying Ramble On Rose to open it up. Couple songs later we're treated to Pig's harmonica on Big Boss Man. Maybe not like he used to blow it but always groovy to hear from him... and then Jerry and Keith take over to drive it onward toward the last verse while Bob's rhythm and Phil's bass help steer the way.
Cryptical begins the last hour which really is the most tremendous part of this show. Mmm! I love how Billy's drumming appears to set the moment for the Phil bomb as it leads into O1. Then before too long they're wafting away into spaceyland before Jerry leads the way back. This thing fluctuates a lot and I dig how at times it's Phil who's seemingly in charge... and then it all comes back again! (I sound almost just like the compendium review below but he was exactly right!) The way they crank it back up and then slide into Wharf Rat is exhilarating. This is a ride that's not to be missed!
After all that (which really could've happily ended the set for me) we get back to pure rockin' with Sugar Mag which is undoubtedly the rockinest part of the night. You Win Again seems way oddly placed as it feels so much like a first setter but before long we get the finale: NFA-> GDTRFB-> NFA. I'm often amazed at how great this combo can be and this night is no exception! Here's another instance of Phil taking the lead at times and lots of Keith's piano right up close to the front and playing such a beautiful part in taking this places to delight our senses. Mmm. And then as GDTRFB could very easily close down, a WILDLY raucous NFA conclusion they launch into. Wow. Bobby & Pig are goin' nuts(!) trading line of lyric for line of lyric, scream for scream, back and forth, who can yell, who can empty their lungs the loudest?!? WOW. WOW. Whoa. Oh man.
Yeah! That was cool!
The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Volume 1:
An In-Depth Guide to the Music of the Grateful Dead
on Tape, 1959-1974 by Michael Getz and John Dwork
[out of print]
This tape is a good way to discover the feeling of a typical show from the fall of '71. Highlights from this tour include a blizzard of rollicking keyboard work by the newly initiated Keith Godchaux, and numerous astounding performances of "The Other One" and "Not Fade Away" > "Goin' Down the Road" > "Not Fade Away." 12/14/71 is one of the infamous Betty Board tapes so good-quality copies have been circulating for a number of years in analog and DAT quality.
The first set is not spectacular, but it is pretty solid. The highlights are a rocking "Run, Rudolph, Run" and a sweet "Black Peter."
After a few songs in the second set, they hit the peak of the show: "The Other One." It's not really a peak as much as a wonderful series of rolling hills in which they build up an intense jam, and then go back down and let it space out a bit, then build it up again, then let it go back down again, etc. Earlier "Other One"'s ('67-'69) were usually played at a breakneck pace without variation, and later versions ('72-'74) sometimes traversed deep space, but 12/14/71 and its close relatives (10/29/71, 11/12/71, and 11/17/71) have a lot of variation that keeps them focused and very interesting all the way through.
There is some goofing around with a "Stars and Stripes" intro before "You Win Again," and then they go into the other highlight of the night, the closing seventeen-minute "Not Fade Away" > "Goin' Down the Road" > "Not Fade Away." It seems to go on and on. When you think that they've been going on forever and will be ending the song soon, you realize that they're just starting "Goin' Down the Road." There is no encore, but after this monster medley who cares? This is definitely a keeper. Check it out.
by JOHN OLEYNICK
|Source: Betty Board Master Reel>|
PCM> DATx3> CDR
|12/14/71 Hill Auditorium|
the Soundboard for Listening Only
** A note about Parts 3 and 4: Cryptical-> Drums-> Other One-> Wharf Rat is all one track totalling 34½ minutes long. Also: NFA-> GDTRFB-> NFA is also one track. Why this is, I don't know but that's how I got my discs from someone. **