Welcome to Volume 7 in the
Chronological Adventures of the Recordings of the Grateful Dead
May 19, 1966
Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco
This is the first recording we have of the boys playing the historic and legendary Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. By now, the Dead were firmly establishing themselves and solidifying their sound. Right off the top, even though it cuts in, Beat It On Down The Line sounds like a definite improvement on their take on it from 3/19 in Los Angeles.
When I talk about firsts here -- and there a lot of them! -- I'm talking about firsts in a what-we-have-to-listen-to sense... setlists for all early Dead shows aren't known so we have no clue how often certain songs were played early on.
This show has a bunch of firsts for us. One's a return... kind of. It's weird 'cause they may have played Mindbender dozens of times in '66 but here with 5/19/66 we have the first since 11/3/65 when the band was in the studio laying down demo tracks as The Warlocks. Nice to have it again but Ouch, it cuts off. Damn. Oh well. Such a groovy song and it was perhaps the first bit of psychedelia from the band.
Standing On The Corner is another Dead original that didn't stick around long. It's a first here and I think we only have four performances of it to listen to. It Hurts Me Too gives us the blues and is another first. As we know, Pig kept this one for a good long while.
A favorite of the band was Viola Lee Blues. It was their tune to open up and jam a little. They don't do so much here but it's still so sweet. If you haven't, definitely check out the Viola Lee Blues rehearsal and the earlier 3/19 version where they're a little looser, a little rougher, more primal than this even is.
More firsts -- yet another Dead original with Cream Puff War and one only played a few times in '66: Sick And Tired, a tune that was popular by Fats Domino. And a first for one that everyone knows -- Minglewood Blues and man, it kicks butt! So good! Silver Threads and Golden Needles is a first, as well, and it's fun how they can turn a quiet and mellow church hymn-type o' song into a wild dancin' number! Praise the Lord!!
Tastebud (also a first) is perhaps the rarest tune here. It can be found on the re-release of the Dead's debut album but this is the only time it has been played live... well, that might not be true at all. This is the only live recording we have of it. More stellar blues from the Dead. Mmmm! Ya know, they have come a long way since that first demo and that "first show" (first live show we have a recording of) from January.
Another "return" -- [Bob] Dylan's It's All Over Now Baby Blue makes its second recording appearance (first since the January show.)
Lastly, You Don't Have To Ask is another tune purely for dancin' as was the first known Good Lovin' right before that. Except for Viola Lee Blues, this is hardly a band with a tendency to jam.
Something happens to the final minute of the recording and for some odd reason the last track is labeled as Cream Puff War but that's clearly not the case. Sound quality is pretty cool, pretty solid throughout, it maybe even warrants over 4 stars and closer to 4½. We are so lucky. For what exists for '66 so far, most of it's not bad!
1st Set: Beat It On Down The Line, Standing On The Corner,
Mindbender (Confusion's Prince), It Hurts Me Too, Viola Lee Blues,
I Know You Rider, Sick And Tired, Cream Puff War
2nd Set: Sittin' On Top Of The World, New Minglewood Blues,
Cold Rain & Snow, Tastebud, Silver Threads And Golden Needles,
It's All Over Now Baby Blue, Good Lovin', You Don't Have To Ask
|Source: Soundboard> Master Reel>|
DAT> FM Broadcast> CDR> SHN
|5/16/66 Avalon Ballroom|
the SBD for Listening Only
You Can Download It Here
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Alternate poster & Handbill