SAN FRANCISCO BAY ROCK [EXCERPT]
(From an article on the top underground bands in San Francisco, "particularly the Grateful Dead, who can be considered nothing short of fantastic.")
The Grateful Dead are rapidly gaining prominence and ascending from their underground status to a position close to the Airplane. Most local dance-concert attendees, when confronted with a question about the Dead, will mention "Midnight Hour." The Dead's closing number is usually Wilson Pickett's blockbuster, and it is transformed into a type of half-hour (sometimes longer) "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," performed by the Dead's organist Pig Pen. (A recent concert featured "Midnight Hour" performed by a joint "Grateful-Airplane" with the assistance of Joan Baez and Mimi Farina.)
"Midnight Hour" is not the Dead at their best. They are a hard blues-rock band, a powerhouse unit of organ, drums, and three guitars. Their best accomplishments are Pig Pen's gutsy version of "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" (with fantastic controlled harp work), "The Creeper," "Empty Heart," and "Smokestack Lightning" (both now performed only by special request), and an unbelievable grooving piece about "Born in Jackson" (supposedly written by rhythm player Bob Weir). "Sitting on Top of the World" jumps, and "Dancing in the Streets" is a railroad trip.
Jerry Garcia's lead work is exciting, sustained genius. Bill Sommers is the Bay Area's best drummer. Their repertoire is chiefly city blues, some old folk and early rock, with some strong originals. A single is to be issued shortly. A Grateful Dead album is being re-prepared (a first effort was discarded). The group has a $10,000 sound system. The Grateful Dead figure to be important movers in imparting San Francisco's message to the world.
(by Gene Sculatti, from Crawdaddy, October 1966)
At some point it may be worth transcribing the full article, which also covers Jefferson Airplane (of course), the Great Society, and the Charlatans, with briefer mentions of Quicksilver Messenger Service, Sopwith Camel, Country Joe & the Fish, and others. It was reprinted in the Crawdaddy Book, 2002.