Jul 5, 2017

April 27, 1969: Labor Temple, Minneapolis


Talk about the beginnings of acid-rock music and you inevitably hit upon the Grateful Dead. The Dead, along with a couple of other existing groups (the Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish), were in on the ground floor when the San Francisco music scene exploded in 1967.
And yet, the Dead still remain one of the most undefinable groups around. Their sound is good yet, upon hearing a record of theirs for the first time, you would not be able to guess it was them.
They have no distinctive style because they borrow from a number of types of music. Yet the sound, indistinctive as it may be, is their own.
They put it all on display Sunday night at the Labor Temple. The Dead provided a pastiche of styles and a uniqueness of sound.
Within the structure of one song, which lasted an hour, they crammed in rhythm and blues, bossa nova, country and western (ala the Everly Brothers), and acid rock.
They began with "Turn On Your Love Light," a rhythm and blues classic. They turned it around and twisted it into a half an hour of instrumental work.
A triumvirate, consisting of bass player Phil Lesh, rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, and lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, worked tightly together to produce an exciting combination that brought the audience to its feet, perhaps prematurely, before the group had been on five minutes.
Occasionally, when playing low-tempo sections, they got boring. But the minute they brought the tempo up, hands started to clap and feet to stomp and the crowd would not let them go.
Preceding the Dead was the Bobby Lyle Quintet. Lyle's group seemed totally out of place, playing jazz that would have been appropriate in a supper club. The group borrowed heavily from such jazz artists as Herbie Mann and Jimmy Smith, but gave a nice change of pace to the Temple crowd.

(by Marshall Fine, from the Minneapolis Star, 28 April 1969)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Dick's Picks 26


  1. A contrast to my last post from the Labor Temple - this writer is not quite so enthusiastic about the Dead, but offers some qualified admiration.
    Fine was, per the Star credit, "a student in theatre at the University of Minnesota" - I wonder if the newspaper was hiring younger reviewers to cover rock shows? (The Star's Dead reviewer from February '69 was only credited as "a Minneapolis writer and critic," but seemed to be a young writer as well.)
    Fine says the Dead have no distinct style and are "undefinable," with records that don't sound identifiable as them. (They had two records out at that point - I'm not quite sure what he means, but it's somewhat predictive of their later diverse albums.) He accurately mentions that "they borrow from a number of types of music" but end up sounding unique.
    He recognizes Lovelight in the show (without mentioning that the Dead played it twice) but naturally didn't recognize the tunes in the unreleased Dark Star suite, just saying that it was "one song, which lasted an hour." (I think his reference to Everly Brothers-style C&W probably refers to Sitting on Top of the World, but I wonder which song sounded like bossa nova?) He was apparently bored by Dark Star, since it was about the only "low-tempo" section in the show.
    He notes the excited audience, on their feet and stomping within just a few minutes of the opening Lovelight. The Dead repeated a lot of the set from their February appearance, but probably few people minded.

    1. The April 27, 1969 show is available, in it's entirety, on Dick's Pick's #26. They didn't so much play 'Turn on Your Love Light' twice, as much as started and ended the show with it. It tied the evening together as one continuous piece of art. My then girlfriend, now wife, watched it from the balcony. Our 'Love Light' still shine brightly.