Dick's Picks Volume Four

A Live Recording of February 13 & 14, 1970, at the Fillmore East in New York City

Released: 1996

Tracks

Intro by Zacherle [1:51]
Casey Jones [4:29]
Dancin' In the Streets [9:30]
China Cat Sunflower --> [5:09]
I Know You Rider --> [5:04]
High Time --> [6:51]
Dire Wolf [4:23]
Dark Star [29:41]

The Other One --> [30:07]
Turn On Your Lovelight [30:27]

Alligator --> [3:55]
Drums -->
Me and My Uncle --> [3:14]
Not Fade Away --> [13:56]
Mason's Children --> [3:53]
Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks) --> [14:25]
Feedback [8:40]
And We Bid You Goodnight [2:00]


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Liner Notes:

Friday the 13th and Valentine's Day at the Fillmore East, 1970

The period from June 1968 to February 1970 was a period of experimentation both in the sound equipment and in the music. The Grateful Dead were the principal innovators in the field of sound amplification, and the PA system had reached a point in the industry where it was pretty reliable most of the time. Unhappily the same can not be said of the monitors. Monitors continued to be a vexation until 1978 when John Meyer developed the Ultramonitors at my behest for the Jefferson Starship. The ultimate solution would have to wait until the in-the-ear system that the band adopted in the 90's came forward.

The band was learning to play with a good degree of dynamics by 1970, which I believe was helped along by my practice of taping and playing the tapes back at the hotel after the shows. I too was learning how to make a good mix with their help. Also I felt that the band needed to have sound checks as well, at each hall. All this worked to the benefit of the performances as you may well appreciate. Not that the monitors worked very well in spite of all this, but there was no such thing as a dedicated music sound reinforcement system in existence when we started in 1966, so we had come a fair way. The songs were tight and well defined as a result of all that rehearsal, and Workingman's Dead, recorded in the latter part of February 1970 will bear good witness to this. Only two weeks were required to put that classic together in the studio.

The system in the Fillmore East was very good for the front-of-house. The board was unusual for the time, and a few words about it may help those technically inclined to understand why this recording sounds the way it does.

John Chester built the board around the observation that most performers worked the microphones so hard that the levels were near those of a line signal, from 0.5v to as much as 1.0v. He figured that there was no need for the high gain preamp traditionally used in board design, which in practice would require an attenuator to prevent overloading. So the mics were taken directly through a step up transformer to the fader, and then to the summing point of a discrete, low noise transistor amp. The feed to the tape deck was taken directly from the outputs of the summing amps. After the summing amps there was only one stage of line drive amplification for the lines to the stage. The board had 12 mic inputs and two summing amps, permitting me to use our usual 12 in the PA and 2 into the tape deck. Twelve mics were a large number in those days to find available in most venues. Jerry's guitar and Phil's bass were sufficiently powerful from their on stage amps so as not to require reinforcement through the PA so I simply added a touch of each to the tape mix for presence. There were 14 mics used in all. I chose mics for their "color," and didn't use any tone controls or equalization to the tape deck. The deck I was using in those days was a Sony 770-2 running at 7.5 ips NAB, since Nagra had not as yet brought out the IV-S stereo version. The tape was Scotch 207.

I only used two mics on each of the drum kits, a practice which didn't endear me to the dummers, but reduced leakage, and permitted a simpler mixing rig. One mic was over head, and the other one on the beater side of the bass drum on the side away from the snare. Later I was to learn that this technique was favored by movie soundman Harry McCune in Hollywood, although not in such a loud setting. I set the mics on the intruments and drums and distributed the results between the two channels by setting switches, rather than panpots, so only the vocals went to both sides. All the rest of the mics were either right channel or left channel. If stereo vocal mics had been available I would have used them, because I don't think mics in the "center" (1 into both) sounds right. I chose the placement by listening to the way the various mics and their leakage added up in my ears. I call this "constructive leakage."

Taping was just something that I always did, and the performance was always more important than getting the tape right. The first few songs usually weren't as well mixed on the tape as those which came after I had the house up and running smoothly. I set the monitors from the sound booth as well, in those days we didn't have a monitor guy on the stage. Our entire crew was myself, Ram Rod, Rex Jackson, and either Sonny Heard or Johnny Hagen (they took turns).

We were playing the gigs with the Allman Bros. Band., another of the rare bands to have two drummers. They were fantastic at these shows, and were a real inspiration to the boys. Everyone was having a real good time.

The songs which were on Bear's Choice are missing from this release due to the consideration that you may already have them. Also the suits have their rules about copyrights and such. I would like to be able to present these shows the way they were, but I guess we must make do with what we have.

Listening to these tapes again after so many years was a real treat for me, remembering what a good time we all had in those early days of youth and hijinks. I hope that all of you are as pleased as I am. Perhaps I miss the rock and roll sound scene after all. Hmmm, wonder if I still could...

Bear

Caveat Emptor:

This compact disc has been digitally remastered directly from the original half track 7 1/2 ips analog tape. It is a snapshot of history, not a modern professional recording, and may therefore exhibit some technical anomalies and the unavoidable effects of the ravages of time.

 

Credits:

Grateful Dead
Fillmore East 2/13-14/70

Jerry Garcia: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Mickey Hart: Drums
bill Kreutzmann: Drums
Phil Lesh: Electric Bass, Vocals
Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan: Organ, Percussion, Vocals
Bob Weir: Guitar, Vocals

Recorded by: Owsley Stanley
Tape Archivist: Dick Latvala
CD Mastering by: Jeffrey Norman
Photography by: Amalie R. Rothschild
Design by: Gecko Graphics

 

 



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Dick's Picks Volume Four was released in February 1996. This album was recorded live at the Fillmore East on February 13-14, 1970. This was the final time "Mason's Children" was played live by the band. This album is a more complete version of these two incredible shows than their original release back in 1973 as the album Bear's Choice: History of the Grateful Dead.



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