Exposé Online banner

Grateful Dead — Family Dog at the Great Highway, April 18th 1970
(Rhino Records R3-357164, 1970/2013, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-11-10

Family Dog at the Great Highway, April 18th 1970 Cover artThis reel tape turned up in Mountain Girl’s stash of Garcia’s old recordings, a show that was never even known by the Grateful Dead archivists, let alone that it had been recorded. There is a good reason for that. This was an “unplugged” gig, mostly acoustic guitars, scant drums, so if the band had appeared on the bill as The Grateful Dead, thousands of fans would have shown up expecting to hear “Dark Star” and the Dead’s electrified set; instead this was billed as a performance by “Mickey Hart and his Heartbeats” and “Bobby Ace and his Cards from the Bottom of the Deck,” but really it’s the Dead, all of them are there, Garcia, Pigpen, the whole band. One might see this as a preview for some of the band’s new material, in acoustic form, as this show predates the release of Workingman’s Dead by a couple months, and American Beauty by about half a year, yet a lot of that material is here (“Friend of the Devil,” “Cumberland Blues,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Candyman”) as well as a lot of the traditional material and covers folks were hearing in the band’s electric set at the time (“Don’t Ease Me In,” “I Know You Rider,” “Mama Tried,” etc.). Their set is concluded with an outstanding group of blues covers by Pigpen; normally the band’s organist, harmonica player and sometimes-singer, here it’s just him with an acoustic guitar and his voice. One caveat, however, is that this entire recording is a little scrappy at times; several times throughout one can hear band members complaining to Bear (Owsley, the sound man) that they couldn’t hear the guitars and there are a couple tracks that just fade in from nowhere, though it’s still entirely listenable. Nonetheless, among the hundreds of live Grateful Dead shows that have been released over the years, this one is fairly unique and definitely worthy of attention.

Filed under: Archives, 2013 releases, 1970 recordings

Related artist(s): Grateful Dead

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Halloween, Alaska - Too Tall to Hide – It hasn’t been that long since this Minneapolis band put out their debut (reviewed in #32), and here they come with the follow-up less than a year later. Far from merely avoiding the dreaded...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues