This album was put out on vinyl release by the Grateful Dead as this years Record Store Day offering. Sadly a turntable no longer plays a part in music playing in this household so it was pleasing to see the Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston, Texas concert (11/18/72) released as a single CD over on the bands official website. Can this reviewer thank a good American friend in the beautiful city of Charleston in the Palmetto State for this copy.
This is the second set from the concert in question and stems from a golden period for Deadheads when the band were at their absolute prime. It is the same era effectively committed to vinyl in Dicks Picks Volume 11 which captures the previous nights show at Wichita in Kansas. The undoubted highlight here is by far the best version of "Playing in the Band" ever captured. It extends to over 25 minutes and sees Garcia, Weir and Lesh open up into a free form jam of impeccable quality. Phil Lesh in particular is awesome throughout the record and this song captured on a a "single side" is worth the price of admission alone. The good news is that in a relatively short package of music by Dead standards there is plenty of interest here in great versions of other standards. The extended "He's Gone" is towering and has a groove so wicked it should be X Rated. The opener "Bertha" is pure gold with Garcia's singing at his best. Granted there are better versions of "Sugar Magnolia" but this is perfectly fine, so to the languid "Jack Straw".
In honesty the asking price for the vinyl seems prohibitive and for nearly £60 quid there are plenty of better Dead live albums out there. Indeed you could fork out the same amount of money and get fuller representative samples from across phases of the Grateful Dead. Thus you might wish to consider the brilliant "Ladies And Gentlemen... The Grateful Dead: Fillmore East, New York City, April 1971', add in the recent "Wake Up To Find Out: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Ny 3/29/1990 Box set" and possibly one of the greatest live albums ever "Live Dead 1969, Original recording remastered". All these can be purchased for under the asking price for the Houston concert. Alternatively if you are a Dead completist this Texas concert is of high quality and can be purchased from the Dead's Website on CD for a much cheaper asking price.
Review by Red on Black