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Dead of the Day: January 21, 1971

Freeborn Hall, UC-Davis
Davis, California
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Cold Rain And Snow brings it out of the gate, gritty and raw. Then, after the Me And My Uncle, a hell of a good Smokestack Lightning bursts forth with Jerry arching some beautiful licks and Pig killing it on vocals and harp. The Smokestack transitions into Truckin’, and Pig stays on the harp for a rocking rendition. The rest of the set is all top-notch, especially the raging Hard To Handle and tight and bluegrassy Cumberland. In the second half, the boys come rumbling out with Cryptical. A long and feverish drum solo then comes before the rest of the band rejoins Mickey and Billy and streaks off into The Other One. On it, the band spews forth in determined fashion, sliding into a searching spacey preternatural section, only to rush off again. Eventually, The Other One dissapates, and they segue into a fun Cosmic Charlie, which is the last until 1976. The China Cat that comes out afterwards is another crazy bit of chaos and joy with Jerry blistering off repeatedly. As one would expect, the China Cat comes around to a lovely Rider, where Phil throws down behind Jerry’s sweet runs. Sadly, the end of the Rider is also the end of our recording, leaving an Uncle John's unaccounted for. The next four tracks - all mislabeled like everything after the beginning of the second set - are crisp soundboard recordings of tunes from the first set. Where exactly, or even if, the Mama Tried fits in is not clear, but it is a really nice version. While the audience tape gives a great sense of what it must have been like at the show, it is too bad we do not have a complete soundboard as what we do have really confirms just how well the boys were playing on this night and would be awesome to listen to in its entirety.

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