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Dead of the Day: November 14, 1973

San Diego Sports Arena
San Diego, California

The first set starts off with a very solid Big Railroad Blues, and then keeps on going from there. The Sugaree, Here Comes Sunshine, and Row Jimmy are all top shelf stuff. The Row Jimmy, in particular, is just immaculate and oh so sweet. The real highlight of the first half, though, is the China> Rider, which might even top the one from three nights prior at Winterland. This China Cat is exuberant and awesome with some meaty jamming, each member of the band pushing the music onwards. We were even hearing a little Uncle John’s tease towards the end. The Rider is excellent as well, but, at only a little over five minutes, lacks an extended jam. As good as that China Cat is, the boys top it all in the second set, which is built around a stunning three-shot Other One. It all gets going with a long and steamy Truckin’ that reaches out into the deep ether with Keith playing some phenomenal piano to go with some really fine work from both Jerry and Bobby. Add in Phil’s meandering bass punctuated by trembling bombs and Billy’s keen work on the kit, and you have a tremendously deep and groovy jazz jam segueing into the first Other One. And The Other One that spins forth is righteous, maintaining a bit of the jazzy feel, but spilling out a sublime Jerry-fueled run of sure-fire, inimitable, uncategorizable Dead essence. The jam goes off into spacey territory before gathering itself and rising into a hip and driving Big River. A fluid shift then puts them back into a dark corner of The Other One, as Phil carpet bombs the place while Billy plays some impeccable drums. After a time, they rise up again from the deep reaches of the universe for a tasty, relatively short Eyes. And then it is back to The Other One for one final shot, charging and feinting at the theme while splitting off on sharp, exploratory side canyons the entire way before finally roaring into the final verse. Then one of the best Wharf Rats comes out of The Other One, deeply heartfelt and truly lovingly rendered. The weaving of the moody Other One into this fantastic tapestry is something else and surely one of the best performances of the year. 

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