Beginning in 2007, the Grateful Dead archival series Road Trips posits selected highlights from specific tours in the band's history, the most recent of which comes from the summer of 1974 and the inauguration of the "Wall of Sound."
As with each such release, there are two main CD's and a bonus disc, here taken from shows in Iowa and Kentucky two days apart. When the three are played in sequence and in their entirety, the jams rather than the songs on Volume 2 Number 3 become the body of the performance rather than the other way around.
The fluid portions of "Eyes of the World" begin the morphing on disc one, while "Playing in the Band" is fascinating to behold from start to finish. On Bob Weir's "Weather Report Suite," an improv evolves that may the exact point where this piece, the most ambitious Grateful Dead composition this side of "Terrapin Station," became such ripe fodder for collective musicianship in the years to come.
A further sense of no hold barred adventure continues on the bonus disc, almost directly in the middle of which, as with the second CD, is a pure improvisation that links the respective sequences of songs including "Truckin'," "The Other One" and "Wharf Rat." The impact is enough to reaffirm (if their previous collaborations on such projects did not) that producers David Lemieux and Blair Jackson have developed an unerring instinct for the flow of a Grateful Dead show.
Combined with the sound quality (engineered by Jeffrey Norman) almost tactile in its textural shifts, right down to Keith Godchaux' unusually extensive use of electric keyboards, there may in fact be nothing like this Grateful Dead concert within the Road Trips series or its esteemed predecessor Dick's Pick's.