The Austin Chronicle

The Boxing Lesson

Box sets grow up and out

By Jim Caligiuri, December 20, 2013, Music

The Grateful Dead

Sunshine Daydream (Veneta, Oregon, 8/27/72) (Rhino)

Nearly two decades after Jerry Garcia's death, Dead Heads still live to compare shows and rate performances. This Pacific Northwest date from 1972 has long been considered among the band's best, boasting definitive versions of "Dark Star," "Bertha," and "Playing in the Band," among others. Hot off the San Franciscans' first European trek, this show – later declared the last "Acid Test" – benefited Ken Kesey's family farm, the Springfield Creamery. The author's Merry Pranksters and thousands more gathered at the Old Renaissance Faire Grounds on one of Oregon's hottest days with a film crew capturing the scene. After many years of wrangling to prevent its release, Sunshine Daydream gathers all three sets by the band on a 3-CD bundle with DVD or Blu-ray of the resulting film, which captures the sweat of the band and its freedom-loving audience. Meanwhile, the music sounds spectacular, "Bird Song" offering restrained intensity and Merle Haggard's "Sing Me Back Home" sparkling in the twilight. A 40-page book with photos and essays from Prankster Ken Babbs, Dead archivist Nicholas Meriwether, and more make this a definitive document of its time and space.

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