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Closing of Winterland: December 31, 1978

The Closing of Winterland: December 31, 1978

4.0 1
by Grateful Dead
Winterland was one of the focal points of San Francisco's rock scene for ages, and no band was more closely associated with the venue than the Grateful Dead -- making them an appropriate choice to bring the curtain down for the last time. A companion to the DVD set of the same name, this four-disc, four-hour set, recorded on New Year's Eve, 1978, presents the band's


Winterland was one of the focal points of San Francisco's rock scene for ages, and no band was more closely associated with the venue than the Grateful Dead -- making them an appropriate choice to bring the curtain down for the last time. A companion to the DVD set of the same name, this four-disc, four-hour set, recorded on New Year's Eve, 1978, presents the band's concert in its entirety, and it's an aptly winding trek indeed. The band kick things off by harking back to the jug-band stylings of their genesis, via sweetly swinging, bucolic versions of songs like "Sugar Magnolia" and "Scarlet Begonias," before segueing cleverly into the country classic "Big River." The evening's second set finds the Dead stretching out into more improvisatory territory, notably the stellar unison playing of Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh on "Samson and Delilah" and the hyper-extended medley of "Not Fade Away" and "Around and Around" (which adds John Cipollina to the already potent guitar attack). In keeping with the celebratory nature of the evening, the band took the then-rare step of playing "Dark Star" -- an intense, particularly spacey rendition, with eye-opening sparring between Garcia and Bob Weir. By the night's end, the Dead had given themselves over to pure party mode, trotting out animated versions of "Good Lovin' " and "Johnny B. Goode" before bidding adieu to Winterland and its habitués with a sing-along "We Bid You Goodnight." Talk about going out with a bang.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
The music packed into these four CDs features the Grateful Dead's entire three-set show that formally retired the Bay Area rock and roll palace, Winterland Arena. The content comes directly from the original 24-track analogue tapes, which sound nothing short of sublime. The Closing Of Winterland (2003) is the audio only companion to the two-DVD title of the same name. One major difference between the two is that these CDs only contain the standard stereo 2.0 mix -- as opposed to the respective DTS and Dolby 5.1 mixes on the DVD. By late 1978, the Grateful Dead were at an undeniable crossroads. Even though the tenure of husband and wife team Keith Godchaux (keyboards), and former session vocalist at Muscle Shoals Studios, Donna Jean Godchaux (vocals) was drawing to a close, the band still functioned with their ever-voracious appetite for improvisation and the kind of in-the-moment musicianship that became the cornerstone of the Grateful Dead's mere existence. For this very special performance, they pull out all the stops with a healthy sampling of both new as well as seminal selections from their classic repertoire. Like musical magicians, the Grateful Dead seamlessly maneuver between the lengthy and thoroughly psychedelic coupling of "Scarlet Begonias" with "Fire On The Mountain," or the open-throttle arrangement of the Bob Weir (guitar/vocals) led cowboy medley of "Me and My Uncle" and "Big River." Other impressive selections from the first set include a snarling cover of the Womack's "All Over Now," and a rare solo lead vocal from Donna Jean Godchaux on "From The Heart Of Me." The ante is upped during the second set, commencing with a thoroughly funky take on Rev. Gary Davis' "Samson And Delilah." The band continue to rise to the auspicious occasion as they wind through a stellar and extended medley with "Terrapin Station" and "Playing In The Band." The "Rhythm Devils" percussion break spotlights Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and long-time enthusiast and noted author, Ken Kesey -- who is actually playing the amplified remnants of Thunder Machine -- the infamous "Further" bus that the Merry Pranksters traveled in. For most seasoned Grateful Deadheads, the third set will command the most attention, as they effortlessly weave their unmistakable musical and definitely muse-inspired magic. From the opening notes of the first "Dark Star" to be performed in over four years, through to the recently revived "St. Stephen," the band use their uncanny abilities of communal sonic transportation to envelope the listener and incrementally relocate. Although they would continue through a number of personnel changes for another 17 years, they would rarely (if ever) regain the fortitude and above all, the passion that is represented on this collection. The Closing Of Winterland is a must-own for every degree of Grateful Dead listener, and is an ideal trial-by-fire springboard for the curious.
Rolling Stone - Greg Kot
Even by Dead standards, this was an epic show.... It's the Dead at their best, approximating jazz.

Product Details

Release Date:
Grateful Dead / Wea


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Grateful Dead   Primary Artist
Mickey Hart   Drums,Group Member
Jerry Garcia   Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Bob Weir   Rhythm Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Lee Oskar   Harmonica,Guest Appearance
John Cipollina   Guitar,Guest Appearance
Dan Aykroyd   Harmonica,Vocals,Voices,Guest Appearance
Greg Errico   Drums,Guest Appearance
Donna Jean Godchaux   Vocals,Group Member
Keith Godchaux   Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Bill Graham   Master of Ceremonies,Guest Appearance
Matthew Kelly   Harmonica,Guest Appearance
Bill Kreutzmann   Drums,Group Member
Phil Lesh   Bass,Electric Bass,Vocals,Group Member
Ken Kesey   Guest Appearance

Technical Credits

Johnny Cash   Composer
Mickey Hart   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Chuck Berry   Composer
Jerry Garcia   Composer
Grateful Dead   Arranger
Buddy Holly   Composer
Bob Weir   Arranger,Composer
Bobby Womack   Composer
Robert Hunter   Composer
John Phillips   Composer
Norman Petty   Composer
John Perry Barlow   Composer
John Dawson   Composer
Tom Flye   Producer,Engineer
Donna Jean Godchaux   Composer
Bill Kreutzmann   Composer
Phil Lesh   Composer
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan   Composer
Jeffrey Norman   Producer,Engineer,Stereo Mix Producer
Gary Lambert   Liner Notes
Robert Minkin   Producer,Visual Design
Rudy Clark   Composer
Stanley Mouse   Cover Art
Alton Kelley   Cover Art
Shirley Jean Womack   Composer
Ed Perlstein   Still Pictures
Traditional   Composer
David Lemieux   Producer
Arthur Resnick   Composer
Ken Kesey   Sound Effects

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a recent devotee' of GD . I saw them in the summer of '03 with Bob Dylan. That show was decent, but the guitarist playing Jerry Garcia's part had NO sense of melody or restraint. After hearing this album, I can see why Jerry was so integral to what made them who they were. Jerry's voice and fluid guitar lines were both catchy, inventive, and never really too much. Granted, when in minute 12 of some songs, you can lose focus, but the album as a whole is very cohesive, and their choice of cover tunes is great! No matter what the fogged faithful may say, there really is no reason EVER to have the drum solos on the album. That is my only complaint. I'm never really impressed by the "look at us, we're BOTH soloing on the drums" platform. I can enjoy subtleties both musical and lyrical, but the drum solo is just a 20 minute waste. This album is great for driving or turning up and just rockin' out. If you like their greatest hits, but aren't sure what to get next, I would recommend this set. Well worth the money. I wish I had been exposed to this stuff long before Jerry died. Fortunately, The GD have scads of live material that varies enough over time to be worth investment.