Long holding mythical status among Dead Heads, the Grateful Dead’s June 10, 1973, show in the nation’s capital is out as the standalone – and unimaginatively titled – live album, RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. 6/10/73
While the whole show – all three hours and 40 minutes of it – is worth hearing, set No. 3 is what makes this one a gotta-have-it official release, which is probably why the folks who run the Dead’s legacy pulled this gig out of the Here Comes Sunshine 1973 release and made it more-widely available and affordable.
Unlike the others in that box, this one features Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts and drummer Butch Trucks signing up to be Dead men for a hour.
And Betts, in particular, was primed for the role.
The long Dead night begins with “Morning Dew,” sports a 27-minute “Dark Star” and is highlighted with a version of “He’s Gone” that finds the often vocally challenged band rising to the occasion in a big way on the vocal outro and subsequent instrumental interlude.
But despite all this, it’s set three and the dynamic six-string interplay between Betts and one Jerry Garcia that sets this show apart.
The ABB axeman makes his presence known early and often on a rare cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” Betts and Garcia continue sparring on the rarer-still “That’s All Right Mama” that follows, confirming these fellows often flew best when operating by the seat of their pants.
Playing alongside Bill Kreutzmann, Trucks makes the Dead a two-drummer band for the first time since Mickey Hart’s departure in ’71 and this makes for some old-school bashing on the “Not Fade Away” -> “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” -> “Drumz” -> “NFA” sequence that figured in so many prime sets from an earlier era.
X factor. Rare songs. And very special guests. Although this is available in the bootleg realm, any self-respecting Dead Head will want RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. 6/10/73 on their shelf.