The reel to reel taperecorder was readily waiting at the Boston Music Hall, December 5th 1972, the tickets were costing five-and-a-half dollars and the audience had a ball with The New Riders Of The Purple Sage! That document of times gone by still proved to be of good quality and is now almost integrally released on a double-CD, decked out in a brown carton cover. The band, ever starting out as one of Jerry Garcia's projects, was at its best around that time. Singer/rhythmguitarist John "Marmaduke" Dawson played already in a few forerunners of The Grateful Dead. The rest of the line-up here consists of leadguitarplayer David Nelson and bassist Dave Torbert (who passed away in 1983), they both sing too. Legendary pedal-steelguitarist Buddy Cage puts his stamp on the music and drummer Spencer Dryden came from Jefferson Airplane. Being a Flying Burrito Brothers-fan I love that ramshackle seventies countryrock, I already catch myself singing along during opener "Truck Drivin' Man"! More classics follow ("Hello Mary Lou"!), a few songs don't really work out, others ("Glendale Train", "Last Lonely Eagle") do have that magic. After more than eleven minutes of "Willie And The Hand Jive" Eric Andersen comes along for a couple of rowdy pieces ("Honky Tonk Women"!) to close off. On April 4th 1973, during a blizzard, The New Riders were back in Massachusetts, Clark University Worchester. The setlist has been kicked around in the meantime, there are other songs added and certain ones are dressed up differently. "Whiskey" and "Down In The Boondocks" turn out very nicely. Guest is now pianist Keith Godchaux, who joined The Grateful Dead during that same year. His wife Donna Jean sings harmony on "Long Black Veil" and takes on "You Ain't Woman Enough" all by herself. In California you'll meet them every now and then, older musicians who claim proudly that they ever played with The New Riders. They probably tell the truth.
New Riders Of The Purple Sage
"Boston Music Hall 12/5/72" and "Worchester, MA 4/4/73"
By Johanna J. Bodde