Filmed on location at the Family Dog Ballroom in San Francisco in September, 1970, the show captures the heyday and diversity of the San Francisco sound with three of the most well known bands to emerge from the scene: San... more »tana, who would release their second album at the end of 1970; The Grateful Dead, including original band member Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, who were making a name for themselves with their jam-filled performances; and Jefferson Airplane, who were at the time the biggest of the bands from the area. San Francisco was an area of artistic creation during the mid-to-late 60's. Whether it was art, poetry or music, the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco was the place for like-minded individuals to explore and create. Noted jazz columnist Ralph J. Gleason took note of the exploding rock music scene and produced several television specials and documentaries spotlighting the music emerging from San Francisco. A Night At The Family Dog is one part of a two-part series (the other is Go Ride The Music) that aired on The National Educational Television Network in 1970. The audio for this program has been extrapolated up to Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound mixes from their original mono source! This show has never sounded or looked so good! Track Listing:
Lawrence A. Goldberg | New York, New York | 01/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These performances were actually taped at the Family Dog in San Francisco in February, 1970, not September, 1970 as indicated in the blurb accompanying the Amazon entry. The late Spencer Dryden was still drumming for Jefferson Airplane, and had yet to be replaced by Joey Covington, who joined the band in the spring of 1970, so that gives a clue as to the performance date. I have a nth-degree-generation, very-poor-quality VHS of the original TV broadcast, which I saw at least a dozen times on PBS channels 13 and 21 in New York between 1970 and 1972. The intensity of all 3 bands is startlingly good, and the bands are in fine fettle, but the gig represents a sort of swan song for the 60s-era-iterations of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, as both bands would change directions in the coming months---the Dead towards country/bluegrass/folk, and the Airplane towards its well-documented splinter into the Slickantner and Hot Tuna factions. But, oh, the memories! btw, the JA version of "The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil" that is part of the Family Dog show is also included in the recently-released "Fly Jefferson Airplane" DVD."
Miko Iko | Blackstone, MA | 10/01/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I write this from the perspective of a deadhead for deadheads. Okay, a night in a small club with a youthful trio of Santana, the Grateful Dead, and the JA, what could even compare today? How many visual opportunities exist to see Pigpen put his signature on "Hard To Handle"? For these reasons, this is a must buy for all, and not even a second thought for deadheads.
Still, if you've listened (and watched) enough Grateful Dead in your life, you can tell the truly great nights from the good nights, despite any hype or advertising. This was a good night, not a great night (at least for the Dead). The "Hard to Handle" is a treat with Pigpen in great (Workingman's Dead era) form, thinned down from the mid-sixties but not yet gaunt and sick from '72 until RIP. Yet, within a year or so, the Dead would find magic with the jam portion of this song. Simply listen to the Hollywood Palladium show from 8/6/71 or from their final show at the Fillmore East on 4/29/71 to hear what Hard To Handle sounded like on a great night.
More of the same with China Cat Sunflower/I Know you Rider. This version is a good 1970 version. However, by 1972 the Dead had taken the suite to a much higher level, and continued to develop it well into 1974 and later.
The Santana songs are quite good. The highlight of the Airplane portion is the bass solo in "The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil". Jack Casady was simply one of the coolest rock stars of his time and his sound and style are vividly on display. This is Airplane on a very psychedelic night (as opposed to political night).
Then comes the All Star Jam... Well again, how many other dvds can you go out and buy that have Garcia, Santana, Kaukonen, et. al. playing together simultaneously on the same stage? None, I believe. Still, musically its not anything that would make the hair stand up on your back. Its a lot of cooks in the pot.
Thirty-seven years later it is a joy to have this show play in our living rooms. For years I owned a vhs copy of this show (I think bootlegged from WNET). It is a surprise and pleasure to now have it on dvd. However... they did nothing to improve the sound (like even get it to stereo, let alone 5.1). Further, the artwork for the sleeve is funny, as they managed to get song titles and band names mixed up.
Go out and buy this dvd. Just know the Dead reached heights much higher than this night - as cool as it must of been to be at the Family Dog that night."
SAN FRANCISCO'S FINEST HOUR
Avalon Don | Huntington Beach, California United States | 08/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beyond the film quality which is 1970's average at best, this DVD is Rock essential. Santana, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the light show and hippie dancers is short in length, but still worth every penny. SANTANA - Carlos Santana in recent years admitted the original band was his best. They follow the Woodstock performance here playing two instrumetals proving they were no one hit wonders. "Abraxas" was not out yet, so it was still a work in progress. The musicianship is better than Woodstock, though not the fire. Gregg Rolie, "Chepito" and the rest made this more of a group than in the later years when the guitar hero was backed by... "Who's He Got This Year"? THE GRATEFUL DEAD - Why was this band never the same after Ron "Pigpen" McKernan died? He was the group's premier showstopper. Jerry Garcia was the leader, "Pigpen" the spark plug. He lets it all go on the R&B "Hard To Handle" lifting the room to peak level. The jam on "China Cat" is just a notch bellow "Europe 72". Still doggone good. The drummers sizzle. JEFFERSON AIRPLANE - Jack Casady's blistering bass solo alone on "The Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil" is something to watch and hear. The guy is wired. Grace Slick, vocals and Jorma Kaukonen, guitar are in sync on "Eskimo Blue Day" even though after the song, it's apparent Slick is loaded. This was a great 60's band that splintered later into three parts. The Airplane is better here than at Woodstock and Monterey. THE ALLSTAR JAM is good only for watching. Carlos, Jerry and Jorma seem to respect each other too much rather than trying to top each other. Which band steals the show? It's a three way tie, all having shining moments that will never again will be dupliated. Now that "A Night At The Family Dog" is finally available, I hope next to follow will be the "Fillmore: Last Days" movie on DVD."
Excellent time capsule
a listener | pacific northwest | 09/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"this is an approx. 1-hour color videotape, 16-track recorded snapshot of February 1970 performances by these three bands at The Family Dog in San Francisco. Originally produced at the time for public television broadcast; see the review entitled "Amazing Performances" for details ... also disagree w/ "It's Not the 60's" review comment: Grateful Dead were still to break new musical ground from 1970-74 esp. after 1971 when Keith Godchaux joined on piano, as was Santana with even more jazz-oriented 1972-74 albums and lineups (powerhouse drumming from Michael Shrieve here).
for 58 minutes you'll be transported to a time and place in music which can't come back - savor it."
I WANT MORE
Jamoholic | humboldt, ca | 08/30/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Musically this dvd is 5 star material, If it were a cd this would be a 5 star review. Problem being the brevity and editing. This dvd is much too short (about one hour). The editing flaws include slo-mo shots of a chick hippie-dancing in a sheer dress w/out a bra (even as I type this I feel wrong complaining) the problem is it'll be during peak jams where I would rather see Jerry or Santana's hands or even facial expressions than borderline soft-core porn. The material is great though, Pigpen on video alone is worth the price. It's obvious the cameraman got into the "special punch" that night and just shot whatever the hell he felt like tripping on. For completionists."