September 29, 2009

Early Dead Covers

I've put together a list of the first known performances of the Dead's cover songs in the '60s and '70s.

These are listed by the order first performed; but in many cases the Dead played a song in rehearsals, sometimes for years, long before playing it live. Often they'd drop a song and then bring it back years later - in those cases I provided both dates.

This is as complete as I could make it. There are, though, a lot of things I did NOT include:
- original songs. These are covered here:
- songs only performed in 1966. That year has a unique repertoire that deserves an article of its own - if a song didn't make it past 1967, I didn't list it. See:
- covers done after 1979. There are lots of these, of course, but someone else can handle them better than I could.
- instrumentals. (These might include the Foxy Lady jam on 4-21-69, the Close Encounters jam on 1-22-78; the various jams on Darkness Darkness or Tighten Up or Feelin' Groovy in 1970; teases like the 3-28-72 Sidewalks of New York or the 4-21&24-78 Stayin' Alive; or tuning ditties like Funiculi Funicula, etc.) I did make a couple exceptions to this.
- songs only performed in the acoustic sets of '69/70; I've already listed those in a previous post. But I did note a couple that 'broke out' into electric sets as well.
- songs only performed with guests (such as the 12-10-69 Black Queen, and other songs only done with Elvin Bishop, Jorma Kaukonen, or Bo Diddley) - since these are already linked in my guest-appearance listing.

Aside from these exceptions, I'm sure I missed a few songs, so corrections are welcome!

I also noted, where possible, the recording the Dead were covering (which is not always by the original songwriter; sometimes the song is much older than the artist they took it from). and the Lyric & Song Finder are of inestimable help in these kinds of searches.

(Note that in early '66, dates are tentative and frequently wrong. For instance, the old "3/12/66" show is now thought to be 3/19/66; Lemieux provided a setlist for the actual 3/12/66 - the first half of it is what's circulating as the second set of 5/19/66, and the second half is what's known as 2/25/66. But he turned out to be wrong about redating the 5/19/66 set, so that puts his "3/12/66" date in doubt as well! And much of what's been released from early '66 has no date at all. There's also no telling just how early the songs of early '66 were introduced to their repertoire. In short, though I'll order the songs by the 'standard' dates for convenience, everything I list from early '66 should be thought of as just "early '66 sometime" with no chronology implied.)

I Know You Rider [traditional; no specific source] - studio recording November '65 (on Birth of the Dead CD); first live recording Jan '66 or 2/25/66 (after '66, was dropped until 9/30/69) (track 17)

We have several covers played at our earliest taped Dead show:

Death Don't Have No Mercy [Rev. Gary Davis, 1960] - 1/8/66

King Bee [orig. Slim Harpo, 1957/Rolling Stones, 1964] - 1/8/66 (after '66, was dropped until 2/11/69)

I'm a Hog For You Baby [Coasters, 1959] - 1/8/66 (also 3/25/66; after '66, was only played on 4/6/71)

La Bamba [Richie Valens, 1959] - studio instrumental 2/23/66 (labeled as Good Lovin'); live 11/11/70 in a medley with Good Lovin'; then not heard til 1987

Who Do You Love [Bo Diddley, 1956] - recorded in a March '66 studio demo; a snatch of it is played in the 11/11/70 jams; Pigpen then sings a bit of it in the Caution jams on 4/14 and 5/11/72.

We then have a set of undated recordings, from various shows in January-April:

Viola Lee Blues [Cannon's Jug Stompers, 1928] - Jan '66 (track 16 is the earliest; also played 3/19/66) - see also the first rehearsal from January:

Good Morning Little Schoolgirl [orig. Sonny Boy Williamson/Junior Wells, 1965] - ??/66 (track 5 - with You Don't Love Me, which was also played 12/1/66)

Don't Ease Me In [Henry Thomas, 1928] - ??/66; studio recording June '66 (on Birth of the Dead CD); also live 7/16/66 (after '66, was dropped until 3/20/70; after '70 acoustic sets, dropped until 9/16/72; after '75 hiatus, dropped until 2/7/79).
I will spare you all the links for this one.

New Orleans [Gary Bonds, 1960] - 2/12/66; revived 8/29/69 (also played 6/6/70, 11/8/70)
(This is debatable since the 2/12/66 rendition barely matches the song, but they probably played it other times that year.)

Midnight Hour [Wilson Pickett, 1965] - Jan/Feb '66 (also 3/19/66)

Beat It On Down the Line [Jesse Fuller, 1961] - ??/66 (also 3/19/66)

It's A Sin [Jimmy Reed, 1958] - ??/66 (also 3/19/66; after '66, was played on 10/10/68, otherwise dropped until 4/5/69)
(I believe the blues instrumental played on 2/23/66 is also It's A Sin, but with no lyrics, can't be certain.)

The release of the Rare Cuts & Oddities CD proved quite a surprise, unearthing songs that no one knew had been covered so early:

Not Fade Away [orig. Buddy Holly, 1957/Rolling Stones, 1964] - early '66 (on Rare Cuts); 2/19/69; next heard as a false start on 4/23/69; finally introduced into Dead's sets on 12/21/69

Walking the Dog [Rufus Thomas, 1963] - early '66 (on Rare Cuts); revived 3/21/70 early show (also played 11/9/70; then disappears until 1984)

Big Railroad Blues [Cannon's Jug Stompers, 1928] - early '66 (on Rare Cuts); revived 6/24/70 (also done 9/7/69) (This was a drunken 'oldies' show with Garcia & Hot Tuna - it also has Twist and Shout, which was murdered by the Dead on one of the ??/66 reels.)

Promised Land [Chuck Berry, 1964] - early '66 (on Rare Cuts); revived 5/29/71 (poor AUD)

Our next dated show gives us several more covers:

Cold Rain & Snow [traditional; Obray Ramsey, 1961] - 2/25/66 (played through '67, then dropped until 5/31/69)

Next Time You See Me [Junior Parker, 1957] - 2/25/66 (after '67, was dropped until 9/27/69)

On the Road Again [Memphis Jug Band, 1928] - 2/25/66 (played again 12/1/66; after '66, was dropped until 1980)

We have quite a few new songs & covers at our next show, 5/19/66 - several of them wouldn't become Dead standards until 1969:

It Hurts Me Too [Elmore James, 1958] - 5/19/66

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue [Bob Dylan, 1965] - 5/19/66 (after '66, was dropped until 4/6/69)

Sittin' On Top Of The World [orig. Mississippi Sheiks, 1930/Bill Monroe, 1957/Carl Perkins, 1958/etc.] - 5/19/66 (after '66, next heard on 3/26/68, then resurfaces 4/15/69) (Check out the comment: "We never did that one very good even when we were doing it.")

New Minglewood Blues [Noah Lewis Jug Band, 1930] - 5/19/66 (after '66, was dropped until 4/26/69, was then rarely performed until '76 - six times in '70 and two in '71)
4/26/69 is N/A on the Archive, but the other '69 performance is here:

Silver Threads & Golden Needles [orig. Wanda Jackson, 1956/Springfields, 1962/others] - 5/19/66 (also on Rare Cuts; after '66, was dropped until 4/26/69)
Next available performance:

Good Lovin' [Olympics, 1965/Young Rascals, 1966] - 5/19/66 (also on Rare Cuts; after '66 was dropped until 5/7/69) (Jerry sings this and the next two on 8/29 and 9/6/69)

7/3/66 is our next show with a bunch of new covers - note that the Archive link is screwed up since the songfiles list the 3/25/66 setlist! It plays the right show, though.

Dancing in the Street [Martha & the Vandellas, 1964] - 7/3/66

He Was a Friend of Mine [traditional; Mark Spoelstra, 1965] - 7/3/66

Big Boss Man [Jimmy Reed, 1960] - 7/3/66 (after '66, heard once in 1967, then dropped until 6/27/69) ("an old song")

These three songs can also be heard at our next show:

Nobody's Fault But Mine [Blind Willie Johnson, 1928] - 7/16/66 (also played 12/1/66; after '66 was dropped until 5/14/70 & 6/13/70 as a jam within New Speedway; then was dropped again until 10/2/72 when it became part of the post-Truckin' jam)

Our next few shows don't offer anything new setlist-wise, but towards the end of the year we find some new covers in 11/19/66. (This show could actually be from 3/17/67, but for now I'll leave the traditional date.)

Same Thing [Muddy Waters, 1965] - 11/19/66 (also played 11/29/66 and 3/18/67; then not heard again until 12/31/71; reintroduced in '90s)
(The version dated 9/16/66 is actually from 11/29/66.)

Hi-Heel Sneakers [Tommy Tucker, 1964] - 11/19/66 (not heard again until 8/3/69) (a Hartbeats show, which also has the last It's A Sin until the 6/18/74 jam)

Smokestack Lightning [Howlin' Wolf, 1956] - 11/19/66 (after 3/18/67, next heard on 3/3/68, then 5/7/69, and only ten Pigpen performances thereafter) (partial) (with Elvin Bishop)

Me and My Uncle [John Phillips, author; no specific source recording] - 11/29/66 (after '67, was dropped until 4/27/69)
4/27/69 is a Dick's Pick, but the next performance is here:

Big Boy Pete [Olympics, 1960] - 11/29/66 (also done 9/6/69, 12/31/69, 3/1/70, 9/20/70)

I Just Want To Make Love To You [Muddy Waters, 1954] - 11/29/66 (the only performance until 1984)

Deep Elem Blues [numerous country versions; no specific source known] - 12/1/66 (then dropped until 3/20/70)

Morning Dew [orig. Bonnie Dobson, 1962; numerous covers, no single source] - 3/18/67
(The Dew on turned out to be from late '68.)

Turn On Your Lovelight [Bobby Bland, 1961] - 7/23/67 (studio rehearsal) (at end, cut off) (complete)

We Bid You Goodnight [traditional; Joseph Spence & Pindar Family, 1965] - 3/16/68 (also played instrumentally in some Alligators on that tour, for instance 2/24/68)
(The version here was actually from 3/31/68:

Death Letter Blues [Son House, 1965] - 10/30/68 Hartbeats (only performance)

Hey Jude [Beatles, 1968] - 2/11/69 (also done 3/1/69)
Hard to believe, but both versions have been officially released.

Hard to Handle [Otis Redding, 1968] - 3/15/69

Green Grass of Home [Porter Wagoner, 1965] - 5/31/69
(Significant as the first of the pedal-steel songs; for details on other country covers the Dead introduced in 1969, check my acoustic-sets post.)

Mama Tried [Merle Haggard, 1968] - 6/21/69 (This show also has the debut of Slewfoot.)

Seasons of My Heart [George Jones, 1955] - 8/2/69 (also done 11/2, 12/31/69, and a few times in 1970)

Searchin' [Coasters, 1957] - 8/29/69 (also done 11/8/70, and with the Beach Boys 4/27/71)
(The Dead do a few oldies at this show: New Orleans>Searchin', and a Jerry-sung Good Lovin' that has an alternate intro sounding a lot like La Bamba, which has the same chords. Note that 8/29 and 9/6/69 are the last Good Lovin's that Jerry sings, before Pigpen takes over.)

It's All Over Now [orig. Valentinos, 1964/Rolling Stones, 1964] - 9/6/69 (also done 11/20/70)
(9/6/69 also catches the Dead in an oldies mood, as they bring out a couple rare covers like this one and Big Boy Pete.)

Monkey & the Engineer [Jesse Fuller, 1961] - 12/19/69 (usually an acoustic song, it was done electric a few times)

The Race Is On [George Jones, 1964] - 12/31/69 (done acoustic & with NRPS in 1970; then dropped until 3/19/73)

Dark Hollow [Bill Browning, 1958; & others] - 2/14/70 (usually an acoustic song, but it was done electric a couple times in 1971) (the first electric Dark Hollow - and the last Viola Lee)

Two Trains Running [Muddy Waters, 1951] - this is just a verse or two sung by Pigpen in the Lovelights on 2/27/70 and 12/15/71 (19 minutes into Lovelight) (in the Lovelight reprise, after I'm A Man - the only performance of that one other than 3/25/72 with Bo Diddley)

It's a Man's World [James Brown, 1966] - 4/9/70
(This show also has the mysterious "Cowboy Song".)

Frozen Logger [numerous versions; no specific source known] - 5/7/70 (also done 6/21/70, 12/26/70, and 8/25/72) (in the Intro)

Ain't It Crazy/The Rub [Lightnin' Hopkins] - 5/15/70 (first played by Mother McCree's jugband in 1964; played acoustic in 1970 & electric in early 1971) (first electric version)

Big Railroad Blues [Cannon's Jug Stompers, 1928] - 6/24/70 (acoustic; was also played by Garcia & Hot Tuna 9/7/69; later played electric) (first electric version)

El Paso [Marty Robbins, 1959] - 7/11/70 (Poor AUD. This show also has the only So Sad, an Everly Brothers cover.) (First electric version. Jerry says, "Here's where Weir gets his wish, at the expense of everybody.")

Goin' Down the Road [traditional; no single source recording] - instrumental 10/10/70, song 10/11/70

11/8/70 is famed for its rare covers:

Around & Around [Chuck Berry, 1958/Rolling Stones, 1964] - 11/8/70

Mystery Train [Junior Parker, 1953] - 11/8/70 (only time played)
My Babe [Little Walter, 1955] - 11/8/70 (only time played)
(Also the rare New Orleans>Searchin', reprised from 8/29/69.)

Me & Bobby McGee [orig. Kris Kristofferson; Janis Joplin, 1970] - 11/29/70 (first played in NRPS set 11/6/70)

Johnny B Goode [Chuck Berry, 1958] - 1/22/71 (previously done by Garcia & Hot Tuna 9/7/69, and by Weir & Hot Tuna 12/31/70)

Sing Me Back Home [Merle Haggard, 1967] - 4/5/71 (starts out as onstage practice)

Oh Boy [Buddy Holly, 1957] - 4/6/71 (only electric performance; some later acoustic versions) (along with I'm a Hog For You Baby)

Second That Emotion [Smokey Robinson, 1967] - 4/8/71 (only played seven times that month)

Get Back [Beatles, 1969] - 10/21/71 soundcheck (Jerry sings; only time performed until 1987)

Hideaway [Freddie King, 1961] - 11/7/71 (also done in the studio 4/2/75)

You Win Again [Hank Williams, 1952] - 11/14/71

Run Rudolph Run [Chuck Berry, 1958] - 12/4/71 (only played seven times that month)

I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water [orig. Stonewall Jackson, 1964] - 12/5/71 (only Dead performance)

Big River [Johnny Cash, 1957] - 12/31/71 (along with Pigpen's last Same Thing, and the last Dancin' in the Street until 1976)

3/25/72 was notable not only for the Bo Diddley set but for several unique covers. Highlights were released on a Dick's Pick, but a terrible AUD is on the Archive:

Are You Lonely For Me Baby [Freddie Scott, 1966] - 3/25/72 (only Dead performance)
How Sweet It Is [Marvin Gaye, 1964] - 3/25/72 (only Dead performance)
(This show also features Pigpen's last Smokestack Lightning; it was later revived in 1984.)

Bo Diddley [you know who, 1955] - 3/25/72 (also done 5/23, 7/16, and 8/22/72; and a short bit on 11/11/70)

Rockin' Pneumonia [Huey Smith, 1957] - 5/23/72 (also done 5/24, 6/17, 9/3, and 10/23/72)

Tomorrow Is Forever [Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner, 1969] - 9/24/72 (Donna covers Dolly; played ten times)

You Ain't Woman Enough [Loretta Lynn, 1966] - 2/15/73 (Donna covers Loretta; played 15 times that year)

It Takes a Lot to Laugh [Bob Dylan, 1965] - 6/10/73
That's Alright Mama [orig. Arthur Crudup/Elvis Presley, 1954] - 6/10/73
(Unique Dead performances; Garcia did these in his sets with Saunders, but decided to bring them out for the Allmans.)

Wang Dang Doodle [Howlin' Wolf, 1961] - 10/23/73 soundcheck (Jerry sings; only time performed until 1983)

Blue Suede Shoes [Carl Perkins, 1955], Working Man Blues [Merle Haggard, 1969] - 12/1/73 soundcheck
(Blue Suede Shoes was repeated in the 12/12/73 soundcheck)

Peggy-O [traditional; no specific source] - 12/10/73 (Download Series; also played 12/12/73)

Rip It Up [Little Richard, 1956], Thirty Days [Chuck Berry, 1955] - 12/12/73 soundcheck

Let It Rock [Chuck Berry, 1960] - 6/23/74 (only Dead performance)

Samson & Delilah [Rev. Gary Davis, 1960] - 6/3/76 (this copy runs at the right speed)

Got My Mojo Workin' [Muddy Waters, 1960] - 4/22/77 (also done 10/21/78)

Jack-a-Roe [traditional; no specific source] - 5/13/77

Iko Iko [orig. James Crawford, 1954/Dixie Cups, 1964; & many others, no specific source] - 5/15/77

Werewolves of London [Warren Zevon, 1978] - 4/19/78

Ollin Arrageed [Hamza el Din, 1978] - 9/14/78 (usually only played with Hamza el-Din, but a couple notable exceptions are the 11/18 and 11/23/78 spaces)

Gloria [Them, 1964] - 11/9/79 (jam in the He's Gone outro)
(Gloria was not sung with lyrics until the '80s)

C.C. Rider [traditional; no specific source] - 12/1/79 (comes out of another Gloria jam)

That's as far as I'll go.... I hope this was useful!

For another listing of the early Dead covers that lasted the longest in their repertoire, see:

Dead song debuts

Here is a listing of the first performances of some of the Dead's early songs. I skipped covers for the most part, but thought a simple list of first versions would show some interesting changes in how the songs developed, if anyone wants to go through and compare.
The initial idea was to see which tunes improved from their first performance to the album versions; but there's no general answer - each song has its own history.
Some were excellent the first time out; others took a long time to settle into place; some were played for months before being recorded; others popped onto the stage fresh from studio rehearsals. Since Dead songs often took years to reach their full potential, it's rare to find a studio version that's the "standard" for a song. Early versions are usually rather bare and rough-edged, which makes them interesting to hear since our ears tend to fill in what's missing.

I may have skipped some songs inadvertently, so add a comment if any are missing. This list goes up to 1977, and is mostly limited to the Dead's original songs that appeared on albums (so a lot of their unreleased '66 songs are not included), and a few of the more notable covers up to 1967 that were released on albums.
A more complete listing of the Dead's early covers is here:

1/8/66 - Caution - our first live Caution, though there's a short studio cut from November '65. (This show also has our first Death Don't Have, which never changed much.)

January 1966 - Viola Lee Blues studio rehearsal
For most of the songs on the Dead's first two albums, we don't have "first" performances since so many shows are missing. 1967 was a year of nonstop rehearsals, so early versions of Anthem tunes like the Other One & New Potato are very similar to the album recordings. Viola Lee's unique in that we have the rehearsal BEFORE the first live version, which is here (track 16, along with a couple slightly later versions) -

January 1966 - I Know You Rider (track 17)
A cover never released in a studio version, but this list wouldn't be complete without mentioning our earliest live I Know You Rider (which is similar to the Nov '65 studio demo).

5/19/66 - Cream Puff War
Cream Puff War was played throughout '66, and this one's the earliest (there's another early one on the Rare Cuts CD). This show also has our first Hurts Me Too, Sittin' on Top of the World, New Minglewood Blues, and Good Lovin'.

3/18/67 - Golden Road
Unfortunately, we only have a couple performances of Golden Road, from after the album release.

As for the other cover songs on the first album -

Early 1966 - Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Beat It On Down The Line (track 5)
Schoolgirl was one of Pigpen's earliest numbers, and in fact our first Schoolgirl from early '66 is also the first Dead medley, sandwiched with You Don't Love Me. (This set also features perhaps our earliest BIODTL, track 13.)

3/12/66 - Cold Rain & Snow

1/14/67 - Morning Dew
Our first Morning Dew comes from the same month the album was recorded.
(However, the version on this tape actually dates from late '68, so the first live Dew we have is actually the one from 3/18/67 - )

6/18/67 - Alligator - a primordial version. (A couple earlier dated tapes are misdates.)

7/23/67 - Turn On Your Lovelight (studio rehearsal) (at the end, cut off) (complete)
A later performance was released on Live/Dead, but these early versions are quite different.

8/4/67 - New Potato Caboose - I think this is the earliest New Potato we have (though some are misdated earlier).
This show (and 9/15/67) also has the earliest show-ending Feedback.

10/22/67 - The Other One - different lyrics.

1/17/68 - Dark Star, China Cat, The Eleven, Born Cross-Eyed
Dark Star had already been recorded for the single, so this is an example of a live debut that's close to the studio version, but sounds very undeveloped since they kept expanding it for years.
China Cat, on the other hand, wouldn't be recorded for another year, and these early '68 versions are not only in a different key (so Garcia sings strangely) but are paired with the Eleven.

1/20/68 - Clementine 
A short-lived song that didn't make it onto an album, though they played it now and then for another year.

May/June 1968 - St Stephen
We're fortunate to have a few Stephens from spring '68, shortly after its debut. 6/14 is the best, but these are in SBD quality. Many differences from later Stephens!

Most of the other Aoxomoxoa debuts don't sound too different from the album versions, since they were played at the same time they were recorded.
But for the record:
10/8/68 - Cosmic Charlie (Hartbeats, great!) + (Dead debut)
12/7/68 - Rosemary (only one)
12/20/68 - Mountains of the Moon
1/24/69 - Dupree's Diamond Blues (with harmonica), Doin' That Rag

(The 4/26/69 encore of What's Become of the Baby could count as a live version - Bear was playing back a studio tape on the PA while the band played feedback.)

June 1969 - Casey Jones, Dire Wolf, High Time (Garcia solo versions) - studio demo

6/7/69 - Dire Wolf
But a more interesting alternate early version (Jerry on Pedal steel, Weir on vocals) is here, from 6/27/69 -

6/21/69 - High Time
These early versions are quite wispy.

6/22/69 - Casey Jones
The early versions have a neat jam into the song, and this one's the best.

8/21/69 - Easy Wind
It would take them a while to work out the time changes!

11/1/69 - Uncle John's Band instrumental

11/8/69 (Dick's Picks 16) had the first Cumberland Blues, which needed a bit more practice....
The first one on the Archive is from 11/15/69 -

12/4/69 - Black Peter, Uncle John's Band with lyrics

12/19/69 - Mason's Children
A song they decided not to release, though they recorded a studio demo in Feb '70.

12/20/69 - New Speedway Boogie
The chorus singing is, um, quite different.

3/20/70 - Friend of the Devil (with some alternate lyrics)
We're lucky to have a tape of the original Dawson/Hunter recording of Friend of the Devil too! (from fall '69) -
(This tape also has the Dead working out the Uncle John's instrumental.)

4/3/70 - Candyman (acoustic)

5/14/70 - Attics of My Life
Some of these early versions show the Dead struggling with it....

6/7/70 - Sugar Magnolia
Needed some more work!

7/30/70 - To Lay Me Down (acoustic).
Also, a unique Dead studio version recorded that summer was released on the So Many Roads box set.

8/18/70 - Truckin', Ripple, Brokedown Palace, Operator
Truckin' is acoustic, with Pigpen on piano. The first '70s show with multiple song debuts; they were recording American Beauty that month.

9/17/70 - Box of Rain
Our only Box of Rain from 1970. According to Deadlists, Pigpen's on piano, Jerry's on pedal steel, and someone's on fiddle, but frankly it's nearly inaudible.

9/18/70 - Till The Morning Comes (AUD)
This song never changed much. More well-known versions came on 10/4 and 10/31/70.

Bertha & Bird Song were played at the 12/16/70 Matrix rehearsals with David Crosby, and Loser was played (with fiddle!) at the PERRO sessions in January '71, but they're not on the Archive.

Jan/Feb 1971 - Playin' in the Band, Bird Song, Greatest Story Ever Told, Wharf Rat (studio rehearsals)

2/18/71 - Bertha, Loser, Greatest Story, Wharf Rat, Playin' in the Band
Famous show of course, with five new song debuts. Along with the August '70 shows, this show marks a change in the Dead's pattern: instead of dropping songs into the sets one-by-one when composed, now they tended to write a whole bunch of songs in a touring break and introduce them all at once. Two new songs were left for the next night...

2/19/71 - Bird Song, Deal

7/31/71 - Sugaree, Mr. Charlie

8/24/71 (Dick's Picks 35) - Brown Eyed Women, Empty Pages

10/19/71 - Tennessee Jed, Jack Straw, Mexicali Blues, Comes A Time (with an extra verse), One More Saturday Night, Ramble On Rose
Six debuts. Clearly they had a busy month off!

12/31/71 - Chinatown Shuffle 

3/5/72 - Black Throated Wind
Weir's solo album "Ace" had been recorded a month earlier.

3/21/72 - Looks Like Rain, Two Souls in Communion (with Pedal steel)

4/17/72 - He's Gone
Quick & snappy.

6/17/72 - Stella Blue (fair AUD) - with Pigpen on organ.

7/16/72 - Mississippi Half-Step (poor AUD)
(The next performance is more listenable - )

2/9/73 - Row Jimmy, Loose Lucy, Here Comes Sunshine, They Love Each Other, Eyes of the World, China Doll, Wave That Flag (early version of U.S. Blues)
Another one of the famed "let's debut a whole new album" shows, with seven new songs. Only three of these songs would make it onto Wake of the Flood, though, which was recorded in August '73.

9/7/73 - Let It Grow
9/8/73 - Weather Report Suite, Let Me Sing Your Blues Away
The Weather Report Suite is tricky - the Prelude had been floating around for years, Let It Grow debuted on 9/7/73, and the whole Suite was first performed on 9/8. Another of the few Dead songs that debuted only after being recorded for an album. (Let Me Sing Your Blues Away turned out to be more short-lived.) - list of early Preludes in '72/'73. - the earliest Prelude tease I've found. (There's also a tease in the 8/6/71 Other One reprise.)

The first performances of the remaining Mars Hotel songs (recorded in April '74) aren't too distinctive:

2/22/74 - Ship of Fools, It Must Have Been the Roses, U.S. Blues

3/23/74 - Scarlet Begonias, Cassidy
Cassidy was a very belated debut from Weir's "Ace" album.

April 1974 - studio rehearsals
Listed here since the first three performances (Pride of Cucamonga, Money Money, & Unbroken Chain) are "live in the studio," and two of those would never see the stage that year.

5/17/74 - Money Money (first of three)

6/23/74 - Let It Rock
OK, it's a cover and not a Dead song, but worth mentioning as the only Dead performance of a song off Garcia's Compliments album. This show also has the debut of Seastones!

From early '75, of course, we have innumerable rehearsals of the new songs in the studio, but to focus on the live debuts:
3/23/75 has the first of three Blues for Allah>Stronger Than Dirt performances.

6/17/75 - Help On The Way (no vocals)>Slipknot>Franklin's Tower, Crazy Fingers
(An early Slipknot riff had also been played a few times in '74 jams, for instance 2/22, 6/20 and 7/25/74.)

8/13/75 has a rare Sage & Spirit (the only other one was on 10/31/80).

8/13/75 also had the first live Music Never Stopped, but the first live one on the Archive is from 9/28/75 -

6/3/76 - The Wheel, Might As Well, Lazy Lightning>Supplication, Dancing in the Street (disco version), Samson & Delilah
After the hiatus, a new Dead style emerged. Here the Wheel finally surfaced live, five years after being recorded! Dancing in the Streets (which had been in the sets from 1966-1970) was radically rearranged; They Love Each Other and Friend of the Devil (played 6/4/76) were also in new slowed-down renditions.

6/4/76 - Mission in the Rain
Not a Dead song really, but the first of five Dead performances of this song.

6/28/76 - Happiness is Drumming
A precursor to Fire on the Mountain. The Dead also teased this in Playin' in the Band jams that year (like 6/22/76), and Garcia had played it live with the Diga Rhythm Band on 5/30/75.

2/26/77 - Terrapin Station, Estimated Prophet
(Although I should note, an early Estimated Prophet riff was being practiced as early as '74! )

3/18/77 - Fire on the Mountain
Mickey Hart had done a studio version of this with Garcia a few years earlier:

5/1/77 - Sunrise (AUD)
(I had omitted this song from the list earlier; but no one ever mentioned it...)

5/15/77 - Passenger

Well, that's as far as I'll go with this....

Another interesting list could be made of the first performances of the Dead's covers - for instance, to take a random few from Skull & Roses, the first versions of Not Fade Away, Goin' Down the Road, Big Railroad Blues, Me & My Uncle, and Mama Tried are rather different than what they became. I'm putting together that list as well....