Grateful Dead have released another live track from the February 18th, 1971 concert at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, set to be included on the upcoming 50th anniversary reissue of American Beauty. Thursday’s selection highlights the debut of the Jerry Garcia Robert Hunter cautionary tale, “Wharf Rat”.

This latest live cut joins the previously-released “Truckin‘” from the same concert. Set for release on October 30th from RHINO, the American Beauty reissue will see all ten tracks lovingly restored by Jeffrey Norman at Bob Weir‘s TRI Studios, and include full soundboard audio from 2/18/71.

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The night of February 18th, 1971 marked an exciting night for the Dead and the Deadheads alike, as the band debuted a bevy of new songs including “Wharf Rat”. Other songs that first saw the light of day on 2/18/71 were “Playing In The Band”, “Bertha” , “Greatest Story Ever Told”, and “Loser”. While concert-going audiences around the country would soon come to know these four songs that would remain in the band’s repertoire throughout their career, the listening public would also become acquainted with them via the release of Grateful Dead (aka Skull and Roses) in October 1971. The band’s second live album, recorded at concerts throughout spring 1971, would feature “Wharf Rat”, “Playing In The Band”, and “Bertha”.

As for this debut performance of “Wharf Rat”, the song receives a crisp, thorough telling by Garcia as he conveys the tale of hardship undergone by one August West. Though not the most impressive improvisational vehicle, the song was sandwiched in the middle of a late-first set “Dark Star” and served to cool things down before the Dead returned to hyperspace.

Listen to the Grateful Dead perform “Wharf Rat” for the first time at The Capitol Theatre on February 18th, 1971. Pre-order the 50th anniversary reissue of American Beauty here.

Grateful Dead – “Wharf Rat” – Port Chester, NY – 2/18/71

[Video: Grateful Dead]