Jesse Jarnow

Archive for January, 2011

#deadfreaksunite 1966

#deadfreaksunite 1966
tape-by-tape notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th/50th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. All shows streamable via archive.org.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974]

1/8/66 fillmore auditorium: the fillmore acid test! the earliest known grateful dead live recording & utter psychedelic comedy gold. fade in on chaos. phil sings along with tuning. pigpen to babbs: “HEY MAN STOP YOUR BABBLING & FIX THESE MICROPHONES. WE NEED POWER.” earliest versions of all songs except for dense CAUTION. not terribly far out, but garcia’s early blues-noodle turns spiky & menacing. dig garcia’s grease on leiber/stoller’s HOG FOR YOU BABY, b-side to current #9 primitives hit. babbs interrupts. but not sure i ever quite bought garcia doing DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, which feels a bit rinky-dink with pigpen’s farfisa. 27 minutes in, the cops arrive & shut down the acid test, resulting in LOL-packed 4:27 of LSD-abetted confusion. an all-time favorite. babbs (?) moves sound-source between mics & narrates in real-time, cops make announcements, sirens wail, weir raps, somebody moans & OMs. phil conducts band in national anthem, dude screams “fuck you,” garcia stays chill while his face melts, tape cuts.

1/??/66 “acid test #3″: a chaotic soundcheck of some sort. occasional yelling, merry pranksters, & bass jams that almost coalesce. most charming part is bright-eyed bushy-tailed band chatter. phil: “i’m tired of playing in warehouses” & jerry playing the optimist. weir, spacily: “i’d like to play in the grand canyon.” phil (?): “well, as long as it’s with you guys, i don’t care…”

1/??/66 berkeley: VIOLA LEE BLUES rehearsal, probably the 1st owsley tape. garcia is clearly the leader, phil is clearly the asshole. pigpen can’t figure out vocal or harmonica part. cool at first, eventually he leaves drunk, hounded by phil. nobody goes after him. owsley, i think, sings verses on track 19. then, cool 15m VIOLA LEE jam on early arrangement, 1st big improv on tape.

1/??/66 berkeley: fuller VIOLA LEE BLUES rehearsal tape at owsley’s pad, with 2 early slower takes of phil’s awkward CARDBOARD COWBOY. drumless/keyless CARDBOARD COWBOY practice is more interesting/graceful than the 3 surviving live recordings. awkward even by phil standards, drumless vocal practice gives me new pop appreciation for the song.

1/28/66 the matrix (maybe): 14m of early dead from a badly dated owsley reel. earliest known versions of all songs. good banter. only the ending of YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK/OTIS ON A SHAKEDOWN CRUISE: last of 3 always-shifting verses, short solo, & 1st weir shouts. band returns for a late set after the loading zone plays. shaky VIOLA LEE BLUES has alternate swing-blues jam, not yet modal/crazy. management clearly wants the dead off the stage. “let ‘em throw us out,” phil says as band plow into speedy I KNOW YOU RIDER. so the plug gets pulled 40 seconds into MIDNIGHT HOUR. band sounds completely used to it & mostly amused. garcia: “shut us off again.” lesh: “g’night ladies & gentleman & you too, you pricks.” last SF gig before dead, owsley, & pranksters move to LA.

2/5 or 6/66 los angeles: likely a fragment of band’s 1st show after moving to LA, but (based on crowd) not the northridge acid test. 1st known TASTEBUD, generic blues & generic blues lyrics by pigpen & 1st live MINDBENDER, doofy but crisp nuggets-style garage-psych. 1st known BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, a jug band holdover. spiraling guitar intro, spiky solo, early backing vocals, & heavier backbeat. if anyone has the 2 missing tunes or another theory on the date, hmu. more on ’66 mysteries.

2/13/66 (maybe) youth opportunities center: 6 minutes of watts acid test. begins with bob weir tripping & testing out microphones. on a distant mic, girl starts flipping the fuck out, screaming “WHO CARES?” etc., & pigpen sings/talks her down, occasional drum hits. no surviving music besides a capella pigpen/drum duet. bob weir: “some day ron will take acid.” end of tape fragment.

2 or 3/xx/66 pink house (maybe): wow! mystery ’66 tape: phil & jerry demo a gorgeous folky & previously unknown dead original with cool harmonies. “wandering man“?

3/9/66 pink house rehearsal: another unknown song, sung by pigpen. maybe a cover, but enough odd changes to make it a dead original? a few takes working on WHO DO YOU LOVE. pigpen to billy: “remember when we used to do it at magoo’s? the way we did it at magoo’s?” 13m jam starts as thin blues noodle but grows into some cool & almost substantial weirdness before tape runs out.

3/10/66 pink house rehearsal: another owsley tape (vocals panned hard) from band’s pad in LA, downstairs from LSD tabbing operation. SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD practice, electrified jug band tune, recorded in ’67 & unchanged til ’72, besides stabbing organ part. tantalizing just-off-mic chatter about songwriting/lyric transcription? maybe could be deciphered with a level boost.

3/12/66 danish center: 1st dead tape that’s more than a fragment. 2 sets, 67m of excellent owsley soundboard. not technically an acid test, but based on the band’s memories that they took acid *every* saturday night in spring ’66, well… both set openers are only surviving takes of not-terribly-compelling instrumental warm-ups: STORMY MONDAY & freddie king’s HEADS UP. 1st known live version of pigpen’s 1st real original, YOU SEE A BROKEN HEART. generic, but clever call/response with garcia on verse. earliest IT’S A SIN & ONE KIND FAVOR (jerry blues, meh) & NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME (instant pig staple, already coolly swingin’). 1st full MIDNIGHT HOUR & 1st taped pigpen raps. it achieves grease, if not much else. tasty jerry licks & not-tasty blues screams. amusingly trippy setbreak banter, implying they’re alternating slots with another act. wonder who? weir plugs ice cream man outside. tape closes with 1st VIOLA LEE BLUES featuring multi-jam structure. at 11m, 1st big dead improv. raw but right on.

3/25/66 trouper’s hall: all-night harmonica store. poster by acid chemist owsley stanley, photos by @rosiemcgee12. A+ sound. earliest live STEALIN’, electrified jug band boogie recorded for 1st single. and then a still-unidentified 9m R&B instrumental jam. before they play it, weir says the mystery jam’s title fast, garbled, & off-mic. anyone wanna slow that down and/or have a guess? 1st HEY LITTLE ONE by dorsey burnette, garcia crooning rockabilly-pop. gorgeous twang-psych solo. outro belting hints at ’80s ballads. 1st complete YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK, meticulously overwritten & ambitious psychedelic garage pop with changing keys & vocal parts, wild guitaring. 30m set, a break, then the earliest COLD RAIN & SNOW, on 1st album & staple for next 30 years. a herky jerky thrill.

4/22/66 longshoreman’s hall: 23m from hyped trips festival knockoff, 1st gig since return from LA. nice sound. 1st BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE with multi-beat intro (6, in this case). still some lyric differences & semi-written guitar break. earliest GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL (with mucho bass counterpoint) goes into willie cobb’s YOU DON’T LOVE ME, jerry sung, & back. the two songs are basically interchangeable, but it’s the earliest recorded grateful dead segue.

4/24/66 longshoreman’s hall: solid 35m (maaaaybe) from 3rd night of fake trips fest, recently surfaced radio ad sadly taken down. 7m VIOLA LEE BLUES still a work-in-progress, but already more jam than solo, clean-toned jerry weirdisms & double-time swing. also in-progress: owsley’s mix. semi-audible garcia/lesh jams in MIDNIGHT HOUR’s quizzical breaks & pretty spaces behind pig’s rap. BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE has guitar figure intro but written solo, so maybe date is wrong? forensics here. almost 8m of blues jam with jorma kaukonen & jack casady; unremarkable adventures in unpleasant double bass fuzz.

5/??/66 unknown venue: formerly “ivar theater 2/25/66.” song arrangements seem to date it from may or june. earliest recorded dead version of SHE’S ON THE ROAD AGAIN, garcia-sung jug band holdover with prominent lead harmonica by pigpen. 1st I KNOW YOU RIDER with “muddy water” & “sun will shine” verses. everybody sings everything, phil loudest. no northbound train yet. unison riffs & drum breaks of COLD RAIN & SNOW way more together than earlier version, but garcia’s voice still fluttering all over. effective not-quite-segue from greasy KING BEE into CAUTION, latter with nifty dual guitar/harmonica & mini-jam.

5/19/66 avalon ballroom: the dead’s avalon debut & 1st real tape from the ballroom era, early & late sets. big drums. many firsts. earliest STANDING ON THE CORNER, dead original. lyrics seem like garcia doing dylan. last version of b-grade garage-psych MINDBENDER. 1st great VIOLA LEE BLUES, kreutzmann & lesh shifting casually into a jam under garcia solo, unfolding smoothly into the modal fringe. earliest CREAM PUFF WAR, rare song with words/music by garcia, & earliest original to survive until 1st album. solo stays just inside. earliest SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD, too, surprisingly in exact same arrangement & tempo they’d stick with until dropping it in ’72. aaaand 1st taped version of weir’s electrified jugband tune NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES, too, most of the 1st album repertoire now in place. rare pigpen joint: only surviving so-so take of fats domino’s SICK & TIRED. also, 1st taped version if elmore jame’s IT HURTS ME TOO, a pigpen standard unchanged through his last tour, sad & sweet. earliest SILVER THREADS & GOLDEN NEEDLES, weir’s 1st country tune (cool phil harmony) & garcia’s BABY BLUE, 1st taped dylan cover. only live ’66 version of insanely way-too-fast GOOD LOVIN’ with garcia singing lead (plus the “new ending,” per stage banter), gone ’til ’69.

7/3/66 fillmore auditorium: independence ball, with love. vocals brutal throughout. swingin’ boogie, though. band dedicates set to “the sundancers of ignacio, colorado, out there doin’ it.” garcia plugs mnasidika, local head boutique. earliest versions of half-dozen tunes, including HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE & NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE, both pretty straight. 1st known DANCING IN THE STREET, staple for next 5 years, already an enthused (if contained) jam platform, garcia testing the edges. VIOLA LEE BLUES sounding immensely assured. not as wild & out as 5/16, but all lean in hard & stay together in the jam, even pigpen. earliest BIG BOSS MAN, slinky & hep, pig fave thru ’72. only KEEP ROLLING BY, pig-led stones-y original with neat gang vocals. only DON’T MESS UP A GOOD THING, his/her soul re-set for pig, & j. “guitar” watson’s GANGSTER OF LOVE, unconvincingly sung by jerry. 1st CARDBOARD COWBOY (aka NO LEFT TURN UNSTONED), overwritten phil lesh mod-psych, stiffly sung. waiting to be covered gracefully. YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK gets drum intro. instrumental break now guitar/key duo. with CREAM PUFF WAR, most accomplished original so far. pig’s MIDNIGHT HOUR rap still half-baked, but rare & sweet shout to longtime girlfriend, vee. 1st bill graham band intro.

7/16/66 fillmore auditorium: alternating sets with the airplane. being a 1966 saturday, probably tripping, too. vocals getting better.  late set begins with a cute bill graham intro & for 1st time, short-lived full band pre-intro to VIOLA LEE BLUES. gang vocals sound big. 1st of 2 versions of allen toussaint’s PAIN IN MY HEART, learned via otis redding, sung by pigpen. the ’72 dead would’ve crushed this. kreutzmann’s drums starting to really move with garcia’s guitar, seeking destination on CREAM PUFF WAR & for, like, 10 seconds takes its 1st modal plunge. psychedelic! only surviving ’66 live version of DON’T EASE ME IN, electric jug bounce & b-side for 1st single, released locally that summer. forensics dept.: off-mic voice asking “otis?” before tight YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK helps confirm alt. title, OTIS ON A SHAKEDOWN CRUISE. weir not getting DANCING IN THE STREET lyrics yet, adds own verse. jam doesn’t go far, but sure goes. tape cuts off.

7/17/66 fillmore auditorium: only known take of leadbelly’s IN THE PINES, sung by garcia, & not wholly successful. more like a drinking song than a murder ballad. off-mic intra-squad reminders to watch tempos before BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, & others.

7/29/66 vancouver trips festival: despite the event’s name, the grateful dead’s 1st real trip out of town for purposes other than acid tests. band’s garage-prog phase coming to an end. last known versions of 2 early originals, including opener STANDING ON THE CORNER. farewell to the awkward grooviness of CARDBOARD COWBOY. a bouncy BABY BLUE, same day as dylan’s motorcycle crash in woodstock. short locked-in garcia/kreutzmann improv in CREAM PUFF WAR. plus, the a-side to the band’s brand new single STEALIN’, released only in san francisco. probably no merch table in vancouver. set-closing VIOLA LEE BLUES is 2nd of 2 versions with descending circusy pre-intro. big noise for the canadian n00bs. (my full essay on the dead’s adventures at the vancouver trips festival is available now in rhino records’ 50th anniversary reissue of the band’s first album.)

7/30/66 vancouver trips festival: last show with (& stereo-panned tape made by) owsley’s proto-wall of sound. as event MC comes on, phil: “we’ll use a simple syllable to test our microphones tonight. the syllable is narc. narc. narc. narc.” 9m DANCING IN THE STREET opener pushes fleetingly into a modal peak & back via garcia, giving jam graceful sense of movement. last known version of dorsey burnette’s #48 1960 hit HEY LITTLE ONE. tasty inside guitar solo, but not much of a loss. on the other hand, goodbye to the too-clever-for-this-world structure of YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK. and off go owsley stanley & tim scully with the dead’s equipment truck to establish a new LSD lab.

11/19/66 fillmore auditorium: solid soundboard is 1st full tape since summer, most polished & confident yet. lothar & the hand people! debate over if this is 11/19/66 or 3/17/67, but weir’s “autumn” in DANCING IN THE STREET suggests former. cute one-by-one bill graham intro ala “one from the vault”: “on the bass, mr. philip lesh… on the far left, on lead guitar & vocals, the charles atlas of the psychedelic set.” only surviving ’66 HI-HEELED SNEAKERS. honky blues vocals by garcia. tasty licks, though. enticing guitar/organ swirl on CREAM PUFF WAR. 2nd of 2 versions of allen toussaint’s PAIN IN MY HEART, learned via otis redding, sung by pigpen. the ’72 dead would’ve crushed this. earliest SAME THING by willie dixon, sung by pig. moody 11m jam. early jazzy comping by weir under organ solo & double-time build. weir finally gets lyrics to DANCING IN THE STREET & band gets jam. soaring garcia, spiraling further out as tape cuts off around 6m. set ends with 34m of pig. 1st known SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING (with fine guitar/harp toodle) downshifts into KING BEE. nice flow on dynamic 19m MIDNIGHT HOUR. pig works crowd & briefly raps about “TCB”. elvis to the courtesy phone.

11/29/66 the matrix: 1st of 2 nights & 3.5 hours of music. many otherwise undocumented corners of mysterious ’66 repertoire. 80m of sets 2/3, beginning with earliest ME & MY UNCLE, only song played every year 1966-1995 (except ’68?). speedy. drum roll intro. musicologist graeme boone pegs weir’s modal playing on 12m SAME THING as 1st sign of mccoy tyner influence. 1st known version of the olympics’ BIG BOY PETE is big group-sung fun. matrix co-owner marty balin seemingly shouting requests. at marty’s request, only extant live take of phil-sung EARLY MORNING RAIN. more involved harmonies/arrangement than ’65 studio demo. set 3 opens with 1st of 2 BEEN DOWN SO LONGs, jerry-sung original, like a lost jug band tune. 1st try at writing americana? more rare pig: 1st of 2 SOMETHING ON YOUR MINDs (not dino valente’s). only I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU ’til weir’s ’95 revival. garcia & weir get juggy & doofy with 1st taped OVERSEAS STOMP, done by mother mccree’s in ’64 but only 3 known late ’66 dead versions (& a fragment from ’67). band signs off with short full-band arrangement of vaudeville themes. not the looney tunes’ MERRY-GO-ROUND BROKE DOWN/”that’s all folks” outro (as its often labeled), but cartoonish just the same.

12/1/66 the matrix: another remarkable slice of 1966. 3 sets, 2 hours, & many oddities from a hole-in-the-wall club in san francisco. band’s repertoire continues to turn over rapidly. on the 3 shows from late ’66, 9 songs (plus 2 with a guest) appear nowhere else. garcia promises “cold beer on tap, lurid night club atmosphere, & beatniks! more beatniks than you can count on two hands.” only live BETTY & DUPREE, demoed in march. folk tune converted to rock ballad, vibrato crooning by garcia matched by guitar tremolo. last known versions of ONE KIND FAVOR, SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND, & charming BEEN DOWN SO LONG, semi-lost neo-jugband original. sole extant live ALICE D. MILLIONAIRE, garage pop named for 10/66 “LSD millionaire” headline about owsley, though lyrics don’t have much to do with it. sung by pig. clever vocals/arrangement. weir starts new-to-them ME & MY UNCLE, which falls apart quickly. they try again with garcia leading & succeed. hyper farfisa/guitar. only taped DEEP ELEM BLUES from the era. nifty chorus harmony & arrangement abandoned with acoustic/electric revival in 1970. 2nd set punctuated by rando singing/harmonicaing YONDER’S WALL & MY OWN FAULT. pass. last ON THE ROAD AGAIN ’til 1980 acoustic sets. superb feral jams in each set! 1st set closes with longest ever CREAM PUFF WAR (at 9m), 3rd with untethered 11m DANCING IN THE STREET. in the 2nd set, ecstatic 15m VIOLA LEE BLUES expands to white hot peak, garcia blazing louder than drums. wish the bass was audible. at tape’s end, another ME & MY UNCLE. either filler from same period or band drilling song. i like to think latter.

12/23/66 avalon ballroom: released in 1970 & ’71 as quasi-bootlegs “vintage dead” & “historic dead”. unclear what’s from which night. sounds great, though. again, weir’s seasonal lyric change in DANCING IN THE STREET rounds down the date, december not september. last recorded BABY BLUE ’til ’69 & last uptempo version. no solos, just guitar breaks. only surviving dylan cover from early years. nice bright moments, including action-packed 7m DANCING & final farfisa-driven STEALIN’, revived acoustic by garcia/grisman in ’92. last known version of strident electrified jug standard of I KNOW YOU RIDER, MIA until getting paired with CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER in ’69. solidly 2/3 of the 2 LPs is pigpen, including side-long MIDNIGHT HOUR that won’t win over haters but has chill conversational garcia. can see why band wasn’t into these LPs, but can only imagine how stoked deadheads must’ve been when they came out.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974]

#deadfreaksunite 1965


#deadfreaksunite 1965
show-by-show notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. All shows streamable via archive.org.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974]

11/3/65 golden state recorders: 18m 5-song demo by the emergency crew, formerly the warlocks, soon the grateful dead. the only known ’65 tape & earliest recorded electric music, 6 months after band’s founding. amazing recording, hinting at the dead’s undocumented early months, an alternate universe with phil as lead singer.

CAN’T COME DOWN: dylan-y rave-up about gettin’ real high, lyrics/vocals by garcia, tight harmonica breaks. no surviving live versions.

MINDBENDER: stilted but ambitious pop, vocals & dense lyrics mostly by lesh. mystic farfisa. sweet spaghetti western licks by garcia.

ONLY TIME IS NOW: the dead’s lost sunshine-pop gem. cool beatles-y tremolo. lyrics by jerry pal dave parker, future dead bookkeeper.

CAUTION: cribbed from Them’s MYSTIC EYES. blues-clang condensed into ultra-busy & well-packed 3m. already they’re all soloing at once.

I KNOW YOU RIDER: brighter/faster than iconic later arrangement. slop-rock guitar chug. lead singin’ by phil. but who’s on tambourine?

EARLY MORNING RAIN: gordon lightfoot tune, sung by lesh. groovy fun with a good urgent bounce. phil’s vocals are goofy, but i can dig.

new art by ned lagin.

The California musician and artist Ned Lagin returns with his first public work since his 1975 Seastones LP, collecting art, photographs, and writing from the past decade of his long and decidedly non-public career. With a long series of poetic Notes acting as deeply psychedelic grounding texts for the visual works, Lagin’s art (and words) tease out the threads between his circuit drawings in the sand and natural landscapes, his nude self-portraits and light-time geographies. Together, they make for a kind of personal ecology of creation, a worldview whose component parts reflect on one another and cast a light backwards on the sounds and concepts behind Seastones.

I’m pulled most strongly to Lagin’s sand drawings, a personal miniaturized form of land art, ecologically sustainable if artistically ephemeral (and a bit similar to some of my father’s recent work). It’s not hard to feel the connection between beaches and time, from the metaphoric standard of an hourglass, to the long and short-term change of tides, erosion, and other natural forces. And it’s through Lagin’s overt threads between his beach-works and his 1970s recordings (right down to the LP’s title) that his opaque-seeming music begins to make more sense as (in Lagin’s phrase) “moment-forms” realized and washed away by time, memory, and a half-dozen varieties of organic and synthetic obsolescence. At least, that’s part of what I got out of reading through Lagin’s 30 pages of carefully considered Notes, which are probably worth going through in conjunction with the work.

For those curious about Ned Lagin’s music, the website presents some answers, too, but also questions. Alluringly, there are hints of future releases, both of a new album and of an expanded and remixed Seastones. But Lagin’s art and writing will have to do for now, materials that (when absorbed) might provide some kind of conceptual remastering on his music for anyone who cares to look/listen/read, new moment-forms waiting to be found in the listening. Ned Lagin’s SpiritCats.com is an unexpected hello from a long silent voice.

#deadfreaksunite 1974


#deadfreaksunite 1974
tape-by-tape notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. All shows streamable via archive.org.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974]

2/22/74 winterland: a long soundcheck spent working on 3 new songs, the retired ATTICS OF MY LIFE, & a proto-ESTIMATED PROPHET jam. show opens with the proper debut of U.S. BLUES, ex-WAVE THAT FLAG. nice & punchy, though band doesn’t seem quite done practicing it. the 1st IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES, the only GD tune credited solely to hunter, is an instant winner, though fast & a bit clunky. garcia plays fully articulated SLIPKNOT! inside PLAYING IN THE BAND, uncharacteristically forcing it discordantly into the jam. 1st SHIP OF FOOLS, a major new jerry tune, is likewise uptempo compared to future versions, but dramatic & funny & wonderful. not a lot of compelling jamming, the band’s overexcitement best encompassed by non-sequitur bass bombs in CHINA DOLL.

2/23/74 winterland: final HERE COMES SUNSHINE until the (shudder) ’90s revival. farewell big blissy jam, we hardly knew ye. ’74 model mellowness seems way less lethargic & more pleasing than the ’73 version, probably mostly due to the warm piano/rhodes mix. even-keeled LET IT GROW with sweet weird-swing by kretuzmann. subtle jerry/keith SLIPKNOT! counterpoint in OTHER ONE.

2/24/74 winterland: another U.S. BLUES opener, clearly the new anthem, more confident than its debut, now beaming & exuberant & goofy. great show all around, with vivid foregrounded piano/rhodes in CUMBERLAND BLUES, PLAYING IN THE BAND, WEATHER REPORT SUITE & more. 1st DARK STAR of ’74 starts & stops a few times before coalescing into a short, jaw-dropping coda & a long, drippy MORNING DEW.  1st IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE since 9/72 & last ’til ’81. slightly uptempo, but graceful, unrushed, & nice. g’bye.

3/23/74 cow palace: hello, wall of sound! the 1st proper show for owsley’s legendary, crystalline PA. greetings, as well, to SCARLET BEGONIAS & CASSIDY, last major pre-hiatus debuts. SCARLET’s open-ended bounce is sloppy & irresistible. CASSIDY, released 2 years earlier on “ace,” has even more potential. a real shame they shelved it again ’til ’76. my fave weir song? final PLAYING IN THE BAND  > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > MORNING DEW > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND sequence, led by magical soft-edged garcia attack that could last forever. unexpected beatles-y counterpoint vocal on SHIP OF FOOLS’ final chorus, not articulated during 3 previous versions.

5/12/74 reno: the wall of sound hits the road. 3-set outdoor show amid crazy washoe zephyr winds that phil references. lulz whenever the dead use gazillion-watt WoS to play polka-boogies. appropriately surly lesh vocals on MEXICALI BLUES & everywhere. high-speed details & thrilling MIND LEFT BODY-like descent before the only lyric-mangled verse of quick-dissolving OTHER ONE, a fully developed MIND LEFT BODY jam & 2 more jerry ballads, though SHIP OF FOOLS is sly & perfect in early uptempo version.

5/14/74 missoula: 1st & only time the dead played montana. “sweet susie” returns to LOSER for 1st time since ’72. garcia sounds confused. bubbling SCARLET BEGONIAS jam, too short, kreutzmann pushing the band outside the structure. a pleasant landing into IT NUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES. 27m DARK STAR features unparalleled space-swing, highwire JG/BK dazzle, stereo fuzz conversations, flexatone, & ample cosmic boredom. dense & unsettling CHINA DOLL with insane overloaded guitar solo amid a drippingly psychedelic soundboard mix. fratboy hits weir on head with plastic beer pitcher & weir responds appropriately with cheesiest ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT yet.

5/17/74 vancouver: debut of a new faster arrangement of LOOSE LUCY. still a throwaway, but now with refreshing bonus pep. weir’s MONEY MONEY, on the other hand, is unsafe at any speed. the worst dead tune not written by a keyboardist? IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES & SHIP OF FOOLS both slow down even more & get even better. played almost every night & rightly so. top notch PLAYING IN THE BAND & TRUCKIN’ > EYES OF THE WORLD > CHINA DOLL jams but, except for hard-driving EYES outro, nothing exceptional.

5/19/74 portland: big cheer for 3rd ever SCARLET BEGONIAS. does the crowd possibly know it or is it just instinctual 1st reaction? band makes a point of cutting off the SCARLET jam (why?!) & ending together crisply, an oddity by itself. thankfully, it won’t stick. 4 big garcia ballads, including beautiful 1st PEGGY-O of ’74 & a powerful CRYPTICAL-like WHARF RAT that keeps expanding as it spirals. fast, fun TRUCKIN’ unwinds into an unusual funk-slop MIND LEFT BODY, the closest kreutzmann ever got to breakbeats.

5/21/74 seattle: a monster show highlighted by a 46-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, 3rd longest standalone jam in the band’s history. good omens: donna jean’s SCARLET BEGONIAS wail is kind of nice & low-key, karen dalton style. last of 3 MONEY MONEYs. fuck that song. no, really. it’s so hateful & un-deady. 1st set ends on unusual elegiac note with an unfussy CHINA DOLL. works really well. A+ PLAYING soars with bizarre internal logic, earns its brief space-outs & is bookended by some of the more brutal donna screams ever. the 23m EYES OF THE WORLD > WHARF RAT that follows might be seen as unnecessary by some. i am not among them.

5/25/74 santa barbara: one of my 1st killer soundboards (thanks, compuserve tape tree!) & my personal definitive CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER segue. TRUCKIN’ bends swiftly from blooze boogie to fast zagging & drumless space where keith plays subtly sun ra-y monophonic synth & into the only ’74 LET IT GROW unattached to rest of WEATHER REPORT SUITE & capped by 3rd big WHARF RAT in 3 shows. also the show where a taper snuck in his deck by burying it in the stadium the night before.

6/8/74 oakland: a sun-stroked bill graham day on the green at oakland stadium w/ the beach boys, new riders, & commander cody opening. strong candidate for the all-time most of out-of-tune dead show, due to heat. for mucho excellent baseball banter, check @NotBobWeir. SCARLET BEGONIAS feels slightly off-kilter, with garcia unwinding a cool inverted version of the melody to signal the end of the jam. 40m PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > PLAYING IN THE BAND wanders early but goes molten. even keith steps up during A+ darting full-band improv.

6/16/74 des moines: 4 hours over 3 afternoon sets at the state fairgrounds. pictures show grand piano, but keith plays mostly rhodes. good fun throughout. SCARLET BEGONIAS is short but big. sounds like it could go anywhere. uncharacteristically clangy CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. bodacious EYES OF THE WORLD > BIG RIVER segue. refreshing to hear the band keep uptempo momentum instead of resolving into a ballad. weir & donna finally nail nifty beatles-y SHIP OF FOOLS outro harmony. 30m PLAYING IN THE BAND with chiming disassembly & abstruse zapping. keith uses fuzzed rhodes for garth hudson-style country-funk on ME & MY UNCLE. many-themed TRUCKIN’ capped by smooth MIND LEFT BODY as a confident bridge into sweeping WHARF RAT. weir loses his voice & doesn’t sing after the big jam. also refreshing.

6/18/74 louisville: a stone classic. rich sound, punchy bass, mucho piano, quiet dynamics. like my old tape, slightly sped up. PSA by weir: “you’re probably wondering why we called you all here tonight. the upshot of it is that one of you is a Venutian spy.” an all-time great EYES OF THE WORLD, crisp & roaring, godchaux taking the 1st solo & adding triumphant harmony to the 7/8 outro. 20m LET IT GROW sparkles into mutant swing & a 19m OTHER ONE, dissolution, odd pockets, & space-blooze prelude to STELLA BLUE. rare MORNING DEW encore. long & exquisite quiet valley before the final peak, filled with piano/guitar/bass droplets.

6/20/74 atlanta: debut of the weir/garcia guitar harmony intro to JACK STRAW. 1st TO LAY ME DOWN of the year. ineffable LSDC&W. more sweet godchaux piano throughout. especially breathtaking quiet filigrees on MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES. you were right, @jimmyjacktoth. EYES OF THE WORLD opens into a runaway garcia solo; an early version of SLIPKNOT, everyone else half-successfully figuring it out as they go. CHINA DOLL features the return of the awesome overloaded split-signal feedback guitar solo from the missoula version.

6/22/74 miami: super-fine 29m PLAYING IN THE BAND with shimmering jazz dance, soft-fuzz guitar, & sudden invention in the clouds of unknowing. comfortably far-out CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER with a half-baroque rhodes part. odd tempo disagreements on BERTHA, WHARF RAT, more.

6/23/74 miami: only dead version of chuck berry’s LET IT ROCK. started by phil, sung by jerry, outside garcia/weir rotation. fun but wut? the 1st setbreak SEASTONES duet between phil lesh (on quad bass) & ned lagin (on e-mu modular synth) zapping thru the wall of sound. 13m of disorienting & increasingly piercing full-body biomusic burble & scream around the jai-alai fronton. deadheads applaud politely. lagin plays rhodes on JAM > SHIP OF FOOLS & is fully present on a wordless 22m DARK STAR > SPANISH JAM, conversing with garcia & lesh. or this is the busiest godchaux playing ever? garcia deploys split-signal feedback-fuzz during SPANISH JAM & destroys.

6/26/74 providence: A+ mix of soundboard with jerry moore audience tape. dude in the crowd really wants people in front to sit down. frenetic LET IT GROW jam cooks for 4m & evaporates. SEASTONES is mostly gentle bio-voltage. heads seems receptive, even enthused. another abnormally long CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER, starting with a noodle-y prelude & a quizzical diversion before garcia starts to sing. big thumpin’ TRUCKIN’, but quad bass solo, OTHER ONE riffage, SPANISH JAM, other themes feel restless & disconnected.

6/28/74 boston garden: an old fave with setlist shenanigans & a fun, consistent up-ness; big jam is more scattered than i remembered. split-up SUGAR MAGNOLIA/SUNSHINE DAYDREAM bookends a set for 1st time. SCARLET BEGONIAS moves to 2nd set & nearly breaks free. short soundboard SEASTONES excerpt erupts from vivid oceanic static to screaming flares. crisp TO LAY ME DOWN; best since its revival 42m WEATHER REPORT SUITE > MIND LEFT BODY builds, hovers near DARK STAR with brilliant themes, fuzzy dead air & long build to U.S. BLUES. surly phil intros SHIP OF FOOLS: “a quiet, tender, meaningful, sympathetic, heavy-duty ballad in the key of b-flat.”

6/30/74 springfield, MA: superb PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND delights with mondo keith, dime-turn transition, & thoughtful reprise. 2 more spots where almost all drop out but garcia, including a jerry/phil feedback-fuzz bridge into UNCLE JOHN’S BAND & 6m prelude to STELLA BLUE. most cogent SEASTONES yet courtesy of the 1st complete soundboard. seems like phil harshing the noise & ned bleeping more consonantly. nice l’il charge from U.S. BLUES > TRUCKIN’. killer EYES OF THE WORLD (again: keith!) with wild kreutzmann drumming during end break.

7/19/74 fresno: right-on 30m PLAYING IN THE BAND marked by straight jazz, dancing rhodes by birthday boy keith, flowing de- & reconstruction. annoyingly chatty audience-only tape of SEASTONES punctuated by friendliest taper ever. “are you taping this?” “absolutely!!” 1st HE’S GONE since february is long & shaky, with dixieland blues coda by garcia that is sweet & mournful but never takes off. LET IT GROW, peaks atop peaks, a brief space-canyon, glorious patient SPANISH JAM, full-flight EYES OF THE WORLD. enthralling.

7/21/74 hollywood bowl: generally sweet audience tape with another lazy summer MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES & another talk-marred SEASTONES. 21m PLAYING IN THE BAND with brisk note-chasing & a mini-MIND LEFT BODY/NOBODY’S FAULT/SPANISH JAM collision to set up WHARF RAT.

7/25/74 chicago: just noticing that ROW JIMMY has gradually sped up since slow-ass ’73 versions, back to refreshing SUGAREE-ish lilt. a pleasant vocal-less DARK STAR. nothing jarring, just satisfying linked jams, harmony guitars, drum/keys break, proto-SLIPKNOT, more. JOHNNY B. GOODE has weir shouting like it’s already the ’80s. donna gets brassy on a new part of SHIP OF FOOLS. :( .

7/27/74 roanoke: besides conversational 25m PLAYING IN THE BAND & garcia forcing U.S. BLUES into uneventful 5m boogie jam, oddly improv-less show. weir sings 5 songs in the 2nd set, all covers, 4 from the ’50s. no ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT even though it was a saturday. thanks?

7/29/74 landover: rare DC area show. the hep place to be for swinging beltway liberals at the height of watergate, per reports. straight-ahead & great. many enthused whoops throughout U.S. BLUES. especially assertive IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES. missing SEASTONES. compact & articulate 49m HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > NOBODY’S FAULT > OTHER ONE > SPANISH JAM > WHARF RAT & bonus PEGGY-O.

7/31/74 hartford: 3 sets, all cracking & on point. 1st SCARLET BEGONIAS show opener, purdy rhodes cascades, concise but far-reaching. extraordinarily animated & delightful garcia vocals throughout. 1st time he punches the line “let my eyes no LONGER see” in ROSES. 1st onstage acknowledgment of SEASTONES? “we’ll be for another set in a few moments,” sez jerry. “…& additional weirdness,” adds phil. 2nd full SEASTONES soundboard is the harshest phil/ned custy blastage yet. “get off the stage,” someone yells audibly. #noiselife. curling, primo 40m TRUCKIN’ > MIND LEFT BODY > SPANISH JAM > WHARF RAT. even ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT kinda glows a little.

8/4/74 philadelphia: fairly ripsnorting JACK STRAW thanks to strident phil vocals, a completely tasty solo, & over-saturated mix. 20m LET IT GROW churns, goes supernova, & reforms for a fast, weird 2 minutes before garcia slashes into WHARF RAT.

8/5/74 philly: sparkling soundboard. another golden MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES. not a natural segue, but a nice pairing. nearly gentle SEASTONES, woman desperately screaming “jerrrrrrry!” on audience tape. last 3m is a burbling annihilation & denouement. big bouncing SCARLET BEGONIAS, 1st to break 10m. half-hour TRUCKIN’ thrills & opens up without resorting to jam motifs.

8/6/74 jersey city: summer tour finale ends an era: the last east coast show (& final U.S. jaunt) ’til mickey hart’s return in ’76. 2 big 1st set jams. jeweled 19m EYES OF THE WORLD with atypically mellifluous bass solo. weir PSA: “don’t climb on the fence, idiot!” PLAYING IN THE BAND bubbles into syncopated space-funk & a totally-like-WOW segue into a semi-off-kilter SCARLET BEGONIAS & on back to PLAYING. rare HE’S GONE prefaces a 31m TRUCKIN’ swerve through SPANISH JAM & only the 5th OTHER ONE of ’74, bookended by SUGAR MAGNOLIA/SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. U.S. BLUES’s “summertime done come & gone” refrain caps the tour & the epoch. see you in a month for europe ’74.

9/9/74 london: the wall of sound takes europe! 1st of 3 nights at alexandra palace starts hours late, earning ill-will from UK heads. 1 set, scant improv. ugly coked-up vibes, per mcnally’s bio. nice SCARLET BEGONIAS, though, with audible cheer for “grosvenor square” line. 16m TRUCKIN’ packs big & bigger thrills with aggressive OTHER ONE bass orbits but instead parachutes into WHARF RAT.

9/10/74 london: excellent 1st set garcia, including dramatic LOSER & nuanced PEGGY-O. LET IT GROW finds edge of space & pulls back. weir opens show with tepid AROUND & AROUND & hijacks early 2nd set with interminable & ultra-lame 16m NOT FADE AWAY. thankfully, 31m DARK STAR flashes between heaviness, confusion, & killer keith. serious post-verse meltdown into bass-crazed MORNING DEW.

9/11/74 london: good: SCARLET BEGONIAS getting longer & more intricate. bad: donna now wailing/whoaing/la-la’ing deeper into the jam. set 2 consists of 69m SEASTONES > EYES OF THE WORLD > WHARF RAT. probably my all-time most-played sequence, still rewarding & weird. garcia & kreutzmann join for deep, lysergic SEASTONES, jagged figures transforming to silver valleys, floating blurps, buddha-guitar. ned’s strident melodic piano dominates EYES, unrushed themes unfolding before a 10m SEASTONES reconstruction into WHARF RAT. lagin remembers garcia erupting into “a prolonged loud belly laugh” after the jam’s conclusion, totally audible on tape. bonus 3rd set. garcia/weir/donna master the counterpoint on final SHIP OF FOOLS chorus, setting up dramatic finish.

9/14/74 munich: weirdly off. SCARLET BEGONIAS has cool counterpoint & high-speed garcia but awkward grooves & rare sloppy ending. SEASTONES achieves a mellow vibration & builds to quad-fuzz detonation finale. germans sound way riled. PINBALL WIZARD comes on PA. last of 6 lovely MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP / MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES pairings, always a nice oasis in a desert of bob weir cowboy songs. no big jam, though 16m TRUCKIN’ hits laser focus for last few minutes, resolving to uptempo MIND LEFT BODY descent into WHARF RAT. more quicksilver garcia during EYES OF THE WORLD encore, but not enough to save show. backstage, bad vibes. http://bit.ly/X3M0HQ

9/18/74 dijon: smallest dead show in years, only a few hundred people. 1st set is ragged but even UNCLE JOHN’S BAND opener stretches casually. tiny french crowd even gets 1st FRIEND OF THE DEVIL since 12/72. jerry ballads aplenty & jam delights all over. both SEASTONES & 2nd set drums/bass break have lesh playing something like free jazz. EYES OF THE WORLD dips into a magical mood, wistful & quiet, lots of gorgeous lead bass & hints of SLIPKNOT; CHINA DOLL grows cool busy drum part. HE’S GONE burns into my new fave TRUCKIN’: 23m of fuego garcia, free DRUMZ, stereo bass, & a “CAUTION JAM” that’s something even better: 10m of shifting, sustained invention & cracking snare turnarounds, melting to SHIP OF FOOLS. thrilling, cohesive set.

9/20/74 paris: a shaggy night in the city of light. midtempo & loose FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. overheard on drum mic pre-BEAT IT DOWN THE LINE: “are you crazy? i can’t count that high, you dumb shit.” 14(?)-beat intro nearly collapses. bizarre SCARLET BEGONIAS gets quiet with slide guitar, off-mic donna la-la’s, off-key monophonic synth (ned?), subtle cowbell details. TRUCKIN’ fans out into squiggly space with neat results, eventually a long garcia/kreutzmann duet, & noise bass bridge into EYES OF THE WORLD. does EYES have bad mix or is it falling apart? unrelated(?), billy k. throws moped through a window. http://bit.ly/1rbjqQV

9/21/74 paris: a sometimes brutal conclusion to 7-show europe ’74 tour & the last dead show outside of san francisco ’til 6/76. or it could be another weir-less mix that just feels off. solid EYES OF THE WORLD outro sounds ready for “blues for allah” sessions. full band on 11m SEASTONES, a fun & dense mess that loses steam. great shattering-glass blasts & a nice ned/keith piano duet, though. 18m PLAYING IN THE BAND stays low stakes with small lurvely garcia/lagin dialogues, dissolves into DRUMS, & screeches awkwardly into final chorus. kreutzmann starting to get into cowbell, including on ROW JIMMY break. maybe the ’80s weren’t only mickey’s fault?

10/16/74 winterland: 1st of 5 eventful “retirement” shows, longest all-time gig (4+ hours of music) & probably the furthest out. camera crew starts shooting “the GD movie.” last ME & BOBBY McGEE. always dug the way garcia bark-crooned the high part on the chorus. weir’s 27th birthday, but happy overbalance of jerry songs; back-to-back TENNESSEE JED & crackling CUMBERLAND BLUES both stretch subtly. 24m SEASTONES, ambient washes sound like (or possibly are?) nearby humans screaming; into dope 25m garcia/lesh/lagin/kreutzmann quartet. too much even for SF deadheads, who clap impatiently during last space-out &, disbelieving maybe, slow to cheer when WHARF RAT starts. and then: 36m WHARF RAT > EYES OF THE WORLD, each with an elliptical solo jerry break. on EYES, thick double keys by lagin & godchaux. and still 45m more: TRUCKIN’ mini-suite &, before encore, phil endearingly & atonally singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to weir.

10/17/74 winterland: the last shows before mickey hart’s return, containing final streamlined 1-drummer versions of many faves. last RAMBLE ON ROSE ’til 9/76. goodbye phil vocals, goodbye subtlety on the bridge. rare FRIEND OF THE DEVIL sounding comfy. last kreutzmann-only OTHER ONE, forever the best jam for his inside-out gang-of-one free drumming. it really tied the room together. 30m OTHER ONE gets both verses, quick SPANISH JAM & MIND LEFT BODY (last ’til 12/83). last BK-only STELLA BLUE. :( .
10/18

10/18/74 winterland: final 1-drummer SUGAREE & PEGGY-O, spare & uncomplicated tunes served well by spare & uncomplicated drum parts. last WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE/PART 1. among my fave weir songs, sad & autumnal no matter the season. love garcia’s faux steel. last of 4 jams out of SEASTONES with ned lagin on keys. kreutzmann comes out swingin’, leading modal jazz dances that fold back into the last DARK STAR ’til 12/78. end of an era. quiet & lilting 1st half & post-verse jam that stays mostly inside, almost funky. nice bounce. and into patient MORNING DEW that goes supernova, last ’til 9/76. 3rd set seems unnecessary, but why not? g’bye billy-only SHIP OF FOOLS. an audience mic isn’t synced or this is worst-clapping crowd in dead history, often just totally unrelated to music.

10/19/74 winterland: almost too many comings/goings to note. final fast, crisp version of FRIEND OF THE DEVIL before ’76 slowdown. last LOOSE LUCY & BLACK THROATED WIND ’til 1990. final 1-drummer SCARLET BEGONIAS. sigh. randomly, 1st MAMA TRIED since 8/71. sloppy! rare BIG RAILROAD BLUES, fun bakersfield break in intro. final TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1st since 12/72), underrated garcia/donna C&W. so many songs go on ice: CHINA DOLL (until 5/77), UNCLE JOHN’S (12/76), RACE IS ON (10/80), DIRE WOLF (9/77), BLACK PETER (10/77). before vocals, TRUCKIN’ (9/77) veers into 1st legit CAUTION JAM since pig’s death (fire!), DRUMZ, & solo jerry space.

10/20/74 winterland: “the last one” before the dead’s break from the road, end of the 1st epoch. sweet typo on the ticket, even. as usual, bill graham both cheered & booed but nails intro: “as it should be on a sunday night in san francisco, the grateful dead.” weir garbles every single syllable of the 1st verse of MAMA TRIED, psychedelic in its own way. besides that, whole 1st set sparkles. lesh getting raspy, but BROKEDOWN PALACE (last ’til 5/77) is a stunner, final “american beauty” tune sung with its original harmonies. SEASTONES (last at a GD gig) starts with ned solo, making tangible bleep grids, moist & tonal. then phil & white noise washes arrive. garcia joins for last 15m of SEASTONES, adding subliminal melodic swells & noodles to lesh & lagin’s unsettling, sparse vibrations. mickey hart returns for last 2 sets, quietness refined since ’71 instantly swallowed by big busy beat. band’s balance audibly shifts. new possibilities in propulsive hippie fusion & deep messiness emerge in 61m 4-song PLAYING IN THE BAND sequence with lagin on aggressive 2nd keys. 1st GOOD LOVIN’ since pigpen’s death, led by weir, only dead cover with 3 lead singers at different times (garcia in ’66/’69, pig in ’69-’72). and it’s way blown-out, the dawn of a new era of rhythmic clusterfuck, drifting between locked-in brilliance & aimless textural float. last EYES OF THE WORLD with 7/8 ending break. SLIPKNOT! riff links into STELLA BLUE, now swollen with overbearing tom-tom fills. cutting in mid-solo, a jawdropping MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP 2nd encore. perfect call with nearly every lyric apropos. it even reigns in hart. WE BID YOU GOODNIGHT to close it out, the last until new year’s ’76. dudes in crowd still shouting for ST. STEPHEN.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974]

dead tapes at baby’s allright, 22 june 2014