Jesse Jarnow

live jamz

#deadfreaksunite 1976

#deadfreaksunite 1976
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. Many shows streamable via archive.org.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

5/28/76 orpheum theatre: 1st of 3 circulating rehearsals from sessions that seem to have started in mid-april. crisp 2-drummer mix. could be stockholm syndrome, but i might like parts of LAZY LIGHTNING, 1st rehearsed in ’75. really feeling the jam into SUPPLICATION. 1st ATTICS OF MY LIFE since ’72, not played onstage ’til ’89. almost convincing, minus mickey & keith’s reggae. phil critiques donna. recorded in ’72, played once in ’74, weir seems to write new & final CASSIDY intro on the spot & everyone else knows just what to do. 1st COSMIC CHARLIE since ’70. despite alleged ’76 lethargy, think it’s actually at same tempo as earlier versions.

5/29/76 orpheum theatre: 2nd circulating 45 minute rehearsal fragment, split evenly between EYES OF THE WORLD & PLAYING IN THE BAND. ’76 has reputation for slowness, but EYES is faster & busier, lazy gait turned to a gallop. nice quiet places, plus mickey cowbell. PLAYING definitely slower & tentative as they relearn. 1 full take, 2 subdued donna wails, good spacin’, meh reentry.

5/30/76 orpheum theatre: last pre-tour rehearsal. WHARF RAT kept earthbound by too many cymbals/drums. round-toned overdrive solo. 1st recorded run-through of THE WHEEL, released on garcia’s solo debut in ’72 & losing the spaced pedal steel & but getting dreamier. CANDYMAN is few clicks faster than ’74, donna’s harmony replacing phil, but the intimacy & urgency seem gone.

6/3/76 portland, OR: the grateful dead return to road after 19-month break. debuts, bustouts, rearrangements, & new M-E-L-L-O-W vibe. big part is the mix, but so much feels mushy & imprecise & sedate. mickey’s drums busy up everything & redraws center of band. 3 party-starting debuts (MIGHT AS WELL, SAMSON & DELILAH, LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION), though psych/prog ambition seems nearly gone. 1st CASSIDY since 3/72, 2nd ever, doesn’t have a jam yet. dead debut of THE WHEEL, which kind of *is* a jam but doesn’t get to do so. rearranged THEY LOVE EACH OTHER goes reggae-y & works. DANCING IN THE STREET (1st since 1970) goes disco, jams, & is very silly. gravity-free moments in DANCING, burbling 10m SCARLET BEGONIAS (a fine place for mickey, for now) & elsewhere, but little flow. 33 minute late show HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER opens into big exploration, loses way, hints at ’73/’74 EYES ending. weir’s between-verse disco-soul grunts on HELP ON THE WAY are totally unacceptable.

6/4/76 portland, OR: 1st slowed-down FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, which is beautiful, but just not as fun & folky as earlier. debut of garcia/hunter’s magnificent MISSION IN THE RAIN, played only briefly by the dead. not there yet. hoping to find a keeper. weir repeats 6 of his 9 songs from 1st night, garcia only MIGHT AS WELL & HELP/SLIPKNOT/FRANKLIN’S, getting into legit space again. 1st COSMIC CHARLIE since ’70. no slower, just less bounce. already mellow before, ’76 STELLA BLUE now too sleepy.

6/9/76 boston music hall: 1st east coast dead show since 8/74, 1st of 4 in boston & start of month-long tour sold by mail order only. counting bust-outs, just under 1/2 of 3-hour show is new to the band’s repertoire since last time through town. sloppy starts/ends. beginning of SCARLET BEGONIAS jam is mickey’s cowbell versus donna’s wail. cowbell wins but we all lose. settle down beavis! (he doesn’t.) great 11 minute CRAZY FINGERS, richly developed & dipping into denser & darker territory before collapsing suddenly. bummer, man. much clearer soundboard mix than portland shows. great singin’ on SHIP OF FOOLS. can just hear garcia’s voice starting to fray. 1st ST. STEPHEN since 10/71. crowd freaks. the tempo is only a l’il slower but is tamer & muted. bridge now a waltz. new jam, too. EYES OF THE WORLD bucks ’76 trend of slowness & gets speedy/messy. cool nooks & jam before vocals, but losing some earlier elegance. 1st HIGH TIME since 7/70. well suited to slower dead & even donna’s voice, though definitely one too many drummers.

6/10/76 boston music hall: odd & enjoyable mix with keith godchaux’s piano near front. sweet jams with garcia on expanding SUGAREE. [sold myself on the idea that LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION is actually tasty, well-rehearsed disco-prog. just hope the jam opens up. stellar 2nd version of MISSION IN THE RAIN, underrated brooding hippie soul by garcia. besides a few drummerly nits to pick, a keeper. why couldn't they ever count off HELP ON THE WAY & start together? SLIPKNOT! opens up wide & resolves gracefully & dramatically. LET IT GROW establishing its place as reliable portal to detailed high-speed dead jazz, with new DRUMZ break & blustery weir drama. good deep space in PLAYING IN THE BAND once mickey chills out, reconstructing to great full-band jam with all contributing. PLAYING almost becomes 1st great segue of '76, falls apart, & then is just that, slinking into DANCING IN THE STREET.

6/11/76 boston music hall: big cheer after "tell everyone you meet that the candyman's in town" in CANDYMAN. jerry's a cartoon now. 1st show with cheers for meta-lyrics identified with the musicians. happens on "band beyond description" in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, too. band finds excellent quiet spot in SCARLET BEGONIAS, give or take beavis-y cowbell. lovely coos & ooos by donna late in the jam. some quick-cut segues, including seemingly planned late-set EYES OF THE WORLD/STELLA BLUE inside SUGAR MAGNOLIA/SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. EYES darts coolly & confidently, ending drama deleted, & dissolves to STELLA BLUE, tom-tom clunk creeping like kudzu.

6/12/76 boston music hall: another great MISSION IN THE RAIN vocal by garcia. quizzical & just-exactly-imperfect solos, but a stunner. LAZY LIGHTNING & SUPPLICATION is one of the dead's more underrated post-'76 platforms for fast-n-squiggly garcia jams. despite general unpredictability of '76, open-ended improv is far reduced & virtually absent from this show except in small blurps. garcia adds extra "true to me" in WHARF RAT, start of soul belter era, & a twinkling 5 minute jam. due to FM mix, hi-hats sound like casios. 1st COMES A TIME since 10/72, with big solo & delivery. one more split-up SUGAR MAGNOLIA (with U.S. BLUES) as encore.

6/14/76 beacon theatre: 1st grateful dead show in NYC proper since 3/72. fan club only tix. mini-riots ensue. can't tell what's the bass-less '76 mix & what's the music, but PLAYING IN THE BAND has lost some warmth & its old weird & easy flow. band still trying to figure out what to do with THE WHEEL, lonely-seeming as a standalone 2nd set opener. what a great song, though. an A+ weir intro after long tech break: "we're going to try to answer the musical question, 'what happens if the music ever starts?'" another nice 10 minute CRAZY FINGERS, losing some delicacy but brushing into SPANISH JAM turf. happy to discover that it's a '76 thing, too! effective full-stop "segue" before well-placed post-jam COSMIC CHARLIE, getting successive cheer ripples as crowd recognizes it. 13m SLIPKNOT! dissolves in good & bad ways. real discombobulation but also a thread-dissolving float into garcia space & new zones. garcia seems to lose steam midway through drooping FRANKLIN'S TOWER. there's always the next show.

6/15/76 beacon theatre: TENNESSEE JED isn't that much slower than earlier versions & this one has a charming slow-motion bop. band's heavier '76 groove isn't just hart. kreutzmann also switched from matched grip to overhand to better telegraph snare hits. return of old easy ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY pairing. former has beautiful spacious jam, latter folds shakily into STELLA BLUE. after being so perfect in '72-'74, plodding 6/76 versions of STELLA BLUE are especially hard to listen to, fragile tension seems MIA. just a wee bit blustery, but SAMSON & DELILAH is consistently popping, a tight platform for all to noodle around barest song-groove. following DANCING IN THE STREET, THE WHEEL makes it into 2nd set post-jam slot, though they don't quite figure out to jam into it yet. 5 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS goes in middle of SUGAR MAGNOLIA. cute idea that could work, ragged in execution. plus, no jam.

6/17/76 passaic: and off to 3 nights in scenic passaic at the other capitol theater. much video circulating. drum mics picking up charming mickey crosstalk. "the whole band's too fuckin' loud," as garcia counts off THEY LOVE EACH OTHER. weir reins in developing space jammin' in SLIPKNOT!, though not that gracefully, audibly counting off but most miss initial cue. funked up DANCING IN THE STREET always seems about to launch free, never does. smooth & maybe-too-easy segue into SAMSON & DELILAH. nice SHIP OF FOOLS (quiet donna!), though 2nd drums continue to subtly pull quieter songs' dynamics away from garcia.

6/18/76 passaic: dig the double drumming on cowboy songs like MAMA TRIED & BIG RIVER, locked grooves & no space for tom-tom thunder. another 13 minute 1st set CRAZY FINGERS (with relatively soft post-jam landing, even) but that's it for open-ended improv in this show. 1st few listens suggest this could be my keeper take of MISSION IN THE RAIN, good vocal & big performance. will revisit. uneventful EYES OF THE WORLD deletes end jam (sigh), opts for DRUMZ & 1st segue into THE WHEEL (yay), unjammed (boo).

6/19/76 passaic: sweet rolling garcia/godchaux mini-jam in TENNESSEE JED. pure "electric dixieland," as david crosby put it. 18 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND doesn't do much. nifty outro in LET IT GROW; cool keith figures, & smooth slide into DANCING IN THE STREET. this charming mickey, cont.: "hey, weir! how about some rock & roll?! hey, phil, why don't we do ST. STEPHEN! yeah, let's do that!" they don't. endless 20 minute boogie, starting with AROUND & AROUND. weir tells drummers to slow down. they aren't pleased.

6/21/76 philadelphia: excellent SCARLET BEGONIAS with nice non-ridiculous double-drummer peak & freakishly smooth landing. keeper version of CANDYMAN, garcia soulfully yo-yo'ing around the melody, mostly controlled & awesome, sometimes less so. well-placed IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES, rare garcia ballad as second set closer. one of my favorite underused dead moves. off-mic, band using shorthand before encore. phil: "JBG?" weir: "teargas?" (?) garcia: "sugar mag?" (they do JBG.)

6/22/76 philadelphia: big nifty jam in CRAZY FINGERS, spiraling up & semi-naturally back down into a fairly devastating COMES A TIME. 22 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND gets solidly & convincingly weird for 10+ minutes, thrilling dead-brand space jazz going in & out of focus. lesh/drummers trio leads almost-smoothly into 1st great use of THE WHEEL, slow build intro & swift effective jam into PLAYING reprise. another non-languid hyperspeed 12m EYES OF THE WORLD, heavy mickey, eventually settling in (sort of) for nice jerry-isms. no EYES outro, instead sliding into DANCING IN THE STREET, with its 1st gorgeous & semi-out between-verse jam.

6/23/76 philadelphia: thought it was dead, but weir's 1st YELLOW DOG JOKE since '72. like much else, doesn't quite pack its old punch. crowd now cheering for every reference to "the band" in THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, an audible shift from a general audience to a niche. a few isolated cosmic portals in ST. STEPHEN & DANCING IN THE STREET, but an earthbound evening at the tower. very early audience clapalong in NOT FADE AWAY, though heads don't sustain it & it disintegrates quickly.

6/24/76 philadelphia: mushy audience tape. cowbell loud & clear, especially on SCARLET BEGONIAS that cuts new space just before peak. fantastic build & short soaring jam from WHARF RAT, a fine reminder of how DARK STAR is sometimes only a breath away, even post-'74. and a pretty lifeless SUGAR MAGNOLIA, a reminder of how energetic the song legitimately was on most nights.

6/26/76 chicago: what a difference a nice soundboard makes. old-style phil/jerry conversations instantly clear in 9m SUGAREE. sweet '74ish SCARLET BEGONIAS filled with intricate curlicues & sunlight, edging on free space, mickey's drums pleasantly contained. PEGGY-O returns, perfectly suited for the '76 slow burn. near total crash in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. not sure i've heard one that bad? faith-rejuvenating 36m PLAYING IN THE BAND > ST. STEPHEN > THE WHEEL > PLAYING with well-developed meltdown & rolling WHEEL outro. short but cool CRAZY FINGERS improv, though steam disappears during a dynamic-free STELLA BLUE.

6/27/76 chicago: 17 shows in, band, mixes & new songs (MIGHT AS WELL, slow FRIEND OF THE DEVIL) getting tighter & more relistenable. 1st exciting & spaced-out DRUMZ segment of '76 in 17 minute LET IT GROW. big explosion back into song, almost instantly melting back to jam. satisfying oceanic swirl & smooth return in 9m SLIPKNOT. garcia takes FRANKLIN'S TOWER into quiet with long lay-outs.

6/28/76 chicago: donna now adding yeahs/woos to songs where there weren't previously yeahs/woos, on TENNESSEE JED & EYES OF THE WORLD. SCARLET BEGONIAS finds moment of pure zone-warp in the middle, resolving into beautiful glide. '74 delicacy paved over by hi-hat. good news: band finally finds a nice beginning-to-end DRUMZ-linked segue-flow for 2nd set. bad news: whole set is barely an hour. zippy 16m EYES OF THE WORLD wanders on pre-verse detours, outro has 1st '76 bass/drumz weird-out, short off-mic discussion, & then debut of blissed 2-chord HAPPINESS IS DRUMMING jam, instrumental prototype for FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, from mickey's then-new "diga" LP. garcia gets knotty in 10 minute encore NOT FADE AWAY. on audience tape, disconnected outro clapalongs, but none coalesce.

6/29/76 chicago: end of 19-show tour before return to san francisco. verdict: magic is sporadic, but far more mojo than i expected. last grateful dead MISSION IN THE RAIN, a soulful keeper. garcia kept playing it solo. best original to get dumped so quickly? why? tiny windows of jam-space opening up in CASSIDY & MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. garcia would clearly keep going, but weir brings songs back. all kinds of great slow motion pockets in ROW JIMMY & garcia even remembers most of the words. donna sounds just exquisite. satisfying full spectrum 36m PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. THE WHEEL gets deserved jam. nice drawn-out PLAYING reprise. garcia finds A+ martian loop-riff midway through NOT FADE AWAY. band builds & dramatically ties it back to song. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

7/12/76 orpheum theatre: the grateful dead’s 1st bay area show in 8.5 months, longest break since band formed. opening night of 6. long soundcheck (with video). much work on STELLA BLUE. minus audience, weir revives “form a big long line” in DANCING IN THE STREET. after a month, band is plenty crisp in places with only details changed, like donna’s BROWN EYED WOMEN vocals. i miss phil’s singin’. weir’s 1st NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES since 4/71, a song i definitely never missed, though can see how it’d be fun to play with 2 drummers. more excellent deep dives & dead jazz intimacy in SUPPLICATION. always shocking how quickly they can just drop into that zone. 10 minute 2nd set opening SUGAREE wanders, finds cool garcia nooks. weir tests out new corny blues growl in SAMSON & DELILAH & elsewhere. listened to 14m FRANKLIN’S TOWER 2x on headphones. 1st time seemed boring & sleepy; 2nd time, filled with details & mini-jams. YMMV. DRUMZ gets nicely weird & free as a prelude to THE WHEEL but the show never quite achieves space. no keepers?

7/13/76 orpheum theatre: the band must’ve read fans bitching on twitter about the lack of jamming on 7/12 cuz things escalate quickly. night 2 opens with 1st MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP since 10/74, thankfully pretty intact, though lazy river jam rolls a l’il too lazily. PEGGY-O is gorgeous & garcia does some serious singing, but mickey’s infinite marching snare subdivides it from ballad into a groove. 30 minute 1st set CRAZY FINGERS > LET IT GROW; former with unhurried cascades, latter with space DRUMZ & 2nd jam that goes even further. another odd ’76 mix, but lots of killer keith godchaux piano colors. 2nd set not as cool, though NOT FADE AWAY gets spaced again. rehearsal paid off: STELLA BLUE regains many of its dynamics & is only mildly awkward wedged btwn SUGAR MAGNOLIA & SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. encore DANCING IN THE STREET nearly hits 16 minutes, longest yet, & (while still goofy) goes out & pretty much sails away.

7/14/76 orpheum theatre: not a lot of drums in mix, but that’s cool, especially on SHIP OF FOOLS, which has nice quiet vocals up top. more good 1st set jamming in 35 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. not much swing but flows nicely to space & back. another speedy, cluttered, unsatisfactory 12 minute EYES OF THE WORLD, dissolving into a beautiful 60 seconds of solo garcia before WHARF RAT. 1st OTHER ONE of ’76, 8 minutes & 1st verse only. escapes triplets just before choppy bass bridge into MUSIC NEVER STOPPED.

7/16/76 orpheum theatre: gorgeous soundboard, courtesy of a recent “dave’s picks,” though still never enough of kreutzmann’s snare. monster 49 minute 2nd set sequence of PLAYING IN THE BAND > COSMIC CHARLIE / SPANISH JAM > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. adventures aplenty. except that dave of the “picks” has graciously excised SAMSON & DELILAH from the middle, brilliant move from a vibe perspective. thx! restless PLAYING until lesh hits not-quite-STRONGER THAN DIRT bassline & band remembers their space jazz moves. A+ CHARLIE placement. SPANISH JAM builds slowly from unusual mid-set start-from-zero space-out, as great (or better) than any earlier take.

7/17/76 orpheum theatre: killer newish “dave’s picks.” great piano mix. MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP back to form, focused & biting. bonkers 59 minute set 2 jam: COMES A TIME > OTHER ONE > EYES OF THE WORLD > OTHER ONE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, with much weirdness to spare. 16 minute COMES A TIME must be longest ever, drifting almost imperceptibly from solo to inventive improv, like falling into a dream. gnarly OTHER ONE with many corners & 10 minute old-style space-out. odd not to hear phil singing, which garcia keeps forgetting to do. big story of set is properly chill 15 minute A+ EYES OF THE WORLD that veers into odd-timed & purposeful “blues for allah”-like mini-jams. the EYES jam evolves gracefully into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, though detours nicely into a rare 2nd OTHER ONE verse before veering back. pretty sure donna isn’t onstage for set 2, leaving bobby free to do bobby, which (by the end) he does quite handily.

7/18/76 orpheum theatre: finale of 6 shows at the orpheum & last of the post-comeback small theater shows. garcia opens with another purposeful MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP. 1st LOSER since 10/74, l’il more subdued. donna takes over phil’s vocals. nice momentum-building cut from SUPPLICATION into LET IT GROW. cool post-DRUMZ jam finds new changes, dissolves, & reforms elegantly. short but deep DARK STARry jams bracket WHARF RAT, which has beautiful quiet donna vocals & some proto-TERRAPIN pomp. rest of show has crazy setlist moves & new suite combos, but not quite coherent improv magic of previous 2 nights. way fun, though. i mean, THE OTHER ONE > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > ST. STEPHEN > THE WHEEL > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

8/2/76 hartford: 1st big post-hiatus east coast gig. bit flat. only an audience tape; many ugly clap-alongs. 10 minute MIGHT AS WELL 2nd set opener turns into nifty jam (!), uptempo space-boogie that suggests lots of places but just sort of ends. 55 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD > PLAYING IN THE BAND has a few killer moments, but lacks revelation. PLAYING takes ~12 minutes to coalesce & find its weird. WHARF RAT opens to bass solo & conversational grooving, eventually turning generic. donna-hating revisionists be damned, crowd sure seems to love her PLAYING screams & AROUND & AROUND wailing.

8/4/76 jersey city: end of summer tour & last of 6 ’72-’76 shows at roosevelt stadium. 1st set filled with slow songs & long equipment breaks. tape isn’t great. only overblown NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES seems to gel. also the beginning of the era of out-of-breath garcia, notable on chorus of LOSER, & much of why post-’75 dead remains hard for me. 30 minute HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER feels clunkier than usual, but lots of great quiet slow-motion turns in SLIPKNOT! brisk & semi-functional next-beat segues between FRANKLIN’S/DANCING IN THE STREET/THE WHEEL/SAMSON & DELILAH, mini-jams in the middle. generous 2-hour second set, but the mojo seems evaporated by time of 36 minute NOT FADE AWAY > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > SHIP OF FOOLS. change in garcia’s voice & approach on display on SHIP OF FOOLS, quiet sweetness traded for quiet soul melodrama.

9/23/76 durham: fall tour opener. i chose grotty mono PA tape over terrible audience recording. tough to dig. 1st RAMBLE ON ROSE since 10/74 & 1st with mickey hart. one of the few ’71-’74 songs not to lose something with a 2nd drummer. EL PASO makes post-hiatus return, too, with nice garciaing, but band now solidly into the sloppy rock endings phase of their career. lyric crashes for garcia in CRAZY FINGERS, which unspools into nifty winding jam (sorely needing a better mix) & oddly smooth landing. confident & brilliant full-band intricacies in SLIPKNOT! lively/awake keith godchaux piano throughout, especially on FRANKLIN’S TOWER. after finally slowing back down in july, EYES OF THE WORLD returns to harsh high-speed chug, restrained until quickly-collapsed jam. 13 minute OTHER ONE with muffled space-out drops into 1st post-hiatus MORNING DEW, rusty but glorious. great keith.

9/24/76 william & mary: vivid audience tape. big energy & lots of piano. not what i expected from ’76 dead! ugly cowbell clonk early, but tight & adventurous PLAYING IN THE BAND makes fun surprise turn into SUPPLICATION & back, one time only. laser sharp HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT! dissolves into DRUMZ & builds perfectly back into song until comically overshooting reentry. majority of the 2nd set is made up of songs debuted over the previous 2 years, increasingly a rarity, & feels more alive for it. even STELLA BLUE is brisk &, more importantly, dramatic/dynamic, great decorative color by keith throughout.

9/25/76 landover: 1st BERTHA since 10/74, less swing but huge & locked in, the sound of ’77 finding itself. nice jaunty PEGGY-O. garcia’s voice sounds better than spring/summer. adding occasional vocal asides in every show of tour so far. 1st known ALL OVER NOW (on stones’ 2nd US LP), likely sung by weir in ’65/’66, now a platform for his awful blues growl. hard pass. not much by way of out jamming, but SUGAREE, SCARLET BEGONIAS, & DANCING IN THE STREET all briefly achieve total sunshine flow. last COSMIC CHARLIE ever. awkward energy, but garcia/weir/donna jean approach a sweet sleepy vocal blend. toodle-oo, COSMIC CHARLIE. NOT FADE AWAY almost spaces but falls into DRUMZ, a bass solo, & back into ST. STEPHEN by way of oversized bass tag.

9/27/76 rochester: nice soundboard mix. sloppy double drumming feels punchy & charming instead of sludgy. ever-so-slightly brisker tempo on 1st fall THEY LOVE EACH OTHER cancels faux-reggae & restores a little bit of the ’73 bounce. now that weir is playing ALL OVER NOW, he has to play it every night. feels regressive & bland. dead don’t bring much new to it. right-on bass solo preludes full drop into 60m HELP ON THE WAY > SLIPKNOT! > DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > SLIPKNOT! > FRANKLIN’S. SLIPKNOT! keeps going to wild places, a brilliant set centerpiece. such a bummer they stopped opening it up like this after this tour. THE OTHER ONE recovers some dizzying pre-’71 2-drummer swirl. lots of full-steam-ahead bass. almost breaks free, always snaps back. 18m FRANKLIN’S TOWER is fun but maybe runs out of ideas. succeeds wildly as dance music for twirling hippies, though.

9/28/76 syracuse: left turns, some real surprises, & even more ample keith godchaux piano. for 1st time, BERTHA seems driven by drummers instead of garcia’s rhythm guitar, which is now slightly more staccato. unsettling. likewise, languorous ’76 FRIEND OF THE DEVIL morphs into more of a spacious hippie reggae groove than a song, lots of weir & hart. breakneck LET IT GROW is fun overkill. big bass & hyper-intricate jam evaporate to mega-rare 1st set GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD. 2nd set bracketed by PLAYING IN THE BAND, punctuated by 2 excellent jams that start from near standstills, & excitement throughout. 28 minute PLAYING > THE WHEEL > SAMSON & DELILAH notable for patient improv & perfect segues, especially the gradual upshift into SAMSON. after clean SAMSON ending, band jumps back into 6m of PLAYING-like jam before stumbling half-gracefully into confident COMES A TIME. DRUMZ falls into a waaay too fast EYES OF THE WORLD, hiccuping/pausing before garcia leads way into miraculous & moody thematic jam. dick latvala named it ORANGE TANGO JAM for “dick’s picks 20.” only one, i think. like a mature post-”blues for allah” SPANISH JAM. speedy DANCING IN THE STREET ends before a standalone PLAYING REPRISE. weir even sings JOHNNY B. GOODE well. wtf?
9/30

9/30/76 columbus: flat soundboard & fuller/noisier audience tape transmogrified into nice sounding matrix mix. show-opening MUSIC NEVER STOPPED has more pronounced MIND LEFT BODY break than usual (3:52-5:00), highlighting how jam got repurposed. 15 minute CRAZY FINGERS with lovely corners that seem like they’re going to emerge into new changes, but don’t. last version ’til ’82. sad! 11 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS stays contained, as usual, though garcia gets into some big spaces & invents elegant denouement before reprise. fun to be had, but not much adventure in 40m ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > DRUMZ > WHARF RAT > NOT FADE AWAY > ST. STEPHEN. even played crisply, i’m just not into slowed-down ST. STEPHEN, though garcia pushes EYES-like prettiness en route to NOT FADE AWAY. last MORNING DEW encore. whispering final solo finds sublime jerry/keith dialogue. existential respite today/any day.

10/1/76 indianpolis: warm soundboard mix. not into the new clipped rhythmic feel on BERTHA opener, but groovy garcia vocal ad-libs. chattering cowbell prevents 11 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS from gliding into full chillness. some sweet off-mic vocalizations by donna jean. another epic SLIPKNOT! with aggressive big-eared weaving. eventually keith locks into quiet melancholic changes while garcia sketches. 1st split-open DANCING IN THE STREET goes into DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > SHIP OF FOOLS before a full stop & standalone DANCING reprise. THE WHEEL lands in more tangled garcia/lesh/godchaux conversations before dissolving perfectly into SHIP OF FOOLS.

10/2/76 cincinnati: only dead show at riverfront arena, site of ’79 Who stampede. drab audience tape leaves plenty to imagination. BROWN EYED WOMEN kept the same non-jammy form from ’71-’95, but garcia’s solo restating the melody getting more abstract post-hiatus. not much freshness, even in 13 minute LET IT GROW, though 2nd set opening MUSIC NEVER STOPPED has another cool MIND LEFT BODY break. 2nd set jam sequence is 39m DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > THE OTHER ONE > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. weak bass drop into 10m THE OTHER ONE, but crowd audibly perks up at energy. donna now singing on chorus. not much happening in jam. sleepy STELLA BLUE now regularly over 10m, gorgeous piano & brief but surprising outro jam into OTHER ONE reprise. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

10/3/76 detroit: last night of 9-show eastern swing. bright soundboard with punchy bass via “30 trips” box. 1st set bounces right along, lots of ’71-’72 songs. very present lesh. drummers may’ve claimed BERTHA, but garcia still owns SUGAREE. rolling groove on SCARLET BEGONIAS swells inventively. impeccable MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, continuing to peak after MIND LEFT BODY break. 67 minute 7-song segue in 2nd set has multiple surprises but begins with 10m PLAYING IN THE BAND that dissolves to DRUMZ without doing much. left turns begin in THE WHEEL, which has 5m of high-speed excitement before 1st GOOD LOVIN’ since 10/74, only 2nd since pigpen era. weir’s GOOD LOVIN’ is my definition of a boring twirl-ready oldie, but here veers into PLAYING-like mode, driven by godchaux’s piano. graceful landing in beautifully sung COMES A TIME. 90 second spiraling guitar outro makes an easy bridge into DANCING IN THE STREET.  DANCING, too, drops into uncharacteristic dense jam with busy piano clouds, eventually a 14m NOT FADE AWAY that feels like a breather. weir segues into CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER intro, which gets cheers but no musical traction, just the ending to DANCING.

10/9/76 oakland coliseum stadium: 1st of 2 shows with the who, the dead opening on saturday, starting at 11am. SCARLET BEGONIAS is all afternoon sunshine, godchaux on rhodes, cowbell mixed pleasantly low, garcia finding new jam grottos. pleasant 1st set. magnificent 11 minute SUGAREE closer builds to ecstatic crest & slow descent into sweet quiet valley before final chorus. not always into ST. STEPHEN/NOT FADE AWAY/ST. STEPHEN, but band achieves a deep & creative choogle midway through & hits big reprise. crisp no count-off HELP ON THE WAY in THE ELEVEN’s former spot, garcia’s solo finding fresh & dramatic loopholes & pathways. SLIPKNOT packs in 5m of riveting improv action (& cool drop-down) before DRUMZ/SAMSON & DELILAH & long purposeful SLIPKNOT reprise. FRANKLIN’S TOWER hits escher-like flow, somehow always rising back into itself. 2 songs that follow seem unnecessary.

10/10/76 oakland coliseum stadium: 2nd day on the green with the who. stage set involves a phone booth? over 2 gigs, dead only repeat chuck berry’s PROMISED LAND. pete townshend supposedly shocked; who’s been playing same set for a year. 1st set capped by 15m DANCING IN THE STREET, which garcia pushes into exciting mini-jams, smoothly into WHARF RAT & back to DANCING. 52 minute sequence in 2nd set is almost paint-by-numbers, PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > PLAYING. groovy messy space-jazz textures on PLAYING, but feels reined-in by 2nd drums. 10 minute WHEEL bends into exhilarating exchanges. STELLA BLUE impressively quiet for a stadium, but getting stiffer. still unclear why mickey hart couldn’t just sit out occasionally? set’s most thrilling & coherent improv comes in 3 minutes of post-STELLA BLUE confusion before gelling into PLAYING ending.

10/14/76 shrine auditorium: 1st LA show since 7/74 & 1st at shrine since ’68. 1st set is murky audience tape. triumphant SCARLET BEGONIAS. weir & drummers peak but jam keeps going. garcia & lesh blow through & find gorgeous minute-wide vista. the MIND LEFT BODY jam has left the MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. when crisp soundboard kicks in, MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP still feels a l’il sluggish, ditto SHIP OF FOOLS, though donna nails outro part. big jam is 30 minute DANCING IN THE STREET into WHARF RAT & back, 2nd in 2 shows. more purposeful. garcia unties knots under bass chords. jam peels back to kreutzmann & garcia, who slow down together & land perfectly in WHARF RAT before huge reprise.

10/15/76 shrine auditorium: last touring show of ’76 comeback. pleasant 1st set, 2nd filled with nice surprises. vibey garcia tunes with fine singin’ & full-band punctuation, especially on dramatic LOSER & long, lazy SUGAREE that unfolds over 10 minutes. rare EYES OF THE WORLD 2nd set opener immediately jumps into 3 minute garcia/phil jam, underscoring how rare that mode has become. [great EYES all 'round, a click uptempo, spidery dialogues & short rich outro that weir upshifts smoothly into MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. 1st HE'S GONE since 10/74 (& mickey's return) does a gospel sway into DRUMZ & then great 14m OTHER ONE filled with bliss tangents. soulful, dynamic COMES A TIME in ballad slot. ultra-lyrical & expressive garcia solo blooms unexpectedly into bright FRANKLIN'S TOWER. well-earned SUGAR MAGNOLIA (with tiny coda jam) ends with shrieks that i thought were donna 'til she started singing.

12/31/76 cow palace: 1st new year's since '72, a co-headline with santana, & 1st of 16 consecutive NYE gigs. soundcheck reported to be RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH (covered by keith & donna with garcia on 1975 LP), which woulda been something. questing 23 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND fights free, finds ample room to get lost & (i think) garcia's 1st use of delay & mu-tron pedals. bill graham leads a very bill graham midnight countdown, impossible to count with. SUGAR MAGNOLIA to ring in '77, palpable big energy. speedy EYES OF THE WORLD sails into beautiful interlocking jam by garcia/weir/lesh/keith before clearing into starlight of WHARF RAT. GOOD LOVIN' sprouts 2 short bright jams like it's still the pig era, 2nd turning into SAMSON & DELILAH (played at 37 of 41 '76 shows). garcia & co. get down to incredible drumless quiet during SLIPKNOT. phil tries to start STRONGER THAN DIRT during DRUMZ, but no bites. for encore, 1st UNCLE JOHN'S BAND & BID YOU GOODNIGHT since 10/74. 1st UJB without phil vocals. donna sounds nice. hefty outro. garcia fully committed on great GOODNIGHT, almost possessed, while keith & drums comp along.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

#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. Many shows streamable via archive.org, though ’66 is kinda messy. Consult LIA’s post before doing any heavy listening.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

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: 15 or so 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. a capella pigpen/drum duet. bob weir: “some day ron will take acid.” pig tells weir to get something going, but weir’s face seems to be melting too hard. nonetheless, billy/pigpen only version of NEW ORLEANS, with weir joining on vocals, someone else honking harmonica, the only “dead” version until 1970. phil joins but also seems to be melting. 7 minutes worth of the sole dead take of TWIST & SHOUT, sung by pig, not the beatles arrangement, with (presumably) tripping guest harmonica player. if garcia’s face is melting, it’s not impeding his shredding. then the song falls apart. no applause, just residual acid test noise. phil: “our drummer flashed, we’ll be back later.” can hear the tape being played back elsewhere in the room.

2/66 pink house: earliest tape of garcia doing HI-HEELED SNEAKERS, played occasionally with the dead & turning up in garcia/saunders setlists ’72-’74. more work on VIOLA LEE BLUES. weir gets yelled at for starting it too fast, actually the tempo they’d end up playing it at. plus, it speeds up. getting closer to the multi-jam structure, with some nifty dancing garcia guitar parts. “popssssicle break” someone announces. end tape.

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“?

2 or 3/xx/66 pink house rehearsal (maybe): a few high fidelity slices via the “rare cuts & oddities” CD (& a few others on the hell’s honkies’ comp “san franciscan nights”). only early dead version of rufus thomas’s WALKING THE DOG, sung by weir, showing up again in 1970, good bee-sting garcia leads. likewise, only early dead version of chuck berry’s PROMISED LAND with garcia on vocals, becoming a staples with weir singing in ’71. adore this alternative universe. pig’s 1st real original, YOU SEE A BROKEN HEART, fun response vocals by jerry. 1st taped version of BIG BOSS MAN, weir’s rhythm guitar sounding present & cool & vaguely like a normal human guitarist. BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE still has the jerry guitar intro, but the earliest backing vocals have morphed into the more familiar arrangement. earliest taped dylan cover, IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE, & garcia’s version of ONE KIND FAVOR.

2 or 3/xx/66 pink house: moar “rare cuts & oddities.” an early version of NOT FADE AWAY, a lot closer to the stones version during the verses (with teenage weir clearly doing his best jagger) & a rolling CAUTION-like groove elsewhere, kinda awkward & falling apart, with alternate lyrics about how “i’m gonna be your candyman” that were maybe written by weir (?), not turning up again on a dead tape until 1969.

2 or 3/66 unknown venue: from “rare cuts & oddities,” the only early dead version of BIG RAILROAD BLUES, pig doubling garcia’s lead vocal on harmonica, done with a jug band bounce that would disappear when revived in ’70. doesn’t totally work, but i’m still charmed by pig singing fats domino’s SICK & TIRED. the only taped version of the very early stones’ original EMPTY HEART, sung by pig & doubled by jerry in places, another example of the forgotten early jerry/pig tandem, cool jagged garcia rhythms under 1st harmonica solo, playing co-lead under 2nd.

2 or 3/66 pink house: a 5 minute early example of the earliest SPACE jam, mostly just garcia & weir. doesn’t sound too different from the 2-guitar SPACE jams of the ‘70s/‘80s/‘90s. then a tape jump into the beginning of some blues song they’re rehearsing with vocal parts, but which i can’t identify.

2/23/66 pink house: 12 minutes of a blues jam that winds into something that might be LA BAMBA but is also sort of GOOD LOVIN’ (a segue they would do ~20 years later), the pulling back into a half-speed jam on IT’S A SIN. the sound of a band learning to play together.

3/2/66 pink house (presumably): from “rare cuts & oddities,” the tremolo-heavy electrified folk tune BETTY & DUPREE, a candidate with DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY for the 1st jerry ballad & the traditional origin point for DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES in ’69. on an alternate timeline, garcia revived this in the late ‘70s & figured out how to make it graceful. earliest STEALIN’, presumably played by the jug band, too.

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 & 1st live versions of 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.

4/66 “studio demo”: via “rare cuts & oddities,” the earliest versions of STANDING ON THE CORNER & CREAM PUFF WAR (with alternate chorus, slightly slower tempo, & a few more arrangement tricks). neither shows up on live recordings until the band’s return to san francisco in may. manic GOOD LOVIN’ has pig on lead (jerry sings on the only ’66 live version) & super-charged almost beach boys-like gang vocals.

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, kretuzmann & 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: 2nd & final 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) & earliest live version of garcia’s BABY BLUE, 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 (properly mark spoelstra’s JUST A HAND TO HOLD) & 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 live version of BIG BOSS MAN, slinky & hep, pig fave thru ’72. 1st of 2 known versions of 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. off-mic intra-squad reminders to watch tempos before BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, YOU DON”T HAVE TO ASK, & others. only known take of leadbelly’s IN THE PINES, sung by garcia, & not wholly successful. more like a drinking song than a murder ballad. 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, finding it on VIOLA LEE BLUES. late set begins with a cute bill graham intro & for 1st time, short-lived full band pre-intro to VIOLA LEE. gang vocals sound big. 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: nice big sound. another good miniature jam on CREAM PUFF WAR that doesn’t break through, exactly, but the band (& billy, really) starting to swing/flow during solos. nice reverb-y atmosphere during slinky 9-minute KING BEE. last KEEP ROLLING BY. unlike the version earlier in the month, this one is nearly 8 minutes, feels like it should have stax horns, & has a misterioso maybe-kinda-modal jam in 1st half before pig-style rave-up. definitely some alternate universe dead, a pigpen tune with a psych jam. adios!

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.

late ’66 rehearsal: on “rare cuts & oddities” collection. love weir’s early version of SILVER THREADS & GOLDEN NEEDLES, brought back in ’69.

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 live version of 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] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

#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] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

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.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

#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] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

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] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

#deadfreaksunite 1973


#deadfreaksunite 1973
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] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

2/9/73 stanford: 1st gig in band’s actual hometown of palo alto since ’66, testing new PA & 7 new songs, most ever debuted at once. PA blowout on 1st note sadly not included. garcia almost immediately debuts ROW JIMMY, more subtly boisterous than later incarnations. weir’s using a nice new organ-y compression, notably on 1st LOOKS LIKE RAIN since 7/72, now unbearable without pedal steel & phil harmony. new boogie-outs LOOSE LUCY (with alternate lyrics) & WAVE THAT FLAG (the proto-U.S. BLUES) are the 1st 2 garcia songs that i find mostly disposable. 1st HERE COMES SUNSHINE near end of 1st set, 4-part vocals ragged & effective, bright changes perfect for glorious rainbow noodling. garcia’s 3 2nd set firsties begin with sweet emphatic groove of THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, song #1 in the deadhead wedding band fakebook. 1st EYES OF THE WORLD, instantly a major new tune, 19m debut dances between ambling & rambling, loses steam three times, picks up, misses the 7/8 ending & melts into 1st heartbreaking CHINA DOLL, the roughness of the rest of the show highlighting garcia’s buddha-croon.

2/15/73 madison: debut of loretta lynn’s YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH, donna’s 1st solo lead vocal, nice flash of ’72-style C&W. gentle cymbal-heavy DARK STAR, lots of garcia volume-knob violin twirls, pre-verse drift, & a lovely but clunky bass solo segue into 25m EYES OF THE WORLD > CHINA DOLL, phil sketches the 7/8 transition. the 1st big new piece for 2nd set suite-spot since ’67, really.

2/17/73 st. paul: drowzzzzy 20m early set HE’S GONE / LOOKS LIKE RAIN with, um, scatting by multiple suspects during former’s outro. punchy ROW JIMMY would fit on “Europe ’72.” terrifying ululation/flutter by donna throughout YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH. almost jamless 2nd set, save a short, buoyant HERE COMES SUNSHINE with a perfect, liquid segue into CHINA > RIDER.

2/19/73 chicago: amazing 2nd set. magical, soft-snared mix. 70m 5-song segue, starting with HE’S GONE. thankfully only phil scats. spiral splice from OTHER ONE into 1st essential EYES OF THE WORLD, lesh & weir darting lazily with garcia, 7/8 section fully formed.

2/21/73 champaign-urbana: garcia playing new tunes in his 1st slot at nearly every show. gang harmonies sound nice on ROW JIMMY. phil’s LOOKS LIKE RAIN harmonies return for final chorus. still figuring out the segue into EYES OF THE WORLD, 2 false stabs out of TRUCKIN’ (including a breakneck bass solo) before they achieve crossfade. the EYES gearwork loosens into a blissful open space, recombining a bit clumsily into a magnificent STELLA BLUE.

2/22/73 champaign: DARK STAR with flexatone(?!) & purposeful dissolve into another confident & blazing EYES OF THE WORLD. gigantic peak.

2/24/73 iowa city: 45m worth of bits/bobs. reluctantly starting to dig the brute force BOX OF RAIN vocals. consonant & opaque PLAYING IN THE BAND. tantalizing 5m post-TRUCKIN’ bass solo fragment verging on FEELIN’ GROOVY/BEAUTIFUL JAM (labeled as NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE?)

2/26/73 lincoln: 25m brightly traced DARK STAR, phil playing at SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD, meanders into EYES OF THE WORLD via finally-graceful bass segue. MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP is jaunty & surprising in the now-gentrified post-suite jerry ballad slot, billy on top the segue all the way.

2/28/73 salt lake city: great dick’s picks mix. can really hear keith/weir interaction, especially nice on SUGAREE. 2nd verse & end tag shaved off THE OTHER ONE for ’73, collapsing instead into EYES OF THE WORLD, with alternate lyric about a “lazy country home.” sequence of languid EYES dissolves ends in 1st ’73 MORNING DEW. 1st BID YOU GOODNIGHT since 8/71 to close out 1st tour-leg.

[ during the dead's 14 days off between 2/28 & 3/15/73, garcia played 12 times: 3 shows with merl saunders, the 1st 8 old & in the way gigs, & pigpen's wake. not going to make a habit of tweeting garcia solo joints, i promise, but maaaaybe occasionally...

3/7/73 garcia/saunders at keystone berkeley: w/ ex-frumious bandersnatch/founding journey guitarist george tickner, who is oddly great, comping cool/responsive stuff under garcia & holding his own during great space-spirals out of MERL'S TUNE. subtle segue into GEORGIA ON MY MIND. garcia sounds genuinely & genially bummed to have to stop when the bar flips on the house lights. ]

3/15/73 uniondale: 1st gig since pig’s death, 1st at nassau coliseum, band wearing nudie suits, ala 12/72. phil’s 33rd birthday. weir’s outro freak-outs ramping up show by show; a slippery/hilarious slope. hard to reconcile the utter long island chaos of the audience tape with the quiet swing evidenced when source switches to A+ soundboard. spacious layouts in 24m PLAYING IN THE BAND jam. jerry ballads bookend EYES OF THE WORLD suite with wild OTHER ONE. 3+ hours, the new normal.

3/16/73 uniondale: nice jammy 1st set with BIRD SONG / PLAYING IN THE BAND combo to close. 1st local cheer for “just like New York City” in RAMBLE ON ROSE. jerry: “all you people throwing joints on the stage, why don’t you light ‘em up & pass ‘em around?” phil: “we’re ALREADY high, thanks.” return of the PROMISED LAND/BERTHA/GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD next-beat segue suite from 9/72, some decent cowboy boogie, & then… DARK STAR, with odd intro harmonies establishing a sustained dreaminess, moody tangents, & an atonal high-step into TRUCKIN’ > MORNING DEW.

3/19/73 uniondale: inaudible drums, indoor fireworks, & off-time crowd clapping on audience-tape portion make everything woozy. 1st HE’S GONE since pigpen’s death, crowd inventing a new meaning with small successive cheers during outro. last time in the 1st set. 1st TAKE A STEP BACK, lesh/weir-tandem dead-style crowd control. funnier than weir’s YELLOW DOG JOKE. PSA from garcia: “there are some krishna consciousness people out there passing out good things to eat. it’s okay to eat it.” 1st THE RACE IS ON since 5/70, excepting weir’s sit-ins with the new riders. half-smooth half-segues from HALF-STEP > STELLA BLUE > JACK STRAW. again, band doesn’t jam into EYES OF THE WORLD, opting for a clean next-beat start after THE OTHER ONE & easily hitting the thoughtful, lazy gait. at all 3 nassau gigs, 1st big drug busts by undercovers, apparently audible on some tapes. band won’t return til ’79.

3/21/73 utica: 1st properly rehearsed & quite lurvely WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE serves as an intro to DARK STAR. unconvincing space-out but awesomely zapped crossfade into EYES OF THE WORLD, 7/8 outro in full blossom. 1st ’73 WHARF RAT, rare mangled lyrics, nice jam.

3/22/73 utica: lesh & garcia charmingly bait the fire marshal. jerry, giggling: “yeah, try to keep your fires in the fire aisle.” big CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. terrific OTHER ONE with cartoonish stomp intro, busted gearwork, lyrical jerry/phil duet, return of the flexatone. plum excellent archetypal ’73, gorgeous soundboard, with band in absolutely zero rush. solid 106m of jam songs/suites.

3/24/73 philadelphia: A+ 30m TRUCKIN’ that gets lost en route to DARK STAR. breathless uptempo dazzle & 1st SPANISH JAM since 2/70. 4m DARK STAR proper is shortest ever & melts into SING ME BACK HOME, which i thought was retired. happy to be wrong.

3/26/73 baltimore: wolfman jack introduces the band before the 2nd set, which appropriately opens with the WJ-referencing RAMBLE ON ROSE. a poised post-TRUCKIN’ unwind into a warm WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE that picks up steam, sparkles almost reluctantly, & dissipates into WHARF RAT. then, another long jam (EYES OF THE WORLD) into the set’s 3rd jerry ballad (MORNING DEW) to go with ’73′s 1st CANDYMAN. nearly 4 hours of music.
3/28

3/28/73 springfield, MA: phil plugs upcoming “interstate smoke-in” on the steps of hartford capitol building on 4/19. “bring your own.” STELLA BLUE bridge lyric finally changes from “can’t keep from cryin’” to “gonna make ‘em shine.” 63m WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE > DARK STAR > EYES OF THE WORLD > PLAYING IN THE BAND dream sequence also contains anxious & unfocused night terrors.

3/30/73 rochester: crackling CUMBERLAND BLUES. i want to know why somebody (weir?) clearly says “BEEP!” at the 1:10 mark of I KNOW YOU RIDER. amicable drop from EYES OF THE WORLD into NOT FADE AWAY, a ’73 rarity, but it feels out of place in the post-EYES gloaming.

3/31/73 buffalo: predictable apeshitness at the right moment in the 1st buffalo TRUCKIN’. PROMISED LAND/BERTHA/GREATEST STORY choppy as ever. THE OTHER ONE contains a breakneck SPANISH JAM & a post-meltdown FEELIN’ GROOVY into the only CHINA CAT-less I KNOW YOU RIDER between ’70 & ’85.

4/2/73 boston garden: fried ‘n’ frayed tour closer. atrocious vocals. band sounds off, too. still, typically devastating PLAYING IN THE BAND. the only fully jammed HERE COMES SUNSHINE: rich post-outro weaving loses thread quickly & reverts to insect-space & then ME & BOBBY McGEE. last WEATHER REPORT SUITE-less PRELUDE to tired EYES. SUGAR MAGNOLIA freakout nearing peak weir. BID YOU GOODNIGHT now features donna. no thx.

5/13/73 des moines: 3-set/4-hour (plus breaks) lazy marathon. 1st jam (besides CHINA > RIDER) doesn’t come ’til end of set 2. perhaps due to tape degeneration, the 28m PLAYING IN THE BAND is a pleasant unceasing rain that never quite breaks into a storm. beautiful stasis. pre & post-verse, the band glides adroitly out of THE OTHER ONE triplets into consonant & constantly renewing churn.

5/20/73 santa barbara: the spring of 3-set stadium gigs continues. garcia’s voice is thrashed. sounds kind of cool, albeit painful. jerry’s renewed interest in banjo via old & in the way is obvious in crystalline, articulated runs in BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE. the nuanced, piston-like PLAYING IN THE BAND jam & spare post-verse OTHER ONE ruminating are both hard to imagine in front of 17K people.

5/26/73 kezar stadium: 1st show in the haight since 3/68. A+ bettyboard with gorgeous stereo separation & a high circulation staple. still a good starter tape. everything glows with spring sunshine. FEELIN’ GROOVY JAM now firmly built into CHINA > RIDER. final run of the very ’73 HE’S GONE/TRUCKIN’/OTHER ONE/EYES OF THE WORLD/CHINA DOLL sequence with deep quiet & a thrilling EYES peak.

6/9/73 RFK stadium: gang harmonies impressive on LOOSE LUCY, even donna, voices blending indistinguishably. BIG RIVER = primo boogie. garcia cycles through MORNING DEW & HERE COMES SUNSHINE licks during a discombobulated post-TRUCKIN’ dissolve. eventually, a nice count-off segue into PLAYING IN THE BAND. after 2 sets & 3.5 hours (following 2 openers), jerry announces that the dead are done & it’s time for the allmans.

6/10/73 RFK stadium: a stone summer classic with endless highlights. effortless 1st set glides to a weaving BIRD SONG & cymbaly PLAYING IN THE BAND. set 2 opens with EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE (featuring an accidental(?) new melody) & rarely lets up, though AROUND & AROUND is weir at his dinkiest. a satisfying 26m DARK STAR filled with high-speed pre-verse maneuvers & a thorough bass meltdown into a WHARF RAT where kreutzmann lays out entirely during the bridge, wonderfully quiet music in a big, big stadium. a 3rd set superjam with dickey betts, butch trucks, & allegedly merl saunders, totally inaudible. mega hippie bullshit, but also great. lurvely GD debut of TRAIN TO CRY & then moldies: 1 elvis, 1 buddy holly, 2 chuck berry. likely the only decent grateful dead version of JOHNNY B. GOODE cuz the betts/garcia & kreutzmann/trucks combos are totally sweet. a delightful melding of the dead & allmans vibes.

6/22/73 vancouver: opener of 1st proper tour since march. 4 hours with a solid half devoted to jam songs & suites. my kinda dead. keith’s rhodes back in action with chiming, unexpected peaks in BIRD SONG finale. 1st tour with both rhodes & grand piano? 1st BLACK PETER since 10/72. l’il shaky with nobody’s strongest vocals, but band’s instinctual dynamics shine. lots of nice space. (sidenote: weir’s standard HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ transition is one of the few places where a count-off & segue mark can co-exist.) 5m semi-farty bass solo & near-ambient drumless jam as prelude to THE OTHER ONE with shattering arthropodal zap sesh.

6/24/73 portland: phil, maybe half-snickering post-THEY LOVE EACH OTHER: “and now we’re going to put you folks into a MELLOW mood.” cue LOOKS LIKE RAIN. miasmic DARK STAR ’til phil hits on bass theme. quickly, jerry counterpoints, sketching pre-verse cloud-shapes with weir.

6/26/73 seattle: until this project, i’d thought of ROW JIMMY as the lethargic, poor brah’s version of the SUGAREE slow roll. but, man, there are just endless worlds within that perfect, ‘luded-out stillness. often pretty good harmonies, too.

6/29/73 universal amphitheater: noncommittal OTHER ONE, garcia oddly uninspired ’til short, radiant detonation into MORNING DEW.

6/30/73 universal amphitheater: after a small onstage electrical fire, garcia: “don’t panic, folks, this is the movies, remember?” shitty vocals everywhere. buttery combo of keith’s rhodes & garcia’s attackless wah tone on BIRD SONG & PLAYING IN THE BAND. wish keith used the rhodes more. lots of piano in ultra-patient (but by no means mellow) EYES OF THE WORLD end jam with sudden, decisive drop into STELLA BLUE.

7/1/73 universal amphitheater: warm front-of-board audience tape that trades ugly whooping & off-time clapping on quiet songs for totally fat ’60s garcia guitar tone on a way-out OTHER ONE that almost veers into EYES end jam. A+ zonked melt into WHARF RAT & effortless crossfade into BOBBY McGEE. best early ’70s audience tape i’ve heard, but gentlemen still prefer boards.

7/27/73 watkins glen: 2-set 90m “soundcheck” in front of 250K people. lesh: “this whole thing is a fraud, we’re really clever androids.” 16m BIRD SONG (longest ever?) with semi-free breakdown & one of the few non-obnoxious pinched harmonics solos in musical history. casual & legendary 20m DARK STARish standalone improv with multiple themes, including a proto-FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN jam.

7/28/73 watkins glen: the dead had a rep for botching big shows. at 600,000, WG was the biggest ever. not the greatest, but way solid. last BOX OF RAIN ’til ’86. i’d finally learned to love the barked harmonies. especially going to miss garcia’s faux-steel filigrees. 24m PLAYING IN THE BAND with fantastic freak flights by jerry & gang-of-one drumming by kreutzmann, dropping onto martian plateau near end. unidentified organ player on AROUND & AROUND. a bit bouncy, more garth hudson than gregg allman. either way, why only on one song?! lots of jams in 2nd set, but no long space-outs, defined by 2 decent weir half-segues: TRUCKIN’ > EL PASO, EYES OF THE WORLD > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. recording (especially the guitars) gets sadly muddy for the set with the allmans. super-blissed 24m MOUNTAIN JAM & WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN coda.

7/31/73 jersey city: back at roosevelt stadium. surviving tape by @RelixMag co-founder jerry moore. recording is great. killer snare. another extraordinary PLAYING IN THE BAND, 1st jam is unusually rhodes-driven. kreutzmann in full free-dance mode. plus, he got a glockenspiel? 2nd set is boogie all the way down, minus 2m of smooth TRUCKIN’ fusion & when BLACK PETER achieves a nice, sad soar.

8/1/73 jersey city: jerry’s 31st birthday. perfect 24m DARK STAR. sparkling lunar rain as prelude to spacedust curlicues & thumb piano. the rest of jam is great. even EL PASO cooks. huge MORNING DEW with garcia soloing in joyous, apocalyptic paragraphs.

9/7/73 nassau coliseum: A+ tour opener. 6 righteous jams, weir mixed warmly enough to justify his “mccoy tyner’s left hand” claims. guy yells incessantly for ME & MY UNCLE(!?). finally, irritated dude replies “YOU & YOUR SISTER!”, predating chris bell by 5 years. rare show with keith on occasional B3, only audible on audience tape. (thru stage amp only?) well used on LOSER, TRUCKIN’ & thrilling 1st LET IT GROW, minus preludes, giddy with high-speed aero-flips as band explores new spaces, landing at STELLA BLUE.

9/8/73 nassau coliseum: debut of full WEATHER REPORT SUITE with perfect autumnal PRELUDE & surprise EYES OF THE WORLD > CHINA DOLL to close 1st set. 1st LET ME SING YOUR BLUES AWAY, sole keith-sung dead tune. Europe ’72 bounce can’t redeem hunter’s litest lyrics & keith’s non-voice. neato co-lead guitar by weir on spiraling TRUCKIN’. more ghosts of cool organ parts via keith’s undermixed B3.

9/11/73 william & mary: dang, @mountain_goats, you’re right, this IS an exquisite LOOKS LIKE RAIN. intricate quiet garcia detailing.  never thought i’d say this, but starting to dig these spare, 1-drummer versions. still can’t take the street cats & the freak out. horns join for 2 songs & it’s suck city, getting extra ham-handed/honky/unnecessary atop the lattice-like LET IT GROW jam. 1st fall DARK STAR. busy & melodious without really going anywhere. more weir leads & lovely spider skitters.

9/12/73 william & mary: allegedly, the band had such a good time the previous night that they came back & played for free. the BIRD SONG middle improv opens into a soaring cathedral space, keith’s electric piano undermixed but twinkling like a celeste. big energy fun, especially the high-velocity garcia/lesh weaves during LET IT GROW & a proto-SLIPKNOT EYES jam.

9/15/73 providence: another glorious BIRD SONG with typical quizzical garcia lyricism & atypical assertive electric piano. last BIRD SONG ’til the ’80s. why?!? ugh. satisfying 2nd set with 2 30m suites. horns stay for all of it & sound far more integrated, albeit a big sunshiny mess on TRUCKIN’. WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE gets tasty LOL-flute. LET IT GROW gets squonk ululations & a nice solo garcia bridge into STELLA BLUE.

9/17/73 syracuse: with horns more or less in line, a confident & peppy 55m TRUCKIN’ > EYES OF THE WORLD > WEATHER REPORT SUITE > STELLA BLUE. keith’s B3 seems to be gone, but is it possible the he’s playing an ondes martenot on WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE & LOOKS LIKE RAIN?!

9/20/73 philadelphia: 1st flat show of tour. ondes martenot is gone already. strident EYES OF THE WORLD outro. schmaltzy SUGAR MAGNOLIA with horns.

9/21/73 philadelphia: 1st OTHER ONE since 7/1 unspools from wind-up toy spins into 1st MIND LEFT BODY in a year. same venue, too. final LET ME SING YOUR BLUES AWAY, abandoned after 6 performances. cool with me.

9/24/73 pittsburgh: an off night at the civic arena. band crashes GREATEST STORY three times (with a LOONEY TUNES interlude) before starting. garcia sings 1st NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE since ’66 after teasing it in post-TRUCKIN’ blooze noodles for months. bleh.

9/26/73 buffalo: last of 8 gigs with horns (phew), final SING ME BACK HOME (laaame), dense jazz freefloats in LET IT GROW (!)

10/19/73 oklahoma city: DARK STAR is notably slower than summer versions. the band almost doesn’t know what to do with all the space & out comes the most developed & dramatic MIND LEFT BODY JAM yet, escher-like chromatic knots, simultaneously descending & ascending. thoroughly satisfying EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE encore that weir feels compelled to play JOHNNY B. GOODE after.

10/21/73 omaha: weir announces the A’s world series victory over the mets (“another baseball year endeth”) & garcia responds w/ LOSER. 1st BLACK THROATED WIND since 2/9. PLAYING IN THE BAND > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > BIG RIVER > PLAYING IN THE BAND with planned-sounding hard-splice segues. high-speed DMT drop into deep space PLAYING reprise. low-key HE’S GONE, garcia’s solo finding a sad sweet place, to kick off an hour of unflashy & effective song-suiting.

10/23/73 bloomington, MN: keith plays venue’s wurlitzer, including soundcheck noodling on 1st WANG DANG DOODLE, jerry singing off-mic. a short & not particularly compelling show. keith adds some nice wurlitzer on a lazy TRUCKIN’ & oddly upfront piano on LET IT GROW. CASEY JONES aborted due to fight. kreutzmann allegedly tackles security guard while phil freaks (“ALRIGHT ASSHOLE!!”)

10/25/73 madison: warm, light-drenched HERE COMES SUNSHINE. weir keeps tinkering with lyrics of already-recorded BLACK THROATED WIND. sleepy gossamer dialogues in 23m DARK STAR, articulated MIND LEFT BODY, ondes martenot blurps, an hour of otherness.

10/27/73 indianpolis: efficient PLAYING IN THE BAND > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > BIG RIVER > PLAYING IN THE BAND. less thrilling than previous take, but great 1st segue.

10/29/73 st. louis: 1st COLD RAIN & SNOW since 2/28, 2nd of only 3 ’73 versions. super-pro next-beat build from BERTHA into GREATEST STORY. TRUCKIN’ downshifts into low flying jazz; OTHER ONE stumbles & ambles to similar happy place of quiet chord tracings. weir finally articulates the alternate BLACK THROATED WIND lyric: “but i can’t deny the time that’s gone by / full of babies and bottles and mountains of debt.”

10/30/73 st. louis: DARK STAR jam animated by weir’s chatty staccato patterns & an almost standalone MIND LEFT BODY before the verse. despite a gripping EYES OF THE WORLD, band is archetypally mellow, lulling & lolling. a fine line between warm comfort & sleep.

11/1/73 evanston: superb drip from rare MORNING DEW 2nd set opener into torrential 1st PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND.

11/9/73 winterland: 1st TO LAY ME DOWN since 9/70. off-key, plodding, new donna vocal part. still, hushed C&W swing is breathtaking. no big jam, but locked-in idea-filled LET IT GROW outro is A+ prelude to EYES OF THE WORLD’s microscopic rhythmic conversations.

11/10/73 winterland: PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > MORNING DEW > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND is more party trick than improv but the sleight of hand is riveting. excellence carries through standalone STELLA BLUE & properly choogled TRUCKIN’. WHARF RAT is kind of a struggle, though.

11/11/73 winterland: DARK STAR does its thing ’til post-verse space-out when kreutzmann drops into a beat & shit gets really real. major key drama, ricochet crosstalk, dissolution, & double-time MIND LEFT BODY as an almost-perfect bridge into EYES OF THE WORLD.

11/14/73 san diego: one of the all-time great 2nd sets. TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > BIG RIVER > THE OTHER ONE > EYES OF THE WORLD > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. wonderful drumless zone in 1st OTHER ONE. EYES omits 7/8 break for last OTHER ONE verse & a jammy, dreamy WHARF RAT.

11/17/73 UCLA: nearly flawless PLAYING IN THE BAND >UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > MORNING DEW > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND. swarming jams, lush valleys, masterful segues. a packed 14m EYES OF THE WORLD. everyone totally together for precise, successive explosions in 7/8 outro. no exit strategy, though.

11/20/73 denver: surprise turn from MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP into 1st DIRE WOLF since 10/72. smooth segue, sluggish song. much of set feels likewise. airy circular jams as OTHER ONE winds into MIND LEFT BODY. again, a near-perfect bridge, this time to STELLA BLUE.

11/21/73 denver: even on the audience tape, no reaction to “i’m as honest as a denver man can be” in ME & MY UNCLE opener. another sweet half-melt out of HALF-STEP, this time into a mammoth PLAYING IN THE BAND > EL PASO > PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > PLAYING IN THE BAND > MORNING DEW. EL PASO flowers briefly into DARK STAR before WHARF RAT (with a drumless bridge!) after which garcia & lesh hit peak fuzz.

11/23/73 el paso: only ever el paso gig and, unlike denver, the crowd DOES freak when weir sings the city’s name. a few nice OTHER ONE drifts but distant drum mix makes the whole show disconcertingly placid, even by dead standards.

11/25/73 tempe: brilliant 17m PLAYING IN THE BAND, a mirrored infinity room of free snare dances & cascading guitar diamonds. 1st credible BID YOU GOODNIGHT since its february revival thanks to restrained (& even tasteful) donna jean vocal.

11/28/73 palace of fine arts: debut of seastones, ned lagin’s group with garcia, lesh, hart, & croz playing modular improv structures. dream wails, processed voices, quadrophonic balaphones. an avant-dead necessity. A+ recording: http://bit.ly/1brMQUt

11/30/73 boston music hall: rare 3-show theater run. band apparently doesn’t know of the 1st show & arrives/starts extremely late. donna jean gone on maternity leave through year’s end, huzzah! the band’s harmonies are appropriately winterly, austere, & pleasing. LET IT GROW glitters divinely into a short shape-shifting DARK STAR jam & a happy, lumpy post-thanksgiving EYES OF THE WORLD.

12/1/73 boston: magical BROKEDOWN PALACE, in part because of bedraggled harmonies, in part because of extra-warm soundboard mix. nightmarish extended segments of mojoless crowd control failure. weir promises they’ll relearn ST. STEPHEN. phil angrily cuts him off. “besides, the cops are from heaven! they’re from heaven!” chirps jerry, sounding like he might actually be having a bad trip. 34m PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND with a curling UJB intro, & a stark donna-less ROW JIMMY in the jerry ballad slot.

12/2/73 boston: more testy banter, though band’s mojo has returned. phil gets pissed at audience member: “what are you, the heat??” 2nd set is a mofo, solid 80m of attempted suite-linkage, starting with 1st & only WHARF RAT opener. iffy singing, but heaviness awaits. 1st unfinished PLAYING trails to guitar laughter & piercing biofeedback. weir arpeggiates listlessly & eventually cues MIND LEFT BODY. new spaces everywhere. cool rhythmic MIND LEFT BODY outro permutations, messy BIRD SONG-like flutters in HE’S GONE.

12/4/73 cincinnati: late start (by 5 hours?), short show (47m 2nd set), even more surly phil (“where the fuck did you say we were?”) tremendous 24m EYES OF THE WORLD with deep phil/jerry noise canyon ’til billy drops a beat & band builds to a chaotic swing-stomp.

12/6/73 cleveland: approaching peak donnalessness on ROW JIMMY. longest ever HERE COMES SUNSHINE dances with VIOLA LEE-like ecstasy. an all-time DARK STAR. one of the longest (43m) & oddest, beginning with a slow coalescence from tuning into theme. extremely uncharacteristic assertive, uptempo electric keys by keith, in full conversation with garcia, melting into fuzz-bass nebulae. more top-speed ultra-melodic inventions & a perfect EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE comedown with one final bass feedback punchline.

12/8/73 durham: nice spidery piano during BLACK THROATED WIND bridge. lovely lulling weave-waves in HE’S GONE outro jam. in & out of focus 28m OTHER ONE ending with more visceral post-seastones biofeedback, weir noodles, & 2 jerry ballads.

12/10/73 charlotte: 1st PEGGY-O! quite brisk, almost in the mold of DIRE WOLF. someone sets off fireworks between verses. incredible EYES OF THE WORLD with hyper tonal, almost smooth, over-the-top bass leads, total full-band precision, & ace BROKEDOWN PALACE coda. for 2nd show running, garcia upends song alternation with weir. 1st split-up SUGAR MAGNOLIA  with GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD in middle. with donna jean still on pregnancy leave, weir’s SUNSHINE DAYDREAM freakouts have gone next level.

12/12/73 atlanta: another jaunty PEGGY-O. frictionless gearshift segue from MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP into ME & BOBBY McGEE. not much flow to the 2nd set, but a long MORNING DEW gets down to a stretch of delicate quiet & sparse piano colors.

12/18/73 miami: great mix, excellent playing throughout. fabulous, extra-crackling LET IT GROW as prelude to final ’73 DARK STAR. labyrinthine 1st jam teases & builds to post-verse bass-zap brain-blastage. “we’ve got a blown speaker!” jerry shouts off-mic. in my college house, whenever we wanted/needed unstoppable laughter, we’d play the last 1m of this SUNSHINE DAYDREAM.

12/19/73 miami: “dick’s picks, v. 1″! funny to hear complete version finally. weir sneezes during 1st line of PROMISED LAND opener. always wondered why MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP faded out. it’s another lovely melt segue into ME & BOBBY McGEE, turns out. 2nd & final time that happened. penultimate HERE COMES SUNSHINE & one of the best, 14m of curling lightbeam solos. PLAYING IN THE BAND somersaults into the spectral wah-wah void. 5m bass solo is excised from this version, too. on the audience tape, it’s fully ridiculous, but also has a neat melodic shape. (audience tape also has a great pre-show warning by the band about security. garcia: “remember your hippie training, folks: be cool!”) last 5m of OTHER ONE is the band’s most sustained fszszszzt-out so far, dripping with absolute grace into STELLA BLUE.

…and so concludes the grateful dead’s 1973 & the #deadfreaksunite broadcast year. see you at winterland in february.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

#deadfreaksunite 1972


#deadfreaksunite 1972
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] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

Highlight mp3s included for unreleased shows only. I recommend DownThemAll plug-in to grab all mp3s on a given page.

3/21/72 academy: still no donna jean. 1st LOOKS LIKE RAIN, garcia on pedal steel, cool phil harmony. not yet my 1st skippable GD tune. 1st THE STRANGER (TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION), final (best?) original by still very active pigpen. nice split between pig/garcia/weir at all these 3.5 hr shows. 1st jammed PLAYING IN THE BAND (finally!), dripping psych/fusion middle section tripling to 3m. hello, 1972!

3/22/72 academy: 1st CAUTION since 3/71. highwire digressions & intricate outro jam. nearly smooth actual segue into UNCLE JOHN’S BAND

3/23/72 academy: great standalone 23m DARK STAR, exquisite/quiet garcia pre-verse, jagged space into MIND LEFT BODY JAM.

3/25/72 academy: private party for hell’s angels booked as jerry garcia & friends, 1st set backing bo diddley on 9 songs, later dick’s picks, v. 30. the diddley set is sleepy at times, especially on the unedited audience version, but nicely popping on tunes with the bo diddley beat (HEY BO DIDDLEY, MONA). topic for next #PopCon: bo diddley leading angels’ mamas in sing-along on TAKE IT ALL OFF on especially anthropological audience tape. then: the 2nd appearance of donna jean. only GD versions of HOW SWEET IT IS & garcia-sung ARE YOU LONELY FOR ME (freddie scott, A+ except for ugly chorus).

3/26/72 academy: sublime PLAYING cuts off as band goes drumless/free. still no donna jean wail. [my full essay about this show is available as liner notes for dave's picks, v. 14.]

3/27/72 academy: 1st donna jean wail in PLAYING. crowd eats it up. all love to her muscle shoals bona fides, but #headdesk.

3/28/72 academy: last of 7 great gigs at the academy. donna now screaming on GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD, too. the garcia/weir/lesh harmonies on BROKEDOWN PALACE are just sloppy enough without her. another 3+ hour show, almost half new songs since ’70. band relaxed & at ease. europe here we come.

4/7/72 wembley: the bolos & bozos have landed. band (& official mix) sound incredible, rich Band-like piano/organ combo. even bobby/jerry/pig alternation in 1st set, unbroken hour-long sequence in 2nd. scattered OTHER ONE into stately WHARF RAT. europe ’72 mood so fleeting & special. mega-improv, ecstatic & clean 1-drummer arrangements. i’m ready.

4/8/72 wembley: band does a phish-like vamp under weir’s YELLOW DOG JOKE. CUMBERLAND BLUES maintains tendrils of speedfreak ’66 garcia in solos. DARK STAR is among best ever. BK anchors freeness, B3 bursts, & brilliant melodic crests. rare fluid segue into SUGAR MAGNOLIA. equally fluid steamroll into crackling R&B/psych CAUTION. ’72 might be pig’s best year, too. the band destroys it every time he steps up.

4/11/72 newcastle: garcia & weir clearly taking turn calling the opener this tour. band slightly more sluggish than london. GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD now with bouncy summer wah-wah from garcia & 1st non-ridiculous donna jean vocal part. rambling but wonderful 50m TRUCKIN’ > OTHER ONE, with fully developed FEELIN’ GROOVY jam dissolving into dark garcia/lesh duo jam. and finally a near-perfect live BROKEDOWN PALACE, pig on organ, nice keith part, harmonies in ragged-but-right place.

4/14/72 copenhagen: last onstage pedal steel by garcia ’til ’87 & thus final LOOKS LIKE RAIN i’ll (likely) ever care about. bummer. drifty 29m DARK STAR. drumless pre-verse zones, hyperspeed FEELIN’ GROOVY jam, one of 1st ugly/abrupt weir “segues” into SUGAR MAGNOLIA. big GOOD LOVIN’ (with CAUTION & only post-’66 WHO DO YOU LOVE inside) gets narrative, sharp pig/garcia call/response.

4/16/72 aarhus: no donna scream on PLAYING. is this the show where she was having a bad trip under the piano & couldn’t sing? TRUCKIN’ tumbles into solid 20m of OTHER ONE jamming. 1st phil/jerry duo develops into magical full band tangent, dissolves instantly. band veers into ME & MY UNCLE, 1st (& only) verse of OTHER ONE, and nifty 15s BK turnaround into NOT FADE AWAY. bonus: far-out electronics from aarhus university, roughly contemporary to dead’s visit. high-larious doors quote on track 3. http://mutant-sounds.blogspot.com/2010/10/svend-christiansenfuzzy-electronic.html

4/17/72 copenhagen: 1st HE’S GONE, lazy river vibe/tempo intact, minus “wind don’t blow so strange” bridge & endless chorus outro. another hour-long DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA > CAUTION. very deliberate playing throughout, especially modal free jams in DARK STAR. HQ video of whole 4/17 show (not in GD’s new DVD box?!), featuring clown masks on BIG RAILROAD BLUES. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EY-_sEgO_Y

4/21/72 bremen: hour-long TV taping. garcia genially stops SUGAREE: “somebody played the wrong changes in there.” (pig, i think?) more false starts, 2 takes of PLAYING. 6m post-OTHER ONE jam arcs nicely from space to structure, dissolves.

4/24/72 dusseldorf: nicely odd GOOD LOVIN’, drumless & dissonant mid jam. pig quotes james carr’s “pouring water on a drowning man.” 40m DARK STAR (ME & MY UNCLE in middle) shatters/coalesces half-dozen times in 1st half, brilliantly motionless 2nd half until liquid major key jam & garcia slashes into WHARF RAT instead of the 2nd verse of DARK STAR. 3 set show, doofiness to spare.

4/26/72 frankfurt: easily best show of tour so far. high energy, great playing, inventive segues, face-melted banter, bust-outs. 1st 10m & last 10m of 36m OTHER ONE are flawless, song’s internal triplets combusting under oblique improv. middle 16m bitchin’, too. 1st TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION of europe, pigpen’s final original. less developed, but the soul heartbreak is nearly as epic as WHARF RAT. 1st LOVELIGHT of tour, too, darting & way-up psych-funk, a short NOT FADE AWAY jam, a bunch of odd gorgeous changes (go weir!?) into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, whose use of the BID YOU GOODNIGHT bridge to drop into SATURDAY NIGHT makes latter bearable. bonus: robert hunter’s great liner notes to “hundred year hall,” the edited CD release of this show. http://www.gdreferencesite.com/hundred.html

4/29/72 hamburg: 1st “wind don’t blow so strange” bridge in HE’S GONE. alternate phrasing, particularly undramatic “smile, smile, smile.” another night, another 30m DARK STAR. high-octane garcia free-fall throughout + FEELIN’ GROOVY jam.

5/3/72 paris: 1st SING ME BACK HOME since 11/71 & pleasantly the first effective & cool donna/garcia pairing. TRUCKIN’ unspools into boldly out-there OTHER ONE. elegant miniatures & actual lesh solo. he gets the hang of it halfway thru. never previously realized how codified TRUCKIN’/OTHER ONE & DARK STAR/SUGAR MAGNOLIA/CAUTION were as every-other-show jam-suites on this tour. CSN-grade garcia/lesh/weir harmonies on JACK STRAW. garcia sings alternating bridge lyrics for 1st time. hell yes. [ed. note: turned out to be the europe '72 version of JACK STRAW with overdubbed vocals.]

5/4/72 paris: 1st DARK STAR jam is unusually uptempo, developed, & consonant. full-band dynamic shifts & rhythmic through-lines. whole 40m version is an A+ choice for a record store day LP, minus the record store day part. finally heard. sounds so insanely good. mythbusters: donna’s alleged bad trip under the piano doesn’t seem to have incapacitated her at either paris show.

5/7/72 bickershaw festival: UK mudbath. fireworks audibly whoosh by onstage mics. weir: “we’ll want to aim those a little higher.” uncharacteristically sparkling festival performance, closing 3 day event (also featuring the kinks & late-night beefheart) with their usual 2 sets/4 hours. only ’72 gig with both DARK STAR & OTHER ONE. latter has much eventless free noise without 26th b-day boy BK. killer reprise jam. back to weir-only JACK STRAW, for some reason. in the crowd, 17-yr old elvis costello decides to start his own band.

5/10/72 amsterdam: was the weed THAT good? garcia uncharacteristically zonked. hoarse vox & rare lyric/guitar part slips throughout. 35m OTHER ONE is decent but uninspired, formulaic roll from space into structure. big TWO SOULS, but no pig showstopper. aha. McNally, p. 433: “the Concertgebouw was a jewel of a theater [&] the cocaine was far too good.”

5/11/72 rotterdam: garcia back on JACK STRAW duty. first MORNING DEW since 8/71. tentative at first, great 4m coda jam. 48m DARK STAR, longest ever. lazy/floating in all the right ways, garcia/lesh themes pass like ripples. 3rd in a row w/ short DRUMZ. logical DARK STAR wind down and clean stop pre-SUGAR MAGNOLIA. final version of CAUTION (fare thee well) with WHO DO YOU LOVE inside. uneventful late-set TRUCKIN’. bonus: beach boys thru rotterdam 2 nights later en route to record holland LP. bootleg sadly nuked in megaupload purge: http://eatapoop.blogspot.com/2010/06/43-1972-work-in-progress.html

5/13/72 lille: free outdoor gig makes up for 5/5 cancellation/riot. “sounds like homemade shit” sez weir re: monitors. fugs reference? another show without a big pigpen song. cool minimalist organ by pig during 1st drumless OTHER ONE segment. going to miss his exchanges with garcia between lines of the verses.

5/16/72 luxembourg: soundcheck includes 1st BIG RIVER since NYE ’71 debut. garcia sings! misses some verses, but a nice alternate reality. wish i knew enough about luxembourgian politics to dissect the appearance of radio luxembourg’s kid jensen. earnest vibrations. 1st PROMISED LAND since 8/71 & 1st of the keith era. again, no pig showstopper. rare for a radio broadcast. 20m OTHER ONE feels short. 10m SING ME BACK HOME feels just totally correct.

5/18/72 munich: house lights off, garcia tokes spliff, sets on amp, hitler-mustached fire marshal with brass helmet dumps water on amp. power outage, mini riot, roadies beat up fire marshal. (cutler, 309.) not on tape. rare SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD, 1st of tour. 1st & seemingly unplanned DARK STAR > MORNING DEW. lovely/dense volume-swelled atonality en route, mostly successful.

5/23/72 lyceum: back to london for tour closers. 1st ROCKIN’ PNEUMONIA & THE BOOGIE WOOGIE FLY (why?) & HEY BO DIDDLEY (inside the NOT FADE AWAY sequence), both sung by JG. garcia plays B3 the under GOOD LOVIN verses, as he did several times throughout tour. nothing crazy. quick switch back to guitar. another DARK STAR > MORNING DEW. decent movement post-DRUMZ (from pig, too), but the dissonant segue feels forced & the song is shaky.

5/24/72 lyceum: A+ post-verse OTHER ONE jam coalesces over 16m from oort cloud zaps to quizzical bop mediations & deep fuzz bliss. heavy: final TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. brief 12m, mucho tasty licks. pigpen obviously struggling. pulls it together by end of TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION, also the final version. no, you must be mistaken. bob weir most certainly did NOT revive TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT in the ’80s. i said good day.

5/25/72 lyceum: final BIG BOSS MAN & GOOD LOVIN’ (see: weir/LOVELIGHT), more garcia on organ, no pigpen rap at all, crackling jam. odd inverted 2nd set. UNCLE JOHN’S with odder tentative post-outro jam, legit segue into unusually phrased WHARF RAT, on into 35m DARK STAR. starts quiet, bands snaps into post-verse FEELIN’ GROOVY jam, skittering wah & saturated bass chord disintegration. final SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD & the last of pigpen’s ’66-style bouncy garage B3. g’bye.

5/26/72 lyceum: pigpen’s last proper show. fare thee well to MR. CHARLIE, NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME, TWO SOULS, CHINATOWN SHUFFLE. PLAYING IN THE BAND jam finally tops 10m, garcia meltdown heaven. garcia & phil’s voices particularly ragged, especially noticeable on JACK STRAW. for the 1st time, the audience claps the NOT FADE AWAY beat & the band responds with the song song, the bo diddley beat perma-tied to band, heads, & drum circles everywhere. messy OTHER ONE. rare clammed opening, double back via DRUMZ, try again. jam into MORNING DEW sounds schizo in context, but brilliant when excerpted into europe ’72. garcia’s DEW vocals are truly atrocious, saved by overdubs.

6/17/72 hollywood bowl: after delicious europe multi-tracks, a rude welcome back to US soil with totally debauched audience recording. pigpen’s final show. i’ve always been puzzled by stories of him only playing on 1 song. turns out that’s not quite true, but he’s barely audible on shitty tape. 1st STELLA BLUE. ghostly, slow, & graceful from the start, garcia deeply inside vocal. almost literally haunting B3 part, pig’s last. tape-warp sounds bitchin’ on the PLAYING meltdown, though also the most brutal donna scream yet. g’bye pigpen.

7/16/72 hartford: east coast summer stadium gigs. band notably less lush without pig’s B3. the 2nd STELLA BLUE is heavy, awkward in 1st set. 1st MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP (!), sly & strident. 1st sing-along outro to HE’S GONE (yuuugh) inside OTHER ONE, whose ending gets blurrier. 1st steel-less LOOKS LIKE RAIN, also without phil vox. blech. okay NOT FADE AWAY/HEY BO DIDDLEY powerjam with dickey betts & berry oakley.

7/18/72 jersey city: i can see why a non-deadhead WFMU DJ hated this 3-set stadium gig, especially if the heat was anything like today. band sounds seriously mangled early on, garcia & weir blowing lyrics, lots of gear breakdowns, shaky dynamics, odd pacing. still, sweet PLAYING & great DARK STAR with a killer 2nd jam that never spaces out & a post-verse dissolve into a soulful COMES A TIME. 1st BIRD SONG since 8/71, confident new arrangement with spidery keith piano part, snare-flutter false ending, & curling, lyrical garcia solos.

7/21/72 seattle: band tries early version of WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE. atrocious & abandoned. by-the-numbers OTHER ONE.

7/22/72 seattle: bear is out of jail apparently. lots of zonked banter & zonked playing. warped high-octane PLAYING IN THE BAND jam. very unflattering soundboard. archetypal donna awfulness on HALF-STEP outro underscores garcia’s breathtaking STELLA BLUE soul belts. dashing BIRD SONG. last(?!) YELLOW DOG JOKE, with doofy HARPUA-like accompaniment.

7/25/72 portland: brilliant 27m OTHER ONE that never loses its homey, unrushed swing. even during the space-out, garcia stays melodic. semi-rare jerry slide jam, A+ improvised changes. phil’s short semi-wanky deconstructive bass solo stays groovy, too.

7/26/72 portland: woolly 30m DARK STAR, awesomely responsive free drumming during 2nd meltdown.

8/12/72 sacramento: big cheer as still-new STELLA BLUE starts. exquisite & correctly labeled by taper with double exclamation points. donna now sings on HE’S GONE verses, too. endless outro leads into jam segment for 1st time. the birth of arena dead?

8/20/72 san jose: 1st FRIEND OF THE DEVIL since 4/71, crisp & uptempo, but far more than 1/2 songs new to repertoire in past 1.5 yrs. gnarly OTHER ONE into the 1st STELLA BLUE in the post-jam slot, affixed neatly to still-useful CRYPTICAL appendix.

8/21/72 berkeley: 1st bay area gig since january. only one verse of DARK STAR, with keith oddly taking charge in pointillistic meltdown. jerry’s segue into MORNING DEW even more oddly overruled by lesh & weir’s atonal slashes. then, more keith & a sleepy EL PASO.

8/22/72 berkeley: downtempo & moody variations on OTHER ONE theme & series of great responsive mini-jams. not sold on the bass solo. final of 3 bo diddley-less HEY BO DIDDLEYs. garcia doesn’t try verses this time, but finds a sly take on the groove.

8/24/72 berkeley: 27m DARK STAR, 1 verse, now the norm. sparkling & dense resolution to meltdown dissolves into magical MORNING DEW.

8/25/72 berkeley: incomplete. slowburn BLACK PETER, only 3rd version of ’72. bass solo into OTHER ONE instead of drumz. uneventful.

8/27/72 veneta: 3 sets. magical start to end. given setting (oregon, field, merry pranksters) & playing, likely THE quintessential GD show. tape quality is warm & magical, slight delay on everything. garcia & lesh push CHINA > RIDER jam past usual bounds in 100 degree heat. pranksters almost accidentally invent ween’s shit-mister before they realize the fire truck is filled with sewage. PLAYING IN THE BAND now fully a 2nd set tune, exquisite wah-wah action. lithe & serene 12m BIRD SONG, perfect flutter on false ending. maybe the greatest DARK STAR. oddly static 1st jam & 15m of free-flight that shines with transfixing highness, even bass solo. & then (give or take EL PASO) a gargantuan SING ME BACK HOME. suggested reading: j. dwork’s essay in the deadhead taper’s compendium, v. 1; an anthropological-linguistic study of googly deadhead heaviness. required viewing: sunshine daydream movie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UHpx72ifdE

9/3/72 boulder:3 set stadium show. the anti-8/27, no nuance. lots of shouted, aggro vocals & annoyed banter at song requests. with a nice alternate lyric in MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP (“pappy sat down & died”) & an extra-curlicued solo, they make the anti-subtlety work for them. cannot. handle. donna. 1st real HE’S GONE jam, neat 2m outro turnaround culminates in odd ’67ish whammy trills from garcia into OTHER ONE.9/9/72 hollywood: 1st show (i think) with keith on electric piano, zonked wah-wah distortion on 35m THE OTHER ONE. jerry/phil space-out evolves into dashing full-band improvised changes, all 5 darting/weaving at top conversational speed. band returns for 2nd encore & tune, but weir & garcia giggle that bassist has left with “cute little filly.” end show.

9/10/72 hollywood: david crosby holds his own during buoyant DARK STAR manicness, though no croz harmonies on SING ME BACK HOME.

9/15/72 boston: keith’s new electric piano is a subtle but major change in the band’s sound, especially on an abstruse 18m PLAYING.

9/16/72 boston: 1st BIG RIVER since new year’s (& 2nd ever) & 1st DON’T EASE ME IN since 11/70 (& only 2nd electric version since ’66). right decent segue from DARK STAR meltdown into MEXICALI BLUES, but band sidetracks into productive polka-boogie instead.

9/17/72 baltimore: hitting arenas for the 1st time outside the west & sounding a bit lost. stasis-ridden 38m OTHER ONE.

9/19/72 jersey city: 2nd gig at roosevelt stadium in 2 months. cruddy but tolerable audience recording captures crowd more than music. fireworks, clapalongs, requests for rolling papers. hell’s honkies taping crew clearly amped for new songs.

9/21/72 philadelphia: crystalline owsley soundboard, garcia in the left channel, weir in the right. 1st proper HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’. mammoth post-verse unfolding in 37m DARK STAR. flurrying atonal TIGER jam, brief MIND LEFT BODY theme drips into MORNING DEW.

9/23/72 waterbury: terrible vocals. band tries next-beat segues for 1st time. fun if not fully successful PROMISED LAND > BERTHA. then, the 1st(?) bust-out fest. 1st AROUND & AROUND since 4/71 followed by 1st IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE since 11/70. garcia sings well, mangles words. and then the 1st CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT since 11/71 & the last ’til the cringe-y ’80s. pretty sloppy. oh, well. g’bye.

9/24/72 waterbury: yup, weir definitely using light, funky compression, most notable on BIG RIVER, played every show since re-debut. 2nd set again opens with sequence of next-beat segues. debut of TOMORROW IS FOREVER by dolly parton, a mellow garcia/donna duet. assured DARK STAR immolation with sweet rhodes, 3m BEAUTIFUL JAMish denouement, DRUMZ, & liquid segue into CHINA CAT.

9/26/72 jersey city: at the stanley theater on journal square, where my grandpa saw movies in ’30s/’40s, now a jehovah’s witness temple. churning dissolve from the TRUCKIN’ boogie into jam-land & a confident (if mildly jumbled) BABY BLUE, last ’til ’74.

9/27/72 jersey city: a legendary DARK STAR. 18m of bright swing before 1st verse & a jaw-dropping segue into CUMBERLAND BLUES. 1st ATTICS OF MY LIFE since 12/70. ragged but still stunning. then weir insists on more chuck berry covers.

9/28/72 jersey city: another brilliant bear ‘board, perfect bass. poetic rhythmic opacity in typically dazzling PLAYING.

9/30/72 washington DC: FM soundboard with ghost seepage from neighboring frequencies. surprising phil/keith/billy jam in free-ass OTHER ONE.

10/2/72 springfield, MA: garcia bridges the MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP ending to the descending STELLA BLUE intro. it almost works. 20m TRUCKIN’ with 1st NOBODY’S FAULT jam since 11/70, DRUMZ, & fast’n'thrilling UNCLE JOHN’S jam, dissolving into DEW.

10/9/72 winterland: 1st BOX OF RAIN since 9/70 (& 2nd ever). 1st donna-”enhanced” GD classic. phil’s vocals flirt with headdeskdom. obliterated grace slick jabbers over a loose jam. bill graham retrieves her. grace: “get that bitch off the stage.”

10/17/72 st. louis: great thin-out in PLAYING IN THE BAND. oddly jamless second set with 40 minutes worth of closers.

10/18/72 st. louis: like every show since may, a chuck berry cover. unlike every show since may, chuck’s birthday in his hometown. 1st split-open PLAYING, which segues (via DRUMZ) into DARK STAR with a bright phil-led sequence & FEELIN’ GROOVY jam into MORNING DEW with an opulent meltdown out of the crescendo that eventually gets to the 1st PLAYING REPRISE. nice!

10/19/72 st. louis: fat-toned BIRD SONG. last COMES A TIME til ’76. messy DIRE WOLF, 1st since europe & last for a year.

10/21/72 nashville: long & winding pre-verse in OTHER ONE, atmospheric free drums behind garcia arpeggios & loud/proud bass.

10/23/72 milwaukee: the last (& probably best) of 4 choogly & generally bland versions of ROCKIN’ PNEUMONIA & THE BOOGIE WOOGIE FLU. a vividly river-like 28m DARK STAR, unusually focused on one contiguous theme & transcending the murky audience tape.

10/24/72 milwaukee: BOX OF RAIN finally enters the song rotation, vocals improved all around. or it could be the audience recording. thankfully, a soundboard for set 2 with fully articulated PHILO STOMP in THE OTHER ONE, bright jam led by chordal bass.

10/26/72 cincinnati: nice pre-verse major-key cloud-swells in DARK STAR & uneventful drums/bass fizzle into SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

10/27/72 columbus: decent audience tape by owsley. so much clapping. in a nice variation, HALF-STEP in the post-jam slot.

10/28/72 cleveland: BOX OF RAIN confident, almost aggro. still surreal to hear. primo free meltdown in PLAYING. great drum mix. last ATTICS OF MY LIFE ’til 1989. bye! first CANDYMAN since 11/71, a little rusty, but unchanged & with extra-soulful garcia vocal. hyperreal 28m billy-powered DARK STAR with unceasing movement, PHILO STOMP, TIGER noise, & A+ wah tone.

10/30/72 detroit: another warm owsley audience tape. cool cubist blooze in TRUCKIN’. no big jam, mucho weir-boogie. help.

11/12/72 kansas city, KS: 1st show since release of europe ’72. extra-wacky 1-beat BEAT IT ON DOWN intro. drab vibes & mix.

11/13/72 kansas city, KS: stunning DARK STAR. intricate architecture, endless translucent peaks.

11/14/72 oklahoma city: effortless throughout. sleight-of-hand cascade from HE’S GONE into TRUCKIN’ & crisp 15m OTHER ONE.

11/15/72 oklahoma city: 1st set only. 30m PLAYING achieves lush, delicate drift, electric keyboards particularly warm.

11/17/72 wichita: the only JACK STRAW played in wichita, no cheers for title lyric. THE OTHER ONE heavy on underwater swing & odd phil.

11/18/72 houston: full-speed 26m PLAYING. endless chattering bass, dizzying garcia ellipses, & proto-SLIPKNOT moves.

11/19/72 houston: weir strums through 1st WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE as coda to listless DARK STAR. band seems unsure what to do. TRUCKIN’ conspicuously absent both nights in the city too close to new orleans.

11/22/72 austin: garcia in exceedingly mellow mood, calls ballad after ballad. way soulful CANDYMAN, despite missed lyrics. oh, hey, donna jean now singing co-lead on BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE.

11/23/72 armadillo world headquarters: thanksgiving jam w/ garcia, lesh, sir doug sahm, & leon russell. unlimited C&W/tejano choogle. #headnecksunite

11/24/72 dallas: utterly magical PLAYING. breathless dialogues, quiet wah-wah peels, eloquent disintegrations/landings.

11/26/72 san antonio: gravity-free pre-verse DARK STAR tangents. later, a FEELIN’ GROOVY jam & joyous garcia annihilation.

12/10/72 winterland: warm & vivid soundboard. can practically feel winterland bouncing on uptempo tunes, esp. DEAL & SUGAR MAGNOLIA. supremely cracked garcia phrasing in PLAYING, carried into instinctive full-band knottiness during THE OTHER ONE.

12/11/72 winterland: pretty & wending 11m HALF-STEP to open odd & awesome jerry-heavy second set. last TOMORROW IS FOREVER ’til ’74. 35m DARK STAR with 15m build into sonorous clank followed by 15m of uninterrupted space-dread & an angelic STELLA BLUE.

12/12/72 winterland: phil hints at EYES OF THE WORLD ending in bass solo pre-OTHER ONE, with choppy, peppy post-verse jam.

12/15/72 long beach: nice slow implosion from TRUCKIN’ into last ’72 DARK STAR. soaring 1st jam. then, insect communiques.

12/31/72 winterland: new year’s chaos. shouty vocals, though band basically keeps it together in what sounds like total pandemonium. otherwise sober-seeming KSAN DJ describes “motion picture holo-grams” on venue floor that don’t seem documented elsewhere. david crosby joins on 12-string electric for sloppy/fun OTHER ONE > MORNING DEW.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

stella blue’s maiden name

In a bit of synchronicity/convergence that often seems to happen around the Grateful Dead, my beach reading this weekend was Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire.

Though not on the beach, I also spent some time listening to the Dead’s June 17th, 1972 show at the Hollywood Bowl as part of my ongoing #deadfreaksunite project. It’s the first show post-Europe ’72 and likewise Pigpen’s final performance. He doesn’t sing, and his B3 is mostly inaudible on the truly shitty audience recording, with the very big exception of the debut version of “Stella Blue,” which is near-perfect. Music writers (myself probably included) toss the word “haunting” around with abandon, but Pig’s performance on “Stella Blue” is one case where it’s almost literally applicable.

And here’s where the Nabokov comes in:

Line 627: The great Starover Blue

…neither his first nor second name bears any relation to the celestial vault: the first was given him in memory of his grandfather, a Russian starover (accented, incidentally, on the ultima), that is, Old Believer (member of a schismatic sect), named Sinyavin, from siniy, Russ. “blue.” This Sinyavin migrated from Saratov to Seattle and begot a son who eventually changed his name to Blue and married Stella Lazurchik, an Americanized Kashube. So it goes.

And there it is, Stella Blue’s maiden name: Stella Lazurchik. Sounds like a hippie to me. (I was pretty excited to make this discovery but, naturally, David Dodd & Annotated Grateful Dead Song Lyrics site is all over it.)

And here it is, an mp3 of the first version of “Stella Blue.” Note the alternate lyric post-”dust off those rusty strings.”

“run rudolph run,” 12/14/71, hill auditorium, ann arbor, MI

Download here. [MP3]

The Dead played “Run Rudolph Run” seven times between December 4th and 15th, 1971. Pigpen sang. The tune was a #69 hit for Chuck Berry in 1958, written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie. Unquestionably the best Dead version is the second-to-last, from December 14th at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. They played it twice in Chuck Berry’s hometown of St. Louis on December 9th and 10th, and it’s too bad not one of those, but the first night in Ann Arbor has the best mix of any of them. Keith Godchaux’s strident Johnnie Johnson-style piano is full and rich, like the familiar warm balance of Europe ’72, Garcia’s lines darting around it. Besides the following night, where he’s too loud, Godchaux is buried in most of the other recordings, Garcia and Weir’s guitars clanging against each other.

It’s a showcase for Pigpen, returning to the band after sitting out the fall tour, the first sign of weakening for the 26-year old alcoholic, who would die less than two years later. At times on the December east coast run, 11 shows from Boston to Ann Arbor, Pig is spotty. In Boston, the band pulled out his show-stopping “Turn On Your Lovelight,” and he faltered, unable to martial the gang into the weirdly psych-funk nooks they were often able to improvise behind semi-improvised patter about “box back knitties and great big noble thighs,” and they only revisited it one other time on the trip.

But by the end of the run, he seems almost back to form, though the big closers wouldn’t return with regularity until the band shuffled off to New York and then Europe the next spring. One lesson of my Dead listening project–revisiting every show close to its 40th anniversary, #deadfreaksunite, etc.–has been a constant reevaluation of the Dead as a working, aggressively evolving band, often marked by the unrelenting, constant expansion of their songbook. Most lately, this involved an appreciation of Pigpen’s still very active role in ’71 and ’72. Even for Deadheads, Pig is sometimes easy to write off in these later years, so often relegated to un-mic’ed sidestage congas.

While he didn’t exactly crank out tunes like Garcia and Weir, he had two new numbers to do for the December run, “Run Rudolph Run” and a new original, “Mr. Charlie,” which would go along fine with “Empty Pages,” introduced earlier in the year, had he not already abandoned that. Early ’72 would see two more Pig tunes go into rotation, “Chinatown Shuffle” (whose pick-up would get jacked for “U.S. Blues”) and the lost masterpiece “The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion).” Even after he left the road following the Europe ’72 tour, he continued to write, producing a set of home demos, which has circulated as Bring Me My Shotgun.

With its “Love & Theft”-like cadences on half-sensical tumbles about some heretofore unknown reindeer named Randolph (?!) and archaic constructions like “girl-child” and “boy-child,” it’s sort of mystifying that avowed Chuck Berry freak Bob Dylan didn’t record “Run Rudolph Run” for his Christmas in the Heart. But it’s a nice little novelty from the Dead’s brief two-keyboard lineup, where Pigpen and Godchaux got a nice Hudson/Manuel-like B3/piano blend on some of the recordings from those tours. Though Pig doesn’t play organ here, Godchaux’s presence gives him the chance to belt over straight-up boogie-woogie piano, a rare pleasure in itself only possible during these few tours.

All of which totally ignores the song’s holidayness, which really has no narrative and is, in an admirably teen-pop way, more about describing the apparent giddiness of the Christmas season in the post-War years. “Shopping is a feeling,” David Byrne said later in True Stories, and there’s maybe some of that in here (infused with holiday spirit, no doubt), with the subtle ’50s consumerism behind lyrics like “all I want for Christmas is a rock & roll electric guitar” and the girl-child’s wish for “a little baby doll that can cry, scream, and wet” (plus perfectly period automotive dreams about Santa speeding down a freeway). Not that Pigpen was signifyin’ or anything. He was–and thanks to the perpetual present tense of the recording is–just singing. The Dead may’ve been hippies, but by late 1971, they were mostly just a rock band.

“Run Rudolph Run”–at least the fifth or sixth Berry tune in rotation–is Pig in his element, and a vibrant little tick in Dead history. But it’s something maybe even more unique than that. In the Dead’s massive unofficial catalogue, it’s one of the very few versions of anything I’d happily call “definitive” with any measure of confidence. And, hey, that’s something to feel good about this holiday season.

all tomorrow’s parties, today.

The most stunning thing about the decay of Kutsher’s Country Club, the site of the American edition of All Tomorrow’s Parties, is perhaps its sheer attention to detail. In every corner of its 1,500-acre spread, something askew: peeling paint on a windowsill, an abandoned skating rink (the Kutsher’s Teenareena, per the signage, replete with Olympics logo), an out-of-order tag on a pull-out bed, a flooded baseball diamond, a stairwell with non-chronological floor numbers, a fire door off its hinges next to a forgotten and overflowing room service cart. One friend got stuck in the elevator, the car stuttering 250 times between the fifth and sixth floors before righting itself. We took the stairs for the rest of the weekend.

The result is one of the most singular places one can imagine seeing music. The fact that the Stardust Room, the site of All Tomorrow’s Parties main stage, is also a great-sounding, well-designed space–with gentle tiers, a spacious floor, and a twinkling moonscape on the wall–is gravy. Amid the decay, though, it also felt a bit like abuse. We wandered Kutsher’s freely, removing the cover of a jacuzzi, discovering a working sauna in the women’s locker room, totally unsure where we were allowed to be. In the basement, we found a stash of Paul Anka and Helen Reddy eight-track tapes in the winding, cluttered hallways beyond a room of ancient exercise bikes and stairmasters.

And the music? A peculiar continuum of nostalgia and indie noise of the moment. Headlining on Friday, Iggy Pop–63 and ripped–pulled his version of the James Brown cape routine: constantly diving headlong into the audience, only to be grabbed instantly by his own security guard and yanked back. There was a lot of crowd surfing and stage diving, for that matter. Hard to say where that act falls in the nostalgia continuum, but it’s back with a vengence. The next night, also featuring a host of stage interlopers, Sonic Youth–in their classic quartet lineup, with Mark Ibold still on Pavement detail–played a set entirely of ’80s tunes. Much like their Prospect Park gig over the summer, the concept scans uncomfortably, but was/is bitching in practice, with fierce improv, drawn-out transitions, and the usual explosive arrangements. Thurston Moore’s solo Sunday set, in the 1:45 pm bloody mary slot, hit the spot, too: three new tunes, played on a 12-string acoustic, followed by a Northampton Wools improv with Bill Nace.

The pleasures of ATP go on and on: a surprisingly incredible DJ set by hip-hop inventor Kool Herc late night at the poolside bar, filled with deep cuts, killer transitions, overlaid beats, and a few classics; the ear-blowing wall of sound belonging to the Sunn O)))/Boris supergroup with power chords cascading from amp stack to amp stack like minimalist blocks of orchestral sound; a mellow pick-up hardball game hosted by Shellac’s Bob Weston in a pasture abutting the flooded baseball diamond, bordered by a brook, and a shady knoll for spectators; the room-clearing obliteration of Lee Ranaldo and Alan Licht’s Text of Light; Wooden Shjips’ surf-kraut jams. Besides the occasional six-flight stair-climb, there were few downsides. (The second stage is too low, impossible to see the musicians except from the front row.)

Even the lack of internet and Twitter access was kind of nice. I got my news from the New York Times for the first time in years (and remembered my great uncle Herb’s sage summary of their sports section: “yesterday’s scores tomorrow”). Hell, if I’d had Twitter access, I probably wouldn’t have written a blog post.

No corporate sponsorship, good vibrations, and arguably the most fun music festival in the world.

Rebecca Kutsher:

sudden ylt

Yo La Tengo at Rififi
Invite Them Up with Eugene Mirman and Bobby Tisdale
26 February 2008
no Georgia, Todd Barry on drums

Come On Up (The Young Rascals) (download)
Mr. Tough
Big Day Coming (fast)
Bobby’s Girl (Lesley Gore) (download)

yo la tengo in port washington, 10/19

“Ripple” – Yo La Tengo (download)
recorded 19 October 2007, Landmark on Main Street, Port Washington, NY

(file expires October 29th)

Yo La Tengo at Landmark on Main Street
Port Washington, NY
19 October 2007
Chris Brokaw opened.

The Landmark being (as we discovered) across the street from Finn MacCool’s, the watering hole of choice for the 1986 Mets, many of who resided in Port Washington, we naturally had to toast Danny Heep en route to the show. Via Jeff Pearlman’s The Bad Guys Won:

Strawberry did much of his damage at Finn MacCool’s, a tavern in Port Washington where many of the Mets hung out. One night Henry Downing, the bar’s manager, concocted a drink for the Mets that he named The Nervous Breakdown. It was a potent combination of vodka, cranberry juice, tequila, and schanpps, and the twelve Mets sitting around the table eagerly devoured pitcher after pitchers. Among the participants were Ojeda, Mitchell, Dykstra, and Backman — guys who could hold their own. Yet the one who drank the most was Strawberry. ‘I remember he really took to that,’ says Connie O’Reilly, MacCool’s owner. ‘I guess he liked the taste.’ … ‘The next afternoon we were watching the game from the bar, and the broadcaster said Darryl wasn’t playing,’ O’Reilly says. ‘They showed him sitting on tbe bench… something about a twenty-four-hour virus.’

Tom Courtenay
Beanbag Chair
Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House
Fog Over Frisco
Mr. Tough
Ripple (Grateful Dead)
Surfin’ With the Shah (The Urinals)
Cone of Silence
Sloop John B (trad/Beach Boys)
Black Flowers
Luci Baines (Arthur Lee)
Decora
I Found A Reason (Velvet Underground)
Oklahoma USA (The Kinks)
Story of Yo La Tango
Detouring America With Horns
Speeding Motocycle (Daniel Johnston)
You Can Have It All (George McCrea)
*(encore, with Chris Brokaw on guitar)*
A House Is Not A Motel (Arthur Lee)
Tell Me When It’s Over (Dream Syndicate)
I Feel Like Going Home

yo la tengo at the new yorker festival, 10/6

“Autumn Sweater” – Yo La Tengo (download)
“This Man He Cries Tonight”- Yo La Tengo (download)
recorded 6 October 2007, Brooklyn Lyceum, Brooklyn, NY

(files expire October 15th)

Yo La Tengo at Brooklyn Lyceum
6 October 2007
New Yorker festival
between song Q&As moderated by Ben Greenman

The Cone of Silence
Stockholm Syndrome
Story of Yo La Tango
Magnet (NRBQ)
Madeleine
Autumn Sweater
I Heard You Looking
Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind
This Man He Cries Tonight (The Kinks) (live debut)
Sugarcube

“in the craters of the moon” & “autoclave” – the mountain goats

“In the Craters of the Moon” – The Mountain Goats
“Autoclave” – The Mountain Goats
recorded 2 October 2007, Studio B, Brooklyn, NY

[Downloads removed at the polite request of JD.]

Mostly, this was an experiment to see how long it would take to record a show with the aforementioned iTalk, up it to my computer, and extract a few segments, as well as to see how much juice it would take, both in terms of power and memory. The answers: with laughable ease and laughably little.

So, here are two new Mountain Goats songs, performed this evening at Studio B in Brooklyn, a dance club a few blocks from the kielbasa parlors and bright-eyed/enchanting Polish girls of Greenpoint. The frame and drama are pure Mountain Goats, as hard-boiled and stylized as Bukowski or the Coen brothers. Some lines, especially on “In the Craters of the Moon,” feel like stock John Darnielle: “I think I’m gonna crack, I can’t live like this any more.” Others are perfect and inventive: “We swim in the dark until our bodies are numb, clandestine (?) rats in the moonlight, too far from the shore.”

Differentiating good & bad lines seems a tad silly, though, especially at this stage of the game. Darnielle found his voice a long time ago, and he’s sticking to it. They’re new songs. If you like the Mountain Goats, you’ll probably dig ‘em. (An autoclave, as Darnielle pointed out, is a device built to sterilize medical instruments and kill all lifeforms, except — as recently discovered — one particular type found at the bottom of the ocean, near volcanic seabeds, which not only survives the process, but multiplies.)