May 30, 2011

Updates

Occasionally I add long comments/updates to old posts, which I prefer to silently revising the posts or making updates in separate new posts. Thing is, hardly anybody will even know comments have been added! (No "recent comments" column here.)
So I've decided to set aside this little spot where, from time to time, I'll note any major new additions.
(Updated 1/1/12.)

12/30/10 - setlist discussion in "Missing 1970 Shows"
2/9/11 - more comments on "Missing 1969 Shows"
2/9/11 - comment on "Bear at the Board"
2/9/11 - comment on "The Allmans & the Dead"
2/9/11 - more on the band's anti-taping policy in "1970 Audience Tapes"
2/15/11 - comparison of 11/19/66 and 3/18/67 in "1966 Songs"
3/13/11 - what will happen to Bear's tapes? in "FM Broadcasts"
3/25/11 - new comments on "Hendrix and the Dead"
3/25/11 - more details on "Buffalo 3/17/70"
4/12/11 - comment on 4/7/71 in "The Crowded Dead Stage"
4/22/11 - speculation on the early Live/Dead mix, in "Live vs Studio Dead"
5/2/11 - a note on TC's wedding, in "The Hartbeats - July 1970"
5/24/11 - Ihor Slabicky's note on Pigpen's demos, in "Pigpen Solo"
5/24+28/11 - a lot more info on "The Firing, 1968"
5/29/11 - an Aoxomoxoa session list, in "Live vs Studio Dead"
5/29/11 - a note on the Dead's summer '68 show schedule, in "Dark Star 1968" and "Live vs Studio Dead"
7/11/11 - a comment on the Toronto '67 tapes (see also earlier note on 1/14/67 Morning Dew misdate) in "1967 Dead Tapes"
8/30/11 - a couple more comments in "Pigpen Solo"
8/30/11 - Dizzy Gillespie on the Dead, in "The Dead & Jazz"
9/1/11 - a bit more background on Willy Legate and the Dead's Arista contract, in "Dick Latvala"
9/8/11 - Happiness Is Drumming, in "Dead Song Debuts"
9/24/11 - Tighten Up jam, or Beginnings jam? in "Early Thematic Jams"
10/19/11 - more on the Jon Hendricks session date, in "Live vs Studio Dead"
10/19/11 - Phil Lesh on the classical influence, in "The Ives Touch"
10/20/11 - the date of the Anthem session tape, in "1967 Dead Tapes"
11/15/11 - on how the Dead did not like their shows, in "The Firing"
11/28/11 - More Mind Left Body Reviews
12/11/11 - 7/16/66, Birth of the Dead, and the Missing Midnight Hour, in "1966 Songs"
12/14/11 - Where Did The NPC Bass Solo Come From?, in "New Potato Caboose"
12/23/11 - 10/17/70 Surfaces, in "Missing 1970 Shows"
1/1/12 - The 12/8/73 Other One, in "Dark Star 12/6/73"
1/1/12 - 11/6/68 Redated, in "Dark Star 1968"


I'm toying with the idea of also including some of my massive comments on Lost Live Dead and the Hooterollin' blog (some of which turn into posts here). Seems like overkill, but here's a few:
12/31/68 & Recording a Live Album (12/30/11)
The Dead's Disapproval of Garcia's Sidebands (11/25/11)
The 1990 Auditions (Aug '11)
Warlocks Resumes, 1965 (July '11 - see this also )
The End of Keith & Donna
The Hooteroll Story, Continued...
Album Contract Questions
The Stones & the Dead
The Dead, the Beach Boys & the Animals
Buck Owens vs. Frank Zappa
The Mystery of 9/11/69

I've also been posting pieces written by others. I only found a few of those to add, though - I'm pretty picky in what gets included here. But I hope to find more writings worth including in the future. I don't expect anyone will want to specifically write something for this blog, but should that happen, I can be contacted through my comments.

May 25, 2011

Here Comes Sunshine (Guest Post)

I still have many hours of listening to do before I finish my next post, so I've decided to start something new here.
From time to time I hope to include articles written by other Dead listeners. I only have one pair of ears, and haven't heard everything, and wouldn't have the time to write about it if I had - so contributions from others will help broaden the range of topics covered here.

So, the first guest writer here goes by the name of Mindbender. Here goes:


HERE COMES SUNSHINE - ONE DEADHEAD'S TOP TEN

I love Here Comes Sunshine as it was performed in the early days. It was a platform for some jaw-dropping jams. I've always wanted to hear every last version, to track the development of the song and search for "under the radar" performances.

With the help of the Archive, this was no problem! The Dead played 33 versions between 2/9/73 and 2/23/74. 31 of those circulate, in whole or in part. I recently listened to every minute, taking notes as I listened. The song grew with almost every performance; most the best versions are towards the end of the run, though almost all of them are worth hearing. Without further ado, here's my list of special versions not to be missed.

#1 - December 19, 1973
Curtis Hixon Convention Hall, Tampa (14:12)

The finest version of all. Excellent mix - everyone’s perfectly audible. This starts with probably the best intro and verse performance, crisp and on beat. Bob provides excellent flourishes. Into the jam, Billy’s laying down lots of cymbal work, setting up a divine melting jazz groove. Keith takes over intermittently, pounding electric chords. Bob’s scattershot, casting about. Phil bubbles. Feet are tapping, heads nodding. Jerry picks it up. Bob cranks up the flange and slowly brings in the transition, over which Phil stomps and Keith sprinkles fairy dust. Phil drops a hint. Billy and Keith open the hatch, and we enter free fall. The groove is THICK. Jerry is at full speed, challenging the rest to keep up. Everything Garcia is playing just works, beauty in every run of notes, sounding rehearsed but too vital to be anything but spontaneous. Building up, we think Garcia’s reached a melodic peak but he and Bob know better. Tied together in thought and impulse, Bob throws ringing chords backing the most furious solo from Jerry yet. A brief burst of inspiration to rival anything in his life’s output. Reaching the conclusion, Jerry brings in a final movement to finish the symphony that is this second jam. Complete thematic unity. A masterpiece. Jam #3 is telepathic, beautiful. Phil throbs, Bobby steps out, and again Jerry rises from the middle. A heavy sound, executed with the utmost lightness. Keith channels Monk, reprising his contribution to the final jam on 11/30. They stutter into the final chorus.

(DICK’S PICKS ONE)

#2 - February 23, 1974
Winterland Arena, San Francisco (11:22)

An astounding, potent summation of all that came before. A fat, juicy, nearly flawless intro, taken at a slightly slower tempo. It’s a joy to hear them throw bolts of sound around the hall on each beat. Billy’s on fire; Bobby’s never had a warmer tone. The energy is incredibly high, especially as the first jam progresses, but somehow they avoid stepping on each other. The transition arrives. Keith rakes the keys, setting up a tremendous Phil bomb, and Jerry dances and spins away, back outside to play. He sacrifices a bit of technical precision to play all-out, presenting his vision, channeling his energy. A distinctive new riff, and Bobby picks it up and jams until we’re back into the verse. Two short jams, compared with the recent versions, but they surge unstoppably, without a dull moment. Why stop to breathe? Final jam. Jerry adopts a fingerpickin’ sound, which Bob is only too happy to twist around. Phil plays high and low. The energy peaks again, and the music takes on an elastic tone, pushing and pulling towards the final chorus and resolution.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd74-02-23.sbd.clugston.3382.sbeok.shnf

#3 - December 6, 1973
Cleveland Convention Center (15:40)

A creative, exploratory version led by Garcia on top of his game. The intro gains power right at its conclusion, and we’re off. Keith and Bob, perched at either end, open up a wide space in the center, a vacuum filled by Jerry on top of Phil. Jerry’s tone is clear, biting, insistent. Without revving up the power, the band explores a bubbly groove, a platform for Jerry’s visions. After several minutes, a short standard transition. Jerry’s again pushing boundaries, uncertainly at first, then lands on a new melody, perhaps Nobody’s Fault But Mine. It fits perfectly. Emboldened, the band strengthens the beat, raises the tempo. What a spacy jam – to walk in the room now you’d think it was Playin’. Jerry brings us back to the melody, distortedly, and cues the verse. Laid back, measured, firing on all cylinders. Third jam is a repetitive riff, until Billy brings a true double-time. Jerry lays down a quick blues, and soon we’re called back. A wretched AUD patch brings us home.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1973-12-06.sbd.miller.105560.flac16

#4 - November 30, 1973
Boston Music Hall (11:37)

Standard intro. As the jam begins, Keith’s counterpoint stands out – quiet reflections and well-chosen jazz chords. Waves of tone from Phil. Jerry plays a standard solo. A groove emerges and dissolves into Phil. Phil dominates through the transition, which is stretched out to give him space to continue his rumbling improvisation. Bob and Phil snap into a groove, and the jam is back underway. The band scatters out, covering all the terrain this song can reach. Meanwhile, Jerry plays the scales, settling on a lyrical melody for the band to coalesce around. As if of a single mind, on a dime the full band merges into a single powerhouse beast, milking this new groove for all its worth. Rumbling Phil, shredding Jerry, everyone pounding, banging away. The crescendo we all knew was there, waiting to be stumbled upon. The finest moment yet. Third jam; Keith shows us all the depth of his vision, playing bizarre chords that somehow get to the heart of this rendition. Jerry amps it up, going for the jugular once more time. A bit more shredding and we’re out.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd73-11-30.aud.vernon.17277.sbeok.shnf (OR DICK’S PICKS 14)

#5 - November 17, 1973
Pauley Pavilion, UCLA (11:15)

A mind-melter from start to finish. Another crisp first few minutes, nearly as perfect as 11/9. Jerry comes out firing for the first jam, tossing out his best solo so far, reaching deep into his bag of tricks to drive the music. Phil keeps up the energy during the transition. Jam #2 brings energetic contributions from everyone in the band, eventually building to a powerful crescendo. Rock and roll. Turn in the third jam, a slight hiccup that doesn’t throw off the pace. Ringing melody, Keith tinkling the keys, Phil thundering underneath, the guitars cutting back and forth, holding it together, powering into the final verse.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd73-11-17.sbd.gardner.4749.sbeok.shnf

#6 - November 21, 1973
Denver Coliseum (10:42)

This is a unique performance. A sharp opening, followed by Jerry launching the improvisation with a novel three-note pattern derived from Bobby’s parallel riff. This heralds a unique first jam, shorter than recent versions but featuring new directions from Jerry. Everyone else plays it off perfectly. A funky-type beat. A short standard transition leads into the second jam. Minimalist distorted chording from Jerry, with emphasis from Keith. Bobby’s chords are low-level electric shock, but not so angular as to cause pain. Jerry wields an abstract artist’s paintbrush, intent on disassembling the song down to its basics – essential chords, pieces of chords. Phil steals the final jam, dancing about, playing jazz.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1973-11-21.sbd.miller.88612.sbeok.flac16

#7 - November 9, 1973
Winterland Arena, San Francisco (10:39)

This is a breakthrough, the first fully formed version to compare with those that follow. It’s a mellow rendition, more notable for its crispness and focus than for energy or pyrotechnics. Early verses executed perfectly, right on rhythm, leisurely pace. First jam is a soothing massage. Bob stands out. They ride the rhythm into the second jam. Jerry holds back, but eventually Bob strikes some furious chords. The band absorbs the energy, riffing on the beat. The final jam is melty. Bob dances about, Jerry pounds distorted riffs, the band swells, and descends back home.

(WINTERLAND ’73 BOX SET)

#8 - April 2, 1973
Boston Garden (9:45?)

HCS > Space > Bobby McGee. This is the one to hear from the winter/spring (honorable mentions: #1 3/24, #2 2/17, #3 3/22). Band is clearly on, though the first verses are a bit sloppy. The energetic first jam more than makes up for it; it’s rhythm-heavy, full of confident Bob chords, Phil bubbling under, well-chosen counterpoint from Keith. It has some of the feel of a late ’73 jam. The transition is more intricate than we’ve seen, carrying into the second jam, which is much more developed than previous versions. Strong verses propel us into the third jam without slowing for a beat. Jerry’s solo soon takes a turn for the spacy. He pauses to contemplate. Keith follows, the band slows, Billy lays down the jazz. By 9:30 we’re breaking loose; some seconds later, the rhythm is a different animal, then gone completely. We’ve drifted into a reflective jazz space. Flavors of the Other One. A hint of Baroque dissonance as we approach 13:00. Fear and apprehension build. Keith shudders his way through the murk; Jerry attacks head on. Insect fear. How did we get here? No true release, just tension, then gradual dissipation, then Bobby McGee. The band has woven HCS into the fabric of their essence.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd73-04-02.sbd.miller.17346.sbeok.shnf

#9 - September 7, 1973
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y. (10:27)

The band is on tonight. Bob and Jerry combine to provide that slinky downbeat during the first verse; Keith adds creative Fender fills. Jerry explores a descending pattern in the first jam, twisting and spinning around the melody. He flirts with diving deep beneath the melody but pulls back into the transition. Second jam flows and sparkles; jazz chords from Keith. A repeating descent from Jerry in jam #3. The band coalesces, building to a brief peak of energy around him, but quickly giving it over to the closing chorus. Keith and Jerry shine.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd73-09-07.sbd.cotsman.19893.sbeok.shnf

#10 - June 26, 1973
Seattle Center Coliseum (11:40)

This version is in much the same vein as the immediately preceding renditions (5/26, 6/10, 6/22) but is probably the most compelling among that bunch. The SBD is fuzzy, but the mix is even. I like the AUD better. Nice downbeat during the early verses. First jam starts off well, nothing special – then halfway in, Billy lays down a jazz-funk beat and the band latches on, pounding away with distorted riffs, slicing on and around the beat. Transition is quiet and short; the band is eager to jam. Energetic second jam; dueling lead guitars. Long third jam is pleasing but hews close to the melody, maintaining the mind-melt but not quite reaching the heights of the first two jams.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd73-06-26.sbd.cotsman.12076.sbeok.shnf

HONORABLE MENTIONS

2/15/73 (9:32) Dane County Coliseum, Madison
2/17/73 (7:33) St. Paul Auditorium (HCS > China > Rider)
3/24/73 (8:19) The Spectrum, Philadelphia
5/26/73 (10:35) Kezar Stadium, S.F.
6/10/73 (10:32) R.F.K. Stadium, Washington
9/21/73 (10:42) The Spectrum, Philadelphia
10/30/73 (11:26) Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis

*

[A comment from Light Into Ashes:
I would probably pick 12/6/73 as the #1 Sunshine; but my top picks would be pretty similar. The Nov/Dec Sunshines are markedly more jammed-out than the earlier ones, and you can hear each Sunshine getting better as the fall tour progresses.

I would also make room in the top ten for:
11/14/73 (12:53) San Diego International Sports Arena
Aside from a couple small stumbles, it has a phenomenal middle jam, which smokes most previous versions!
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1973-11-14.sbd.miller.79049.flac16 ]

May 15, 2011

Ned Lagin

This will be my shortest post ever!

For folks who are curious about Ned Lagin's involvement with the Dead, I was in a lengthy discussion about that over on this site -
http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2010/05/august-14-15-1971-berkeley-community.html
- which I've decided not to repeat here.

The best source for Lagin's Dead activities is his interview in the book Conversations with the Dead, where he talks about his '74 shows in great detail.
If you don't have that handy, there's also a shorter interview with David Gans covering Lagin's history:
http://www.gdhour.com/transcripts/lagin.010203.html

This site has been rather quiet lately, due to one thing & another getting in the way - but I hope to have another post ready by the end of the month.