The beginning of 1972 was a quiet time for the Grateful Dead – but a lot was going on behind the scenes. After the Winterland show on January 2, the band took a couple months off from touring, but kept busy: Weir wrote some new songs with John Barlow, and the Dead recorded Ace over a few weeks in January/February. In the meantime, Garcia’s solo album was released (along with Merl Saunders’ first solo album), and Garcia took the opportunity to play numerous local shows with Saunders, as well as a short east-coast tour with Howard Wales (supporting the newly released Hooteroll). The Dead played a short American Indian benefit show at Winterland again on March 5; and by then, big plans were brewing.
The band headed east for a run of shows at the Academy of Music in NYC (where Garcia had played a couple shows with Wales back on January 21). For the past couple years, they had been playing runs at the Fillmore East; but that had closed in June ’71; and for this run, it was promoter Howard Stein (of the Port Chester Capitol Theatre) presenting them, not Bill Graham.
New Yorkers were eager to see them again, even though they’d played a four-day run at the Felt Forum in December ’71, just three months before. One paper remarked: “Seven concerts in one week at the Academy of Music, every one of them sold out within hours, more by ESP than advertising… The week’s series will help finance the Dead’s traveling expenses for a two-month, seven-country tour of Europe beginning Saturday.” (NY Daily News, 3/30/72)
Musically, this run falls midway between the honky-tonk vibe of the fall ’71 shows, and the smoother Europe ’72 tour. Probably one of the Dead’s plans for the run, aside from raising money for the Europe tour, was to hone their performances for the upcoming live-album recording – after a two-month break from playing shows together, they would need to get back in the groove!
People who saw them at the time were probably struck by the changes in repertoire. (They only played two songs that had been on Live/Dead, one time each; few songs from Workingman’s Dead or American Beauty were played at all; and many of their newer songs were not on any albums yet.) Pigpen was also singing and playing more than he had in ’71 (singing five or six songs a night); a new piano player had altered the band’s sound quite a bit; and some unknown longhaired lady would come onstage to sing for a song or two. New Yorkers would also have noticed that the Dead no longer played til dawn, as they had done so often at the Fillmore East!
The average show length was three and a half hours, as they played through most of their repertoire each night. (Any audience members who went to several shows in the run would hear most of the same songs a LOT of times.)
In an October 1970 interview, one interviewer said he was “amazed how you can do four nights in a row at the Fillmore playing six or seven hours each night.” Garcia replied:
“You'll always play better if you have the same place… It's a regular routine: we go there and do the work, go home and crash, get up, and go play and crash. It's a regular routine, I mean, it doesn't allow you time to do much of anything else… We spoil New York audiences by playing at the Fillmore East and doing their six-hour sets and shit like that. But you can't humanly keep that up all the time. So, when we do two-and-a-half hours everyone feels like it's a bum. Holy shit, only two-and-a-half hours.”
Garcia also commented on playing in New York: “In New York, you can't get a moment's peace. I mean, not a moment's peace. You can't go and sit somewhere and get your head together and cool yourself out a little before you play. 'Cause there's a million people going "Ahhhhh!" It’s weird…that don't happen to us anyplace but here.”
Garcia had also talked about playing long sets in a February 1971 interview –
Q: The amazing thing is that you're on stage for five or six hours, and when you finish, the people still yell for more.
Garcia: I know. That's the part that drives me up a wall. I mean, if they really wanted me to be out front and go out and slice my jugular vein and die on the stage, I'll do it -- for a price! But I ain't gonna do it every night!
Q: They'll stand there and cheer until their lungs break.
Garcia: I know, it's crazy.
Q: It seems as if they're not satisfied until you collapse onstage, because as long as you're still standing they feel they're entitled to more. They demand exhaustion.
Garcia: Well, I don't mind that. The thing that I mind is that after doing six hours somebody comes up to us and says, "What a burn, you didn't play Alligator," or something like that. That's the shit that makes me really crazy. That's when I want to kill.
(As it happens, Alligator was still a point of contention between the Dead and their audiences in 1972, since it was still one of the most-requested songs, even though the Dead had stopped doing it a year earlier. We will see some examples below – but even after Pigpen stopped appearing, people still requested it! For instance, on 7/18/72, Weir responds to requests in disbelief: “Alligator? Did you say Alligator?” Lesh also speaks up: “We don't do that tune no more, man. It done faded away in the mists of time. Besides, if you all shut up we can tune up easier… As you all might have figured out by now, we can't do any Pigpen songs because Pigpen ain't here.” Garcia tended to deflect requests by saying things like, as on 8/22/72, “We'll get into all that top 40 shit later, man. Don't even worry about it.”)
There are not a whole lot of specific audience memories of this run, but one Archive witness remembers, “Even though the Hells Angels benefit was on the 25th, the place was crawling with them on the 26th… During TOO they shined a spot on a spinning mirror ball and it seemed like it was in sync with the music. On the 23rd they used it during Dark Star.” (Another possible witness in Deadbase also writes, “I remember the crystal ball throwing out beams of light during Dark Star.”)
The Academy of Music run has always been the least accessible to hear from Keith’s tenure, due to an unfortunate confluence of tape mishaps - none of the SBDs could be heard until recently, and all the available AUDs were particularly bad. As a result, some of these shows are still largely unknown.
The Academy of Music shows were recorded by Betty Cantor-Jackson. These tapes never passed into circulation, though; when her collection of ‘Betty Boards’ was auctioned off in 1987, different lots of reels were bought by various people and went in all different directions. One set of reels (about 62 shows) was immediately copied by traders and made available:
But other batches of tapes were bought by people who were not interested in the Dead trading scene. Katie Harvey tells the story in her thesis “Embalming the Grateful Dead”:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/26367749/Embaling-the-Grateful-Dead (pages 135-140)
Nathan Wolfson, in his 3/21/72 review in Deadbase X (1996), was very skeptical of stories of more Betty Boards surfacing – but it has happened. Harvey writes, “A smaller batch of Betty Boards was discovered in 1990 and returned almost immediately to the Grateful Dead – bypassing the trading scene entirely… The collectors that discovered them felt that…’the band should have them.’”
After Garcia’s death, “several years later another batch of Betty Boards surfaced, consisting of over 200 reels.” This batch was recovered by Rob Eaton – he was interviewed by Harvey, and since it’s quite an interesting story I’ll quote him at length.
A man living in the northern California woods had purchased a lot of Betty’s tapes at the 1987 auction. Eaton was able to contact him: “It was through a friend who said, ‘I know this guy, and he says he’s got these tapes and he wants to sell them.’ It was after Jerry died and he thought, ‘OK, now that Jerry’s dead, maybe I can get my million dollars for this.’ You know, one of those kinds of guys looking to cash in. So I went up to see him.…
“I flew up to Petaluma on a really weird weather night, heavy rain and thunder, and was brought up to this little barn up the mountain of Tamalpais, and he swung this door open in this barn. It was like midnight; and in it were these road cases that said ‘Grateful Dead’ on the side all just sort of moldy and sitting there. And I opened them up and it was just tapes, reel-ro-reel tapes, just thrown in there. And the box is moldy and torn, just a mess. I couldn’t even read the box, and the tapes were just silt and mold. He didn’t think you could possibly play them….
“And so I said, ‘Look, I don’t even know what’s here. I can’t tell you what you have. I can’t tell you what it’s worth. I don’t even know if these tapes will play.’ So he gave me five of the worst-looking tapes. So I took them to Dick [Latvala]’s house because Dick lived in Petaluma, and we sat up there all night long…”
Eaton carefully cleaned and played the reels: “The first tape I put on was this great Garcia-Saunders tape, which turned out to be from ’73, that no one had ever seen before; just sounded phenomenal. And there was this one reel from 4/2/73 that we had never heard, and it was just like, ‘Wow, this is going to be something.’…”
So when Eaton talked to the buyer again, he had a plan: “I said, ‘Look, the only way to really know what you have here is to restore the collection, then you can put a value to what it is. You can’t put a value to a bunch of tapes [without knowing what’s on them], I don’t even know what’s here.’…”
Eaton offered to pay for the restoration himself. “I really thought it was important that the stuff get archived. He was very nervous as you might imagine; he was very territorial about it. It was all on my dime. At the end of the day I finally convinced him that we should do it.”
The buyer sent the collection to Eaton in small batches, shipped by FedEx cross-country. “I sent him back all the tapes restored in new boxes, labeled with what they were, and he’d send me back another batch of tapes. I don’t think I left my house for two months….
“The collection was really unique. Half of it was Garcia-Saunders from ’73, 74, 75. It was just nothing anybody had ever seen. And all the Academy of Music tapes from the Dead in ’72, which no one had ever heard a tape of: really bad audience tapes were the only thing [from that run], nothing was in the Vault. So I knew it was really important…”
Eaton kept DAT copies of the reels, although the buyer made him sign a contract not to copy or distribute the recordings. “He drew up this contract that I was liable for $100,000 in liquefied damages if I released the contents of the collection without his written authorization. And I wasn’t allowed to keep a copy according to this thing. All the copies had to be in his possession. Of course I’m keeping a DAT master of everything I’m doing. I’m not that stupid. I was a deadhead and protecting the music was my first and foremost thought. Legally, I wasn’t really that concerned with it…
“Because I was sort of in with the Dead office at the time, they found out that I had these… They wanted to get a hold of the guy. So I got them in touch with this guy who wanted a million dollars. They just told him to fuck himself. They came back to me and they go, ‘Look, we know you’re smart. We know you probably kept a set of DATs. What would it take to get that set of DATs from you?’ And I said, ‘Well, first of all, I signed this contract.’…”
But according to Hal Kantor, the Dead’s attorney, “He can’t claim rights to what’s on the tape. He has rights to the actual physical tapes, but what’s on the tape is our rights, not his.” So Eaton copied his DATs (including Dead shows from 1971-76) and gave them to the Vault. And as Harvey writes: “They prohibited him from distributing copies because they planned to commercially release the material.”
Some of the Academy of Music run has been released, in various ways: part of the 3/25 show and all of 3/28 came out as Dick’s Picks 30 in 2003; and the jam segments from 3/22 and 3/23 were put on a bonus disc to the Rockin’ the Rhein release in 2004. Also, the second sets of 3/21 and 3/23 came into circulation, courtesy of David Gans; later on, Charlie Miller issued the full shows. Snippets from various shows have also been played on the Tapers’ Section at dead.net, though unfortunately most of those pages have now disappeared.
Audience tapes have long circulated of most of these shows, but these recordings are a disappointing bunch. The Taping Compendium notes that three tapers taped these shows (Marty Weinberg, RT Carlyle, and Ed Perlstein), but you’d never know from our tapes. Some of them are pretty painful! The Academy of Music must have been a difficult place to record.
Deadlists notes that there is a 60-minute “fragmentary AUD tape. The sound quality is pretty bad. Probably from 3/21/72 1st set but perhaps from the next night.” Though not reviewed in the Taping Compendium, this tape got a bad review in Deadbase X: “The audience tapes [of this run]…leave a fair amount to be desired, the 21st even more than the others. What we have here is the grungy middle of a somewhat middling first set.” It’s not on the Archive.
Originally just the second-set SBD came into circulation (from David Gans) until Charlie Miller released the whole thing from a DAT of the master reels.
Only a partial 30-minute AUD exists of Playing in the Band & Caution. (Caution is 18 minutes, and cuts out before the lovely melodic jam at the end.)
Deadlists calls this tape “very wretched.” It’s just about listenable: distorted, and the clapping audience is much louder than the band, but you can still hear the instruments. The crowd gets very excited when the band returns to Playing after the middle jam (though Donna’s not there yet).
Playing in the Band and Sugar Magnolia>Caution>jam>Uncle John’s Band were released on the Rockin’ the Rhein bonus disc.
Deadlists notes a 190-minute AUD: “The encore is missing, the sound quality marginally listenable at best.” The Taping Compendium also notes that “the sound quality is poor,” rising to “almost listenable” during Dark Star. It’s not on the Archive.
As with 3/21, just the second set circulated (via Gans, from the Betty Board) until Miller released this:
Dark Star was released on the Rockin’ the Rhein bonus disc.
The Dead took Friday night off.
This was a Hell’s Angels benefit billed as “Jerry Garcia & Friends” – it’s the most unusual and famous of these shows, since the Dead backed Bo Diddley for the first set, to an audience packed with Hell’s Angels. The second set started with a couple one-time-only Jerry Garcia covers that he’d been doing with Merl Saunders, before reverting to a normal Dead show. This show also featured Pigpen’s last Smokestack Lightning (and the only Lovelight of the run), as well as Donna Godchaux singing in several songs for the first time.
We have a decent 150-minute AUD - better than 3/22, with the band more up-front and clear. Weir’s guitar is high in the mix, Garcia & Lesh are quite present, but keyboards can hardly be heard. The Dead’s set is in much better quality than Bo Diddley’s set, and is the most listenable AUD of this run by far.
Deadlists notes: “Playing In The Band and Lovelight are fragments and Good Lovin is missing. The sound quality for Bo Diddley's set is horrible, and nearly as bad for the 1st Dead set; it improves to marginally listenable for the 2nd set (probably the mics were moved).”
But it turns out there wasn’t just one taper, as the text file to the AUD notes: “There are several masters to this show, of varying quality and completeness. Playin' In The Band and Lovelight are both missing their beginnings. There is only one known AUD master which supplies these songs, and even anything from Bertha onwards. Black-Throated Wind, Deal, Good Lovin' and Casey Jones, though present in Deadlists, are completely missing.”
So it seems the Bo Diddley set is from a different taper; but unfortunately, despite there being three tapers that night, there’s no alternate AUD source for the missing portions of the Dead’s set. Playing in the Band at least has most of its delightful jam left; Lovelight cuts in only during the finale, so we’re missing most of the song.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-03-25.aud.hanno.horner.22094.sbeok.shnf (both sets)
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-03-25.set2.aud.berger.100352.flac16 (This was Jerry Moore’s copy of the second set. It’s the exact same source tape, and sounds barely different to my ears.)
Part of the show was released on Dick’s Picks 30 – 30 minutes from the start of Bo Diddley’s set, and three rare tracks from the start of the Dead’s set.
(Since we’re still missing a big chunk of the second set, including Good Lovin’, part of Playing, and almost all of Lovelight; and have the whole Bo Diddley set only in an inferior AUD; it would be great to hear a complete SBD of this show.)
We have an incomplete 80-minute AUD, which only covers the first set and cuts off in Playing (near the end of the jam); so the last two songs of the set aren’t there. It’s a fair AUD, distant but not too muffled, and the instrument balance is OK – despite an over-loud bass, you can make out the whole band (you can even hear the piano on this one).
Deadlists notes: “Only thing circulating contains most of first set except Loser and Playing In The Band are fragments (two versions of Playing In The Band circulate, one breaking off at 4:32, the other at 9:33) and El Paso and Good Lovin' are missing; the sound is nearly listenable.”
Uli Teute writes in the AUD text file: “This is listenable and together w/ 3-23-72 the best recording from this run...but I have never found more than this partial 1st set...(the playing here is the long version c.f. deadlists entry, but still cuts).” The Taping Compendium disagrees: “The tape from this show is a really lousy recording. The band sounds quite far away…barely listenable.”
We have a poor 170-minute AUD with over-saturated bass, turning the band into a boomy mass of distortion; so this is a very harsh listening experience. This show looks like a long first set, with Good Lovin’ the only jam in Set II.
Deadlists notes: “Complete show in nearly listenable sound with what seem to be minor cuts in Playing In The Band and Good Lovin'.”
“Nearly listenable” is being generous, though. The Taping Compendium writes: “These tapes are among the worst quality I’ve ever heard…with a lot of distortion and almost no highs or lows, it sounds as if it were recorded through the speaker at a McDonald’s drive-thru..”
From the AUD text file:
“Contrary to deadlists this sounds shitty again…but yeah what the heck...by now if you listen to this run day by day you have gotten to a level of abstraction you easily imagine a better sound. If you sit thru this evening you will get a great Good Lovin (honestly it's a monster) some  min of it, and it tells the one to come in Europe 72.” (Uli Teute)
“Some of the quieter songs are actually quite listenable, but factors such as the overwhelming bass distortion make much of the show plainly unlistenable. Really, don't download this unless you are sure you want to. Uli's remark about the "level of abstraction" really hits the nail on its head. I am seeding this primarily as an "interim version" and possible source of patch material when the soundboard tape makes an appearance.” (Hanno Bunjes)
Playing in the Band was released on Dick’s Picks 30.
The 220-minute AUD recording quality is variable, but mostly very poor: though it’s somewhat better than 3/27, the band sounds very distant and the crowd very loud, and the recorder just couldn’t cope with the volume; so whenever the music revs up it turns into an earsplitting wall of distortion. (It sounds a bit better when the band is playing more quietly, which is rare.)
Deadlists notes: “Complete show on AUD except the Other One breaks off at 26:42. The quality of the tape varies, improving over the course of the show; it's possible the mics were moved between sets.” The Taping Compendium writes: “This tape is of very poor quality, especially the first set…Phil is oversaturated, causing distortion to ring through one’s home speakers.”
From the AUD text file: “This is an audience recording that requires serious efforts to listen to.” Uli Teute writes: "Again we have to be satisfied with a mediocre aud-rec…it is very much complete, even up to the painful annoying moments of tuning before each song...but a few funny remarks by the band are hidden in these "dead-air-portions" (watch out for Phil before Brokedown). The original taper struggled with levels throughout the 1st set, resulting in some overrecorded parts (this is not a transfer mistake) esp when Phil hits his bass."
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-03-28.aud.teute-bunjes.sirmick.24536.shnf (This remaster is a considerable improvement, for what it’s worth.)
Released in full on Dick’s Picks 30.
There were a number of significant jams played in this run, showing the band’s progression toward their Europe ’72 style.
Dark Star was played on 3/23, which I reviewed in the “1971 Dark Stars” post.
The other big jams I’ll explore at length here (saving the 3/26 show for later).
OTHER ONE 3/21
Truckin’ starts the second set. It leads into an excited jam - over five minutes long, which was actually the longest Truckin’ jam yet. Garcia plays a lot of repeated notes rather than the big Truckin’ chords, while the others chop out the rhythm. The jam calms down after a few minutes, almost sounding like it’s ready to go into Nobody’s Fault (but that wouldn’t happen til the fall). They slowly phase into the Other One rhythms. (The Truckin’ chorus is not repeated – though Weir signals a return to the vocals as usual, they skip it.) For a little while they play the hybrid Truckin’/Other One jam, then quietly dribble out for a three-minute drum solo.
The Other One starts energetically, the band tumbling ahead in a rush. Garcia quickly turns spacy with eerie fingerpicked arpeggios, then switches to a dark minor-chord tone; then Lesh rumbles out the Other One bass-line again. Back on track, Garcia plays slow wah-wah wails. Lesh is very prominent and restless here, prodding Garcia forward. They suddenly become quiet and enter a slowed-down, spacy passage, lit by Garcia’s drawn-out, keening guitar cries over Lesh’s deep notes – Weir strums and Kreutzmann rattles underneath. There’s an unhurried, foreboding feel, with the band drifting into atonality as Lesh guides things along with his bass lines. Garcia trills to thundering tom-toms and repeated Lesh chords, in a kind of proto-Tiger jam – but the ground is shifting, and Lesh, Kreutzmann and Weir are transitioning to a chordal jam: Me & Uncle. Garcia switches to some Uncle licks; but after teasing the intro for awhile, they decide against it and don’t go into the song. Instead Garcia signals the Other One, and the band quickly falls back in. There’s a quick verse (9 minutes in) – Pigpen comes back to the organ here.
They quiet down after the verse. Lesh starts a bubbly little theme, but it’s soon dropped. Garcia plays quietly, almost imperceptibly; and Lesh leads the band back into spacy drifting. He gets louder, and the tone becomes ominous again as he unleashes some massive notes that the others scurry around. Garcia starts noodling; Weir jabs chords in here & there, but he’s mostly staying back. They pull back from atonality into a relaxed little Lesh/Garcia jam, to a loping beat from Kreutzmann; but this quickly subsides into another drift. Garcia wanders through a classical-sounding progression with Lesh on his tail – the band knows this theme, and it sounds like a quote. They start taking it back to the Other One rhythm, Garcia going through a few offbeat lead variations, and the Other One coheres again as Kreutzmann stomps things back into gear. The band plays around with the intro chords to the verse, playing it up for drama; and the second verse comes 17 minutes in. (Garcia does a nice fill after the second line.) They land on a quiet ending, fading out to drumrolls – Garcia pauses before starting Wharf Rat.
Wharf Rat is nicely done – midway through, Garcia really bites into his hard-edged guitar lines. The song has a very aching, extended ending with peals of feedback
Overall, this Other One is rather unfocused as they restlessly skip around from one passage to another, but not settling on any for long. Not much really connects or becomes memorable. So it’s good but not special – on the other hand, it was the first Other One they’d played in three months, since the New Year’s Eve show, so on this first night they may not have settled in the groove yet.
(Gordon Sharpless, in the Taping Addendum, did not like it at all: “The Truckin’ jam meanders around in search of a destination – a destination soon reached in the locale of Drums… This Other One lacks cohesion, is rife with aimless noodling, and several attempts to build a jam promptly crumble to dust; musical feet aiming for the accelerator land upon the brake pedal instead. Wharf Rat is an improvement – the outro jam is a pleasant experience as it gently decays.”)
OTHER ONE 3/28
On the last night of the run, the Other One comes seamlessly out of Sugar Magnolia. Lesh hints at the Caution bassline as Sugar Magnolia ends (as on 3/22), but Garcia & Kreutzmann take it smoothly into the Other One instead. It begins calmly, sticking to the theme for a couple minutes. (Pigpen stays on organ in the jam for a while.) For the first few minutes, their playing is steady, staying on the rhythm, and they don’t wander too far away from the theme before getting pulled back in. Garcia plays variations on the Other One pattern; but after about five minutes, they get looser.
Lesh sets the band adrift with big bass chords, and things start to get exciting. Garcia and Lesh intertwine long sustained notes, while Weir plays choppy flurries and Pigpen swirls on organ. After a long peal of feedback from Garcia, they fade into silence, and we are now in space. (Pigpen leaves.) While Lesh squiggles, the others splash little notes out, and the music becomes chaotic. Godchaux pounds atonal chords, and Weir’s feedback blends into Lesh’s & Garcia’s notes, so that the band is echoing each other. Garcia plays a sputnik-like pattern of fast little notes, and it sounds like they’re slipping into a Tiger jam. But instead we enter a tense section of stasis, Garcia playing moaning notes in unison with Weir’s feedback.
About 12 minutes in, Garcia quietly starts a gentle fingerpicked melody (echoing Godchaux’s piano tinkles) as Lesh & Weir play an oddly clashing but beautiful accompaniment. (This is somewhat similar to the start of the Mind Left Body jam on 12/2/73.) Lesh briefly plays a familiar, pretty bass-line (the one he did at the 16-minute mark in the Dark Star on 3/23), but they’re going in a different direction now. Garcia quests for melody in a passage of pure improvisation - it doesn’t burst into a beautiful jam as on 3/23, but stays introspective. The mood gets heavier (Garcia’s tone reminds me of Peter Green’s End of the Game).
After the band hints at it, Garcia starts the Other One line again, by himself. The band joins him, and Pigpen comes back. Garcia and Weir play some cross-rhythmic riffing off the theme, then we get the verse (16 minutes in). Afterwards there’s a restrained theme jam, which heats up and sounds like they’re heading right for the second verse. (Pigpen stays on the organ.) But Garcia steers the band away into a drift, and we’re back in space. The music gets drippy as if the instruments are melting, Garcia letting out more high pealing notes. The band starts banging out a staggered circular theme (kind of like a backwards Other One riff); then they skitter around, loosely teasing the Other One without quite going into it. Kreutzmann is drumming the Other One beat, but they delay reentry. Garcia plays the Other One lick in high, muted notes; then a series of trills. They quiet down, but the music is building, and it’s like they can no longer resist, and are pulled irresistibly back into the Other One. Finally they dramatically cohere around the theme again and charge into the main riff, VERY intensely. After the second verse, they come to a stop with no segue.
Overall, this is more impressive than the 3/21 version. The band is very together in this version, blending into each other. It’s a solid Other One which never gets either really crazy or really pretty (like the 3/23 Dark Star did), but is particularly good in the ten minutes before the first verse.
On the second night of the run, they unexpectedly play the first Caution in a year. (It was last heard in St Louis on 3/18/71.)
Garcia starts the riff out of the end of Sugar Magnolia. It has a relaxed feel, more loose than driving; and the opening jam is very similar to the Other One. Kreutzmann keeps up a jungle beat on the tom-toms and cymbals; Pigpen isn’t doing much on the organ, but interjects now and then. Once Pigpen starts singing (about five minutes in), the playing gets more hectic – but it’s rhythmic backing for him, not independent leads. The music is good, but stays mostly laid-back (and Pigpen’s singing isn’t very impassioned compared to the Cautions of yore). It gets very similar to a Good Lovin’ jam, the way they ebb and flow through different riffs as he sings his usual repeated lines. About 16 minutes in, Pigpen finally stops singing, and the music subsides into a simmering jam; Garcia plays quick runs and the jam heats up.
There’s a musical pause about 18 minutes in; Lesh calls for a change in direction, and they turn a corner into a different style. Suddenly we’re in uncharted territory, like the middle of an Other One. The band hovers in space, Garcia plucking high notes to a backdrop of drum rolls, little bursts from Pigpen & Godchaux, and Weir’s scraped chords. There’s a feeling of expectation as Garcia keeps repeating a few notes in unison with Godchaux; meanwhile Weir synchronizes feedback to Lesh’s bass rumbles. Lesh slashes out the Caution chords over Garcia’s piercing wails. Finally Lesh drops to a deep
rumble of doom as Garcia’s notes climb higher; then Garcia signals the end of Caution by playing a downward progression with Keith.
Then out of the ashes, he starts plucking a gorgeous melody. The rest of the band is right with him as they play a gentle backing; and suddenly we’re in the middle of a soothing instrumental melody, similar to Bobby McGee or the Bid You Goodnight coda, haunting in its brief beauty. (The closest thing to compare it to is the 2/18/71 jam.) After a couple rounds, Lesh starts Uncle John’s Band, catching Garcia and Weir off-guard, and the jam ends.
After Playing in the Band, Good Lovin’ was the most-played jam song of early ’72. They played it at both Winterland shows; four times in the Academy of Music run; and 14 times in Europe. This song had been one of Pigpen’s big moments in early ’71, with many fine long versions; after his absence, it triumphantly returned in the 12/10/71 St Louis show. (The long drum solos of early ’71 were now omitted, so now the band burst straight into the jam from the chorus, a huge improvement.) Both the Winterland versions are great and distinctive: 1/2/72 has a surprise China Cat in the middle of the Good Lovin’ jam, and 3/5/72 features the first Mind Left Body jam.
On 3/21 it starts out fiercely, with Garcia wailing. As in ’71 the band intuitively backs Pigpen’s usual rap, following his rhythms, constantly changing direction and finding new riffs. Pigpen’s raps never seem to change much, but he sings with feeling, and musically it’s strong and compelling. The energy dissipates a bit after ten minutes, and they start finding their way back to the song – they hit a very nice simultaneous stop-start climax before resuming the main riff. (Garcia then suddenly drops out for a little bit, throwing the others off.) Pigpen raps madly up to the verse, neatly timing the end of his story to the start of the song.
On 3/27 it was the big second-set jam. This one sounds looser – after the first few minutes, Garcia rarely shows up; in fact he seems to be sitting out through most of Pigpen’s rap. This leaves Lesh and Weir carrying most of the jam, with Weir taking a few jangly chordal leads. Pigpen goes through his usual rap (with lots of repetition, it’s more like a chant – we get lots of “all night long,” “feel so nice,” etc, sung like a mantra). Whenever he stops rapping for a bit, they’ll get into a nice stomping jam here, a cool quirky jam there – but this version doesn’t have the variety or drive of 3/21, and Garcia is barely present, only poking in now & then. (The AUD doesn’t help much since it’s almost impossible to make out.) Near the end Garcia comes back for a nice little jam. Finally they tease at the main riff for a while, and bludgeon their way back into the verse. Despite being longer than on 3/21 (20 minutes versus 15), this one’s not as good.
PLAYING IN THE BAND
This was played at every show, and all the versions from this run are excellent. In the spring of ’71 the song was still in its basic framework, without even a brief solo in the middle, and played in less than five minutes. After Godchaux joined, they added a short interlude where Garcia would play a tight syncopated solo over the riff, and in fall ’71 the song edged over six minutes. While recording Ace in winter ’72, they expanded the middle jam considerably into a psychedelic powerhouse – audience members in ’72 who were familiar with the barebones Skull & Roses version wouldn’t have known what hit them. During this run, Playing stayed around ten minutes long, which was still enough time for the middle jam to cross the chasms of eternity.
3/21, though the shortest version, is also perhaps the most intense and charged-up, as Garcia tears open new paths with his demented wah-wah shrieks. Later versions alternate between calm and frantic passages – usually the jam starts off gradually, as Garcia coasts for a little while, then unexpectedly goes wild with speedy wah loops and runs. The band stays fixed on the main ten rhythm, but the jam ebbs and flows, relaxing then erupting; and the contrast between the band’s bopping rhythm and Garcia’s keening leads creates a sensation like drifting out into space. The last version on 3/28 is notable for being the longest, as Garcia decides to stretch out the jam past its usual length. On the audience tapes, the crowd always goes ecstatic once the band hits the familiar chords at the end of the jam.
(Note: Donna Godchaux’s first “official” show with the Dead was on 3/25 – though she had guested in One More Saturday Night back on New Year’s Eve. At this point she was barely integrated in the band; in fact the only Dead song she typically sang in was Playing in the Band. For some reason she was absent on 3/26, but returned the next two nights. For those interested in Donna trivia, she initially wailed only in the first musical bridge of Playing, not in the final return from the jam – 3/28 was the first time she belatedly let out a wail there, too. The audiences always sound excited to hear these moments…)
The show I’m focusing on, 3/26, was played by David Gans on the radio in 2008; and MP3 files are available from that:
The second set had never been heard before, and has the mystique of having the last uncirculated Other One from 1972. Although it was played several times on Sirius, it seems most people are barely aware of this show, so it merits a little description here.
The copy I listened to was a compressed mono MP3 – drums and bass are right up-front, and Garcia is low in the mix, but the organ and piano can be heard. (The piano is as loud as the guitars.) With Garcia a bit too quiet and Lesh somewhat too loud, the bass/drum rhythm is emphasized, which is a rather different way to hear the band…
Two songs (Playing in the Band and Good Lovin’, in mono) were included on the Taper’s Section 3/24/08:
http://www.dead.net/features/tapers-section/march-24-march-30-2008 (this page fortunately escaped the Taper’s Section holocaust)
These songs are all standard for the run, with no standouts until the end. (The first sets tend not to vary that much from one show to the next, other than a few song selections. For instance 3/26 omits a few of my favorites – Bertha, China>Rider, Cumberland Blues…)
After a couple minutes of tuning, the band starts the show off with Greatest Story Ever Told.
After a pause, they decide on Cold Rain & Snow for the next song, as Lesh announces: “These decisions always take time, folks… We’ve gotta consult with our advisors.”
Then Weir notices someone with a request -
Weir: “There’s a guy that’s been out there somewhere around there for the last few nights.”
Garcia: “Let’s have a light out there, let’s have a look at this guy! Who is this guy, anyway?”
Weir: “He’s been hollering ‘Alligator,’ and that’s no joke, there’s an alligator that lives out there under rows double-E and double-F, seats 4, 5 and 6, and you wanna watch out for that.”
Whoever this guy was, he apparently didn’t let up - you can still hear him hollering “Alligator” on the 3/27 AUD - and on 3/28 after Mexicali Blues, someone’s still calling for Alligator, and Lesh felt the need to speak up too:
“Hey, for all you Alligator fans out there...we understand there's a lot of Alligator fans out there, but we done forgot it, see. And so we're gonna have to remember it sometime later, you know.”
Even on the Europe tour, Weir still remembered this guy – in the 4/11 Newcastle show after Brown Eyed Women, someone else yells for Alligator (hopefully not the same guy!), and Weir replies:
“The guy hollering Alligator is serious. He's dead serious. There's an alligator in the Academy of Music. He lives under, I think rows triple-C and triple-D. And he wakes up for the rock and roll shit. So there's always some dude back there hollering ‘Alligator! Alligator!’ and everybody else thinks he's making a request.”
At any rate, the band never played Alligator again, though they had brought back Caution for Pigpen’s final tour.
3/26 continues with Cold Rain & Snow, then a couple new songs: Chinatown Shuffle (which had debuted on 12/31/71), and Black Throated Wind (a newly-recorded song for Ace). After a little more tuning, a few more songs familiar from ‘71 follow - You Win Again, Mr Charlie, Jack Straw, and Loser.
Then we have some more banter – Lesh asks the audience: “Did I hear a request for Psychedelic Dildo? - Must be my hearing…” Someone in the band mentions “Steely Dan,” and Lesh cracks up on the mike, causing feedback. “Watch out for that 1600 cycles, it’ll get ya every time!” The rest of the band is quite amused by this: “Steely Dan, ha ha!”
(The surprising thing about this is that the band Steely Dan had just been formed, and wouldn’t release any music for months yet, so the Dead must have been tickled by the name alone – it was the name of a dildo in Burroughs’ novel Naked Lunch. The Dead were joking not about a rival band onstage, but about beat literature!)
Weir announces: “First seven-eighths of this set is dedicated to Vic Tanny and associates the world over, for no reason at all.” (Vic Tanny was a bodybuilder and gym owner, so we can see how that train of thought developed…)
Then Weir sings Looks Like Rain, another new Ace song. As throughout this run, Garcia plays pedal steel on this song (as he had on the album) and Phil sings boisterous harmony. (Garcia had stopped playing pedal steel with the New Riders a few months earlier in November ’71, and hadn’t played it with the Dead since February ‘70. But a hopeful Weir had told the Harvard Independent back in February ’71, “I would like to see Jerry back us on pedal steel and we could do a few country numbers, which I certainly wouldn’t mind doing.” The idea wouldn’t last beyond the start of the Europe tour, though.)
After Looks Like Rain, Lesh pays their latest member a compliment: “That’s Keith, and he’s our new piano player. He’s been with us for quite a while now – part of the family, you might say. Actually, he’s our old piano player – we just didn’t know it for a long time.”
Big Railroad Blues and Big Boss Man follow, then they spend a couple minutes tuning for Playing in the Band. Lesh comments: “And now we’re gonna play a song that’s about playing a song that’s about playing a song…” There seems to be some muttering about the sound system, though, and Lesh addresses the sound crew: “Hey, they’re all crying down here for us to make it louder. You know what that means.”
Playing is excellent as always. (One notable thing about this Playing is that it’s the last version for a long time with no Donna!) The band keeps up a churning rhythm as Garcia floats majestically over the top, alternating wah-wah wails, sustained cries and rapid flurries, climaxing in screeching trills that Godchaux balances perfectly on piano. Kreutzmann really kicks through the jam, and Godchaux adds jazzy piano tinges – he’s very up-front in his playing, goading Garcia on. The jam calms down and then swells in intensity again – finally the band coalesces in an awesome extended single-chord crescendo that gradually quiets down for a return of the Main Ten riff. This is still done more quickly than it would be later in ’72, indeed Garcia rushes back to the chorus too soon! (It’s always impressive how carefully they handle the quiet outro after the last chorus, though.)
After a brief cowboy detour into El Paso, it’s time to close the set, and Kreutzmann starts off Good Lovin’ with the familiar drumbeats. This is a textbook version of Good Lovin’, full of driving hot rhythms meant to get the audience boogieing – it’s very similar to the 3/21 version. Pigpen sings his standard rap with feeling – it’s not about the words, but about the chantlike feel of his repeated lines – then he steps back with a wail and lets the band tear into a jam. It’s all about the nonstop rhythm, but sometimes Garcia rips out some great leads. Midway they suddenly stop and resume quietly under Pigpen’s rap, like a practiced r&b band. There’s so much forward momentum, it’s a surprise when they pause to return to the main riff; they prolong it so Pigpen can time the end of his rap with the chorus.
They slam to a strong ending, and Pigpen says: “Thank you. We’re gonna take a short break now, and we’ll be back in a few minutes.” (This is rare! I can’t think of many times when Pigpen announced the set-break.)
They did Truckin’ at four shows on this run (every other show), and each time it always started the set. So after some tuning, it’s no surprise to hear Truckin’ – and it’s a lot more driving than on 3/21. The band pours enthusiastically into the strong jam, Garcia especially blazing. After truckin’ on for a couple minutes, they calm down for a bit, then heat right back up again for another climax. After the last chorus is repeated, the music dissolves and rearranges as hints of the Other One slip into the jam. Space opens up for an interlude between bass, drums, piano & rhythm guitar – the band starts to resemble a chamber-jazz combo, and Garcia drops in some sweet lines. Lesh, Kreutzmann & Godchaux start a funky little vamp, which gradually turns into a remarkable full-fledged jam of its own. Weir adds a nice chord backing, Garcia re-enters and fits in some perfect lines, and the music takes on a warm, somehow familiar feeling. They roll along for a bit, as if letting the music play itself – then the theme passes and the jam breaks up. After a few rhythmic dead ends, Lesh keeps rolling out false starts to the Other One; but it’s time for drums. The others drop out, and Kreutzmann gets the spotlight. (The whole Truckin’ jam was 13 minutes, much longer than any Truckin’ had gone before.)
After a few minutes of drums, the Other One comes in with a bang. It’s very energetic - fast Garcia runs, darting bass, tumbling drums, and punchy rhythm. The jam stays centered on the Other One theme for a few minutes – there’s a tough, aggressive feel, the instruments whirling like a flock of hungry birds in a quick climax. (As the band quiets down, the crowd can be heard cheering.) Once they’ve worked out the knots, they start to drift and leave the rhythm. The music washes like an abstract sonic wave, toms rolling as the band surges together. Everyone starts playing fast notes, creating a bubbling effect, as Lesh’s bass lead ties it all together. The piano guides them into an alarming space – Garcia cries out, Weir warbles feedback, Kreutzmann thumps and rattles, Godchaux stabs out piano clusters, and Lesh underpins them with a giant rumble. Fragments of the Other One theme start to creep back in like little echoes, and they slowly reform around it - the twirling strands of music fly out freely, then pull together in an insistent rhythm, made solid by Kreutzmann’s drumbeat. Weir very quickly sings the verse (and Pigpen suddenly appears on organ, just in time).
They stay on theme after the verse, still going frantically pell-mell as if they’re running a race. Pigpen stays on organ, adding a nice circus texture. They tumble forward, so it sounds like they’re going straight for the second verse, but then put on the brakes. The guitars start a repeating two-chord pattern – and suddenly things get dense, and they fall into another pounding climax with Weir and Garcia struggling together in noisy confusion. Lesh unwinds from this with twisting bass lines as Godchaux hits a few fractured chords. Weir starts a spiraling line, and Garcia plays a tormented lead over it. Pigpen is still swirling in the backdrop, and the mood is very heavy. Lesh nudges them back to the Other One theme again, but it doesn’t last for long. Garcia keeps playing an especially distressed-sounding lead, and the band scatters back to arrhythmic wildness - bass grunts, ringing organ, odd chords from Weir & Godchaux, and Garcia’s piercing keens. Then there’s a little passage of Weir chimes and bass groans with light piano/organ backing. When Garcia comes back in, they all combine in a brief harmonic maelstrom, the instruments twisting around each other in hideous beauty. It subsides, and there’s a little drum break as the audience cheers. Garcia percussively beats on his strings and Lesh plays along with the rhythm; Weir returns with a strum, and suddenly before knowing it, they have entered Me & My Uncle. (24 minutes into the jam.)
After this jaunty western interlude, Weir and the band dash straight back into the Other One riff out of the song. Kreutzmann’s banging hard on the drums, but they tone it down for a quiet segment. Garcia does a pretty solo over Weir’s subdued chords - Lesh initially plays the root notes but then starts following Garcia’s lines in a duplicate lead. He drops to low repeating notes, and Garcia climbs up the frets to a high note, joined by Pigpen in a small finale. After some momentary uncertainty, Lesh hints at the Other One theme; Weir & Kreutzmann grab on, and they lead the band back to the second verse.
The Other One crashes to a somewhat unsynchronized end (this epilogue was about five minutes long); when Garcia starts up the Wharf Rat chord, and the others slowly tumble in. It’s a fine, strident version, with another long solo at the end – which comes across as more upbeat, less poignant than on 3/21, and ends with a march of slow harmonics and drums, and a final cry of feedback.
(Definitely no shiny melodic jams in this Other One! It’s very dense, driving, and focused – the groupmind is quite impressive as the music disintegrates and coalesces at will. Stormclouds thunder through the jams here; with its raging, heavy atmosphere, it looks forward to the Other Ones of late ’72.)
Weir perks things up again with a fast, standard Sugar Magnolia. Then they slow things down for Pigpen’s new song Two Souls, which they performed at six of these shows – it has a nice Garcia solo and a long, emotive ending as Pigpen sings, “Won’t somebody please help me!” (Note that the band hasn’t yet added the “whoa-oh” backing vocals at the end that they would do in Europe.)
Lesh immediately starts the Not Fade Away riff, and Kreutzmann obliges by starting the beat. NFA closed four shows in this run - like Truckin’, it was done at every other show. (On 3/21 it was rather brief and perfunctory; 3/23 and 3/28 were both good versions, but very similar – they’d streamlined NFA since the giant jams of late ’71.) It’s a typically hard-driving version, not too different from the others, though there’s a nice reflective passage before Goin’ Down the Road starts, that almost goes into China Cat mode. (They would extend this idea in the 3/28 version.) Goin’ Down the Road rocks out, and the Goodnight coda is reasonably extended before the band stomps back into Not Fade Away. (This is also the last version of Goin’ Down the Road without Donna, as she joins in the chorus on 3/28.) I like how Weir & Pigpen both sing the “not fade away” closing – Pigpen has impeccable timing.
The band leaves as Weir says, “See y’all later, folks.”