March 14, 2012

The Owsley Stanley Foundation

This is not a "news" blog, since I usually focus on the early history of the Dead; but there's a recent development that I thought was worth a brief post.

After Bear's death, his family started the Owsley Stanley Foundation, which is now raising funds to restore and release Bear's tapes - over 1300 live recordings:

Most of these are probably either bands that opened for the Dead from '68-70, or bands that played at the Carousel in early 1968, where Bear was the soundman. More details on Bear's tapes are here:

This is a listing of shows at the Carousel - Bear would have taped shows from March to June, 1968:

The first release from "Bear's Sonic Journals" is Big Brother at the Carousel, 6/23/68.
This album was actually prepared long ago, and Bear wrote about it here (at the bottom of the page) -
(Notice that the cover has been changed!)
Back in 2000, Bear wrote, "I have word that Sony Music is at last ready to offer a contract agreeable to (most of) my terms, which means the album may actually get into production sometime soon."
Of course, this didn't happen. It seems apparent that, unfortunately, it took Bear's death to make any kind of archival release series from his tapes possible.

It remains to be seen what the future volumes will be, or even how many different bands were taped. A wide variety of groups opened for the Dead in the late sixties, some of them forgotten today, some renowned. (There's a partial list on the Foundation site, but it would be good to have a complete listing.)
Of the bands listed, we know Johnny Cash, Dan Hicks, Chuck Berry, Thelonious Monk, Dr. John, Steve Miller, Santana, the Youngbloods, and Electric Flag played at the Carousel. Taj Mahal, Quicksilver, Country Joe, and the Airplane frequently played with the Dead, and there could be any number of tapes from them. Blue Cheer opened for the Dead at the LA Shrine on 7/11/68.
Bear likely taped Fleetwood Mac both at the Carousel in June '68, and in New Orleans in January '70. He also taped Miles Davis' sets at the Fillmore West in April '70 - though ironically, those sets were also taped by Columbia for a live album. The Allmans, of course, were taped at the Fillmore East in February '70, and a CD was already released from those tapes. David Grisman and Old & in the Way were taped in '73, when Bear was no longer recording the Dead's shows, but focused on Garcia's bluegrass sideproject.
There are many other bands that opened for the Dead in those days, both obscure & famous - it would be great to know what tapes might survive of them.

I don't know how many Dead shows are included in this collection. It's my understanding that all of Bear's Dead tapes were donated to the Vault already; so it seems unlikely that new & unheard Dead shows will now emerge. Dan Healy mixed the Dead's sound when they played at the Carousel, so it's possible Bear did not tape any of those shows, only the other bands - but who knows?

Any releases, of course, will have to be negotiated with the bands and licensed through their record labels - for instance, the Big Brother release is coming out on Columbia/Legacy. Other releases may be worked out through other labels, or may be blocked, depending on the individual bands & companies.

There are no details yet on the tapes - Bear taped on both reels and cassettes, depending on what was available; some may still sound pristine today, but others may sound quite degraded. Most of them perhaps haven't even been played in decades.

I'm not sure what measures Bear took to preserve his tapes in the last 40 years (other than just storing them) - he wrote, "Not all the tapes managed to make it through to the present, and I didn't have enough blank tape at the time to record all the shows... These tapes have not always been stored under ideal conditions."

The Foundation writes that the surviving tapes are rapidly deteriorating:
"The tapes are approaching the end of their known shelf-life, and if the recordings are not digitally preserved, they will be lost forever. Experts believe that the typical lifespan of this media is approximately fifty years if maintained in ideal conditions and have advised the Foundation that the digitization of the earliest of these recordings should occur within the next five years or they will not be salvageable; all of them will continue to degrade and will become unsalvageable unless eventually digitized. The cost of digitally preserving these recordings is estimated to be US $200,000 to US $300,000 and will require two to four years of studio time by sound engineering professionals to complete."

They are taking donations, but the restoration project will no doubt also be funded by sales of the Sonic Journal releases.

March 7, 2012

10/17/70 Cleveland

A new audience tape from 1970 has surfaced, causing some excitement among Dead collectors. It’s not every day you get a brand-new tape from one of the Dead’s classic years, especially one with a “lost” Dark Star!

In October 1970, the Dead started a long tour of the east and midwest. Starting the tour with a couple “hit and run” eastern college shows, one weekend in mid-October found them playing Philadelphia on the 16th, Cleveland on the 17th, and Minneapolis on the 18th. This has always been a “lost weekend” in Dead history, with no tapes of these shows surviving. There were a few brief memories online about the Cleveland show: “I was at the show, and if the music was half as good as my memories of it, it was outstanding.” “They played almost all of Live Dead: Dark Star, St Stephen, the Eleven…”
We could only wonder…until a few months ago, when a Cleveland taper popped up and announced that he’d taped the 17th.

Taper Jeff Linton wrote David Gans:
“It was a double shotgun blast of the Live Dead/Skull and Roses experience.
It was a week before my 17th birthday and I've been on the bus ever since.
This was at the smaller Music Hall that is backed up against and shares stage area with the much larger Public Hall. I seem to recall seeing a review saying they were so loud that it could be heard in the Public Hall during a performance by either the Cleveland Pops or Cleveland Orchestra.
I can back this up with a very old mono cassette recording I made at the concert.
In spite of the Bob and Jerry songs, the Dark Star, the Other One etc, it was very much, without a doubt, Pigpen’s band.
What a BIG FAT SOUND they had back then!”

Gans arranged for the cassettes to be sent to Charlie Miller, who transferred them to the digital world. It turned out to be a good recording for the year, considering the amateur equipment; sounding comparable to some of the Port Chester shows, or about the same as the 10/10/70 audience tape. (From that month, it’s not as good as the excellent stereo 10/23/70 tape – one of the best recordings of the year – but much better than the harsh, tinny 10/11/70 horror.)
There’s a lot of room presence, and the band’s a little distant, but the audience doesn’t overwhelm the music. The guitars and bass are loud and clear, and the drums boom out – cassette recorders from those days had a hard time coping with the Dead’s loud volume, but the sound isn’t too muddy, and it doesn’t get too distorted when the band volume goes up. (Although you can hear the familiar rumble of tapenoise in the quiet parts and between songs!)
The taper and his friends chatter through the tape. (They get increasingly boisterous as the show goes on!) But the audience is not nearly as rowdy as New York audiences typically were in 1970 – for many people seeing the Dead at that show, it was their first time.
There are numerous cuts in the music, most of them severe. The recording is 2 ½ hours, but due to all the cuts (at least a half-hour of music is missing), the show must have been about 3 hours. It is the longest individual show of the month: at most of the other shows, the Dead play a single set ranging from 60-100 minutes (not including NRPS). It’s also unique for October ‘70 in having a break between two Dead sets – although apparently 10/10 also had two sets, we are unfortunately missing almost all of the second one. At a couple places (Minneapolis and Stony Brook) the Dead still had to play two full shows an evening, which always resulted in the early show being cut very short.

We’re fortunate to have most of the shows from October 1970:
10/4/70 Winterland – FM-SBD
10/5/70 Winterland – mostly not circulating, but the SBD is in the Vault
10/10/70 Queens, NJ – good AUD
10/11/70 Wayne, NJ – poor AUD
10/16/70 Philadelphia, PA – lost.
10/17/70 Cleveland, OH – good AUD
10/18/70 Minneapolis, MN (two shows) – lost.
10/23/70 Washington, DC – great AUD
10/24/70 St Louis, MO – fair SBD
10/30/70 Stony Brook, NY (two shows) – good SBD
10/31/70 Stony Brook, NY (two shows) – good SBD

[The Dead may have played an extra show at Paterson College on 10/12/70, but I haven’t seen this confirmed.]

The Cleveland show was pretty standard for the time – aside from having a Dark Star, which was already becoming rare in the Dead’s sets. All the other songs played were done quite a few times that month, in very similar versions (the setlists that month are quite repetitive) - so as a whole the show doesn’t really stand out from its brethren, except in being new to us. (Still, it’s great to have another page in the Dead tourbook restored to us!)
I should mention that, when listened to on its own, it is a great show, representative of the Dead at their 1970 peak. That it’s so similar to other October ’70 shows is a testament to how high the average Dead standard was then. This was not a band that (as Dead reputation has it) fell on their faces at every other show, unable to produce any glimmer of magic – though the band themselves may have felt that way! (And there certainly are some weaker shows from this period, too, where the band does fall flat.)
But as Jay Itkowitz wrote, about the 10/10 Queens show (which apparently felt like a disaster in person, though it sounds strong on the tape): “Musically the concert was a bummer, but to many of the people there, it was a tremendous success. The reason for this is simple: the Grateful Dead are such a fantastic rock band that even when they are bad they outshine almost any group in the contemporary rock scene.”
By 1970 the Dead were a well-oiled audience manipulation machine, able to bring any audience to its feet and take them through the tightly-rehearsed twists and turns of the medleys, gasping at Garcia’s solos and cheering at Pigpen’s antics til they were spent, weary but happy and calling for more. In the first set at Cleveland, the band plays some less demanding tunes, works through some distractions, and takes the tone of the place – in the second set, they’re out to impress, playing an almost interrupted series of ‘greatest hits’ that leaves the audience stunned. (One audience member who was looking for a tape of this show on the Archive years ago wrote, “It was a real stunner… I believed I was dancing on the ceiling.”)
It’s notable in the Cleveland show that the band plays only a few new songs, though they had just finished recording a new album. (And it can be hard to remember that there was a time when Truckin’, Sugar Magnolia, or Goin’ Down the Road were “new”!).This was their first time in Cleveland (though they’d played shows in Columbus, Athens, and Cincinnati, Ohio before), and they may have intentionally played tried & true tunes for a new audience.

There are a few other important things to note about the tour, at least in its early October stages. The Dead were not playing acoustic sets – in general, they were done with those, except at the Fillmore East and Capitol Theatre, Port Chester shows. And it’s no accident that half of our 1970 Dark Stars come from the same two theaters! (Though we know they played it at least a couple times in October, there’s no sign of it for two months after the New York run in November.)
Garcia was interviewed on October 11, just as the tour was starting, and he mentioned, “There's only two theaters, man, they are the only two places that are set up pretty groovy all around for music and for smooth stage changes, good lighting and all that - the Fillmore and the Capitol Theater. And those are the only two in the whole country. The rest of the places we play are sort of anonymous halls and auditoriums and gymnasiums and all those kinds of places… We do our best show…here in New York.”

The New Riders apparently did not open for the Dead for the first two weeks, not showing up until October 23rd. Weir even announces at the start of the 10/10 show, “Marmaduke stayed home. There’s no New Riders tonight. This is the economy package.”
When asked why they were absent, Garcia replied, “It's a question of can we afford it, because it costs a lot of money to move a cat from the West Coast to the East Coast. And, like, at the Fillmore they pay us enough - where we can bring whatever we want, pretty much. But at other places, like, colleges and stuff like that where we're playing in a small hall and they're not going to have much in the way of gross capacity and everyone is going to bust in anyway, we can't afford to bring that many people and to do all that… We take them with us when we can. We work it out in front but a lot of times people - whoever the promoter is - says, ‘No, we don't want the New Riders 'cause we don't know who the fuck they are.’”

And, most importantly, the Dead were not traveling with their own sound crew – the Alembic team stayed home. (As McNally writes, “It was a low-budget tour, without the Dead’s own sound system.”) This left the Dead at the mercy of local PA systems and mixers, and sometimes the shows suffered for it. So this turned out to be one of the last tours where that happened – a few months later, they bought the Alembic PA and hired several new roadies for the April ’71 tour. (Bob Matthews’ apparent absence from this tour may be one reason why the Dead weren’t taping their own shows in these months – there just wasn’t anyone available to do it.)
When asked about the Queens show, Garcia was quite grumpy about it: “It was shitty. I mean, we flew all day long and came here for that gig, and didn't get a chance to check out the sound very well or anything like that. The PA system wasn't too good, and the sound was muddy on stage, and when it's muddy it just destroys any kind of hope for good interaction. You know, we can sort of play together instinctively, so it was together, but it wasn't really high because it wasn't enjoyable…
“We don't take anybody on the road with us or anything. We don't make that much bread. I mean, for example, if we were making enough bread to be able to afford to do that, we would have had our own PA last night, and we would have gone through a number of sound tests to do what we could to make it better. But we don't have any control over any of that shit, so we have to use whatever is there. It depends on there being at least a fairly decent one and that's hardly ever the case.”

With all that as background, let us return to our new show, and let the night unfold…

The 16-year-old taper Jeff Linton and his friends went to the Music Hall that night, armed with a mono cassette recorder and a bundle of Nakamichi tapes, and posted themselves on the front row balcony. Once the band came on and the applause died down, the taper started recording and let the tapes run – no pauses between songs, no trying to conserve tape!

The tape starts with quiet chatter among the audience as the band sets up. The guitars tune to the organ, and the drummers test their rattling drums. Someone announces, “Good evening, football fans…” Then we hear someone giving instructions on where to place the drum mikes: “Turn the drum mike down…OK, that’s two mikes in the front…overhead mike on the other side…so it doesn’t slap back up the wall like that. That’s better - bring that up just a little bit – that’s too much…” Meanwhile, Weir teases the Star-Spangled Banner.
After a long wait, the band finally begins with a rousing Casey Jones. Then Garcia signals a few notes of China Cat to confirm the next song with the band – he tends to do this throughout the first set, which shows that the band was choosing songs on the fly.
China Cat gets an extended intro as Garcia doesn’t sing the first verse for a while. Otherwise it’s a standard version for late ’70 - Weir plays his usual transition solo, and the band plunges right into Rider with Garcia playing just a few short licks. Some people in the audience cheer when the band starts singing Rider (it would have been a new pairing to most people, indeed a surprise). The band’s volume really goes up in the short solos, with Garcia taking flight and Lesh darting around him.

After it’s over, there are a few requests from the audience, but in general the crowd is noticeably calm. Garcia asks, “PA man, whoever you are – in the monitors, turn down Bobby’s microphone…” Then he signals Me & My Uncle with a quiet lick, and we hear Pigpen get back on the organ. (It was one of the few songs he still played on that year. At any rate, his organ can barely be heard when the band’s playing, so this is about the last time you hear it in the show.)
After a strong Me & My Uncle, there’s a long pause. Garcia explains to the audience, “We’re trying to get the electricity together, you know – in a bit it will all work out.” Silence ensues from the stage – but the audience waits patiently and quietly, not nearly as noisy as a Port Chester crowd would be! Finally the instruments come back for more tuning and adjustments, the band playing little random phrases for a couple minutes.
Pigpen takes the lead for a strong Hurts Me Too. As it ends, someone talks to the taper: “I hope you got all that on tape. (That’s a taper.)” “You really want to take the tape out?” “No. Don’t worry, it only tapes on both sides, not in the middle…” [Or something like that.]
Then someone in the band speaks: “Light show man, it seems like there’s a big beam of light in our faces, moving up and down, so if you could, turn the house lights up a little bit, and turn the spotlights down.…” The audience applauds, but apparently nothing happens. “I guess you didn’t hear me. Mister spotlight man? Hey, who’s the union representative around here anyway?” Garcia signals Truckin’.
Truckin’ is still a new song (they’d only recently started playing it electric), and it’s a bit more laid-back than it would become. But there’s not much to say about it – the tape cuts out less than a couple minutes into the song. (It sounds like the tape running out at the end of the side.)

The Other One cuts in on the opening crash, the crowd clapping and cheering. (In late 1970 it still frequently appeared in the first sets, for instance the week before on 10/10.) There is quite a bit of music missing here. The first known Truckin’>Other One segue was on 10/23 – some have speculated that an even earlier segue may be missing behind the cut here. But I don’t think so – I believe Truckin’ ended, and they started the full Cryptical suite. There are a few reasons:
In the 10/23 segue, the Other One flows smoothly from Truckin’, without a big bass roll or the crowd reaction, both of which are on 10/17. (You also hear the big cheers when the Other One starts on 10/10.)
Also, one witness on recalled, “What I really liked were the drummers center stage and all the percussions stage left. If I recall, there were about 3 drum solos throughout the show.” We have one long drum solo in the second set (in Good Lovin’), and his memory would be substantiated by another drum solo here. They did Truckin’>drums>Other One a few times in November, so that could be possible here – but, most importantly:
The Other One segues into the Cryptical reprise. In late 1970, this never happened unless they played the whole Cryptical suite – there were no Truckin’>Other One>Crypticals.
At any rate, the Cryptical>drums usually ranged from about 6-9 minutes during this period. So on top of the 4 minutes that are missing from Truckin’(and whatever happened in between), this is a major gap. The taper must not have noticed that the tape had stopped, or perhaps was unable to flip it for a while.

The Other One is 10 minutes long, and great. At this point the band still sticks to the main rhythm throughout – though they’re sometimes almost on the verge of slipping into a spacier or more melodic section, as they would do in ’71. (I think the first version with a space-out is 11/29/70.) There’s a delicious part after 2:20 as the band quiets down, Garcia finds one ringing bent note and repeats it through several bars, and they suddenly storm up and pound out the song chord. After the verse the music gets quieter for a bit, with Garcia and Lesh playing twin leads – through the jam they’ll come back to the main riff for a bit, then take it out in a new direction. Between Garcia and Lesh’s fast notes and the band’s revolving patterns, the music seems to be spinning in circles – there’s a heavy jam on the theme, Garcia’s tone massive, piercing, with hints of feedback. The return to the verse is super: as Lesh pushes him forward, Garcia brings the jam to a well-timed, high-pitched climax, and the crowd applauds in amazement as the band falls back into the second verse.
The Cryptical reprise is short, 3 minutes long. (The epic reprises of the past were pretty much done with at this point, and most of the Crypticals of late ’70 are also this short, or skipped altogether.) There’s big applause as Garcia starts the verse, but he never goes into the “you know he had to die” part; after the first two lines it stays instrumental – gently rolling, hypnotic, sometimes stirring beneath the waves but then subsiding. (9/18 is another very pretty version where they don’t do “he had to die.”) As they often did in 1970, they just drift quietly in Cryptical for a couple minutes, not committing to anything – until Weir hits the first couple chords of Sugar Magnolia, seemingly at random. In an instant, the band abandons Cryptical and springs on Sugar Magnolia. (This wasn’t new: Sugar Magnolia had also come out of the Cryptical reprise back on 6/7 and 8/18, and they would do the same segue on 11/11 and 12/28, so they must have liked the jarring effect.)
Sugar Magnolia is unusual for the time since Garcia doesn’t use the wah-wah, so this is one of the rare 1970 Magnolias with his normal guitar tone. (Maybe since they came out of the medley, he didn’t have the wah pedal set up.) They’d only been playing it since June and the song was developing slowly, so the middle jam is still short and restrained, not quite as electrified as the wah versions. Garcia plays the cute little lick bridging the jam to Sunshine Daydream (most well-known from the 10/4/70 version). The band sings the “doo doo” backing vocals to Sunshine Daydream, which is still quite short – Weir seems to end it abruptly.

The band tunes up and pauses for a couple minutes, while the taper’s friends chatter. (They’re still talking quietly at this point!) I think one of them says, “That’s nearly a Dark Star…”
Then there’s a stage announcement that “the fire monitor’s here,” apparently concerned about smoking, to the crowd’s dismay. (A witness on mentions that the fire marshal was onstage.) There’s a bit of obscure stage banter, but the band ignores him and goes right to the next song, another new one from American Beauty. (Which would not be released until November.)
Candyman gets a long guitar intro, with Garcia playing an interesting little solo where the first verse would usually be. We don’t get much of this Candyman though, for after 2:05, there’s a cut and we skip from the first verse to the last verse – so most of the song is missing, about 4 minutes. (Someone near the taper keeps talking through the whole song, too, not very interested in this slow new song.)
There’s a little more tuning, and the audience is once again pretty subdued and quiet between songs (definitely not a wild & crazy crowd tonight!). The taper is telling a story, I think about technical troubles recording an earlier show (I can only make out a piece of it), but he’s interrupted by the band as they start Hard to Handle. “…[taping a song,] then you look down, and you missed the whole thing…. We missed a half hour of it, about an hour and a half, then they came out after intermission and tuned, we got the tuning perfectly, they’re using their electrical equipment, we had it at high level to record soft sound, then we forgot we had it at high level to record high sound – distorted - and all you get between songs is this tuning….”
Alas, one of those technical glitches occurs even as he speaks, and the tape cuts out just as the band starts Hard to Handle, cutting back in when Weir starts his solo. (So all the verses are lost, about 2 ½ minutes. I’m not sure why two such big cuts would happen so close together, just four minutes apart…)
Lesh stomps on a four-chord pattern at the end of Weir’s solo; then we get a nice, smoky Garcia solo, propelled by a bass drone. This isn’t one of those blowout Hard to Handle solos, though - the band drops unexpectedly back into the song when you think the guitar break’s going to last longer. (In comparison, check out 10/23 for a hot Hard to Handle from this month.)
And that’s the end of the set – Weir says, “We’re gonna take a little break…and we’ll be back in about five minutes…” Just before the tape stops, we can hear the tapers exclaim: “Motown!” “Damn right…”

When the tape comes back on, the band is tuning and the crowd is clapping a beat for them. The taper’s friends are having a conversation (they’re getting louder and more giggly as the show goes on). Since the band’s quiet for a little while, the taper says, “I’m going to turn the tape off,” but just then the drumbeats for Good Lovin’ start up.
Good Lovin’ has the extended drum intro the band was doing at this time – the crowd cheers the opening drums. (Clearly they’ve become more excited over the set break.) There’s the usual long, meandering drum break, 6 ½ minutes (ending at 8:40) – the crowd listens, mostly quiet. Then it ends with the two drummers doing their end-of-drums ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ in unison and the band bursts back in, to a big cheer.
Often at this point the Good Lovin’ drum break was longer than the actual jam, which was usually kept to just a few minutes. This is the most jammed-out Good Lovin’ of the month, though! (Although 10/24 is also very hot, even going into a St Stephen jam.) As usual the jam is very energetic, with rollicking drums. (It’s still an instrumental jam – Pigpen didn’t start doing a rap in Good Lovin’ until 11/29/70.) After a few minutes, the guitarists step back and let Lesh take the lead – astonishingly, we then get a bass solo! It’s very rhythmic, and the audience starts clapping along – then the guitarists return and rip into the jam again. At 15:00, they come back to the stop & start riff – as they always did in late ’70, they repeat this over & over for a couple minutes in call & response fashion, the bandmembers taking turns playing little licks between the riffs. The crowd really cheers when the band hammers back into the song, which ends to wild applause at 18:22.
One witness on remembered this part of the show in particular: “This was an excellent show. I would dearly love to locate a recording of it, if just to confirm my fond memories of the performance. I recall an extended jam in which Phil Lesh just killed. Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir got on each side of him, pointed their guitars at him, and pushed him through a series of short solos, trading licks and revving things up tremendously.”

Garcia soon starts Cold Rain & Snow. There’s another cut here at 1:45 – it cuts from ‘combing back her yellow hair’ to ‘I married me a wife.’ (So it’s missing about 90 seconds.) There’s a break for a couple minutes after the song as the band tunes and gets ready for Dark Star - Hart may have had to set up his extra percussion instruments. The crowd whistles and hollers, more active than in the first set, and there are some calls for St Stephen. (The taper chatters through this, though I can’t quite make him out; he finishes talking over the start of Dark Star.)

Dark Star starts out more muscular than ethereal – Lesh is loud and booming; Weir’s chords are clear and jangly; some percussion taps out the rhythm; Garcia is in the zone, carefully dropping sweet notes into the mix. A very enticing intro jam, but as it’s heating up, there’s a big cut after 3:10 which zaps us to the very end of the first verse. (The other Dark Stars of the period have intro jams ranging from about 4-6 minutes long, so about 2-4 minutes is lost in this cut. It had been only 7 minutes since the last cut, so once again what happened is a mystery…)
A ringing gong takes over as Weir’s guitar falls silent, and we enter space: low notes from the bass, ghostly chimes of feedback, and scraped strings (which, at 4:55, sound like a quacking duck). The audience is dead silent during the space, but after a couple minutes they can’t hold it in any more and cheer. The band responds by getting noisier – splashes of gong, a jet-drone from the bass, more feedback.
Way off in the distance, Garcia starts the sputnik pattern, sounding like wind-chimes, but stops in a whine of feedback. Then we hear volume swells from him, the wobbly-wire effect from Weir, big bass hums, and cymbals. After about 8 minutes, Garcia is playing a very quiet part (almost subliminally) – raising the volume, he starts playing slow notes again in some slow, sad melody that the band accompanies. Coming out of the weirdness and tinged with feedback, the dignified melody feels almost unearthly.
The band is being careful and deliberate here, slowly working their way back to earth. A glockenspiel starts to accompany Garcia (it’s very loud and prominent on the tape, perhaps the best capture of this instrument in any Dark Star). Lesh is picking up the beat, at 10.30 Weir starts to play chords again, and the jam builds momentum. It feels like a song forming as Garcia plays piercingly pretty notes.
By 12 minutes in, they’re speeding up – Garcia’s doing fast runs and Lesh hints at Tighten Up; but it’s just a feint, they’re not doing a familiar theme tonight. Garcia slows down the jam, to great effect - he has that magnificent echoing tone (as in the 9/19 Dark Star), sounding enormous, majestic and soaring over the room. At 13.20 Garcia enters the slow ‘bright star’ riff (as on 9/19), but it’s not time for reentry yet, and he backs off.
To a loud bass and tapping cymbals, he starts quietly playing runs again – as he gets louder, Weir and the drums come back in, and they hit a rocking groove. Garcia chops out some rhythm chords at 14:50, then goes back into a fast sputnik that trickles out. The others are playing a quick, sparse backing, and Garcia joins them for a fast jam. Under his lead, they gradually shift the rhythm back to Dark Star as he plays long, hanging notes. (Here it sounds like the end of a Dancing, where they always have to slow down to get back to the song.)
Just as Garcia resumes the Dark Star riff at 17:40, the tape cuts again, to the first line of the verse. (This must be a short cut, as there’s not much missing – less than a minute.) At the end they play the slow transition to St Stephen without a peep from the crowd . (However, there’s a loud crackling from the tape – there were a lot of tape crackles and pops in the quiet parts of Dark Star!)

Even with the cuts, this was a tremendous Dark Star. Structurally, it doesn’t offer any surprises as it follows the same pattern as the surrounding Stars – the Dead play the same sections, more or less the same way, so there’s little new in that respect. Moodwise though, each Star follows its own path, and this one has a different feel from the 10/11 Dark Star. That one was crackling with wild energy, while this one is more subdued and deliberate. It also has a sadder tone than the bright & happy Stars from 9/17 and 9/19, with their killer thematic jams – this one doesn’t hit such a satisfying climax. (It’s telling how quiet the audience is throughout, when other Stars have them bursting into spontaneous applause.) All the same, Stars have a way of shifting over time, and a Star can sound very different from one listen to the next. Among the amazing Dark Stars of late 1970, this one holds its own.

The pent-up audience hollers at the first notes of St Stephen, clapping along to the beat. (Our taper joins in.) This is a good Stephen, with the big chiming raveup in the middle that really gets the crowd going. As usual for the year, after the “answer man” the drummers go into the Not Fade Away drumbeats. (The band closed almost every show this month with NFA.)
As the audience hollers, Not Fade Away starts out rough & rowdy, with the crowd really into it. It’s a short version, less than 5 minutes, like most of the late-’70 NFAs (the giant versions came to an end when Goin’ Down the Road was introduced). Garcia plays a rather gentle melodic solo after the verses are done (very similar to the 10/23 version).
The transition to Goin’ Down the Road is not quite smooth yet (they’d first done it just a week before), but the band delivers a nice instrumental intro – that part of the song was down from the beginning. Garcia sings it a bit differently from later versions, and plays a ridiculously short middle solo, just one verse long (20 seconds) – then they sing just one more refrain before the Goodnight outro. This is actually a historic version – it’s the first version we have where the Bid You Goodnight instrumental was used as a coda to Goin’ Down the Road. It’s played stompingly (with cowbell!) – they repeat it twice, then dive back into Not Fade Away without an extended jam.
They race through a brief 90-second Not Fade Away reprise, sounding like a band in a hurry – but this was typical of the time, as the other NFA bookends of the month are just as short. Garcia and Weir alternate singing “not fade away!” at the end – this is an interesting comparison for me, since I was just listening to Pigpen sing the end of NFA with Weir in 1972. It’s a different approach – Pigpen is more cool & sure in his approach, while Garcia just wails it.

(To digress a little bit, October ’70 is one of the rare times where we can hear a new song being born, changing and developing from one show to the next.
Goin’ Down the Road was played instrumentally in the 10/10 Not Fade Away, with no sung lyrics. On 10/11 they sing the first full version - they’re still working out the transitions, and it’s rather hesitant & clunky; they go straight from the last chorus back to NFA. On 10/16, as we heard, they’ve added the Bid You Goodnight coda. On 10/23, they’ve changed the structure of the song a bit – it’s already more smoothly done, with more of a solo. They’re also already extending the Goodnight coda, spending more time on the transition back to NFA. (It still sounds uncertain, though, as they wouldn’t come up with a real transition jam until ’71.) On 10/24, there’s another more extended transition back into NFA, done a bit better – 10/24 is also notable for being the first Goin’ Down the Road with TWO guitar solos between the verses.
So the Dead evidently worked on this song between shows, making little tweaks here and there and adding new parts. By the end of the month it isn’t quite ‘finished’ – the final verses are still unsettled, and sung more gently than they later would be; and the song isn’t as fully jammed as it would be in some November versions (when it still varied in length). Also, the feel of the song is different because Garcia hasn’t yet discovered the rolling guitar-part that would be so prominent in later versions – he first stumbles on it briefly & awkwardly at the end of the month, and slowly develops it over the next two months. Though later Goin’ Down the Roads sound effortless, they took a lot of practice to get that way!)

At the end of Not Fade Away, the band hops right into Lovelight, which gets a big cheer. It steams along at a quick pace – the crowd claps along, with lots of cheers for Pigpen. This turns out to be an unusually short Lovelight, though: there is a big cut after the first verses, around 1:45, and it jumps to Pigpen’s final rap. So the whole heart of Lovelight is missing – the rest of the verses, the jams, “shine on me,” “box-back nitties,” “pocket pool”…all gone. Probably around 10 minutes are lost here. When we return, Pigpen goes “wait a minute!” and sings over percussion backing as everyone claps along. After a couple minutes, the band starts the ending chords, and we get the usual slam-bang finale with screams and crashing drums and grinding guitars, ending at 9:50.
“Whoa!” someone cries. The audience chants “More! More!” and the tape keeps rolling as they keep clapping for three minutes, screaming when the band returns. There’s still chattering in the taper’s circle – they sound completely blasted. After a bit of tuning, the encore is Uncle John’s Band - the crowd cheers it gratefully and claps along. It’s a fine version with rolling percussion: there’s a very warm, communal feel as the band sings to the clapped beat. When they leave the stage again, this time the audience soon quiets down, knowing it’s really the end. “No more,” someone says…

One audience member wrote a review on
“This was the Dead’s first concert in Cleveland and my first Dead show.
They opened the show with Casey Jones.
We had very good seats center stage twentysome rows back, $3.50 I think or $5.50 at the door. We were dancing in the aisle by the second song….
Pigpen was unbelievable, when I think of him I see him as the TRUTH.
Butane balls of fire rolling across the Music Hall’s ceiling and an explosives canister. Pigpen lit it off and caught Hart by surprise....almost knocked him over.
They kept playing and playing, they were hot and having a very good night. I don’t think the officials in Cleveland knew quite what to do with them. They wanted the show to be over and the Dead wouldn’t stop playing. Up came the house lights, they still wouldn’t stop. Then a couple of cops, the fire marshal and a couple of suits stood on stage in a line, most with their arms crossed staring. The Dead kept playing for another ten, fifteen minutes. I believe if they hadn’t been forced to stop they would have gone on for hours.”

The band would be back in Ohio again on November 29 for the last show of the tour, at the Club Agora in Columbus, a long and spirited show which luckily also survives on a decent audience tape.

If you’d like to explore other shows from October ’70, I’d recommend these:
A short show without much jamming, and perhaps overrated because it’s long been well-known from the FM broadcast & bootleg; but it’s a popular favorite in pristine SBD sound.
Similar sound & setlist to the 10/17 show. Garcia said this show was “shitty,” and one witness called it “a bummer,” but the show sounds pretty strong on tape – you be the judge!
A good show in great AUD sound.

The SBD is rather weak, with many problems, but the show is hot.

March 1, 2012

3/26/72 Academy of Music

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”: (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, 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. (both sets) (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 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 [20] 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." (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).

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.”)

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.

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…)

3/26/72 REVIEW

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: (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.”