Archive for the ‘Grateful Dead’ Tag

New Speedway Boogie   Leave a comment

The virtual snow started blowin’ at WordPress Central a couple of days ago, which means it’s That Time Of The Year. Time to take stock of the most recent year almost gone… This one went by at a pretty heavy clip, mostly due to things tragically stupid / stupidly tragic at The Big U. Thankfully, the work nonsense is tempered by all the good at home. I have the love of a good woman, a couple of cats, and a lot of recently acquired Grateful Dead.

Which serves as a pretty good entre for the next bit. As a way to say, “out with the old, in with the new,” the lyrics from the Grateful Dead song that got me hooked:

Please don’t dominate the rap, Jack
if you got nothing new to say
If you please, don’t back up the track
This train got to run today

Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
Heard some say: better run away
Others say: you better stand still

Now I don’t know but I been told
it’s hard to run with the weight of gold
Other hand I heard it said
it’s just as hard with the weight of lead

Who can deny? Who can deny?
It’s not just a change in style
One step done and another begun
In I wonder how many miles?

Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
Things went down we don’t understand
but I think in time we will

Now I don’t know but I been told
in the heat of the sun a man died of cold
Do we keep on coming or stand and wait
with the sun so dark and the hour so late?

You can’t overlook the lack, Jack
of any other highway to ride
It’s got no signs or dividing lines
and very few rules to guide

Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
I saw things getting out of hand
I guess they always will

I don’t know but I been told
if the horse don’t pull you got to carry the load
I don’t know whose back’s that strong
Maybe find out before too long

One way or another
One way or another
One way or another
this darkness got to give
One way or another
One way or another
One way or another
this darkness got to give

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Posted 2011/12/05 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Grateful Dead – Dick’s Picks 29 (19 & 21 May 1977)   Leave a comment

The biggest DP release (at six discs) is a big dose of a big month in a big year. Less than two weeks before these shows, The Dead played two of the best shows of their career (and still not officially released). Perhaps the residual energy was still in play, as DP 29 gives us two more damn good ’77 shows.

And some uncredited filler. More of the October 11 show at University of Oklahoma shows up on discs 2 and 5. Combine those bits with what was released on the Second Road Trips, and you probably have about half the show… Back on the beam. Some jabber about each night:

19 May (Fox Theatre, Atlanta GA)

This night is so good, my complaints are perfectionist & trivial. What is considered one of the best Sugaree ever is marred when Jerry runs out of neck a couple of times.

The show closing Playing In The Band sandwich [Uncle John’s Band (reprise) > Uncle John’s Band > Drums > The Wheel > China Doll > Playing In The Band] is fantastic. What the boys do with Uncle John’s Band is amazing, and it more than offsets the (thankfully) brief Drums, and needless, obligatory freak-out part in Playing In The Band. Contrary to the packaging, there is a break between Terrapin Station and Playing In The Band.

Passenger is an occasionally interesting track for me. This night, The Boys slow it down quite a bit, making this take a Best Version.

21 May (Civic Center Arena, Lakeland FL)

It seems to me that when a show opens with Bertha, there is a better than usual chance the show is going to be better than usual. This date might just make my Top Ten for the year.

The Boys are _tight_. This night’s They Love Each Other and Cassidy are Best Versions, and the band is absolutely slammin’ on Tennessee Jed.

Jack-A-Roe’s debut was a week previous to this show. So, 21 May has a first set that includes the 5th ever performance, which happens to be the coolest, just exactly perfect electric version of  Jack-A-Roe I have ever heard.

The second set is a little rough in places. Estimated Prophet hits a few bumps before morphing into an outstanding He’s Gone.

During the jam at the end of He’s Gone, you can catch whiffs of The Other One, Spoonful, and Dark Star. Instead, we get a not just exactly perfect Drums. The move to The Other One is simply a stop on the beat.

The jam at the end of The Other One could almost pass for a Zabriski Point outtake, as it moves almost smoothly into an almost jazz version of Comes A Time. Donna is fantastic on this read.

An interesting move into a St. Stephen sandwhich (Not Fade Away) . Somewhere between jazz and country, this take isn’t the typical proto-metal read. The harmonies from Jerry, Bob, and Donna are just exactly perfect (just like the move from St. Stephen into Not Fade Away).

Not Fade Away is 11 or so minutes of slinky, funky, jammy bliss. None of the needless vocal caterwauling found on many takes. The brief return to St. Stephen is seamless.

Here, I’m at odds with what is listed on the packaging. There is a quick fade done by the band, with Weir counting in the show ending One More Saturday Night. In my book, that doesn’t qualify for a “>”.

The bottom line: This volume of Dick’s Picks is a must have.

Posted 2011/07/23 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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24-bit Grateful Dead   Leave a comment

Four nights (26th through the 29th) from The Boys’ April 1971 run at the Fillmore East have been transferred to 24-bit, using master reels. These are not “proper” releases, so you will have to hunt them down at someplace like etree. These shows will take a while to download (torrent), as they are 3 to 5 GB each.

The sound quality is mind-blowingly good. Some of these tracks showed up formally on Ladies and Gentlemen…The Grateful Dead. Briefly:

The 26th is not that great a night, and there are a number of technical problems. Stand outs are Big Boss Man & Hard To Handle (Pigpen sounds great); Sugar Magnolia & It Hurts Me Too (both with Duane Allman); and a Not Fade Away sandwich (Going Down The Road Feeling Bad).

The 27th is better than the previous night, but not the highpoint of the next two nights. This show is a must have for the special musical guest: The Beach Boys.

The 28th and 29th are both really good shows. A couple of particulars:

The set for the 28th includes Bill Graham’s pre-show press conference, where he announces he’s closing both Fillmore venues. A must listen, the conference is a precursor to Steve Albini’s piss-filled (and accurate) article, “The Problem With Music.” Bill closes with a 15 minute rag on Ratner’s Deli.

The 29th includes a best-ever Hard To Handle, and the last appearance for both Alligator and Second That Emotion (only seven appearances, and all in April of ’71).

Posted 2010/03/10 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Grateful Dead – Dick’s Picks 33 (09-10 October 1976, Oakland Coliseum)   Leave a comment

A four-disc set covering both of the Dead’s Day On The Green shows opening for The Who. The Boys are just flat-out, slinky good. The band sounds rested (these are the 37th and 38th shows from a light, 41 show year), and everybody sounds like they are having a great time. I’ll skip the play-by-play sort of review, and simply drop a few general comments.

This is an outstanding recording. For those of you may wonder what the big deal is about a “Betty Board” (a Betty Cantor soundboard tape), DP 33 is about as good as it gets. Excellent levels, balance, and soundstage. Having heard about a third of the DP series, this is easily the best sounding.

Phil is in an absolute stone groove on both nights. Donna is excellent on both nights.

This Dick’s Picks installment is essential for any Deadhead, and a great set for making converts.

Posted 2009/12/30 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Grateful Dead – Winterland: June 7-8-9, 1977   Leave a comment

Um, well now. The three-night run at Winterland in June ’77 as a ten-disc set does a perfect job illustrating that releasing the Hartford show was pretty much a wank. Some jabber about the individual shows:

June 7

A very solid night, the First Set has a couple of my least favorite tracks (Funiculi Funicula, El Paso), along with an interesting (for me) high point: El Paso on this night is so good, I actually wouldn’t mind hearing it again. The Second Set open, Scarlet Begonias, has an odd sort of tug-of-war/not quite sorted out transition into Fire On The Mountain, leading into another non-favorite, Good Lovin’. At least it’s not annoying enough to have me hitting the Track Forward button.

Of the 70+ times Estimated Prophet and He’s Gone wind up in the same show, they’re almost always sequenced like they are tonight (and like tonight, usually followed by Drums). On this night, the keyboard space doesn’t really change during the transition from Estimated Prophet, making for He’s Gone with a way different head.

Coming out of Drums, Samson And Delilah has the band sounding a little tired. There is not much stretching out on the end of Terrapin Station, going straight into Morning Dew (fourth and final time ever for a Terrapin > Dew), and it’s like a second wind. Garcia’s solo builds, and with a crash, the show is back to firing on all cylinders.

June 8

The Boys take it up a couple of notches. The only Song Mike Doesn’t Like entry (Lazy Lightning > Supplication) is in the first set. It is indeed a great version, where finally, I get it. Now I’m going to be that much more of a bastard about other performances. Donna’s performance of Sunrise is nice, and fits well in the set. The only mark on an otherwise flawless first set is a somewhat rushed Mexicali Blues.

The rest of the show is pretty damn perfect. I could always do without a Good Lovin’ (this time, paired with the Second Set opener, Bertha). Like Mexicali, this performance is easy enough to ignore. The bulk of the Second Set is a monster: Estimated Prophet > Eyes Of The World > Drums > The Other One > Wharf Rat > Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad > Johnny B. Goode. As Estimated Prophet morphs into Eyes Of The World, it sounds more like a cross-fade than the band working its magic. A minor quibble, given the great performances.

The good times of Eyes gives way to a raging Drums, dropping into The Other One brilliantly. Shimmering chaos becomes Wharf Rat. Not quite the ultra-slow, dirge-like take usually presented, there’s way less pity and a lot more empathy in Jerry’s delivery. Definitely a Wharf Rat performance of note.

The move into Not Fade Away is a train wreck. However, The band locks in so tight, so fast, it takes only a minute of the Iko-style delivery to know this is going to be a raging take. A wiff or two of I Know You Rider in the jam, a smooth shift in gears, and you are Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad. The Boys do not let up on the closing Johnny B. Goode.

Instead of the typical Uncle John’s Band encore, we are treated to one of only a handful of appearances in ’77 for Brokedown Palace. Not only is it the best of the ’77 bunch, it could place pretty high on a best ever list.

June 9

Um…wow. What an absolutely great show from start to finish. While there are a number of highlights in this show, the standout has to be the Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower early in the second set.

I’m not going on at length about this show, because there just isn’t any need. Simply, this is one of the best shows of the year, and definitely places high on a Best Ever list.

Bonus Disc (May 12)

The bonus disc is another dip into May ’77 (Chicago, on the 12th), with this snip being way more enjoyable than the Hartford show.

The disc starts off with the end of the First Set, a great Mississippi Half-Step, the only problem being at the beginning of the track, a technical problem with Jerry’s vocals. Half-Step moves into a pretty jammin’ Dancing In The Street.

The rest of the disc is made up of the second half of the second set. Terrapin Station ends on a dime, with The Boys dropping straight into a Playing In The Band sandwich (Drums > Not Fade Away > Comes A Time).

Comes A Time is an under performed, excellent song. First showing up in October 1971, it only comes up in rotation 66 times (for the last time in October 1994). Oddly, half of the performances are found during three years: 1971-72, and 1985. So, when NFA slows into Comes A Time, we get a great read of the fourth of only five performances for 1977.

(and so…)

In the booklet, David Lemieux talks about the high quality of these performance, “the first night is a Top 15, the second is a Top 10, and the third is a Top Three.” Parts of that are a bit optimistic. The first two nights are probably Top 15, with the third night being Top 10. There are just too many contenders (many unreleased) for the best of ’77. It was just one of those years…

Posted 2009/12/03 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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Grateful Dead – Road Trips (Wall of Sound)   Leave a comment

The latest installment of the Grateful Dead’s Road Trips series makes two stops in 1974: Disc One is from the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines IA (16 June 1974), while Disc Two takes us to the Freedom Hall in Louisville KY (18 June 1974). The bonus disc includes material from both shows.

The Wall of Sound was (and still is) an amazing feat of audiophile madness. With the exception of Pink Floyd, there was nothing else on the road that sounded _anything_ close to what the Dead were using.

Except for the vocals. Because the entire system was behind (or in the drummer’s case, over) the band, vocals were handled by each person using two mics, a special little black box do-dad, and phase cancellation to keep the bleed out. So, for it to sound right, one had to sing into the mic both close and completely on-axis. Otherwise, the vocals took on an annoying AM-radio quality. A real good (er, bad) example is the Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack, taken from shows four months after this Road Trips set.

So, a very nice thing about this Road Trips installment: The vocals do not have that thin, washed out quality.

The Des Moines disc is taken from the end of the first set, and most of the second set. We go from a China Cat Sunflower > I know You Rider, to The Race Is On, Eyes Of The World > Big River, US Blues, and close the disc with a 29-minute Playing In The Band, where the set goes from good to worse. This version of PITB is a wank, with some interesting possibilities that are not allowed to fully develop from what sounds like an uncredited Ned Lagin. If you want greatness, check out the version on disc one of the Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack.

The Louisville disc is a whole other thing. This disc has a real jammy/hemp-fueled quality to it. Taken mostly from the second set, Loose Lucy has plenty of Jerry forgetting the words / distracted by some technical thing going on, followed by an excellent Eyes > China Doll. The next 45 minutes or so is Weather Report Suite > Jam> The Other One > It’s A Sin Jam > Stella Blue. The obligatory freak-out in this section smells more of “Let’s move on to something else,” rather than the lack of ideas on disc one’s Playing In The Band.

Due to the sequencing, the bonus disc has weird energy. The disc starts with Morning Dew (last song from Louisville), and ends with the second-to-the-last song at Louisville, Sugar Magnolia. Morning Dew is followed by the first set closer from the same show, Around And Around. The middle of the disc is made up of most of the third set from Des Moines: Deal, Greatest Story Ever Told, Truckin’ > Jam > Wharf Rat, and Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad. (Spoiler Alert!) Bob did not forget the words to Truckin’.

Where I thought the energy was missing in the first disc, the Des Moines sequence on the bonus disc has a real slinky, groovy feel to it. This is the stuff that should have been on disc one.

And a bit about the packaging. While I’m not a fan of the cardboard approach of the Road Trips series, at least they got around to fixing a major annoyance: They cut the sleeve for the bonus disc to the same dimensions as the gate-fold for the set. Now everything will sit  at the same depth on the shelf. I guess it will take another six or seven releases for the packaging peeps to realize they need to put crimps in the gate-fold pockets to keep the CDs from going too deep into the pockets.

Oh, I almost forgot: They left off El Paso from _both_ nights! Yay!

Posted 2009/06/30 by MG Nagy in Uncategorized

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