SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: The Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, California, July 18, 1976
Feel the spirit of ‘76! David Lopez writes up a San Francisco gig. Gotta admit that ‘76 is a blindspot for me to some extent, but this one is sounding great to me. 
In my relatively short but dedicated experience as a Grateful Dead fan I have always held a special fondness for the year 1976. Always in the shadow of the hugely popular 1977, 76 shows have a certain loose and relaxed nature through which the band seems to effortlessly reach unexpected heights of beauty, quite different from the tighter and still brilliant but somehow more predictable sound of 77.
It’s no surprise then that my means of honoring the nineteenth anniversary of Jerry’s passing last Sunday, August 9th was by immersing myself in a 76 show. Having recently read wonders about the six night July run at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, I chose to plunge right into the 7-18 concert.
1976 saw the Dead back on the road after a 20 month hiatus. With drummer Mickey Hart back on the fold and a renewed repertoire full of new material (taken from 1975’s Blues for Allah as well as Garcia’s Reflections and the first album by the Bob Weir- fronted Kingfish), seldom played classics (“Friend of the Devil”, “High Time”, the return of “Cosmic Charlie” and, especially, “St. Stephen”, which was brought back after 5 years of absence to a thunderous crowd reaction at the start of the second set at Boston Music Hall on 6-9) and new arrangements (a disco-ish take on “Dancin’ on the Streets”, the breakneck speed version of “Eyes of the World”), the “new” Grateful Dead also exhibited a renewed energy. After over a year and a half away from the road and freed from the stress and high cost of traveling with their massive Wall of Sound P.A., it was as if they were rediscovering the pleasure of playing together all over again, choosing not to hurry things but gently aiming straight at the stratosphere.
After an East Coast tour in June, the Orpheum concerts were the first shows that the regrouped Dead played at their hometown of San Francisco, and boy did they live up to expectations…
The last night of the run, Sunday 18th, opens with a soaring “Mississippi Half- Step” that anticipates the wonders to come. Beautiful renditions of “Cassidy” and “Row Jimmy” follow, showing the mellower approach of the Dead in 76. Other set 1 highlights include a jammed-out “Scarlet Begonias” that clearly points at the monster improvisations that the song would become famous for the following year when paired with “Fire on the Mountain”, a swinging take on Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” that Bob dedicates “to our equipment crew”, and an energetic “Music Never Stopped” set closer.
However, the real meat, as usual, lies on the second set. After a couple of new rockers (“Might as Well” and “Samson and Delilah”) and a radiant version of the classic American Beauty ballad “Candyman”, the band launches into Bob’s “Lazy Lightning”. Not one of my favourites or a song that I ever look forward to, this “Lazy Lightning” is nothing short of incendiary, with Jerry soloing all over the place, pushing the longer than usual jam to a strong climax when it finally reaches “Supplication”.
The song ends but Jerry launches straight into “Let it Grow” without a break. The rest of the band seem surprised but they immediately settle into the song’s jazzy groove. The new two drummer arrangement is highlighted by a marching snare during the bridge and the tune develops into a majestic jam that subtly gives way to “Drums”. I really like this short drum duets prior to the “Rhythm Devils” routine of subsequent years but I think that they are best experienced through audience rather than soundboard recordings. Anyway, somebody counts to four and they’re all back into “Let it Grow”, which gently dissolves into a placid and luminous jam. Jerry points towards “Wharf Rat” but they take it easy and choose to explore a beautiful kind of middle ground between both songs for some time until finally completing the fabulous transition into the Skull & Roses classic.
“Wharf Rat” flows with a delicate cadence and I can’t help but think that few singers had a voice that suited this kind of slow, epic ballads as well as Jerry’s. The harmonies are spot on and, after a dramatic pause after the “live the life I should” line, the band returns with a triumphant beat for the “I’ll get up and fly away” refrain. The song leads to a peaceful jam until Jerry and Phil telepathically start playing some typically “Other One”-ish licks. The music then dissolves into a almost “Space” feel, with Keith providing some brilliant counterpoints to Jerry and the drummers adding great subtle details until García brings things up again. The whole band follows him and a second short “Drums” segment gives way to Phil’s earthshaking bass intro to “The Other One”.
After the first verse and a short jam, Phil seems ready to steer the ship back to the harbour and hints at “Stella Blue”, but Jerry is absolutely on fire and doesn’t seem willing to follow him. Instead, he chooses to launch straight into “St. Stephen”, and the moment he plays those iconic first notes the crowd goes berserk. The choice of song catches the others off-guard, causing them to jump into an uncharacteristically slow (even for 1976 standards) tempo that flows with a lazy, almost reggae strut that is brilliantly unique. This transitions gracefully into the waltz segment, highlighted by a gorgeous duet between Jerry and Donna (I’m a big fan of Donna and she sings like an angel throughout this whole show) and then into “Not Fade Away”. Like “Lazy Lightning”, “NFA” is never a tune that I particularly look forward to but this is by no means a by the numbers version. The band is brimming with energy and playfully deconstructs the main rhythm and melody piece by piece until a drum roll leads them perfectly back into “St. Stephen”.
The end of the song gives way to a gleaming take on “The Wheel”, all radiant vocal harmonies and cosmic country licks. “Wheel” concludes with the whole band softly coming down until the music is left suspended only by the thin thread of Jerry’s delicate arpeggios, and then Phil comes thundering back to start “The Other One” again. The second verse goes by rapidly and, after a short jam, Jerry is finally ready to bring things down. There is a loud initial crowd reaction as “The Other One” gently transitions into an awe-inspiring version of “Stella Blue”, but then the whole auditorium falls into dead silence, as if the audience was overwhelmed by the sheer emotional power of Jerry and the band’s delivery. The whole song is brilliantly constructed as a subtle but constant crescendo leading to the climax of the bridge, which never fails to send chills down my spine, and the solo, in which Jerry seems to hit all the right notes. The tune ends on a glorious high and, after a few seconds of silence, Bobby starts “Sugar Magnolia”, a fittingly joyful way to put an end to over an hour and a half of uninterrupted magic. The band comes back for a quick “Johnny B. Goode” encore and Jerry bids the crowd goodnight: “thanks a lot, see y’all later”.
It’s hard to try to describe The Grateful Dead’s music with words. I was born in 1988 in Spain so I never got to see the band live and will never know what it was like to experience a Dead concert, but what I do know is the way that listening to The Grateful Dead makes me feel. I have never heard a band so boiling with ideas and pointing at so many incredible directions at once. The Dead’s approach transformed music into a organic entity that was living and breathing, unpredictable and imperfect as we all are, and overflowing with life and energy. Listening to the Dead jamming transmits a feeling of joy, happiness, comfort and light that I have never found elsewhere, and I will forever be grateful to them for that, as well as thankful that they chose to let it all be recorded so that the ones who, like myself, weren’t lucky enough to live those times can still enjoy the spellbinding beauty that they created on nights like July 18th 1976.
David Lopez of Madrid, Spain, blogs over at Shakin’ Street, where he writes articles about his favourite artists. He also plays bass in a hard psych band called Bubble Bones. 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: The Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, California, July 18, 1976

Feel the spirit of ‘76! David Lopez writes up a San Francisco gig. Gotta admit that ‘76 is a blindspot for me to some extent, but this one is sounding great to me. 

In my relatively short but dedicated experience as a Grateful Dead fan I have always held a special fondness for the year 1976. Always in the shadow of the hugely popular 1977, 76 shows have a certain loose and relaxed nature through which the band seems to effortlessly reach unexpected heights of beauty, quite different from the tighter and still brilliant but somehow more predictable sound of 77.

It’s no surprise then that my means of honoring the nineteenth anniversary of Jerry’s passing last Sunday, August 9th was by immersing myself in a 76 show. Having recently read wonders about the six night July run at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, I chose to plunge right into the 7-18 concert.

1976 saw the Dead back on the road after a 20 month hiatus. With drummer Mickey Hart back on the fold and a renewed repertoire full of new material (taken from 1975’s Blues for Allah as well as Garcia’s Reflections and the first album by the Bob Weir- fronted Kingfish), seldom played classics (“Friend of the Devil”, “High Time”, the return of “Cosmic Charlie” and, especially, “St. Stephen”, which was brought back after 5 years of absence to a thunderous crowd reaction at the start of the second set at Boston Music Hall on 6-9) and new arrangements (a disco-ish take on “Dancin’ on the Streets”, the breakneck speed version of “Eyes of the World”), the “new” Grateful Dead also exhibited a renewed energy. After over a year and a half away from the road and freed from the stress and high cost of traveling with their massive Wall of Sound P.A., it was as if they were rediscovering the pleasure of playing together all over again, choosing not to hurry things but gently aiming straight at the stratosphere.

After an East Coast tour in June, the Orpheum concerts were the first shows that the regrouped Dead played at their hometown of San Francisco, and boy did they live up to expectations…

The last night of the run, Sunday 18th, opens with a soaring “Mississippi Half- Step” that anticipates the wonders to come. Beautiful renditions of “Cassidy” and “Row Jimmy” follow, showing the mellower approach of the Dead in 76. Other set 1 highlights include a jammed-out “Scarlet Begonias” that clearly points at the monster improvisations that the song would become famous for the following year when paired with “Fire on the Mountain”, a swinging take on Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” that Bob dedicates “to our equipment crew”, and an energetic “Music Never Stopped” set closer.

However, the real meat, as usual, lies on the second set. After a couple of new rockers (“Might as Well” and “Samson and Delilah”) and a radiant version of the classic American Beauty ballad “Candyman”, the band launches into Bob’s “Lazy Lightning”. Not one of my favourites or a song that I ever look forward to, this “Lazy Lightning” is nothing short of incendiary, with Jerry soloing all over the place, pushing the longer than usual jam to a strong climax when it finally reaches “Supplication”.

The song ends but Jerry launches straight into “Let it Grow” without a break. The rest of the band seem surprised but they immediately settle into the song’s jazzy groove. The new two drummer arrangement is highlighted by a marching snare during the bridge and the tune develops into a majestic jam that subtly gives way to “Drums”. I really like this short drum duets prior to the “Rhythm Devils” routine of subsequent years but I think that they are best experienced through audience rather than soundboard recordings. Anyway, somebody counts to four and they’re all back into “Let it Grow”, which gently dissolves into a placid and luminous jam. Jerry points towards “Wharf Rat” but they take it easy and choose to explore a beautiful kind of middle ground between both songs for some time until finally completing the fabulous transition into the Skull & Roses classic.

“Wharf Rat” flows with a delicate cadence and I can’t help but think that few singers had a voice that suited this kind of slow, epic ballads as well as Jerry’s. The harmonies are spot on and, after a dramatic pause after the “live the life I should” line, the band returns with a triumphant beat for the “I’ll get up and fly away” refrain. The song leads to a peaceful jam until Jerry and Phil telepathically start playing some typically “Other One”-ish licks. The music then dissolves into a almost “Space” feel, with Keith providing some brilliant counterpoints to Jerry and the drummers adding great subtle details until García brings things up again. The whole band follows him and a second short “Drums” segment gives way to Phil’s earthshaking bass intro to “The Other One”.

After the first verse and a short jam, Phil seems ready to steer the ship back to the harbour and hints at “Stella Blue”, but Jerry is absolutely on fire and doesn’t seem willing to follow him. Instead, he chooses to launch straight into “St. Stephen”, and the moment he plays those iconic first notes the crowd goes berserk. The choice of song catches the others off-guard, causing them to jump into an uncharacteristically slow (even for 1976 standards) tempo that flows with a lazy, almost reggae strut that is brilliantly unique. This transitions gracefully into the waltz segment, highlighted by a gorgeous duet between Jerry and Donna (I’m a big fan of Donna and she sings like an angel throughout this whole show) and then into “Not Fade Away”. Like “Lazy Lightning”, “NFA” is never a tune that I particularly look forward to but this is by no means a by the numbers version. The band is brimming with energy and playfully deconstructs the main rhythm and melody piece by piece until a drum roll leads them perfectly back into “St. Stephen”.

The end of the song gives way to a gleaming take on “The Wheel”, all radiant vocal harmonies and cosmic country licks. “Wheel” concludes with the whole band softly coming down until the music is left suspended only by the thin thread of Jerry’s delicate arpeggios, and then Phil comes thundering back to start “The Other One” again. The second verse goes by rapidly and, after a short jam, Jerry is finally ready to bring things down. There is a loud initial crowd reaction as “The Other One” gently transitions into an awe-inspiring version of “Stella Blue”, but then the whole auditorium falls into dead silence, as if the audience was overwhelmed by the sheer emotional power of Jerry and the band’s delivery. The whole song is brilliantly constructed as a subtle but constant crescendo leading to the climax of the bridge, which never fails to send chills down my spine, and the solo, in which Jerry seems to hit all the right notes. The tune ends on a glorious high and, after a few seconds of silence, Bobby starts “Sugar Magnolia”, a fittingly joyful way to put an end to over an hour and a half of uninterrupted magic. The band comes back for a quick “Johnny B. Goode” encore and Jerry bids the crowd goodnight: “thanks a lot, see y’all later”.

It’s hard to try to describe The Grateful Dead’s music with words. I was born in 1988 in Spain so I never got to see the band live and will never know what it was like to experience a Dead concert, but what I do know is the way that listening to The Grateful Dead makes me feel. I have never heard a band so boiling with ideas and pointing at so many incredible directions at once. The Dead’s approach transformed music into a organic entity that was living and breathing, unpredictable and imperfect as we all are, and overflowing with life and energy. Listening to the Dead jamming transmits a feeling of joy, happiness, comfort and light that I have never found elsewhere, and I will forever be grateful to them for that, as well as thankful that they chose to let it all be recorded so that the ones who, like myself, weren’t lucky enough to live those times can still enjoy the spellbinding beauty that they created on nights like July 18th 1976.

David Lopez of Madrid, Spain, blogs over at Shakin’ Street, where he writes articles about his favourite artists. He also plays bass in a hard psych band called Bubble Bones

Pink Floyd - The Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, April 26, 1975
Another one of these Mike Millard master tapes from Big O. The quality here is pretty astounding for a mid-70s audience recording, that’s for sure. Great setlist, with the then-unreleased embryonic Animals numbers, most of Wish You Were Here, a full run-through of Dark Side of the Moon and a massive “Echoes” to close the whole thing out. Throw the windows wide!

Pink Floyd - The Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, April 26, 1975

Another one of these Mike Millard master tapes from Big O. The quality here is pretty astounding for a mid-70s audience recording, that’s for sure. Great setlist, with the then-unreleased embryonic Animals numbers, most of Wish You Were Here, a full run-through of Dark Side of the Moon and a massive “Echoes” to close the whole thing out. Throw the windows wide!

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Mickey & The Heartbeats, The Matrix, San Francisco, California, December 16, 1968
Let’s follow up the news that those VU Matrix Tapes are finally coming out with some sweet jams from Mickey & The Heartbeats at the Matrix, just about a year before Lou and co. took up residence there. Very much a jam session, but lots of fun stuff (the Airplane’s Jack Casady is on bass for most of it, I think). There is some chatter over on the Archive about there being elements of Pharoah Sanders’ “Creator Has A Master Plan” popping up in the second jam — I don’t hear that, but it’s of a piece with that exploratory vibe. It’s totally free, man. 
EDIT: Actually, I take it back! In the second jam around the 26 minute mark, these dudes slip into something that sounds a lot like Pharoah’s “Master Plan”! Cool stuff. And interesting too, since Karma wasn’t released until mid 1969. Did these guys see Sanders play live around this time, maybe? Possible, I suppose. Or is the jam just a coincidence? MYSTERIES OF THE UNKNOWN. 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Mickey & The Heartbeats, The Matrix, San Francisco, California, December 16, 1968

Let’s follow up the news that those VU Matrix Tapes are finally coming out with some sweet jams from Mickey & The Heartbeats at the Matrix, just about a year before Lou and co. took up residence there. Very much a jam session, but lots of fun stuff (the Airplane’s Jack Casady is on bass for most of it, I think). There is some chatter over on the Archive about there being elements of Pharoah Sanders’ “Creator Has A Master Plan” popping up in the second jam — I don’t hear that, but it’s of a piece with that exploratory vibe. It’s totally free, man. 

EDIT: Actually, I take it back! In the second jam around the 26 minute mark, these dudes slip into something that sounds a lot like Pharoah’s “Master Plan”! Cool stuff. And interesting too, since Karma wasn’t released until mid 1969. Did these guys see Sanders play live around this time, maybe? Possible, I suppose. Or is the jam just a coincidence? MYSTERIES OF THE UNKNOWN. 

The Velvet Underground :: Matrix Tapes Sampler
Thrilling news for VU heads — apparently a portion of the Velvet Underground’s fabled Matrix Tapes will be part of a deluxe reissue of the band’s self-titled third album, slated for release later this year. The Holy Grail! You can still go check out my write-up and the sampler of tantalizing snippets over on Aquarium Drunkard. Cannot wait to hear this stuff in full. 

The Velvet Underground :: Matrix Tapes Sampler

Thrilling news for VU heads — apparently a portion of the Velvet Underground’s fabled Matrix Tapes will be part of a deluxe reissue of the band’s self-titled third album, slated for release later this year. The Holy Grail! You can still go check out my write-up and the sampler of tantalizing snippets over on Aquarium Drunkard. Cannot wait to hear this stuff in full. 

Bob Dylan - Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, CA, June 1, 1978
Big O has a Mike Millard tape of Dylan in LA on the Street Legal tour. Nice sound! Millard was a legendary taper in the 1970s. His technique: 
"Once inside the building, Mike would be wheeled to the handicap area. He would wire up his hat with microphones and connect them to the cassette deck. When the house lights went down, the weighty tape deck was transferred to the bag and Mike got out of his wheelchair and walked to the front of the venue. It was this elaborate set-up combined with his network of willing helpers that led to the legendary Millard tapes."
(Read more) 

Bob Dylan - Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, CA, June 1, 1978

Big O has a Mike Millard tape of Dylan in LA on the Street Legal tour. Nice sound! Millard was a legendary taper in the 1970s. His technique: 

"Once inside the building, Mike would be wheeled to the handicap area. He would wire up his hat with microphones and connect them to the cassette deck. When the house lights went down, the weighty tape deck was transferred to the bag and Mike got out of his wheelchair and walked to the front of the venue. It was this elaborate set-up combined with his network of willing helpers that led to the legendary Millard tapes."

(Read more

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Where Am I? Who Am I? What The Fuck Am I Doing Here?
A Summer of Dead exclusive! Sort of. Here’s 80 minutes worth of sweet instrumental jams I’ve culled from the Archive, spanning the years 1968-1975. There’s skronk, there’s space, there’s funk, there’s psych. It’s all in there. Except for vocals. No vocals! I don’t know, there’s no real rhyme or reason here — it’s just some groovy, improv-y explorations that have caught my ear recently. I think you’re going to dig it. 
1. Weir’s Words Of Wisdom (1969-12-11 - Thelma Theater)Ace asks the eternal questions. 
2. Jam #1/Fire On The Mountain theme (1971-08-21 - Mickey Hart’s Barn)One of those killer Novato excursions, totally soaring. Check it all out here, it is a good time. 
3. Jam (1975-04-17 - Ace’s Studio)A chilly, bluesy groove! This low-key studio jam is a little out of character for the Dead, but I like it a lot. Almost JJ Cale-y? 
4. Philo Stomp (1972-11-13 - Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall)This thing starts out slamming around in true noize fashion, but eases into a more gentle vibe. Taken from one of Bear’s only audience tapes. He should’ve done that more, the sound is stellar. 
5. Jam (1970-11-20 - U. of Rochester)An extremely funky workout — almost reminiscent of a chooglin’ Booker T and the MG’s jam sesh. The Weir/Garcia interplay here sizzles. Sizzles, I say!  
6. Spanish Jam (1968-03-30 - Carousel Ballroom)These things are weird, but I’m into it. Very stiff and stentorian and non-freewheeling. 
7. Jam (1973-07-27 - Grand Prix Racecourse)The Dead send good vibes out to the assembled masses at Watkins Glen. Some of this meanders (if you can even believe it) but stick around to the end for a nice bit that sounds to my ears somewhere between “Eyes of the World” and “Fire On The Mountain.” 
8. Weir Outro (1968-05-18 - Santa Clara County Fairgrounds)Bobby takes us out. 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Where Am I? Who Am I? What The Fuck Am I Doing Here?

A Summer of Dead exclusive! Sort of. Here’s 80 minutes worth of sweet instrumental jams I’ve culled from the Archive, spanning the years 1968-1975. There’s skronk, there’s space, there’s funk, there’s psych. It’s all in there. Except for vocals. No vocals! I don’t know, there’s no real rhyme or reason here — it’s just some groovy, improv-y explorations that have caught my ear recently. I think you’re going to dig it. 

1. Weir’s Words Of Wisdom (1969-12-11 - Thelma Theater)
Ace asks the eternal questions. 

2. Jam #1/Fire On The Mountain theme (1971-08-21 - Mickey Hart’s Barn)
One of those killer Novato excursions, totally soaring. Check it all out here, it is a good time. 

3. Jam (1975-04-17 - Ace’s Studio)
A chilly, bluesy groove! This low-key studio jam is a little out of character for the Dead, but I like it a lot. Almost JJ Cale-y? 

4. Philo Stomp (1972-11-13 - Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall)
This thing starts out slamming around in true noize fashion, but eases into a more gentle vibe. Taken from one of Bear’s only audience tapes. He should’ve done that more, the sound is stellar. 

5. Jam (1970-11-20 - U. of Rochester)
An extremely funky workout — almost reminiscent of a chooglin’ Booker T and the MG’s jam sesh. The Weir/Garcia interplay here sizzles. Sizzles, I say!  

6. Spanish Jam (1968-03-30 - Carousel Ballroom)
These things are weird, but I’m into it. Very stiff and stentorian and non-freewheeling. 

7. Jam (1973-07-27 - Grand Prix Racecourse)
The Dead send good vibes out to the assembled masses at Watkins Glen. Some of this meanders (if you can even believe it) but stick around to the end for a nice bit that sounds to my ears somewhere between “Eyes of the World” and “Fire On The Mountain.” 

8. Weir Outro (1968-05-18 - Santa Clara County Fairgrounds)
Bobby takes us out. 

David Kilgour & The Heavy 8’s - Merge 25, July 2014

Head over to Aquarium Drunkard to read my reviews of Clean co-founders/brothers in awesomeness David and Hamish Kilgour’s respective solo albums! Then enjoy this excerpt from David and the Heavy 8’s set last month at the Merge 25 extravaganza. I’ve been listening to this guy play guitar for a long time now and he never fails to amaze. 

Lou Reed - Paris 1973

A hearty RIP to Dick Wagner, the guitarist who (along with Steve Hunter) powered Lou Reed’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal-era band. That LP seems like it should have an awesome accompanying live film, but alas, all we’ve got is this (amateur?) footage, as far as I know anyway. It’s a good time, though — especially Lou and Wagner’s interaction at the end of “White Light/White Heat.” 

The Band - Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey, August 1, 1973
Hey, we’ll follow up Chris’ post about the Dead’s set on this day back in 1973 with The Band’s set [via BB Chron]. It is very good, obviously. Best day in Jersey City ever?  
1. Back To Memphis 2. Loving You (Has Made My Life Sweeter Than Ever) 3. The Shape I’m In 4. The Weight 5. Stage Fright 6. I Shall Be Released 7. Don’t Do It 8. Endless Highway 9. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 10. Across the Great Divide 11. This Wheel’s On Fire 12. Life Is A Carnival 13. Share Your Love 14. Up In Cripple Creek 15. Chest Fever 16. W.S. Walcott Medicine Show 17. Saved

The Band - Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey, August 1, 1973

Hey, we’ll follow up Chris’ post about the Dead’s set on this day back in 1973 with The Band’s set [via BB Chron]. It is very good, obviously. Best day in Jersey City ever?  

1. Back To Memphis 2. Loving You (Has Made My Life Sweeter Than Ever) 3. The Shape I’m In 4. The Weight 5. Stage Fright 6. I Shall Be Released 7. Don’t Do It 8. Endless Highway 9. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down 10. Across the Great Divide 11. This Wheel’s On Fire 12. Life Is A Carnival 13. Share Your Love 14. Up In Cripple Creek 15. Chest Fever 16. W.S. Walcott Medicine Show 17. Saved

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey, August 1, 1973
We’ve done '71 and '72 this week for the Doom & Gloom Summer of Dead extravaganza. Today, Chris Harriott covers ‘73 in a very special Garcia b-day installment. Here’s to August being better than July. 
For four summers in a row, well touring summers at least, the Grateful Dead played Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. Kudos to John Scher for making that happen. This show does not disappoint, not even a little bit. It’s easily my favorite of the year and usually one of the first shows I reach for when I want to spin something top-shelf for other deadheads or attempt to convert a non-believer. It also has the added bonus of being played on Garcia’s birthday which usually, but not always, meant an above average show. As with almost all ’73 shows, nearly every tune is enjoyable and well-played (see, e.g., “Bird Song”) but the undisputed highlight is the “Dark Star”->”El Paso”->”Eyes”->”Morning Dew” in the second set. A phenomenal re-mastered soundboard featuring this jam segment appeared in the spring of 1998 courtesy of David Gans and was one of the very first shows I ever got on CDR along with 11/15/71 (which, coincidentally, also featured a “Dark Star”->”El Paso.”) At that point I had around eight racks of GD cassettes and little idea just how much things were about to change with the move from cassette to digital and the emergence of online trading communities. Within a very short time, the days of placing ads in Relix (“Your list gets mine, no high-speed dubs”) and waiting for a response were replaced by rapidly-moving online trees, vines and trading. Multi-generational cassette hiss became a thing of the past and hardcore traders stopped sleeping in 45 minute increments. Within in two to three years I probably acquired twice as many shows on CDR as I had on cassette up to that point.
Back to the show. “Dark Star” starts off with lush, gentle improvisation that dances in and around the DS theme for about 5 minutes before Garcia, with able assistance from Keith, steps outside and charts a course for deeper waters. If my ears don’t deceive me, Keith is playing Fender Rhodes as opposed to piano. Within a couple of minutes they’ve picked up the pace and abandoned the theme completely for roughly (though there’s nothing ‘rough’ about it) 12 glorious minutes of peak ‘73 jamming. Garcia seems completely at ease and in full control as he varies the tempo and intensity of jam and constantly introduces new ideas to which the band responds instantly. After a slow descent back to the first verse, the band immediately drops into a quiet deep space/insect fear segment from which a full-blown Tiger meltdown emerges. As with all versions from this era, the second verse is discarded and, instead, the jam dissolves effortlessly into “El Paso.” If pressed for time, one could quickly summarize the whole show simply by stating “Even the ‘El Paso’ is smoking hot.” I’ve always enjoyed Jerry’s back-up vocals on this tune and the present version is no exception.
A massive “Eyes of the World” follows, with Keith returning to piano and enlivening the proceedings. Simply put, this version of Eyes is 20 minutes of everything that makes deadheads beam when they think of this era. Garcia’s leads are crisp and buoyant. The jam truly takes off just before the 8 minute mark, then peaks, gloriously, around 12 minutes before hinting at “Slipknot” and finally dropping into the standard closing coda. While 6/10/73 is slightly longer, I much prefer this version. Garcia never runs out of ideas, even during the post-coda transition into “Morning Dew.”
"Morning Dew" is heartfelt and powerful, Garcia leans into the vocal and band marches triumphantly underneath. Jerry & Keith at the 6 minute mark, man oh man. Garcia brings things down to almost a whisper at 8 minutes or so and then builds back up with an intensely emotive solo. Keith is with him every step of the way. The jam climaxes with Garcia shredding at 12 minutes. If you haven’t had enough at this point, switch to the well above-average AUD recording for an exceptional, though oddly-placed, encore of “GDTRFB.” God bless the Grateful Dead.
Chris Harriott is a Deadhead and attorney living in Northern New Jersey. You can follow him on twitter @ckhesq.

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, New Jersey, August 1, 1973

We’ve done '71 and '72 this week for the Doom & Gloom Summer of Dead extravaganza. Today, Chris Harriott covers ‘73 in a very special Garcia b-day installment. Here’s to August being better than July. 

For four summers in a row, well touring summers at least, the Grateful Dead played Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. Kudos to John Scher for making that happen. This show does not disappoint, not even a little bit. It’s easily my favorite of the year and usually one of the first shows I reach for when I want to spin something top-shelf for other deadheads or attempt to convert a non-believer. It also has the added bonus of being played on Garcia’s birthday which usually, but not always, meant an above average show. As with almost all ’73 shows, nearly every tune is enjoyable and well-played (see, e.g., “Bird Song”) but the undisputed highlight is the “Dark Star”->”El Paso”->”Eyes”->”Morning Dew” in the second set. A phenomenal re-mastered soundboard featuring this jam segment appeared in the spring of 1998 courtesy of David Gans and was one of the very first shows I ever got on CDR along with 11/15/71 (which, coincidentally, also featured a “Dark Star”->”El Paso.”) At that point I had around eight racks of GD cassettes and little idea just how much things were about to change with the move from cassette to digital and the emergence of online trading communities. Within a very short time, the days of placing ads in Relix (“Your list gets mine, no high-speed dubs”) and waiting for a response were replaced by rapidly-moving online trees, vines and trading. Multi-generational cassette hiss became a thing of the past and hardcore traders stopped sleeping in 45 minute increments. Within in two to three years I probably acquired twice as many shows on CDR as I had on cassette up to that point.

Back to the show. “Dark Star” starts off with lush, gentle improvisation that dances in and around the DS theme for about 5 minutes before Garcia, with able assistance from Keith, steps outside and charts a course for deeper waters. If my ears don’t deceive me, Keith is playing Fender Rhodes as opposed to piano. Within a couple of minutes they’ve picked up the pace and abandoned the theme completely for roughly (though there’s nothing ‘rough’ about it) 12 glorious minutes of peak ‘73 jamming. Garcia seems completely at ease and in full control as he varies the tempo and intensity of jam and constantly introduces new ideas to which the band responds instantly. After a slow descent back to the first verse, the band immediately drops into a quiet deep space/insect fear segment from which a full-blown Tiger meltdown emerges. As with all versions from this era, the second verse is discarded and, instead, the jam dissolves effortlessly into “El Paso.” If pressed for time, one could quickly summarize the whole show simply by stating “Even the ‘El Paso’ is smoking hot.” I’ve always enjoyed Jerry’s back-up vocals on this tune and the present version is no exception.

A massive “Eyes of the World” follows, with Keith returning to piano and enlivening the proceedings. Simply put, this version of Eyes is 20 minutes of everything that makes deadheads beam when they think of this era. Garcia’s leads are crisp and buoyant. The jam truly takes off just before the 8 minute mark, then peaks, gloriously, around 12 minutes before hinting at “Slipknot” and finally dropping into the standard closing coda. While 6/10/73 is slightly longer, I much prefer this version. Garcia never runs out of ideas, even during the post-coda transition into “Morning Dew.”

"Morning Dew" is heartfelt and powerful, Garcia leans into the vocal and band marches triumphantly underneath. Jerry & Keith at the 6 minute mark, man oh man. Garcia brings things down to almost a whisper at 8 minutes or so and then builds back up with an intensely emotive solo. Keith is with him every step of the way. The jam climaxes with Garcia shredding at 12 minutes. If you haven’t had enough at this point, switch to the well above-average AUD recording for an exceptional, though oddly-placed, encore of “GDTRFB.” God bless the Grateful Dead.

Chris Harriott is a Deadhead and attorney living in Northern New Jersey. You can follow him on twitter @ckhesq.

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Oklahoma City Music Hall, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 14, 1972 
Shake it! WFMU’s Scott McDowell takes a Summer of Dead trip back to ‘72. 
I didn’t have a cool older brother. But my friend Joey did. Actually his older brother was an asshole who beat Joey up all the time, which was not cool at all, but Joey’s brother had tons of Dead tapes and I loved them. Joey and I were stealthy, to sneak listens, or Joey’s brother would kick his ass again while I waited in front of the TV. Constant abuse that kid endured. So much for hippies and peace and love.
The tapes were labeled like this: Hartford ‘82, New York State Pavilion ‘69, Fillmore East ‘70, Boston Garden ‘77. I had the feeling there was an endless supply of these cassettes with their cities, their dates. We were young. The ones we could get our hands on were like gold treasure.
I got a bit older and the important women in my life were always listening to the Grateful Dead. I was attracted to intelligent women with cute dresses and comfortable sandals, post-hippie feminist girls who would throw a punch if necessary. Girls who read Paul Bowles and Annie Dillard, liked sleeping outdoors, drank beer, could speak several languages and knit you a sweater. These women could do it all! They had toe rings. They let their armpit hair grow sometimes, but not as any kind of statement, it just happened.
I am not original, I adore ‘72, it’s unbeatable. My way into a show is an individual song, typically a Jerry ballad: “To Lay Me Down,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Row Jimmy,” “Stella Blue,” “The Wheel,” “He was a Friend of Mine.” I’ll tell you my favorite version of each. Buy me a beer.
The Fox Theatre show from 10/18/72 is already represented. Here’s another classic from fall ‘72, 11/14/72 from Oklahoma City Music Hall. Excellent “Sugaree,” the best “He’s Gone,” and yet another stellar Jerry ballad in “Sing Me Back Home.”
Scott McDowell hosts The Long Rally on WFMU and tweets sometimes @longrally. He married a Deadhead.

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Oklahoma City Music Hall, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 14, 1972 

Shake it! WFMU’s Scott McDowell takes a Summer of Dead trip back to ‘72. 

I didn’t have a cool older brother. But my friend Joey did. Actually his older brother was an asshole who beat Joey up all the time, which was not cool at all, but Joey’s brother had tons of Dead tapes and I loved them. Joey and I were stealthy, to sneak listens, or Joey’s brother would kick his ass again while I waited in front of the TV. Constant abuse that kid endured. So much for hippies and peace and love.

The tapes were labeled like this: Hartford ‘82, New York State Pavilion ‘69, Fillmore East ‘70, Boston Garden ‘77. I had the feeling there was an endless supply of these cassettes with their cities, their dates. We were young. The ones we could get our hands on were like gold treasure.

I got a bit older and the important women in my life were always listening to the Grateful Dead. I was attracted to intelligent women with cute dresses and comfortable sandals, post-hippie feminist girls who would throw a punch if necessary. Girls who read Paul Bowles and Annie Dillard, liked sleeping outdoors, drank beer, could speak several languages and knit you a sweater. These women could do it all! They had toe rings. They let their armpit hair grow sometimes, but not as any kind of statement, it just happened.

I am not original, I adore ‘72, it’s unbeatable. My way into a show is an individual song, typically a Jerry ballad: “To Lay Me Down,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Row Jimmy,” “Stella Blue,” “The Wheel,” “He was a Friend of Mine.” I’ll tell you my favorite version of each. Buy me a beer.

The Fox Theatre show from 10/18/72 is already represented. Here’s another classic from fall ‘72, 11/14/72 from Oklahoma City Music Hall. Excellent “Sugaree,” the best “He’s Gone,” and yet another stellar Jerry ballad in “Sing Me Back Home.”

Scott McDowell hosts The Long Rally on WFMU and tweets sometimes @longrally. He married a Deadhead.

Peter & The Wolves
More Invisible Hits! You can go check out my survey of some excellent unreleased Peter Laughner material over on Pitchfork today. If you’re not familiar with the dude (who co-founded Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu), you should definitely take a listen to Take The Guitar Player For A Ride, the out-of-print mid-1990s comp that gathers together some choice cuts. If you already know that stuff, here’s a very cool rarity — a tape of Peter playing live in 1976. The first half is solo acoustic and the second half is with a full band, The Wolves. Tom Herman, Laughner’s Ubu cohort, is on on guitar here, not sure who the other players are. The recording quality leaves a little to be desired (the norm for recordings of Laughner it seems), but it’s a fantastic listen all the same. A healthy mix of covers (VU, Neil Young, Dylan) alongside some great originals (a lovely “Sylvia Plath” and a ferocious “Dear Richard”). There’s also what has to be one of the first Television covers to be performed — a fine and faithful version of “Prove It,” which hadn’t even been released yet. Like I wrote, Laughner was always the hippest guy in the room. 

Peter & The Wolves

More Invisible Hits! You can go check out my survey of some excellent unreleased Peter Laughner material over on Pitchfork today. If you’re not familiar with the dude (who co-founded Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu), you should definitely take a listen to Take The Guitar Player For A Ride, the out-of-print mid-1990s comp that gathers together some choice cuts. If you already know that stuff, here’s a very cool rarity — a tape of Peter playing live in 1976. The first half is solo acoustic and the second half is with a full band, The Wolves. Tom Herman, Laughner’s Ubu cohort, is on on guitar here, not sure who the other players are. The recording quality leaves a little to be desired (the norm for recordings of Laughner it seems), but it’s a fantastic listen all the same. A healthy mix of covers (VU, Neil Young, Dylan) alongside some great originals (a lovely “Sylvia Plath” and a ferocious “Dear Richard”). There’s also what has to be one of the first Television covers to be performed — a fine and faithful version of “Prove It,” which hadn’t even been released yet. Like I wrote, Laughner was always the hippest guy in the room. 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Terminal Island Correctional Facility, San Pedro, California, August 4, 1971
I’m not letting everyone else have all the fun this summer. Here’s a show I checked out recently — the Dead’s own version of Live At Folsom Prison? The band found themselves playing this low-security federal prison in the Port of Los Angeles because their mentor/soundman/LSD guru Owsley “Bear” Stanley was doing time here. A good reminder that the Dead weren’t just singing about illegal activities — many in their close inner circle were living a genuinely outlaw lifestyle. 
Perhaps realizing that their literally captive audience wasn’t going to be thrilled with kozmic explorations a la “Dark Star,” the band keeps things tight and funky during this set; even “Playing In The Band” clocks in at under five minutes. Pigpen gets lots of chances to shine here, with smoking versions of “Hard To Handle,” “Next Time You See Me” and “Mr. Charlie” choogling along nicely.
Maybe the best thing about the recording, however, the fact that the mix favors Phil Lesh quite a bit. You can really hear what an inventive, unique and just plain weird bassist the dude was, all backwards runs, buoyant grooves and divebomb daring. As much of a distinctive instrumental voice as Garcia when you get right down to it. Zone out in the Phil Zone! 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Terminal Island Correctional Facility, San Pedro, California, August 4, 1971

I’m not letting everyone else have all the fun this summer. Here’s a show I checked out recently — the Dead’s own version of Live At Folsom Prison? The band found themselves playing this low-security federal prison in the Port of Los Angeles because their mentor/soundman/LSD guru Owsley “Bear” Stanley was doing time here. A good reminder that the Dead weren’t just singing about illegal activities — many in their close inner circle were living a genuinely outlaw lifestyle. 

Perhaps realizing that their literally captive audience wasn’t going to be thrilled with kozmic explorations a la “Dark Star,” the band keeps things tight and funky during this set; even “Playing In The Band” clocks in at under five minutes. Pigpen gets lots of chances to shine here, with smoking versions of “Hard To Handle,” “Next Time You See Me” and “Mr. Charlie” choogling along nicely.

Maybe the best thing about the recording, however, the fact that the mix favors Phil Lesh quite a bit. You can really hear what an inventive, unique and just plain weird bassist the dude was, all backwards runs, buoyant grooves and divebomb daring. As much of a distinctive instrumental voice as Garcia when you get right down to it. Zone out in the Phil Zone!