Shortlist: Philadelphia ’95 (March 17-19)

Don’t fear the reaper or the calendar year 1995. Here’s the first of several mixes from The Grateful Dead’s first tour of the year (late February to early April). 

This Philadelphia stand featured a full-fledged, out-of-nowhere jam as well as multiple high-intensity improvisational passages during the “Spaces,” all of which I’ve edited into one big 18-minute jam. Nom Nom. There are also the strong debut of “It’s All Too Much,” a hot performance of the just-resurrected “Alabama Getaway,” a famous "Visions of Johanna," and enough other Beatles tunes to make a medley out of them all. The “Ramble on Rose” has some fantastic Garcia solos. 

(“Unbroken Chain” also made its live debut in Philadelphia, but I’m holding out for the far better second version a week later – featuring Hornsby on grand piano. The only released song here is “Visions of Johanna,” which appeared on “Fallout from the Phil Zone.”)

mp3 mix here

Set One (78 minutes):

  • Alabama Getaway
  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Ramble on Rose
  • Easy Answers
  • Jack-a-Roe
  • I Know You Rider
  • Lazy River Road
  • Visions of Johanna
  • One More Saturday Night
  • Promised Land

Set Two (77 minutes):

  • Jam
  • Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
  • It’s All Too Much
  • Rain
  • Standing on the Moon
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • Brokedown Palace
  • Encore: Iko Iko

Cover art by Robert Rauschenberg.

Shortlist: Rehearsal Highlights - February 25, 1994

The day of The Grateful Dead’s first show of 1994, a rehearsal was caught on tape. It features funny banter, as well as members of the band exploring several cover tunes, with an emphasis on The Beatles. 

The Grateful Dead never covered “Strawberry Fields Forever” live, but Phil and Vince did explore it. The full band also rehearsed a version of The Beatles’ “Rain” that has charms above and beyond their live concert versions. This rehearsal version is comparable to The Velvet Underground’s “Temptation Inside Your Heart,” wherein ad hoc commentary from the singers becomes an integral part of the recorded performance. 

This material is not the best of 1994 Dead (look elsewhere on this blog for that), but it’s a fun snapshot.

12-minute mp3 mix here

  • PA: Nobody Told Me About This Rehearsal
  • 1970s Throwback Phil Jam (Phil, Vince, Bobby, Jerry)
  • PA: Phil Wants to Do Strawberry Fields >
  • Lucy in the Sky Approximately (Phil & Vince)
  • Rain (The Grateful Dead)

Pacific Northwest 1973 Bonus Track

The recent “Pacific Northwest” boxed set contains six Grateful Dead concerts from 1973 and 1974, four of which I’d previously “shortlisted” from fan soundboards and posted on this site.

There was only one song from those four shows that I decided to edit into an instrumental version – the catastrophically sung but beautifully played “Here Comes Sunshine” from 6/22/73 in Vancouver. At no point is Garcia certain about the lyrics, starting with the song’s first line.

Musically speaking, this is one of my favorite early ‘70s “Here Comes Sunshines,” so I decided to reproduce my edit, using a lossless version of the track pulled from the new CD. If you dig it, you can tag it to go wherever you like in your digital Dead library.

320mbps mp3 here

Here Comes Sunshine (instr. edit – 6/22/73) (8:17)


Shortlist: February 27, 1994 - Oakland, CA

Here’s more great music from The Grateful Dead’s first tour of 1994, which ran from February 25 through April 8. I’ve previously posted three mixes of material from March.

This show seems to be most famous for a one-minute “Cosmic Charlie” tease that turned into “Wharf Rat” instead. The audience was devastated at the time, but 25 years later, it’s fun to hear as the only post-1976 “Cosmic Charlie” moment there was. I’ve edited it to flow straight into the "Wharf Rat" jam, which is an intense one, on a par with a good "Dark Star" or "Bird Song" climax. In this case, the edit creates a flow with no moment of disappointment: Other One > Cosmic Charlie Jam > Wharf Rat Jam. 

Anyway, aside from that cruel tease… what this show should be famous for is on this mix.  The "UJB > Supplication > UJB" jam is A+ Live Dead in any year, and "The Other One" and "Wharf Rat" have comparable peaks of collective intensity and on-a-dime action. Garcia is feeling spry all over the place, the instigator of "Supplication" and "Cosmic Charlie." His melodic playing on "UJB" and "Row Jimmy" is luminous. He and Lesh also help carve out an interesting "Corrina." Plus, there are animals howling all over the Drums.

Unfortunately, there are badly blown lyrics and creaky musical turns in the midst of the show’s best material, so I’ve made some internal edits, which are detailed below the track list. All edits are invisible or nearly so, and the whole deal sounds like a big jam built around a sung  UJB and OO. 

They’ll never deem this show worthy of release in full, but this material is well worth your time – great stretches of beauty, intensity, and weirdness. At its best, I like 1994 Dead as well as any Dead.

54-minute mp3 mix here

  • Row Jimmy Instrumental (4:16)
  • Uncle John’s Band > Supplication Jam > Uncle John’s Band > (14:28) 
  • Corrina Jam > Jam > (11:21)
  • Howling Drums (9:58)
  • The Other One > (9:48)
  • Cosmic Chwharf Rat Jam (4:28) 

Editing notes:

  • All indicated transitions (>) are real.
  • All verses/choruses removed from “Row Jimmy” and “Corrina.” 
  • First verse/chorus removed from “Uncle John’s Band.”
  • "The Other One" begins with the end of "Space," which is part of an interesting, slow-build version of the song that does eventually explode.
  • There's a wobble at the very start of "Wharf Rat" that is in the source tape. My edit doesn't interrupt the original flow from CC to WR.

A giant “Corrina” jam turns out to be a wonderful thing, and while it’s tragic that they didn’t nail this “UJB” straight through, the omission of the first verse results in a glorious six-minute jam on the song’s melody. They were playing long, thoughtful “Row Jimmys” in this period, which enables a flawed one like this performance to become a lengthy, beautiful instrumental. In the meandering after "Corrina" winds down, Lesh suggests a turn toward the "Feelin' Groovy"/"China > Rider" transition, which the band seems to consider for a hot second. 

If you would rather listen to this material without edits, you can stream the source I’ve used here. The show-opening “Hell in a Bucket” is a good one, but it didn’t seem to fit on this mix.


Music for Scareports: October 1994

This mix combines excerpts from the “Drums>Space” segments of October 1994 Grateful Dead concerts. It’s a sequel to “Music for Spaceports: March 1994.” 

I also previously posted a lengthy mix of October 1994 Dead playing conventional songs, if you want to compare excellent stuff from opposite ends of the spectrum that month.

Source dates are October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 1994. The 19th was the last show of the month/tour. Specific dates are included in the song title tags. Track lengths range from 1:30 to 8:30.

90-minute mp3 mix here

  • One Halloween Night >
  • Let’s Go Through the Woods
  • Dervish
  • Trick or Treat
  • October
  • That House Wasn’t Here Yesterday
  • Let’s Get Out of Here
  • Dance of the Skeletons >
  • Baba Yaga
  • The Kid in the James Bond Mask
  • Jazz from Hell
  • Four Cool Cats
  • Dance of the Illuminated Pumpkins
  • You are Getting Sleepy
  • Mona in Her Mask
  • Return of the Illuminated Pumpkins
  • Wendell, this is No Shortcut
  • Off the Venkman Scale >
  • Floyd’s Brilliant Plan
  • A Visit to the Lost and Found
  • Close Encounters
  • At the Mountains of Madness
  • Midnight
  • It Was Only a Dream

Two Improvisations: October 1994

Cover art: Margaret Brundage

These two pure improvisations by the drumless quartet of late 1994 deserve to be highlighted for their beauty. The first one is exquisite, everyone pulling together to craft an extended, gentle melody with dramatic ebbs and flows. The second one is beautiful, too, on a more blustery day. 

One of my favorite drumless insta-songs by the earlier band is this one from October 1972.

In time for Halloween, I’m going to post a two-hour stack of Drums/Space passages from October 1994, a month I previously investigated for performances of pre-1979 songs. These two pieces are highlights from that month's open improvisation. 

9-minute mp3 download here

  • Mona in Her Mask (10/2/94)
  • October (10/9/94)

Shortlist: Frost Amphitheatre, Stanford U. – April 27-28, 1985

My mid-80s Grateful Dead conversion trip has begun. This post presents an LP-length postcard from my early travels.

I’ve been rooting around in this period since “Dave’s Picks #27: 9/2/83” was announced, having hardly listened to these years since I collected cassettes in the late ‘80s. Since my post-Mydland prejudices have already been blown to smithereens this year, I figured I’d be proven stupid on the ‘80s, too. 

The music featured in this post is among the stuff that has effectively shut down all my old, ignorant, blanket assumptions about mid-80s Dead. The sound is big and natural, and both second sets are performed impeccably, with real connections within the unorthodox song sequences. Some songs are more perfunctory than you’d like, but nearly every song is a tight, error-free version that finds a swell groove. To me, it’s a bit like full sets that feel like the “Dead Set” album, with some big jams added in. (Garcia’s voice was weak in this period, but that hardly affects these second sets, and he’s certainly checked-in on all fronts.)

This is the only “Scarlet > Eyes” ever played, and a couple of transitions are also notable: “Crazy Fingers > Playin’” is seamless, without a full-stop, and “China Doll > Playin’” is an extended piece of improvisation that genuinely gets from one song to the other. 

Both first sets were spotty, but the best from them is some of the very exciting material from the shows: I found the exceptional “My Brother Esau” I was looking for - the search that led me to these shows. “Dancin’ in the Street” wasn’t all that common in this period, and this version, which opened the two Frost shows, is wonderful, finding a groove that isn’t that far away from 2/14/70. Garcia is maniacal on "Minglewood."  The only released material from these shows is “She Belongs to Me,” which featured on a Rhino Garcia/Dylan compilation. 

The fact that these two shows were played in the open air at the small and lovely Frost Amphitheatre makes them sound even sweeter.

First Set Highlights (47-minute mp3 mix download here)

  • Dancin’ in the Street
  • Little Red Rooster
  • My Brother Esau
  • Minglewood Blues
  • Tons of Steel
  • Bird Song
  • She Belongs to Me

4/27/85 Second Set (best archive.org stream here)

  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad >
  • Man Smart, Woman Smarter >
  • Drums >
  • Space >
  • The Wheel >
  • Truckin’ >
  • The Other One >
  • Black Peter >
  • Around & Around >
  • One More Saturday Night

4/28/85 Second Set (best archive.org stream here)

  • Hell in a Bucket >
  • Crazy Fingers >
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • China Doll >
  • Playin’ Jam >
  • Drums >
  • Space >
  • Playin’ jam and reprise >
  • Wharf Rat >
  • Throwing Stones >
  • Not Fade Away


October '94

According to these performances, The Grateful Dead were great at least as late as fall 1994. Try this in place of 1977 or 1989 Dead sometime. You won’t be disappointed. 

October 1st is the only 1994 concert The Dead have officially released. Most of the rest of the month’s shows circulate on beefy soundboards, which I sifted for this mix, while also making a couple of important audience tape pickups. The tour’s shows, which began in September, ended on October 19; the band’s next tour began November 29.

Much of the 1993-1994 material I’ve posted on this blog, so far, has been focused on the extremes of how far out the band could get (“Dark Star,” drums/space MIDI adventures, Ornette Coleman) and how well they could sell their newest/final compositions (“Liberty,” Childhood’s End,” etc.). 

In contrast to those two perspectives, this mix is all about the October 1994 Grateful Dead punching you in the face with terrific performances of 29 of their pre-1979 classics.

This mix is bike-trail-tested. I’ve created four sequences, but start anywhere you like. There’s very, very little slack.

4h40m mp3 mix here (tagged as a single album with four discs)

71 minutes:

  • Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (10/15)
  • Loose Lucy (10/3)
  • Black Throated Wind (10/15)
  • Stagger Lee (10/15)
  • Jack-a-Roe (10/19)
  • Attics of My Life (10/3)
  • Friend of the Devil (10/17)
  • New Minglewood Blues (10/17)
  • New Speedway Boogie (10/15)
  • Truckin’ (10/18)

74 minutes:

  • Help on the Way > Slipknot! > (10/18)
  • Franklin’s Tower (10/18)
  • Playin’ in the Band > (10/13)
  • Uncle John’s Band > (10/13)
  • Playin’ Jam (10/13)
  • Fire on the Mountain (10/14)

58 minutes:

  • Shakedown Street (10/3)
  • Eyes of the World (10/17)
  • The Wheel (10/3)
  • Morning Dew (10/17)

77 minutes:

  • Cassidy (10/3)
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (10/13)
  • Stella Blue > (10/19)
  • Sugar Magnolia (10/19)
  • Bird Song (10/3)
  • Row Jimmy (10/2)
  • Wharf Rat (10/13)
  • Comes a Time (10/9 - final performance)
  • China Doll (10/11 - final performance)
Additional notes:
  • I’m beginning to prefer the sound of mature Welnick Dead to peak Mydland Dead. 1993-1994’s leaner, opener sound is what I wish post 1977-1978 Dead had immediately become next: A tight, wiry unit with a big sound that worked to play and sing the whole catalog well and thoughtfully. 
  • Aside from a couple affectionate tombstone mixes drawn from the band’s very last shows in July 1995, October 1994 is as far as I’ve gotten. Lead vocals lapses are the main flaws you’ll find in some of my selections, but most are fleeting, with only a couple of more extensively blown lyrics. There are plenty of absolutely perfect performances in the mix as well. The jamming, short and long, is all pleasing, with “Fire” and “Eyes” going on for more than 20 minutes each, and “Bird Song” possibly a top 10 for me. The “Attics of My Life” will curl your toes, in a good way.

Goodnight Jerry: The Final Three Shows (July 6-9, 1995)

If I were to tell you that The Grateful Dead played a considerable amount of impressive music during their final three concerts in 1995, you’d probably tell me to prove it. 

2 LP mp3 mix here

  • Liberty (5:37)
  • Cassidy (6:58)
  • Eternity (9:14)
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece (5:00)
  • Visions of Johanna (9:11)
  • Terrapin Breeze (2:30)
  • Eyes of the World (18:36)
  • Stella Blue (7:39)
  • Terrapin Thunder > Jam (7:30)
  • So Many Roads (11:45)
  • Black Muddy River (5:18)

Notes:

  • Source dates included in song title tags.
  • These are the final performances of all these songs, obviously.
  • This is a justifiably famous “Visions of Johanna.”
  • "Black Muddy River" was the encore on the last night. "So Many Roads" was the last Jerry song in the second set that night. 
  • There are no edits in this mix, except for “Terrapin Station.” There are some errors, but aren't there always?
  • All sources are soundboards, although that for the 6th is inferior to the other two. 
  • I’d planned to make it the last four shows, but nothing from 7/5 made the cut.

Imaginary Final Single: If the Shoe Fits/Childhood’s End (October 1994)

“If the Shoe Fits” debuted on 6/9/94 and “Childhood’s End” on 7/20/94 – the last two original Grateful Dead songs to enter the live repertoire, both written and sung by Phil Lesh.

If you want to get to know these songs, and possibly come to love them, these are definitely the droids you’re looking for. 

I think I’ve checked out all circulating soundboards and audience recordings, and these two soundboard performances/recordings were the giant, obvious needles in the archive haystack. (It's conceivable that one or both of these made it into The Dead's periodic free single-song download series, but I have no complete list of those downloads. 10/1/94 is the only complete concert The Dead have released from that year.)

This is part of my ongoing project to find outstanding versions of all The Dead’s final compositions, which started with this March 1994 anthology.

mp3 single here

  • If the Shoe Fits (10/19/94)
  • Childhood’s End (10/3/94)
  • If the Shoe Fits (8/3/94 audience recording, Japanese edition bonus track)

As I understand it, Lesh (and perhaps the others) felt that new songs would help fuel Garcia engagement in a period when Jerry was headed in the same direction as in the mid-1980s, when his drugged-out-bad-health put him in a coma that he narrowly survived – living on to drive the 1989-onward renaissance of the band. In the 1995 remake, Jerry died. The big musical difference between those two episodes is that everyone else in the band had their shit together in 1994, whereas the whole band was a mess in 1986. 

My general take on Welnick Dead, so far, is that they are not to be dismissed – a band that had stopped depending on Garcia’s leadership to determine the musical outcome, but who were always therefore also ready when Garcia was feeling spry. Weir has said something to that effect. And when Garcia was feeling spry, it was just as you would wish it to be.

“Shoe Fits” is a rocker that The Dead wore very comfortably on a number of occasions, Lesh singing an uncharacteristically aggressive lyric effectively. “Childhood’s End” was harder for The Dead to navigate, a twisty second cousin to “Unbroken Chain.”