Jamming with Brent: April ’79 Rehearsal Remix

Here’s another one of those unique and miraculous – but also shaggy – Grateful Dead events, boiled down to something more like an album fit for everyday listening. 

Rehearsing ahead of Brent Mydland’s first live performance with the band, the Dead jammed and jammed and jammed in their Club Front studio. The results are an exciting sequel to the “Blues for Allah” rehearsal tapes. I’ve always said that I’d have been cool with the Dead staying on the jazz-fusion path out of 1975; this music could be from that path. 

My mix presents 60-minutes of the best bits, sliced and diced into a nearly continuous 60-minute jam, plus a 17-minute Space/Drums/Feedback freak-out, made up of several other bits. All told, it includes about half the minutes of the circulating tape, which is dated April 16, 1979. 

78-minute mp3 mix here (Cover: John Hilgart, cassette insert art, c. 1989)

  • Herbie Prelude >
  • Herbie 1 >
  • Herbie 2 >
  • Another Fire on a Different Mountain >
  • Scarlet Begonias Jam >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Harbor Traffic >
  • We Could be Genesis
  • Not Fade Away Jam
  • Dancing Between Thunder
  • Summer of ‘73
  • We’re Here All Week, Folks >
  • Closing Time
  • Booji Boy’s Bad Trip (space, drums, and feedback)

You can listen to the full 2h45m tape here: https://archive.org/details/gd79-04-16.studio.clugston.3121.sbeok.shnf 

Compared to my own excitement about this material, the 15 years of comments on the archive.org post, above, are surprisingly ambivalent. Methinks they haven’t seen the trees for the forest. I hope that my tightening and track differentiation will make it easier for some to enjoy these unique Dead performances. Imagine if this had been a second set in front of a live audience, in 1979 or any year. People would have lost their minds.

Editing notes:

  • Two of the links indicated by “>” are real: “Herbie 1 > Herbie 2,” and “Scarlet > Fire.” I’ve created simple connective tissue anywhere else I could. There were few real stopping points in the music, but the drummers and odd noises provided some good opportunities for fake connections. The fade-ins on “Harbor Traffic” and “Summer of ‘73” come from the source tape. 
  • The only vocals are on “Fire on the Mountain.”
  • “Herbie Prelude” is a combination of two small Brent noodles, the second of which gave birth to (what I have called) the Herbie theme. 
  • I removed many minutes from the “Herbie 2” jam, joining approximately the first five, Mydland-centric, minutes to the final minute-and-a-half, which brought it to a Garcia-led close. 
  • “We Could Be Genesis” begins with some tightened up elements that preceded the full-fledged execution of the theme/idea, so it would be even more Genesis-like.
  • “Not Fade Away Jam” removes two sections of reference-recording-level singing. There was a tempo change across the first vocal section, so you’ll feel that shift, but both the fast intro and slower jam are worthy.
  • “Summer of ‘73” is an abbreviated version of the full jam, faded out when it disintegrated beyond a certain point.  
  • “Booji Boy’s Bad Trip” combines three separate episodes of noisy fun and trims out some extraneous stuff within one or two of those episodes. 
  • Every effort was made to hide the fact that these were stop-start rehearsals and to fake an album out of them. 

Samba in the Rain b/w Way to Go Home (1994 Summer Tour advance single)

Vince Welnick’s “Samba in the Rain” is probably The Grateful Dead’s most ridiculed original composition. It was improbable Dead material, and it didn’t play to the singer/author’s strengths. In contrast, Welnick’s “Way to Go Home” is a perfect Dead song, and he’s the perfect singer of it. 

The short “Samba” jam is always fun, but the song itself isn’t really very discernible, or followable, most of the time. It’s murky or untight or the vocals are mumbling somewhere in the distance. 

This version is the opposite of that; the song’s right there, every word clear, harmonies well-balanced, and Welnick making the jazz-like turns in the vocal melody without mishap. He wrote a song he wasn’t built to sing, but he does just fine here. 

So, if you’d like a reference version of this song, or haven’t seriously listened to it maybe ever, this is the dance partner you’re looking for. 

13-minute mp3 mix here

  • Samba in the Rain (7/1/94)
  • Way to Go Home (7/31/94)

P.S. This is the improbable promo single for a series of 1994 Summer Tour mixes I will be posting as the 25th anniversary dates arrive.


1994 Spring Tour Boxed Set: Guide to the “Save Your Face” Mixes

I have now posted mixes pulled from all the currently circulating soundboard recordings of The Grateful Dead’s 1994 Spring Tour – February 25 to April 8. If you include the year’s first three shows in Oakland, the band played 23 shows that Spring, 5.75 of which do not appear to circulate as soundboards. 

From those that do, I have pulled 111 tracks, totaling 14.5 hours. Aside from two tracks that appear on two mixes, there is no duplication across the mixes. For the record, the only official release from this tour is the "Liberty" I have included, and the only official 1994 concert release is a single show from October, on the "30 Trips" boxed set. It's a shame that this period of Grateful Dead is so ignored. I'm glad that my efforts have made people who used to think like me sit up and say WTF - WOW!

I have made and posted these mixes over a year’s time, so it may not be clear how they map onto the tour or relate to each other. You can find all the original posts, with detailed notes and links to mp3 downloads, under the tag “GD 1994 Spring Tour.” 

This post is simply an overarching guide to the combined mixes. It provides a complete track list, so you can more easily see how the mixes cover the tour and what songs are represented. I’ve appended my Deadbase annotations, so you can literally see when and where the songs I’ve chosen happened during the tour and shows.

Shortlist: March 16-21, 1994 – Chicago and Richfield, OH

Almost every song here stands out as a vocal performance. The crowd cheers Garcia’s singing and the band’s harmonies all over the place, and the mix lets the singers stand out. The “Stella Blue” is extraordinary. Playing throughout is excellent. Each composition gets its due. 

You’ll find the great improvisational performances from these same shows here and here. This mix is the rest of the highlight reel for Chicago and Richfield, OH. I always enjoy being able to pull songs like “Stella Blue” and “Wharf Rat” into this kind of song-centric context, free of late second set connective tissue. 

Aside from emphasizing that these are great performances featuring a lot of excellent Garcia singing, I’ll add that this “Around and Around” is delightful. It never explodes, and instead meanders into what sounds something like a drunken New Orleans funeral march. 

All three of the Chicago shows circulate as soundboards, but just one of the two Richfield shows. Hence my decision to combine them.  

100-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Don’t Ease Me In (3/16/94)
  • Beat It on Down the Line (3/16/94)
  • Bertha (3/21/94)
  • Ramble on Rose (3/19/94)
  • Stella Blue (3/21/94)
  • Queen Jane Approximately (3/21/94)
  • Looks Like Rain (3/16/94)
  • High Time (3/16/94)
  • Peggy-O (3/21/94)
  • Wharf Rat (3/18/94)
  • Around and Around (3/18/94)
  • Deal (3/18/94)
  • Standing on the Moon (3/16/94)
  • The Wheel > (3/17/94)
  • All Along the Watchtower (3/17/94)

This post concludes my survey of the ’94 Spring Tour. Every circulating soundboard has been curated and posted here, with representation of every stop on the tour.


Dark Star Flashes (March 1994): LP 2!

Here are 50 more minutes of A+ Grateful Dead jamming from the Spring ’94 tour – all unreleased, like everything from this tour. Garcia’s leads never let up. He’s full of ideas and always knows where he wants to go next.

The reason I’m presenting this as a companion to my earlier “Dark Star Flashes” mix is that this contains all the other great jamming from the shows that contributed four of six songs on that mix. “Dark Star Flashes” was a popular post – a gateway to late Dead for me and some people who follow this blog. So, I didn’t see a reason to repeat that material in a show-specific context. It seemed like a better choice to double down and extend the original mix. 

With one exception, all of this comes from the three shows at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, March 16-18. That run would make an excellent official release as a compressed “Road Trip.” 

50-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Feel Like a Stranger > (3/18/94)
  • Scarlet Begonias Jam > Fire on the Mountain (3/16/94)
  • Eternity Jam (3/17/94)
  • Playin’ in the Band > UJB Jam Conclusion (edit, 3/17/94)
  • Eternity Jam (3/21/94)

Song Notes:

  • “Eternity” isn’t a great song (lounge blues), but the jam the band built out of it was great (lounge jazz). If the band had survived longer, I’d want to hear where this kind of mood/playing went, further down the road. My favorite alternate universe Dead is the one that tacked jazzward out of “Blues for Allah,” so “Eternity” is a happy real-world event for me. 
  • This “Playin’” is very fun, with lots of episodes. The jam-flow begins with traditional, feisty playing around the theme, leads into a great dissolving stretch that doesn’t lose the thread, and then leads into further, focused adventures in the post-UJB jam that I’ve edited on. 
  • This is an exceptionally punchy, tight, direct, dense “Fire.” There is a fleeting vocal error by Garcia, but otherwise his singing is up-front and confident, and his leads drive the song straight through. (He just flies on the "Stranger" jam, too.)

Editing Notes:

  • The internal edits are the removal of the “Eternity” song-parts and an extension of the “Playin’” jam with the end of the same show’s “Uncle John’s Band” jam – which was a return to “Playin’” territory. I’ve made some simple transitions to keep the whole thing moving along. If they’d played “Scarlet > Stranger > Scarlet,” my “Stranger/Scarlet Jam” jump-cut might be believable. 

Where this fits into my Spring ’94 mix series:

  • The four shows represented here are the last four circulating soundboards from the Spring ’94 tour that I have not presented as single-show “shortlists” or single-venue “road trips” compilations. As such, I had to choose between those approaches (repeating a lot of tracks from the earlier “Dark Star Flashes” mix) or the approach I’ve taken here. It leaves some fine non-jam performances on the cutting room floor that I’ll get around to buttoning up eventually.
  • In any case, I hope the density of goodness on this mix offsets any cumulative annoyance I have created with my many different approaches to presenting Spring ’94 highlights. 


Shortlist: Greensboro, NC – April 1, 1991

This was one of the best three Grateful Dead shows I saw live, 28 years ago tonight. This one hour edit has the arc you’d want if whatever you’d smoked or ingested was beginning to come on strong just as the music started. 

The great thing about this show is that it had big melodic/exploratory versions of both “Bird Song” and “Dark Star.” At the time of the show, a “Dark Star” was due, and I wanted nothing more. After the “Bird Song,” I doubted the second set would include “Dark Star,” but I got my wish. 

The “Dark Star” was split into two pieces, with a lot of wild, noisy stuff in between. It’s cool noisy stuff (normal and MIDI), but not on the level or in the character of the melodic heights of this show. So, I’ve finally made the edit that I’ve wanted for 28 years – the Greensboro ’91 “Dark Star” without interruption.

62-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Prelude: Ambient (5:21)
  • Bird Song (16:14)
  • Dark Star > Playin’ Coda > (17:24)
  • Black Peter (9:30)
  • Peggy-O (6:32)
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (6:49)
Note: I was inspired to make this edit by a new Charlie Miller SBD master that appeared last year. It's in the archive here: https://archive.org/details/gd1991-04-01.141915.sbd.cm.miller.flac1644

Shortlist: Nassau Coliseum ‘94 (March 23, 27, 28)

Slowly but surely, I'm constructing a best-of boxed set of The Grateful Dead's entire 1994 Spring Tour. (Or at least as much of it as circulates in soundboard recordings.) I've now tagged all of my posts from this tour so they can be viewed together as that boxed set. Just a couple of "discs" to go. 

The Dead played five shows at Nassau Coliseum (Uniondale, NY) in March. Only 2.3 of them circulate as soundboards: All of 3/23, 3/27 without the heart of the second set, and only the second set from 3/28.  

This mix pulls excellent performances of 17 songs from those soundboards. There are lots of delights in here, including many of the "small" or seemingly mundane songs. Vince lights things up all over the place. The “Might as Well” is the only occurrence later than mid-1991. The "China Cat" jam will surprise you. "Truckin'," the song, has a fantastic chugging groove, and the jam falls beautifully into "The Other One" from another night. The closest thing to a major blemish is Garcia being uncertain on some “Jack Straw” vocals, but it’s a fiery version nonetheless. 

mp3 mix zipped up here

Part 1 (61 minutes):

  • It’s All Over Now
  • Jack Straw
  • Jack-a-Roe
  • Queen Jane Approximately
  • Johnny B. Goode
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • He’s Gone >
  • Goin’ Down the Road, Feelin’ Bad
  • Might as Well

Part 2 (70 minutes):

  • Truckin’
  • The Other One >
  • Morning Dew
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • Samson & Delilah
  • Standing on the Moon
  • Victim or the Crime
  • Rain

Note: Some post-“Built to Last” songs and Drums/Space segments from these shows appear on other “Save Your Face” mixes and aren’t repeated here. The gap in the 3/27 second set is funny. There was a lengthy technical issue break, so they turned off the recorder. They apparently didn't remember to turn it back on until the band had played "Iko," "Uncle John's Band," and "Playin'."


Shortlist: Atlanta ’94 (March 30 – April 1)

Just in time for you to enjoy them on or before the 25th anniversary of their performance, here are three hours of highlights from the penultimate run of The Grateful Dead’s Spring 1994 tour. Unlike the folks at the tour’s final shows in Florida, Atlanta attendees were very lucky. They saw excellent versions of many of the band’s biggest jam songs, including the last “Dark Star,” ever. This is the best single-city, 1994 Dead run I’ve found so far. A great cap to a tour that was rich with high points. 

3-hour, mp3 file, zipped up here

Set 1 (54 minutes):

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Dire Wolf
  • Black Throated Wind
  • Deal
  • New Speedway Boogie >
  • Promised Land
  • Standing on the Moon 

Set 2 (101 minutes):

  • Tuning Noodle
  • Bird Song
  • Estimated Prophet Jam
  • Crazy Fingers
  • Scarlet Begonias > 
  • Fire on the Mountain

Set 3 (101 minutes):

  • Playin’ in the Band > 
  • Dark Star
  • Eyes of the World
  • The Other One >
  • Wharf Rat
  • Brokedown Palace

Notes:

  • This mix excludes the band’s post “Built to Last” songs (the best of which, from this tour, I anthologized here), and “Drums>Space” highlights, which already appear here, or will appear on a future March ’94, “Music for Spaceports, Part 2” mix.
  • The only edit I’ve made is to reduce “Estimated Prophet” to mostly the jam, which is great, while the song itself struggled after a stumble. 
  • The “Bird Song” goes to amazing places. This is one of the songs where "Dark Star" was hiding out in the later years.
  • The “Crazy Fingers” is as good as I’ve heard from later days, maybe thanks to recently-introduced teleprompters. 15% more Garcia vocal confidence, and this would have been perfect.
  • Likewise, though Garcia is a moment behind confidence at several points in the vocals, this “New Speedway” is the most gripping performance I’ve gotten to know from the end years. 
  • Likewise, again, this may be the first “Scarlet” from this period that I’ve anthologized, because the song itself is exciting here.
  • The “Fire” steadily ignites. 
  • “Playin’ > Dark Star” already appeared on my very first 1994 mix, repeated here, in a proper “Roadtrips” context. The “Playin’” is exemplary latter-day, and I have no issues with this sweet little coda to the “Dark Star” saga. Dig the drunken, twangy, science-fiction licks!
  • I’m no expert on “Standing on the Moon” performances, but this one seems pristine – and it works great as a jam to end a hypothetical first set.
  • Regarding standing somewhere, I was standing in the kitchen, chopping onions, trying to decide if this “Black Throated Wind” made the cut, and my partner walked in, listened through to the end, and asked, “When is this? I like it!” So, it made the cut. 

Grateful Deadish: Fate Music ’68 (Hartbeats Highlights)

The several late 1968 shows that lacked Bob Weir and Pigpen, and that sometimes added or substituted a guest musician, have always been both a thrill and a disappointment to me. I have compared them to the “Wizard of Oz” poppy field; I periodically run into it joyously, and then it puts me to sleep.

In the course of his chronological 1968 listening journey (in 2018), Jesse Jarnow (@bourgwick) listened to all these shows closely and compiled great notes. Based on those notes, I’ve edited together this 2.5-hour mix. It sure as hell doesn’t put me to sleep; it’s the poppy field I’ve been looking for. Indeed, it often feels more like a lean forward in time by the band, rather than like a bunch of noodly, time-frozen, jam sessions. 

As far as I know, all tracks include Garcia/Lesh/Kreutzman/Hart, with David Getz (drums) and Elvin Bishop (guitar) joining in on some tracks. I’ve made a variety of edits, mostly to establish satisfying start- and end-points, and to remove fatty interludes from extended jams. (David Getz jam part 3 is missing, because I decided it was a debased rock version of part 1.) I also cranked up Garcia's vocals on "It's a Sin," so that they would match the instrumental interludes. Both this and the sung "Death Don't Have No Mercy" are curios that deserve a place on the shelf.

From an editing perspective, I especially draw your attention to the Elvin Bishop track, which is extraordinarily like a chill 1969 Velvet Underground track. The full jam includes thematically almost-unrelated explosions into mediocre rocking out, which return each time to the thematic base, to see what’s changed. I’ve edited it down to that thematic base, and I really like it. The Velvets and the Dead were presumably cultural/musical opposites in the late ‘60s, but they, along with Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, were closer than they thought at the time. If you want to check out my candidate for VU’s closest “Sister Ray” to a 1968-1969 “Dark Star,” listen to the 12/12/68 “Sister Ray” on this mix – performed at exactly the same time as the not-quite-Dead material on this “Hartbeats” mix.

There are also multiple brushes with a fetal “Fire on the Mountain” impulse/chord structure, closer to the 1973 Watkins Glenn jam and the 1975 “Noodle on the Mountain” rehearsal session than to true “Fire,” but also an indication of how long certain ideas incubated in Deadland. In truth, all sorts of Dead themes crop up here and there in this material, regardless of how they are labeled as tracks. 

Whether the band was contemplating kicking Bob and Pig out or just woodshedding, these sessions seem to have been an important proving ground for open improvisation, and, as we all know, the “Live Dead” shows were just around the corner, in early 1969.

2.3-hour 320kbps mp3 mix, derived from FLAC, and zipped up here

  • Fate Music (Garcia intro, 10/30/68)
  • Dark Star jam (10/8/68)
  • Jam w/David Getz 1 (12/16/68 – jazz star)
  • Jam w/David Getz 2 (12/16/68 – space)
  • Jam w/David Getz 4 > (12/16/68 – fire on the sunflower)
  • Jam w/David Getz 5 (12/16/68 – coda)
  • Clementine jam (10/30/68)
  • Jam w/Elvin Bishop edit (10/30/68 – just like sister lou says)
  • The Other One jam edit (10/10/68)
  • Dark Star jam > (10/10/68)
  • The Eleven jam > (10/10/68)
  • The Seven (10/10/68)
  • Death Letter Blues (w/vocals, 10/30/68)
  • It’s a Sin (w/vocals, 10/10/68)
  • The Other One jam (10/30/68)
  • Jam (10/10/68 – another view of fire mountain)

Grateful Dead: Florida, April 1994

How good could The Grateful Dead be on a bad night, or across a string of mediocre shows? This mix answers that question for the Florida shows that closed the band’s 1994 Spring tour (April 4, 6, 7, and 8).

The tour from late February through March was strong, with great traditional and MIDI performances. However, by the time they hit Florida in early April, Garcia’s voice was shot, and the band just sounded tired. Easy songs were lazy, and tricky songs struggled. 

Nonetheless, as is true of other periods of live Dead, sloppy songsmanship doesn’t correlate to the quality of the collective playing once the song structures are left behind. In these Florida excerpts, you can hear the musical health and adventurous spirit of the 1994 band, in the midst of shows that I don’t recommend you listen to in full. 

There are no fancy segues on this mix, though I’ve tried to make a decent listening arc out of the pieces. It’s basically a big jam, with some song-stops – most notably a very nice “The Wheel.”

80-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Shakedown Street jam (4/7/94) 7:04
  • Eyes of the World instrumental > (4/7/94) 17:14
  • Playin’ in the Band (4/7/94) 9:05
  • Jam out of Terrapin (4/4/94) 3:57
  • Slipknot! > (4/4/94) 7:05
  • Franklin’s Tower (4/4/94) 11:10
  • Jam out of Terrapin (4/7/94) 9:43
  • The Wheel (4/6/94) 6:41
  • Not Fade Away (4/4/94) 9:25