Grateful Dead: Late 1968 Set (August-December mixtape)

This mix combines some of my personal favorites from the sporadic, unreleased late-1968 tapes into a single, two-hour set. If you don't spend much time with 1968, other than the official releases, this is your short-cut expansion pack. 

Every song documented on the tapes is represented, except for “Lovelight” (ubiquitous, boring) “Midnight Hour” (once, messy) - and "Caution" - which got squeezed out based on my picks for similar/adjacent jam zones. 

I have plucked several exemplary passages of the openest jamming the band was doing at the time, so you can spend more time in the zones that gave birth to the "thematic jams" of the future, which would feature such favorite non-songs as "Tighten Up," "Feelin' Groovy," "Mind Left Body," "Phil Jazz Jam," and new locations for "Spanish Jam."

In 1968, that part of the show happened around combinations of jam-after-"Alligator," into/around/might-turn-into "Caution," and "Feedback." "And We Bid You Goodnight" was a common theme at the time. I am still confused about "Mountain Jam" and "Darkness Jam." Are those inside these 1968 jams somewhere? Maybe?

8/21/68 at the Fillmore West has (arguably) the most amazing, continuous open playing of the year – an incredibly fluid 14 minutes that sounds more advanced and effortless than any other, analogous passage. I listened to all of 1968's such passages in a row, repeatedly, with the intention of making a mega-mix out of them. In the end, it was obvious that I should just pick this one and build a fun, imaginary set around it. (@MrCompletely got here way before me. Thank you for the insight.)

The whole 8/21 tape is a great listen for playing, mix/source quality, and consistency. Release-worthy. My only issue with it is that its mix is so perfectly the late-1960s sound and patient-pacing we're already used to (via official releases), that it doesn't shake up your expectations in a visceral way.

The other great, unreleased show/circulating tape of the year packs that visceral punch – 10/12/68 at the Avalon Ballroom. Fast, fierce, and wiry. For this mixtape, I used 10/12 as the foundation, and built around it to simulate a 1968 experience that I think contrasts with the great (though few) official 1968 releases. 

2-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc One (56 minutes):

  • Dark Star (9/2/68 Sultan, WA)
  • St. Stephen > (10/12/68 Avalon Ballroom)
  • The Eleven > (10/12/68 Avalon Ballroom)
  • Death Don’t Have No Mercy (10/12/68 Avalon Ballroom)
  • It Hurts Me Too (12/21/68 Shrine Auditorium)
  • Alligator Reprise > Garcia & Drummers > Jam > AWBYG Jam > Feedback (8/21/68 Fillmore West)

Disc Two (59 minutes):

  • New Potato Caboose Jam (12/7/68 Louisville, KY)
  • Morning Dew (10/12/68 Avalon Ballroom)
  • Jam > (10/12/68 Avalon Ballroom)
  • Feedback (10/12/68 Avalon Ballroom)
  • The Other One > (12/29/68 Hallandale, FL)
  • Cryptical Envelopment > (12/29/68 Hallandale, FL)
  • And We Bid You Goodnight (12/29/68 Hallandale, FL)
  • Rosemary (12/7/68 Louisville, KY)
  • Clementine Edit (9/12/68 rehearsal/audition with new players)

Song-by-Song Rationale:

Dark Star: I chose the 9/2 performance at Betty Nelson’s Organic Raspberry Farm in Sultan, Oregon. I value this version in part because it buries TC’s repetitive keyboard part and elevates Weir’s guitar. That leads to a less-flattened, more springy and sculpted “Dark Star” experience than I find typical of 1968 tapes. Nearly all the 1968 "Dark Stars" are worth your time for Garcia's leadership, and this is also one of my favorites in that respect. Possibly my earliest desert island "Dark Star."

Grateful Dead: Do Not Step on Alligator (February 7-15, 1969)

This mix includes three unreleased versions of the sequence “Alligator Jam > Caution > Feedback” from the month between the Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore West shows that provided most of the material for “Live Dead.” Only one show from this month has been released – "Fillmore East 2/11/69."

I have removed Pigpen’s main vocal sections from “Caution,” which foregrounds the band’s dramatic musical retellings of the familiar tale and makes this a nearly-all instrumental mix.

Though recorded at this time, the album “Live Dead” didn’t include “Alligator > Caution.” This makes sense, given that a live version of the sequence was employed for side two of the earlier album, “Anthem of the Sun.” 

However, while these were old songs by February 1969, they were also zones where unpredictable things continued to happen. They are analogous to the 1970 jams that swung around such themes as “Feelin’ Groovy” and “Tighten Up.” Early 1969 “Alligator” jams played around with “China Cat,” “We Bid You Goodnight,” and “St. Stephen.” (Earlier and later versions went to additional places.)

In addition to these open-and-thematic jams, “Caution” was a very mutable, familiar, heavy jam by 1969 (think “The Other One”), and “Feedback” had hit its glorious peak by 1969 (hence its inclusion on “Live Dead”).

So, maybe we should pay as much attention to early 1969 “Jam > Caution > Feedback” as we do to “Dark Star > St. Stephen > The Eleven.” “Live Dead” captured the latter trio at its organized, elaborate, perfected peak. At the same time, “Alligator Jam > Caution > Feedback” captured the protoplasmic Dead express train barreling through a different series of stations.

70-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Jam > Caution Edit > Feedback (Pittsburgh, 2/7/69) (18:59)
  • Jam > Caution Edit > Feedback (Fillmore East, 2/12/69) (17:14)
  • Jam > Caution Edit > Feedback > AWBYGN (Philadelphia, 2/15/69) (34:13)

Cover art: Saul Steinberg, 1968

Grateful Airplane: November 20, 1970 (Rochester, NY)

This mix isolates astounding material from a jam session featuring Garcia, Weir, Kaukonen, Casady, Kreutzman, and Hart. The music circulates as an audience recording along with the rest of the Dead’s show that night.

(Late-breaking scholarly adjustment! Casady is not present. All bass is Phill Lesh.)

Thanks to Jesse Jarnow for passing on his massive enthusiasm for this performance, which was unknown to me. I'm crazy about "Jam 3," which is very 1968-1969 Mothers of Invention at the start and gets very 1968-1969 Velvet Underground at later points.

33-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Cartoon Music (1:12)
  • Bluegrass Jam (1:26)
  • Jam 1 > (11:36)
  • Darling Corey > (5:04)
  • Jam 2 (2:56)
  • Jam 3 (11:08)

Editing notes:

  • I cleaned up starting and ending points where you don’t see “>.” Some tracks just cut/faded, in or out, on the source tape.
  • I combined two segments titled “Tuning” into “Cartoon Music.” The Dead spent a lot of rehearsal time in September, 1969 exploring cartoon themes and scheming to unleash them on live audiences. Save Your Face mix here. This show is the first place I’ve noticed them actually playing them on stage. Can you point me at others?


Shriekback: Clink Jam ’83 (Save Your Face Edit)

This post presents a continuous, 17-minute edit made up of pieces of Shriekback’s archival release, “Clink Jam” – a recently-discovered 1983 rehearsal tape. You can buy the full release on the Shriekback store.

Specifically, this edit is made up of edits of half-a-dozen “Clink Jam” tracks, which were then segued together into one track. It was an informal jam session, with slack and finding-the-next-move moments, and I just took those out, so corners get turned as frequently as your ear wants them to be turned. I am posting the edit at the request of the band.

(b-side below the page break)

Shriekback is an active band, releasing frequent new albums lately, which feature three-fourths of the original lineup heard on “Clink Jam.” I’m a big fan. In 2018, my brother and I flew from the U.S. to Amsterdam specifically to see Shriekback mount a rare, large-band live show at the Paradiso. 

So, whether you know Shriekback or have never heard of them… what is documented on the “Clink Jam” tape?

  • Dave Allen: bass (following his departure from Gang of Four)
  • Martyn Barker: drums (Dave Allen’s new Hugo Burnham, but funkier)
  • Barry Andrews: keyboards (following his time in XTC and Fripp’s League of Gentlemen)
  • Carl Marsh: guitar (following his time in the great, obscure Out on Blue Six)

Andrews and Marsh are also the band's lyricists and singers, though that’s not really a factor on the “Clink Jam” tape. I’m reasonably sure all four of them made all sorts of sounds on the studio recordings. 

Grateful Dead: Probably June 1968

If you scroll through Relisten for archive.org shows from May and June 1968, you’ll find very little. There’s one very nice sound board mystery tape dated May Zero, two dodgy audience tapes, and a great tape dated 6/19/68 that is actually 2/19/69.

But wait, there’s more June 1968! 

There’s a big compendium on archive.org (archived as 12/31/68) that includes three unique sound board segments of 1968 music, all of which Light Into Ashes/Dead Essays has dated as June 1968 (or possibly May), probably from the Carousel Ballroom. 

This post’s mixtape curates those three segments into a single June 1968 set. It provides a handy, robust, good-sounding mid-1968 listening experience to fit between the year’s early months and August, for which there are several good tapes, including the one used for “From the Vault 2.”

Two edits add some extra value. 

  • “St. Stephen” was brand new at this point, and I’ve extended the version I chose with the jam segments from two others, so you can really settle into the early approach. 
  • The good take of “Cryptical Envelopment” sandwiched an “Other One” on which the mix went to hell partway through – so I edited the two halves together into a seamless, stand-alone “Cryptical Envelopment.”

Great versions include "Dark Star" and "Alligator > Caution."

84-minute mp3 mixtape zipped up here

  • PA: Please Return the Scratcher
  • Dark Star >
  • St. Stephen (3 version edit) >
  • Cryptical Envelopment (parts 1 & 2 edit) >
  • New Potato Caboose >
  • Alligator >
  • Drums >
  • Alligator > Caution Jam >
  • Caution
  • The Other One
  • Lovelight
  • PA: Some Asshole with a Tape Recorder

Source notes:

This mix sources the three undated (June) shows on the compendium tape as follows:

  • Source 1: Dark Star > St. Stephen
  • Source 2: The middle of the St. Stephen edit, The Other One, and Lovelight
  • Source 3: The end of the St. Stephen edit through Caution

All the segues (“>”) in the mix/list above are actual band segues. Some volume fluctuations have been corrected and a tape gap or two healed up.

Cover art: Rick Griffin

Grateful Dead: On Returning (May 1976 Rehearsals)

In addition to live Dead and recorded-for-release studio Dead, there’s the third way - demos and rehearsals.

Some high points include 1970’s Angels Share (on all streaming services), the vast 1975 Blues for Allah jams, the 1979 Brent rehearsals, the 1983 Stone House sessions, and rehearsals and unfinished sessions that capture some of the band’s final songs in the early 1990s.

This post presents a studio-album like condensation of May 1976 rehearsals ahead of the band’s return to the stage in June. They’ve got two drummers now/again, Donna’s finally, fully in the picture, and they’re working on perfect, end-to-end versions of songs.

I want to say this material sounds exactly as its timestamp and setting would suggest: 1976 coming into being, but with a lighter touch than the June shows. If June 1976 has been a series of small club dates, it might have come off more like this.

Aside from choosing what to include, I made only two editorial interventions. The “Supplication” jam is doubled from two takes, and the “Eyes of the World” is comprised of three takes, with vocals edited out of one of them. 

Artwork: Rick Griffin, “Water into Wine.”

70-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Cassidy
  • Attics of My Life
  • The Wheel
  • Lazy Lightning > Supplication > Supplication (edit)
  • Groove
  • Eyes Jam > Eyes of the World > Eyes Jam (edit)
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Wharf Rat
  • Cosmic Charlie (breakdown)


Grateful Dead Shortlist: November 6, 1970 - Port Chester, NY (electric jams edit)

This is an instrumental edit of most of the big electric jam sequence of a great show that only exists as an audience recording.

The uncut sequence is 56 minutes. This 39-minute version edits out a drum solo and all the vocals from “Good Lovin’,” “Alligator,” “Not Fade Away,” and “Caution.” The only vocals that remain are on “Goin’ Down the Road.”

All the band’s original segues between songs remain, except for a fake edit to get from the “NFA” reprise to “Caution.”

If you have enjoyed Save Your Face’s adventures into song-free improvisation from other eras, here’s a new one to try – Fall 1970 Dead out in the wide open spaces for 40 minutes straight.

And if you are put off by the audience sonics of this era, you may find that the removal of vocals makes them work better.

39-minute mp3 file zipped up here. Instrumental unless otherwise noted.

  • The Main Ten >
  • Good Lovin’
  • Alligator Jam >
  • Not Fade Away >
  • Goin’ Down the Road (w/vocals) >
  • Mountain Jam > Not Fade Away (>)
  • Caution

Cover photo: Joe Sia

Grateful Dead Shortlist: June 11, 1993 (Hebron, OH - Instrumental Edit)

The band just wanted to jam and jam at Buckeye Lake in 1993, and this mix offers an entirely instrumental edit of a large portion of the show, including a mighty, seven minute “Foolish Heart.”

The show's mix was terrible for vocals but big and shiny in all other respects, with prominent, wiry, funky Phil throughout.

One-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Eyes of the World (instr. edit)
  • Playin’ Jam >
  • Uncle John’s Band > (instr. edit)
  • Corrina (inst. edit)
  • Improv: Drums 1 >
  • Improv: Drums 2
  • Improv: Space >
  • The Wheel (instr. edit)
  • Foolish Heart (instr. edit)

Grateful Dead: Solo, Duo, and Trio (11/12/72 - Kansas City)

This is a much-expanded revision of highlights from this show.

The bizarre soundboard mix of this late ’72 Dead tape reduces the band to a trio of Garcia, Weir, and Lesh. Drums and keyboards are almost totally absent. Vocals are very faint, nearly silent in one channel. 

The channel mix changes over the course of the show. At some times, all that’s in one channel is Garcia’s guitar. At others, it’s Garcia and Weir’s guitars, alone together. Crazy, frustrating, sound board mixes abound in late ’72 – which is tragic – but this 11/12/72 Kansas tape is a beautiful gift.

Garcia can create an entire, mesmerizing musical narrative all by himself. You know that the rest of the band is laying down the landscape for his story, but he nonetheless seems so calm and delicate, like he already knows where things are headed. Notes and runs that are incendiary in the context of the whole band's performance aren't played bombastically.

"It was around 1972 or '73 when I finally unlearned all the things that had hung me up to that point.”  (Garcia, 1978, Guitar Player Now, source @jerrygarcia)

Meanwhile, the intricate, twining Garcia/Weir duos are a spectacular window into their guitarist mind-meld. I find the “NFA > GDTRFB > NFA” to be particularly wonderful.

This expanded mix pulls everything from the show’s “isolation channel” that I found really compelling, resulting in mono mix downs. 

I have also included the stereo trio edits of the “Bird Song” and “Playin’” jams. It is quite astonishing to play either song as a Garcia guitar solo, followed immediately by the Garcia/Weir/Lesh mix – which seems whole and giant – and then to realize you’re still missing the keyboards and drums. 

I have shortened many of the tracks to edit out stretches where nothing interesting is happening, which is typically where you become very aware that you are listening to an incomplete mix. Often this meant cutting out all the places where vocals should be (and faintly are), but I let the guitars lead my edit choices, so phantom vocals appear here and there.

Several isolation tracks (one channel, full song) made it through unedited, even though you’ll supply the rest of the song in your head: solo Garcia-only “Box of Rain” and “Playin’,” and Garcia/Weir “Friend of the Devil.”

100-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc One: Solo and Duo (71 minutes)

  • Bird Song Edit (Garcia)
  • Stella Blue Solo (Garcia)
  • Box of Rain (Garcia)
  • Friend of the Devil (Garcia, Weir)
  • He’s Gone Edit (Garcia, Weir)
  • Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road > Not Fade Away Edit (Garcia, Weir)
  • Big River Edit (Garcia, Weir)
  • Truckin’ Edit (Garcia)
  • Playin’ in the Band (Garcia)

Disc Two: Trio (30 minutes)

  • Playin’ Jam Edit (Garcia, Weir, Lesh)
  • Bird Song Edit (Garcia, Weir, Lesh)
  • Train on Cocaine (Garcia)

Grateful Dead: December ’72 Improvisation (Dec. 10, 11, 15)

This mix pulls together Grateful Dead improv from a little cluster of unreleased California shows that the band played in the middle of December 1972 – three at Winterland and one in Long Beach. These shows followed a two-week break, and the band’s next show would be two weeks later, on New Years Eve. (Highlights from that NYE show are here.) Following 12/31/72, they’d play a 2/9/73 CA show, then start a Midwest tour on 2/15/73. So, these performances are a bit of an island in the performance history.

I’m always reluctant to assert anything about how any Grateful Dead month might be different from the one that preceded or followed. Nonetheless… I want to say that the (probably) unrehearsed Dead of mid-December 1972 is venturing deeper into multiple-chapter open spaces than in the earlier Fall. They anticipate the great New Years Eve “Other One,” which was broken up with three jams that weren’t “The Other One.” It’s hard to say that February 1973 is lurking in December 1972. This still seems to be 1972 reaching its 1974-ish, dissolving/opening conclusion. However, on 12/12/72, Phil played his 1973 “Eyes” jam riff for perhaps the first time – a bonus track at the end of the third disc of this mix.

I’ve almost entirely omitted material from the third Winterland show (12/12), because Phil Lesh’s bass is nearly inaudible. I nonetheless recommend checking out that show's “Other One” and the material surrounding it. It’s clearly a hot performance, and the bass-free mix is thrilling in a weird way, but it’s not really a proper Grateful Dead experience. I also skipped the 12/11 "Playin'," which seemed mundane, compared to the two I included.

I preserved every long improv sequence from the three shows featured on the mix, with the exception of the 12/10 “Other One.” The source SBD tape has a brutal gap in it, possibly the length of a lazy tape flip. I decided to trim out some material after that gap, so the flow would pick up with a fresh, distinct passage.

Three-hour mp3 mixtape zipped up here

Disc One: Winterland 12/10 (59 minutes)

  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Truckin’
  • The Other One >
  • Jam/ (fade at SBD gap)
  • Jam > 
  • The Other One
  • Playin’ Jam

Disc Two: Winterland 12/11 (42 minutes)

  • Dark Star >
  • Jam >
  • Dark Star >
  • Space/Feedback >
  • Chaotic Jazz Jam >
  • Stella Blue

Disc Three: Long Beach 12/15 & bonus tracks (71 minutes)

  • Playin’ Jam
  • He’s Gone Jam
  • Jam >
  • Dark Star >
  • Keith Vs. Chaos Jam >
  • Morning Dew
  • Sing Me Back Home (12/12)
  • Bass & Drums > Eyes Jam Riff (12/12)

Cover image: Rene Magritte, "The Lost Jockey"