Dark Starlets: A Europe ’72 Single-Song Mega-Mix

I have reposted this because I discovered that it did not sort into the right track order as previously posted, due to a variation in an mp3 tag category that should have no impact on track sequence. WTF? I spent a good deal of time ensuring that the tracks were sequenced to have gentle transitions and provide good pacing, so I'm horrified that what I posted is all scrambled. This version works correctly.  

This mix is comprised of 21 musical segments drawn from all the “Dark Stars” performed during the Europe ’72 tour. They are arranged into two 64-minute sequences, each of which begins with the song’s intro, and each of which contains a verse. It’s all forward-moving improvisation, whether on the “Dark Star” theme or farther afield. There’s no “space,” though the segments wind up and wind down from spacey zones, such that The Dead’s development of each musical angle here is respected, and the result feels more or less like a single performance, with ebbs and flows. If you’ve ever imagined a one-hour or two-hour “Dark Star” that never completely spaces out and keeps finding new melodic avenues, this is for you.

192kbps mp3s sourced from the official Europe ’72 box.

Blog Index

As the blog's subhead partly indicates, my primary aim here is to share my personal consolidations of unreleased, live Grateful Dead shows, post-Europe '72- through-1974, as documented on fan-circulating soundboards. I post mp3 mixes downloadable from my harassment-free paid Dropbox account. I make no claims to being a decisive Dead authority, and I make and share these mixes in the spirit of the Dead cassette trading that got me hooked in the first place. 

I love the 1972-1974 period more than any other in the band's history, despite its notable flaws – insufficient rehearsing, car-crash harmony vocals, poor mixing/recording of many of the documentary soundboards, etc. What I post on the blog is the ongoing jukebox of repeat-listening-worthy, 1972-1974, live Dead that I am steadily building for myself, as I get intimate with one show after another, in no particular order. 

Links take you to the posts, which have full descriptions and links to the mp3s. 

Grateful Dead “Shortlists” (1972-1974)

Individual, unreleased Dead shows boiled down to 50-120 minutes. (These links, based on tags, will pull up a few non-shortlist posts, but mostly they'll do you right. Just keep scrolling.)

1972

1973

1974


Best of Shortlists (1972-1974)

Vol. 1: New songs of 1973-1974

Vol. 2: Summer ‘74


Improvisation & Instrumental Edits (1972-1974)

Just improvisation Vol. 1

Just improvisation Vol. 2

Dark Starlets - Europe '72

Steal Your Voice: The Instrumental Album (jam songs, and some non-jam songs, without the vocal sections)

Watkins Glen ’73 (same principle as The Instrumental Album)

Shortlist: Oakland 6-8-74 (same principle as The Instrumental Album)

More instrumental edits appear in some “shortlists.”


Riff Investigations/Compilations

Slipknot ‘74

The first three Eyes jams (1973)

The Main Ten & The Seven (1968-1970)


Blues for Allah Rehearsals (1975)

A six-disc curation


Garcia Songs Live (1972-1974)

Save Your Face: A three-disc curation drawn from officially released archival shows. (The post that started this blog.)

Shortlist: Tampa 12-18-73 – all Jerry songs


Phil & Ned 1974

A concentrated dose


Later Dead

The Final Face: A 1989/1991 mix of unreleased, jam-centric material from three shows I attended. Weirdly, one of the most visited posts on the blog.


Not The Grateful Dead

Curations and edits of other artists, on all sorts of different principles: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Beck, David Bowie, Prince, The Clash, Talking Heads, Television. Source content ranges from unreleased to semi-released to widely released. 


Bonus Track

Cover image by Neil Barrett

The Port Chester 6-24-70 “Dark Star” played straight through

This edit is intended only for people who have already listened to the three-part, 6-24-70 “Dark Star” sequence 1,000 times. 

Everyone else should immediately go encounter it in its full, as-played glory (streamed or downloaded):

DS1 > early Attics > DS2 > primordial Sugar Magnolia > DS3

If you DO know this performance like the back of your hand, then you might enjoy this continuous edit, which eliminates “Attics” and “Sugar Magnolia.” It shortens the full 29:12 sequence to a single 21:20 “Dark Star.”

(Then again, like my friend who gave me a tape of this in 1987, you might scream, "Heresy!")

The gentle intro to “Attics” out of DS1 and the clean start of DS2 make the first edit pretty reasonable sounding. (There’s an errant, loud Garcia note just before “Attics” really gets underway, and I just put the note with which he re-starts “Dark Star” there instead.) The second edit, removing the song-ish part of “Sugar Magnolia,” is seamless.

I’m not casting any aspersions on the justifiably famous and genuinely thrilling sequence; however, “Attics” and “Sugar Magnolia” have become less satisfying uses of my time, over time, while I often wish to return to the "Dark Star." 

An aside: There’s a great discussion of audience-tape-only “Dark Stars” here.

The Grateful Dead – At Tens and Sevens (and Sometimes Elevens) 1969-1970

224kbps mp3 compilation here (49 minutes)

  • The Main Ten (6-19-68 San Francisco, CA)
  • The Seven (3-21-70 Port Chester, NY)
  • The Main Ten (11-6-70 Port Chester, NY)
  • The Eleven Jam > (10-10-68 San Francisco, CA - Mickey and The Hartbeats)
  • The Seven (10-10-68 San Francisco, CA - Mickey and The Hartbeats)
  • The Main Ten (11-8-70 Port Chester, NY)
  • The Seven (9-29-69 New York, NY)

Here's one more!

The Main Ten (6/7/70 San Francisco, CA) (5:40) - tagged to drop onto the end of the above comp.

A commenter on this blog inquired: “Do you take requests? How about an edit of various Playin/Main Ten jams. I love that theme, but often can do without the whole song.”

I have no access to or expertise in the history of “Playin’” jams across the band’s career, but I did realize that most of the pre-“Playin’,” “Main Ten” jams would be audience-only recordings and therefore easily accessible on archive.org.

So, I grabbed not only “The Main Ten” (in 10/4), but also performances of “The Seven” (in 7/8). “The Eleven” (in 11/8) is the more famous early Dead kin to these other songs/jams. 

(“Estimated Prophet” is also in 7/8, and the climactic riff in the 1973-1974 “Eyes” jam is in 7/4. I’m not sure what else is worthy of note in the Dead catalog.)

There are a few Dead performances of an “Eleven jam,” without the whole song structure, but those are soundboard-only recordings, and I can’t obtain them. However, in October 1968, Mickey and the Hartbeats (Garcia, Lesh, Hart) jammed both “The Eleven” and “The Seven” extensively, and I’ve changed up the time signature in the middle of this mix by including a performance by them that segues 11 into 7. 

The first track here – “The Main Ten” (6-19-68) – is, I believe, the first recorded evidence of the “Playin’ in the Band” riff. The 11-8-70 performance is the last recorded version, prior to the arrival of “Playin’” itself. It also features a wonderful, long transition into "Dancin' in the Streets." The 11-6-70 version is notable for some remarkable audience clapping near the beginning.

Recordings of "The Main Ten" missing from this mix/post, that I am aware of, are:

  • 11/8/69 (3:12) - On "Dick's Picks" #16 and stream here
  • 12/5/69 (2:39) - stream here
  • 5/3/70 (inaudible audience recording)

If you’re interested in riff-based compilations, you might enjoy Slipknot ’74 and the earliest Eyes jams from 1973. 

Side Trips: Beck – “Beautiful Way” (1998-2014 mix)

Cover art by Odilon Redon.

I rate Beck as a major talent. Lyrically, he can break your heart or conjure up a startling, surreal image as well as anyone. He’s a great observer of relationships, emotional turmoil, and the weirdness of contemporary culture. Musically, he’s covered a vast spread of styles with excellent results. 

When he won a GRAMMY in 2014, it was for “Morning Phase,” an album made in his “lush beauty” style – which has a history going back to nearly the beginning of his recording career. It is possibly his most instinctual mode of songwriting, based on the quantity of songs in it and his frequent returns to it.

How to describe it? It has something of the 1969 Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says”/”Pale Blue Eyes” vibe. (The song “Beautiful Way” rips off the melody of VU’s “Countess from Hong Kong.") I’m also reminded, a lot, of Acetone’s later records. Nick Drake is in there somewhere, but this music also features vast-sounding arrangements and production that put you into late Beatles/George Martin territory. But then, there’s also a C&W twinge to most of it. It’s got rhythm, a groove even, but it’s narcotic. It is a giant, slow wave of beautiful sadness. 

I cherish this kind of Beck, but the same characteristics that make it consistently alluring also result in a sameness fatigue factor. I wouldn’t have given a GRAMMY to “Morning Phase,” but I fully support a GRAMMY for the music Beck has made in this style, across the years. This mix is my argument in support of that position. 

Sources: Morning Phase (4), Sea Change (4), Mutations (3), Midnite Vultures (1), The Information (1)

13-song, 55-minute, 320kbps, ripped-from-CDs, mp3 mix here

  • Blackbird Chain
  • Dead Melodies
  • Beautiful Way
  • Heart is a Drum
  • Paper Tiger
  • Turn Away
  • Lost Cause
  • Guess I'm Doing Fine
  • Waking Light
  • We Live Again
  • New Round
  • Nobody's Fault But My Own
  • The Golden Age


Nut Hatch - February 1973: The First Three “Eyes of the World” Jams

mp3 compilation here 

43-minutes:

  • Eyes Jam #1 (2/9/73 Palo Alto, CA) (10:22)
  • Eyes Jam #2 (2/15/73 Madison, WI) (9:33)
  • Eyes Jam #3 (2/19/73 Chicago, IL) (12:22)
  • Eyes Jam 2006 (11/8/06 Lesh & Friends recreation) (10:24)

I wish I could take this further, but I don’t have soft copies of the fourth, fifth, or sixth “Eyes.” “Dick’s Picks” #28 picks up the story after that.

The Grateful Dead debuted a whopping seven new Garcia tunes at their first show in 1973, one of them being “Eyes of the World.” 

Obviously, there had been some serious band work between the 1972 New Year’s Eve show and the first 1973 show, such that all these numbers were, more or less, ready to go, and “Here Comes Sunshine” had its whole jam sequence worked out in advance. 

However, the soon-to-be trademark ’73-’74 “Eyes” jam had not been worked out in advance, although the band was clearly determined to make it a jam from the get-go, and the key ideas are already lurking in the first live performance. 

Once it did get worked out, the song’s jam tended to progress through several, fairly predictable stages, until it reached a series of (usually three) synchronized riffs. Sometimes, after those riffs, the band would jam on for a while; more often, they would rapidly dwindle to a transition to a new song.

That jam is under construction across these initial three “Eyes” jams, which are at the same time unlike the “Eyes” jams to come, more wide-open and questing, as you’d expect. 

It’s hard for me to say whether this sounds more like 1972 Dead playing 1973 changes or 1974 Dead going into unexpected, noodle places with a 1973 theme. In reality, it’s the Dead at the dawn of 1973, having fun in a brand-new sandbox that they’re eager to explore – the highest praise I can give this stuff. 

It is impossible for me not to think about the eruptions of “Slipknot” into the band’s 1974 jamming (compiled here) when listening to this evolution of the “Eyes” jam. They are so similar, ultimately, as focused knots of this era’s Dead sensibilities. 

I haven’t figured out the precise origins of the "Eyes" jam's synchronized riff in this material, but it seems like a Garcia idea that Lesh decided to formalize into something discrete and dynamic. Garcia threw it out and meandered through it, while Lesh thought it was pounce-worthy. I'm probably wrong, but the audio evidence is here for you to assess yourself. 

I have added to this compilation what I think is a rather remarkable 2006 appendix to the history of the 1973-1974 “Eyes” jam, and a fine bookend to these early “Eyes” jam explorations. In 2005 or 2006, Lesh invited people to apply to “Phil Lesh University.” As I understand it, he selected two bands from the applicants, asked them what they wanted to play, rehearsed with them for a day, then played an unorthodox show, in which each band got a set. The Garcia figure in one of the bands, Ethan Franzel, wanted to play a 1973-1974 “Eyes,” and he ended up having to re-teach Phil the jam. (Understandable, I guess, since Phil probably hadn’t thought about it since 1974, while fans never forget.) This lucky guy, Franzel, also got to be Jerry for “Dark Star.” The whole improbable show is streamable here

In any case, at the other end of the invention of the “Eyes” jam, we get a remarkably tight recreation of the ultimate structure of that jam, some 30 years after the fact, featuring Lesh, who seems to me to have been the leader of that earlier structuring. 

Update: I contacted Franzel, who had this to say:  "Before the Phil show - maybe a month or two before, right after the bands were set - I spoke with the other guitarist in my set, Greg Fain. We knew when we spoke that it was going to work. Plus we fit into natural roles - I played lead when things were more "jammy" - that's why you hear me taking the lead on the Eyes jam and on Dark Star. We knew what tunes we were playing at that point, and Fain and I wanted to get together beforehand to run the tunes, figure out compatibility, etc. We discovered on the phone that we both - upon discussing the setlist with Phil (ha! That was a great phone conversation, just me and Phil talking about music and spirituality!!) - wanted to do the 73/4 Eyes jam. So we were simpatico from the start, and Phil was amenable. I sent out the chords and the structure to the other musicians so that they would be 100% ready for it when the time came to rehearse. When we actually did it live, the reaction was pretty much what you'd hope it would be - a bunch of Heads grooving on something that they hadn't heard Phil do in a really really long time. I remember telling Phil "that next chord is a C diminished." It was awesome to tell him the sequence! Of course, the first time we rehearsed the riff at the end, in 7/4 time, his fingers instinctively played the harmony part that, as far as I know, he hadn't played since 1974. It was probably the highlight of the whole event. Rehearsing that riff."

The Chicago audio comes directly from Dick Latvala, who sent the show’s second set to me with the note: “Hi John. Thanks for sending me that interchange w/Pig. I decided to record over it with something that is PRETTY NICE. – Dick” 

Shortlist: Watkins Glen – July 27-28, 1973

mp3 compilation here (re-loaded to add a few more minutes of music)

Part 1 (43 minutes):

  • Brown-Eyed Women (7/28)  (4:56)
  • Bird Song (instrumental edit - 7/27)  (11:21)
  • Garcia & Lesh > (7/28)  (1:05)
  • Eyes of the World (instrumental edit - 7/28)  (16:17)
  • Sing Me Back Home (7/28)  (9:19)

Part 2 (43 minutes):

  • Here Comes Sunshine (instrumental edit -  7/28)  (6:41)
  • Deal (7/28)  (6:09)
  • Playin’ Jam (7/28)  (20:26)
  • Nobody’s Fault Jam (7/28)  (2:06)
  • China Cat Rider (instrumental edit – 7/28)  (8:01)

    (Cover image: Luigi Serafini)

    This mix aims to figure out what happened at Watkins Glen, other than the amazing, famous, 20-minute improvisation from 7/27: “The Watkins Glen Jam.” That jam isn’t included here, but it can be found on the official release, “So Many Roads,” and in part on an all-improvisation mix I made and posted here. Among other glories, that jam includes an early, extended trip into “Fire on the Mountain” territory. 

    One show was scheduled at Watkins Glen; two were played. The venue was a racetrack, and the context was “Summer Jam at Watkins Glen,” scheduled for one day, July 28, 1973, featuring The Grateful Dead, The Band, and The Allman Brothers Band. However, so many people had shown up by the 27th that the sound check became a concert in its own right, The Band and Allman Brothers playing a couple songs each, and the Dead playing for 90 minutes. 

    Wikipedia’s got a good article about the festival as a whole, and The Dead have posted a nice tribute to the “sound check,” which includes complete, streaming audio.

    I got intimate with the shows because I wanted to know what kind of other improvisational playing occurred around that epicenter of excellence, “The Watkins Glen Jam.” (Just like you want to hear the August 1972 Berkeley Community Theater shows, because they immediately preceded Veneta, OR.)

    It turns out that there was plenty more stupendous improvisation at these shows, as well as a few highly pleasing examples of more routine songs. By the end of my own listening/culling saga, everything I continued to love came from the 7/28 show, except for one mind-melting performance from the 7/27 “sound check.”

    Two of the jam passages seem notable, beyond simply having great playing:

    • “Bird Song” and “Dark Star” are almost the same song to begin with, but this extraordinary “Bird Song” demonstrates the resemblance to an uncanny degree. 
    • This long “Eyes of the World” jam becomes a real adventure, eventually hitting the synchronized riff five times, including one that becomes a fantastic moment of disintegration and one that commandingly bookends the song. The others are all in the pretty-solid to not-together range, but I don’t think that diminishes the thrill of the whole thing very much. (Is a five-riff “Eyes” a record?)

    SOUND QUALITY/EDITING CAVEATS: There’s a soundboard tape-flip gap during “Bird Song” that I joined up, and there’s a little jog in the “Playin’” jam that has nothing to do with my edits. My soundboard (or perhaps all soundboards?) also suffers from some tape-speed wobbles and warps. You’ll hear those in a couple of places, but mostly they didn’t impact the music I thought was worth pulling aside.

     

    Shortlist: July 26, 1972 – Portland, OR

    72-minute mp3 curation here

    • PA #1 (montage) (1:04)
    • Cold Rain and Snow (5:31)
    • PA #2 (montage) (0:50)
    • Sugaree (7:20)
    • Stella Blue (8:12)
    • PA #3 (0:18)
    • Playin’ Jam (9:20)
    • Dark Star > (12:17)
    • Jam > (7:39)
    • Space > (6:10)
    • Space Jam > Dark Star > (4:40)
    • Comes a Time (7:04)
    • PA #4 (1:24)

    The “Dark Star”/improvisation sequence is the big deal here. 

    The initial investigation of “Dark Star” is a fine one. It falls squarely into the center of the sleepy/aggressive spectrum, getting intense and wandering off course in nice ways. 

    The portions I have titled “Jam” and “Space Jam > Dark Star” are amazing. It’s because I feel so strongly about them that I have separated them from the intervening “Space,” which just isn’t in the same category. (My track separations let you skip across “Space” without much of a disruption, if you want.)

    “Jam” is not entirely unknown territory for late 1972: Some bass & drums, Keith entering on piano to organize things into a trio, then the guitarists joining to take it into a feisty jam that resembles “The Eleven.” I’d give this the nod over a similar passage from 8-21-72 BCT. 

    However, the thing that the band suddenly, steadily builds out of unformed space, about six minutes after the jam described above, is a one-time-only event, as far as I know. It is as if The Iron Giant were reassembling himself, one disconnected gear and limb at a time, a chaotic rhythm of metallic interactions, steadily coordinating themselves, until, suddenly, the giant stands up and stretches, not as Superman but as the Dark Star Reprise. Amazing. Garcia isn’t ready to nail the second verse, but still.

    Side Trips: David Bowie - "BOWIEAMERICANYEAR" (1974 reconfiguration)

    This is a fake 2-LP Bowie album from 1974, made up of 19 officially released songs. It is intended to be the soul-funk-disco Bowie edifice that the year’s albums implied but never quite pulled off, IMO. 

    I’m talking about “Young Americans,” “The Gouster,” “David Live,” and to a limited extent “Diamond Dogs.” (There’s also an outtake here, from the “Sound & Vision” collection.) Soul-funk-disco Bowie got put in a lot of different places. 

    I would argue that the year’s output was great, but that it was not a trail-blazing moment for Bowie. Instead, it was mostly a shaggy homage to varied Black American music, some of it old, some of it contemporary. He was definitely intuitive about where popular music was going in the mid-to-late 1970s, but he didn’t make it thoroughly his own the way he did glam beforehand and Krautrock/”new wave” afterwards. 

    So, I don’t think you get to the strongest case for 1974 soul-funk-disco Bowie by trying to find the 10 best songs; you aim to cover as many angles as possible, with as many songs as possible. I got to 19 before I thought I was pushing the premise too far.

    The Rolling Stones: Taylor-Era Studio Companions (1969-1974)

    My dive into innumerable, overlapping, frustrating Stones bootlegs yielded three studio companions to the Mick Taylor years (1969-1974). A handful of interesting “Let It Bleed” and “Sticky Fingers” alternate takes didn’t fit into this arrangement, but otherwise, this is pretty close to a thorough account of unreleased songs and a generous curation of all available material. Going deeper into iterative bootlegged versions of this sort of Stones material is a recipe for madness, based on my experience.

    Shake Your Hips (outtakes ’69-’72)

    This mix is comprised of "Exile" outtakes and kindred material. I have not taken into account what was released  on the “Exile” bonus disc from a few years ago (some tracks overdubbed by today’s Stones); everything here comes from bootlegs and is as-recorded originally. The dating goes back to 1969 because some of these songs were demoed that far back. They played “Loving Cup” at Hyde Park, July 5, 1969, their first – and historically gigantic – show after their drug busts and Brian Jones’ death.