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: Solo & Trio Improvisation (11/12/72 - Kansas City)

THIS MIX HAS BEEN REPLACED with a much-expanded version >>> GO HERE

The bizarre soundboard mix of this late ’72 Dead show reduces the band to a trio – Lesh and Weir on the left and Garcia alone on the right. Drums and keyboards are almost totally absent. Very faint vocals bleed into both channels.

Crazy, frustrating, sound board mixes abound in late ’72 – which is tragic – but the 11/12/72 Kansas tape is a beautiful gift.

The tape is both fascinating and pleasurable (archive.org), and someone has posted a version on YouTube of just Garcia’s guitar for the whole show. 

This post’s mixtape presents the show’s “Bird Song” and “Playin’ in the Band” in both trio and Garcia-only edits. These are the spots that utterly transcend the wrongness of the mix and are simply great.

The most remarkable thing is Garcia alone; you need no more than his guitar for a complete musical experience.

"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)

The Garcia/Lesh/Weir trio is also a sublime, complete experience – with no “middle ground” from Keith, and the drums stripped away like a click track, once its work is done. 

  • Bird Song Instrumental Edit (Garcia only)
  • Playin’ in the Band (whole song, Garcia only)
  • Bird Song Instrumental Edit (Garcia, Lesh, Weir)
  • Playin’ Jam Edit (Garcia, Lesh, Weir)

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 (11/12), 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"

Grateful Dead: Texas ’72 Improvisation (November 22-26)

This mix compiles highlights from the three November 1972 Texas shows that followed the more familiar Hofheinz Pavilion shows in Houston, on 11/18 and 11/19.

Most of the 11/18 Houston show’s second set was released on vinyl, on Record Store Day, in 2014. The 11/19 Houston performance is a famous show and an important cassette from back in the day, though still unreleased. Save Your Face previously posted an mp3 highlights reel of that show.

The three shows sampled in this mix are Austin (11/22), Dallas (11/24), and San Antonio (11/26). The soundboards of all three shows have mix/sonics problems. However, nearly all of the big improvisational performances shine through those issues without difficulty, and this highlight reel focusses on that deep material. 

Fall 1972 was a great period for tight-but-adventurous Dead improvisation, and this mix seeks to make more material from dodgy mixes of unreleased shows thoroughly enjoyable. 

mp3 mixtape zipped up here

Disc One: Austin (73 minutes)

  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Bird Song
  • Playin’ Jam
  • He’s Gone
  • The Other One >
  • Jam >
  • The Other One
  • Stella Blue

Disc Two: Dallas & San Antonio (72 minutes)

  • Dark Star >
  • Bass Solo > Feelin’ Groovy Jam
  • Playin’ Jam
  • Truckin’
  • Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road > Not Fade Away

Grateful Dead: Improvising in St. Louis - October 1972

The Dead’s three-night run in St. Louis (October 17-19, 1972) was an improvisational monster, containing great versions of all the big numbers, and much more jamming beyond them, including “The Philo Stomp.”

This mix presents 90 minutes of that improvisation. The three shows’ mixes are quite different, but that difference almost vanishes without vocals. To keep the jam flowing, I’ve edited “He’s Gone,” “Morning Dew,” and the “Playin’ Reprise” into instrumentals. However, the connections (>) between all songs are as-played. 

There’s no official release from October 1972, and the St. Louis shows are the best-mixed of the Midwest tour. So here’s a double-LP for your shelf of the molten core of that moment’s Dead. Everything here is tremendous, but I'm going to call out the "Bird Song" as extra-sublime. Great Keith solo.

92-minute FLAC-derived mp3 mix here

  • Bird Song
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • The Other One >
  • Jam >
  • The Other One > He’s Gone (intro & jam) > The Other One
  • Dark Star (space removed) >
  • Jam > Space > Bass Solo > The Philo Stomp > Feelin’ Groovy Jam >
  • Morning Dew (instr. edit) > Playin’ Reprise (inst. edit)

Caution: Save Your Face previously posted a three-hour highlights reel from these shows, with 90 more minutes of great “regular” songs plucked from the screwy soundboards. Don’t download that. An improved version will go up in the next week or so. This all-jam mix isn’t meant to replace that bigger mix; I just realized how intense pure St. Louis jamming would be and wanted to have that listening option buttoned-up, too.

Grateful Dead: Refugees from Spaceports (1994)

When I compiled several mixes of 1994 Drumspace highlights a while back, I ended up with a couple hours of isolated passages that I didn’t include. 

I’ve been playing those outtakes lately, and these nine passages turn out to be great.  

36-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Orbital Stabilization (3/27/94)
  • Core Sample (9/28/94)
  • Ore Mine 1 (9/28/94)
  • Field Recording (3/6/94)
  • Malfunction (4/7/94)
  • Beneath the Surface (10/11/94)
  • Interplanetary Feud (3/6/94)
  • Space Ranch (3/4/94)
  • Ore Mine 2 (3/27/94)

Grateful Dead Shortlist: March 17, 1993 (Landover, MD)

There’s a gentle Garcia thread running through this show that I’ve concentrated into 50 minutes. He sings “Lazy River Road,” “Crazy Fingers,” and “Days Between” beautifully, and his guitar leads the band through several contemplative places. The dominant vibe is pretty, but melancholy, and the vocal mix makes it feel like an intimate communication.

This is the 6th from last “Dark Star.” Melodic before and after the verse, it mutates into deranged jazz. After Garcia exits, the rest of the band has a lot of fun with that for another 2.5 minutes.

Space features some beautiful minimalist improvisation, leading to an extremely chill, extended visit to “The Handsome Cabin Boy” – the band’s third and last. 

50-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Lazy River Road
  • Crazy Fingers
  • Dark Star > Jazz Jam
  • Space 1 (Other One “flute” solo) >
  • Space 2 (Getting Handsome) >
  • The Handsome Cabin Boy
  • Days Between
  • Eternity Jam

Edit notes:

  • "Eternity" has been edited to an instrumental. Seemed like the perfect bookend. Mood.
  • The very start of "Dark Star" was rocky (out of a short Playin' jam), but Vince played a decisive "all change" chord, and then everything was in order. It enabled a perfect fake segue from "Crazy Fingers."
  • The end of "Cabin Boy" and the beginning of "Days Between" likewise offered a credible segue. A slight band wobble is more noticeable than the splice. It's almost like this mix wanted to happen.
  • The Space > Space > Cabin Boy sequence is as-is from the source, but it feels like there are tiny gaps. Not intrusive to the listening experience, but annoying if you're me.


Grateful Dead: Mystery Jam #2

I find this lesser-known, very short “Dark Star” to be practically perfect in every way.

  • The band spends the first minute assembling the pieces dramatically, before the emergence of the groove. 
  • At 1:25, Garcia begins a chiseled, minimalist approach to his solo, which he picks up again once the verse is over. 
  • The band wraps itself crisply around Garcia’s series of perfect little ideas. The thrilling shift at 2:17 tells me they were really locked in.
  • At the four minute mark, Garcia surprises with a gorgeous new phrase that leads to the completion of the performance’s narrative arc. 

I edited out the verse, so the jam flows uninterrupted.


Charlie Christian: “Solo Flight” (edit of both takes)

In February 1941, the Benny Goodman Orchestra recorded two takes of “Solo Flight,” named for the fact that it was a Charlie Christian electric guitar solo showcase. This edit seamlessly combines those takes to offer four minutes of continuous soloing. 

“Solo Flight” wasn’t a particularly adventurous setting for Christian’s playing. Many of his 20-30 second solos on more angular, insect-jazz songs are more instantly mind-blowing. Nonetheless, hearing him invent longer narratives is amazing, and not just for the rarity of it.


Charlie Christian: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” (extended edit)

Charlie Christian got an extended solo section on this Benny Goodman sextet track (1940), and this edit adds his alternate take solos to the master take. 

Christian’s three solos on the studio recordings add up to 1:45, and the languid vibe of the arrangement during his section made a nearly seamless edit possible, despite the fact that the master take found the overall right rhythm for the song that the alternate takes lacked.

Compared to the anticipating-Chuck-Berry-blartney-blartney of his solos on “Breakfast Feud,” (extended edit here), “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” finds Christian leaning toward West Coast Jazz.

The edit sequence is the master take up to the point of Christian’s solo > two alternate take solos > master take Christian solo and conclusion.