Grateful Dead: The Desert Sky Pavilion 25th Anniversary Album

25 years ago, this week, the Grateful Dead’s first tour stop of 1994 was Desert Sky Pavilion, in Phoenix, Arizona, March 4-6. You could tell it was going to be a good year. 

Here are two hours pulled from those three nights, displaying a tight, enthusiastic, swinging band. The jams are powerful, and there are several with passages that will stop you in your tracks, including the vocal interplay out of “He’s Gone.” Lots of jaunty fun and thoughtful grooving to be had in other places. It’s a shame Garcia fumbles vocals on “Brown Eyed Women,” as this is a crackling performance. Weir has a moment on "Let it Grow," too. 

“Eternity,” “Way to Go Home,” and “Broken Arrow” from the 5th can be found on this mix of the best versions of the band’s new tunes, as performed during March, 1994.

Cover art by George Herriman (“Krazy Kat”).

110-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Loose Lucy
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece
  • Bertha
  • Brown Eyed Women
  • Let It Grow
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Saint of Circumstance >
  • He’s Gone
  • Bird Song (instrumental edit)
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Estimated Prophet
  • Iko Iko

Grateful Dead: Twilight Highlights (1993-1995 SYF sampler)

The 50th anniversary of the shows that contributed to 1969’s “Live Dead” challenged me to see how stupendous a jam-centric mix I could make out of performances from the very late years (that have appeared on my Save Your Face mixes). 

So, this is a crème de la crème compilation from September 1993 to March 1995 – an often-amazing 18-month period.

Nothing is included from my all-Space mixes. It’s more of an improvisational dance party, with surprises around every corner. All recordings are still unreleased as of now. If you’re not already a convert to late Dead, give this a try.

2-hour, 10-track mp3 mix zipped up here

Bird Song (October 3, 1994) 13:08

I recently posted a mix that included an instrumental edit of the 1973 Watkins Glenn “Bird Song,” and it’s a transcendent, jazzy event that is hardly distinguishable from “Dark Star,” refracted through the emerging sensibilities that would produce “Eyes of the World.” In October 1994, it’s a very different song, descended from the acoustic 1980 revival, through the intensity of the late Brent period, and now, in late 1994 fully owned by the mature Welnick unit. This performance is complex and intense – beautiful, jazzy, and dancing on the edge of chaos at various points. From the mix, “October ’94.”

Three Night Jam (March 17-19, 1995) 17:55

This edit is comprised of five or six segments plucked from three consecutive nights of “Drums/Space,” and edited into a continuous, far-out suite. At the heart of it is a long, funky, collective jam that Garcia joins a few minutes late, as if he’s just realized that he’s missing out on something special. Other episodes include Adrian Belew-era King Crimson, Brian Eno/Harold Budd soundtracks, and other strange things. 1995. Not a year to categorically ignore. From the mix, "Shortlist: 1995-03-17/18/19 Philadelphia, PA.” 

Shakedown Street (October 14, 1994) 16:33

Over the entire history of recorded versions of this song, it’s hard to find very many on which all the parts come together, start to finish, into an unrelenting, funky steamroller, ready for a general-audience dance party mixtape. This one makes the cut. The only flaw is Garcia being creaky and uncertain on the vocals of a couple of verses, but the heft of the music and the excellence of the group backing vocals make this a pretty minor issue. From the mix, “October ’94.” 

Grateful Dead: Knot Jazz (1968-1994)

This is an all-instrumental mix of generally jazzy Grateful Dead. The track list probably explains the premise pretty clearly: repetitious patterns in strange time signatures, structured jams, a family of Phil riffs, various knots that the band would tie and untie. As much as possible, I picked performances that present the motifs and riffs through unorthodox explorations. 

To those, I added some other Dead jazz moods, looking for interesting continuities across the years and songs. The overall goal is a gigantic, surprising jam that foregrounds the jazz/fusion band the Dead sort of were. 

Almost all this music appeared in some form on previous Save Your Face compilations. The exceptions are the 1994 “Terrapin” and “Let It Grow” jams. Nothing here has been officially released to my knowledge. 

140-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Part 1 (69 minutes):

  • Paging Getz & Gilberto (1975 rehearsal)
  • Clementine instrumental (1/68)
  • Bird Song instrumental (7/27/73)
  • Philo Stomp > Jam (10/24/72)
  • Phil Jazz Jam (7/1/73)
  • Longer than Dirt (1975 rehearsal)
  • Slipknoodle (1975 rehearsal)
  • Early Eyes Jams (2/21>22/73)
  • Eyesknot (6/20/74)
  • The Seven (3/21/70)
  • The Nines (1975 rehearsal)

Part 2 (69 minutes):

  • Help on the Way/Looseknot Jam (1975 rehearsal)
  • Jam (10/19/72)
  • Spanish Jam (3/24/73)
  • The Main Ten (6/19/68)
  • Terrapin Jam (10/19/94)
  • Let it Grow Jam (3/6/94)
  • Let it Grow Horns instrumental (9/26/73)
  • The Music Almost Stopped (1975 rehearsal)
  • Noodle on the Mountain (1975 rehearsal)
  • Another Riff (1994 rehearsal)

Fare thee well

Painting: Odilon Redon

The “Save Your Face” blog/mixtape series is going on hiatus. The relevant time and energy are needed elsewhere for the time being, in a 100% good way. The blog is not dead, but it will be moving in slow motion, compared to its previous, extended periods of regular posting.

I began this blog/mixtape series by apologizing incessantly for editing shows, editing songs, and compiling Dead listening experiences in weird ways. However, no one objected, and I’m grateful for that. It encouraged me to venture into more esoteric approaches to Dead mixes and unexpectedly led me beyond my 1972-1974 focus to discover, love, and promote much later Grateful Deads, most specifically Vince Welnick Dead. Late MIDI drums/space is now among my favorite Dead, and I’d never have learned that without the motivation to craft listening experiences for this blog’s audiences.

For now, I Ieave you with a lot of audio postcards from the unreleased 1972-1974 Grateful Dead, an approachable 1975 sessions comp, a big advertisement for '90s Dead, and a few other fun outliers from other periods, 1968 to 1978. 

There are also quite a few non-Dead mixes on the “Save Your Face” site. I will be removing most of those that contain significant amounts of commercially available material, so grab anything that looks interesting to you now. If the mix is wholly or primarily made up of unreleased material, it will stay.

Thanks to all of you who have gotten enjoyment out of any of these mixes, and especially to those of you who have left comments. Your enthusiasm encouraged me to convert more of my personal playlists into refined, shareable mixtapes and to be brave about asserting my enthusiasms, experiments, and endorsements. In terms of things you do in life that accidentally prepare you to do other, different things, this was/is a good one.

Cheers. If you need a miracle, there’s probably one hiding around here somewhere. 


Tomorrow Never Knows 1992-1993

The Grateful Dead played The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” a dozen times, but it was always brief, with only a minute or so of open playing. With the big beat and the drones, you’d think they would have stretched it out. 

For this post, I’ve chosen my two favorite versions - the debut and the third from last one. The 5/92 debut definitely has the heft of a recently-rehearsed song, while the 5/93 version has the most elaborate, continuous Garcia lead of any of them.

Additionally, I’ve edited pieces of eight other performances into an approximation of the bigger jam that could have been. It combines three intros, eight instrumental breaks, one verse, and two conclusions. The rock steady tempo of the drummers from show to show makes this mix possible. 

19-minute mp3 mix here

  • Tomorrow Never Knows (5/21/93) (5:25)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (1992-1993 mix of 8 versions) (9:16)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (5/19/92 – debut) (3:58)

Cover art by Emek.

Edited version includes this sequence of bits, all just the instrumental breaks between the two verses, except as noted:  

  • 6/20/92 intro 
  • 12/17/92 intro 
  • 12/17/92 
  • 6/6/92 
  • 7/1/92 
  • 3/21/93 
  • 3/21/93 intro 
  • 6/20/92 
  • 6/14/92 
  • 9/20/93 
  • 5/31/92 w/verse & conclusion 
  • 9/20/93 conclusion

Shortlist: March 23, 1995 - Charlotte, NC (w/Hornsby on grand piano)

Bruce Hornsby joined The Grateful Dead on grand piano for this whole concert. It appears to be the first time he’d played anything but accordion with the band in almost exactly three years (March 24, 1992). He would go on to play piano with them two more times, in late June 1995.

Hornsby prompts some exceptional collective playing in this show, with a second set that began with so much extended material that Drums > Space happened close to the end of the set. 

The second set opener, “Scarlet Begonias,” was a mess, starting with major microphone problems for Garcia and never tightening up. However, once the jam arrives, huge momentum is built, which rolls through the next three songs. The group’s excitement over “Fire on the Mountain” leads to one of the most exciting “Corrinas” I’ve heard. Everyone paints outside the lines in wild syncopation. The enthusiasm derails the song itself a little bit, but the song is almost beside the point, and the groove spills seamlessly into “Matilda” to continue for almost another ten minutes. (The Dead played “Matilda” only six times, all but once out of “Corrina.” Four of those performances happened within two weeks, this being the second one of those.) The spirit of improvisation also produced two great, sustained pieces of music during “Space,” one fierce and one gentle.

In addition to the exciting jammy material, Hornsby was on hand to contribute to the best performance of “Unbroken Chain” (there were only 10) and very good versions of “Days Between” and “So Many Roads.”

90-minute mp3 mix here

  • Cold Rain and Snow (6:49)
  • Scarlet Jam > Fire on the Mountain > (18:48)
  • Corrina > (14:04)
  • Matilda > Hornsby/Drums Jam (9:39)
  • Hornsby/Weir Jam > Jam (4:23)
  • Space Jam > (5:52)
  • Days Between (10:59)
  • Unbroken Chain (6:22)
  • Loser (7:07)
  • So Many Roads (7:24)

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.