Shortlist: Grateful Dead w/David Murray (2/26/95)

This mix curates 47 minutes of the Grateful Dead’s final performance with saxophonist David Murray as a guest.

This show was not represented on Save Your Face’s “Dead is Jazz” compilation, which included some fantastic, earlier Murray performances. That’s primarily because there is no ideal tape for this show. Murray is very quiet on the audience and soundboard tapes, and he is very loud on the circulating monitor mix. None of those options would have slotted into the “Dead is Jazz” mix smoothly.

However, the monitor mix is fab, in its own way, with Murray’s sax punching you in the face like Ornette Coleman. 

I’ve narrowed the focus to the vocal return/jam section of “Estimated,” an instrumental edit of “Eyes,” “Space,” and a “Days Between” that mostly succeeds (few/brief Garcia lyric lapses), with Murray figuring it out and delivering a great close. 

As there is a non-band-member memoir that claims that no one was listening to Vince in their monitors, I need to point out that about two minutes into this “Eyes” edit you’ll hear Garcia asking for Vince to be turned up. “I can’t hear Vince at all.” 

47-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Estimated Prophet > (edit)
  • Eyes of the World (instrumental edit)
  • Space
  • Days Between

Cover art: Robert Rauschenberg 

Shortlist: Dead & Company - New England, September 2021

Save Your Face makes its first foray into Dead & Company mixtape territory with the help of Josh Landes (@JoshLandesWAMC). Josh has been sharing choice D&C material with me for a while, and in this case, he served up a pre-curated, four-hour road-trip from the three September 2021 New England shows played in Mansfield, Massachusetts (9/2 - 9/3) and Hartford, Connecticut (9/5). 

I’m a fan without being anything remotely like an expert, so I limited my interventions to listening happily and fiddling with the sequence, based on gentle segue opportunities and some mood considerations. (I did nix one song – "Saint of Circumstance" - resulting in a jump cut out of "Lost Sailor.") My personal thoughts on Dead & Co. are below the track list.

Thank you, Josh!

4-hour mp3 mix zipped up here (song dates included in file titles)

  • Jack Straw
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • The Wheel
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Sugaree
  • Lost Sailor
  • Deal >
  • Dark Star >
  • El Paso
  • He’s Gone
  • Truckin’ >
  • Dark Star
  • St. Stephen >
  • William Tell Bridge >
  • The Eleven
  • Terrapin Station
  • Drums >
  • Space >
  • The Other One >
  • Morning Dew

Cover art by Johnny Gruelle.

John’s Comments:

I don’t know why people get so worked up - in a negative way - about this band. Ain’t no time to hate.

I never spent any time with post-1995, Dead-member-involved bands while they were active, though I’ve checked them all out subsequently. I remain pretty ignorant, based on total hours logged, but all those bands have paid off for me in greater and lesser degrees. Or maybe the better way to say it is that there’s always an arrangement or a jam that’s going to turn my head. Good musicians who are familiar with each other are always going to make some delightful, distinctive music.

One of my limitations is that I’m not that into Grateful Dead covers, and the ones that please me most are the ones that are farthest from what Garcia Dead played. Dead member legacy and Dead tribute bands are therefore not a big draw for me. 

However, I feel nothing but respect for every human who has experienced transcendence at any Dead-related live show since 1995. I had multiple ecstatic events and massive amounts of overall scene delight when I saw the Dead 1988-1993, and that was very late in the game by anyone’s measure. 

Now it’s 30 years later, and the kids still dance and shake their bones. Ain’t no time to hate.

What I like best about Dead & Company are the jammy spaces, where fidelity to the traditional song gives way to the band being itself, doing what comes naturally in the improvisational zones. This mix has plenty of those zones, sometimes cropping up in places you wouldn’t expect, if the track list were from a Grateful Dead run.

I am not immune to the “Dead and Slow” complaint, but I’d also say that I don’t have a problem with the tempo of any given song. A tempo change is a great way to explore a song, if it works. Nonetheless, I understand why people struggle with this aspect of the band.

Which is all the more reason to slant a Dead & Company mix in the way Josh Landes has here, ensuring a good balance of song-parts and improvisational zones – tempo being irrelevant to improvisational zones. I've endeavored to use the lead-off sequencing to recalibrate your Grateful Dead tempos to Dead & Co.'s vibe, in the hope that you can ride that vibe happily. 

Faust for Beginners: Pastoral (1971-1975)

Get lost in an album’s worth of melancholy beauty from the early-1970s German band better known for its whimsy, chaos, and metallic dub slabs. 

Faust was many bands at once, all the time, 1971-1975. The Faust aspect that I think is least appreciated is the beautiful one. That’s the focus of this mix. 

The arrival in 2021-2022 of Faust’s final, lost, 1975 album, plus a slew of archival tape nuggets, finally makes it possible to craft a full LP arc of gorgeous Faust tracks.

Like nearly all of Faust in this period, the music was made in an old schoolhouse in far-off, Wumme, Germany, occupied by the band as a studio/home for several years. If you imagine a low sun, long shadows cast through the windows, and dust motes sparkling everywhere, you will have previewed the sound of this mix. 

If you are a Slapp Happy, Henry Cow, or Fred Frith fan - if you like Epic Soundtracks - if old, misty Genesis albums appeal to you - even if you’re looking for Radiohead anticipation… you will find a place to latch onto Faust in this mix.

Band member Rudolf Sosna seems to have been the one who led this melancholy mood. He wrote, sang, played guitar and keyboard, and led production to degrees we cannot presently parse. (Song-by-song composer/player attributions would add a lot to Faust scholarship.)

You can start your Faust journey in many places. One of the best is their fourth album , “Faust IV,” which is a proper album that will stand indefinitely. In addition, I recommend this curation that corrals their most unapologetic embraces of gorgeousness.

49-minute mp3 mix zipped up here. (Source information and alternate titles included in song title tags.)

  • Hermann’s Lament >
  • I’ve Heard That One Before
  • Jennifer (alt mix)
  • Rudolf Der Pianist >
  • Party 8
  • Purzelbaum Mit Anschubsen >
  • Chère Chambre
  • Läuft ... Heisst... (alt mix) >
  • On The Way To Abamäe 
  • Flashback Caruso
  • Das Meer (full length)
  • Lampe An, Tür Zu, Leute Rein! >
  • Schön Rund
  • Rémaj7

Editing Notes:

• No internal edits of tracks.

• Starts and ends cleaned up in some cases.

• Several segues added, as noted by “>,” above.

• Volume equalized to match “The Wumme Years” boxed set, the baseline master I recognize for the bulk of Faust’s catalogue. (“Das Meer” volume adjusted in various ways.) Sources are that box, the 2006 “IV” expanded reissue, and the 2021 box including extra material.

• The 2021 release of previously unheard material is over-compressed and sometimes distorted. We can make those tracks quieter, but we cannot fix the distortion or restore the original tapes’ dynamics.

Grateful Dead Shortlist: Shoreline 1991 (August 16-18)

This unreleased run featured a 1st set “Dark Star,” a 2nd set “Feel Like a Stranger”-into-drums, a robust “Playin’ Jam” out of Space, and a “Scarlet > Victim > Fire” combo with all songs and transitions in full working order. Frisky! Feisty! Tight!

I consider the tracks I've included to be truly outstanding Grateful Dead, recorded beautifully. At this point, the band was about a year into the Hornsby/Welnick era and seven months away from Hornsby’s departure. A version of the Dead in its prime.

I cut quite a bit of very good stuff, because the best performances made very good not enough. There were also several tragic vocal fumbles that took some otherwise great takes out of the race.

Although the soundboard mixes were screwy in several places during this run, they are fantastic on all the material compiled here. A particular feature is the combination of very present singers and a very present vocal mix. Garcia/Hornsby musical dialogues are also foregrounded in a few places. Though I’m a Vince defender, his keyboards are minimized in these selections, so you get something akin to a Hornsby-only Dead.

I’ve made some artificial segues to create continuities across non-consecutively-played tracks. The “>” below represent as-played musical links and one adept pause-and-relaunch (Fire’s conclusion into Truckin’s start). The "(>)" below show where I've created a hinge.

Cover art: Victor Moscoso

2.5-hour mp3 mix zipped up here (dates included in the mp3 tags)

Disc One (70 minutes):

  • Feel Like a Stranger (>)
  • Samson and Delilah
  • West LA Fadeaway
  • Bertha
  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Victim or the Crime >
  • Fire on the Mountain >
  • Truckin’

Disc Two (78 minutes):

  • Smokestack Lighting >
  • He’s Gone >
  • Jam
  • Dark Star
  • Improvisation (space excerpt) (>)
  • Playin’ in the Band (out of space jam > reprise) (>)
  • China Doll (>)
  • Dark Star Jam >
  • Morning Dew
  • Improvisation (space excerpt)

Grateful Dead: 30 Days of Dead - 1983

This mix includes every 1983 Dead track Dave Lemieux chose for the 2010-2021 “30 Days of Dead” releases. There have been a notable number of full-show, 1983 releases in this period, but these tracks are not on them.

Dave has served up a delicious 100-minute selection – something like a giant first set with a deeper dive. I wasn’t shy about leading off with 1983’s most notable breakout, setting the whole in motion as an impossible, but desirable trip.

These tracks are a reminder that among all the sterile, poorly-mixed early-80s soundboards, there are scores of tapes that are as beefy and immersible as those from any year, allowing the Dead of the era to make their case on even terms.

100-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • St. Stephen (10/15/83)
  • Bertha >
  • Greatest Story Ever Told (12/30/83)
  • Sugaree (10/17/83)
  • My Brother Esau (4/10/83)
  • Dupree’s Diamond Blues (4/19/83)
  • Jack Straw (3/26/83)
  • Far From Me (4/13/83)
  • Might as Well (4/10/83)
  • Cassidy (8/31/83)
  • To Lay Me Down (10/17/83)
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • China Doll >
  • Playin’ Jam > Jam (8/31/83)
  • Don’t Ease Me In (8/31/83)

Editing notes:

Everything is volume equalized. I found numerous places to add gentle segues. I addressed a dramatic volume shift in “Jack Straw” and a tape gap in “Bertha.”

Grateful Dead: 30 Days of Dead - 1985

This mix includes all but two 1985 tracks released on “30 Days of Dead” (2010-2021). The omitted tracks are the 6/24/85 “Brother Esau,” released on “30 Trips,” and the 9/3/85 “Don’t Ease Me In,” cut to avoid song repetition.

Two 1985 concerts have been released in full: 6/24/85 on “30 Trips” and 11/1/85 as a “Dick’s Picks.”

There’s lot of 1985 fun to be had, when the band and soundboard recordings converge correctly. They do here - where Dave Lemieux has micro-curated four unreleased shows.

78-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Feel Like a Stranger (9/3/85)
  • They Love Each Other (9/3/85)
  • The Music Never Stopped (9/3/85)
  • Hell in a Bucket > (6/27/85)
  • Don’t Ease Me In (6/27/85)
  • Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance > (4/4/85)
  • Deal (4/4/85)
  • Estimated Prophet > (6/28/85)
  • Terrapin Station (6/28/85)

Aside from the two track-omissions noted above, the only editorial interventions were track start-and-end points, volume equalization, and sequencing.

Grateful Dead: 30 Days of Dead - 1970 Selections

This mix includes most of Dave Lemieux’s 1970 selections for the first twelve years of “30 Days of Dead” (2010-2021). Dave’s plucks provide a vivid take on the emergent, post-psychedelic band (acoustic and electric), as well as tracking the evolution of the jam songs that originated further back.

I have sequenced, volume-equalized, and established start/end-points, based on the raw “30 Days” tracks.

2.5-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc One: New Stuff (75 minutes)

  • Friend of the Devil (6/7/70)
  • Little Sadie (2/23/70)
  • Candyman (5/1/70)
  • Uncle John’s Band (3/1/70)
  • I Know You Rider (5/1/70)
  • New Speedway Boogie (6/7/70)
  • Dire Wolf (12/31/70)
  • Cumberland Blues (2/11/70)
  • Black Peter (2/11/70)
  • Easy Wind (1/6/70) [WMD bonus track, 2001]
  • Mason’s Children (1/10/70)
  • Operator (9/18/70)
  • Attics of My Life (12/27/70)

Disc Two: Oldies (76 minutes)

  • Cold Rain and Snow (12/28/70)
  • New Minglewood Blues (12/26/70)
  • Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > (6/7/70)
  • The Main Ten (6/7/70)
  • Dark Star (2/14/70) [Long Strange Trip track, 2017]
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (2/1/70)

Inclusions and Exclusions:

  • I omitted one track that subsequently appeared on a Dave’s Picks.
  • I included two tracks that subsequently appeared as strays on later releases (see track list annotations, above). The 2/14 “Dark Star” is a great performance that fell through the cracks of both “Bear’s Choice” and “Dick’s Picks Vol. 4.” Cool that it was featured on “Long Strange Trip.”
  • I chose one “Friend of the Devil” from three Dave included in the “30 Days” series – the one Dave chose to include in three different years!
  • I chose the slow, 3/1/70, “Uncle John’s Band” over the two, additional fast ones from “30 Days” (2/11 and 5/1).
  • I chose the crispy, vocal-proper 2/11/70 “Cumberland Blues” over the somewhat murkier singing of 12/31/70.

Art: Marshall Frantz

Grateful Dead: 30 Days of Dead - Fall 1973

This mix brings together most of the September-December 1973 Dead performances that have been released exclusively via “30 Days of Dead” (2010-2021), as of January 2022.

Official Dead curator Dave Lemieux has used the annual, November event to pluck extraordinary, individual Dead performances from shows the haven’t been released in full and perhaps never will be. 

The Fall ’73 selections combine into a mighty set.

105-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Weather Report Suite (11/23/73)
  • Let Me Sing Your Blues Away (9/17/73)
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (9/24/73)
  • Playin’ in the Band (11/25/73)
  • Dark Star > Mind Left Body > Dark Star >
  • Feedback Chaos > 
  • Eyes of the World > 
  • Stella Blue (10/25/73)
  • Ramble of Rose (12/19/73)

What was omitted:

  • Tracks that were subsequently released on whole-show/road trip/etc. albums (as of January 2022).
  • The 12/8/73 “Weather Report,” cut in favor of this 11/23/73 version, which is sonically-beefy on the bottom end and has extremely well-performed and mixed vocals.
  • The 10/23/73 “Black Throated Wind,” which has a weird mix that highlights Keith’s exciting keyboard part, but which isn’t repeat-listen/album-worthy as a recording.

Cover art: Leo Morey

Grateful Dead: 30 Days of Dead - 1994 Selections

Official Dead curator Dave Lemieux has used the annual “30 Days of Dead” event to highlight and release extraordinary, individual Dead performances from shows the haven’t been released in full and perhaps never will be.

This mix melds Dave’s big-jam selections from 1994 into a single, volume-equalized, segued, trip. “Eyes of the World” appeared twice in Dave’s 1994 picks, and I chose to omit the 7/3/94 version that preceded this “Fire on the Mountain.”

Only one 1994 show has been released in full (10/1/94), on the “30 Trips Around the Sun” box. This mix provides a more concentrated Lemieux-curated case for 1994 being great - a take that I wholeheartedly agree with. 

mp3 mix zipped up here 

  • Feel Like a Stranger (10/19/94)
  • Shakedown Street (10/15/94)
  • Playin’ in the Band > (10/05/94)
  • Uncle John’s Band > Jam (10/05/94)
  • Saint of Circumstance (09/19/94)
  • Victim or the Crime > (06/26/94)
  • Eyes of the World (06/26/94)
  • Fire on the Mountain (07/03/94)

Art by Leo Morey

Joy Division: The Rarest Studio Outtakes

As far as I can tell, the four tracks provided here continue to be the hardest Joy Division studio outtakes to find. While certainly not essential for the casual/moderate fan, they will scratch the completist's itch.

You will need these four tracks to complete the studio recording jigsaw puzzle, all the other pieces of which are provided by:

  • The releases from the band’s active period (proper albums, “Still,” singles/b-sides)
  • The semi-official bootleg, “Warsaw”
  • The official boxed set, “Heart and Soul” 
  • The official BBC Sessions

Four tracks zipped up here

  • Atrocity Exhibition (June 4, 1979 - Piccadilly Radio Session)
  • Digital (March 4, 1979 - Eden Studios, Genetic Records demo)
  • Novelty (mid-July, 1979 - Central Sound Studios)
  • Transmission (mid-July, 1979 - Central Sound Studios)

If you’re looking for curated live Joy Division, try this collection.