Echo & The Bunnymen: The Happy Loss (alts, 1982-1983)

This is an LP-length, Spotify mix that curates non-album material from the period of “Heaven Up Here” and “Porcupine.” The idea is to create a concise companion to those albums – the best b-sides and the most interesting alternate versions of album songs. 

This was the period when the young Bunnymen quartet was peaking at doing what came naturally, ahead of the greater circumspection/confection/long-term-template of “Ocean Rain” (1984) and beyond. It’s hard not to love the moment when a fixed group of musicians figures out how far it can take doing what comes naturally.

Though produced under very different biographical/developmental circumstances, the second and third Bunnymen albums fell together at the time and still do. This mix blurs their alternative edges into one trip.

Forty years on, the attempted, at-the-time, critical anatomization of Bunnymen music into psychedelic, proto-goth, post-punk-Doors, etc., categories makes sense and isn’t relevant anymore. There was nothing like the original Bunnymen recipe, nor will there ever be. 

Spotify Playlist

Grateful Dead: Victim or the Crime Jam (1989-1991)

This mix presents an hour of vocal-free “Victim or the Crime” jams. 

I want to call “Victim” the Dead’s “Sister Ray” – a chugging, ecstatic, downer groove that pounds, drones, gets quiet, freaks out, dissolves, reforms, etc. Stringing 10 performances together does the same thing on a larger scale.

Resistance is futile. PLAY IT LOUD.

53-minute mp3 mix here

The sequence:

  • 1991-09-25
  • 1990-07-12
  • 1991-09-13
  • 1991-06-19
  • 1991-03-21
  • 1990-02-27
  • 1990-07-04
  • 1990-05-06
  • 1990-04-01
  • 1989-12-31

Note on selections:

I asked twitter for suggestions of good versions, and the responses mostly guided this mix, augmented with some poking around of my own. The mix doesn’t reflect a comprehensive review of all versions from the period covered. The date range bridges the 1990 keyboard player changeover without diverging in character very much. I’m also a fan of the 1993-1994 approach, which is quite different.

Jon Hassell: Actual Musics (Live 1981-2006)

I discovered Jon Hassell’s music in the Fall of 1983, soon after I arrived in Ann Arbor for college. Schoolkids Records had all the EG label “ambient” albums in their cut-out bin for three or four bucks each. In addition to finding out what Eno and Fripp were doing outside of rock and roll, I heard Harold Budd and Jon Hassell for the first time. 

This short mix draws from several of the live Hassell bootlegs I happen to have. It’s my audio argument in support of an expansive, official, live release program.

You can support that goal by contributing to this official fund dedicated to preserving and releasing Jon Hassell's archives. I hope you'll donate, if you enjoy this sampler of unreleased music.

I started with the intention of including one excerpt from every tape I had, but I ended up pruning and adding tracks in pursuit of a more aesthetically satisfying double-LP experience.

The mix's mp3 song title tags provide details in this format:

Charm (Live 1981-11-13 Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario (Hassell, Eno, Brook, Dieng))

92-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Nice 3 (1998)
  • Nice 1 (1998)
  • Berlin 8 (1988)
  • Nice 5 (1998)
  • Missing You (2006)
  • Charm (1981)
  • Courage > Dream Theory (1982)
  • The Elephant and the Orchid (1985)

The Grateful Dead: Europe 1990 (London October 30 - November 1)

This mix curates material from the final three shows of the Dead’s Europe ’90 tour, at London’s Wembley Arena.

The final night - 11/1 - was a particularly strong performance. Unfortunately, Jerry’s voice was ragged at the end of the tour and was completely shot for the middle show, Halloween. I skipped everything with that problem.

The mix features 66 minutes from 11/1, 45 minutes from 10/30, and an instrumental edit of Halloween’s Bird Song (which extends the Dark Starriness). Some fortuitous segues enabled me to make the second set flow continuously.

2-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

Set One:

  • Cold Rain and Snow
  • Cassidy
  • Valley Road
  • Picasso Moon
  • Let It Grow >
  • Interlude
  • Stander on the Mountain

Set Two:

  • Terrapin Station
  • Victim or the Crime
  • Bird Song (instr. edit)
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Dark Star >
  • Interlude >
  • Dark Star >
  • Weirdness >
  • Playin’ in the Band

The Grateful Dead: Europe 1990 (Essen & Frankfurt, October 17 & 22)

This mix combines highlights from two of the five shows the Dead played in Germany, during a four-country, eleven-show, October 1990 European tour. The Hornsby/Welnick era was just a month old when this tour started.

Essen and Frankfurt book-ended two nights in Berlin, which are curated here. Combine the two mixes, and I think you’ll find yourself with a very satisfactory “Germany ’90” 4-disc set. (A final night in Hamburg was less exciting and isn’t covered on these mixes.)

The 10/17 Essen performance was very strong, contributing 13 of the 20 songs on this mix. It was the last time “Ramble on Rose” and “Tennessee Jed” appeared in the same concert, and it was the first time they had since 5/1/77. (Thank you Jerrybase!)

2.5 hour mp3 mix zipped up here

Set One:

  • New Minglewood Blues
  • Ramble on Rose
  • Me and My Uncle
  • Maggie’s Farm
  • High Time
  • Cassidy
  • Tennessee Jed
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Desolation Row
  • Valley Road (debut)

Set Two:

  • Truckin’ >
  • He’s Gone
  • The Wheel >
  • I Need a Miracle >
  • Black Peter
  • Standing on the Moon >
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • The Weight

The Grateful Dead: Europe 1990 (Berlin, October 19-20)

Just a dozen shows into the Hornsby/Welnick era, the Grateful Dead went to Europe for eleven shows in Sweden, Germany, France, and England.

Aside from one of the France concerts, the run is unreleased. This mix curates the two Berlin shows, played just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

On the whole, the Europe ’90 run is pretty strong, and the sound board mixes are good. Nonetheless, as (almost) always, there’s material that crackles with a particularly bright energy and that is more than the remainder of its subtractions.

So, enjoy a concentrated, imaginary show by a version of the Dead that had just discovered that it could have a real good time together.

137-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

October 19

  • Let the Good Times Roll
  • Shakedown Street
  • Looks Like Rain
  • Brown Eyed Women
  • Scarlet Begonias > 
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • The Other One
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

October 20

  • Let It Grow >
  • Noodly Jam >
  • Box of Rain
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Samson and Delilah
  • Dark Star (edit of two parts) >
  • Throwing Stones
  • One More Saturday Night

All songs are presented in the order played, except for the relocation of Looks Like Rain. The first show began with Let the Good Times Roll and Shakedown. In the category of genuine, fun segues, this Eyes > Samson link is a very cool one. The first few minutes of Fire on the Mountain are dull, but hang in there.

Grateful Dead with Carlos Santana & Gary Duncan (10/27/91 - Oakland, CA)

This curation edits an extraordinary Grateful Dead & Guests passage to eliminate what was not extraordinary about it.

Santana and Duncan joined the Dead for part of the second set on this date, and it resulted in incendiary and surprising music. So many guitarists!

I’ve edited “Iko Iko” into a vocal-free jam, and I removed Garcia’s quite reasonable (but incorrect) belief that “Mona” was going to be “Hey, Bo Diddley.” There are 20 seconds of rhythmic uncertainty about what’s coming next, between the songs, but it sorts itself all of a sudden, and we’re back on track, and on our way to a great jam.

25-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Iko Iko > (instr. edit, 9:26)
  • Mona > Jam (edit, 15:29)

Frank Zappa: Hot Rats Sessions Trio Edits

The 2019 Frank Zappa boxed set, “The Hot Rats Sessions,” is a cornucopia of delights for fans of Zappa’s serious early work and admirers of the players he assembled for the sessions.

The set is full of formative rehearsals, mature outtakes, unedited master takes, extended jams, and other pleasures.

Three tracks provide a documentary experience of Zappa directing two trios toward the master take. Zappa’s cogent, playful direction and the musicians’ adept responsiveness are really impressive. 

The tracks presented in this post are edits of those documentary tracks, combining as many of the fragmentary musical pieces as possible into continuous instrumentals. That means they do not take the same form as Zappa’s compositions, and they sometimes repeat the same passage – but performed again, after additional direction, so you’re hearing the evolution as a performance. 

If you’ve got the box, these are bonus tracks. If you don’t have the box, consider that these are made from the smallest scraps on it, and visit the Zappa store for the main course.

12-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Transition (20 Small Cigars) (session edit) 2:50

It Must be a Camel (session edit) 4:57

  • Ian Underwood: piano
  • Max Bennett: bass
  • John Guerin: drums

Peaches en Regalia (session edit) 4:29

  • Ian Underwood: piano
  • Shuggie Otis: bass
  • Ron Selico: drums

Grateful Dead Shortlist: January 24-26, 1993 - Oakland, CA

Anyone who attended the Dead’s 1993 Chinese New Year run started the year lucky.

As is often the case after time off, the band was rusty on some details, but they had a great time playing in the band again. Carlos Santana contributed some wonderful stuff on the third night.

This mixtape provides a lot of wide-open playing and groovy jamming that admirably represent the post-Hornsby band. The struggles of 1992 are behind them, everyone is game and spry, and the great aspects of 1993-1994 are already apparent. 

Trust me on the opening sequence, and enjoy the ride thereafter. If you want more commentary on how this mix was conceived, you'll find it under the track list.

2.5-hour, mp3 mix zipped up here (dates and Santana involvement noted in song tags)

Set One (76 minutes): 

  • Gloria
  • Black Peter
  • Around & Around Blues (edit)
  • Shakedown Street (edit)
  • Estimated Prophet Jam >
  • Terrapin Station >
  • Jam After Terrapin >
  • Playin’ Jam >
  • Crazy Fingers (instr. edit)
  • The Music Never Stopped Jam

Set Two (72 minutes):

  • Improv: Gorgeous Jam >
  • Improv: Tropical Jam >
  • The Other One >
  • Stella Blue
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Bird Song
  • All Along the Watchtower

Cover art from Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”

Additional commentary:

  • The overall arc here has “Gloria” serving both as an incendiary show-opener and as a way to fast-forward you to a place somewhere like the final third of a second set - ready for a chill Jerry number, after an over-the-top Bobby rocker. But instead of dwindling to a standard second set ending, the polarity is reversed, and “Black Peter” leads to two hours of second set dilations and thrills.
  • The first stop on that imaginary journey is a particularly long and excellent version of the wonderful, low-key, blues-jazz jam that the band pursued in the later years of playing “Around and Around.” Sequentially, it picks up on the blues elements of “Black Peter.” The later-years “Around and Around” jam was a unique zone in the Dead’s history, and worth considering alongside the also-divergent jam they developed for “Eternity” at this time. The jazzy character of the second half of “Estimated Prophet” jams and the "Bird Song" jam/breakdown – including the ones included here – are also cousins within the distinctive character (and delights) of the final band. 
  • A very sleek and mighty “Shakedown” follows, a song that has a blues seed in it, with its repeated complaint lines, two-line verses, and call-and-response takes on this town. But I’m not making a big argument about this thought; it’s simply time for the energy to get big again, at this point in the mix, riding the wave that ends the “Around and Around" jam. The verses weren’t consistently great on this version, so I reduced it to an instrumental edit that retains the two important chorus sections.
  • Beyond “Shakedown,” the sequence more or less established itself, based on continuous chunks of playing and me wanting to end up with two sequences, each of which was shorter than a CD.
  • The “Stella Blue” is wonderful one, even allowing for the fact that it was rarely less than excellent in this era. 
  • I think of the latter-day “Jam After Terrapin” reaching its full, muscular form in 1994, and this gentle version seems like an early step on the way to that. 
  • As with nearly any era and lineup of the Dead, the final formation had its core personality of collective improvisation. I think this mix highlights that, insofar as you can move among the open spaces of all of these songs without feeling like you’re changing channels. You can go from a “Playin’ jam” to a “Terrapin jam” to a “Music Never Stopped jam,” and it feels approximately like a coherent 1970 passage that wove together “Dark Star,” “Feelin’ Groovy jam,” “Tighten Up jam,” etc. It’s one jam, with a lot of themes. Different band, 25 years later, but also the same band, 25 years later. 
  • The 1990s performances also included many spectacular, unique passages. I’d say these two Santana-enhanced Space jams are among those.
  • Some performances from this run didn't make it onto this curation because their soundboard mixes had some failure, including Garcia being way too quiet. One place where I thought that defect was effective was on this "Watchtower." It emerges from Space with Weir and Welnick being dominant, and Garcia being very quiet. The result is very cool for as long as it lasts, and there's no lack of Garcia as things proceed. 
  • Tired take: 1/26 was the best show of the run and 1/24 the least of the run. Wired take: The 1/24 "Bird Song" was the "Dark Star" of the run, as it often was in this era.

Grateful Dead Shortlist: April 15, 1983 - Rochester, NY

This 44-minute mix captures the funky, disco side of the Dead on 4/15/83. It was the only show they ever played that included “Feel Like a Stranger,” “Shakedown Street,” and “Supplication” - and they’re all very nice takes!

Additionally, the “Brother Esau” is superb and slinky, and the “Deal” is fiery. 

This is a hit and miss show: Great sound, but frequent annoying performance errors, some creaky vocals, and some slow songs that really droop. Dave Lemieux added the show’s “He’s Gone > Bob Star” as a bonus track to “Dave’s Picks” #39.

I think that with these additional tracks, you’ve probably got all you need from this show.

44-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Shakedown Street
  • My Brother Esau
  • Supplication
  • Deal

Cover image swiped from Wicked Grateful. You can buy a sticker here.