Grateful Dead: Scarlet > Fire 1981

Here’s a 52-minute slice of 1981 “Scarlet > Fire,” comprising three unreleased performances. The mighty 3/10/81 MSG version is presented in full. Two more are presented as instrumental edits. Segues weave it all into a non-stop experience that goes like this:

Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain > Scarlet Jam > Fire Jam > Scarlet Jam > Fire Jam.

Which is to say three transitions!

I was turned on to these performances by a crowd-sourcing tweet I sent out, because I was on a S>F binge and wanted to check out some unknown (to me) versions from years I don’t know very well. Thanks to all who participated. If people enjoy this, I’ll look into samplers from more years (when I can handle listening to more of these songs again). 

52-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain (3/10/81 - MSG)
  • Scarlet Jam > Fire on the Mountain (instr. edit) (5/15/81 - Rutgers)
  • Scarlet Jam > Fire on the Mountain (instr. edit) (9/12/81 - Greek)

Grateful Dead: May 1977 Dancin’ in the Streets Jams

This mix is a continuous, instrumental edit of the jams from all seven May 1977 performances of “Dancin’ in the Streets.”

Every time the band finishes the synchronized riff section of one jam, they slide right into the beginning of another night’s jam. All dancing, no singing.

The segues are seamless, but I’ve presented the mix as seven tracks, so you can compare the performances. Aside from the first track, which includes the opening of the song, each version starts at the same moment. The final version fades out. All performances have been officially released, except for 5/1 and 5/4.

67-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Dancin’ Intro & Jam > (5/8/77)
  • Dancin’ Jam > (5/19/77)
  • Dancin’ Jam > (5/15/77)
  • Dancin’ Jam > (5/12/77)
  • Dancin’ Jam > (5/22/77)
  • Dancin’ Jam > (5/1/77)
  • Dancin’ Jam (5/4/77)

This mix is a companion to this May ’77 “Fire on the Mountain” jams collection. If you want even more edited May '77 madness, here’s a 12-minute version of “Brown Eyed Women” that includes every one of the instrumental breaks. 

Grateful Dead: May 1977 Fire on the Mountain Jams

This collection provides instrumental edits of every Grateful Dead performance of “Fire on the Mountain” in May 1977. It was still a new song, played only six times prior to these versions.

As an improvisational vehicle, the song had three parts, all with variable lengths and approaches:

  • The introduction, up to the first verse
  • The middle jam, between the two verses
  • The rousing final jam, which led to the “Scarlet Begonias” bookend close

In addition to eliminating the verses and choruses, I’ve also removed the return to the baseline groove that occurred between the middle jam and the second verse, so those solo-driven parts flow together without a slow-down. 

Otherwise, it’s all the music - each performance as a pure jam that reveals the essential differences among them. They range from seven to twelve minutes each. All have been officially released except 5/4/77.

72-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Fire Jam (5/4/77)
  • Fire Jam (5/5/77)
  • Fire Jam (5/8/77)
  • Fire Jam (5/11/77)
  • Fire Jam (5/13/77)
  • Fire Jam (5/17/77)
  • Fire Jam (5/21/77)
  • Fire Jam (5/25/77)

You'll find a mix of May '77's "Dancin' in the Streets" jams here

Grateful Dead - Shortlist: May 26, 1995 - Seattle, WA

Just 20 concerts from the end of their career, the Grateful Dead turned in a fantastic performance, featuring a setlist full of 1970s jam numbers, sung and played with enthusiasm. Garcia is lit, throughout, playing enthusiastically and thoughftully, all the time, and taking advantage of his voice being in great shape. The “Fire on the Mountain” is particularly great on all fronts, including Garcia's vocal enthusiasms. Definitely a version to bookmark.

With the exception of “Eternity > Don’t Ease,” which closed the first set, the tracks on this mix are in the order played. “Help on the Way” opened the show. If you enjoy these highlights, you should check out the whole show. It’s more consistent than plenty of shows from plenty of other years – all the more surprising at such a late date.

Many thanks to Andrew Rooney @ramblinroon for turning me on to this show.

90-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc One (48 minutes):

  • Help on the Way > Slipknot! >
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Fire on the Mountain

Disc Two (40 minutes):

  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Improvisation 1
  • Improvisation 2
  • Improvisation 3
  • Eternity Jam >
  • Don’t Ease Me In

Cover art: Jack Kirby & Mike Royer

Shit Happens at the Barbed Wire Whipping Party (John Barlow, Robert Hunter)

This edit superimposes two Grateful Dead-related studio experiments, so they are playing simultaneously. Robert Hunter and John Barlow on vocals. Not for the faint-hearted. Posted by request. 

1m20s mp3 here

“Shit Happens” - John Barlow vocal (1988):

It doesn't matter, doesn't matter, it's all right

Universe still works tonight

Shit happens, shit happens, it's OK

What comes to pass will pass away

Whatever hits the fan might splatter

It's all right 'cause it doesn't matter

Doesn't matter, doesn't matter

It's all right, it doesn't matter

“The Barbed Wire Whipping Party” - Robert Hunter vocal (1969):

The barbed wire whipping party in the razor blade forest

Sweet live meat, my fangs could unravel you

Back, hand, whip, lash, [eskers], sangfroid, leather picnic

Duty, cold blood, barbed wire, naked on the table, laughing

Feet stained wine and eyes smoking

No is permitted

There's more freedom than you could choke down in ten thousand years

The other day I went to Mars and talked to God

And he told me to tell you to hang tight and don't worry

The solution to everything is death

Cover art by Raymond Pettibon

Brent Mydland (Featuring The Grateful Dead)

Possibly the best way to enjoy the compositions that Brent Mydland wrote and sang for The Grateful Dead is all by themselves. Pretend the band joined a solo artist to provide backing for a mid-80s album of his songs. An extended, soulful ride on an emotional rollercoaster. 

I didn’t struggle too hard picking versions, since there are lots of good ones for most songs. Some are released. 

68-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Just a Little Light (3/26/90)
  • Far from Me (7/12/89)
  • Easy to Love You (3/22/90)
  • Never Trust a Woman (10/16/89)
  • Tons of Steel (4/8/85)
  • Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues (3/27/86)
  • Don’t Need Love (11/5/85)
  • Gentlemen, Start Your Engines (7/31/88)
  • Maybe You Know (4/20/83)
  • Blow Away (3/26/90)
  • We Can Run (9/29/89)
  • I Will Take You Home (6/88)

I think this includes every song Mydland wrote or co-wrote - and sang.

Caveat: "Far from Me" and "Easy to Love You" somehow got switched in the running order. The emotional energy works much better Easy > Far. I recommend you swap 'em.

Shortwave for Isolationports (Eno + Conet Numbers Project)

This edit merges the first composition on Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports” with coded shortwave radio broadcasts from the 20th Century. It’s an ambient vocal track that speaks in tongues. Zero, zero, zero, echo, victor, sierra, eight, four, six, yankee, hotel, foxtrot...

The method was mostly an oblique strategy, followed by some editorial tweaks. The two sources automatically created a collective drama that I didn’t mess with very much. The edit preserves the stereo separation of Eno’s album, with the mono shortwave broadcasts layered in.

16-minute, 320kbps mp3 track here

Gang of Four: “Lord Make Me a Cowboy” (flexi-disc, 1982)

This is the rarest Gang of Four studio recording, released only once, on a flexi-disc inside of the magazine “Vinyl Music” (Netherlands, July 1982). 

I obtained a copy at the time, played it just twice to record it to cassette, then played it again circa 2000 to rip a digital file.

This post is based on that uncompressed rip, re-EQ’ed to address the limitations of flexi-disc sonics. This is as hard as I can make it kick.

The issues were primarily a thin, stabby drum machine (and cheap plastic) at the high end and distorted, non-musical thumping on the low end. I also adjusted the volume in a several places, because the original mix includes sudden shifts that disrupt the flow. My main focus was on clarifying Dave Allen's ganky bass articulations and Andy Gill's fantastic dueling guitars.

I can’t find any information about when the track was recorded or what it is. My guess is a late demo by the original lineup, before Dave Allen (bass) left, around the time of “To Hell with Poverty” and “Capital, It Fails Us Now.” That would make it a logical candidate for a throwaway flexi-disc in 1982.

Cover art is adapted from the flexi-disc’s label and a cover detail from “Entertainment.”

320kbps mp3 file here

Foetus: 12-inches (1984)

Foetus (JG Thirlwell) released three amazing, extended disco-industrial 12-inches in 1984, the same year as the album “Hole,” and a year ahead of “Nail.”

As far as I can tell, these full-length tracks are currently unavailable to buy or stream, and they may never have been released digitally, except in shortened edits.

The compilation presented here uses my uncompressed vinyl rips, circa 2003, mildly EQ’ed to bring up the bottom end and blunt some high end needles, converted to 320kbps mp3s.

Thirlwell is still making great music! Official site and store.

45-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Calamity Crush (6:06)
  • Finely-Honed Machine (9:35)
  • Wash It All Off (6:12)
  • Today I Started Slogging Again (7:45)
  • Catastrophe Crush (7:09)
  • Sick Minutes (Unmutual) (8:51)

Original 12-inch art, x3: JG Thirlwell. 

Blue Oyster Cult: “Chatter on the Tide” (Live 1972-1973)

This mix provides a prequel to Blue Oyster Cult’s 1975 live album, “On Your Feet, or On Your Knees,” which capped the band’s classic, initial studio run: “Blue Oyster Cult,” “Tyranny and Mutation,” and “Secret Treaties” (1972-1974). 

In 1975, everything changed, with the release of the completely different “Agents of Fortune,” containing the hit, “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”

Pulling from four bootlegs recorded April 1972 through December 1973, this mix compiles as many different songs as possible, mostly in the earliest live recording available. (The NYC Academy of Music show predates the recording of “Secret Treaties.”) 

I’ve only repeated two songs, one because it changed a lot, and the other because it was the big jam number. The fidelity of the sources varies, but all should be pleasurably inhabitable by fans. Volume has been equalized.

130-minute mp3 mixtape zipped up here

Rochester, NY: 4/3/72

  • The Red and the Black
  • Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll
  • Workshop of Telescopes
  • Stairway to the Stars
  • Transmaniacon MC
  • The Last Days of May
  • Before the Kiss, a Redcap

Detroit, MI: 4/2/73

  • OD’d on Life Itself
  • Wings Wetted Down
  • 7 Screaming Dizbusters
  • Buck’s Boogie
  • It’s Not Easy

Cleveland: 10/8/73

  • Screams
  • Quicklime Girl
  • Workshop of Telescopes
  • It’s Not Easy

New York City: 12/31/73

  • Dominance and Submission
  • Astronomy, a Star
  • ME262

If you’d like to hear an 18-minute jam by BOC’s earlier incarnation, Stalk-Forrest Group, you’ll find that here.