Shortlist: October 9, 1972 – Winterland, SF – The Roadie Benefit

Cover image by Jose Guadalupe Posada

The Dead haven’t released any shows from October 1972, which might have something to do with a lot of soundboards from the month having terrible mixes. That is not much of an issue with this recording, which is pretty well balanced, except for some loud drums and the bass being too quiet sometimes. The really nice thing about this mix is the way it handles harmony vocals.

This was a benefit concert to raise housing money for the band’s roadies. It fell in the middle of a two-week break between the band’s September (Northeast) and October (Midwest) tours. The band seems both relaxed and focused. (They had rehearsed at least enough to learn "Box of Rain.") There are some errors, but there are also pristine renditions of some songs and great stretches of improvisation. 

The fades at the end of “Playin’” and the beginning of “Box of Rain” are in the source tapes. 

100-minute, FLAC-derived, 320kbps mp3 mix here

  • Brokedown Palace
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Sugaree
  • Truckin’ > Bass & Drums >
  • The Other One >
  • Wharf Rat
  • He’s Gone
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Box of Rain (first time played)


Shortlist: October 27, 1973 – Indianapolis, Indiana

Cover illustration by Luigi Serafini, from "Storie Naturali"

The Dead played this show on my birthday, an easy drive from where I lived at the time. Unfortunately, I was turning eight years old and wasn’t paying attention. But that’s okay, because the gift waited patiently for me to finally unwrap it.

Although this show has escaped The Dead’s generous approach to releasing Fall 1973 recordings, it has as much superb material in it as nearly any of them. 

My curation is built around two uninterrupted pieces of the second set. My arrangement of other songs around those pieces follows The Dead’s lead, when they decided to play a couple of first set songs in the middle of a fantastic second set “Playin’” jam. 

Parts of this show only circulate as audience recordings. The soundboard of everything else captures a rather wonderful mix, but for some reason the frequency spread of the circulating soundboard is all out of whack. It comes across as brittle, shrill, sterile, stabby, insubstantial, etc. I don’t know if this is a feature of the master tape or of a transferring snafu somewhere down the line.

But fear not! I obtained a FLAC file and gave it enough of a re-EQ to turn down the stabby and to bring up the warmth and depth, until it became a fully immersive Fall 1973 experience. Happy birthday.

90-minute 320kbps mp3 mix here

  • Beat It On Down the Line
  • Me and Bobby McGee
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Mississippi Half-Step >
  • Big River >
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • They Love Each Other
  • He’s Gone Jam >
  • Truckin’ >
  • Nobody’s Fault Jam
  • Loose Lucy


Shortlist: March 31, 1973 - Buffalo, NY

On the 45th anniversary of its playing, here’s a bookend to the February-March ‘73 material I’ve been posting lately. This is the next-to-last show of the March tour of the Northeast, which began in Uniondale, NY. The final show of the tour (4/2/73 Boston) was released as “Dave’s Picks” #21.

Unless I’m missing something, there’s no released show between 4/2/73 and 10/19/73. Dick Latvala maintained that the band flagged in the middle of the year, and I guess subsequent archivists have agreed. 

There are some obvious flaws in the material I’ve judged best from this show but it’s not for lack of The Dead trying and generally succeeding wonderfully. The sound of the mix/tape is great for instruments and not too hard on group vocals. 

70-minute mp3 mix here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/khddft26pjbfem7/GD%20shortlist%2073-03-31.zip?dl=0

  • Bertha >
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • The Race is On
  • They Love Each Other
  • Mississippi Half-Step (instrumental edit)
  • He’s Gone >
  • Truckin’ (instrumental edit) >
  • Drums >
  • The Other One > Spanish Jam > The Other One >
  • Space >
  • Jam > I Know You Rider
  • Casey Jones

Points of interest:

This is the only instance of “I Know You Rider” NOT following “China Cat Sunflower” between late 1971 and late 1985. The performance of the song itself isn’t fantastic, but the three minutes between the end of “Space” and the first word of “Rider” are noteworthy. They begin a free-form jam (which an audience member recognizes and gets vocally excited about) that morphs into the “Feelin’ Groovy” jam, leading to “Rider.” 

Shortlist: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – March 1973

Cover art: Detail from Max Weber, “New York at Night”

For their first tour of 1973, The Dead were in the Midwest from the middle to the end of February. After two weeks off, they toured the Northeast from the middle of March through April 2.

The tour started with three shows at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on the 15th, 16th, and 19th, excerpts from which are combined here. These shows remain unreleased.

This run, and the 16th in particular, has numerous excellent “smaller songs,” but the mix posted here is a continuation of the jammy mashups I posted of the February shows

Aside from the edits that are obvious from the track list, the only things I’ve cut out that interrupt continuous Dead performances are two noodly-to-shrieky spaces that offered nothing special and broke the momentum. 

A pretty “Dark Star” that’s not sure how solid it wants to get nonetheless comes to a swelling climax, then gives way to an autonomous six-minute jam, which then slides back into a perfectly executed “Dark Star” verse. Several minutes of unorthodox, wandering around jamming ensues, leading into “Truckin.”

This is one of the earliest performances of “Truckin’” transitioning into the “Nobody’s Fault” jam. 

This 3/15 “Eyes” jam was the sonic rescue mission of this mix. It is easily one of the most involving and successful (and yet unique) of the early performances, but the soundboard of it has many dramatic volume fluctuations. I’ve fixed those pretty well and want to advise you that the performance overwhelms the sonic gremlins that remain. 

The other two 3/15 songs are likewise exceptional. “China Doll” has many exquisite details. “The Other One” is aggressively adventurous and almost becomes a separate jam. The 3/15 soundboard has the drums mixed way too loud, but on “The Other One” and the “Eyes” jam, this is a plus, and it doesn’t impact “China Doll.” 

77-minute mp3 mix here

  • Dark Star (3/16) >
  • Jam (3/16) >
  • Dark Star (3/16) >
  • Jamming Around (3/16) >
  • Truckin’ > Nobody’s Fault Jam (3/16 > 3/19) > 
  • Drums (3/19) >
  • The Other One (3/15) >
  • Eyes of the World (intro & jam 3/15) >
  • China Doll (3/15)
  • Morning Dew (3/16)

Shortlist: Midwest Tour, February 1973 (part two)

This post completes my jam-centric reduction of February 1973 Dead shows. Boy, they were playing great. 

I posted highlights of Palo Alto (2/9) here.

I posted a mashup of Madison, St. Paul, and Chicago (2/15, 2/17, 2/19) here.

This third installment presents material from Champaign-Urbana, IL (2/21 & 2/22) and Iowa City (2/24). 

The next two shows, the last of the February tour, are documented on Dick’s Picks #28 (Lincoln, NB & Salt Lake City on the 26th and 28th).

86-minute mp3 mix here

  • Truckin’ > Bass & Drums (2/21) > 
  • Eyes of the World (2/21 > 2/22) >
  • China Doll (2/22)
  • Playin’ in the Band (2/22)
  • Dark Star (2/22) >
  • Space (2/22) >
  • Bass > Feelin’ Groovy Jam (2/24) >
  • Sugar Magnolia (2/24) 

Shortlist: Midwest Tour, February 1973

This mix combines performances from The Dead’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th shows of 1973, in Madison, WI, St. Paul, MN, and Chicago. If I do say so myself, the result is mighty. "Bertha" starts smoldering around :38 and ignites at 1:20. It doesn't let up after that for more than 100 minutes. 

After five weeks off, The Dead started 1973 with a stand-alone show in Palo Alto, CA on February 9th. On the 15th, they began an eight-show tour with concerts in the wintery, upper Midwest. Nothing from this tour earlier than the 26th, in Lincoln, Nebraska, seems to have been released.

This mix pulls from those initial Madison, St. Paul, and Chicago shows, but it is also a companion to the mix I made from the year-starting show in Palo Alto (which has the greatest early “Eyes”). Together, these two mixes are my early ’73 Road Trip – the first four shows of the year in digest form. 

From a historical documentary POV, these early ’73 shows look exciting because they unleash seven new Garcia songs and a fun cover sung by Donna. From an aesthetic POV, not many performances of those new songs are worth hearing repeatedly. The really amazing parts of these shows are elsewhere. If you look in the right places, the band was extremely hot out of the gate in '73.

107-minute mix here (source dates included in mp3 tags). 

  • Bertha (5:22)
  • Here Comes Sunshine (instr.) > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (16:45)
  • Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road > Not Fade Away (14:06)
  • Dark Star (11:42)
  • He’s Gone (14:11)
  • The Other One (18:55)
  • Playin’ in the Band > China Doll (20:35)
  • Birdsong (instr. 6:24)

Steely Dan: Fauxcho (essential Gaucho outtakes)

This is a narrow slice of the available “Gaucho” outtakes designed for daily listening purposes. It includes only the songs that did not make the album, and in four cases I have edited out lengthy stretches of the rhythm section treading water in places where solos/elaborations were supposed to go, but never did. This makes these songs flow much more like songs, rather than sounding like what they were/are – unfinished recordings. 

If you’re a Steely Dan fan and these titles are unfamiliar to you, your mind will be blown that they exist and are solid, real songs. If you do know these recordings, you probably understand why editing some of them down makes sense. Anyway, 29 minutes of seven, unfinished Steely Dan recordings certainly could have turned into 40-45 minutes of finished songs and turned "Gaucho" into a two-LP set, if Becker and Fagan hadn't been grinding to a halt at this point. This is as close as I can get to a credible expansion of the released album.

29-minute “Gaucho” outtakes companion here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/x4s99xuh36b63u0/Steely%20Dan%20Fauxcho.zip?dl=0

(Sorry about the copy-and-paste link, but this blog platform is malfunctioning.)

  • Kulee Baba (edit)
  • The Bear
  • Kind Spirit (edit)
  • The Second Arrangement (edit)
  • Talkin’ ‘Bout My Home (edit)
  • Were You Blind That Day? ("Third World Man" with different lyrics)
  • I Can’t Write Home About You 
  • The Second Arrangement (Disco Coda)

Shortlist: February 9, 1973 – Palo Alto, CA

I can’t let the 45th anniversary of this show pass without paying tribute to the wonderful jamming it included. 

It’s the first show of 1973, and it’s famous because it featured debuts of seven new songs. But it’s mostly a messy, rusty show, the new songs not rehearsed enough, old songs not rehearsed at all. There were also a lot of technical difficulties with a new sound system.

Nonetheless, the band was clearly very excited to be doing this again, after five weeks off. The “Playin’” jam is wonderfully involved and never breaks stride, and the two new songs that were truly ready for prime time are superb. I think this is the best of the first three, exploratory “Eyes” jams,” and the execution of the song itself is exceptional. 

56-minute mix here

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dv8uw104uw4hgzy/GD%20Shortlist%2073-02-09.zip?dl=0

  • PA: Wavy Gravy
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Uncle John’s Band (instrumental edit)
  • Playin’ in the Band (instrumental edit)
  • Eyes of the World (first time played) >
  • China Doll (first time played)


The Grateful Dead: To the Eagle Palace (January 1968)

Illustration by Victor Moscoso. Typography by Tom Ford.

A while back, Jesse Jarnow (@bourgwick & jessejarnow.com) suggested to me that there might be a single mega-suite hiding in the fragmentary, unreleased live recordings from The Dead’s tour at the beginning of 1968. On the 50th anniversary of the end of that tour (February 4, 1968), we present our ideal set, based on the extant, unreleased recordings.

Jarnow: 

In late 1967 and early 1968, the Grateful Dead began linking their newest songs into extended suites, resulting in the experimental "Anthem of the Sun" and the double LP "Live/Dead." By the time those albums made it to stores, though, the song suite had already evolved. During the early 1968 winter tour of the northwest, the band brought a multitrack, making recordings that would be used for Anthem, and one can hear them piecing together different combinations of their newest songs, their most psychedelic material yet and – not coincidentally – their earliest collaborations with lyricist Robert Hunter.

"To the Eagle Palace" (title borrowed from Hunter's 1968-'69 "Eagle Mall Suite") posits a seamless path through the band's early 1968 repertoire. Highlighting early drafts (such as "Dark Star" with a call/response Garcia/Lesh intro and a drumless arrangement featuring only hand percussion), forgotten songs (like the lovely Lesh/Hunter psych-jazz "Clementine"), and a few shifting audio fidelities, with edits and crossfades occurring inside song performances as well as within many of the transitions. 

It is a fantasy set, perhaps played on a night tape wasn't rolling. As it happens, it would also fit onto two LPs with even side breaks. LATVALA!

86-minute composite suite here

To the Eagle Palace

  • That's It for the Other One >
  • Clementine >
  • New Potato Caboose >
  • Born Crosseyed >
  • Spanish Jam >
  • Feedback >
  • Spanish Return > Dark Star >
  • China Cat Sunflower >
  • The Eleven >
  • Alligator >
  • Caution >
  • Feedback

Source dates included in mp3 tags.

Hilgart: 

Thanks to @mr_completely for tipping us off that our preferred “Spanish Jam,” which is split between two different sources, required a channel-flip to make the merger of the two halves sound right. And thanks to Jesse for forcing me to cut and re-edit until the result was as just exactly perfect as we could manage. Beyond that, we’ll let our editorial process remain mysterious. Just enjoy this amazing, non-stop, 86-minute tour through the birth of the mature Dead.