Grateful Dead: Mystery Jam #1

This eight minute Grateful Dead improvisation is one of half-a-dozen from 1972-1974 that turned me into a fanatical early-‘70s tape-head in the late 1980s. It is still one of my favorite passages, and I still haven’t encountered anything quite like it.

It is unreleased, and not previously isolated on a Save Your Face blog mixtape. When did they play it, and who’s with me?

Grateful Dead: Firelike Jams (1968-1979) - EXPANDED EDITION

This mix collects Grateful Dead improvisations that have something in common with “Fire on the Mountain.” It also includes a live Diga Rhythm Band performance with Garcia, and an early studio take of a vocal “Fire on the Mountain” by The Marin County Collective, which featured Hart and Garcia. 

NOTE: This is a much-expanded revision of an earlier mix. I have simply revised the original blogpost and linked to the expanded file. Apologies to those who grabbed the first one, but comments on that one got me to this one, so there you go. Special thanks to @MrCompletely, @DeadsoundApp, and @MarkRichardson, without whom…

83-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Firelike ’68 (10/10/68, Hartbeats) (10:59)

  • Starting with a gentle riff that sounds a bit like the Dave Brubeck quartet noodling Scarlet-into-Fire, this jam mutates into a bop-like exploration of the “Dark Star” melody, before revisiting Firelike territory around the six-minute mark, then wandering off again. I kept the jam intact, since it’s good and organic all the way through.

Firelike ’68 (12/16/68, Hartbeats w/David Getz) (9:17)

  • This is the earliest instance of this kind of groove that I’m aware of. Garcia brushes up against “Dark Star” and ventures into explicit “China Cat” territory.

Firelike ’71 (8/21/71, Mickey’s Barn) (12:08)

  • This jam finds its fire gradually and kicks in hard around five minutes. From the “A Day in the Country” radio broadcast. Players include some combination of Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Ned Lagin, David Crosby, and John Cipollina.

Firelike ’73 (7/27/73, Watkins Glen Jam pt. 2) (5:12)

  • The most famous Firelike jam appeared in the second half of the 30-minute “Watkins Glen Jam.” I edited tight, since everyone knows the Watkins jam.

Firelike ’75 (Blues for Allah rehearsal) (14:04)

  • I had the most terrible tape of this in the 1980s - 100th generation, with more hiss than music - but I loved it. The five minutes preceding my start-point are also cool, but they kind of turn the beat around and pounce decisively at the place I begin. (The Save Your Face mix, “Knot Jazz,” contains the whole thing.)

Happiness is Drumming ’76 (6/28/76, Chicago) (6:31)

Happiness is Drumming ’76 (6/22/76, Philadelphia) (1:57)

  • The Chicago performances is a full-band, full-blown “Happiness is Drumming” – essentially the debut of “Fire.” (The mix, unfortunately, has Keith pretty loud, and he's playing without imagination or swing.) The brief Philadelphia occurrence is just a glancing blow, but in a crazy-fun context.

Firelike ’79 (4/16/79, Brent Mydland rehearsal)

  • This is an actual Scarletfire jam – “Scarlet” improv on top of an almost-“Fire” rhythm bed. 

Happiness is Drumming ’75 (5/30/75, Diga Rhythm Band w/Garcia) (10:56)

  • I decided not to include Diga’s familiar released studio recording of this song (which also includes Garcia) in favor of this long, live take.

Fire on the Mountain 1972-1973 (Melton, Garcia, Hart, Freiberg) (5:09)

  • As far as I can discern, the two versions of the Marin County Collective’s unreleased, Mickey’s Barn, “Fire on the Mountain” (1972 and 1973) are based on the same recording, edited shorter and longer (3:17 vs. 5:09). I’ve included only the longer edit (1973). This is the first recording to include the song’s lyrics, with extra and different words, which are rapped by Mickey Hart. Personally, I’m cool with all aspects of that scenario.

Grateful Dead: The Tighten Up Jam (1969-1971)

This mix compiles 25 performances (two hours) of the “Tighten Up Jam” by the Grateful Dead, including several adjacent “Feelin’ Groovy Jams.” The jam typically appeared in the variable middle of “Dark Star” and as a side-trip prior to the final chorus of “Dancin’ in the Streets.” 

The Dead’s “Tighten Up” is named for its plausible derivation from the song of the same name by Archie Bell and the Drells (1968). “Soulful Strut” by Young Holt Unlimited (1968) has also been suggested as an influence. 

“Tighten Up” could be languid and sweet or fast and fierce. It’s one of the very special, pliable, thematic sub-plots in Dead history. Aside from a 1971 outlier, it was only played during a 14-month period from late summer 1969 to fall 1970.

While being distinctive musically, “Tighten Up” was also just a short reach from other comfortable 1969-1970 zones. The band could jump or creep into it from “Dark Star’s” theme, in the middle of a “Dancin’” jam, out of “Feelin’ Groovy,” or from more open spaces in the music.

Yet, while being very much an expression of that moment’s band, the “Tighten Up Jam” also tilts forward toward things to come. 

It is the era’s “Eyes of the World,” allowing the band to explore jazzy rhythms and chords to a greater extent than nearly anything else they were playing at the time. Though in a different key, it gets very close to “Eyes” at numerous points on these recordings. If the band hadn’t had other ideas about the 1973-1974 “Eyes” jam, you could easily imagine set lists containing “Eyes > Tighten Up,” and vice versa.

Some other points of future-song interest:

  • The second half of the 1/2/70 “Feelin’ Groovy” sounds like it is inventing “Sugar Magnolia,” which doesn’t appear on a tape before 6/24/70 – when it bursts, half-formed out that night's "Tighten Up" jam, inside that night's "Dark Star."
  • The second half of the 9/18/70 “Tighten Up” sounds like it is inventing “The Wheel.”
  • In several of the speedier performances, Garcia leads the band into a place that’s related to the second half of the 1973 Watkins Glenn jam – which is itself close kin to “Fire on the Mountain.” Check out the final minute of 5/6/70 and 4/3/70 (1:25 until nearly the end) for examples.

The first 20 tracks on the mix are the highest-fidelity recordings, sequenced to provide both continuity and variation. The final five tracks are exciting performances that only circulate on lo-fi-but-listenable audience tapes (e.g., Portchester, 6/24/70).

There are no jump cuts or edited segues on this mix; I just managed start and end points for each performance.

111-minute mp3 mix zipped up here, which looks like this:

A note of thanks to my masked collaborator:

This mix would not have been possible without this amazing guide to where to find “Tighten Up” in the Dead’s recordings. I don’t know who “enjoy every (dead) sandwich” is, but they are awesome.

Grateful Dead: The Spanish Jam (1968-1995)

This mix compiles 47 performances of the Grateful Dead’s “Spanish Jam” – which may be every recorded version. Lasting 4.25 hours, the mix stretches from January 1968 to June 1995, nearly the band’s whole career.

The performances are divided into five “discs” of various lengths, which align with the band’s discontinuous engagement with the theme. All performances have been volume equalized and edited to have ear-friendly start and end points.

The disc/track indexing is strictly chronological, except for the 1973-1974 disc, which is sequenced for a better-than-chronological listening experience. If you don’t like that, the song title tags are formatted to enable a full chronological sort.

Multiple members of the Dead have credited Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain” album as the band’s source/inspiration. Drop the needle on the song “Solea” around the 9:30 mark to hear why that makes sense.

"Solea" and “Spanish Jam” may share an origin in the widely-recorded composition “Malagueña” by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona. Here’s Lecuona playing it in 1954. Here’s Chet Atkins playing it in 1956. Here’s the Stan Kenton big band playing it circa 1961.

You can follow Dead-scholar trails about the song here, among other places.

The mp3 mix has been divided into four separate downloads, so that you don't have to deal with a single, gigantic file. The two 1980s discs are combined into a single file for downloading. 

Disc One: 1968-1970 (download)

  • Four performances
  • 49 minutes

Disc Two: 1973-1974 + 1976 (download)

  • Nine performances
  • 45 minutes

Disc Three: 1981 (download)

  • Nine performances
  • 41 minutes

Disc Four: 1982-1987 (included with 1981 download)

  • Seventeen performances
  • 79 minutes

Disc Five: 1992-1995 (download)

  • Eight performances
  • 38 minutes

Grateful Dead: Mind Left Body Jam (1972-1993)

This mix compiles 18 versions of the Grateful Dead’s “Mind Left Body” jam from 1972-1974 – plus an appendix of 12 later manifestations (1975-1993). These eras are presented as separate mixes.

(This is version two of the mix, including volume and EQ improvements on four tracks.)

1972-1974 MLB MVP goes to Billy. If you could isolate his drums, you would find so many killer samples.

All performances are provided complete. I created jump cuts in some places, but those are at or after the moment when the theme vanished from the jam. (Preferable to constantly fading out as some other theme begins.)

I created sequences for each disc that help create a listening experience with some coherence and flow. Every MLB had its own tempo, vibe, and attack - bursting or emerging out of somewhere else, on its way to somewhere else.

You can also sort all tracks chronologically. The song title format of the mp3 files is: “MLB (YY/MM/DD).” Chronological isn't an ideal, continuous listening experience, IMO, but it enables you to use the mix as an audio reference work.

The standard written reference work on “Mind Left Body” is here. Worth reading all the way to the bottom! I believe I checked out every version noted in the post, and I only omitted the ones that are barely there.

While it is true that most of the post-1974 performances aren’t full MLB Jams, by early Seventies standards, they also have the benefit of doing different things with those four chords. The 12/30/83 > 10/20/84 > 11/29/81 sequence combines into a pretty thrilling jam, for any era, with MLB cropping up in interesting ways.

Two-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc One: 1972-1974 (63 minutes)

  • MLB (6/28/74)
  • MLB (5/12/74)
  • MLB (11/20/73)
  • MLB (10/17/74)
  • MLB (5/19/74)
  • MLB (6/16/74)
  • MLB (9/14/74)
  • MLB (4/8/72 w/other themes)
  • MLB (12/2/73)
  • MLB (9/21/73)
  • MLB (12/18/73)
  • MLB (11/11/73)
  • MLB (10/25/73)
  • MLB (10/19/73)
  • MLB (7/31/74)
  • MLB (10/30/73)
  • MLB (9/21/72 w/other themes)
  • MLB (3/5/72 inside “Good Lovin’”)

Disc Two: 1975-1993 (44 minutes)

  • MLB (10/18/78 - w/“Mojo" licks)
  • MLB (12/30/83)
  • MLB (10/20/84 - w/other themes)
  • MLB (11/29/81 - w/other themes)
  • MLB (2/28/75 - “Music Never Stopped” rehearsal)
  • MLB (7/16/90)
  • MLB (3/24/90 - “Mud Love Buddy”)
  • MLB (6/8/92 - out of “Corrina”)
  • MLB (3/10/93)
  • MLB (3/10/85 - AUD)
  • MLB (6/4/83 - AUD)
  • MLB (9/6/79)

Grateful Dead - May ’77 Edits: O-Peggy, Sugarfree, and Broad-Hipped Women

This post collects three stray Save Your Face edits of May 1977 Grateful Dead. One is new, one was shared only on twitter, and one was previously posted on this blog. All three concepts were suggested by listeners. 

Additionally, you’ll find mixes of May 1977 “Fire on the Mountain” and “Dancin’ in the Streets" performances on Save Your Face, if you poke around. 

43-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Brown-Eyed Women (12 minutes) 

An extended version that includes the solo sections of nine May 1977 performances. May 28 leads off and provides the first vocal section and solo. The closing vocal section comes from 5/8. The month’s BEW solo sections lasted 40-60 seconds each.

Sugaree (10 minutes)

An instrumental edit of the May 19, 1977 performance. It was the longest of the month.

Peggy-O (21 minutes) 

Same approach as with “Brown Eyed Women.” The beginning and end (with the sung sections) are provided by May 9. In between, there are an additional eight solo sections from the month’s performances. Most of the solo sections are ~1:45 in length. May 11 is the longest at 2:30. I skipped one version which doesn't circulate in a good SBD or AUD recording. Only one comes from a non-official source.

OCD notes: For BEW, I sequenced to conceal tempo changes, so it would simulate a continuous, relentless solo break. For Peggy-O, I shuffled tempo here and there, so that the repetition of the instrumental break’s arc would be disrupted by some mood/body shifts. 

The Rolling Stones: Respectable (1989-2012)

Last month (April 2020), The Rolling Stones dropped an excellent new song, “Living in a Ghost Town.” It has been 15 years since the band’s last album of originals, with new compositions released only occasionally on greatest hits compilations.

The mix presented here is a studio highlights reel curated by someone who has no significant history with 1989-present Stones. It pays no attention to any criteria but satisfying my personal desires as a 1968-1981 Stones super-fan. It’s full of b-sides and deep cuts, and it ignores a number of supposedly big songs from the era. My goals were authenticity and an avoidance of redundancy. (A few cool tracks got cut because they just didn’t fit.)

If you’re a Stones fan who has forgotten or never heard most of these songs, this mix is for you. You’ll find tracks that hit every historical Stones mode, from blues to ballads to bombast. And Keith songs.

96-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

LP 1:

  • Doom & Gloom
  • Let Me Down Slow
  • Saint of Me
  • How Can I Stop
  • Biggest Mistake
  • Break the Spell
  • Jump on Top of Me
  • Anybody Seen My Baby
  • Thief in the Night
  • Laugh, I Nearly Died
  • Always Suffering

LP 2:

  • I Go Wild
  • I’m Gonna Drive
  • Keys to Your Love
  • Any Way You Look at It
  • New Faces
  • The Worst
  • Thru and Thru
  • Lowdown
  • Fancyman Blues
  • Almost Hear You Sigh
  • Don’t Stop

Cover art by Martin Whatson, used without permission.

Grateful Dead: The Dead Play The Beatles (1983-1995)

This mix includes a version of every Beatles song the Grateful Dead played (1983-1995). All selections are unreleased, except “Hey Jude,” and all are from soundboard sources.

The Dead’s engagement with The Beatles’ catalogue was a minor part of the long strange trip: eleven songs, some played only once, most only a handful of times. 

Dead-play-Beatles has a justifiably bad reputation. The songs are often unlikely stretches for the singers, and the band didn’t master the playing of most of them. They’d only hang around for a hot minute, and/or they’d pop up, sloppily, once in a while. 

Fortunately, there’s a charming, very good, or great performance of every song – and they add up to a very enjoyable, all-Beatles Dead set. More on the selections below the track list. 

68-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Why Don’t We Do It In the Road? (4/13/85)
  • Day Tripper (6/25/85)
  • Revolution (10/17/83)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (5/21/93)
  • Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (3/17/95, slight edit)
  • It’s All Too Much (3/18/95)
  • Rain (3/18/95)
  • I Want to Tell You (10/15/94)
  • Tomorrow Never Knows (8-version jam edit, 1992-1993)
  • Hey Jude (3/22/90, edit)
  • Get Back (1/28/87)
  • Blackbird (7/17/88, slight edit)

Performance History and Selection Notes

Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?

Played seven times, June 1984-March 1986

Day Tripper

Played five times, December 1984-August 1985


Played eleven times, October 1983-March 1990. Four performances in October 1983, two in October 1984, three across 1985, and two in March 1990. The second performance is featured on this mix.

Tomorrow Never Knows

Played twelve times, May 1992-November 1994. This mix includes the next-to-last version, plus a long, simulated jam of the song constructed from eight other versions.

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

Played 19 times, March 1993-June 1995. The version on this mix is by far the longest, the only one featuring an instrumental build-up. I edited out five seconds of uncertainty.

It’s All Too Much

Played six times, March 1995-July 1995. The version here is the debut.


Played twenty times, December 1992-June 1995. The band couldn’t sing this song very well, but in 1995 they played it heavier and mixed it thicker, which helps. 

I Want to Tell You

Played seven times, July 1994-May 1995. The version included contains the worst vocal flub of the mix - one whole mumbled line. 

Hey Jude

Aside from some 1969 stabs, the Dead restricted their playing of this song to a “Hey Jude Finale,” which followed “Dear Mr. Fantasy” some 30 times, 1985-1990. Except… one night in March 1990, they preceded “Fantasy” with a sweet little sketch of the song itself. That’s the version on this mix, with “Fantasy” removed, so the song and the finale are joined. 

Get Back

Played only once, in 1987. It’s a stretch for Bobby’s voice, but on the whole, really great.


Played twice in the summer of 1988. I saw the first performance, which was just a spontaneous goof, I think - fun to behold, but terrible as a performance. The second version strikes me as a fairly serious attempt to play it correctly, with Bobby being a vocal bandleader at a couple of points. I edited out the most extreme gaff, which I think makes the whole thing more lovable, despite remaining bumps.

Cover art: Alan Aldridge, detail from “Tomorrow Never Knows,” published in The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics.

The Rolling Stones: Miss You Live (1978 Tour Highlights)

This tour deserves way more respect. For one thing, the band performed all of the “Some Girls” songs, except the title track and "Before They Make Me Run." That alone makes the tour’s setlist exciting and historically anomalous. The Stones were mostly a hits band, before and after this tour, and I don’t believe there’s any album that was as throughly performed live at the time of its release.

And it’s “Some Girls,” played exactly right by a gloriously fucked-up and entirely appropriate Rolling Stones. This mix pulls from all the FM broadcasts I could lay my hands on (a while back), plucking one version of nearly every song played on the tour. When it was right, it was great. 

There are a million miles between this band and the thoroughly boring one documented on the 1975 tour album, “Love You Live," released in 1977 – and between the 1978 tour all all subsequent, highly-professional ones. I’m not saying that all later live Stones is to be ignored, but rather that the 1978 tour was probably the last time anyone witnessed the unruly entity that built the Stones legend.

So, this mix tries to lock down that moment in an enduringly satisfying, album-like way. 

I messed with the typical setlist order of the tour, so that all the “Some Girls” material is grouped together. The mix leads and closes with older tunes.

80-minute mix zipped up here

  • Hound Dog
  • Starfucker
  • All Down the Line
  • Honky Tonk Women
  • Miss You
  • Beast of Burden
  • Shattered
  • When the Whip Comes Down
  • Lies
  • Just My Imagination
  • Far Away Eyes
  • Respectable
  • Love In Vain
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Jumping Jack Flash

Important caveats:

  • I compiled this in 2010 and did not tag my selections with dates/locations. Subsequently (2011), The Rolling Stones released a full 1978 show from Fort Worth, Texas. I am sorry I can’t tell you which, if any, tracks come from that show.  
  • This mix was originally (and is still) posted as a Save Your Face virtual boxed set that includes two discs of curated studio outtakes from the “Some Girls” era. It’s one of several such multi-disc sets on the SYF blog. Since this live disc has more mass appeal than the half-finished outtakes, I thought it might make sense to break it out. (And I felt like making a cover image!) Choose your own adventure.

Grateful Dead: Dead Play Dylan - 1994

This mix presents a version of 10 of the 11 Bob Dylan songs the Grateful Dead played in 1994. The performances and soundboard mixes are excellent, with scant imperfections of any sort – except for the sloppy vocals on “Rainy Day Women,” featuring Dylan himself.

All performances are unreleased, and selections are based on a review of all the circulating 1994 soundboard recordings, as of May 2020.

Most of these songs entered the repertoire through the band’s collaboration with Bob Dylan in late 1980s. By 1994, the band’s lighter touch, more acoustic sound, and preference for detail over density gave the Dead a greater ability to interpret Dylan’s songs and give them each a distinctive musical plot.

Additionally, I have included an unreleased performance of “Visions of Johanna,” which the band revived in 1995 and played six times - three of those performances officially released (2/21, 3/18, and 7/8). My favorite of the remaining three, the second performance, only circulates as an audience recording, but in a great way. Seemed like the correct way to break the 1994 rule and bookend this mix.

75-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Maggie’s Farm (7/19/94 - Noblesville, IN)
  • When I Paint My Masterpiece (6/25/94 - Las Vegas, NV)
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (10/13/94 - NYC)
  • Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (10/15/94 - NYC)
  • The Mighty Quinn (10/5/94 - Philadelphia, PA)
  • Queen Jane Approximately (3/27/94 - Uniondale, NY)
  • All Along the Watchtower (9/27/94 - Boston, MA)
  • Desolation Row (7/2/94 - Mountainview, CA)
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (6/19/94 - Eugene, OR)
  • Rainy Day Women #12 and 35 (w/Dylan, 10/17/94 - NYC)
  • Visions of Johanna (2/24/95 aud - Oakland, CA)

Eight of these songs previously appeared on Save Your Face’s chronological survey of 1994 soundboards. The missing song is "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again." The band played it once that year, and it was good, but not outstanding. You can play it on Relisten here