Grateful Dead: Shortlist - March 16-21, 1994 (Chicago & Richfield)

In March 1994, The Grateful Dead were playing and singing “small” songs beautifully and jamming big songs enthusiastically. The month included the final two performances of “Dark Star.”

For reasons explained in this post, the Save Your Face blog originally presented the music below as three separate mixes, over a year’s time. After I posted the final one, I retagged my own files to create the unified, 4-LP album set that should have been. 

This post presents the retagged version, which operates as a single album with one title, four discs, and 26 consecutively numbered tracks.

Seventeen tracks come from three Chicago shows (March 16, 17, 18) and seven come from one Richfield, OH show (March 21). The Richfield show on the 20th doesn’t circulate on soundboard, so it is not included. 

Additionally, I have included, near the end, the “Playin’ > Dark Star” sequence from 3/30 in Atlanta, so that you can listen to the last two performances of “Dark Star” as portions of the same mega-jam.

Put into their proper relationship, the first two discs provide a beautifully-executed, fantasy first set. The second two discs provide a giant, all-jam second set.

3h 20m mp3 mix zipped up here

LP 1 (47 minutes - originally posted as “Shortlist: March 16-21, 1994” disc one)

  • Don’t Ease Me In (3/16/94)
  • Beat It on Down the Line (3/16/94)
  • Bertha (3/21/94)
  • Ramble on Rose (3/19/94)
  • Stella Blue (3/21/94)
  • Queen Jane Approximately (3/21/94)
  • Looks Like Rain (3/16/94)
  • High Time (3/16/94)

LP 2 (53 minutes - originally posted as “Shortlist: March 16-21, 1994” disc two)

  • Peggy-O (3/21/94)
  • Wharf Rat (3/18/94)
  • Around and Around (3/18/94)
  • Deal (3/18/94)
  • Standing on the Moon (3/16/94)
  • The Wheel > (3/17/94)
  • All Along the Watchtower (3/17/94)

LP 3 (50 minutes - originally posted as “Dark Star Flashes” bonus disc):

  • Feel Like a Stranger (3/18/94)
  • Scarlet Begonias Jam > Fire on the Mountain (3/16/94)
  • Eternity Jam (3/17/94)
  • Playin’ in the Band > UJB Jam Conclusion (edit, 3/17/94)
  • Eternity Jam (3/21/94)

LP 4 (52 minutes - originally posted as “Dark Star Flashes”:

  • Dark Star (3/16/94, verse removed)
  • Victim or the Crime Jam (3/21/94)
  • The Other One (3/18/94)
  • Playin’ Jam > (3/30/94)
  • Dark Star (3/30/94)
  • Jamming Down the Road (3/21/94)


Talking Heads: Shortlist – December 11, 1980, Amsterdam

From August 1980 through February 1981, Talking Heads toured North America, Europe, and Japan as a gigantic band, making groundbreaking music. 

An entire show, including the tour’s whole setlist, is beautifully documented on the expanded version of “The Name of This Band is Talking Heads.” There are also several exciting live videos from the tour that you can easily find online.

From an audio quality POV, the Amsterdam soundboard stands out, both for clarity and for being quite a different mix than the one featured on “The Name of This Band is Talking Heads.”

The Amsterdam mix is notable, because it is not dominated by huge bass and drums, and massed vocals. Instead, the higher end of the percussion is emphasized, the guitars are quite prominent, and the individual vocalists are more discernible. 

That balance makes some songs fall flat, but it takes others into a fantastic, wiry, “Fear of Music” place. Those performances are featured on this mix, re-EQed somewhat to bring up the bottom end.

28-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Born Under Punches
  • Crosseyed & Hungry (edit)
  • Drugs
  • Warning Sign
  • Cities

You’ll find a couple of other weirdo Save Your Face Talking Heads experiments here.


Elvis Costello & The Attractions: GET HAPPY!! LIVE!! (1979-1981)

This 29-song live mix collects as many “Get Happy” songs as possible (16 of 20), plus contemporary non-album originals and covers that occupy similar territory (e.g., soul, R&B, Sun Studio rock). Four songs appear twice, three in contrasting arrangements, so 25 different songs are represented.

All material is unreleased, as far as I can tell.

This is my favorite era of The Attractions as a crack live combo. They were making up fabulous arrangements (and rearrangements) for dozens of songs at a furious rate, in a seemingly almost co-equal creative partnership. 

The 2003 Rhino reissues of this period’s albums provided a lot of great live bonus tracks, as well as amazing studio outtakes. Nonetheless, I’ve continued to want a big double live LP that captures the thing that these guys were pursuing between “Armed Forces” and “Trust.” 

Many thanks to @tywilc and @louchelarue for helping me find additional sources for this mix. I’ve had a half-baked version of it sitting around for a long time. Thanks also to the band for playing nine “Get Happy” songs in a row in Liverpool in February 1980. That performance makes up a large portion of LP2.

I’ve balanced the volume and made EQ tweaks to tamp down sources with high-end stab, to add a bit more dimension to flatter sources, or to reduce a noisy frequency band somewhere. 

There’s not much “album sequencing” on this mix. I kept songs from the same shows grouped together, so there would be as few sonic change-ups as possible, and then sorted them into two, LP-length sequences, both of which begin with "B-Movie."

All source dates, cities, and guest-musicians are noted in the song title tags.

85-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

LP 1:

  • B-Movie
  • So Young
  • Girls Talk
  • Don’t Look Back
  • Help Me
  • One More Heartache
  • Need Your Love So Bad
  • Little Sister
  • Temptation
  • Secondary Modern
  • Clowntime is Over
  • New Amsterdam
  • High Fidelity
  • Opportunity

LP2:

  • B-Movie
  • Sad About Girls
  • Big Tears
  • Motel Matches
  • Opportunity
  • I Stand Accused
  • Possession
  • King Horse
  • Girls Talk
  • 5ive Gears in Reverse
  • The Imposter
  • Human Touch
  • High Fidelity
  • I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down
  • Beaten to the Punch


The Clash: London Calling Live

This mix pulls together unreleased Clash performances to approximate a live version of the album “London Calling.” It includes 16 of the album’s 19 songs. The band does not appear to have played the other three in concert (“The Right Profile,” “Lovers Rock,” “The Card Cheat”).

It’s a challenge to make such a mix, due to the poor sonics of most Clash bootlegs and the infrequency with which some of the “London Calling” songs appear on recordings. A few songs appear only once or twice, in terrible quality. (I hasten to add that I'm not a Clash bootleg expert.)

Nonetheless, I think this mix manages to find exciting, clear performances of nearly every song, even if the original recording situation didn’t deliver a perfect mix or giant sonic punch. 

I’ve balanced the volume and sequenced the mix to gently step you through sonic changes, gradually losing dynamic range. At the start of the mix, you’re right in front of the stage. By the end, you’ve moved to the back of the theatre, into the lobby, and finally, with “Four Horsemen,” into the bathroom.

This mix owes a big debt to @a_mike_supreme, who supplied a considerable number of hard-to-find tracks and great versions, and then provided essential feedback on the first draft. 

Cover art by Pennie Smith.

51-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Clampdown (5/10/81 Amsterdam)
  • Train in Vain (5/10/81 Amsterdam)
  • Brand New Cadillac (6/9/81 NYC)
  • Spanish Bombs (11/27/82 Jamaica)
  • London Calling (9/21/79 NYC)
  • Koka Kola (9/21/79 NYC)
  • Jimmy Jazz (9/14/79 Chicago)
  • Guns of Brixton (3/8/80 Passaic, NJ)
  • Wrong ‘Em Boyo (2/27/80 Paris)
  • Lost in the Supermarket (5/22/83 San Antonio)
  • Revolution Rock (10/81 London?)
  • Death or Glory (5/19/83 Wichita Falls, TX)
  • Rudie Can’t Fail (3/7/80 NYC)
  • I’m Not Down (7/6/79 London)
  • Hateful (7/6/79 London)
  • Four Horsemen (8/4/79 Finland)

If you’d like to check out a live version of the album “Sandinista!,” you’ll find that right here!

The official live release, “From Here to Eternity,” contains versions of three “London Calling” songs: “Train in Vain” and “Guns of Brixton” from June 1981, and “London Calling” from September 1982.

The official release, “Live at Shea Stadium,” recorded October 1982, contains versions of the same three songs, plus “Spanish Bombs” and “Clampdown.”

The 25th anniversary edition CD of "London Calling" included The Vanilla Tapes, rehearsal sessions for the album. Spoiler: Even the murkiest of the live versions on this mix is probably better than anything on The Vanilla Tapes. 

And if you don't think the Clash's second album was possibly their best, try this version

The Grateful Dead: Ready for More? (new songs 1993-1995)

Listening to the recent Grateful Dead release, “Ready or Not,” revived my enthusiasm for the band’s final batch of original compositions. 

Dave Lemieux’s picks are excellent. Finding versions of some of these songs that can stand tall enough to serve as “the official version” is near impossible, but you’d hardly know that from the album. I don’t know what kind of crazy Venn diagram Dave has to dance through to get releases out, but he did a great job with this overdue album. Thanks, pal!

After spinning “Ready or Not” in my car for a week, I was still excited about the songs, but I wanted to change up the versions. 

So, I hunted through all the Save Your Face 1990s mixtapes to pull together additional tasty performances of the songs. I’ve compiled the best of those into the mixtape below. (I excluded tracks that I put on an earlier draft of the final album, “Liberty,” which was limited to March 1994 shows. This mix is a far better companion to "Ready or Not.")

The exciting discovery - once you get into a version-comparison situation – is that the band approached several of these songs quite differently over time. That means that I was able to choose some great performances that contrast strongly with those on “Ready or Not.”

The Grateful Dead: February 1973 Improvisational Highlights

This post offers a three-piece, chronological survey of improvisational Grateful Dead performances from their first seven shows of 1973 – February 9th to 24th – none of which have been officially released. Highlights of the last two shows of the month (2/26 & 2/28) were released as “Dick’s Picks, Vol. 28” (2003).

February 1973 was rough going for nearly all the many new songs the band was learning on-stage that month, and old standards weren’t often particularly tight or exciting, compared to late 1972 or later 1973.

However, the improvisational band leapt into 1973 with a big grin on its face – continuing its rapid expansion into the spaces opened up by Pigpen’s departure from the stage in mid-1972. (He died in March 1973). “Like a steam locomotive, rolling down the track,” the Dead were constantly departing and arriving in this period. 

This mix is a dense collection of February’s more exploratory passages. I included full (sung) songs and made instrumental edits as I saw fit, in order to avoid anything that got in the way of the overall momentum and quality.

The Grateful Dead: Terraplayin’ (1993-1994)

Pretend that Spotify recommended this music because you listen to a lot of Khruangbin.

I have smashed together more than two hours of improvisational segments from late 1993 and 1994 Grateful Dead performances of “Playin’ in the Band” and “Terrapin Station.” 

At the time, the approaches to those two songs’ jams were closely related, and together they represent one of the highlights of late, improvisational Grateful Dead. Slinky, fusion-y, blue-green, dance music.

Everything on this mix appeared on previous Save Your Face mixes. I made a rough-cut playlist, and it turned out to be great for everything from snow shoveling to copywriting – a Dead “mood” that both rewards close attention and functions as sophisticated wallpaper music. 

So, I decided to take out the remaining vocals and tidy up the edges. Many of the segues originated on the earlier mixes I pulled from, and I welded a few more things together for this mix. Some edits are good illusions and others will be obvious, but they help create a dramatic ebb and flow of the band's Playin’ dilations and Jam-Out-of-Terrapin concentrations. 

This is what the mix will look like in your music player, if you download the zipped mp3 file. Anything that’s named “Terraplayin’” is an edit of related performances, featuring at least one jam from each song. 

2h13m mp3 file zipped up here

Metal Box in Dub (PIL) - March 23, 2012 - Hebden Bridge

In 2012, founding PIL members Jah Wobble and Keith Levene reunited to form a touring band that played the PIL material they created together in 1978-1979. (Unable to use the PIL name, they were called Metal Box in Dub.)

To hear Wobble and Levene (bass/guitar) lock into these grooves again, for the first time in decades, is something else. And with no spitting punks or Lydon pressures to deter them, their band freely explored the jam-band potential of early PIL.

Players:

  • Jah Wobble: bass
  • Keith Levene: guitar
  • Nathan Maverick: vocals
  • Mark Layton-Bennett: drums
  • Sean Corby: trumpet

Lydon’s vocals are performed by the freakily on-point impersonator Nathan Maverick, plucked from “The Sex Pistols Experience” tribute band. Maverick has exactly the voice and flexibility of the young Lydon, so he can fluidly wail, keen, warble, and twist his way through Lydon’s wild, late-1970s vocalizations. 

A curation of Metal Box in Dub’s recorded performances would make a fantastic Record Store Day release. In the meantime, here’s a great-sounding, whole-show recording I managed to grab at the time of the tour. 

two-hour, mp3 file zipped up here

  • Graveyard
  • Theme
  • Annalisa
  • Careering
  • Poptones
  • Memories
  • No Birds
  • Death Disco
  • (band intro and crowd)
  • The Public Image
  • Low Life
  • (between-song chatter)
  • Understand
  • Albatross
  • (singer changeover)
  • Graveyard (vocals John Robb)
  • (thank you and goodnight)

There's plenty of YouTube video of this group playing live on various dates. You'll find informative press clippings and interviews from the time as well.

Letters from Latvala

I corresponded with Grateful Dead archivist Dick Latvala from early 1996 until sometime before his untimely death in 1999. This was approximately the period of “Dick’s Picks” volumes 4 through 11.

The first couple of years happened on 20th century terms, transacted in paper and cassettes and postage. I still have all those tangible artifacts. By the spring of 1997, we were both on e-mail – latvala@earthlink.net and jah6@acpub.duke.edu. Very little of the resulting electronic exchange remains. I found a few dust motes in the deepest reaches of my HD, which sprang back to life with the application a droplet of .txt extension. 

I was prompted to dig out my Latvala letters by the launch of the Latvala-tribute podcast, “36 from the Vault." I found a number of comments from Dick that shed light on his thinking at the time.

From Mailed Letters

2/11/96: “I, too, would stay in the 1971>1974 period for at least 20-30 releases! But, as you can imagine, variety will always be a variable to consider. So, it is almost an obligation to mix things up. Any help you might know about (for ex. shows from the 80s) would always be appreciated.”

3/6/96: Tombstone blurb – “Hi John, that was an amazingly accurate analysis of a whole bunch of things. I have never received such a knowledgeable & stimulating letter!” 

3/6/96: “I really can’t answer your questions, since these very issues are playing such a large part of what I think about all the time, when it comes to the question of what to release. So far, I’ve backed off ‘the whole show’ (but may still do so when it feels right!) concept. And I’ve thought quite a lot about eventually getting to the idea of 2-3 CD’s of the best of a run of 2-3 shows at any particular venue. But it still feels like there are some more possible releases in the style we have established. I surely will never get into the idea of a CD consisting of the ‘best versions’ of various songs or would I ever consider (unless righteously coerced) the best of a whole tour. But I do see something like a box set of Pigpen, or other bits & oddities that exist. Anything is possible.”

4/2/96: “I don’t have a terrible problem with releasing shows that aren’t complete shows, or even releasing the best of 2 or 3 nights at one venue. (Which is what 2/13-14/70 was an example) If someone wants the whole show, with all the ‘dead-air’ included, then he can simply get into tape trading.” 

4/2/96: “Your comments on the special-ness of hearing 2-3 conversations going on in the audience that is captured on tape, well I guess I will agree that it is ‘perverse,’ (no, a better work would be UNIQUE!). I, too, think that this is also cool and interesting & goes towards making each tape special in its own right…”

4/2/96: “What shows are you wanting to see released? I enjoy assimilating many opinions on this slippery subject.” 

4/2/96: “P.S. I couldn’t simply break up the 2/14/70 jam, and insert the 2/13 version of “We Bid You Goodnight,” into the 2/14 jam. That is really going too far. Imagine what kind of precedent that would establish!” 

4/2/97: “Your letter was a nice surprise. After digesting it, I have come to the conclusion that we should e-mail, or talk on the phone. I finally made the big jump into cyberspace, and I’ll bet you’re familiar with that territory. Anyway, I had a bunch of thoughts, but I’d rather get your attention in the ‘here & now” so to speak… I am 2 months into the computer, so I can barely get everything working properly, let alone start wandering around & learning stuff. My new e-mail address is: latvala@earthlink.net. See you, Dick”

And there the paper trail ends. We never talked on the phone. On my deepest HD, I found several emails from Dick.

From Emails

5/8/97: “I liked your selections for listening or should I say re-listening? 1985 isa year that I have forgotten a whole lot about.  there are some great 80's shows, but I really think that you are better off focusing your attention of the earlier years! I think it is important to get all of the shows from 1972-74. There are still a number of shows that I have not heard yet, and it is more than likely time to review all of my past reviews and see if I feel the same way about everything…”

5/8/97: “The question about the particulars of the vault… Rest assured that there is no damage as such. There are quite a few tapes missing throughout the years, but other than that things are in good shape. And what do you mean about this elusive "Eyes of the World", that is not getting on any DP's??? We haven't even gotten to the era where most of the great ones were performed! Or maybe I should say that we are just now getting to the proper era.”

5/9/97: “… I really think that you have a good idea about releasing something from the 2/19/71 through 8/26/71. Obviously, we have the multi-tracks from the Fillmore East shows in April 1971. But I am beginning to think there might be something else the might happen that would be a great surprise. We shall see. Got to go.”

5/21/97: “Today the video crew is coming out from Boston to interview me about the next "Dick's Picks". The announcement of what this release will be, is going to be made on 6/14/97, on VH-1, and on the internet and at our tape playing party at the Fillmore that night. After the disaster of how DP #7 was analyzed and dissected even before the release was made, we have easily come to the conclusion that we shall tell nobody ever again, and maybe just maybe Deadheads that do find out, will be able to keep their mouths shut so as to not spoil the surprise for the rest of us. We shall see.”

6/8/97: “Anyway, we only have 6 days before the big announcement of what the next "Dick's Picks" is going to be. I kind of wish that I was one of those out there that will get to experience the surprise, when it is announced on VH-1, this coming Saturday night. I'll talk to you soon, I hope.”

7/13/97: “P.S. I can almost absolutely guarantee that 9/27/72-Stanley Theater, N.J. will be a "pick" as soon as I can get back to that era. It only seems fair to open things up a bit now." (I was actually urging Dick to release 9/28/72!)

7/13/97: “PPS- I have to say that I'm pretty embarassed about that "infomercial" onVH-1, June 14. It was not at all the way I wanted to announce the winner of the date for the next "Dick's Picks". (5/2/70 that is) And I'm even more emotionally out of control about how much time was devoted to the show from Ithaca, N.Y. (5/8/77) I really am puzzled about why people want this show to be "officially" released, when there are perfect copies available from almost any taper. I think there are better shows from that era, even that month!”

From notes included with cassettes Dick sent me

8/14-15/71 (Berkeley, CA): “These two shows just recently surfaced, and they have never been in our vaults. A relative of an ex-employee who died seems to have been the source. I put together the highlights for each show on cassette. I hope it gets you as powerfully as it blasted me. The jamming on the 8/14 ‘Other One’ is some of the most exciting & screamiest music I’ve ever heard.” (9/7/97)

2/19/73 (Chicago, IL): “Hi John, thanks for sending me that interchange w/Pig. I decided to record over it with something that is PRETTY NICE.” (7/98) 

Dick was collecting combative exchanges between Pigpen and the engineers. He didn’t have a recording of the “cut your head off and shit in it” declaration from Pigpen – I don’t have any idea, now, when that was from (1971, maybe?) – but that’s the tape I sent Dick.

11/11/73 (Winterland, SF): “Well I thought that was a pretty clever way you got me to make you these tapes, so that you can make a good comparison. So, tell me what you think after analyzing the two types [sic?].” (4/27/98) 

The interesting part of this conversation is lost. We’d had an argument about this show’s “Dark Star,” which I revered, but which Dick didn’t think was too special. In that exchange, he asserted that “The Other One,” not “Dark Star,” was the acid test across the years. (That’s the quote I wish I had.) I remember sitting in front of my Mac Classic, pondering that very plausible assertion, which was counter-intuitive to me at the time. Eventually, I said that maybe the ambience of my particular, shitty, 11/11 tape, combined with my extensive, happy listening to it, had affected my judgement of the performance itself. So, Dick sent me a dub of the whole show to help me decide. 

Dick Latvala was an immensely loveable and generous person, who curated The Grateful Dead vault thoughtfully and enduringly. I barely knew him. All I have to offer regarding our correspondence, his comments on his mission, and my memories of the time, is in this post. 

I can only add that the overall vibe he consistently communicated was that he felt the way any deep Deadhead would feel, if they were suddenly charged with piloting the curation of The Grateful Dead’s vaults. He took it very seriously, he had some stage fright, he was the kid in the candy shop – tripping – and he loved input. 

Hello, again, Dick, and thanks.