Grateful Dead: Alpine Valley ’88 (6/23/1988)

This mix presents 74 minutes from the fourth and final show of the ’88 Alpine Valley run. It was the best of the four and is the only one with a good soundboard. 

These were the first shows I attended. Spread over five days, during a heat wave and drought, in the middle of nowhere, it was a massive tribal experience of the first order. I’d see better shows later, but I never experienced anything like this scene again.

The big deal of this show is the tremendous “Morning Dew.” I'm no "Hey Pocky Way" expert, but this is instantly my favorite version, with Brent on fire and the mix doing all the right things. The drummers are too thumpy on "Roses," but it's a pleasing version of a song that was uncommon in the later years.

I’ve struggled to get into 1988 via tapes, but the sweet spots of this show have given me a foothold. 

74-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Iko Iko
  • Hey Pocky Way
  • It Must Have Been the Roses
  • Bird Song
  • He’s Gone
  • Gimme Some Lovin’ >
  • All Along the Watchtower >
  • Morning Dew
  • Believe it or Not
  • Brokedown Palace

Grateful Dead: Summer Tour 1994 for Beginners

This mix condenses the Grateful Dead’s ’94 summer tour into a shortlist of performances of beloved, pre-1979 originals, totaling three hours – the length of a show.

This is a sub-curation of much more extensive Save Your Face mixes from the tour – part of our gentle, ongoing campaign to turn people on to the Dead’s final years. None of this music has been released.

If you’re dubious of, or barely exposed to 1994 Dead, then this is an easy gateway mix. If you dig it, there’s an October ’94 mix built on the same principles, which has been making Heads happy for several years.

These are all unedited SBD performances. The only slight cheat is the “Jam Out of Terrapin” from Chicago, which is possibly the most perfect version of this latter-day, delightful innovation. It augments an exceptional full “Terrapin” from a different show, which took a unique and long course of its own.

There are no vocal lapses, except for a brief “Stella Blue” event.

3-hour mp3 mix zipped up here (all dates and places included in the song title tags)

  • Cassidy
  • Bird Song
  • Black Peter
  • The Music Never Stopped
  • Eyes of the World
  • The Wheel >
  • Attics of My Life >
  • Sugar Magnolia
  • Wharf Rat
  • Estimated Prophet
  • MIDI Jam
  • Terrapin Station > Jam
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Jam Out of Terrapin
  • Stella Blue
  • One More Saturday Night

Grateful Dead: Paris ’74 (September 20-21, 1974 Palais de Sports)

This mix curates material from the two Paris shows of the Dead’s seven-show trip to England, Germany, and France in September 1974. The Paris shows were the last before the band's famous October run of "farewell shows" at Winterland. 

The three London shows were generously sampled on the official release “Dick’s Picks, Vol. 7,” which is augmented by this Save Your Face mix. The Dijon, France show was included in the “30 Trips Around the Sun” box set.

The unreleased shows are therefore Munich (9/14) and the two Paris shows sampled here.

The problem with the Paris tapes is that the soundboard mix doesn’t include Weir’s guitar. They are excellent performances, and the soundboards are otherwise quite nice… but most of the music just doesn’t make any sense without Weir’s rhythm, harmonics, and occasional featured-player passages. 

On the other hand, there’s also quite a bit of music that does deliver a robust, complete-feeling listening experience – the 1974 magic arriving nearly intact to surprise and delight. 

Weir’s guitar does show up here and there, most importantly on this great “Scarlet.” 

I’ve edited the lesser of the two “Eyes” to the final section of the jam, when the band had come to a full stop, then worked their way back into the jam. The “Uncle John’s” vocals were harsh, but the music cooked, so that’s presented as an instrumental. This is a notable Seastones for becoming a full band performance along the way. The few fake segues that were required worked out well.

September 20: 70-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Weather Report >
  • Let It Grow >
  • Stella Blue
  • Truckin’
  • Eyes of the World Jam >
  • Not Fade Away >
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad

September 21: 90-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Uncle John’s Band (instrumental edit)
  • Eyes of the World >
  • China Doll
  • Seastones > Full Band Freakout >
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Morning Dew

Grateful Dead Calendar: 1972-1974 Shows, Releases, and SYF Mixes

The calendar above shows all the dates on which The Grateful Dead played a concert between their Europe 1972 tour and their last show of 1974.

  • Black-boxed date: A show
  • Green highlighting: An official release (in whole, or a significant, curated part)
  • Yellow highlighting: A Save Your Face mixtape (including a significant portion of the show)

Note on the highlighting: If it is not absolutely obviously green, it is yellow.

Note on the black boxes: Look also for a dot below the date. A few dates got boxed by the shows around them, but were not show dates.

Quite a few dates have turned green since I first used this tool to track my 1972-1974 listening/curation project, three-five years ago. Additional Save Your Face mixes since then have turned numerous other dates yellow (Fall ’72 and September '74, mainly).

Credit to Dave Lemieux for dropping pins into spaces that were previously empty in the official release category. The only clusters of shows that are not well represented by official releases (green) are the last three months of 1972, likely due to poor soundboard mixes, and early 1973, likely due to sloppy playing. (Jams were great at both times, however.) Also, most September 1973 shows featured the horn section, which is both their appeal and a barrier to their release.

You can align dates with specific releases using this handy tool

Seeing the entirety of performances from this period (black boxed dates), all at once, always shocks me. For me, it’s the era of infinity Dead. Strange to see it rendered so finitely, with so many months with zero or few shows. 

Speaking of infinity, if you’re a 1972-1974 Head, SYF has some more esoteric comps to check out - just China>Rider jams, all the era’s Spanish & MLB jams, vast Dark Star mashups, summer ’73 Phil Jazz Jams, etc. There’s no way to put those on the calendar, but you can find most of them in the Thematic Exploration category of the library.

Grateful Dead: Curated Stream - Reno, May 1974

Four of the six shows the Dead played in their two-week May 1974 tour have been released (Missoula, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle). The two leftovers are the first and last shows of that tour (Reno, Santa Barbara).

I have previously maligned the opener in Reno on 5/12/74. 

The board mix and the band don’t get sorted until the 6th song, and there are numerous vocal errors in the following tunes.

The show’s only expansive improvisational moment is a bust: “The Other One,” is a dissolved affair that doesn’t have any classic passages. When it finally busts loose, the sound board is missing the bomb, and then Weir completely fries the verse. It then dwindles off into noodle space and nascent jamming that never gets going. Eventually a nice, short “Mind Left Body” happens.

However, I’ve since come to love 14 consecutive songs in the middle of the show – which unfold like a fantastic, two-hour, first set. The soundboard mix is wonderful. The band is clearly delighted to be playing again, manifesting enthusiasm all over the place. Lots of great between-song banter. 

So, if you want a real good, uninterrupted, time with the opening show of May ’74, I recommend that you press play on “Brown Eyed Women” and duck out again after “Nobody’s Fault.” 

Here’s the version I listen to on (Miller, of course.)

  • Brown Eyed Women
  • Beat It On Down the Line
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • El Paso
  • U.S. Blues
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • It Must Have Been the Roses
  • Me & Bobby McGee
  • Deal
  • Around and Around
  • Mississippi Half-Step
  • Truckin’ >
  • Nobody’s Fault Jam

For an equally-feisty encore, jump to the closing Sugar Magnolia.

Design Your Face: Concepts for Official Dead Releases

I asked twitter heads what kind of not-whole-show releases they would pay money for, and the replies were interesting and fun.

I’ve collected most of the them below, grouped into a few categories, so you can get a sense of interest in different areas.

It should be noted that the single replies that got the most likes were:

  • Donna Sings/Keith Plays (separate discs) (11 likes)
  • I think highlights from later years. Thinking 92-95 especially. (11 likes)
  • all the recordings that were done for the live parts of anthem of the sun (10 likes)

It should also be noted that numerous of people ignored the "not-whole-shows" aspect of the question and asked for more of them/boxes of them. Those replies aren't included here, but the fact that they happened underscores the strength of the whole-show mindset/market.

You can check out how people responded to the various ideas and add your own likes and thoughts onto the original twitter discussion right here

Player-Based Concepts

A "Donna Sings" CD. Highlighting Donna. And a "Keith Plays" CD.  Mix towards vocals and piano. Some isolated or high mix Keith long jam. And an Several minute Donna Playin mix.

Featuring Ned Lagin series.

“Get Yer Hands Out Your Pockets!” -  a focus on Pigpen’s singing and playing, and when he inspired great jams by getting everyone worked up then says “ok, play your guitars!”

Acoustic Focus

Acoustic dead

An obvious niche would be a collection of the best acoustic set songs.

Curated Releases from Multiple Shows

… a highlights package from a run or a few week stretch would be great..

Tour/run highlights. 

Great jam segments. Especially from the later years, and perhaps this approach might make some pre-87 80s releases possible in terms of vault contents and quality. 

I think highlights from later years.  Thinking 92-95 especially.  Like a box set of Boston Garden 94 highlights.  As one of many potential ideas

The following are presumably curated release concepts – not giant boxes of multiple whole shows:

  • Whole tour approach
  • Sequential years runs at a venue
  • Greek theater box set!!

Curation + Mad-Scientist Editing: Jams & Weirdness

Infrared Roses II. 

Plunderphonics/Greyfolded based on The Other One.

Interstitial zones- those in between places that are neither and both China & Rider, Scarlet & Fire, Estimated & Eyes, NFS & GDTRFB, St Stephen & The Eleven, Whatever & Whathaveyou...

I’d pay for a release of the isolated tracks of the instruments during the Playing in the Band and Dark Star from 8/27/72.

I had a dream last night that I bought an official feedback only mix 2xCD, so now it's all I want IRL

A Grayfolded-style mix of jams from songs with internal, bookended jams like cassidy/bird song/playin, etc on one disk. The other disc just outro jams like MNS, stranger, shakedown, etc.

More Drums/Space comps like 'Infrared Roses', but across time periods. Full jams, dubby/trippy mixes, whatever works.

Kind of like a road trips mix but slice and dice jams from the same songs together to make extended jams within a show or set of songs from a week of shows. This lends to a nice break with shorter songs that don’t normally have jams but allows the jam variation songs to shine

I would do a three disc instrumental jam box set called just the jams.

a mix that focuses on jams with song teases, that then segue into a totally different song

Would love a series of less than stellar but nonetheless interesting versions of songs. I'd even take a disc set of aborted songs and rip cord segues.

Patches. Really really good sbd > aud > sbd patches.

More Specific Concepts

all the recordings that were done for the live parts of anthem of the sun is on the top of my list.

Each studio album recreated with live performances of each song instead. It would be tough to nail down each song's best suited live version, and still kinda keep the album flow.

I would do song evolutions. Like, a collection of China Cat > Riders from early days through the 90s.

Thinking back to cassettes, we always had the Killer Philler. Single tunes that were fun covers, breakouts and bloopers.

Grateful Dead: TLEO Spring 1977 (10-version instrumental edit)

This mix is a 21-minute edit of all 10 Keith and Jerry “They Love Each Other” solo passages from April and May, 1977. Three tracks include only Garcia’s solo. 

It’s a wonderful, woozy conversation, in slow motion. They’re not quite two souls in communion. Keith is a little uptight and resistant, though flirtatious. Jerry’s just like, “Come on baby, let’s go downtown and have some fun.” Except for one night, when Keith was the horny one.

I did the best I could with the segues (jump cuts), given the combo of official sources and fan sources, including audience tapes. The sonic and mood shifts might actually enhance the drama of this dialogue going round in circles.

The download contains both a single-track (21-minute file) and an “album” made up of the 10 separate pieces - in case you want to poke around by date. The single-track file is tagged to become part of this mix, which includes similar edits of Spring ’77 performances of Peggy-O, Sugaree, and Brown-Eyed Women.

21-minute mp3 mix zipped up here (dates in tags)

Grateful Dead: The First Two May ’77 Shows (April 22-23, 1977)

The Grateful Dead’s first tour of 1977 began on Friday April 22, at Philadelphia’s Spectrum, followed the next night by a show in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

As always, it’s great to hear the Dead discovering themselves again after a break. Ahead of the Spring 1977 tour of the east coast and midwest, the band had only two live moments – February 26-27 in San Bernardino and Santa Barbara, and March 18-19-20 at Winterland in San Francisco.

What we think of as the distinctive, shiny 1977 Dead really gets underway on April 22, far from home, on the first night of a tour that would last more than a month and become “May ’77.”

I always zoom in to the improvisational material from shows that followed a break of any length, because it’s the band doing what comes naturally, versus the band getting together their tightness and sound for formal songs.

The first two shows of Spring ’77 find the band in a feisty, often aggressive, starting position, digging their teeth into the jams, and making sounds that are not yet May ’77, but which also contain the protean matter thereof. Lots of attention-drawing Keith playing.

Two obvious points of interest are the second and third performances of “Fire on the Mountain” (and of the transition from “Scarlet Begonias” into “Fire”). Everyone trying things out on the new song. Also, you will never hear another disco “Dancin’” like this “Dancin’ > Mojo > Dancin’” sequence. Out of bounds "Not Fade Away." Hot "Help > Slipknot! > Franklin's." A 20-minute "Playin'" that never breaks stride. Two hours well spent.

2-hour mp3 mix zipped up here (dates included in tags)

  • Scarlet Begonias > 
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Help of the Way > Slipknot! > (instr. edit)
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Dancin’ in the Streets Jam > Got My Mojo Working > Dancin’ in the Streets >
  • The Wheel
  • Scarlet Jam > Fire on the Mountain
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad >
  • Not Fade Away

Grateful Dead: Instrumental Eyes of the World (1974-1994)

This mix offers instrumental edits of eight performances of Eyes of the World, featuring many tempos and temperaments. The vocals appear once, in the middle of a long studio rehearsal edit from 1976. 

The aesthetic premise is to cut Eyes thematic jamming free from the song-structure and the vicissitudes of vocals. For instance, cocaine Eyes, minus cocaine singing. 

There aren’t many Dead pillows of grooviness as fine as Eyes. This mix overstuffs that pillow. One drummer and two. Keith, Brent, and Vince. The band and its members being all their different selves, across the decades, with their eye on this particular, happy place.

Cover art: Odilon Redon, “Closed Eyes” (1894)

100-minute mp3 mix zipped up here (tagged appropriately)

  • 6/8/74 (9:32)
  • 3/25/90 (8:55)
  • 5/76 (16:48, w/vocals)
  • 6/11/93 (8:00)
  • 11/5/79 (19:01)
  • 2/27/81 (6:03)
  • 9/11/74 (15:52)
  • 4/7/94 (17:14)

Sidetrips: Summer Evening (an eighties mixtape)

Since we’re heading into the season of the long, slow sunset, here’s a mix I created for that scenario 35 years ago. I was a prematurely sentimental-romantic-nostalgic type of person, about the finish college in Ann Arbor. The places I lived had exceptional views of the sunset. 

Started in 1985, the mix steadily expanded from one cassette to two-and-a-half-hours, then, around 2000, I sub-curated it into a single CD that I could burn. This is that version.

I and this mix are a mutually-reinforcing seasonal loop at this point. Is there an actual, coherent vibe that could work for anyone else in 2021? I have no idea. I make no excuses or apologies for this musical message from a different time (of me and the world). 

Try this for your own golden hour on some summer evening, and then make your own mixtape and share it back.

CD-length mp3 mix here

  • Spanish Moon (live): Little Feat
  • Fun to Be Happy: Love Tractor
  • Warm & Soothing: Kate Bush
  • Lions: Dire Straits
  • Orchid Girl: Aztec Camera
  • Wild Kingdom: Alex Chilton
  • The Ink in the Well: David Sylvian
  • Prisoners: The Rain Parade
  • North Star: Robert Fripp & Daryl Hall
  • In Your House: The Cure
  • Les Amoureux: Bill Nelson
  • Horizons: Genesis
  • Flesh #1: Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians
  • Thrasher: Neil Young
  • The Birth of the True: Aztec Camera
  • Evaporation: Shriekback
  • The Chauffeur: Duran Duran
  • Follow Me Home: Dire Straits
  • California: Joni Mitchell
  • The Charm of Transit: Bill Nelson

Cover: John Hilgart collage for the first cassette iteration of this mix, 1985.