LP 1 (46 minutes)
- Jam (Vancouver, BC 6-22-73) (8:28)
- Jam Inside Playin’ (Seattle, WA 5-21-74) (7:10)
- Jam > Mind Left Body Jam (Portland, OR 5-19-74) (9:49)
- Jam > Bass & Drums > Jam > Spanish Jam > Jam (Philadelphia, PA 3-24-73) (20:34)
LP 2 (46 minutes)
- Jam > Dark Star (Williamsburg, VA 9-11-73) (9:43)
- Mind Left Body Jam > Jam Inside Dark Star (Madison, WI 10-25-73) (5:23)
- The Other One Excerpt (Jersey City, NJ 9-28-72) (11:22)
- Jam Montage (San Francisco, CA 12-31-72) (14:25)
- Jam (Berkeley, CA 8-21-72) (5:07)
Aside from “space” (improv without meter), Grateful Dead improvisations that aren’t directly related to a particular song are rarer than you’d think, even in 1972-1974.
Most “Playin’ in the Bands” and “Other Ones” are comprised of space and more-or-less direct exploration of the songs’ themes. “Eyes of the World” jams have a wide dynamic range, but they’re still working their way through the same series of checkpoints, with rare exceptions. Likewise, "Bird Song" and "Scarlet Begonias." “Dark Star” is the most pliable, a song that is anchored but that is also often a “unique jam” without ceasing to be “Dark Star.”
The point of this compilation (and the one that preceded it) is to bring together material that is largely outside of all such song-based frameworks. Pure, spontaneous jamming, with a beat you can dance to.
I believe that everything (or nearly everything) I distilled for the first improvisation compilation I posted has been officially released within full shows. To the extent that many of those tracks sound like planned compositions, once you choose start- and end-points that isolate them, I'd say the Dead Vault Curators are doing a good job of making the most astonishing material available.
This second compilation comes entirely from “shortlists” of single shows that I have previously posted, which means that all of it is unreleased as of June 2017. (So, from my fake album blog's POV, this is “Improv Vol. 2,” but also “Best of Shortlists Vol. 3.”)
I have used this opportunity to once again promote a couple of passages of music that I adore, even though I would urge you to go listen to them in context. From May 19, 1974 in Portland, I’ve pulled an exceptionally buoyant jam that includes “Mind Left Body.” From September 28, 1972 in Jersey City, I’ve isolated an extended passage from “The Other One” that is “The Other One,” while also being something else altogether. Both are among my favorite Dead moments.
I have also scratched a long-standing itch and combined three improvisational passages from the long, multi-chaptered “The Other One” of New Year’s Eve 1972 that aren’t “The Other One.”
As always, tracks have been edited (start and end) to feel coherent and sequenced to provide some continuity – and everything is tagged to stand clearly apart from other “albums”/songs I’ve posted. For the CD burners among you, any compilation longer than 80 minutes is broken into/tagged as multiple "albums."