tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Save Your Face 2017-06-20T03:44:39Z John Hilgart, Proprietor tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1164717 2017-06-17T03:45:40Z 2017-06-20T03:44:39Z Improvisation 1972-1974 Vol. 2 (Best of Shortlists Vol. 3)

Zipped up file of mp3s here

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." 

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1163867 2017-06-14T15:34:20Z 2017-06-20T03:42:13Z Slipknot '74

Zipped up file of mp3s here

20 minutes:

  • Slipknot (out of Eyes 6-20-74) (5:34)
  • Slipknot (inside The Other One 2-23-74) (3:17)
  • Slipknot (within a longer jam 7-25-74) (5:22)
  • Slipknot (inside Playin’ 2-22-74) (4:27)
  • Slipknot (out of Eyes 10-20-74) (1:52)

Jerry Garcia introduced the “Slipknot” riff into the band’s live jamming five times in 1974, including the first and last shows of the year. These early appearances aren’t “Slipknot” proper, since the band is just doing whatever comes naturally at the time, but there’s some added satisfaction in hearing them all together, juxtaposed with the riffs and jamming modes of several different songs.

I have kept a fair amount of surrounding material on most of these edits, so the context isn’t lost, and you can hear the riff sliding in and out of the proceedings. So, this isn’t truly 20 minutes of “Slipknot,” but rather 20 minutes of jamming in which “Slipknot” keeps appearing.

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1163297 2017-06-12T21:41:35Z 2017-06-13T03:36:25Z Shortlist: October 25, 1973 – Madison, WI

Zipped up file of mp3s here

53 minutes:

  • Here Comes Sunshine
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Weather Report Suite
  • Playin’ in the Band jam

48 minutes:

  • Dark Star (including Mind Left Body) >
  • Space >
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Stella Blue

In addition to the great performance, this soundboard features a superb mix, including the vocals. There's only one excessively sour harmony moment in "Here Comes Sunshine." (The cut around the 9 minute point of "Playin'" was in my source.)

Dick Latvala discussed this show in his best of 1973 list:

Now we get to one of the all-time, out-of-this-world kind of shows: 10/25/73. I really can't say enough about this one! The first set is very good, but it is the second set that does you in. 

The "China Cat->Rider" is one of the better ones from that era when they used that transition material that people call "Tighten Up" and other names, and I am just as confused about this as the next guy. So, a detailed discussion about that wonderful "jam" occurring towards the ends of some "Dark Stars" from 1969 and 1970, (and which is stated as beautifully as I could ever hope to hear on 4/8/72- Wembley) and which also could be occasionally intimated during some versions of "Dancing in the Streets", that kind of discussion is something that I would like to learn more from some of you guys who have been investigating this. 

But not right now, since I need to finish gushing all over this Madison show. The "Dark Star->Eyes->Stella Blue" is where the action is! There are "jams" surrounding these songs that contain some very, very scary and unbelievable playing. A bass sound that Phil employs here will pretty much have you seriously thinking that this might be too much! Obviously, words will never get this described very well, at least not my words. The "Eyes" is another one of those "best versions" type of things.

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1161972 2017-06-08T22:03:35Z 2017-06-09T04:12:13Z Phil & Ned 1974

Zipped up file of mp3s here

70 minutes:

  • September 18
  • June 26 or 28
  • September 14
  • June 30
  • July 31

This compilation is purely for convenience's sake. I don't often want to listen to a Phil & Ned performance in the middle of Grateful Dead music, but my love of early electronic, minimalist, ambient, Krautrock, and other related music also makes me a fan of Phil & Ned. I quite enjoy 70 minutes straight, and I look forward to gathering together more sometime.

I am by no means an expert on all of their performances, and I don't think there was any method when I chose these five a year or two ago; I think I just wanted some isolated Phil & Ned. One criterion I did have was that no one other than Phil & Ned appeared. No cameos by Jerry or transitions into Dead Space are included here. 

(Pulled from released and unreleased shows, at least at the time I made it.)

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1161497 2017-06-07T13:42:49Z 2017-06-07T15:07:37Z Shortlist: February 23, 1974 - San Francisco, CA (Winterland)

Zipped up file of mp3s here

70 minutes:

  • Introduction
  • Here Comes Sunshine
  • Weather Report Suite
  • The Other One >
  • Eyes of the World
  • We Bid You Goodnight

1974 began with three isolated shows at Winterland in late February.  The third one was released as “Dave’s Picks” Vol. 13; this is the second one. It closes off 1973 to the extent that this is the final “Here Comes Sunshine” of the era. The way the vocals are mixed on this soundboard makes it one of the best sounding versions, overall. 

The highlight of the show is a long, mostly-quiet, but very powerful, slowly building stretch of exploration in the middle of “The Other One,” which eventually leads to some early “Slipknot” riffing.

The soundboard mix of this show is strange. At times, Jerry’s guitar is extremely quiet or vanishes altogether. Keith’s piano can also vary from absent to leading the mix. However, everything else about the sound is robust, and you won’t experience any deficits in the material I’ve pulled aside. 

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1160869 2017-06-05T16:40:06Z 2017-06-06T03:03:00Z Shortlist: June 8, 1974 – Oakland, CA

Zipped file of mp3s here

48 minutes:

  • China Cat Sunflower (instrumental edit) (7:14)
  • Eyes of the World (instrumental/extreme edit) (9:35)
  • Scarlet Begonias (instrumental edit) (2:39)
  • Playin’ > Wharf Rat > Playin’ (instrumental edit) (28:30)

As a whole, this show and soundboard are a fairly rough listen, but when the band is stretching out instrumentally, the sonic sketchiness disappears. As with many shows that I’ve cut down and posted here, we await a crisp, properly-mastered SBD release to learn just how good the mix, the show, and the individual songs really are. 

What I post often isn’t a comprehensive judgement on the quality of every song from a show, or even the show as a whole; in addition to the performance itself, I’m picky about the mix and any generational degradations of the fan-circulated version that get in the way of my repeat listening enjoyment.

Anyhow, my pickiness has resulted in serious trimming of this show. I’ve taken all the vocals sections out of everything I’ve pulled aside. I realize that this might just annoy visitors to this site.

The great thing in this show is the “Playin’” jam, which gets pretty close to legitimate free jazz – and this is one of only two “Playin’ > Wharf Rat > Playin’s” from this period, the other being 11/21/73. It’s pretty satisfying to hear the whole thing as an instrumental. (They may be surreptitiously tuning up as they transition to “Wharf Rat.” There was a lot of tuning during this show.)

The “Scarlet Begonias” and “China Cat” edits may seem gratuitous, but the playing is very good, and the mix stands up. Without the vocals, “Scarlet” shrinks to the size of “Me and My Uncle!” 

I went further with “Eyes of the World,” in which the first two of the three synchronized riff moments are train wrecks. I took them out, leaving just the third one, but keeping the two big rushes coming out of the first and second ones. It works surprisingly well.

In short, I took a butcher’s knife to this show, but at least the result is 48 straight minutes of June 1974 jamming - and they don't screw up the "Eyes" jam.

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1159442 2017-06-01T02:03:26Z 2017-06-02T17:42:18Z Shortlist: June 30, 1973 – Universal City, CA

Zipped file of mp3s here

Part 1 (52 minutes):

  • They Love Each Other
  • Jack Straw
  • Beat It on Down the Line
  • Ramble on Rose
  • Bird Song
  • Black Peter
  • Playin’ in the Band

Part 2 (43 minutes):

  • Dark Star >
  • Space >
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Stella Blue

This 20-minute “Eyes of the World” is generally excellent, but it goes above and beyond in the final stretch: They hit the synchronized riff in the jam a fourth time, after bringing things down to a hush, via a Keith-centric jam - only to return to full-out jamming for a couple more minutes. All 11 minutes of the "Dark Star" are focused and forward moving, while also having quite a few distinct, dynamic little passages. "The Bird Song" is a very light, dreamy one. 

These songs and the others listed above escape a problem that plagues much of the rest of the recording of the show. The mix (as encoded on the circulating soundboards) has Garcia’s guitar so low that it vanishes sometimes and is never out front. I explored a matrix recording, in case it brought Jerry up significantly, but it didn’t. Many songs just sound incomplete, because the shy lead guitarist is standing at the back of the stage, using a tiny amplifier. Songs like “Row Jimmy” can’t lock up into a groovy mechanism with one of the interdependent gears all the way back there.

However, the frustrating mix doesn’t always get in the way. Sometimes Jerry is quiet, but the whole comes together nicely anyway. Other times, the spaces afforded by the song and arrangement (or jam) naturally give his guitar more room to stand out, and you hear the music complete, without making an effort. 

Beyond the guitar volume issue, this SBD has a rich, round sound, and the vocals and vocal mix throughout are way above average. What the mix loses of Jerry’s guitar is more than made up for in its warm embrace of his vocals.The "Black Peter" and "Stella Blue" are both treats in this respect.

The space after “Dark Star” segued directly into the opening of “Eyes” in the show itself (and on audience/matrix recordings), but my SBD fades out shortly before that transition. Sorry about that. I promise that not much is missing and that the clean SBD source is what you want to get familiar with.

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1158396 2017-05-29T03:49:30Z 2017-05-29T19:08:06Z Summer ’74 (Best of Shortlists Volume 2)

Zipped up file of mp3s here

LP1: 44 minutes

  • Bertha (Roanoke, VA 7-27-74)
  • Deal (Seattle, WA 5-21-74)
  • Jack Straw (Roanoke, VA 7-27-74)
  • To Lay Me Down (Miami, FL 6-23-74)
  • Peggy-O (Springfield, MA 6-30-74)
  • Ramble On Rose (Vancouver, BC 5-17-74)
  • Let It Rock (Miami, FL 6-23-74)
  • Casey Jones (Santa Barbara, CA 5-25-74)

LP2: 43 minutes

  • Cumberland Blues (Springfield, MA 6-30-74)
  • Dire Wolf (Springfield, MA 6-30-74)
  • It Must Have Been the Roses (Seattle, WA 5-21-74)
  • The Race is On (Vancouver, BC 5-17-74)
  • Tennessee Jed (Santa Barbara, CA 5-25-74)
  • One More Saturday Night (Springfield, MA 6-30-74)
  • Ship of Fools (Chicago, IL 7-25-74)
  • Brokedown Palace (Roanoke, VA 7-27-74)

(12 of these songs come from previously-posted curations of individual shows, and the other four are new to this blog. All from unreleased shows, as of May 2017.)

This second “best of shortlists” is a little different from the first one. Instead of pulling particularly excellent performances from across 1972-1974, I’ve tried to distill something specific that I like about the middle of 1974.  The performances here come from May, June, and July. 

To emphasize this thing I like, I’ve selected mostly compositions that they started playing when they were the country and western band and the tight Europe ’72 unit. 

By 1974, on the right night, any one of these songs could shed its habituated execution and become a pliable, loping groove, the band locked into a magical zone of easy-going syncopation, inspired detailing, and sweet singing. It’s 1974 Dead at their fluid best, taking full possession of these older “small numbers.” Five players listening intently to each other, and strolling, striding, or bounding across the compositions with patience and joy. 

(The "Sugar Magnolia" on my first "best of" mix would fit right in here, too.)

In pursuit of my goal, I’ve included some songs with minor vocal flubs (“Bertha,” “Dire Wolf,” “Ramble on Rose," "Casey Jones"), but these moments didn't deter the band, so they probably won't deter you.

This mix also features songs that were rarely played during the Spring/Summer ’74 tours: “Brokedown” (once), “Dire Wolf” (twice), “Cumberland” (three times), and “Peggy-O” (four times). This is the only time they played “Let It Rock.”

In short, this is an imaginary 90-minute album of an imaginary mid-1974 first set that I would jump the watchman for, right outside the fence.

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1157621 2017-05-26T14:42:16Z 2017-06-07T16:17:05Z Best of Shortlists Volume 1

78-minute mp3 download here

  • They Love Each Other (Philadelphia, PA 3-24-73)
  • Sugar Magnolia (Santa Barbara, CA 5-25-74)
  • Row Jimmy (Chicago, IL 7-25-74)
  • Stella Blue (Berkeley, CA 8-21-72)
  • Friend of the Devil (Berkeley, CA 8-21-72)
  • Mississippi Half-Step (Roanoke, VA 7-27-74)
  • Sugaree (Vancouver, BC 6-22-73)
  • China Doll (Miami, FL 6-23-74)
  • Scarlet Begonias (Springfield, MA 6-30-74)
  • Looks Like Rain (Williamsburg, VA 9-11-73)
  • Ship of Fools (Portland, OR 5-19-74)
  • U.S. Blues (Portland, OR 5-19-74)

It appears that I’ve got twenty 1972-1974 shows “shortlisted” on this blog – totaling close to a day and a half of music! Almost every song performed post-Europe ’72 is represented in one or more versions, though there are some glaring holes and instances where what I’ve got isn’t truly amazing.

This mix compiles what I think are some of the greatest hits of the shows I’ve surveyed so far, in the category of non-jam songs, with a strong slant toward compositions that were new in 1973-1974. 

I will admit that I think that this is a great mix, but it is disappointing that with all the shows I’ve scrutinized, there aren’t more versions of every song contending for greatest hits status. I've been trying to be rather rigorous when I pull stuff aside, but I’d like to be able to say, “That was fucking amazing,” more often.

Perhaps the conclusion to draw from this experience is that there should be more official albums like this mix: “Live Versions 1973-1974.” You can’t choose from among five great “Dark Stars” and six great “Other Ones,” etc. but you can – and probably should – choose from among ten “U.S. Blues” or ten “Mississippi Half-Steps.” With carefully structured songs, either the band (and the recording) shows you everything the song has to offer, or it doesn’t. I think of the band’s performances of each song as a series of “takes”; some takes are bad, some are okay, some are very good, and some belong on the album. 

Hopefully you’ll agree that the takes I’ve compiled here are album-worthy. 

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1156243 2017-05-22T14:37:30Z 2017-05-22T19:26:08Z Shortlist: July 25, 1974 – Chicago, IL

75-minute mp3 download here

(Re-uploaded file to fix a screwup in the original one.)

  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Row Jimmy
  • Ship of Fools
  • Uncle John’s Band (instrumental edit)
  • Dark Star >
  • Jammy Space >
  • Jam (w/Slipknot riffing) >
  • Stella Blue
  • Let It Grow
  • Sugaree

This is one of the most noncommittal “Dark Stars,” with no verses and only holding together for six minutes. Nonetheless, those six minutes are delightful in the same way as the drifty “Dark Stars” of 11-11-73 and 10-18-74. The dissolve that follows is anticlimactic to me, in the sense that things go from barely there to nowhere – but it’s also somewhere, in the sense that the band rubs up against “Dark Star” a couple more times, while deliberately not playing it. If you want a more cohesive experience, just skip over what I’ve called “Jammy Space,” and you’ll jump pretty seamlessly from the “Dark Star” theme to an extended stretch of more vigorous and varied jamming. It spaces out in places, too, but eventually ends up featuring some early “Slipknot” riffing.

I’m always particularly interested to find versions of “Row Jimmy” and “Ship of Fools” that I love, and both of these seem strong to me. The “Ship of Fools” was the encore, and it’s got some extra oomph as a result. 

Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is. 

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1153352 2017-05-11T22:02:32Z 2017-05-22T18:34:13Z Shortlist: Berkeley ’72 – August 20-21

Folder containing two zipped files of mp3s here

Monday (73 minutes)

  • Introduction
  • Friend of the Devil
  • Sugaree
  • Stella Blue
  • He’s Gone
  • Dark Star >
  • Space >
  • Keith’s Jam
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Introducing Keith and Donna
  • Playin’ in the Band

Tuesday (70 minutes)

  • Birdsong (instrumental edit)
  • All That Top 40 Shit
  • The Other One
  • Not Fade Away >
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad >
  • Hey Bo Diddley > Not Fade Away
  • Playin' in the Band

Immediately before their famous 8-27-72 performance in Veneta, Oregon (released as “Sunshine Daydream”), The Dead played four shows over five nights at the Berkeley Community Theater (August 21, 22, 24, 25).

It would have been fun to sift all four into a fake road-trip boxed set, but I don’t have a personal copy of the fourth show, and the third one – on the 24th – is so impressively, consistently strong, that you should just go listen to it on archive.org.

So, here’s a shortlist of material from the first two shows, on Monday and Tuesday of that week.

Both shows have a sort of “B+” quality overall, with many songs having little vocal screw-ups or wobbly moments, while still being perfectly fine performances. I didn’t include stuff like that.

Monday (8-21) is the more impressive of the two, with great performances of some “routine” numbers, plus a “Dark Star” sequence that musician Henry Kaiser called out for special praise in a “Deadbase” review a long time ago. The bit I’ve titled “Keith’s Jam,” is delightful and, I think, unique. This is a very early, sweet, and confidently-executed “Stella Blue” (the 8th?), and both it and “He’s Gone” were stand-alone first-set songs this night. This "Friend of the Devil" is the hardest, most fiestily-played version I know. The “Playin’” jam is great. Definitely a show of note, in terms minutes of excellence. 

Tuesday (8-22) presented less gold to me. “The Other One” is long (30 minutes!) and engaging, though without the cohesion and melodic reach of something like 9-28-72. In contrast the “NFA > GDTR > NFA”  is compact and focused, with a "Hey, Bo Diddley" insertion that breaks the momentum a bit, but the novelty of its occurrence and the Garcia soloing that ensues compensate for that! 

The only performance I #@$%ed with is the Tuesday “Birdsong,” which I was on the fence about, due to bad harmony vocals, so I eventually split the difference and included an instrumental edit. 

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1151914 2017-05-05T19:09:12Z 2017-05-22T14:40:31Z Shortlist: December 1, 1973 – Boston, MA

55-minute mp3 download here

  • Weather Report (instrumental edit) (2:42)
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (14:51)
  • Big River (5:14)
  • This Lame Trip 1 > (2:40)
  • Me & My Uncle > (3:20)
  • This Lame Trip 2 (2:14)
  • Playin’ > Uncle John’s Band > Playin’ (instrumental edit) (23:41)

You might well ask how I ended up with only 55 minutes from a 3.5 hour December ’73 show. Well, many songs are just okay or include little flubs and hesitations that make them less than exemplary performances. Additionally, when everyone is singing, it’s generally a mess of yowling and non-harmonizing, stabbing you in the head through a crystal clear SBD mix. 

But these 55 minutes, at a minimum, are completely excellent. 

“This Lame Trip” is an astonishing, and at times even virtuoso, stage banter performance featuring Phil, Bobby, and Jerry, often with spontaneous musical accompaniment.  “This Lame Trip 2” is one of best improvisations of the show. (The situation was that the police wanted the aisles of the stadium cleared.) The band also prevents Bobby from promising that they will re-learn "St. Stephen." 

The two cowboy songs are both crackling, and the "China > Rider" is a grand one.

The improvisational highlight of this mix is a "Playin' > UJB > Playin'" from which I've removed the vocal sections and segued a continuous jam. The harmonizing on "UJB" is acutely painful on this version, but musically it's an outstanding example of this particular song sequence: Without ever spacing out, the "Playin'" jam leads directly into and extended exploration of the "Uncle John's Band" theme, and as usual, "Playin'" reemerges smoothly out the end of the "UJB" jam. So, with such painful vocals, this seemed like the right version of this sequence to turn into an instrumental jam. It flows from the first note of "Playin'" through the last note of the "Playin'" reprise without any singing and without wandering into any deep space. 

I also made an instrumental edit of the show’s “Weather Report Prelude > Part 1.” The harmonies were very bad here, too, and there were a couple of stumbles during the verses. However, the playing on this version seems extra meaty to me (rather than thin and spindly) – almost “Stella Blue”-like – so I did my best to create a stand-alone instrumental piece. 

If you like these instrumental edit experiments, there are a bunch of them here

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1151515 2017-05-04T04:58:40Z 2017-05-29T04:12:29Z Improvisational Highlights: June 30, 1974 – Springfield, MA

67 minute mp3 download here

  • Scarlet Begonias (7:51)
  • Truckin’ Jam > Approach to Eyes > (8:59)
  • Eyes of the World > (15:29)
  • A Mostly Quiet Space (7:40)
  • Playin’ in the Band Jam (9:40)
  • Not Fade Away > (9:59)
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad (7:28)

This is an excellent show, very much worth a full listen on archive.org. Including “Seastones,” it’s 3.5 hours long, with very few lame spots. This mix just brings together some improvisational highlights.

(Update: You can get four fantastic first set songs here.)

There are two portions that strike me as particularly notable: 

1) A subtle “Truckin’” jam gradually finds its way to an unorthodox start to “Eyes,” and then the “Eyes” jam is one of those lower-key noodly ones, but it still manages to hit the synchronized riff climaxes accurately and sail out of them with great propulsion. It then proceeds into a wonderful, mostly-minimalist space led by a Garcia solo.

2) The “Not Fade Away” jam goes to places that are unfamiliar to me. The riff and rhythm are bent completely out of shape by the end. 

The “Scarlet Begonias” doesn’t hold any unique revelations, but it’s from the first month that the song was expanded to include several minutes of jamming, and it’s delightful.  

Again, this show is worth listening to in full,  but if you particularly want to spend time with some high-level improvisation, this highlights reel should please you. 

With the exceptions of presenting only the forward-moving part of the “Playin’” jam and skipping the song part of “Truckin’,” this is all as-played. 

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1151168 2017-05-03T01:37:45Z 2017-05-11T08:48:40Z Shortlist: May 21, 1974 – Seattle, WA

75-minute mp3 playlist here

  • Scarlet Begonias (5:14)
  • Beat It on Down the Line (3:13)
  • The Race is On (2:59)
  • Deal (4:39)
  • Let It Grow > (10:50)
  • China Doll (5:30)
  • Playin’ in the Band (jam excerpt) (7:10)
  • Eyes of the World > (13:49)
  • Wharf Rat (9:43)
  • It Must Have Been the Roses (5:25)
  • Ship of Fools (missing start) (5:41)

This show is known primarily for its 45-minute “Playin’ in the Band.”  You can listen to that on archive.org anytime; I have included a seven-minute excerpt from its jam here, which I think you'll want to hear more often than the whole.  Otherwise, my attention is on the rest of the show, which is excellent. 

I really enjoy May 1974 as a whole, with the exception of the Reno show. And aside from that Reno show, I believe I've now posted a shortlist of all of the month's unreleased concerts. Nothing beats 5-19-74, IMO, but they all contain wonderful stuff.

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1150493 2017-04-30T17:50:54Z 2017-05-11T08:48:51Z “Blues for Allah” Rehearsals – 1975 (improved 2nd edition)

This is a replacement for mixes I previously posted (now deleted). See notes below the track lists.

Folder containing six zipped files of mp3s available here.

1: Sketch of Allah #1 (62 minutes)

  • Help on the Way > Slipknot > Franklin’s Tower (“stunning”) (14:46)
  • Stronger Than Dirt (with conclusion) (7:25)
  • Primordial Crazy Fingers (“Distorto”) (8:15)
  • The Music Was a Jam (11:29)
  • In Search of Allah (19:53)

2: Low-Key Investigations (76 minutes)

  • Paging Getz & Gilberto (1:01)
  • Ace’s Riff (6:36)
  • Sleepy Desert Jam (14:25)
  • Beautiful Song (2:26)
  • Descent into a Spacey Place (7:12)
  • Homeward Through the Haze (7:58)
  • Supple Lightning (4:49)
  • Stronger Than Dirt (low-key) (2:06)
  • Ace’s Riffsong (edit of four pieces of three takes) (4:24)
  • Noodle on the Mountain (23:00)
  • The Music Almost Stopped (:44)
  • The Drunk Lounge Band from Ipanema (1:57)

3: Grooves (79 minutes)

  • Supplication Groove (“Groove" #1 full-length) (14:54)
  • Maybe This Town Has Got Some Heart (“Groove #2” full-length) (10:07)
  • A to E-Flat (full-length) (16:37)
  • Photo 18 Proper (full-length) (11:30)
  • Funky Plunky (5:07)
  • What if the Music Never Stops? (20:49)

4: Sketch of Allah #2 (53 minutes)

  • Help on the Way Jam > Looseknot (8:10)
  • Slipknoodle (1:09)
  • Franklin’s Tower (slow version) (6:37)
  • The Nines > Jam (“Orpheus”) (16:45)
  • Blues for Allah > Stronger Than Dirt” (14:50)
  • Low Down Payment Blues (5:25)

5: Full of Dirt (47 minutes)

  • Stronger Than Dirt (whimsical Keith) (1:48)
  • Longer Than Dirt (10:16)
  • The Nines 2 (9:39)
  • Stranger Than Dirt > Space > Stranger Than Dirt (6:26)
  • Help on the Way > Slipknot #1 (looser) (7:57)
  • Franklin’s Tower (encouraged muttering) (4:48)
  • The Nines 1 (5:10)

6: Sketch of Allah #3 (67 minutes)

  • Help on the Way > Slipknot #2 (speedy, tight) (6:08)
  • Franklin’s Tower (“Ow!” conclusion) (4:48)
  • Blues for Allah > Stronger Than Dirt > Closure (“The First Day”) (21:35)
  • Jam (23:45)
  • Crazy Fingers (studio instrumental) (6:51)
  • Hollywood Cantata (early Music Never Stopped) (4:15)

I previously posted a series of compilations of this material, but I did it hastily, didn’t think it through, posted stuff before I was finished, and made a number of unforced errors. If you downloaded that stuff, I advise you to move it to your trashcan and grab this instead. (Sorry!) There’s even more delightful material in this edition, and the presentation (sonic and sequential) is much improved.

The objective of this set is to distill a vast swath of fairly unapproachable, overlapping bootlegs into something that you can just put on, enjoy, and get to know. I'm confident of its usefulness until The Dead bring out a big, definitive boxed set. 

The result is about 6.5 hours of material from about 11 hours of bootlegs and other sources that I had available. It’s divided up into six “discs,” each of which is intended to provide a pleasurable, non-repetitive listening experience. I recommend spending time with 1-to-3 first, then proceeding to 4-to-6. Material on the latter three is just as interesting (mostly), but you risk repetition-fatigue if you dive into all six at once, IMO. That was the problem with the original bootlegs. Of course, you can choose your own adventure through all of it.

After identifying the material that I thought was distinctively delightful, I trimmed off all the dead air/noodling, rebuilt some long jams that were sliced up on the bootlegs, did some mild EQ-ing to bring muffled/shrill tracks into line, volume equalized it all (fairly well), and tried to title everything in a way that was musically accurate and provided ways to tell versions of the same song or theme apart. I started with 192kbps mp3s, so that’s what I outputted after editing. Lossy but delicious, I assure you. 

I have included unedited versions of the material released on the expanded editions of “Blues for Allah” and “Reflections,” (adding 2-10 minutes to those tracks that were edited) as well as the long recording known as “The First Day,” and three tracks from The Grateful Dead Hour that include David Crosby and Ned Lagin, while lacking Weir and Godchaux. Everything is from bootleg sources, except two tracks taken from the expanded “Allah” release and "Orpheus" from the expanded "Reflections" (because they were complete there and sounded better).

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1150230 2017-04-29T02:47:52Z 2017-05-11T08:49:09Z Shortlist: September 10, 1972 – Hollywood, CA

80-minute mp3 download here

  • Dark Star (20:41)
  • Sing Me Back Home (9:30)
  • He’s Gone Jam (4:57)
  • Truckin’ (12:26)
  • Jam (6:07)
  • Black Peter (8:48)
  • Playin’ Jam (16:47)

This show has a large amount of excellent improvisational playing, which I’ve boiled down to an 80-minute sequence. 

I find most of the vocals hard to listen to on this show, due to some combination of the mix and the distortion in (what seems to be) the best circulating SBD source. It’s also a show with some technical difficulties and some slop.

But these 80 minutes – boy howdy! Great playing from a month of great playing. 

The “Dark Star” is top-drawer, feisty out of the gate and jamming widely before the verse, 20 minutes later. The inspiration and pace don’t flag anywhere else, either. It’s one of those shows where every time the band jumped into jam mode, they hit the ground running and then stayed intent on their course.  

There’s some guest guitar from David Crosby in here. 

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1146726 2017-04-16T03:33:09Z 2017-05-02T23:36:47Z The Final Face (1989/1991)

Update: This post was/is of a Frankenstein show I constructed out of the best unreleased material I saw live and that I have in good recordings. It's from Ann Arbor, April '89, with "Dark Star" from Greensboro, April '91 added in. Since posting it, I regretted the inclusion of a lame "Wharf Rat" and the louder, duller sound of the Greensboro recordings. So, I EQ-ed the "Dark Star" to sound more like the Ann Arbor material – and that sonic matching, plus the deletion of "Wharf Rat," led to a more exciting running order for the second half.

So, edition #2 is a better experience than my original post - and it's as close as I can come to pretending that I saw a 1974 second set. 

mp3 download here

Part 1:

  • Feel Like a Stranger  8:15
  • Brown Eyed Women  4:55
  • Bird Song  13:14
  • Let It Grow 11:41
  • China Doll  6:50
  • Scarlet Begonias >  9:31
  • Fire on the Mountain  12:08

Part 2:

  • Dark Star  12:34
  • The Other One  7:47
  • Playin’ in the Band  12:45
  • Dark Star > Playin’ Jam  7:25
  • Playin’ in the Band Reprise  3:53
  • Not Fade Away  11:25

Original Post: 

Lest anyone assume that this blog implies that I only appreciate a few years of the Dead’s history, here’s an outlier post. I saw live Dead from 1988 to 1993. In there was the final renaissance, from 1989 through Brent Mydland’s death in 1990, with some post-Brent afterglow, before Bruce Hornsby dropped off. 

I see a tendency to define the October 1989 “Warlocks” shows, when certain classic songs returned, as the starting point of the band’s final resurgence, but my own experience back-dates that spryness to the spring of 1989. 

Of the unreleased shows I saw in that period, Ann Arbor April 1989 seems to be the best - two shows that between them hit a lot of the songs you particularly want to hear, with excellent, extended jamming. These shows were my first exposure to genuinely great in-person Dead music, my previous shows having been creaky-to-okay post-coma affairs. 

The last great live Dead performance I saw was at the other end of their final peak: "Dark Star" on April Fool’s Day in 1991, in Greensboro, NC. The rest of that show was nothing special, but the only "Dark Star" I saw turned out to be one worth pulling aside. Brent's gone, and there wasn't any full recovery from that, but perhaps because "Dark Star" is "Dark Star," and the band was game, and they hadn't played it in 15 shows, this one hits some very fine places, and the slow build to the reprise is quite delightful. Close to 20 minutes, all told.

Here I’ve joined together all that material in a pseudo-album format. (Dates/cities included in tags for all song titles.) If these late years are unknown to you, this is a fine introduction to a period that in my mind is not impossibly distant from '77. Once again, we have a tight, enthusiastic, funky, reliable band that likes to lock into a bouncy place and hang out there for a while. If the '89-'91 bounce works for you, you're going to be happy straight through Stranger, Birdsong, Let It Grow, Scarlet-Fire, Dark Star, Playin', and Not Fade Away. 

I'm also of the opinion that Weir's guitar playing - always the decisive spice in the GD mix for me - got increasingly interesting after the '70s, so one benefit of the Dead's final flowering is a band that was as into it as Weir. The SBD mix for most of the Ann Arbor material is excellent, and Weir's playing really shines.

John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1088559 2016-09-10T05:20:54Z 2016-10-08T16:57:02Z Steal Your Voice: Instrumental Versions 1972-1974

76-minute 192kbps mp3 download (4th edition)

Vocal-free versions of:

  • Here Comes Sunshine (8:16)
  • Loose Lucy (4:26)
  • Johnny B. Goode (1:41)
  • Promised Land (1:51)
  • Scarlet Begonias (7:10)
  • China Cat Rider (9:16)
  • Big River (2:42)
  • Let It Grow (5:32)
  • Bird Song (9:32)
  • Eyes of the World (7:46)
  • Playin' in the Band (17:57)

All from unreleased shows, with all original source dates contained in mp3 tags. 

This compilation is the counterpart to another mix I posted that is comprised of remarkable Grateful Dead improvisational passages that aren't related to any song – that just happened once. In this version, The Dead play their familiar, formal compositions, but they leave out the words.

The edits here preserve almost every note of the original performances, except the sung sections. Verses/choruses have been edited out and the surrounding musical movements seamed together to keep music flowing without disruption. The only exceptions are the final vocal reprises of “Here Comes Sunshine” and “I Know You Rider,” because only they resolve the songs.

It's both startling and familiar to hear The Dead working through the changes of all these songs, as if the truck carrying the microphones had been delayed, and they decided to go on with the show. The funny thing is that you already know these songs in this way. How each one starts, how it gets to every verse, and how it leaps out of every verse into an instrumental break that has different rules than the others. 

I made these edits in order to hear those songs within the songs, performed by a jazzy combo that hardly needs to play the melody straight once, before both bending it all out of shape and guiding it through a structured build and resolution. And indeed The Dead were that band, and this is an imaginary concert they performed in the early 1970s. 

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1088256 2016-09-09T12:19:34Z 2016-10-08T16:57:10Z Shortlist: September 11, 1973 – Williamsburg, VA

    Ladies and gentlemen… Bob Weir and The Grateful Dead.

    75-minute 192kbps mp3 download

    • Looks Like Rain
    • Message to Shouters
    • Weather Report Suite: Prelude > Part 1 >
    • Let It Grow (with horns)
    • Let Me Sing Your Blues Away (with horns)
    • Mississippi Half-Step
    • Jam > Dark Star
    • Jack Straw
    • The Race is On
    • Beat It On Down the Line
    • Playin’ in the Band

    Between recording “Wake of the Flood” during the first half of August and the album’s release in mid-October, The Dead played eleven shows in September, all but the first two of them featuring the album’s horn players (Martin Fierro and Joe Ellis) on three songs. ("Eyes of the World" with horns debuted the night after this show.)

    Williamsburg was the first horns show, featuring the 2nd ever performance of “WRS Prelude > Part 1” and the 3rd ever performance of “Let It Grow.” Probably because they’d just been rehearsing and recording these compositions, this is one of the tightest, by-the-book, performances of the whole suite that I have. Plus, it’s got exciting horns!

    It’s just by chance that almost everything that stood out to me in this show is authored and/or sung by Bob Weir. This is one of the best performances of “Looks Like Rain” I have heard, so gentle and nuanced in all respects that I took the opportunity to start the shortlist sequence off in hushed beauty, rather than with the traditional bang of a Grateful Dead concert.

    “Let Me Sing Your Blues Away” is a mess, but it’s such a rarity that I had to keep it, and I enjoy it too. 

    Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is. 

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1088133 2016-09-08T23:13:56Z 2016-10-02T16:18:32Z Shortlist: May 25, 1974 – Santa Barbara, CA

    57-minute 192kbps mp3 download

    • Sugar Magnolia
    • Deal
    • Mexicali Blues
    • Promised Land
    • Scarlet Begonias
    • Tennessee Jed
    • Let It Grow (instrumental) > (6:01)
    • Wharf Rat
    • Ship of Fools
    • Casey Jones

    As a whole (2h40m), this isn’t one of the notable May 1974 shows. On the other hand, an hour comprised of 10 crackling performances by the May ’74 Grateful Dead is nothing to sneer at. If you were compiling a summary box set of the month, you’d want to take a close look at these performances.

    This version of “Let It Grow” isn’t a particularly potent one song-wise, but the playing is excellent, so I took the vocal sections out to let the music do the talking.

    "Wharf Rat" begins and ends in "Dark Starry" fashion. “Tennessee Jed” gets really deranged by the end. “Casey Jones” swings more gently than usual. And I very rarely pull aside a “Sugar Magnolia,” much as I love the song itself, but I haven’t gotten tired of this rendition.

    Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is.

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1086876 2016-09-05T17:28:03Z 2016-10-02T16:18:38Z Shortlist: July 27, 1974 – Roanoke, VA

    • Big River (instrumental) (2:43)
    • Jack Straw (5:03)
    • Mississippi Half-Step > (7:22)
    • It Must Have Been the Roses (5:08)
    • Bertha (5:18)
    • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Briefly (10:48)
    • Johnny B. Goode (instrumental) (1:42)
    • Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road > (15:45)
    • U.S. Blues Jam > Promised Land Jam (6:35)
    • The Main Ten (10:37)
    • Brokedown Palace (5:35)

     76-minute mp3 download

    Remember that stretch of July 1974 when Donna was away recording her solo album, and Bobby couldn’t play guitar because of a broken wrist and just did some singing, on crutches? Basically, the band decided to honor several tour dates as a four-piece:

    • Jerry: guitar
    • Keith: electric piano
    • Phil: bass
    • Billy: high-hat and other drums

    Some stuff just couldn’t convert. “Row Jimmy” without Bobby’s guitar was like a clock missing a gear. But at other times, this stripped-down combo achieved a smooth, spacious groovy lockup that reminds me a little of 1977. Jerry on the left, Keith on the right, going solo in the rhythmic and harmonic role that he and Bobby’s guitar usually shared. Phil definitely seemed into it, putting some extra spring into their step on some tunes, like “Jack Straw” and “Bertha” in this show.

    Roanoke was the last of these shows, by which time they weren’t even attempting to play normal set lists, doing some songs as breakneck instrumentals and gravitating toward songs with groovy riffs that they could just play with for a while.

    Of course, none of this ever happened, but if you want a frame of reference for appreciating this show – and the edit I’ve made of it – that’s it.

    The SBD mix of this show almost doesn’t have Bobby’s guitar in it. Sometimes it’s quite perceptibly there, but much of the time you have to look for it, or it slides into/behind Keith’s piano. And it’s Keith’s piano, holding down the right channel as loudly as Jerry’s holding down the left that turns this bad mix into a happy accident: A Grateful Dead that is strangely unfamiliar and yet works, if you pay attention to the right songs. They make you dance a little differently. My source is the beautiful Miller-engineered one, with a big, shimmering, spacious sound. Definitely a show that sounds great on your good speakers.

    I took all the vocals out of “Big River,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Promised Land” (which they jammed into), which serves to highlight the solos Keith took in those songs. I also dropped out the song part of “I Know You Rider,” so for once we don’t have to listen to it in order to get from the beginning of “China Cat” to the end of “Rider.” “The Main Ten” is a piece of the “Playin’” jam.

    The way “U.S. Blues” went down in this show is funny; when they got to the end of the song, they weren’t agreed on whether to end it or jam on, so it ends with a whimper of collapse. Then they gather themselves and go for it.

    This is my second favorite early '70s "Half-Step."

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1086204 2016-09-03T04:12:59Z 2017-05-11T13:42:18Z Shortlist: December 18, 1973 – Tampa, FL (Just the Jerry Songs)

    LP 1 (42 minutes):

    • Tennessee Jed
    • Brown-Eyed Women
    • Peggy-O
    • Eyes of the World >
    • Wharf Rat

    LP 2 (46 minutes):

    • Bertha
    • They Love Each Other
    • Deal
    • Row Jimmy
    • Dark Star
    • Uncle John’s Band

    192kbps mp3 download

    This is every Garcia-written song (plus "Peggy-O") from this show, and it’s quite a fine selection of tunes, played consistently well. There’s a small snag here and there, but I haven’t encountered another show that you can slice this way with such a good result.

    I also can’t think of many shows where both the band and the sound mix were ready for business on the first song. The Dead played “Tennessee Jed” a million times from 1972 through 1974, but they only opened two shows with it, and this is one of them. The result is a version that stays restrained and deliberate throughout, never becoming as fully deranged as it typically did in the final instrumental break.

    The last song of the show was “Uncle John’s Band,” and this is a version I find pretty satisfactory. I rarely like 1973-1974 UJBs much, because the melody gets tortured by the singing, but this performance and mix get it closer to the right place than many. It certainly ends the show nicely.

    This is the first version of “Brown Eyed Women” I pulled aside for one of my mixes. I’m not sure why I perceive The Dead as hardly ever nailing this song between Europe ’72 and sometime in 1976 or 1977, but whatever I typically find lacking, this one doesn’t lack it. The opening bars are wobbly, but so it goes.

    The “Eyes of the World” is nearly perfect throughout, and the jam continues to cook after they’ve finished the climactic synchronized riff sequence. The “Wharf Rat” that follows is not one that pounces on the big moments the way some do, but I can’t fault its overall approach to the drama, and the extended coda/fadeout is a nice touch.

    The “Row Jimmy” is one of my favorites. “Peggy-O” is beautiful (if not transcendent), one of only three played in 1973, all in December; the next one would be in May 1974. “They Love Each Other” has the bouncy syncopation you’re looking for, with nice rushes of intensity. “Bertha” is rather explosive (originally sandwiched between “Promised Land” and “Greatest Story, giving it extra propulsion). And Jerry's so into "Deal" that he throws a bunch of extra little vocal punches.

    I’ve always liked this simultaneously compact and restless “Dark Star,” pursuing the melody prettily and nonchalantly for about five minutes, then considering other options for a few minutes, including a little hint of the “Mind Left Body Jam” and a brief dance with “The Other One,” before settling in for a perfectly executed verse of “Dark Star.”

    If you like the feel of an all-Garcia show, you will also like this.

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1085439 2016-08-31T18:29:10Z 2017-05-11T14:17:04Z Feedback?

    If anyone is downloading and listening to these shortlists, I'd love to hear what you think. I've made these mixes for my own listening pleasure, but if people are enjoying them and want more, I'll keep posting them. 

    Now that you can listen to a quality SBD of nearly any show on archive.net, I've long since stopped worrying about preserving unreleased shows in their entirety for myself. And The Dead have released SO many shows that I have no shortage of complete shows that sound great, all mediocrity and repetition intact.

    My goal is to avoid listening to a bad-to-average performance of any song more than once or twice, and to listen to very good-to-great performances of songs over and over again. Life is too short.

    They played "Row Jimmy" something like 70 times in 1973 and 1974; I want to find and memorize the best 10, which would probably be enough to sustain me for the rest of my life, since I'd also have 10 or more great versions of every other song too - and that's just from 1972-1974.

    Ultimately, I think the tyranny of "the show" has limited a demonstration of The Dead's oeuvre, excellence, and achievement since Garcia's death. It's rare that The Dead curate a live release, rather than releasing the entire show – but when they do curate, the result is typically great. At the same time, many Heads (and I was once one of them) still don't want to hear live Dead for the first time, except in the context of the complete show. They wouldn't want to have anything to do with my shortlists, because they deform the show and won't be identical to those parts of the show that they would have chosen as outstanding. 

    True, "there's nothing like a Grateful Dead concert." However, there are also eight bajillion recorded Grateful Dead concerts, and there hasn't been an actual Grateful Dead show since 1995 - 21 years ago. There's absolutely no reason to keep treating concerts as though they are inviolable holy ceremonies, especially when you can stream them complete anytime you want. There's no reason to always stack their tunes in ways that mimic their typical placement in set lists. You don't have to alternate Jerry and Bobby songs. You don't have to bury a monumental "Wharf Rat" at the end of three hours of everything that came before it. You can choose your own adventure.

    It's good to shake things up and to shave things down; it makes everything fresher to set it in a new context that doesn't follow the same old pattern. There's no right way to look at The Grateful Dead.

    Step back from your screen and this swirl will become a 1972 Garcia:

    (Image from a fan t-shirt I bought at a show in the 1980s.)

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1084912 2016-08-30T04:33:36Z 2016-10-08T16:57:31Z Shortlist: June 22, 1973 - Vancouver, BC

    90 minutes of gold, extracted from a messy, 240-minute show - 192kbps mp3 download:

    Episode 1 (48 minutes):

    • Here Comes Sunshine (instrumental edit) (8:16)
    • Bird Song (13:45)
    • A Few Words from Phil (0:19)
    • Playin’ in the Band (18:34)
    • Looks Like Rain (6:58)

    Episode 2 (45 minutes):

    • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You, Rider (14:01)
    • Jam > (8:36)
    • The Other One > (6:59)
    • Industrial Space > (6:15)
    • The Other One. (2:06)
    • Sugaree (7:24)

    I have only had this show for a couple of years, and it has steadily grown in stature for me, as I’ve listened to and pruned it. It is a concert plagued by errors, a combination of flubbed vocals, bum notes, and non-synchronized swimming.

    Over time, a number of performances that are otherwise strong have fallen by the wayside, due to fumbles and dreary patches (e.g., “Jack Straw,” “Big River,” “Row Jimmy,” “Wharf Rat”). “Here Comes Sunshine” made it through with some plastic surgery. 

    Jerry forgot the first line of the song and the first line of the reprise, and therefore understandably never quite seems sure of where he is among the lines that he has sung or not sung. Maybe that’s why everyone sounds so excited to jump into the instrumental breaks; it is, in fact, an exciting “Here Comes Sunshine,” instrumentally speaking. So, I’ve edited out the verse/chorus trainwrecks and made it the jammy overture to the shortlist.

    Similarly, there’s a long jam out of “Truckin’,” in the full show, including a “Drums & Bass” segment, but it never quite reaches anywhere fantastic. Then, eight-and-a-half minutes from “The Other One,” a wonderful stand-alone jam materializes and keeps going.  So I started at the point that jam began to materialize.

    The jam might be the diamond of the show, but the gentle-to-the-point-of-near-evaporation “Birdsong” might be a contender too.  Keith's electric piano is a big part of both of them. And, even as a slut for “Playin’ in the Band” jams from this period, I think this is a notable one. It doesn’t just go to the Playin’ place; it hunts around.

    So, here’s my shortlist case for this show, mined out of a sequence where other stuff went badly wrong or failed to surmount meh. You'll still hear a few wobbles in what I've chosen. There’s even an uncertain moment in the two and a half minute stem song of “Playin',” something you'd think muscle memory alone would make impossible. 

    All in all, I think this is a show where The Grateful Dead mechanism was poorly calibrated to perform songs and well calibrated to groove and explore. It's 90/240ths fantastic – or 37.5% absolutely worth your attention.

    Many thanks to the anonymous master version editor who interpolated quality patches so seamlessly. 

    Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is.

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1084728 2016-08-29T14:37:09Z 2016-10-08T16:57:39Z Shortlist: November 19, 1972 - Houston, TX

    Part 1 (45 minutes):

    • Happiness is Tuning
    • Box of Rain
    • Black Throated Wind
    • Bird Song
    • Sugar Magnolia
    • Tomorrow is Forever
    • Stella Blue
    • Weather Report Prelude Jam

    Part 2 (49 minutes):

    • Dark Star >
    • Attack of the 50-foot Phil Lesh >
    • Jam
    • Playin’ in the Band
    • Around & Around

    192kbps mp3 download

    I used to associate this show with 8/27/72, Veneta, OR. That show is now miraculously a film that confirms everything the music implied. Those sunlit dust motes and naked dancers were always there. If I could use The Grateful Dead time machine just once, I’d go to Oregon.

    It is, of course, insane to associate that August day in a meadow with this November night in Houston, TX, inside a venue resembling a concrete bunker. But there are big, beautiful, meandering late 1972 versions of “Bird Song,” “Dark Star,” and “Playin’ in the Band” here, as well as a spirit of conviviality coming from the band that might partly excuse that association.

    This was a long show (3h20m), kind of straggly, full of tuning breaks. I think it comes into focus – gets a little more “Veneta” – cut down to about 90 minutes. So, this is my best approximation of my sunshine daydream, leading off with "best of tuning." Don’t neglect “Stella Blue,” and Jerry's vocals that almost sound like they're from "Wake of the Flood." (Had to make a slight edit, due to some missing bars at the beginning, but no big deal. There was also a missing chunk in the middle of the “Playin’” verses, so I took the liberty of cutting to the chase – the main ten onward.) It's worth noting that Phil's bass is way up in the excellent mix and that the vocals are mixed fortuitously, so group harmonies sound good. That mix contributes to a really fine "Box of Rain."

    If I could borrow The Grateful Dead time machine for a while, I’d steer it to a nearby 1972 parallel universe where this show was played in a meadow.

    Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is. 

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1084542 2016-08-28T17:31:55Z 2016-10-08T16:57:47Z Some of my tape cases.

    I've tossed most of the actual tapes, but the cases remain. I cringe to think how much time I spent on these, let alone all of the re-EQ-ing of tapes and copying them. Now you can hear a perfect version of nearly every show on archive.org. Still feels a bit like science fiction to me.

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1084540 2016-08-28T17:24:41Z 2016-10-08T16:57:54Z Shortlist: May 17, 1974 – Vancouver, BC

    78 minute 192 kbps mp3 download

    • Deal
    • Greatest Story Ever Told
    • The Race is On
    • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
    • Me & My Uncle
    • Ramble on Rose
    • Nobody’s Fault but Mine >
    • Eyes of the World
    • Playin’ in the Band

    I think I’ve made shortlists of all the unreleased May 1974 shows except Reno, NV, which I’m inclined to judge simply a bad show.

    Vancouver definitely has a lot of greatness in it. The “Eyes” is nearly perfect, both the song and the jam – and the fully sung and jammed “Nobody’s Fault” that precedes it is a superb specimen of that relative rarity.

    Even though Jerry’s lyrics in “Ramble on Rose” slip a couple of times, and there are slightly ramshackle moments, I’m still going to call this a top 10 version. (Who even has a top ten list of “Ramble on Rose?”) From the screamer in the audience who helps launch it, straight to the end, it just cooks. Keith’s playing is fantastic. He’s great throughout, actually.

    Since my shortlist-making days began, “Deal” has become a song that I pay far more attention to than I used to (also “Bertha”). The version in this show has a lazy lope of a groove, with a fine Garcia vocal. This "China Cat" also has a nice tempo, which leads to a nuanced, mellow execution.

    Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is. 

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1084379 2016-08-27T19:09:24Z 2016-10-08T16:58:02Z Shortlist: New Year’s Eve 1972 – San Francisco, CA

    71 minute, 192kbps mp3 download

    • Johnny B. Goode
    • Truckin >
    • The Other One >
    • Drums >
    • Bass & Drums >
    • Jam >
    • Space >
    • Jam >
    • The Other One >
    • Jam >
    • Morning Dew

    This is a rather fine specimen of this sort of second set sequence, notable for the three jams that aren't really related to anything else. The playing throughout the sequence tends to be fierce and engaging. The third jam is quite gentle and pretty. 

    I found good places for all the track breaks, so anywhere you start is the start of something. The end of the third jam is a distinctive little piece of weird beauty, as David Crosby and the Dead are aligning themselves, and it drifts so seamlessly into “Morning Dew,” that I decided it belonged with "Morning Dew," rather than with the jam.

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1083982 2016-08-25T16:16:25Z 2016-10-08T16:58:10Z Shortlist: March 24, 1973 – Philadelphia, PA

    Disc 1 (60 minutes):

    • Here Comes Sunshine (instrumental edit)
    • Me & Bobby McGee
    • They Love Each Other
    • Stella Blue
    • Looks Like Rain
    • Tennessee Jed
    • Me & My Uncle
    • Playing in the Band

    Disc 2 (64 minutes):

    • He’s Gone >
    • Truckin’ >
    • Jam 1 >
    • Bass & Drums >
    • Jam 2 >
    • Spanish Jam >
    • Spacey Connective Tissue >
    • Jam 3 (Twilight Zoney) >
    • Dark Star >
    • Sing Me Back Home
    • Box of Rain

    192kbps mp3 download

    (Bad link repaired.)

    This is a very good show, and while I wouldn’t put the jam sequence coming out of “Truckin’” in the top tier of such passages, it is excellent and focused. I took the trouble to edit it into its constituent pieces, because the band deliberately starts and pursues each one; there’s very little noodling around looking for the next collective move. If you listen to the trailing off of the “Truckin’” jam, you’ll hear Jerry ask the band about “Dark Star,” by playing the opening notes quietly. No one goes for it; instead they decide to make some music from scratch. Nonetheless, they’re ready to make good on Jerry’s hint 20 minutes later, when all of a sudden we drop cleanly into “Dark Star” and a verse.

    All the stand-alone songs are stand-up versions, and I even pulled aside a “Box of Rain,” which is about as good as it got live in this period. The only radical edit I made was on “Here Comes Sunshine,” removing the extremely awful singing, and turning it into a seamless “instrumental version.” The final singing of the title line at the end is still there (no other way to resolve the song), so you can decide for yourself how much more of that you could have handled. 

    Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is.

    John Hilgart, Proprietor
    tag:saveyourface.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1083699 2016-08-24T14:17:28Z 2016-10-08T16:58:15Z Shortlist: June 23, 1974 - Miami, FL

    192kbps mp3 download

    52 minutes:

    • Ramble on Rose
    • Black Peter
    • Let It Grow >
    • China Doll
    • To Lay Me Down
    • Jam >
    • Ship of Fools
    • Let It Rock

    The excellent “Dark Star” > “Spanish Jam” > “U.S. Blues” sequence from this show’s second set was released on the “So Many Roads” box. I used to think of this show as a whole as too sleepy, but when I panned for gold, it turned out that the sleepy, mellow vibe was actually what this show was all about – kind of like that drifty second set “Dark Star.” The result makes for a distinctive, album-length arc of primarily subtle tunes and subtle playing. Keith's spooky organ on "Black Peter" makes me especially happy, and this must be one of the better "To Lay Me Down" performances.

    Shortlist philosophy: Start with a good soundboard of an unreleased show, and keep only what you honestly want to hear again and again. Be song-agnostic; look for outstanding performances of anything and everything, and reject an average performance of any song, no matter how grand that song’s generic status as a big deal may be. Whatever’s left, edit out the tuning and other delays, and arrange everything into a pleasing sequence. Share the results in lossy mp3 format, in the spirit of the cassette tape trading of my youth, diligently not trying to compete with or annoy Grateful Dead Enterprises, whose property this music is. 

    John Hilgart, Proprietor