Grateful Dead: Solo, Duo, and Trio (11/12/72 - Kansas City)

This is a much-expanded revision of highlights from this show.

The bizarre soundboard mix of this late ’72 Dead tape reduces the band to a trio of Garcia, Weir, and Lesh. Drums and keyboards are almost totally absent. Vocals are very faint, nearly silent in one channel. 

The channel mix changes over the course of the show. At some times, all that’s in one channel is Garcia’s guitar. At others, it’s Garcia and Weir’s guitars, alone together. Crazy, frustrating, sound board mixes abound in late ’72 – which is tragic – but this 11/12/72 Kansas tape is a beautiful gift.

Garcia can create an entire, mesmerizing musical narrative all by himself. You know that the rest of the band is laying down the landscape for his story, but he nonetheless seems so calm and delicate, like he already knows where things are headed. Notes and runs that are incendiary in the context of the whole band's performance aren't played bombastically.

"It was around 1972 or '73 when I finally unlearned all the things that had hung me up to that point.”  (Garcia, 1978, Guitar Player Now, source @jerrygarcia)

Meanwhile, the intricate, twining Garcia/Weir duos are a spectacular window into their guitarist mind-meld. I find the “NFA > GDTRFB > NFA” to be particularly wonderful.

This expanded mix pulls everything from the show’s “isolation channel” that I found really compelling, resulting in mono mix downs. 

I have also included the stereo trio edits of the “Bird Song” and “Playin’” jams. It is quite astonishing to play either song as a Garcia guitar solo, followed immediately by the Garcia/Weir/Lesh mix – which seems whole and giant – and then to realize you’re still missing the keyboards and drums. 

I have shortened many of the tracks to edit out stretches where nothing interesting is happening, which is typically where you become very aware that you are listening to an incomplete mix. Often this meant cutting out all the places where vocals should be (and faintly are), but I let the guitars lead my edit choices, so phantom vocals appear here and there.

Several isolation tracks (one channel, full song) made it through unedited, even though you’ll supply the rest of the song in your head: solo Garcia-only “Box of Rain” and “Playin’,” and Garcia/Weir “Friend of the Devil.”

100-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc One: Solo and Duo (71 minutes)

  • Bird Song Edit (Garcia)
  • Stella Blue Solo (Garcia)
  • Box of Rain (Garcia)
  • Friend of the Devil (Garcia, Weir)
  • He’s Gone Edit (Garcia, Weir)
  • Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road > Not Fade Away Edit (Garcia, Weir)
  • Big River Edit (Garcia, Weir)
  • Truckin’ Edit (Garcia)
  • Playin’ in the Band (Garcia)

Disc Two: Trio (30 minutes)

  • Playin’ Jam Edit (Garcia, Weir, Lesh)
  • Bird Song Edit (Garcia, Weir, Lesh)
  • Train on Cocaine (Garcia)

Grateful Dead: Solo & Trio Improvisation (11/12/72 - Kansas City)

THIS MIX HAS BEEN REPLACED with a much-expanded version >>> GO HERE

The bizarre soundboard mix of this late ’72 Dead show reduces the band to a trio – Lesh and Weir on the left and Garcia alone on the right. Drums and keyboards are almost totally absent. Very faint vocals bleed into both channels.

Crazy, frustrating, sound board mixes abound in late ’72 – which is tragic – but the 11/12/72 Kansas tape is a beautiful gift.

The tape is both fascinating and pleasurable (archive.org), and someone has posted a version on YouTube of just Garcia’s guitar for the whole show. 

This post’s mixtape presents the show’s “Bird Song” and “Playin’ in the Band” in both trio and Garcia-only edits. These are the spots that utterly transcend the wrongness of the mix and are simply great.

The most remarkable thing is Garcia alone; you need no more than his guitar for a complete musical experience.

"It was around 1972 or '73 when I finally unlearned all the things that had hung me up to that point.”  (Garcia, 1978, Guitar Player Now, source @jerrygarcia)

The Garcia/Lesh/Weir trio is also a sublime, complete experience – with no “middle ground” from Keith, and the drums stripped away like a click track, once its work is done. 

  • Bird Song Instrumental Edit (Garcia only)
  • Playin’ in the Band (whole song, Garcia only)
  • Bird Song Instrumental Edit (Garcia, Lesh, Weir)
  • Playin’ Jam Edit (Garcia, Lesh, Weir)

Grateful Dead: December ’72 Improvisation (Dec. 10, 11, 15)

This mix pulls together Grateful Dead improv from a little cluster of unreleased California shows that the band played in the middle of December 1972 – three at Winterland and one in Long Beach. These shows followed a two-week break, and the band’s next show would be two weeks later, on New Years Eve. (Highlights from that NYE show are here.) Following 12/31/72, they’d play a 2/9/73 CA show, then start a Midwest tour on 2/15/73. So, these performances are a bit of an island in the performance history.

I’m always reluctant to assert anything about how any Grateful Dead month might be different from the one that preceded or followed. Nonetheless… I want to say that the (probably) unrehearsed Dead of mid-December 1972 is venturing deeper into multiple-chapter open spaces than in the earlier Fall. They anticipate the great New Years Eve “Other One,” which was broken up with three jams that weren’t “The Other One.” It’s hard to say that February 1973 is lurking in December 1972. This still seems to be 1972 reaching its 1974-ish, dissolving/opening conclusion. However, on 12/12/72, Phil played his 1973 “Eyes” jam riff for perhaps the first time – a bonus track at the end of the third disc of this mix.

I’ve almost entirely omitted material from the third Winterland show (11/12), because Phil Lesh’s bass is nearly inaudible. I nonetheless recommend checking out that show's “Other One” and the material surrounding it. It’s clearly a hot performance, and the bass-free mix is thrilling in a weird way, but it’s not really a proper Grateful Dead experience. I also skipped the 12/11 "Playin'," which seemed mundane, compared to the two I included.

I preserved every long improv sequence from the three shows featured on the mix, with the exception of the 12/10 “Other One.” The source SBD tape has a brutal gap in it, possibly the length of a lazy tape flip. I decided to trim out some material after that gap, so the flow would pick up with a fresh, distinct passage.

Three-hour mp3 mixtape zipped up here

Disc One: Winterland 12/10 (59 minutes)

  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Truckin’
  • The Other One >
  • Jam/ (fade at SBD gap)
  • Jam > 
  • The Other One
  • Playin’ Jam

Disc Two: Winterland 12/11 (42 minutes)

  • Dark Star >
  • Jam >
  • Dark Star >
  • Space/Feedback >
  • Chaotic Jazz Jam >
  • Stella Blue

Disc Three: Long Beach 12/15 & bonus tracks (71 minutes)

  • Playin’ Jam
  • He’s Gone Jam
  • Jam >
  • Dark Star >
  • Keith Vs. Chaos Jam >
  • Morning Dew
  • Sing Me Back Home (12/12)
  • Bass & Drums > Eyes Jam Riff (12/12)

Cover image: Rene Magritte, "The Lost Jockey"

Grateful Dead: Texas ’72 Improvisation (November 22-26)

This mix compiles highlights from the three November 1972 Texas shows that followed the more familiar Hofheinz Pavilion shows in Houston, on 11/18 and 11/19.

Most of the 11/18 Houston show’s second set was released on vinyl, on Record Store Day, in 2014. The 11/19 Houston performance is a famous show and an important cassette from back in the day, though still unreleased. Save Your Face previously posted an mp3 highlights reel of that show.

The three shows sampled in this mix are Austin (11/22), Dallas (11/24), and San Antonio (11/26). The soundboards of all three shows have mix/sonics problems. However, nearly all of the big improvisational performances shine through those issues without difficulty, and this highlight reel focusses on that deep material. 

Fall 1972 was a great period for tight-but-adventurous Dead improvisation, and this mix seeks to make more material from dodgy mixes of unreleased shows thoroughly enjoyable. 

mp3 mixtape zipped up here

Disc One: Austin (73 minutes)

  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Bird Song
  • Playin’ Jam
  • He’s Gone
  • The Other One >
  • Jam >
  • The Other One
  • Stella Blue

Disc Two: Dallas & San Antonio (72 minutes)

  • Dark Star >
  • Bass Solo > Feelin’ Groovy Jam
  • Playin’ Jam
  • Truckin’
  • Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road > Not Fade Away

Grateful Dead: Improvising in St. Louis - October 1972

The Dead’s three-night run in St. Louis (October 17-19, 1972) was an improvisational monster, containing great versions of all the big numbers, and much more jamming beyond them, including “The Philo Stomp.”

This mix presents 90 minutes of that improvisation. The three shows’ mixes are quite different, but that difference almost vanishes without vocals. To keep the jam flowing, I’ve edited “He’s Gone,” “Morning Dew,” and the “Playin’ Reprise” into instrumentals. However, the connections (>) between all songs are as-played. 

There’s no official release from October 1972, and the St. Louis shows are the best-mixed of the Midwest tour. So here’s a double-LP for your shelf of the molten core of that moment’s Dead. Everything here is tremendous, but I'm going to call out the "Bird Song" as extra-sublime. Great Keith solo.

92-minute FLAC-derived mp3 mix here

  • Bird Song
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • The Other One >
  • Jam >
  • The Other One > He’s Gone (intro & jam) > The Other One
  • Dark Star (space removed) >
  • Jam > Space > Bass Solo > The Philo Stomp > Feelin’ Groovy Jam >
  • Morning Dew (instr. edit) > Playin’ Reprise (inst. edit)

Caution: Save Your Face previously posted a three-hour highlights reel from these shows, with 90 more minutes of great “regular” songs plucked from the screwy soundboards. Don’t download that. An improved version will go up in the next week or so. This all-jam mix isn’t meant to replace that bigger mix; I just realized how intense pure St. Louis jamming would be and wanted to have that listening option buttoned-up, too.

Microdoses: October 1972

I've previously noted that October 1972's soundboard mixes are more often terrible than good, and that some shows only circulate as audience recordings and partial soundboards.

This post compiles everything from the late October soundboards that I feel is worth keeping handy – a meager 73 minutes, including a couple of audience tape segments I added in. 

The material I've selected emphasizes a couple of categories: The rarely played quiet songs and the full flowering of Phil’s “Philo Stomp,” an elaborate version of the bass/drum segments that often included the full band. This was the peak month for that elaboration.

This beautifully executed “Attics of My Life” is one of only two performances between 1970 and 1989, the other being 9/27/72. “Tomorrow is Forever” was played only 10 times (all but one from Sept-Nov ’72), and this one falls right in the middle of those. “Sing Me Back Home” is less rare (played about 40 times from ’71 to ’73), though there were only six more after this one. 

I originally posted the first track of this mix by itself, because it seems so extraordinary, and I include it here so it won't get lost, and because it is a beautiful set up for a beautiful "Attics." The last track, from the same show/audience tape, sounds absolutely horrible, but it also sounds like an all-out post-bop jazz frenzy that I'd love to hear more clearly. (Note that this mix does not attempt to document the month's audience recording gold; that's beyond my blog's scope.)

73-minute, FLAC-derived, 320kbps mix here

  • Quiet Improvisation (10-23-72 aud)
  • Attics of My Life (10-28-72)
  • Tomorrow is Forever (10-27-72)
  • Sing Me Back Home (10-26-72)
  • Truckin’ (intro and jam 10-24-72)
  • The Philo Stomp > Jam (10-24-72)
  • Quiet Improvisation (10-24-72)
  • Drums & Bass > Jam > Playin’ Reprise (10-26-72)
  • Dark Star (10-28-72)
  • The Philo Stomp (10-28-72)
  • Jazzy Jam (10-23-72 aud)


Shortlist: October 2, 1972 – Springfield, MA

Springfield was the final stop on The Dead’s September 1972 tour of the Northeast. Afterwards, the band took two weeks off the road (playing a special hometown show in the middle of that break), and then set off for the Midwest.

The Dead have released seven shows from August and September of 1972, which is quite reasonable, IMO, and I’ve posted highlights from four others. 

With this one, as always, my picks reflect how well the particular soundboard mix works for particular songs. In this case, quiet Jerry and loud Bobby is the situation. Some songs work fine, some pop interestingly, and others feel too much like a rhythm section without enough of a unifying plot thread. If I've chosen wisely, you won't experience these issues unless you listen for them. When it works, this is quite a robust soundboard recording, on which all the players are clear.

Points of interest:

  • As far as I can tell, “Greatest Story” peaked in late 1972. Springy on top, throbbing at the bottom, with demented, melting Garcia guitar and that "St. Stephen"-like riff in the climax. 
  • This is the first “Nobody’s Fault Jam” since 1970, establishing its relationship to “Truckin’” for the next couple of years.
  • This is a very nice “Bird Song," musically, though a bit droopy vocally. I sequenced it between two second set selections to emphasize the dark starriness inherent in a big “Bird Song.” 
  • There are some ragged edges and one big error in this “Morning Dew,” but I Iove it. It’s a little loose, a little delirious, but drama and momentum are intact. When Jerry isn’t ready with the words for the final sung section, I guess it doesn’t matter anyway. 
  • This “Uncle John’s Band” had really feeble verses, but the playing is mighty, so you get an edit. The fade-in is in the source.
  • This isn’t the first time I’ve made an instrumental edit of one of the Chuck Berry tunes, and I should probably make a few more. In between the barky verses, they could really rock and roll. 

60-minute FLAC-sourced 320kbps mp3 mix here

  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • Beat It on Down the Line
  • Truckin’ > Nobody’s Fault Jam
  • Bird Song
  • Jam > Feelin’ Groovy Jam > Noodling >
  • Morning Dew
  • Take a Step Back
  • Uncle John’s Band (mostly instrumental edit)
  • Johnny B. Goode (instrumental edit)

Cover image: Scan of a faulty Polaroid photo

Shortlist: St. Louis ’72 (October 17-19)

This post reduces The Grateful Dead’s three-night stand at The Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri to the length of a single show. They played Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, October 17-19. 

These were the first three shows of a Midwest-to-Texas tour that ran all the way to the end of November. When they started in St. Louis in mid-October, they were coming off a two-week break, during which they played just one show, a benefit for their roadies at Winterland. They certainly seem to have been in fine form out of the gate. 

Fall 1972 is a great period, full of surprises, and these St. Louis highlights are a representative example. 

By the time of these shows, the band had been without Pigpen for four months and was already a different creature, well on its way to 1973 Dead. Melodic improvisational segments unrelated to specific songs are getting more frequent, and they can happen in a lot of different places. Keith is stepping out regularly, contributing themes, leading in more places. Phil and Billy are playing a bass and drums segment in lots of shows, and other band members are sometimes taking part. In October, Phil's solo ("The Philo Stomp") hits its peak. Keith and Billy even jam together in St. Louis, and the three guitarists played this incredible thing in October as well. 

Unfortunately (but don’t worry), the October soundboards – which we have for most, but not all shows – feature some terrible mixes, in which various instruments are too loud or too quiet, in various combinations, such that seemingly good performances are massively annoying and impossible to get inside or to casually ride.

The three St. Louis soundboards are among the best of the month, with lesser imbalances that don’t prevent certain songs from soaring, and that don’t get in the way of the improvisation at all. The 18th's mix is very Weir heavy, but that lends some songs an exciting, spiky kick. 

Anyway, for a month represented by no official releases and plagued by annoying soundboards, here’s a compilation that will please. 

Three-hour, FLAC-sourced, 320kbps mp3 mix here. Each show’s songs are tagged up as separate albums, by date, in the usual way.

Tuesday October 17 (67 minutes)

  • Cumberland Blues
  • Black Peter
  • China Cat Sunflower
  • Not Fade Away
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Casey Jones

Wednesday October 18 (68 minutes)

  • Don’t Ease Me In
  • Big Railroad Blues
  • Jack Straw
  • Bertha
  • Loser
  • Dark Star (minus space) >
  • Jam > Space > Philo Stomp > Feelin’ Groovy Jam >
  • Morning Dew > Playin’ Reprise (inst. edits)
  • Brokedown Palace
  • One More Saturday Night

Thursday October 19 (57 minutes)

  • Comes a Time
  • Bird Song
  • The Other One >
  • Jam >
  • The Other One > He’s Gone (inst. edit) > The Other One
  • Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road

The only internal edits I have made are:

  • A few pointless minutes interrupting "Dark Star."
  • The sung part of "Morning Dew." (The miraculous transition into "Playin'" is real.)
  • The sung part of the "Playin' Reprise" on the 18th.
  • The sung part of "He's Gone."

 

Shortlist: October 9, 1972 – Winterland, SF – The Roadie Benefit

This was a benefit concert to raise housing money for the band’s roadies. It fell in the middle of a two-week break between the band’s September (Northeast) and October (Midwest) tours. The band seems both relaxed and focused. (They had rehearsed at least enough to learn "Box of Rain.") There are some errors, but there are also pristine renditions of some songs and great stretches of improvisation. 

The Dead haven’t released any shows from October 1972, which might have something to do with a lot of soundboards from the month having terrible mixes. That is not much of an issue with this recording, which is well balanced, except for some loud drums and the bass being too quiet sometimes. The really nice thing about this mix is the way it handles harmony vocals.

The fades at the end of “Playin’” and the beginning of “Box of Rain” are in the source tapes. 

100-minute, FLAC-derived, 320kbps mp3 mix here

  • Brokedown Palace
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Sugaree
  • Truckin’ > Bass & Drums >
  • The Other One >
  • Wharf Rat
  • He’s Gone
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Box of Rain (first time played)

Correction: First "Box of Rain" since 1970.

Cover image by Jose Guadalupe Posada