Brent Mydland (Featuring The Grateful Dead)

Possibly the best way to enjoy the compositions that Brent Mydland wrote and sang for The Grateful Dead is all by themselves. Pretend the band joined a solo artist to provide backing for a mid-80s album of his songs. An extended, soulful ride on an emotional rollercoaster. 

I didn’t struggle too hard picking versions, since there are lots of good ones for most songs. Some are released. 

68-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Just a Little Light (3/26/90)
  • Far from Me (7/12/89)
  • Easy to Love You (3/22/90)
  • Never Trust a Woman (10/16/89)
  • Tons of Steel (4/8/85)
  • Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues (3/27/86)
  • Don’t Need Love (11/5/85)
  • Gentlemen, Start Your Engines (7/31/88)
  • Maybe You Know (4/20/83)
  • Blow Away (3/26/90)
  • We Can Run (9/29/89)
  • I Will Take You Home (6/88)

I think this includes every song Mydland wrote or co-wrote - and sang.

Caveat: "Far from Me" and "Easy to Love You" somehow got switched in the running order. The emotional energy works much better Easy > Far. I recommend you swap 'em.

Grateful Dead: April 1984 Jams (April 13-17)

This mix pulls from the first four shows of The Grateful Dead’s 1984 East Coast Spring Tour – April 13-17, in Hampton, VA, Rochester, NY, and Niagara Falls, NY.

Weird mixes and performance flaws encouraged me to boil this one down to the extensive jamming, which is great. There are some burps in “Help on the Way" (Garcia's guitar may go out for a bit), but it was too good a place to start this mix to resist.

There are a number of strange sounds within these tracks. At several points, chorus vocals are mixed into a huge, echo-filled mass, and there's some wild hand drumming on "Fire" that adds an extra twist to the groove. 

92-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc 1 (46 minutes)

  • Help on the Way > Slipknot!
  • Eyes of the World
  • Scarlet Begonias Jam > Fire on the Mountain Edit
  • Estimated Prophet Jam > Jam

Disc 2 (46 minutes)

  • Playin’ Jam >
  • Terrapin Station > Playin’ Mini-Jam
  • Jam >
  • The Other One > Jam > Other One
  • Shakedown Street Edit

Editing Notes: Aside from some of my usual abbreviation moves (skipping the song-parts of “Scarlet,” “Estimated,” and “Playin’), a couple of tracks are edited more esoterically. “Fire” is instrumental except for the final two choruses, which includes that massed, echo effect. I think you’ll find the whole “Scarlet Jam > Fire” sequence quite compelling. “Shakedown” is instrumental until the final verse, after which it flows uninterrupted. The vocal chorus effect is used here, too. Don't miss this "Other One," which ventures far from the main theme.

Grateful Dead: April 13-14, 1985 – Irvine, CA

Here’s another early-1980s Grateful Dead “Road Trip” mp3 mix that finds an extensive convergence of exciting performances and inviting soundboard mixes. Plus, statistically significant events!

I already hit October 1985, so here we step back six months to April. The two official, whole-show releases from the year are from June and November.

2.5-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc 1: April 13 (66 minutes)

  • Why Don’t We Do It in the Road
  • West LA Fadeaway
  • Little Red Rooster (edit)
  • Terrapin Station >
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Drums
  • Space > 
  • The Wheel
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Discs 2-3: April 14 (93 minutes)

  • Hell in a Bucket >
  • Sugaree
  • Down in the Bottom/Ain’t Superstitious
  • Brown-Eyed Women 
  • Big Railroad Blues
  • I Need a Miracle >
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Women are Smarter
  • Space Jam >
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy >
  • The Other One
  • Sugar Magnolia
  • Gloria

Notes:

  • This may be the only instance of “Miracle” opening a 2nd set, and the only time it flowed into “China Cat.” Garcia’s voice is ragged on “China Cat.”
  • This is one of only four 1980s “Glorias.”
  • “Down in the Bottom” was played nine times, and “Ain’t Superstitious” eight times. They appeared together this way four times.
  • The band played “Do It in the Road” seven times.
  • Edits on this mix are limited to removing a second Weir slide solo from this otherwise fine and slinky “Rooster,” and skipping over a messy “Sunshine Daydream.” On the April 13th mix, you’ll hear a segue from “Drums” to “Space,” but that’s fake; I cut out the second half of drums. 
  • The April 14 SBD source I’ve used is one generation back from the latest, which has bigger dynamics, but which also includes a maddening, gargly defect. The 13th board mostly sounds great, but the “Terrapin” and “Wheel” vocals could have been handled more forthrightly. 
  • Cover art elements obviously swiped from Rick Griffin. 

Grateful Dead: April 17, 1982 – Hartford, CT

I’ve been listening to this set for more than three decades. I rank the “Shakedown Street” as a top 10, and the soundboard quality available today makes it that much better. In addition to clarity, the set has gained some much-needed Phil Lesh. (Thank you, Dalton/Miller/Klugston!)

There’s a different SBD source for the first set, and I like a few tunes, but they don’t belong with this second set. Of the second set, I haven’t omitted very much – a Drums/Space that are nothing special, and the last three songs of the set (Wharf Rat, Around & Around, and Saturday Night). None of them are bad, and the mix is always good, but I just don’t think they’re exemplary in any way. I don’t need to keep them as close as the rest of the set. 

I listened to this tape so much back in the day that I began to expect the yuk-yuk-duck sounds Weir makes in UJB (4:24) in every version of the song.

One-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Shakedown Street
  • Lost Sailor >
  • Saint of Circumstance >
  • Jam > Spanish Jam
  • Uncle John’s Band >
  • Not Fade Away
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Grateful Dead: April 9, 1983 – Hampton, VA

At the time of this show, “Esau,” and “West LA” were very new songs, and “Help>Slip” had just returned to the rotation. Though compact, the “Help > Slip > Franklin’s” is very much on point, with Garcia handling the “Help” verses effectively. 

Most of the soundboard of this show is egregiously quiet-Weir, but not all of it. That’s a good thing, because most of the other features of the mix are great. At the center is big, warm, wiry, funky Phil Lesh bass, the drummers are handled well (no thumping), Brent is at a good volume (not too much plink), and the singing sounds great. Garcia’s guitar is quieter than you’d like, but not in a problematic way.

So, this short mix pulls together an hour of music on which the performances and mix result in powerful early-80s Dead. In spots where Weir is still too quiet, the rest of the band fills the space with chonk. Yay, Phil.

60-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Help on the Way > Slipknot! >
  • Franklin’s Tower (slight edit)
  • My Brother Esau
  • West LA Fadeaway
  • New Minglewood Blues
  • Candyman
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • The Other One Jam

Notes:

  • The band missed a change in “Franklin’s,” but let things ride for a few measures and then re-approached it successfully – so I edited the error out.
  • Though there are some quick vocal slips in “Esau,” and the lyrics hadn’t entirely settled down, I still love it. 
  • “The Other One Jam” is a dangling chad, but I thought it was cool enough to preserve. They didn’t play the song that night, and this jam is typically called “Smokestack Lightning Jam,” because they touched on that theme in first minute or so. But the interesting stuff comes with the turn to “The Other One.”


Grateful Dead: Jamming at The Scope 1982 (Norfolk, VA – April 3)

1982 seems to be a tough year for SBDs that capture full-spectrum, six-member Grateful Dead. Weir’s guitar comes and goes, and Phil’s bass is too often subterranean – hitting on the low end, but not really present as a melodic string part, weaving its way through the rhythmic/harmonic tapestry. Vocals/verses sometimes sound puny, compared to the jamming. 

The SBD mix of this April 3, 1982 Norfolk, Virginia show’s second set gets close to the good place, and the playing is all you’d ask for. Phil could occupy a lot more mid-range in this mix, but I’m not going to quibble, given the options.

The whole show is well played (stream link below), but the first set has a different mix with very little bass. So, for this short mixtape I've stuck to the second set's thicker sound and its jammier moments. I edited a couple of songs down to instrumental (or nearly-instrumental) versions to avoid some not-well-mixed song parts that break the momentum and clarity of all this open playing. 

Where did this beautiful, swinging “Eyes” comes from, in an era of skittery, too-fast takes? 

52-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Scarlet Begonias (instr. edit) >
  • Fire on the Mountain >
  • Estimated Prophet (edit) >
  • Eyes of the World
  • Jam >
  • Not Fade Away

If you enjoy these highlights, stream the whole show in the latest Charlie Miller SBD master on the archive, posted August 2018.

If you’re wondering where this music fits in with official releases, the adjacent April 5-6 shows were released as a Road Trip, and two summer 1982 shows have been released in full. 

Grateful Dead: October ’83 (17th & 18th – Lake Placid & Portland)

Here are 90 minutes of unreleased October 1983 Grateful Dead in well-mixed soundboard recordings.

There are three official, whole-show releases from 1983, all from the Fall – 9/2, 10/14, and 10/21. This mixtape mines a SBD sweet spot in between those two October shows, from back-to-back, single-show, two-state stops: Lake Placid, NY and Portland, ME.

Each of these soundboards suffers from bad mixing in a lot of places (mostly quiet Weir guitar), but the good sound and good performances align in enough places to produce a sturdy little 2-LP mix with punch. Thick Lesh throughout.

90-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc 1: 10/17/83 Lake Placid, NY (55 minutes)

  • Sugaree
  • Bird Song
  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Deal
  • To Lay Me Down

Disc 2: 10/18/83 Portland, ME (48 minutes)

  • They Love Each Other
  • Dupree’s Diamond Blues
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Supplication
  • Jam >
  • Not Fade Away

Notes:

  • The 10/17 “Sugaree” was the show opener. Weir’s guitar gets too loud for a stretch, but it’s otherwise quite epic (16:22), so I resisted editing the weird passage out. 
  • Healy or whoever often seems to have suppressed Weir’s guitar during verses/choruses, but he chimes brightly in most places on each of these songs. 
  • If you’re wondering about the second set of 10/17, it’s a good performance, but the mix is shrill, compared to the first set. Only “To Lay Me Down” made it through my filter. 


Grateful Dead: October ’84 (17th & 18th - Meadowlands)

Here’s a tightened album of two nights in 1984 that fell on the 10th anniversary of The Grateful Dead’s October 1974 run at Winterland – October 17 and 18.

Featuring exceptional sound board mixes for the era, and archive mastering by Charlie Miller, these unreleased 1984 East Rutherford, NJ shows are full of tight, fiery, and adventurous material. Each might be weak as a “Dave’s Picks” whole-show release, but together they offer an impressive “road trip,” adding up to the length of a single show.

2.5-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

10/17/84:

  • West L.A. Fadeaway
  • My Brother Esau
  • Slipknot! (edit) >
  • Franklin’s Tower (edit)
  • Terrapin Station >
  • Space Jam >
  • The Other One
  • Stella Blue >
  • Goin’ Down the Road, Feelin’ Bad
  • Big Railroad Blues (10/18/84)

10/18/84:

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Candyman
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Cassidy
  • Dancin’ in the Street
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Uncle John’s Band > Playin’ Jam >
  • China Doll > Jam
  • Playin’ Jam > Reprise
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Notes:

  • Slipknot > Franklin’s edit: Garcia screwed up the lyrics to “Help,” so I just used its intro to get to the delirious “Slipknot!” Something went wrong about six-and-a-half minutes into “Franklin’s,” so I spliced around a verse/chorus to extend the jamming (If you get confused, listen to the music play). 
  • I’ve tightened the “Playin’” sandwich by eliminating the drums/space that separated the final jam/reprise from the other main ingredients. These are fine renditions of “Uncle John’s” and “China Doll,” so this is a tasty sandwich. 
  • These two discs are tagged as separate albums, by their show dates.
  • To stay within a 2-CD frame, I had to put “Big Railroad” onto the other night’s disc, which just goes to show that it and “Goin’ Down the Road” are the same song.


Grateful Dead: October ‘85

It’s amazing how much punch mid-1980s Grateful Dead packed, when the sound guys saw fit to include Weir and Lesh in the mix. “Hey, it’s The Good Old Grateful Dead, right there!” 

The compilation pulls together hot October ’85 performances that were captured in mixes that satisfy. Even within the shows surveyed, the mix varied wildly, but when you narrow the focus to the beefy moments… Proper Grateful Dead, definitely not sucking in the Eighties.

The shows included are the first five of the tour, leading up to the famous (and officially released) 11/1/85 Richmond, VA show: Two shows in Florida, two in Atlanta, and one in Columbia, SC – 10/25 to 10/31. 

Tracks per show:

  • 10/25: 5
  • 10/26: 1
  • 10/28: 8
  • 10/29: 6
  • 10/31: 8

3h30m mp3 mix zipped up here (source dates in track names)

Disc 1:

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Friend of the Devil
  • Dire Wolf
  • Mississippi Half-Step >
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Peggy-O
  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Touch of Grey
  • Black Peter
  • Looks Like Rain

Disc 2:

  • Werewolves of London
  • Shakedown Street >
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Ship of Fools >
  • Jam >
  • Drums >
  • Space > Jam
  • Comes a Time

Disc 3:

  • Morning Dew >
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • Eyes of the World (instr. edit)
  • Man Smart, Woman Smarter
  • Terrapin Station
  • Jam
  • The Other One
  • Stella Blue
  • Brokedown Palace
  • Day Job

The Grateful Dead: Stone House Sessions (Jan-Feb 1983)

This mix presents some of the oddest Grateful Dead music I’ve heard. In January and February of 1983, the band spent several days recording at Stone House, in Marin County, near Fairfax. 

They mostly didn’t pursue songs, but instead worked extensively on several patterns. The tapes we have might be reels of the more together passages, pulled aside. There are also indications that additional parts were recorded on some tracks that have been wiped from the edits we have.

Stone House is not a studio but rather a large, historic building in the country. Mickey Hart, Dan Healy, Betty Cantor, and Rex Jackson worked in Stone House in 1974, recording Zakir Hussain’s album “Venu” in the building's large, central room. Check out this reminiscence of what that space was like, and the ambience it created.   

In 1983, perhaps Hart encouraged the band to shake things up by experimenting at Stone House. Perhaps everyone was supposed to bring in one idea. What was the actual intent of the sessions? What do the circulating tapes represent? I have no idea – but there’s very cool music to be heard. It's definitely not what you'd expect from 1983 Dead, nor what the Dead recording in an old building in the countryside might imply about the character of the music. 

90-minute mp3 mix here

  • Stone House Disco Mix (16:00)
  • Stone House Dub Mix (24:34)
  • Victory (Long Edit) (15:38)
  • Knot Jazz ’83 (Composite Edit) (7:42)
  • Molly D (2:56)
  • Stone House (Straight Edit) (23:03)


TRACK & EDITING NOTES:

Stone House Disco Mix

Stone House Dub Mix

Stone House (Straight Edit)

The band spent a day working on a pattern built around a programmed drumbeat, which isn’t titled on the tapes. I pulled all the most together pieces, removed stumbles from them, and edited them into a 23-minute version (straight). 

There is no repetition within the edit; it’s all different bits of real-time playing. You’ll hear one or more members exhorting the others, vocally or with handclaps, at several points. You’ll hear Garcia’s guitar at the beginning and end; otherwise he’s absent.

The three versions presented here are the exact same edit, straight and reprocessed two different ways. I think the band was playing this too slow AND too fast, so I’ve taken the liberty of @#$&ing around with tempo, pitch, and reverb.

Victory (Long Edit)

It’s called “Victory” on the tapes. Here, too, I’ve edited together many pieces without repeating any. It’s a gorgeous, narcotic groove, somewhere between VU’s “Ocean” and something far more contemporary. There’s plenty of richness within the super-low-key musical texture, and I’ve done my best to provide good dramatic turns in the places where I stitched bits together – or to hide the stitches entirely. (Listen at 9:18 for four seconds of a Garcia guitar lead – a trace of a track that wasn’t included in the mixdown/transfer we have.)

Knot Jazz ’83 (Composite Edit)

This is an edit made from three “takes” of everyone but Garcia moving back and forth through a structured pattern that has multiple references to the jams of old. 

Molly D

Grateful Dead ska, more or less! This is presumably an instrumental version of this Hunter/Hart composition, but I don’t have a vocal version for comparison’s sake. There are five versions of this on the tapes, and they seem to represent a process of recording to a drum track and then creating an edited track without the drums. I’m not sure who all is playing. 

Thank you Jesse Jarnow (@bourgwick) for tipping me off to these recordings and for providing the background sources.