Shortlist: February 27, 1994 - Oakland, CA

Here’s more great music from The Grateful Dead’s first tour of 1994, which ran from February 25 through April 8. I’ve previously posted three mixes of material from March.

This show seems to be most famous for a one-minute “Cosmic Charlie” tease that turned into “Wharf Rat” instead. The audience was devastated at the time, but 25 years later, it’s fun to hear as the only post-1976 “Cosmic Charlie” moment there was. I’ve edited it to flow straight into the "Wharf Rat" jam, which is an intense one, on a par with a good "Dark Star" or "Bird Song" climax. In this case, the edit creates a flow with no moment of disappointment: Other One > Cosmic Charlie Jam > Wharf Rat Jam. 

Anyway, aside from that cruel tease… what this show should be famous for is on this mix.  The "UJB > Supplication > UJB" jam is A+ Live Dead in any year, and "The Other One" and "Wharf Rat" have comparable peaks of collective intensity and on-a-dime action. Garcia is feeling spry all over the place, the instigator of "Supplication" and "Cosmic Charlie." His melodic playing on "UJB" and "Row Jimmy" is luminous. He and Lesh also help carve out an interesting "Corrina." Plus, there are animals howling all over the Drums.

Unfortunately, there are badly blown lyrics and creaky musical turns in the midst of the show’s best material, so I’ve made some internal edits, which are detailed below the track list. All edits are invisible or nearly so, and the whole deal sounds like a big jam built around a sung  UJB and OO. 

They’ll never deem this show worthy of release in full, but this material is well worth your time – great stretches of beauty, intensity, and weirdness. At its best, I like 1994 Dead as well as any Dead.

54-minute mp3 mix here

  • Row Jimmy Instrumental (4:16)
  • Uncle John’s Band > Supplication Jam > Uncle John’s Band > (14:28) 
  • Corrina Jam > Jam > (11:21)
  • Howling Drums (9:58)
  • The Other One > (9:48)
  • Cosmic Chwharf Rat Jam (4:28) 

Editing notes:

  • All indicated transitions (>) are real.
  • All verses/choruses removed from “Row Jimmy” and “Corrina.” 
  • First verse/chorus removed from “Uncle John’s Band.”
  • "The Other One" begins with the end of "Space," which is part of an interesting, slow-build version of the song that does eventually explode.
  • There's a wobble at the very start of "Wharf Rat" that is in the source tape. My edit doesn't interrupt the original flow from CC to WR.

A giant “Corrina” jam turns out to be a wonderful thing, and while it’s tragic that they didn’t nail this “UJB” straight through, the omission of the first verse results in a glorious six-minute jam on the song’s melody. They were playing long, thoughtful “Row Jimmys” in this period, which enables a flawed one like this performance to become a lengthy, beautiful instrumental. In the meandering after "Corrina" winds down, Lesh suggests a turn toward the "Feelin' Groovy"/"China > Rider" transition, which the band seems to consider for a hot second. 

If you would rather listen to this material without edits, you can stream the source I’ve used here. The show-opening “Hell in a Bucket” is a good one, but it didn’t seem to fit on this mix.


Shortlist: December 13, 1992 – Oakland, CA

Cover: Kiki Smith, "Bird with Stars," 1954, MoMA collection.

Vince Welnick-era Grateful Dead continues to delight me. I’ve been looking for a definitive “Way to Go Home,” and I think I may have found it in this show – as part of a nearly perfect second set, captured by a superb soundboard mix/recording. 

The set list has no filler, the playing is tight and nuanced, and everyone is singing well. All I have deleted is “Drums > Space” and one verse/chorus of “Here Comes Sunshine” that Garcia thoroughly mangled/mumbled. Otherwise, it’s every minute of the second set, plus encore, in the order played. 

This is the second performance of the resurrected “Here Comes Sunshine,” which had been missing since February 1974, nearly 20 years. The discipline of rehearsals is still in effect, putting the vocals in a satisfactory place, and its whole trajectory is quite structured and exciting.

This was the third show in a five-show run at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, after which they took a break until late January 1993. There are only two official releases of live 1992 Dead, one of which is the entire fourth show and part of the fifth show from this Oakland run. That was “Dick’s Picks” #27, released in 2003. The other release is 3/20/92, included in “30 Trips Around the Sun,” released in 2015.

64-minute mp3 mix here

  • Here Comes Sunshine (minus one verse/chorus) >
  • Way to Go Home
  • Victim or the Crime >
  • Terrapin Station > Jam
  • The Other One >
  • Morning Dew
  • E: The Weight

Shortlist: September 21, 1993 – Madison Square Garden, NYC

Cover by Saul Steinberg.

A lot of The Grateful Dead mixes that get posted here start with some specific curiosity: shows with horn players, the final “Dark Stars,” Keith “Shakedowns,” “Sevens, Main Tens, and Elevens,” a month someone said was hot, etc. 

I’ve been poking around the Welnick years lately, and this mix came out of my interest in the sequence of “Here Comes Sunshine” followed by “Way to Go Home.” I really like “Way to Go Home,” and there’s a natural affinity between the two, given the way The Dead played “Sunshine” in this period. They played the pairing four times (’92, ’93, 2x’95). They never jammed a connection, but the 1992 one has a nice little hinge, and this one has an instrumental noodle in between that serves as both a coda to “Sunshine” and a walk-up to “Long Way.” This is a very good "Long Way," though the mix blunts it somewhat.

Beyond that material, it was the jamming and not the songs/singing that cooked that night. “Terrapin” reverted almost immediately back to a “Playin’” jam after the final vocal section, so this seemed like a good time to try an instrumental “Terrapin.” It’s a tough edit to get from the instrumental break to the final jam, but what the hell. The jamming on both sides of "Terrapin" is superb.

Anyhow, here’s another check-in with 1993 Dead that reassures you that more listening will be rewarded. 

42-minute mp3 mix here

  • Small Improvisation (1:44)
  • Here Comes Sunshine (mostly inst. edit) (4:09)
  • Way to Go Home (6:44)
  • Playin’ > Terrapin > Playin’ (inst. edit) (14:38)
  • The Same Thing (7:17)
  • Drum Space Improvisation (7:47)

Shortlist: December 27, 1989 - Oakland, CA

Cover art by Neon Park: Detail of "Green Goddess," 1984

I’ll always be grateful that my initial obsession with The Dead happened just as the band’s mid-to-late 1980s nadir gave way to a final, fantastic period of live playing. It makes perfect sense that The Dead have released a slew of shows from Spring 1989 through Spring 1990 – a career sweet spot between the end of the rebuilding period after Garcia’s coma and the death of Brent Mydland. 

I decided to try my Frankenstein editing approach on an unreleased show from this period – taking The Dead’s improvisational temperature by removing a lot of vocals to turn songs into jams and easing transitions that The Dead hadn't already provided. I chose this show at random.

62-minute mp3 mix here

  • Bird Song 
  • Playin’ Jam >
  • Crazy Fingers Jam > 
  • Uncle John’s Jam (>) 
  • Drums (>) 
  • Space > 
  • The Wheel Jam (>) 
  • Morning Dew

Real Dead segue: >

Edited transition: (>)


Shortlist: October 2, 1972 – Springfield, MA

Cover image: Scan of a faulty Polaroid photo

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 an exceptional “Bird Song," musically, though a bit droopy vocally. Both the playing and the mix make the jammed sections sound almost 1989-1990 to me. 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)


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

Cover image by Jose Guadalupe Posada

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 pretty 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.

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 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)


Shortlist: October 27, 1973 – Indianapolis, Indiana

Cover illustration by Luigi Serafini, from "Storie Naturali"

The Dead played this show on my birthday, an easy drive from where I lived at the time. Unfortunately, I was turning eight years old and wasn’t paying attention. But that’s okay, because the gift waited patiently for me to finally unwrap it.

Although this show has escaped The Dead’s generous approach to releasing Fall 1973 recordings, it has as much superb material in it as nearly any of them. 

My curation is built around two uninterrupted pieces of the second set. My arrangement of other songs around those pieces follows The Dead’s lead, when they decided to play a couple of first set songs in the middle of a fantastic second set “Playin’” jam. 

Parts of this show only circulate as audience recordings. The soundboard of everything else captures a rather wonderful mix, but for some reason the frequency spread of the circulating soundboard is all out of whack. It comes across as brittle, shrill, sterile, stabby, insubstantial, etc. I don’t know if this is a feature of the master tape or of a transferring snafu somewhere down the line.

But fear not! I obtained a FLAC file and gave it enough of a re-EQ to turn down the stabby and to bring up the warmth and depth, until it became a fully immersive Fall 1973 experience. Happy birthday.

90-minute 320kbps mp3 mix here

  • Beat It On Down the Line
  • Me and Bobby McGee
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Mississippi Half-Step >
  • Big River >
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • They Love Each Other
  • He’s Gone Jam >
  • Truckin’ >
  • Nobody’s Fault Jam
  • Loose Lucy


Shortlist: March 31, 1973 - Buffalo, NY

On the 45th anniversary of its playing, here’s a bookend to the February-March ‘73 material I’ve been posting lately. This is the next-to-last show of the March tour of the Northeast, which began in Uniondale, NY. The final show of the tour (4/2/73 Boston) was released as “Dave’s Picks” #21.

Unless I’m missing something, there’s no released show between 4/2/73 and 10/19/73. Dick Latvala maintained that the band flagged in the middle of the year, and I guess subsequent archivists have agreed. 

There are some obvious flaws in the material I’ve judged best from this show but it’s not for lack of The Dead trying and generally succeeding wonderfully. The sound of the mix/tape is great for instruments and not too hard on group vocals. 

70-minute mp3 mix here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/khddft26pjbfem7/GD%20shortlist%2073-03-31.zip?dl=0

  • Bertha >
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • The Race is On
  • They Love Each Other
  • Mississippi Half-Step (instrumental edit)
  • He’s Gone >
  • Truckin’ (instrumental edit) >
  • Drums >
  • The Other One > Spanish Jam > The Other One >
  • Space >
  • Jam > I Know You Rider
  • Casey Jones

Points of interest:

This is the only instance of “I Know You Rider” NOT following “China Cat Sunflower” between late 1971 and late 1985. The performance of the song itself isn’t fantastic, but the three minutes between the end of “Space” and the first word of “Rider” are noteworthy. They begin a free-form jam (which an audience member recognizes and gets vocally excited about) that morphs into the “Feelin’ Groovy” jam, leading to “Rider.” 

Shortlist: February 9, 1973 – Palo Alto, CA

I can’t let the 45th anniversary of this show pass without paying tribute to the wonderful jamming it included. 

It’s the first show of 1973, and it’s famous because it featured debuts of seven new songs. But it’s mostly a messy, rusty show, the new songs not rehearsed enough, old songs not rehearsed at all. There were also a lot of technical difficulties with a new sound system.

Nonetheless, the band was clearly very excited to be doing this again, after five weeks off. The “Playin’” jam is wonderfully involved and never breaks stride, and the two new songs that were truly ready for prime time are superb. I think this is the best of the first three, exploratory “Eyes” jams,” and the execution of the song itself is exceptional. 

56-minute mix here

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dv8uw104uw4hgzy/GD%20Shortlist%2073-02-09.zip?dl=0

  • PA: Wavy Gravy
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Uncle John’s Band (instrumental edit)
  • Playin’ in the Band (instrumental edit)
  • Eyes of the World (first time played) >
  • China Doll (first time played)


Shortlist: June 9, 1973 – Washington, D.C.

Artwork by Moebius.

71-minute mp3 mix here

  • Deal (4:31)
  • Loose Lucy (8:04)
  • Row Jimmy (instrumental edit) (2:25)
  • Sugaree (7:43)
  • Eyes of the World (11:22)
  • He’s Gone Jam > (6:56)
  • Truckin’ (intro & jam) > Other One > Space > (6:40)
  • Playin’ in the Band (23:37)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Deadhead in possession of a good 1973 soundboard, must find something to love in it. 

This show (and its recording) are quite rightly overshadowed by the following day’s concert, 6/10/73, which ran to 4.5 hours, with three sets, the final one played with the Allman Brothers Band. I’m surprised it hasn’t been released yet; maybe the master tape is missing? 

I’ve circled around this day-before show for a long time, chipping away at it, wondering how short it was going to get before I loved every minute of it. That tipping point occurred when I had reduced the original 3.5 hours to 71 minutes. Four songs from each set. 

My picks result from the usual, vague combination of performance quality and how well the show’s sound mix does or does not favor a particular song. 

A few points of interest:

  • “Playin’” begins nearly a minute-and-a-half before the count-in; they walked up to the start of the song as if they were headed for the reprise. Additionally, the jam never spaces out, aside from a brief launching pad for the build to the reprise, so it’s a very long jam.
  • This is one of my favorite “Loose Lucys.” It’s so long that I made an instrumental mix of it (posted over here) that runs for 4.5 minutes. 
  • The “Eyes” is very solid, end-to-end, and quite compact.
  • Weir’s guitar has a great, shimmery quality on some songs; check out “Sugaree.”
  • Jerry calls for “Space” to turn into “Here Comes Sunshine,” before it turns toward “Playin’” instead. Listen to the very end of “Space” for his plaintive suggestion.