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.

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. 

Shortlist: September 28, 1972 - Jersey City, NJ

Part 1: (48 minutes)

  • Big River
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • China Cat Sunflower
  • Black Throated Wind
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Don’t Ease Me In

Part 2: (59 minutes)

  • He’s Gone >
  • Bass and Drums >
  • The Other One >
  • Space >
  • Me & Bobby McGee >
  • The Other One >
  • Wharf Rat

192kbps files derived from a couple of sources.

It always pains me a bit when they release another September 1972 show, and it’s not this one. (There are four of them so far.) The circulating SBDs of 9/28 are incomplete,* but there’s great stuff in there, and I rank the main, 20-minute “The Other One” passage as one of the best improvisational explorations of the era. The song’s undertow never quite goes away, but a tender counter-melody dominates, recurring and beautifully developed.

The “China Cat” is by itself, because “I Know You Rider” spliced into a bad audience recording – but it’s a really good “China Cat” with an extended intro. And it’s always nice to come across early 1970s versions of Bobby’s improbably-built, angular tunes (“Greatest Story” and “Black Throated Wind”), on which the band totally finds the double-jointed groove, and Weir’s vocals aren’t too yelpy. The “Greatest Story” here features a good version of the “St. Stephen”-style riff at the climax.

*P.S. - Since I made this mix, I seem to have picked up a nearly complete soundboard, with the complete "I Know You Rider," and a "Half-Step that maybe should be on this mix. Oh, well... 

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. 

Shortlist: May 19, 1974 - Portland, OR

A 72-minute mix from two excellent SBD sources, all dead air trimmed off. 192kbps mp3s

  • Big Railroad Blues
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Wharf Rat
  • Truckin’ >
  • Jam >
  • Mind Left Body Jam >
  • Not Fade Away >
  • Goin’ Down the Road
  • Ship of Fools
  • U.S. Blues
  • [bonus track]

I can’t think of any passage of 72-74 Dead that is as exuberant, buoyant, bouncy, and cheerful as the 32 minutes of “Truckin’” through “Goin’ Down the Road” in this show. The pure playing is going so well by the time they get to “Not Fade Away,” that both it and “GDTRFB” are as much continuations of free playing as they are stand-alone songs. There’s just an attitude that carries through the full half-hour sequence.

Much the same can be said of “China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider,” the weird super-cheerfulness of the show peaking in an anomalous event: When Jerry begins his first line in “I Know You Rider,” (around the 2:40 mark), what sounds like a clutch of swooning groupies next to the stage lets out a big cheer. Good times.

There are a lot of songs here that also appear on “Skullfuck” and “Europe ’72,” but these aren’t anything like those.

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 status as a big song 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.

Shortlist: Radical Edit of 11/14/73 - San Diego

This is a radical edit to highlight an extraordinary stretch of playing in this show. 

  • Truckin’ (intro and jam) > (8:52)
  • The Other One > Space > Big River Tease > The Other One > (24:18)
  • Eyes of the World (instrumental) > (7:46)
  • The Other One. (4:23)

It’s really all about “The Other One” in this night's second set, and it’s a doozy. It emerges slowly and organically from a strong “Truckin’” jam, then explores a lot of territory up to the first verse – after which it dismantles itself elegantly into a spare, expressive “Space.” “Big River” provides a dramatic running start back into some more sublime “The Other One” exploration, which eventually finds a reasonable path to “Eyes of the World.” But the second verse of “The Other One” is still hanging, so “Eyes” detours around its usual synchronized jam sequence and instead finds its way back to “The Other One,” which has its grand finale. 

The purpose of this “radical edit” was to keep this whole sequence intact, but to eliminate the actual songs, “Truckin’,” “Big River,” and “Eyes of the World,” none of which are outstanding in performance or soundboard mix.

Five pieces were sliced out, and the breaches healed, so that it sounds approximately like The Dead played it this way:

  • “Truckin’” and “Big River”: One cut each, eliminating everything from the first sung word to the last sung word. 
  • “Eyes of the World”: All three verse/chorus segments removed, but the instrumental passages between them preserved and segued together into a single big instrumental “Eyes.”

It sounds crazy, but the result is a quite wonderful 45 minutes of high-end Grateful Dead instrumental, improvisational adventure through the riffs and changes of several songs, without singing any of them except "The Other One."