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: 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.

Grateful Dead: Refugees from Spaceports (1994)

When I compiled several mixes of 1994 Drumspace highlights a while back, I ended up with a couple hours of isolated passages that I didn’t include. 

I’ve been playing those outtakes lately, and these nine passages turn out to be great.  

36-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Orbital Stabilization (3/27/94)
  • Core Sample (9/28/94)
  • Ore Mine 1 (9/28/94)
  • Field Recording (3/6/94)
  • Malfunction (4/7/94)
  • Beneath the Surface (10/11/94)
  • Interplanetary Feud (3/6/94)
  • Space Ranch (3/4/94)
  • Ore Mine 2 (3/27/94)

Charlie Christian: “Breakfast Feud” (Extended Edit)

This 6m10s edit of the Benny Goodman sextet’s “Breakfast Feud” (1940-1941) includes the Charlie Christian electric guitar solos from all nine studio takes of the song.

Christian’s tragically short life and the short-solo format (20-30 seconds) of 3-minute jazz songs meant that we only got to hear him stretch out a little bit on the impromptu jam, “Waiting for Benny.” Charlie Christian surviving into the bop and rock eras would have been a thing of wonder, for sure. 

The whopping nine takes of “Breakfast Feud” provide three-and-a-half minutes of lightning Christian solos. Those are edited together here, in the context of the whole performance. 

The establishing take is the first master take, and the concluding one is the next-to-last alternate take - the first an arbitrary choice, the second a random editing outcome.

Six takes feature:

  • Clarinet: Benny Goodman
  • Guitar: Charlie Christian
  • Bass – Artie Bernstein
  • Drums – Harry Jaeger
  • Piano – Ken Kersey
  • Tenor Saxophone – George Auld
  • Trumpet – Cootie Williams

Three takes substitute:

  • Drums – Jo Jones
  • Piano – Count Basie

The piano solo on the edit is Kersey, but I think it’s Basie cackling at the end of the concluding take. The early 1940s small groups kick ass. 

Grateful Dead: Firelike Jams (1968-1979) - EXPANDED EDITION

This mix collects Grateful Dead improvisations that have something in common with “Fire on the Mountain.” It also includes a live Diga Rhythm Band performance with Garcia, and an early studio take of a vocal “Fire on the Mountain” by The Marin County Collective, which featured Hart and Garcia. 

NOTE: This is a much-expanded revision of an earlier mix. I have simply revised the original blogpost and linked to the expanded file. Apologies to those who grabbed the first one, but comments on that one got me to this one, so there you go. Special thanks to @MrCompletely, @DeadsoundApp, and @MarkRichardson, without whom…

83-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Firelike ’68 (10/10/68, Hartbeats) (10:59)

  • Starting with a gentle riff that sounds a bit like the Dave Brubeck quartet noodling Scarlet-into-Fire, this jam mutates into a bop-like exploration of the “Dark Star” melody, before revisiting Firelike territory around the six-minute mark, then wandering off again. I kept the jam intact, since it’s good and organic all the way through.

Firelike ’68 (12/16/68, Hartbeats w/David Getz) (9:17)

  • This is the earliest instance of this kind of groove that I’m aware of. Garcia brushes up against “Dark Star” and ventures into explicit “China Cat” territory.

Firelike ’71 (8/21/71, Mickey’s Barn) (12:08)

  • This jam finds its fire gradually and kicks in hard around five minutes. From the “A Day in the Country” radio broadcast. Players include some combination of Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Ned Lagin, David Crosby, and John Cipollina.

Firelike ’73 (7/27/73, Watkins Glen Jam pt. 2) (5:12)

  • The most famous Firelike jam appeared in the second half of the 30-minute “Watkins Glen Jam.” I edited tight, since everyone knows the Watkins jam.

Firelike ’75 (Blues for Allah rehearsal) (14:04)

  • I had the most terrible tape of this in the 1980s - 100th generation, with more hiss than music - but I loved it. The five minutes preceding my start-point are also cool, but they kind of turn the beat around and pounce decisively at the place I begin. (The Save Your Face mix, “Knot Jazz,” contains the whole thing.)

Happiness is Drumming ’76 (6/28/76, Chicago) (6:31)

Happiness is Drumming ’76 (6/22/76, Philadelphia) (1:57)

  • The Chicago performances is a full-band, full-blown “Happiness is Drumming” – essentially the debut of “Fire.” (The mix, unfortunately, has Keith pretty loud, and he's playing without imagination or swing.) The brief Philadelphia occurrence is just a glancing blow, but in a crazy-fun context.

Firelike ’79 (4/16/79, Brent Mydland rehearsal)

  • This is an actual Scarletfire jam – “Scarlet” improv on top of an almost-“Fire” rhythm bed. 

Happiness is Drumming ’75 (5/30/75, Diga Rhythm Band w/Garcia) (10:56)

  • I decided not to include Diga’s familiar released studio recording of this song (which also includes Garcia) in favor of this long, live take.

Fire on the Mountain 1972-1973 (Melton, Garcia, Hart, Freiberg) (5:09)

  • As far as I can discern, the two versions of the Marin County Collective’s unreleased, Mickey’s Barn, “Fire on the Mountain” (1972 and 1973) are based on the same recording, edited shorter and longer (3:17 vs. 5:09). I’ve included only the longer edit (1973). This is the first recording to include the song’s lyrics, with extra and different words, which are rapped by Mickey Hart. Personally, I’m cool with all aspects of that scenario.

Grateful Dead: The Tighten Up Jam (1969-1971)

This mix compiles 25 performances (two hours) of the “Tighten Up Jam” by the Grateful Dead, including several adjacent “Feelin’ Groovy Jams.” The jam typically appeared in the variable middle of “Dark Star” and as a side-trip prior to the final chorus of “Dancin’ in the Streets.” 

The Dead’s “Tighten Up” is named for its plausible derivation from the song of the same name by Archie Bell and the Drells (1968). “Soulful Strut” by Young Holt Unlimited (1968) has also been suggested as an influence. 

“Tighten Up” could be languid and sweet or fast and fierce. It’s one of the very special, pliable, thematic sub-plots in Dead history. Aside from a 1971 outlier, it was only played during a 14-month period from late summer 1969 to fall 1970.

While being distinctive musically, “Tighten Up” was also just a short reach from other comfortable 1969-1970 zones. The band could jump or creep into it from “Dark Star’s” theme, in the middle of a “Dancin’” jam, out of “Feelin’ Groovy,” or from more open spaces in the music.

Yet, while being very much an expression of that moment’s band, the “Tighten Up Jam” also tilts forward toward things to come. 

It is the era’s “Eyes of the World,” allowing the band to explore jazzy rhythms and chords to a greater extent than nearly anything else they were playing at the time. Though in a different key, it gets very close to “Eyes” at numerous points on these recordings. If the band hadn’t had other ideas about the 1973-1974 “Eyes” jam, you could easily imagine set lists containing “Eyes > Tighten Up,” and vice versa.

Some other points of future-song interest:

  • The second half of the 1/2/70 “Feelin’ Groovy” sounds like it is inventing “Sugar Magnolia,” which doesn’t appear on a tape before 6/24/70 – when it bursts, half-formed out that night's "Tighten Up" jam, inside that night's "Dark Star."
  • The second half of the 9/18/70 “Tighten Up” sounds like it is inventing “The Wheel.”
  • In several of the speedier performances, Garcia leads the band into a place that’s related to the second half of the 1973 Watkins Glenn jam – which is itself close kin to “Fire on the Mountain.” Check out the final minute of 5/6/70 and 4/3/70 (1:25 until nearly the end) for examples.

The first 20 tracks on the mix are the highest-fidelity recordings, sequenced to provide both continuity and variation. The final five tracks are exciting performances that only circulate on lo-fi-but-listenable audience tapes (e.g., Portchester, 6/24/70).

There are no jump cuts or edited segues on this mix; I just managed start and end points for each performance.

111-minute mp3 mix zipped up here, which looks like this:

A note of thanks to my masked collaborator:

This mix would not have been possible without this amazing guide to where to find “Tighten Up” in the Dead’s recordings. I don’t know who “enjoy every (dead) sandwich” is, but they are awesome.

Grateful Dead: The Spanish Jam (1968-1995)

This mix compiles 47 performances of the Grateful Dead’s “Spanish Jam” – which may be every recorded version. Lasting 4.25 hours, the mix stretches from January 1968 to June 1995, nearly the band’s whole career.

The performances are divided into five “discs” of various lengths, which align with the band’s discontinuous engagement with the theme. All performances have been volume equalized and edited to have ear-friendly start and end points.

The disc/track indexing is strictly chronological, except for the 1973-1974 disc, which is sequenced for a better-than-chronological listening experience. If you don’t like that, the song title tags are formatted to enable a full chronological sort.

Multiple members of the Dead have credited Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain” album as the band’s source/inspiration. Drop the needle on the song “Solea” around the 9:30 mark to hear why that makes sense.

"Solea" and “Spanish Jam” may share an origin in the widely-recorded composition “Malagueña” by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona. Here’s Lecuona playing it in 1954. Here’s Chet Atkins playing it in 1956. Here’s the Stan Kenton big band playing it circa 1961.

You can follow Dead-scholar trails about the song here, among other places.

The mp3 mix has been divided into four separate downloads, so that you don't have to deal with a single, gigantic file. The two 1980s discs are combined into a single file for downloading. 

Disc One: 1968-1970 (download)

  • Four performances
  • 49 minutes

Disc Two: 1973-1974 + 1976 (download)

  • Nine performances
  • 45 minutes

Disc Three: 1981 (download)

  • Nine performances
  • 41 minutes

Disc Four: 1982-1987 (included with 1981 download)

  • Seventeen performances
  • 79 minutes

Disc Five: 1992-1995 (download)

  • Eight performances
  • 38 minutes

Grateful Dead: Mind Left Body Jam (1972-1993)

This mix compiles 18 versions of the Grateful Dead’s “Mind Left Body” jam from 1972-1974 – plus an appendix of 12 later manifestations (1975-1993). These eras are presented as separate mixes.

(This is version two of the mix, including volume and EQ improvements on four tracks.)

1972-1974 MLB MVP goes to Billy. If you could isolate his drums, you would find so many killer samples.

All performances are provided complete. I created jump cuts in some places, but those are at or after the moment when the theme vanished from the jam. (Preferable to constantly fading out as some other theme begins.)

I created sequences for each disc that help create a listening experience with some coherence and flow. Every MLB had its own tempo, vibe, and attack - bursting or emerging out of somewhere else, on its way to somewhere else.

You can also sort all tracks chronologically. The song title format of the mp3 files is: “MLB (YY/MM/DD).” Chronological isn't an ideal, continuous listening experience, IMO, but it enables you to use the mix as an audio reference work.

The standard written reference work on “Mind Left Body” is here. Worth reading all the way to the bottom! I believe I checked out every version noted in the post, and I only omitted the ones that are barely there.

While it is true that most of the post-1974 performances aren’t full MLB Jams, by early Seventies standards, they also have the benefit of doing different things with those four chords. The 12/30/83 > 10/20/84 > 11/29/81 sequence combines into a pretty thrilling jam, for any era, with MLB cropping up in interesting ways.

Two-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

Disc One: 1972-1974 (63 minutes)

  • MLB (6/28/74)
  • MLB (5/12/74)
  • MLB (11/20/73)
  • MLB (10/17/74)
  • MLB (5/19/74)
  • MLB (6/16/74)
  • MLB (9/14/74)
  • MLB (4/8/72 w/other themes)
  • MLB (12/2/73)
  • MLB (9/21/73)
  • MLB (12/18/73)
  • MLB (11/11/73)
  • MLB (10/25/73)
  • MLB (10/19/73)
  • MLB (7/31/74)
  • MLB (10/30/73)
  • MLB (9/21/72 w/other themes)
  • MLB (3/5/72 inside “Good Lovin’”)

Disc Two: 1975-1993 (44 minutes)

  • MLB (10/18/78 - w/“Mojo" licks)
  • MLB (12/30/83)
  • MLB (10/20/84 - w/other themes)
  • MLB (11/29/81 - w/other themes)
  • MLB (2/28/75 - “Music Never Stopped” rehearsal)
  • MLB (7/16/90)
  • MLB (3/24/90 - “Mud Love Buddy”)
  • MLB (6/8/92 - out of “Corrina”)
  • MLB (3/10/93)
  • MLB (3/10/85 - AUD)
  • MLB (6/4/83 - AUD)
  • MLB (9/6/79)

Grateful Dead: Scarlet > Fire 1981

Here’s a 52-minute slice of 1981 “Scarlet > Fire,” comprising three unreleased performances. The mighty 3/10/81 MSG version is presented in full. Two more are presented as instrumental edits. Segues weave it all into a non-stop experience that goes like this:

Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain > Scarlet Jam > Fire Jam > Scarlet Jam > Fire Jam.

Which is to say three transitions!

I was turned on to these performances by a crowd-sourcing tweet I sent out, because I was on a S>F binge and wanted to check out some unknown (to me) versions from years I don’t know very well. Thanks to all who participated. If people enjoy this, I’ll look into samplers from more years (when I can handle listening to more of these songs again). 

52-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain (3/10/81 - MSG)
  • Scarlet Jam > Fire on the Mountain (instr. edit) (5/15/81 - Rutgers)
  • Scarlet Jam > Fire on the Mountain (instr. edit) (9/12/81 - Greek)