Grateful Deadish: Fate Music ’68 (Hartbeats Highlights)

The several late 1968 shows that lacked Bob Weir and Pigpen, and that sometimes added or substituted a guest musician, have always been both a thrill and a disappointment to me. I have compared them to the “Wizard of Oz” poppy field; I periodically run into it joyously, and then it puts me to sleep.

In the course of his chronological 1968 listening journey (in 2018), Jesse Jarnow (@bourgwick) listened to all these shows closely and compiled great notes. Based on those notes, I’ve edited together this 2.5-hour mix. It sure as hell doesn’t put me to sleep; it’s the poppy field I’ve been looking for. Indeed, it often feels more like a lean forward in time by the band, rather than like a bunch of noodly, time-frozen, jam sessions. 

As far as I know, all tracks include Garcia/Lesh/Kreutzman/Hart, with David Getz (drums) and Elvin Bishop (guitar) joining in on some tracks. I’ve made a variety of edits, mostly to establish satisfying start- and end-points, and to remove fatty interludes from extended jams. (David Getz jam part 3 is missing, because I decided it was a debased rock version of part 1.) I also cranked up Garcia's vocals on "It's a Sin," so that they would match the instrumental interludes. Both this and the sung "Death Don't Have No Mercy" are curios that deserve a place on the shelf.

From an editing perspective, I especially draw your attention to the Elvin Bishop track, which is extraordinarily like a chill 1969 Velvet Underground track. The full jam includes thematically almost-unrelated explosions into mediocre rocking out, which return each time to the thematic base, to see what’s changed. I’ve edited it down to that thematic base, and I really like it. The Velvets and the Dead were presumably cultural/musical opposites in the late ‘60s, but they, along with Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, were closer than they thought at the time. If you want to check out my candidate for VU’s closest “Sister Ray” to a 1968-1969 “Dark Star,” listen to the 12/12/68 “Sister Ray” on this mix – performed at exactly the same time as the not-quite-Dead material on this “Hartbeats” mix.

There are also multiple brushes with a fetal “Fire on the Mountain” impulse/chord structure, closer to the 1973 Watkins Glenn jam and the 1975 “Noodle on the Mountain” rehearsal session than to true “Fire,” but also an indication of how long certain ideas incubated in Deadland. In truth, all sorts of Dead themes crop up here and there in this material, regardless of how they are labeled as tracks. 

Whether the band was contemplating kicking Bob and Pig out or just woodshedding, these sessions seem to have been an important proving ground for open improvisation, and, as we all know, the “Live Dead” shows were just around the corner, in early 1969.

2.3-hour 320kbps mp3 mix, derived from FLAC, and zipped up here

  • Fate Music (Garcia intro, 10/30/68)
  • Dark Star jam (10/8/68)
  • Jam w/David Getz 1 (12/16/68 – jazz star)
  • Jam w/David Getz 2 (12/16/68 – space)
  • Jam w/David Getz 4 > (12/16/68 – fire on the sunflower)
  • Jam w/David Getz 5 (12/16/68 – coda)
  • Clementine jam (10/30/68)
  • Jam w/Elvin Bishop edit (10/30/68 – just like sister lou says)
  • The Other One jam edit (10/10/68)
  • Dark Star jam > (10/10/68)
  • The Eleven jam > (10/10/68)
  • The Seven (10/10/68)
  • Death Letter Blues (w/vocals, 10/30/68)
  • It’s a Sin (w/vocals, 10/10/68)
  • The Other One jam (10/30/68)
  • Jam (10/10/68 – another view of fire mountain)
Bonus track: After creating this mix, I made a tighter edit of the track above titled "Jam w/Elvin Bishop edit (10/30/68 – just like sister lou says)," which removes an additional two minutes of mostly cowbell. You can grab that edit separately, below.

Grateful Dead: Knot Jazz (1968-1994)

This is an all-instrumental mix of generally jazzy Grateful Dead. The track list probably explains the premise pretty clearly: repetitious patterns in strange time signatures, structured jams, a family of Phil riffs, various knots that the band would tie and untie. As much as possible, I picked performances that present the motifs and riffs through unorthodox explorations. 

To those, I added some other Dead jazz moods, looking for interesting continuities across the years and songs. The overall goal is a gigantic, surprising jam that foregrounds the jazz/fusion band the Dead sort of were. 

Almost all this music appeared in some form on previous Save Your Face compilations. The exceptions are the 1994 “Terrapin” and “Let It Grow” jams. Nothing here has been officially released to my knowledge. 

140-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Part 1 (69 minutes):

  • Paging Getz & Gilberto (1975 rehearsal)
  • Clementine instrumental (1/68)
  • Bird Song instrumental (7/27/73)
  • Philo Stomp > Jam (10/24/72)
  • Phil Jazz Jam (7/1/73)
  • Longer than Dirt (1975 rehearsal)
  • Slipknoodle (1975 rehearsal)
  • Early Eyes Jams (2/21>22/73)
  • Eyesknot (6/20/74)
  • The Seven (3/21/70)
  • The Nines (1975 rehearsal)

Part 2 (69 minutes):

  • Help on the Way/Looseknot Jam (1975 rehearsal)
  • Jam (10/19/72)
  • Spanish Jam (3/24/73)
  • The Main Ten (6/19/68)
  • Terrapin Jam (10/19/94)
  • Let it Grow Jam (3/6/94)
  • Let it Grow Horns instrumental (9/26/73)
  • The Music Almost Stopped (1975 rehearsal)
  • Noodle on the Mountain (1975 rehearsal)
  • Another Riff (1994 rehearsal)

Theme from Summer of ’73 – “The Phil Jazz Jam”

On the 45th anniversary summer of these performances, a mix ideally suited to any Deadhead’s summer listening. 

The Grateful Dead played live only sporadically in the spring and summer of 1973 – just 15 shows over five months, at only 10 venues. The Dead haven’t officially released anything from this period, that I am aware of, except the spectacular “Watkins Glen Jam.” (Update: The "Pacific Northwest, 1973-1974" official release includes three summer '73 shows.)

“The Watkins Glen Jam” is relevant here, because this mix is also an improbably long stretch of Summer '73 improvisation without more than a passing reference to identifiable songs. 

That summer, an improvisational theme in 6/8 that had been kicking around since late 1972 suddenly became the Dead’s regularly recurring jam, only to die out again in the early fall. It’s almost an extra Grateful Dead song from the period, sort of a relaxed version of Phil’s 1973-1974 “Eyes of the World” riff, leaning forward toward 1975’s “Stronger Than Dirt.” 

For more scholarship on this and other Dead themes, go here.

The accepted name for this theme seems to be “The Phil Jazz Jam,” and I’ve woven together five full-blown summer ’73 performances of it with other outstanding, non-song-based improvisation from that summer. 

The resulting mix is a five-part, early-Seventies “The Other One” from a parallel universe, in which “The Phil Jazz Jam” holds down that position. It’s an imaginary, extra “Watkins Glen Jam,” blown out to more than twice the length, with scads of different areas of exploration. It’s an outdoor, afternoon-into-sunset show in a meadow that you never heard about. It’s the unjustifiably neglected Summer of 1973 Grateful Dead, sending you a postcard from a wonderful place – a place that is not 1972, Spring 1973, Fall 1973, or 1974. 

67-minute mp3 mix here (with all relevant information included in mp3 tags)

  • Phil Jazz Jam (6/24/73)
  • Jam (7/1/73)
  • Jam with Phil Jazz Jam moments (5/13/73)
  • Phil Jazz Jam (7/1/73)
  • Jam (6/9/73)
  • Phil Jazz Jam > (6/29/73)
  • Jam (6/29/73)
  • Jam (6/30/73)
  • Jam > (6/22/73)
  • Phil Jazz Jam (6/22/73)
  • Space (6/10/73)
  • Quiet Improvisation (7/1/73)
  • Quiet Improvisation (8/1/73)
  • Jam (6/10/73)
  • Jam (6/23/73)
  • Phil Jazz Jam (5/20/73)

If you want more all-out playing from summer 1973, go here.

Cover art by M. DeNoor 

Dark Starlets: A Europe ’72 Single-Song Mega-Mix

This mix is comprised of 21 musical segments drawn from all the “Dark Stars” performed during the Europe ’72 tour. They are arranged into two 64-minute sequences, each of which begins with the song’s intro, and each of which contains a verse. It’s all forward-moving improvisation, whether on the “Dark Star” theme or farther afield. There’s no “space,” though the segments wind up and wind down from spacey zones, such that The Dead’s development of each musical angle here is respected, and the result feels more or less like a single performance, with ebbs and flows. If you’ve ever imagined a one-hour or two-hour “Dark Star” that never completely spaces out and keeps finding new melodic avenues, this is for you.

128-minute mp3 mix sourced from the official Europe ’72 box


Bonus Track

Cover image by Neil Barrett

The Port Chester 6-24-70 “Dark Star” played straight through

This edit is intended only for people who have already listened to the three-part, 6-24-70 “Dark Star” sequence 1,000 times. 

Everyone else should immediately go encounter it in its full, as-played glory (streamed or downloaded):

DS1 > early Attics > DS2 > primordial Sugar Magnolia > DS3

If you DO know this performance like the back of your hand, then you might enjoy this continuous edit, which eliminates “Attics” and “Sugar Magnolia.” It shortens the full 29:12 sequence to a single 21:20 “Dark Star.”

(Then again, like my friend who gave me a tape of this in 1987, you might scream, "Heresy!")

The gentle intro to “Attics” out of DS1 and the clean start of DS2 make the first edit pretty reasonable sounding. (There’s an errant, loud Garcia note just before “Attics” really gets underway, and I just put the note with which he re-starts “Dark Star” there instead.) The second edit, removing the song-ish part of “Sugar Magnolia,” is seamless.

I’m not casting any aspersions on the justifiably famous and genuinely thrilling sequence; however, “Attics” and “Sugar Magnolia” have become less satisfying uses of my time, over time, while I often wish to return to the "Dark Star." 

An aside: There’s a great discussion of audience-tape-only “Dark Stars” here.

The Grateful Dead – At Tens and Sevens (and Sometimes Elevens) 1969-1970

224kbps mp3 compilation here (49 minutes)

  • The Main Ten (6-19-68 San Francisco, CA)
  • The Seven (3-21-70 Port Chester, NY)
  • The Main Ten (11-6-70 Port Chester, NY)
  • The Eleven Jam > (10-10-68 San Francisco, CA - Mickey and The Hartbeats)
  • The Seven (10-10-68 San Francisco, CA - Mickey and The Hartbeats)
  • The Main Ten (11-8-70 Port Chester, NY)
  • The Seven (9-29-69 New York, NY)

Here's one more!

The Main Ten (6/7/70 San Francisco, CA) (5:40) - tagged to drop onto the end of the above comp.

A commenter on this blog inquired: “Do you take requests? How about an edit of various Playin/Main Ten jams. I love that theme, but often can do without the whole song.”

I have no access to or expertise in the history of “Playin’” jams across the band’s career, but I did realize that most of the pre-“Playin’,” “Main Ten” jams would be audience-only recordings and therefore easily accessible on archive.org.

So, I grabbed not only “The Main Ten” (in 10/4), but also performances of “The Seven” (in 7/8). “The Eleven” (in 11/8) is the more famous early Dead kin to these other songs/jams. 

(“Estimated Prophet” is also in 7/8, and the climactic riff in the 1973-1974 “Eyes” jam is in 7/4. I’m not sure what else is worthy of note in the Dead catalog.)

There are a few Dead performances of an “Eleven jam,” without the whole song structure, but those are soundboard-only recordings, and I can’t obtain them. However, in October 1968, Mickey and the Hartbeats (Garcia, Lesh, Hart) jammed both “The Eleven” and “The Seven” extensively, and I’ve changed up the time signature in the middle of this mix by including a performance by them that segues 11 into 7. 

The first track here – “The Main Ten” (6-19-68) – is, I believe, the first recorded evidence of the “Playin’ in the Band” riff. The 11-8-70 performance is the last recorded version, prior to the arrival of “Playin’” itself. It also features a wonderful, long transition into "Dancin' in the Streets." The 11-6-70 version is notable for some remarkable audience clapping near the beginning.

Recordings of "The Main Ten" missing from this mix/post, that I am aware of, are:

  • 11/8/69 (3:12) - On "Dick's Picks" #16 and stream here
  • 12/5/69 (2:39) - stream here
  • 5/3/70 (inaudible audience recording)

If you’re interested in riff-based compilations, you might enjoy Slipknot ’74 and the earliest Eyes jams from 1973. 

Nut Hatch - February 1973: The First Three “Eyes of the World” Jams

mp3 compilation here 

43-minutes:

  • Eyes Jam #1 (2/9/73 Palo Alto, CA) (10:22)
  • Eyes Jam #2 (2/15/73 Madison, WI) (9:33)
  • Eyes Jam #3 (2/19/73 Chicago, IL) (12:22)
  • Eyes Jam 2006 (11/8/06 Lesh & Friends recreation) (10:24)

I wish I could take this further, but I don’t have soft copies of the fourth, fifth, or sixth “Eyes.” “Dick’s Picks” #28 picks up the story after that.

The Grateful Dead debuted a whopping seven new Garcia tunes at their first show in 1973, one of them being “Eyes of the World.” 

Obviously, there had been some serious band work between the 1972 New Year’s Eve show and the first 1973 show, such that all these numbers were, more or less, ready to go, and “Here Comes Sunshine” had its whole jam sequence worked out in advance. 

However, the soon-to-be trademark ’73-’74 “Eyes” jam had not been worked out in advance, although the band was clearly determined to make it a jam from the get-go, and the key ideas are already lurking in the first live performance. 

Once it did get worked out, the song’s jam tended to progress through several, fairly predictable stages, until it reached a series of (usually three) synchronized riffs. Sometimes, after those riffs, the band would jam on for a while; more often, they would rapidly dwindle to a transition to a new song.

That jam is under construction across these initial three “Eyes” jams, which are at the same time unlike the “Eyes” jams to come, more wide-open and questing, as you’d expect. 

It’s hard for me to say whether this sounds more like 1972 Dead playing 1973 changes or 1974 Dead going into unexpected, noodle places with a 1973 theme. In reality, it’s the Dead at the dawn of 1973, having fun in a brand-new sandbox that they’re eager to explore – the highest praise I can give this stuff. 

It is impossible for me not to think about the eruptions of “Slipknot” into the band’s 1974 jamming (compiled here) when listening to this evolution of the “Eyes” jam. They are so similar, ultimately, as focused knots of this era’s Dead sensibilities. 

I haven’t figured out the precise origins of the "Eyes" jam's synchronized riff in this material, but it seems like a Garcia idea that Lesh decided to formalize into something discrete and dynamic. Garcia threw it out and meandered through it, while Lesh thought it was pounce-worthy. I'm probably wrong, but the audio evidence is here for you to assess yourself. 

I have added to this compilation what I think is a rather remarkable 2006 appendix to the history of the 1973-1974 “Eyes” jam, and a fine bookend to these early “Eyes” jam explorations. In 2005 or 2006, Lesh invited people to apply to “Phil Lesh University.” As I understand it, he selected two bands from the applicants, asked them what they wanted to play, rehearsed with them for a day, then played an unorthodox show, in which each band got a set. The Garcia figure in one of the bands, Ethan Franzel, wanted to play a 1973-1974 “Eyes,” and he ended up having to re-teach Phil the jam. (Understandable, I guess, since Phil probably hadn’t thought about it since 1974, while fans never forget.) This lucky guy, Franzel, also got to be Jerry for “Dark Star.” The whole improbable show is streamable here

In any case, at the other end of the invention of the “Eyes” jam, we get a remarkably tight recreation of the ultimate structure of that jam, some 30 years after the fact, featuring Lesh, who seems to me to have been the leader of that earlier structuring. 

Update: I contacted Franzel, who had this to say:  "Before the Phil show - maybe a month or two before, right after the bands were set - I spoke with the other guitarist in my set, Greg Fain. We knew when we spoke that it was going to work. Plus we fit into natural roles - I played lead when things were more "jammy" - that's why you hear me taking the lead on the Eyes jam and on Dark Star. We knew what tunes we were playing at that point, and Fain and I wanted to get together beforehand to run the tunes, figure out compatibility, etc. We discovered on the phone that we both - upon discussing the setlist with Phil (ha! That was a great phone conversation, just me and Phil talking about music and spirituality!!) - wanted to do the 73/4 Eyes jam. So we were simpatico from the start, and Phil was amenable. I sent out the chords and the structure to the other musicians so that they would be 100% ready for it when the time came to rehearse. When we actually did it live, the reaction was pretty much what you'd hope it would be - a bunch of Heads grooving on something that they hadn't heard Phil do in a really really long time. I remember telling Phil "that next chord is a C diminished." It was awesome to tell him the sequence! Of course, the first time we rehearsed the riff at the end, in 7/4 time, his fingers instinctively played the harmony part that, as far as I know, he hadn't played since 1974. It was probably the highlight of the whole event. Rehearsing that riff."

The Chicago audio comes directly from Dick Latvala, who sent the show’s second set to me with the note: “Hi John. Thanks for sending me that interchange w/Pig. I decided to record over it with something that is PRETTY NICE. – Dick” 

Shortlist: Watkins Glen – July 27-28, 1973

mp3 compilation here (re-loaded to add a few more minutes of music)

Part 1 (43 minutes):

  • Brown-Eyed Women (7/28)  (4:56)
  • Bird Song (instrumental edit - 7/27)  (11:21)
  • Garcia & Lesh > (7/28)  (1:05)
  • Eyes of the World (instrumental edit - 7/28)  (16:17)
  • Sing Me Back Home (7/28)  (9:19)

Part 2 (43 minutes):

  • Here Comes Sunshine (instrumental edit -  7/28)  (6:41)
  • Deal (7/28)  (6:09)
  • Playin’ Jam (7/28)  (20:26)
  • Nobody’s Fault Jam (7/28)  (2:06)
  • China Cat Rider (instrumental edit – 7/28)  (8:01)

    (Cover image: Luigi Serafini)

    This mix aims to figure out what happened at Watkins Glen, other than the amazing, famous, 20-minute improvisation from 7/27: “The Watkins Glen Jam.” That jam isn’t included here, but it can be found on the official release, “So Many Roads,” and in part on an all-improvisation mix I made and posted here. Among other glories, that jam includes an early, extended trip into “Fire on the Mountain” territory. 

    One show was scheduled at Watkins Glen; two were played. The venue was a racetrack, and the context was “Summer Jam at Watkins Glen,” scheduled for one day, July 28, 1973, featuring The Grateful Dead, The Band, and The Allman Brothers Band. However, so many people had shown up by the 27th that the sound check became a concert in its own right, The Band and Allman Brothers playing a couple songs each, and the Dead playing for 90 minutes. 

    Wikipedia’s got a good article about the festival as a whole, and The Dead have posted a nice tribute to the “sound check,” which includes complete, streaming audio.

    I got intimate with the shows because I wanted to know what kind of other improvisational playing occurred around that epicenter of excellence, “The Watkins Glen Jam.” (Just like you want to hear the August 1972 Berkeley Community Theater shows, because they immediately preceded Veneta, OR.)

    It turns out that there was plenty more stupendous improvisation at these shows, as well as a few highly pleasing examples of more routine songs. By the end of my own listening/culling saga, everything I continued to love came from the 7/28 show, except for one mind-melting performance from the 7/27 “sound check.”

    Two of the jam passages seem notable, beyond simply having great playing:

    • “Bird Song” and “Dark Star” are almost the same song to begin with, but this extraordinary “Bird Song” demonstrates the resemblance to an uncanny degree. 
    • This long “Eyes of the World” jam becomes a real adventure, eventually hitting the synchronized riff five times, including one that becomes a fantastic moment of disintegration and one that commandingly bookends the song. The others are all in the pretty-solid to not-together range, but I don’t think that diminishes the thrill of the whole thing very much. (Is a five-riff “Eyes” a record?)

    SOUND QUALITY/EDITING CAVEATS: There’s a soundboard tape-flip gap during “Bird Song” that I joined up, and there’s a little jog in the “Playin’” jam that has nothing to do with my edits. My soundboard (or perhaps all soundboards?) also suffers from some tape-speed wobbles and warps. You’ll hear those in a couple of places, but mostly they didn’t impact the music I thought was worth pulling aside.

     

    Improvisation 1972-1974 Vol. 2 (Best of Shortlists Vol. 3)

    Zipped up file of mp3s here

    LP 1 (46 minutes)

    • Jam (Vancouver, BC 6-22-73) (8:28)
    • Jam Inside Playin’ (Seattle, WA 5-21-74) (7:10)
    • Jam > Mind Left Body Jam (Portland, OR 5-19-74) (9:49)
    • Jam > Bass & Drums > Jam > Spanish Jam > Jam (Philadelphia, PA 3-24-73) (20:34)

    LP 2 (46 minutes)

    • Jam > Dark Star (Williamsburg, VA 9-11-73) (9:43)
    • Mind Left Body Jam > Jam Inside Dark Star (Madison, WI 10-25-73) (5:23)
    • The Other One Excerpt (Jersey City, NJ 9-28-72) (11:22)
    • Jam Montage (San Francisco, CA 12-31-72) (14:25)
    • Jam (Berkeley, CA 8-21-72) (5:07)

    Aside from “space” (improv without meter), Grateful Dead improvisations that aren’t directly related to a particular song are rarer than you’d think, even in 1972-1974. 

    Most “Playin’ in the Bands” and “Other Ones” are comprised of space and more-or-less direct exploration of the songs’ themes. “Eyes of the World” jams have a wide dynamic range, but they’re still working their way through the same series of checkpoints, with rare exceptions. Likewise, "Bird Song" and "Scarlet Begonias."  “Dark Star” is the most pliable, a song that is anchored but that is also often a “unique jam” without ceasing to be “Dark Star.” 

    The point of this compilation (and the one that preceded it) is to bring together material that is largely outside of all such song-based frameworks. Pure, spontaneous jamming, with a beat you can dance to.

    I believe that everything (or nearly everything) I distilled for the first improvisation compilation I posted has been officially released within full shows. To the extent that many of those tracks sound like planned compositions, once you choose start- and end-points that isolate them, I'd say the Dead Vault Curators are doing a good job of making the most astonishing material available. 

    This second compilation comes entirely from “shortlists” of single shows that I have previously posted, which means that all of it is unreleased as of June 2017. (So, from my fake album blog's POV, this is “Improv Vol. 2,” but also “Best of Shortlists Vol. 3.”) 

    I have used this opportunity to once again promote a couple of passages of music that I adore, even though I would urge you to go listen to them in context. From May 19, 1974 in Portland, I’ve pulled an exceptionally buoyant jam that includes “Mind Left Body.” From September 28, 1972 in Jersey City, I’ve isolated an extended passage from “The Other One” that is “The Other One,” while also being something else altogether. Both are among my favorite Dead moments. 

    I have also scratched a long-standing itch and combined three improvisational passages from the long, multi-chaptered “The Other One” of New Year’s Eve 1972 that aren’t “The Other One.” 

    As always, tracks have been edited (start and end) to feel coherent and sequenced to provide some continuity – and everything is tagged to stand clearly apart from other “albums”/songs I’ve posted. For the CD burners among you, any compilation longer than 80 minutes is broken into/tagged as multiple "albums." 

    Slipknot '74

    Zipped up file of mp3s here

    20 minutes:

    • Slipknot (out of Eyes 6-20-74) (5:34)
    • Slipknot (inside The Other One 2-23-74) (3:17)
    • Slipknot (within a longer jam 7-25-74) (5:22)
    • Slipknot (inside Playin’ 2-22-74) (4:27)
    • Slipknot (out of Eyes 10-20-74) (1:52)

    Jerry Garcia introduced the “Slipknot” riff into the band’s live jamming at least five times in 1974, including the first and last shows of the year. These early appearances aren’t “Slipknot” proper, since the band is just doing whatever comes naturally at the time, but there’s some added satisfaction in hearing them all together, juxtaposed with the riffs and jamming modes of several different songs.

    I have kept a fair amount of surrounding material on most of these edits, so the context isn’t lost, and you can hear the riff sliding in and out of the proceedings. So, this isn’t truly 20 minutes of “Slipknot,” but rather 20 minutes of jamming in which “Slipknot” keeps appearing.