Illustration by Victor Moscoso. Typography by Tom Ford.
A while back, Jesse Jarnow (@bourgwick & jessejarnow.com) suggested to me that there might be a single mega-suite hiding in the fragmentary, unreleased live recordings from The Dead’s tour at the beginning of 1968. On the 50th anniversary of the end of that tour (February 4, 1968), we present our ideal set, based on the extant, unreleased recordings.
In late 1967 and early 1968, the Grateful Dead began linking their newest songs into extended suites, resulting in the experimental "Anthem of the Sun" and the double LP "Live/Dead." By the time those albums made it to stores, though, the song suite had already evolved. During the early 1968 winter tour of the northwest, the band brought a multitrack, making recordings that would be used for Anthem, and one can hear them piecing together different combinations of their newest songs, their most psychedelic material yet and – not coincidentally – their earliest collaborations with lyricist Robert Hunter.
"To the Eagle Palace" (title borrowed from Hunter's 1968-'69 "Eagle Mall Suite") posits a seamless path through the band's early 1968 repertoire. Highlighting early drafts (such as "Dark Star" with a call/response Garcia/Lesh intro and a drumless arrangement featuring only hand percussion), forgotten songs (like the lovely Lesh/Hunter psych-jazz "Clementine"), and a few shifting audio fidelities, with edits and crossfades occurring inside song performances as well as within many of the transitions.
It is a fantasy set, perhaps played on a night tape wasn't rolling. As it happens, it would also fit onto two LPs with even side breaks. LATVALA!
To the Eagle Palace
- That's It for the Other One >
- Clementine >
- New Potato Caboose >
- Born Crosseyed >
- Spanish Jam >
- Feedback >
- Spanish Return > Dark Star >
- China Cat Sunflower >
- The Eleven >
- Alligator >
- Caution >
Source dates included in mp3 tags.
Thanks to @mr_completely for tipping us off that our preferred “Spanish Jam,” which is split between two different sources, required a channel-flip to make the merger of the two halves sound right. And thanks to Jesse for forcing me to cut and re-edit until the result was as just exactly perfect as we could manage. Beyond that, we’ll let our editorial process remain mysterious. Just enjoy this amazing, non-stop, 86-minute tour through the birth of the mature Dead.