The Grateful Dead: Europe 1990 (Essen & Frankfurt, October 17 & 22)

This mix combines highlights from two of the five shows the Dead played in Germany, during a four-country, eleven-show, October 1990 European tour. The Hornsby/Welnick era was just a month old when this tour started.

Essen and Frankfurt book-ended two nights in Berlin, which are curated here. Combine the two mixes, and I think you’ll find yourself with a very satisfactory “Germany ’90” 4-disc set. (A final night in Hamburg was less exciting and isn’t covered on these mixes.)

The 10/17 Essen performance was very strong, contributing 13 of the 20 songs on this mix. It was the last time “Ramble on Rose” and “Tennessee Jed” appeared in the same concert, and it was the first time they had since 5/1/77. (Thank you Jerrybase!)

2.5 hour mp3 mix zipped up here

Set One:

  • New Minglewood Blues
  • Ramble on Rose
  • Me and My Uncle
  • Maggie’s Farm
  • High Time
  • Cassidy
  • Tennessee Jed
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Desolation Row
  • Valley Road (debut)

Set Two:

  • Truckin’ >
  • He’s Gone
  • The Wheel >
  • I Need a Miracle >
  • Black Peter
  • Standing on the Moon >
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • The Weight

The Grateful Dead: Europe 1990 (Berlin, October 19-20)

Just a dozen shows into the Hornsby/Welnick era, the Grateful Dead went to Europe for eleven shows in Sweden, Germany, France, and England.

Aside from one of the France concerts, the run is unreleased. This mix curates the two Berlin shows, played just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

On the whole, the Europe ’90 run is pretty strong, and the sound board mixes are good. Nonetheless, as (almost) always, there’s material that crackles with a particularly bright energy and that is more than the remainder of its subtractions.

So, enjoy a concentrated, imaginary show by a version of the Dead that had just discovered that it could have a real good time together.

137-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

October 19

  • Let the Good Times Roll
  • Shakedown Street
  • Looks Like Rain
  • Brown Eyed Women
  • Scarlet Begonias > 
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • The Other One
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

October 20

  • Let It Grow >
  • Noodly Jam >
  • Box of Rain
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Samson and Delilah
  • Dark Star (edit of two parts) >
  • Throwing Stones
  • One More Saturday Night

All songs are presented in the order played, except for the relocation of Looks Like Rain. The first show began with Let the Good Times Roll and Shakedown. In the category of genuine, fun segues, this Eyes > Samson link is a very cool one. The first few minutes of Fire on the Mountain are dull, but hang in there.

Grateful Dead with Carlos Santana & Gary Duncan (10/27/91 - Oakland, CA)

This curation edits an extraordinary Grateful Dead & Guests passage to eliminate what was not extraordinary about it.

Santana and Duncan joined the Dead for part of the second set on this date, and it resulted in incendiary and surprising music. So many guitarists!

I’ve edited “Iko Iko” into a vocal-free jam, and I removed Garcia’s quite reasonable (but incorrect) belief that “Mona” was going to be “Hey, Bo Diddley.” There are 20 seconds of rhythmic uncertainty about what’s coming next, between the songs, but it sorts itself all of a sudden, and we’re back on track, and on our way to a great jam.

25-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Iko Iko > (instr. edit, 9:26)
  • Mona > Jam (edit, 15:29)

Frank Zappa: Hot Rats Sessions Trio Edits

The 2019 Frank Zappa boxed set, “The Hot Rats Sessions,” is a cornucopia of delights for fans of Zappa’s serious early work and admirers of the players he assembled for the sessions.

The set is full of formative rehearsals, mature outtakes, unedited master takes, extended jams, and other pleasures.

Three tracks provide a documentary experience of Zappa directing two trios toward the master take. Zappa’s cogent, playful direction and the musicians’ adept responsiveness are really impressive. 

The tracks presented in this post are edits of those documentary tracks, combining as many of the fragmentary musical pieces as possible into continuous instrumentals. That means they do not take the same form as Zappa’s compositions, and they sometimes repeat the same passage – but performed again, after additional direction, so you’re hearing the evolution as a performance. 

If you’ve got the box, these are bonus tracks. If you don’t have the box, consider that these are made from the smallest scraps on it, and visit the Zappa store for the main course.

12-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Transition (20 Small Cigars) (session edit) 2:50

It Must be a Camel (session edit) 4:57

  • Ian Underwood: piano
  • Max Bennett: bass
  • John Guerin: drums

Peaches en Regalia (session edit) 4:29

  • Ian Underwood: piano
  • Shuggie Otis: bass
  • Ron Selico: drums

Grateful Dead Shortlist: January 24-26, 1993 - Oakland, CA

Anyone who attended the Dead’s 1993 Chinese New Year run started the year lucky.

As is often the case after time off, the band was rusty on some details, but they had a great time playing in the band again. Carlos Santana contributed some wonderful stuff on the third night.

This mixtape provides a lot of wide-open playing and groovy jamming that admirably represent the post-Hornsby band. The struggles of 1992 are behind them, everyone is game and spry, and the great aspects of 1993-1994 are already apparent. 

Trust me on the opening sequence, and enjoy the ride thereafter. If you want more commentary on how this mix was conceived, you'll find it under the track list.

2.5-hour, mp3 mix zipped up here (dates and Santana involvement noted in song tags)

Set One (76 minutes): 

  • Gloria
  • Black Peter
  • Around & Around Blues (edit)
  • Shakedown Street (edit)
  • Estimated Prophet Jam >
  • Terrapin Station >
  • Jam After Terrapin >
  • Playin’ Jam >
  • Crazy Fingers (instr. edit)
  • The Music Never Stopped Jam

Set Two (72 minutes):

  • Improv: Gorgeous Jam >
  • Improv: Tropical Jam >
  • The Other One >
  • Stella Blue
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Bird Song
  • All Along the Watchtower

Cover art from Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”

Additional commentary:

  • The overall arc here has “Gloria” serving both as an incendiary show-opener and as a way to fast-forward you to a place somewhere like the final third of a second set - ready for a chill Jerry number, after an over-the-top Bobby rocker. But instead of dwindling to a standard second set ending, the polarity is reversed, and “Black Peter” leads to two hours of second set dilations and thrills.
  • The first stop on that imaginary journey is a particularly long and excellent version of the wonderful, low-key, blues-jazz jam that the band pursued in the later years of playing “Around and Around.” Sequentially, it picks up on the blues elements of “Black Peter.” The later-years “Around and Around” jam was a unique zone in the Dead’s history, and worth considering alongside the also-divergent jam they developed for “Eternity” at this time. The jazzy character of the second half of “Estimated Prophet” jams and the "Bird Song" jam/breakdown – including the ones included here – are also cousins within the distinctive character (and delights) of the final band. 
  • A very sleek and mighty “Shakedown” follows, a song that has a blues seed in it, with its repeated complaint lines, two-line verses, and call-and-response takes on this town. But I’m not making a big argument about this thought; it’s simply time for the energy to get big again, at this point in the mix, riding the wave that ends the “Around and Around" jam. The verses weren’t consistently great on this version, so I reduced it to an instrumental edit that retains the two important chorus sections.
  • Beyond “Shakedown,” the sequence more or less established itself, based on continuous chunks of playing and me wanting to end up with two sequences, each of which was shorter than a CD.
  • The “Stella Blue” is wonderful one, even allowing for the fact that it was rarely less than excellent in this era. 
  • I think of the latter-day “Jam After Terrapin” reaching its full, muscular form in 1994, and this gentle version seems like an early step on the way to that. 
  • As with nearly any era and lineup of the Dead, the final formation had its core personality of collective improvisation. I think this mix highlights that, insofar as you can move among the open spaces of all of these songs without feeling like you’re changing channels. You can go from a “Playin’ jam” to a “Terrapin jam” to a “Music Never Stopped jam,” and it feels approximately like a coherent 1970 passage that wove together “Dark Star,” “Feelin’ Groovy jam,” “Tighten Up jam,” etc. It’s one jam, with a lot of themes. Different band, 25 years later, but also the same band, 25 years later. 
  • The 1990s performances also included many spectacular, unique passages. I’d say these two Santana-enhanced Space jams are among those.
  • Some performances from this run didn't make it onto this curation because their soundboard mixes had some failure, including Garcia being way too quiet. One place where I thought that defect was effective was on this "Watchtower." It emerges from Space with Weir and Welnick being dominant, and Garcia being very quiet. The result is very cool for as long as it lasts, and there's no lack of Garcia as things proceed. 
  • Tired take: 1/26 was the best show of the run and 1/24 the least of the run. Wired take: The 1/24 "Bird Song" was the "Dark Star" of the run, as it often was in this era.

Grateful Dead Shortlist: April 15, 1983 - Rochester, NY

This 44-minute mix captures the funky, disco side of the Dead on 4/15/83. It was the only show they ever played that included “Feel Like a Stranger,” “Shakedown Street,” and “Supplication” - and they’re all very nice takes!

Additionally, the “Brother Esau” is superb and slinky, and the “Deal” is fiery. 

This is a hit and miss show: Great sound, but frequent annoying performance errors, some creaky vocals, and some slow songs that really droop. Dave Lemieux added the show’s “He’s Gone > Bob Star” as a bonus track to “Dave’s Picks” #39.

I think that with these additional tracks, you’ve probably got all you need from this show.

44-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Shakedown Street
  • My Brother Esau
  • Supplication
  • Deal

Cover image swiped from Wicked Grateful. You can buy a sticker here.

Grateful Dead: 1982 Summer Tour Mixtape #5 (Fire)

This 5th (of 5) Grateful Dead Summer ’82 mixtapes focusses on jams and improvisation. 

It draws heavily from the only released show from this tour – 7/31/82, Austin, TX. On that basis, the mix might be of less interest to some, but I’ve attempted to mutate things into a unique trip.

The Austin “Eyes” and “Dew” appear unaltered. The “Estimated” and “Truckin’” appear in jam-only edits, because their song-stems were nothing special, while the variable parts were. The “Scarlet > Fire” has been interrupted to include all three of the “Scarlet” jams from the tour, so if you’ve ever wanted to listen to that jam for 19 minutes straight, here you go.

From other shows, I have included two free-standing jams, a silky “Supplication,” and a 20-minute “Playin’”. This “Playin’” is an edit of the 7/27 Red Rocks performance, which was played in three pieces across the second set; I’ve put those pieces together. Look out for Weir and Mydland improvising vocals early in the jam.

110-minute mp3 mix zipped up here (dates and cities included in mp3 tags)

  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Scarlet Jam
  • Scarlet Jam
  • Scarlet Jam >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Eyes of the World
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Supplication
  • Jam
  • Jam after Terrapin
  • Estimated Prophet Jam
  • Jam > Truckin’ Jam >
  • Morning Dew

You can find all five of the mixtapes from the tour here.

Grateful Dead: 1982 Summer Tour Mixtape #4 (A Real Good Time)

This 4th (of 5) Grateful Dead Summer ’82 mixtapes is exactly what the subtitle indicates. It corrals mostly up-tempo, feel-good numbers on which fiery performances and good soundboard mixes combined to create a real good time. You get to slow down your dancing and catch your breath at “Tennessee Jed” and “They Love Each Other.” 

There’s a bit of a 1st-set > 2nd set trajectory, with “Playin’ in the Band” making one of three appearances on these tour mixes, because it was a very good moment for that jam. This mix also includes another fine example of Jerry’s enthusiasm for cooking up interesting leads in “Space” during this tour. "Not Fade Away" makes its second (and final) appearance on the mixes, in the most jammed-out version.

This mixtape is the fourth of five drawn from the tour, which I’m numbering and posting in no particular order. Each tries to provide a different angle on the music. They’ll collect under the blog tag GD Summer ’82. 

106-minute mp3 mix zipped up here (dates and venues included in mp3 tags)

  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • The Music Never Stopped (reprise)
  • Cumberland Blues
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Tennessee Jed
  • They Love Each Other
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Iko Iko
  • Improv: Jerry Has Some Ideas > 
  • Improv: Jerry’s Big Idea >
  • Not Fade Away
  • Sugar Magnolia
  • Casey Jones

Rolling Stones: Some People Tell Me (R&B rehearsals 1977-1979)

The Rolling Stones’ late-1970s studio sessions were packed with casual demonstrations of the band's core competency as a rhythm & blues outfit. Nearly all of it must have been about limbering up and just having some fun, though there are a few tracks suitable for b-sides. Regardless, the relaxed, spontaneous character of the performances is one of the most appealing features.

The death of Charlie Watts caused me to pull this mix out, because I remembered being impressed with how many different blues and R&B modes he dropped into effortlessly, from extremely subtle, almost jazz-like minimalism to propulsive thumping. It’s his drums that give shape and drama to many of these tracks.

76-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Petrol Gang
  • Some People Tell Me
  • My First Plea
  • Little Cocksucker (inst.)
  • Blues with a Feeling
  • After Hours Blues (instr.)
  • I Ain’t Superstitious
  • Jimmy Reed Jam (instr.)
  • What Am I Living For
  • Armpit Blues (instr.)
  • When You’re Gone (Red Eyes)
  • Sweet Little Rock’n Roller (instr.)
  • The Fat Man
  • Shame Shame Shame
  • Broken Head Blues (instr.)
  • Up Against the Wall (instr.)
  • Sweet Home Chicago 1
  • Sweet Home Chicago 2
  • You Don’t Have to Go

Grateful Dead: 1982 Summer Tour Mixtape #3 (Starlight)

This mix offers a single-CD-length trip through exceptional performances from the Grateful Dead’s second set at the Starlight Theatre, in Kansas City, MO, on 8/3/82. The soundboard mix is as great as the music.

Listening intently to the Dead’s Summer ’82 tour, I didn’t find any continuous stretches of performance as exceptional as this night's second set. (The Austin show’s second set is close - possibly a tie.) Additionally, there are a number of great first set performances from Kansas City that I sprinkled across the other SYF Summer ’82 mixtapes. 

The tracks included here are a continuous performance with two omissions: “Drums” are distorted on the soundboard, and the wonderful “To Lay Me Down,” which appeared between “Samson” and “Let It Grow,” has been relocated to the lead song position on this mix, where it can shine more brightly. I was able to create a seamless segue between “Let It Grow” and “Jam.”

The result is a huge, one-night jam that begins with what is arguably the single best live execution of “Shakedown Street,” all factors considered – Garcia's vocals being the toughest box to check. This whole Summer ’82 excavation began with David Leopold (@pknot) pointing me at this “Shakedown,” so, many thanks to him.

This mixtape is the third of five drawn from the tour, which I’m numbering and posting in no particular order. Each tries to provide a different angle on the music. With exceptions for “Playin’” and “The Other One,” no songs are repeated. They’ll collect under the blog tag GD Summer ’82. 

76-minute mp3 experience zipped up here (date and venue included in mp3 tags)

  • Shakedown Street >
  • Samson and Delilah
  • Let It Grow
  • Jam >
  • He’s Gone >
  • The Other One >
  • Stella Blue