Grateful Dead: The Save Your Face 1968-1970 Mixes

The Save Your Face blog has gradually accumulated a pretty nice mixtape tour of the Grateful Dead’s rise to maturity - 1968-1970. The mixes start with the first recorded appearance of the big-jam-sequence in January 1968 and end with Mickey Hart's last month with the band in 1970 (until 1975).

These mixes almost entirely dodge officially-released material and only include well-recorded, exciting performances. 

The objectives are to:

  • Fill in calendar gaps on your shelf of official live releases and favorite tapes
  • Highlight transitional and secret-history moments in the band's musical attitude and lineup
  • Draw circles around notable moments in the band's improvisational evolution
  • Blow out some beguiling "lost songs" into album-length experiences
  • Reveal 1968-1970 to be the most heterogeneous and routinely surprising period of the band's musical history

Below are links to all the 1968-1970 SYF mixes so far, in chronological order.

January 1968  

To the Eagle Palace: The earliest possible, most-inclusive-possible, draft of the jammy sequences that would change and mature in time for “Live Dead,” a year later. 

January 1968 - January 1969

Clementine (1968-1969): An extensive dive into the Dead’s first jazz jam, including full performances and instrumental edits.

June 1968

Live highlights from a lesser known month/moment-of-development, taken from little-known tapes.

June 1968 - November 1970

At Tens & Sevens: A compendium of The Main Ten, The Seven, and a little bit of The Eleven. 

August - December 1968

Late 1968: Live unreleased highlights from a period of intense maturation.

October - December 1968

Fate Music: The juiciest minutes from the Mickey & The Hartbeats recordings.

January - December 1969

Tones: An album’s worth of the quiet passages that often followed the noisy part of “Feedback.”

February 7-15, 1969

Do Not Step on Alligator: Alligator Jam > Caution Jam > Feedback is the earliest zone of Dead “thematic jamming,” captured here in three versions from the same week “Live Dead” was recorded – with the “Cautions” edited to instrumental jams.

Late Summer 1969 (August 2 - September 7)

Not the Wild East: Live passages, recorded mostly at The Matrix (a tiny venue), within a month of Woodstock. This mix finds the band as broadly heterogeneous as at any moment in their career, with guest musicians almost being the norm.

August 1969 - October 1971

The Tighten Up Jam

September 17, 1969 (Alembic Studios)

Single –  Sawmills b/w Seasons of My Heart: A couple of adorable studio outtakes of cover songs that slide into the nascent “Workingman’s” ethos.

Cartoon Music: Highlights of the band seriously practicing and taking taking random shots at Looney Tunes and other cartoon music.

December 1969 - January 1970

Mason’s Children Jams: A half-hour of five performances of “Mason’s Children,” edited into instrumental jams.

November 6, 1970

Instrumental Electric Set: A ripping, audience-only recording edited into an extended, vocal-free jam.

November 20, 1970

Grateful Airplane (Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Kaukonen, Kreutzmann, Hart): A unique jam-band formation that produced unique results.

December 15, 1970

Grateful Dorks (Crosby, Garcia, Lesh, Kreutzmann): The only live recording of David and the Dorks, purified into an instrumental jam. IMO, some of the most remarkable music of the Dead's recorded history.  

December 12-31, 1970

Skullf*ckery: Live highlights from the very end of the first two-drummer period, featuring songs from the 1970 albums, while also prototyping the one-drummer "Skull & Roses" recordings that would happen a few months later. This mix also provides extensive coverage of the moment's big jam, "Good Lovin'."

Grateful Dead: “Mason’s Children” Jams (1969-1970)

This mix offers an extended, instrumental excursion into a wonderful song that appeared briefly in Dead history and didn’t make the original, official records. 

“Mason’s Children” debuted in mid-December 1969 and, after fewer than 20 performances, it was last played at the end of February 1970.

A weird amalgam of psychedelic moves and the band’s new, old-timey vocal approach, Mason’s was a tough song for the vocal ensemble. The “Workingman’s Dead” studio outtake is the only version that properly represents the composition itself and reveals what the vocals/harmonies are supposed to sound like. 

Nonetheless, the live band dove into it with vigor and sometimes jammed it rather extensively. This mixtape highlights that jam by removing the vocals from five performances of the song. I looked for the longer, exploratory takes and those that found interesting little dynamic pockets.

The final version on 2/28/70 is a real outlier – slower, with a heavy Rolling Stones vibe. (It is speed/pitch-correct.) 

26-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Instrumental Mason's Children:

  • 12/28/69 (6:56)
  • 12/29/69 (5:54)
  • 12/31/69 (4:48)
  • 2/5/70 (4:46)
  • 2/28/70 (3:10)

Cover photo: John Hilgart. Detail of mural on the wall of the Kalamazoo People's Food Co-Op, after a car crashed through it, and the mural's painted bricks were reassembled randomly. 

Grateful Dead: U. Maryland ’81 Jams (March 7)

This mix compiles the extensive jammy material from the Dead’s Spring ’81 Cole Field House show. Check out the track list and timings to get a sense of what’s special about this show. Jesse Jarnow breaks it down here.

The source is Barry Glassberg’s excellent audience tape. I have added gentle segues to connect Bird Song to Lost Sailor and Jam to Truckin’, so the only pause is between Black Peter and Deal. Songs are in as-played order, except for the placement of Deal as the big finale.

73-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Bird Song (17:08)
  • Lost Sailor > (6:10)
  • Saint of Circumstance > (9:20)
  • Jam (9:27)
  • Truckin’ > (11:39)
  • Black Peter (9:16)
  • Deal (10:04)

Grateful Dead: Pittsburgh ’81 Jams (March 5 & 6)

Try out the best seat in Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theatre with Frank Streeter’s glorious tapes of two nights in 1981.

This mix curates and edits material from the second set of each show, preserving the real segues and creating a couple of imaginary ones. (“>”in the track list, below, indicates a real one.)

My 40th anniversary, on-this-day, listening guide to 1981 is Jesse Jarnow, via his @bourgwick show-by-show histories and listening notes – for 3/5 here and for 3/6 here.

108-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

March 5th (64 minutes):

  • Jam (w/o Garcia) >
  • Passenger
  • Scarlet Begonias Jam >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Not Fade Away >
  • Intro Jam > Wharf Rat

March 6th (44 minutes):

  • Estimated Prophet (edit) >
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Spacey Improv >
  • The Other One >
  • Intro Jam > Stella Blue (edit)

Grateful Dead: Playin’ in the Band (March 2, 1981 Cleveland)

Here’s a 24-minute 1981 “Playin’ in the Band” jam to fight your favorite 1974 version.

I’ve edited the epic, unreleased, 3-part, 3/2/81, Cleveland performance into a continuous, instrumental event that includes the relevant passage from space. (“China Doll” and drums broke up the performance.) This was the first “Playin’” of the year.

 A longish, spicy, instrumental edit of  “Supplication” is the encore. I’d hoped to weave it into the “Playin’” sequence, but it didn’t work. Still, a logical pairing with “Playin’."

Half-hour, mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Playin’ in the Band (3-parts + space instrumental edit) (23:35)
  • Supplication (instrumental edit) (4:50)

Cover image: Detail of Nora Hilgart-Griff photograph

David Bowie: The Late White Duke (1999-2016)

Someone asked me if I thought it was possible to assemble a 21st Century Bowie album that could stand with his late-Seventies albums. This mix is how I answered yes.

In addition to album tracks (well-known & deep cuts), the mix includes b-sides, off-to-the-side recordings, and remixes that are currently unavailable for purchase or to stream. Some of these “lost” recordings are peak tracks to me – “Nature Boy,” “Bring Me the Disco King” (Lohner mix), “Sunday” (Visconti mix) – as are the deep cuts "5:15" and "She Will Drive the Big Car."

21st Century Bowie has two really interesting and pleasurable plots (within the whole of the period):

  • Strange and ambitious compositions and vocal performances, rendered magically in the mix – my favorites of which are featured on this compilation. 
  • A charming, crooning David Jones throwback mode, initiated by the attitude of “Hours.” This angle featured here and there on album songs, but it was focused around the turn of the century and was supposed to be represented by an album named “Toy.” Bowie eventually leaked that album, and additional tracks showed up as b-sides. (Another good candidate for a future mix.)

I’m going out on a limb sharing commercially available tracks, but as there’s no official compilation that touches more than a few songs from Bowie’s final 15 years – and because most of the albums were greeted as returns-to-form, only to be mostly filed-and-forgotten again – consider me an earnest A&R man, arguing that the final 15 years deserve sustained love (purchases, streams, rarity-laden reissues, etc.).

I’ll be surprised if the mix doesn’t make you dig deeper into 21st Century Bowie.

Cover photo by Jimmy King, 2014.

One-hour proof-of-concept mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Blackstar (2nd half, from Blackstar)
  • 5:15 the Angels Have Come (from Heathen)
  • We Shall Go to Town (b-side)
  • Sunday (Visconti mix of Heathen track)
  • Nature Boy (non-album track)
  • Where Are We Now? (from The Next Day)
  • Bring Me the Disco King (Lohner mix of Reality track)
  • Slow Burn (from Heathen)
  • The Stars (Are Out Tonight) (from The Next Day)
  • Brilliant Adventure (from Hours)
  • Heathen (The Rays) (from Heathen)
  • She’ll Drive the Big Car (from Reality)
  • Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) (from Blackstar)
  • No One Calls (b-side)

Grateful Dead Shortlist: Uptown ’81 Jams (Chicago, Feb. 26-28)

This mix curates improvisational material from the Dead’s first shows of 1981, at the Uptown Theatre in Chicago. The band and the mix are crackling.

I’ve edited large swaths of the music into instrumental versions. One reason is Garcia’s exceptionally weird, small voice. The other is that I like to make instrumental edits for every era/year. 

Instrumental edits eliminate the distractions of song-tightness and vocal quality altogether, leaving only the pure playing. As an improv-head, listening to vocal-free Dead has made me an advocate of nearly every year in the band’s history. 

The band certainly played a lot of exciting and surprising minutes of music at the Uptown Theatre in February 1981. I’d never heard these performances, but Jesse Jarnow’s @bourgwick show-by-blow account persuaded me to baste in them on their 40th anniversaries and to pay particular attention to the material on this mix.

The first set includes unedited vocal performances, plus one big, stand-alone jam. The second set is all-instrumental, except for “Not Fade Away” and “The Other One.”

2h20m mp3 mix zipped up here (dates included in song title tags)

Set One (65 minutes):

  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • Bird Song
  • Truckin’
  • Jam
  • Let It Grow >
  • Deal

Set Two (75 minutes):

  • Scarlet Begonias (instr. edit) >
  • Fire on the Mountain (instr. edit) >
  • Estimated Prophet Intro & Jam >
  • Eyes of the World (instr. edit)
  • Drums > Space > 
  • Quiet Improvisation >
  • Not Fade Away >
  • Wharf Rat (instr. edit)
  • Terrapin Station (instr. edit) >
  • Jam
  • Quiet Improvisation >
  • The Other One

Cover artist: unknown

Grateful Dead: Clementine (1968-1969)

This mix provides a full hour of Clementine, as played by several Grateful Dead configurations in 1968 and early 1969. It was the band’s first jazz jam. 

I believe I have included every recorded version, except for the officially-released 8/13/68 studio jam (AOXOMOXOA bonus track).

This Dead Essays post is the place to find answers to all your Clementine questions. 

62-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Clementine Rehearsal Edit (9/12/68, studio Hartbeats)
  • Clementine (1/27/68, live Grateful Dead, Seattle)
  • Clementine Jam (10/30/68, live Hartbeats)
  • Clementine Instrumental Edit (1/26/69, live Grateful Dead, Avalon Ballroom, SF)
  • Clementine Jam 1 (10/8/68, live Hartbeats, The Matrix, SF)
  • Clementine (2/2/68, live Grateful Dead, Portland)
  • Clementine (1/20/68, live Grateful Dead, Eureka)
  • Clementine Jam 2 (10/8/68, live Hartbeats, The Maxtrix, SF)


  • For the 9/12/68 rehearsal, I have edited together fragments of the stop-start practice session to simulate a complete performance. Vocals by Lesh!
  • I took the vocals out of the final, 1/26/69 performance, because they’re not good, kind of buried, and way less interesting than early ’69 Dead exploring the musical opportunities. For great Garcia vocals, listen to early ’68.
  • I edited out the slack parts of the Hartbeat’s 10/8/68 performance.

Howard Devoto: We Simply May Be Evil (1983-1990)

This mix curates Howard Devoto’s music in the period between Buzzcocks/Magazine (1976-1981) and his 1990s hiatus. 

I’m not going to brief anyone on who Devoto is. For those who don’t know, this mix is not the place to start. (Try this Spotify mix.) For those who already bow to Devoto, but who don’t remember his 1980s records, this is for you.

I rank Devoto as one of rock’s great lyricists and one of its most ambitious, unorthodox singers. His 1980s work is an excellent, organic extension of the path he was charting with Magazine. Odd compositional structures, big arrangements, dramatic storytelling, and riffs and phrases that worm their way into you.

You can sing-speak along with contemporary conviction or koan bemusement to pretty much every line Devoto ever uttered. He’s been scripting challenging one-liners for you to spin through your brain since forever. 

Devoto was an unlikely candidate for 1980s music success and failed to make a living at it. He and his collaborators didn’t run from the  aesthetic tendencies of the decade, but they made them their own. In retrospect, Devoto’s arch, erudite, baroque, contrary, take-no-idiots angle on everything resulted in ‘80s music that isn’t facile in 2021. 

Devoto released three albums in the 1980s (supported by at least two tours) and collaborated with other artists here and there. The first of the three albums, “Jerky Versions of the Dream” (1983), was developed with Magazine’s Dave Formula. Devoto and multi-instrumentalist Noko (Norman Fisher-Jones) then teamed up as Luxuria and released two albums (1988, 1990).   

This mix combines studio tracks from those albums, their b-sides, and outlying collaborations. The second “disc” presents a short collection of bootleg-derived live tracks.

90-minute mp3 mixtape zipped up here.

Disc One (studio, 64-minutes):

  • Some Will Pay (for what others pay to avoid)
  • Our Curious Leader
  • Ticket
  • Beast Box
  • Public Highway
  • Pound
  • Redneck
  • Lady 21
  • Jezebel
  • Out of Shape with Me
  • Taking Over Heaven
  • She’s Your Lover Now (parts 1 & 2)
  • Railings (w/Mansun)
  • Holocaust (w/This Mortal Coil)

Disc Two (live, 25-minutes):

  • Mlle (live)
  • Parade (live)
  • Rubbish (live)
  • The Light Pours Out of Me (live)
  • Luxuria (live)

Grateful Dead: Supplication Jam 1985-1986

From Spring 1985 to Spring 1986, the Supplication jam was set free. Without the complications of Lazy Lightning or the need to land the jam at the Supplication vocals, the band enjoyed themselves thoroughly. The missing melodies crop up and here and there, as part of the jammy fabric. 

This mix compiles the period’s eight full-blown performances, which are individually and collectively an outstanding demonstration of 1980s Dead. 

I’ve used fades rather than attempting fake segues, because the band worked hard at landing or crashing the jam into all sorts of songs – Promised Land, Esau, Might as Well, Let It Grow, Don’t Need Love, Playin’ Jam. 

Those songs are beyond the scope of this mix (except Playin' Jam!), but I’ve left in the interesting transitions and faded them just before the next song bursts into full existence.

43-minute, 8-track, mp3 mix zipped up here (all dates included in tags)