KISS 1976-1977 (Spotify playlist)

My 12-year-old-self was right about at least this much of KISS. In 1976, I was listening only to the Beatles. By 1978, I was listening to Sex Pistols and DEVO. 

In 1976-1977, the turgid early KISS was becoming skilled and snappy enough to occupy the elaborate glam space they always aspired to. At the same time, the attempt to produce them into a crisp, pop, AM-radio-friendly sound was dovetailing with the trebly sound of punk/new wave. 

“Love Gun’s” sonics are closer to “Marquee Moon” than an ELO or Fleetwood Mac record, or the Ted Nugent and Nazareth albums of the day. It sounds like it was recorded ingeniously on a four-track in a garage, the drums especially bad and excellent.

It’s accidental punk – cock-rock Ramones, who are pulling it off. Pretend this was the only music they ever made - a lost band from the Max's Kansas City scene. Or, embrace the fact that KISS had become a major label success, and think of this material as their "Some Girls" moment – a lucky convergence of ironic manly camp, crunchy songs, and the zeitgeist. 

The songwriters are hitting their stride, while still trapped within the distinctive fingerprints of their creative limitations. The band can't jam, and they want hits, so they cram a lot of ingredients into their 3-3.5 minute tunes.

A minute later, KISS would become entirely fake, but for a hot second, they checked in as a fully-realized concept.

Spotify Playlist Here

Mark Mothersbaugh: “Muzik for Insomniaks” (1988)

“Please play at a low volume. Muzik for Insomniaks is designed to interface with your world.” - Mark Mothersbaugh  

For some reason, this wonderful, two-volume album of Mark Mothersbaugh’s Fairlight and Roland compositions has fallen off the map. I see no evidence of re-releases after 1988, and it doesn’t seem to be available for purchase or streaming anywhere official. 

This music has been a regular companion to my days, and my daughter (now 21) has been a fan of “XP137” for nearly her whole life. 

It was recorded during the period when Mothersbaugh was writing music for “Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” and not long before he started scoring “Rugrats.” His big-time movie career, including extensive work with Wes Anderson, followed. 

Cover art is by Mothersbaugh - a detail scanned from one of the posters that came with the CD edition.

28 songs, 2 hours 21 minutes

zipped up mp3 download here

Sample: XP137

DEVO: Beautiful Mutants (1974-1978)

DEVO put the future on tape long before they were signed and made records with Brian Eno. Before and after Eno, they were a research laboratory for the 1970s’ break with the past and the leap into the 1980s. They were also one of the best live bands of the punk/post-punk era. 

This mix offers a curation of early, unreleased material that supports the case for DEVO’s eminence. It divides into a double LP - studio and live. 

mp3 mix zipped up here

LP 1: Studio (1974-1978)

The first LP is a studio concept album that sequences primordial, weird, intense, and astounding early items into a devolved Sgt. Pepper with no commercial potential - same length, most tracks segued. It’s heavily overproduced and sonically-overdriven by the randomness of primitive recording technology and the ravages of time. Bob Dobbs/White Heat.

  • Because (from The Truth About De-Volution)
  • The Death of Booji Boy
  • The Smart Patrol (version 1)
  • Fraulein (live 1974, Akron, OH)
  • Shrivel Up (demo)
  • Hey Hey My My (long version)
  • How Many Ropes
  • Secret Agent Man (Mark M. vocals)
  • Lost At Home (Tater Tot)
  • U Got Me Bugged (instrumental version)

LP 2: Live (1977)

Booji and the Stooges. The selections come from February 1977 in Akron, augmented with some of the tracks the band excluded from their release of a May 1977 Cleveland show (“Miracle Witness Hour”). The tapes sit well together, and I only included really good stuff.

  • Nutty Buddy
  • Secret Agent Man
  • Shrivel Up
  • Too Much Paranoias
  • Space Junk
  • Blockhead
  • Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy
  • Sloppy
  • The Words Get Stuck in My Throat
  • Social Fools

Early DEVO:

The band had at least three or four albums of material by the time they were signed, some of which would be re-recorded for early singles and their first two albums (Q/A, Duty Now). The songs and the band’s attack changed a lot between 1974 and 1978, so the early versions are always fascinating.

Grateful Dead Shortlist: 9/11/74 (Dick’s Picks #7 Outtakes)

This mix is a 38-minute, instrumental edit of jammy material Dick Latvala didn’t include on Volume 7 of “Dick’s Picks” - Alexandra Palace, September 9-11, 1974.

The Save Your Face mixtape marathon began as a 1974 listening project, and it’s been a long time since I added anything to the pile delicious, unreleased music from that year. 

This mix is all-instrumental due to SBD tape flaws (“Scarlet”) and DJ preferences (“Eyes” and “Wharf Rat”). There’s nothing wrong with the singing of those songs, though nothing special about it either. 

The long, Keith-centric opening of “Eyes” made it an appealing choice to turn into a vocal-free, escalating jam. I also removed one, small, momentum-breaking passage from the jam itself.

I liked the way the jam led up to “Wharf Rat” and how the WR started, so I made the whole song into an instrumental edit, which provides a nice “Dew”/“Dark Star”-energy end to the short ride.

38-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Scarlet Begonias (intro & jam edit)
  • Eyes of the World (instrumental edit) >
  • Space >
  • Jam >
  • Wharf Rat (instrumental edit)

Gang of Four: Live Entertainment 1979 (Spotify Playlist)

In 2020, Gang of Four made a large number of 1979-1995 live recordings available to stream on Spotify and purchase on

This Spotify playlist curates the 1979 recordings - one version each of the 20 songs represented on that year’s tapes. It’s the bootleg I’d have chewed my leg off (paid $20) for back around 1979.

The first 12 tracks are the complete 2/24/79 Nashville Ballrooms, London set, which is the earliest, best sounding, and most amazing of the tapes. It documents the band four months after the release of their initial single and ahead of the recording of their first album. 

Eight songs that weren’t in the February London set are picked up from two other dates. 

Stream on Spotify here

2/24/79 Nashville Ballroom, London (full set)

  • I Found that Essence Rare
  • 5:45
  • Anthrax
  • Elevator
  • Hold Up My Weekend
  • Armalite Rifle
  • It’s Her Factory
  • Glass
  • Damaged Goods
  • Ether
  • At Home He’s a Tourist 
  • Return the Gift

8/25/79 Toronto - The Edge

  • Contract (early show)
  • Not Great Men (early show)
  • Guns Before Butter (late show)
  • Rosanne (late show)
  • Can’t Stand My Baby (late show)

11/22/79 Bournemouth Town Hall

  • Blood Free
  • Natural’s Not In It
  • Information

Grateful Dead: Slipknot! (June 1976)

This mix creates a continuous, chronological, 65-minute “Slipknot!” from all (but one) of the June 1976 performances. The synchronized “Slipknot” riff appears for only 60 seconds – before the first jam and after the last. Otherwise, it’s exclusively the improvisational passages folding into one another. (I skipped June 4, because no complete soundboard recording circulates.)

1976 “Slipknots” are one of the best places to hear extended “jazz Dead” in the early two-drummer period. The approach is full of open spaces and side-trips, Mickey operating in Billy time zones. It’s not too hard to pretend that the performances are from 1974 and/or representative of an alternate-Earth’s post-1975 Dead timeline.

I’ve never been a super-fan of the June 1976 vibe and pacing as a whole, but the more open spaces of the month are almost always a distinctive treat – Slipknot, Playin’, early St. Stephen jams, the first, swirly minutes of Supplication, etc. 

65-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • 6/3/76 (11:49)
  • 6/10/76 (5:50)
  • 6/14/76 (12:00)
  • 6/17/76 (6:58)
  • 6/19/76 (5:21)
  • 6/21/76 (7:22)
  • 6/24/76 (7:34)
  • 6/27/76 (9:11)

Grateful Dead: The June 1976 “St. Stephen” Jam

This mix presents an extended version of “St. Stephen,” as played in June 1976.

Upon its return to the repertoire that month, the song often included a sizable jammy passage that concluded with the song’s reprise. 

The first three of the month are the really interesting ones, sounding to me like they could have come from or be heading toward “Supplication” – almost like it’s a leftover mood from the 1975 rehearsals/jams. 

This approach didn’t last long. By the fourth version, “Not Fade Away” begins its takeover of “St. Stephen’s” jam space. On 6/18 (not included on this mix), they played the first “SS > NFA > SS” sandwich, which reduced “St. Stephen” to just its song parts. Following that, all the June jams are “NFA”-inflected.

The mix is arranged chronologically, and you get a full blast of the audience response at the breakout on the first night. The exception to chronology is an audience-only, very NFA take, which comes last.

Because the song’s jam and final vocal section both began with a dramatic pause, the versions string together easily. Similar to the SYF May '77 edits.

38-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • 6/9 Song > (starting with audience patch)
  • 6/9 Jam (7:11)
  • 6/11 Jam (4:33)
  • 6/15 Jam (5:50)
  • 6/26 Jam (4:50)
  • 6/29 Jam (4:28)
  • 6/23 Jam (6:26 aud)

Plus a bonus track: 

I’ve appended a 13-minute bonus track from a previous SYF mix that edits together three of the earliest “St. Stephen” jams, from June 1968. At that time, when the song was brand new, the jam section was under construction, as it would be again upon the song’s return in ’76.

Source note: 

Many of these ’76 shows have been released, but I only own a few on CD. So, I’ve used fan-circulating tapes across the board.

Grateful Dead: Formerly The Warlocks (1981-1985)

This mix attempts to find a good setting for the early ‘80s rarities “Dark Star,” “St. Stephen,” “That’s It for The Other One,” and “The Eleven” jam. I decided to flesh it out with other songs that featured in the band’s 1969 sets, with one outlier. 

The earliest track is December 1981 and the latest November 1985. During this period, the band played “Dark Star” twice (’81 and ’84), “St. Stephen” three times (October ’83), “Cryptical Envelopment” five times (1985), and an “Eleven” jam once. Some performances were slipshod, and most are in shows that aren’t particularly great in whole.

Nonetheless, there is plenty to love in the music and in joining the audience as it responds to the sudden appearances of these rare, loved songs.

The mix combines soundboard, matrix, and audience tapes – whatever version of my pick I thought put the performance across. Sequencing does an okay job of gently shifting you among the various ambiances. Some parts of the sequence offered nice opportunities for fake segues. (In the song list, below, “>” indicates a real, as-performed segue.)

Many thanks to twitter Deadheads and Heady Versions users for providing great leads on some of the supporting songs. Several of these selections have been released or have appeared on previous SYF mixes.

The mp3 files are tagged with date and source tape info for each track. 

But don’t worry about those details now. Just imagine that this was a legendary, early ‘80s second set, click download, and strap yourself in.

2-hour mp3 mixtape zipped up here

  • Cold Rain and Snow
  • Dancin’ in the Street
  • Jam >
  • Not Fade Away
  • Dark Star
  • The Eleven Jam
  • That’s It for the Other One >
  • Comes a Time >
  • That’s It for the Other One
  • Jam >
  • St. Stephen
  • Dark Star
  • Space >
  • Morning Dew
  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Artwork by L.B. Cole.

Grateful Dead: In the Twilight Zone (1985)

It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition. This is the dimension we call the Grateful Dead.

Imagine if you will, 30 minutes of 1985 Grateful Dead music related to “The Twilight Zone” theme and mood.

With the help of middle-man Merl Saunders, the Dead were hired to create theme and incidental music for the 1985 reboot of “The Twilight Zone.” A soundtrack album was released containing a combination of ominous Dead “space” and cheesier, ‘80s pop moves.

This mp3 mix includes all the “space” passages, plus an edit of studio outtakes, plus three live passages. No cheesy stuff.

“Merl says that the night he sat in during the ‘space’ jam at one of the recent Berkeley shows, ‘we did a bit of the Zone without the theme. It was kind of loose. We’d been in the studio working things about a week, and then all of a sudden I was just up there onstage!’” (Golden Road #6)

According to Garcia, the band recorded enough bits to construct a much larger Twilight Zone space.

“… but what we got [to do] was a collection of little musical inserts called stings and bumpers – you know, little hunks of non-specific music of various lengths that have different moods. One might be a mood like, ‘Don’t open the door,’ or ‘Don’t go up into the attic.’ Or, ‘I’m going to work work, honey. Are you sure you’ll be OK home alone?’ They go all the way from a sort of noncommittal [he makes light, almost playful guitar sounds] to a real ominous ‘Braaaaaagh!” They gave us a huge menu of those – 40 that are like 5 seconds, 20 that are 6.5 seconds, a bunch that they can fade in and out. Then it’s the music editor who actually fits them into the show.” (Golden Road #6)

My assumption is that the 17 minutes from the official soundtrack included on this mix are made up of a slew of these tiny pieces of mood music, edited together. 

31-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Twilight Zone (live 6/21/85)
  • Twilight Zone (live 9/15/85)
  • Twilight Zone (studio outtake edit)
  • Space (live 3/9/85 w/Merl Saunders)
  • TZ Soundtrack: Main Title Theme
  • TZ Soundtrack: Kentucky Rye Pt. 3
  • TZ Soundtrack: Shadowman (edit)
  • TZ Soundtrack: Nightcrawlers
  • TZ Soundtrack: Eye of Newton (edit)
  • TZ Soundtrack: End Credits

The session/demo edit comes from this set of fragments. I found that several of them contain the exact same, main passage (w/some different treatments), so my edit comprises the non-repeating passages. 

If you enjoy the Dead making soundtrack music, you might like:

Grateful Dead: Pouring Light Into Jazzes (1973-1974)

This two-hour mix features a particular zone of 1973-1974 jazz Dead. It’s comprised of some of the most diffuse and drifty “Dark Star” passages of the period, plus adjacent jams that took the same mood into additional territory. 

Common denominators are complex, gentle beauty and Bill Kreutzmann’s amazing drumming.

Soaring-melodic-rock “Dark Star” moments occur very rarely. The first verse of “Dark Star” appears periodically to present the straight melody that solves the Rubic’s Cube happening everywhere else. 

Each track is a continuous, as-played, Dead passage (with one exception that I forget). I’ve chosen start and end points based on the coherent zone I was seeking. I’ve created segues where opportunities presented themselves and faded elsewhere. 

I figured two hours of this trip was enough. It’s the same length as this compendium of Europe ’72 “Dark Star” passages and adjacent jams. The two mixes offer an easy and interesting way to compare and enjoy the two extremes of the mature one-drummer period. 

2-hour mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Dark Star > (12/6/73)
  • Jam After Dark Star (12/6/73)
  • Dark Star (11/30/73)
  • Dark Star (2/24/74)
  • Dark Star (6/23/74)
  • Dark Star (11/11/73)
  • Jam After Dark Star (11/11/73)
  • Dark Star > (10/18/74)
  • Jam After Dark Star (10/18/73)

Errata: The two 12/6/73 tracks are mislabeled as 12/5/73 in the mp3 files.

Cover art: Detail manipulation of Leo Morey, 1934. Used as the cover of the August 1934 issue of the pulp magazine “Amazing Stories.” High resolution image of the original painting courtesy of Heritage Auctions.