Grateful Dead Shortlist: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Summer 1985

This mix curates the Dead’s unreleased June 30 - July 1 run in Columbia, Maryland. The soundboard mix is immaculate, and exceptional performances abound. 

The two shows are strong overall, and I’ve listened to them several times. However, as always, I think the best Dead minutes become even better, and a show’s stature greater, when you cut until you can’t bring yourself to cut anymore.

The only edits are segues to connect tracks toward the end of each of the two parts of the mix. There are crackles on a couple of songs that seem to be native to the sound boards. 

2.5-hour mp3 mix zipped up here (dates included in song titles)

Part One:

  • Shakedown Street >
  • Samson and Delilah
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Big Railroad Blues
  • Looks Like Rain
  • My Brother Esau
  • Let It Grow
  • U.S. Blues
  • Sugar Magnolia

Part Two:

  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Drums > Space
  • The Other One
  • Good Lovin’
  • Satisfaction

Cover art: Framing photograph - JR Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Inset detail: Yayoi Kusama

24 responses
Love it! The whole summer '85 tour is a blast. SBDs from this era are punchy and trippy as hell. What a fun stretch.
Once again, you've done masterful work, friend. Much appreciated! Summer '85 I was moving from Ithaca to L.A., and caught the Pittsburgh show early July right after MPP i believe? So we just swung on down from the Finger Lakes and swooped into the Civic Arena and used the sun's gravity field to sling us westward to CA. Or so it seemed at the time.
This is great music! My favorite parts are probably the extended jam after "Shakedown Street", and the dark, excellent "Other One" which comes out of Space with a weirdly delayed SLAM. And as usual in 1985, "Drums/Space" is crazy cool...among many many other sounds, I'm pretty sure at one point I hear a guinea pig having a psychedelic experience...
Hey, friends. Thanks for the positive feedback.
My first show was 6/30/85! The first of 40 or so shows I saw between 85-94. I was lucky I got a good one in 85 as it was very hit or miss with JG's declining health taking a toll on the music. Thanks for all the great work!
So thankful for all of these save your face compilation.....💝🌹🙏🦋🎩
Love your work! Always look forward to your posts! FYI I have tried to sign up for your updates but it never seems to work. I am using a Mac computer...
Al, I don't know why that is happening. I'm on a Mac, and I get the emails when I post something new. Maybe yours are going to junkmail?
I Appreciate what you do! Your creativity pores through all that your work; from the art, to your well written info files and lastly your clever arrangements of the Grateful Dead music. Each post allows me to continue learning about the music in new interesting ways.
Thank you, Al. Comments like yours mean a lot to me! - John
Before the funky “Shakedown” riff comes in—for those couple of bars where it’s just a minor chord over the drums—comes one of the coolest parts: Jerry does an intro riff that sounds it’s in a Russian scale or something? Reminds me of the music in the videogame Tetris
Thanks for this one, John! I was just thinking that I needed early '80s Dead. It's thanks to your compilation that I realized that this is actually my favorite GD era, period. The band's sound with Brent's organ, the wild jams, and the unique mix of yet unreleased material and reincarnated material from the early days. It's just the best. The new official 1981 MSG release is great too, with possibly the best "Estimated Prophet" I've heard. Anyway, thanks again. You can never post enough '80s Dead as far as I'm concerned!
Jake, I wasn't really a fan of the early '80s until I started poking around seriously and making mixes.
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