Grateful Dead: The 2020 Save Your Face Mixes

Save Your Face offered up 30, wide-ranging Grateful Dead mixes for your consideration this year. 

As usual, nearly everything included was unreleased. We touched down in a lot of eras, continued to look for great corners of music you might otherwise miss, and found more ways to create unorthodox Dead listening experiences. 

Click the linked titles, below, to read more about each mix and download it as mp3s if it looks good to you.

Comprehensive Theme-Jam Anthologies

The Mind Left Body Jam (1972-1993)

The Spanish Jam (1968-1995)

The Tighten Up Jam (1969-1971)

Firelike Jams (1968-1979)

The first three of these mixes compile (nearly) every performance of these themes. “Mind Left Body” and “Spanish Jam” are organized into era-specific discs. The "Firelike" mix compiles the pre-1977 history (and one 1979 anomaly) of performances that are obviously, or could be construed as, related to “Fire on the Mountain.”

Composition-Based Albums

The Dead Play Dylan ’94

The Dead Play The Beatles (1983-1985)

Ready for More? (Final Songs - 1993-1995)

Brent Mydland Featuring the Grateful Dead

I assert that there is no better way to listen to the Dead playing Dylan than this 1994 mix. The Beatles covers anthology provides the best case scenario, and it’s a lot more fun that you might expect. The Brent Mydland compilation includes a version of each of his original songs – so you can pretend it’s a Brent album, backed by the Dead. “Ready for More” is a companion to Dave Lemieux’s “Ready of Not” selections, which includes versions that contrast with his picks, because the band’s approach varied over time. 

1968-1970 Highlight Mixes

With a focus on the early improvisational story, SYF carved out a series of unorthodox experiences from the early years, a period we’ll probably settle into in early 2021.

Probably June ’68

Late ’68 Fantasy Set (August to December)

Do Not Step on Alligator (Feb. ’69 jams)

Shortlist: 11/6/70 Port Chester (instrumental edit)

Grateful Airplane (11/20/70)

Fall 1972 Improvisation Mixes

October ’72 Jams (St. Louis)

November ’72 Jams (Texas)

December ’72 Jams (mid-month)

Solo, Duo, and Trio (11/12/72)

These mixes collect fantastic improvisational material from a period when the soundboard mixes were generally terrible. The last mix, above, mines fascinating stuff from a soundboard mix that often isolated Garcia’s guitar, or Garcia and Weir’s guitars on one channel.

May 1976 Rehearsal

On Returning (May ’76 rehearsal)

An edited curation of a bunch of carefully-played, well-recorded songs, plus jamming. Slot it into your library just before the June 1976 live shows.

May 1977 Extended Jams

May 1977 Fire jams

May 1977 Dancin’ jams

Additional May 1977 Edits

The “Fire” and “Dancin’” edits provide continuous instrumental edits of (nearly) every performance of the song from May 1977. Though flowing together, each jam is a separate track, so you can compare and contrast. If you don’t care for the Dead’s arrangement of the song-part of “Dancin’” in this period, you will be grateful for this endless jam-part. The “Additional” mix provides extended or instrumental edits of May 1977 performances of “Brown Eyed Women,” “Sugaree,” and “Peggy-O.” 

Scarlet > Fire ’81

Scarlet>Fire ’81

I asked twitter for year-by-year top “Scarlet > Fires,” and feedback led me to a year I don’t know very well. The resulting mix combines three 1981 versions, one with vocals and the other two as instrumental edits – so the jam swings back and forth for a really long time. 

1987 Mixes

Garcia Sings Hunter/Garcia (September 1987)

Shoreline (October 1987)

I had no idea how fantastically Garcia was singing in 1987. The September “Garcia Sings” mix is all about that. The October Shoreline mix contains more great singing, but is also a broader “road trips” anthology. These mixes go great with this year’s 1987 Dave’s Picks.

1993 Mixes

Shortlist: March 17, 1993 Landover, MD

Shortlist: June 21-23, 1993 Deer Creek ’93

Shortlist: June 11, 1993 Hebron, OH (instrumental edit)

Save Your Face is a super-fan of the best live Dead from 1994. We haven’t found 1993 to have as high a hit rate, song by song, or soundboard mix by soundboard mix, but when it was great, it was great. These three mixes accidentally sit together very well. Two “Dark Stars” and a lot of nice Garcia vocals and instrumental sweetness are included.

1994 MIDI Adventures (cont.)

Refugees from Spaceports

More far out passages from Drums>Space to complement earlier SYF mixes of such stuff.

1993-1994: Terraplayin’ Jams


This mix provides two hours of 1993-1994 “Playin’” and “Terrapin” jams, most of them segued. These two jams were very closely related at the time. The mix includes the only totally successful, full-length-instrumental edit I’ve made of “Terrapin Station.” A big, shiny, modulating groove of late Dead. 

Seattle May ’95

The Last Great Show?

SYF has presented mixtapes of several 1995 shows or runs that demonstrate that there was no steady, show-by-show collapse. Our May 1995 Seattle mix demonstrates that there was a killer night just 20 shows before the end - a truly excellent performance. Was it the last great show? 

Recombinant SYF Mixes

In 2020, we also bundled a couple of earlier SYF mixtape series into the boxed sets they should have been.

February 1973 Improvisational Highlights

These mixes provide a short-cut past an important month’s mediocre song-playing, so you can easily follow the plot of the wonderful improvisational Dead.

March 16-21, 1994 (Richfield and Chicago)

SYF curated these shows in three different pieces at different times. This version bundles them all into the boxed set we were thinking of. 

What Did SYF Post in 2019?

Find out here, in last year's mixtape roundup.

7 responses
Thank you for this great digest John! Todd Carey Www.Twitter.Com/ToddCarey Www.Instagram.Com/ToddCarey Mgmt@ToddCareyMusic.Com > On Nov 30, 2020, at 7:05 PM, Posthaven Posts wrote: > > 
Thanks for all your hard work and commitment on these amazing projects, John. The Dead stuff is truly creative and gives a unique perspective on their work . I have also really enjoyed your Dylan and Stones posts. I look forward to your future efforts.
Your posts have been a bright spot in an otherwise dark year. Thanks for everything and looking forward to what you have for next year.
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