Jamming with Brent: April ’79 Rehearsal Remix

Here’s another one of those unique and miraculous – but also shaggy – Grateful Dead events, boiled down to something more like an album fit for everyday listening. 

Rehearsing ahead of Brent Mydland’s first live performance with the band, the Dead jammed and jammed and jammed in their Club Front studio. The results are an exciting sequel to the “Blues for Allah” rehearsal tapes. I’ve always said that I’d have been cool with the Dead staying on the jazz-fusion path out of 1975; this music could be from that path. 

My mix presents 60-minutes of the best bits, sliced and diced into a nearly continuous 60-minute jam, plus a 17-minute Space/Drums/Feedback freak-out, made up of several other bits. All told, it includes about half the minutes of the circulating tape, which is dated April 16, 1979. 

78-minute mp3 mix here (Cover: John Hilgart, cassette insert art, c. 1989)

  • Herbie Prelude >
  • Herbie 1 >
  • Herbie 2 >
  • Another Fire on a Different Mountain >
  • Scarlet Begonias Jam >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Harbor Traffic >
  • We Could be Genesis
  • Not Fade Away Jam
  • Dancing Between Thunder
  • Summer of ‘73
  • We’re Here All Week, Folks >
  • Closing Time
  • Booji Boy’s Bad Trip (space, drums, and feedback)

You can listen to the full 2h45m tape here: https://archive.org/details/gd79-04-16.studio.clugston.3121.sbeok.shnf 

Compared to my own excitement about this material, the 15 years of comments on the archive.org post, above, are surprisingly ambivalent. Methinks they haven’t seen the trees for the forest. I hope that my tightening and track differentiation will make it easier for some to enjoy these unique Dead performances. Imagine if this had been a second set in front of a live audience, in 1979 or any year. People would have lost their minds.

Editing notes:

  • Two of the links indicated by “>” are real: “Herbie 1 > Herbie 2,” and “Scarlet > Fire.” I’ve created simple connective tissue anywhere else I could. There were few real stopping points in the music, but the drummers and odd noises provided some good opportunities for fake connections. The fade-ins on “Harbor Traffic” and “Summer of ‘73” come from the source tape. 
  • The only vocals are on “Fire on the Mountain.”
  • “Herbie Prelude” is a combination of two small Brent noodles, the second of which gave birth to (what I have called) the Herbie theme. 
  • I removed many minutes from the “Herbie 2” jam, joining approximately the first five, Mydland-centric, minutes to the final minute-and-a-half, which brought it to a Garcia-led close. 
  • “We Could Be Genesis” begins with some tightened up elements that preceded the full-fledged execution of the theme/idea, so it would be even more Genesis-like.
  • “Not Fade Away Jam” removes two sections of reference-recording-level singing. There was a tempo change across the first vocal section, so you’ll feel that shift, but both the fast intro and slower jam are worthy.
  • “Summer of ‘73” is an abbreviated version of the full jam, faded out when it disintegrated beyond a certain point.  
  • “Booji Boy’s Bad Trip” combines three separate episodes of noisy fun and trims out some extraneous stuff within one or two of those episodes. 
  • Every effort was made to hide the fact that these were stop-start rehearsals and to fake an album out of them.