Shortlist: Midwest Tour, February 1973 (part two)

This post completes my jam-centric reduction of February 1973 Dead shows. Boy, they were playing great. 

I posted highlights of Palo Alto (2/9) here.

I posted a mashup of Madison, St. Paul, and Chicago (2/15, 2/17, 2/19) here.

This third installment presents material from Champaign-Urbana, IL (2/21 & 2/22) and Iowa City (2/24). 

The next two shows, the last of the February tour, are documented on Dick’s Picks #28 (Lincoln, NB & Salt Lake City on the 26th and 28th).

86-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Truckin’ > Bass & Drums (2/21) > 
  • Eyes of the World (2/21 > 2/22) >
  • China Doll (2/22)
  • Playin’ in the Band (2/22)
  • Dark Star (2/22) >
  • Space (2/22) >
  • Bass > Feelin’ Groovy Jam (2/24) >
  • Sugar Magnolia (2/24) 

Editing notes:

All the segues indicated in the tracklist above are as played, except for the one between “Space” and “Bass,” which worked out wonderfully. Only fragmentary pieces of the 2/24 show are circulating, and this sequence was a 30 Days of Dead download. 

This “Eyes of the World” transitions from 2/21 to 2/22:

• After the first three wandering performances of the song, the two Champaign-Urbana performances seem to document the band seriously trying to get the formal “Eyes” jam of 1973-1974 together.

• On the 21st, after teasing it already a few times, the bass & drums jam leaps into “Eyes,” and the band follows. But it’s too fast and wild to start the song, so someone (Garcia?) calls it off, and they completely space out for more than a minute, before strumming gently back into “Eyes.” 

• It was the right call; the pace of this “Eyes” is perfect, and it’s the second great performance of the song itself, IMO, the other being the Palo Alto debut on the 9th. However, that minute of spacing out really breaks the momentum without contributing anything, so I removed that.

• All the elements that would eventually be structured into “the Eyes jam” were present from the first performance, but the band hasn’t figured out how to move among them smoothly in the first three performances, and there's no plot.

• On the 21st, the band is very conservative and sticks to circling around the melody, with light brushes up against the darker turn – but they never take that turn or approach the climactic, Lesh-led riff sequence. They are practicing just the foundation of the jam. This simple and gentle angle on the song is really appealing, and not like any other version I’ve heard. However, with no destination, it eventually decays and dwindles away. So, in this edit, I’ve cross-faded from the 21st to the 22nd at the point of diminishing returns.

• On the 22nd, they’re ready to throw focused muscle behind the jam for the first time, and they drive forward into the climactic riff sequences and the rushes coming out of them. This night's performance is a complete draft of the sequence that would become the standard 1973-1974 “Eyes” jam. 

• My segue between the 21st an 22nd jams is just an obvious crossfade. The 22nd band just nudges the 21st band aside and says, “Listen to this!”