Shortlist: Improvisation 1973-1974 vol. 1

74 minutes (10 tracks) of vocal-free improvisation in lossy 192kbps mixtape glory.

New link: Let me know if it doesn't work.

The aspect of The Grateful Dead’s record release strategy since Garcia’s death that I’d particularly fault is the failure to secure the band’s legacy as one of the outstanding jazz-fusion explorers of the early 1970s. Ten years ago, I became fed up with poor 1972-1974 vocals, and was tired of most of The Dead’s songs, after 20 years of listening to them a lot. So, I made 10 volumes of nothing but vocal-free improvisational material from 1972 to 1974, and listened to nothing but that for a while. As this blog’s mixtapes indicate, I eventually came back around to the songs themselves, but the improv tapes remain a concentrated thrill. 

This is the first volume I made, probably the one most focused on spontaneous musical compositions that have no relation to any particular song. Some of this material was subsequently released officially, but whatever the provenance of the sources I used at the time, it’s all crispy. The 11/11/73 material may be sourced from a cassette that Dick Latvala sent me in the early 1990s, when I was sending him tapes of Pigpen outbursts, mostly directed at the sound mixer, that Dick couldn’t find in the archive. We’d argued, first, about whether “Dark Star” or “The Other One” was the ultimate Dead barometer (he insisted on “The Other One” and may have been correct), and then about the merits of the dreamy, drifty 11/11/73 “Dark Star” (the jam following it is on this mix). I loved that "Dark Star"; Dick was meh. I eventually conceded that maybe I was partly in love with the particular vibe of my mid-generation cassette, which I'd clutched tightly to my breast for years. Dick responded by sending me a dub of his reference copy of the whole show; he was a very nice guy. The "Dark Star" was still the song I knew and loved, but so much cleaner, so I guess I accidentally tricked Dick – but he was satisfied to receive in return a tape of Pigpen threatening to cut off the sound mixer’s head and shit in it. 

22 responses
No URL for this link yet! Thanks for sharing, everything is fantastic!
I really hope that you've got a mix of Pigpen's choicest outbursts in the works, and that it includes Pigpen's threatening to cut off the sound mixer’s head and shit in it.
Would love to hear this - but the link doesn't seem to work. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Thanks for all the work you put into this site!
Sorry for linking problems. Seems to be working now. Enjoy!
I can't tell whether I like your mixes or your commentary more. Needless to say, it is all wonderful. Thank you
Great stuff. Looking forward to many more.
they got it now robbie...thanks for fixing. Great stuff!
Listening to this tonight. TOO good.
Can you please reupload in 320kbps? Thanks
John, I’m a huge fan of the blog, but this remains of my favorite mixes. This sort of rhythm-ful space is one my favorite Dead vibes. I noticed that you said you have 10 volumes of this stuff, any chance we can hear the rest?
Jordan Green: The other discs I made were mostly made up of song-based jams (Dark Star, Eyes, Playin', etc.). Only the first one really concentrated on true, out-of-nowhere, improvisation. There is another SYF mix that is more like a sequel to the mix above.
This is a very old post but I've been figuring out how to download everything after relying on streaming for a little while and I had a peculiar issue with the link here. The download itself worked, but the album artwork came as a separate jpg file in the folder rather than being part of each track download as with some of your other mixes, and due to this Apple Music doesn't show any artwork for the mix. Wondering if you could figure out this conundrum. And, as always, thanks for all your wonderful work on these mixes!
And it seems a lot of your earlier posts don't have album artwork attached either. What's annoying is that Apple Music won't let you manually add artwork, so I'm stuck with nothing. Oh well, at least I have the fantastic music!
Bartographer, in Apple Music: 1) Select the songs in a playlist you want to add art to. 2) Press command and "i" simultaneously 3) Confirm that you want to edit multiple items 4) Click "Artwork" in the panel that pops up 5) Click "Add Artwork" in the next panel 6) Navigate to where the jpg you want is on your device and click-to-select 7) Click "OK" In the early days, I think I was adding the artwork to the uncompressed files, then converting to mp3, and the artwork didn't carry through (and I didn't notice for a while).
Thanks! I’ll try that.
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