"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rat In A Drain Ditch

For today's showaversary, we go back to the Shrine Auditorium in 1976. The Grateful Dead had come back to touring in June and decided that they were going to shake up the band's growing show size. First they disassembled the Wall of Sound, then they let soundman Dan Healy decide their venues, which is why he book them on in theaters that were catered to live music. This is why 1976 is the only time the Grateful Dead played venues like the Beacon Theater and Orpheum Theatre. This is the final show of this theater tour. The next gig would be on New Years and they would return to the the larger arenas and college sports halls. Download the SBD of this show HERE and HERE.
Some songs really thrived in this theater setting. Some of the best version of songs like "Might as Well," "All Over Now," and "Lazy Lightning/Supplications" came from this year. The crescendo of "Might as Well" was usually bone crushing this year, whereas the two Bobby numbers usually featured sublime energy. Prime example of these examples are prevalent in this first set. 
The second set opens with the combo of "Eyes/Music Never Stopped." Although this combo is smooth and both songs are in the same key, this is the only time the songs were paired together. Quite baffling that they didn't revisit this combo. The only reason I can think of is placement, whereas "Eyes"was primarily a second set tune and "Music" was a first setter. 
"He's Gone" is a song that written about the band's soured relationship with their ex-manager Lenny Hart. Mickey thought that his now preacher father (although he was Jewish) had reformed his scheming ways and could help the band navigate their growing financial business. After several indication like Pigpen's keyboard being repossessed, the band checked the books as Lenny fled to Mexico. The stress bother Mickey so much that he left the band in February of 1971 and in April of 1972 the band debuted "He's Gone." Mickey returned to the band in October of 1974 and this is the first time that Mickey played on the song. Then for only the second time the band used "He's Gone" to segues into "Drums," which would later become a common occurrence. 
A song that saw a resurgence was "Comes A Time." The band seemed to play it fairly regular throughout the year even though they stopped playing it after 1972. It worked and thrived throughout the year to some of those heart wrenching versions in the spring of '77. This one progresses into to a glorious version of "Franklin's Tower." This isn't the first stand alone version, but this is the first time "Franklin's" appeared in a show that didn't have a "Help/Slip" in it. The night ends with the set closer of "Sugar Mags," and then DeadHeads have to wait two and half months for their next gig. 
I: Might As Well, Mama Tried, Row Jimmy, All Over Now, Loser, Minglewood, Bertha, Lazy Lightning, Supplications, Sugaree, Promised
II: Eyes, Music, Roses, Samson, He's Gone, Drums, Other One, Comes a Time, Franklin's, Sugar Mags
Today is my wife and I anniversary and this was her gift to me. As a bonus she said that I can actually hang it on my wall. Awesome!

Monday, October 6, 2014

You Didn't Mean Goodbye

Every once in a while I throw out that an interesting Grateful Dead Box Set would be Europe 81. The band toured there in the Fall of 1981, which was a solid time in Grateful Dead history. The band tightened up some of there sloppy time signatures that plagued some nights in 1980 and was firing on all cylinders. While some of the shows didn't feature many 20 minute jams, the band didn't get lost in some of the more precise tunes.
Now I already featured the Bobby Birthday show from this European tour, where the band borrowed instruments and busted out songs like "Gloria" and "Lovelight." Today's date features a bust out of it's own along with some really clean playing. Download the final Rainbow Theatre show HERE and HERE.
The "Shakedown" opener sets the table for a fluid first set. There aren't may long pauses in between songs like there were in the 70's. The second set opens with a song that was debuted earlier that year in "Woman are Smarter." Wonder what the band reaction was when Bobby brought that song to the table. "He's Gone" is delightful. The band takes their time with the song, which makes it the focal jam of the first half of the set. All the other "Drums/Space" of this run are around 10 minutes long, but at this show the "Space" itself is 12 minutes long. At the four minute mark of "Space," Jerry plays a familiar note progression. The band has not played the tune in six years and only played it three times, but "Blues for Allah" has been dusted off. The band handles it in the abstract, but clearly they are fiddling with the tune. They would only one more "Blues for Allah" jam, in a similar circumstance out of "Space." The next little setlist quirk is the split "Sugar Mags/Sunshine Daydream" that begins after "The Wheel." This is the third of the three that happened in 1981 and all in the Fall. This one is comic because after the "Stella Blue/Good Lovin'," Bobby forgets that they had split up their "Mags." He recovers to rock the English crowd out till "Brokedown" sings them home.
I: Shakedown, Minglewood, Roses, Rooster, Althea, Uncle, Mexicali, Never Trust, Cumberland, LL Rain, Might As Well
II: Woman, High Time, Estimated, He's Gone, Drums, Space, Blues for Allah Jam, Wheel, Sugar Mags, Stella, Good Lovin', SSDD E: Brokedown

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tell Me Why You Treat Me So Unkind

Today we go back 20 years for a gem from the Boston Garden. Now some of you mathematicians may be discrediting this show because it occurred in 1994, to which I say, you are not right. Most DeadHead's discredits anything after 1991, because they don't believe that anything good happened after March 1992 when Bruce Hornsby left the band. Even though summer of 1992, had some good shows like Vegas and RFK, but it was after that summer that doctor's shut down Garcia for the fall and winter tours. Spring 1993, the band came back and debuted new originals for the first time in four years. Even though their was a creative outburst, the band took a step back from their playing style and interaction. So much so that some DeadHeads, like David Lemieux, stopped seeing the band. Garcia's voice tired but in 1994, the band did recapture some of their fire. Personally I'll listen to a show from 1994 over certain years in 80's. If I was to rank all the years of the Grateful Dead, this year would fall in the middle of the pack, somewhere between 15-20th place. Of all the shows in 1994, this might be the best. So download the SBD of the show HERE and HERE.
Regardless a great show is a great show no matter which year it occurred in. I've been listening to a lot of the Spring 90 "Other" box set which was recent release, and if you have, Jerry's voice is very different. Yet there is a certain inflection that is in Jerry's voice. This honest, whole hearted, vocal inflection first comes through on the "Althea," but is more prevalent on the gems "Fire on The Mountain," "Terrapin," "Stella Blue," and the monumental "So Many Roads." This verse sticks out as on of the best version is the song that the band ever played. Last year for the Grateful Dead's 30 song in 30 days, they chose this version because of the effort given by Jerry at the climax of the tune. The night is not just about Jerry, Vince Welnick plays pretty marvelous. The "Big River" electrifies and the little rift that sinks the band into "Terrapin" is titillating. Then each member of the band propels a significant spell of music out of "Terrapin" and into "Drums." At certain moments you can hear each member of the band slowly claim a piece of the jam to themselves and it is great. Now, I don't blame you if you just download the show for the "So Many Roads," but if you give it a chance you'll see that the show so much better than just one song.
I: Help, Slip, Franks, Walkin Blues, Althea, Uncle, Big River, Tom Thumb's, SMR, Promised
II: Scarlet, Fire, Go Home, Saint, Terrapin, Drums, Space, Last Time, Stella, OMSN, E: Liberty