Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Arrow

(Yeah, long time, no blog, sorry about that!)

When I was a kid, I used to think of a song as a song. Period. A song was a fixed entity, and it was supposed to be identical every time. In retrospect I can't really understand why I thought like that, maybe it's because kids want/need things in their life to be stable and predictable? Well, "why" doesn't really matter that much. I don't know exactly when, but at some point I became aware of the fact that music was much more fluid than that - hey, jazz musicians are improvising - and that a band can include one song inside another! Or, similarly, instead of stopping to play when a song ends, why not improvise something on the spot which ties that song to the next one? I knew about this to a small extent for quite a while - e.g. Motorpsycho who in 1998 started doing the "Super/Wheel" which was in other words "Superstooge -> The Wheel". The "->" is an arrow, and means that the first song segues into the following. I would find out later, when I started collecting live recordings that Motorpsycho had done segues for years before that.

So. The Grateful Dead. I remember when I first got "Live/Dead" I listened to it a lot, but I could never understand where one track ended and the other began! Of course I was a "newbie", but still. Most songs were obvious if you just listened to the lyrics, but e.g. the "St. Stephen -> The Eleven" - that was incredible. Where did one end and the other begin?

This changed my view on songs and music quite fundamentaly, especially when I started listening to Grateful Dead a lot. The wild twists and turns and improvisations that band pulled off are more often than not too good to believe.

So far I've identified 3 (or 4) main kinds of segues/transitions. Or, that is slightly unprecise. Let me elaborate:
  1. When a song's normal parts/sections are finished, the band continues to play, and improvises their way into the next song. (A variant on this is when a song finished normally and the next one immediately starts, without anything inbetween. This is a lot less exciting.)
  2. Before a song is completely finished, the band jams their way into another song, and when that one finishes the band jams their way back into the previous song. This rule may be used recursively, so that the sequence contains 3 songs or more. The Grateful Dead did this a lot, Motorpsycho has done it (not too often, but it has happened, in varying degrees), Phish has done it (many times, probably) and another good example is the Disco Biscuits, e.g. this one. This kind of segueing is often called a "sandwhich". It can be both symmetric and asymmetric. Here is another wild example: The ending of Disco Biscuits 2002-07-26. Quite something! This also demonstrates a variation: the band starts a song, but jams into something else, and when they pause, it seems they have forgotten about what they originally started. But then, after a while, they jam out of a song later in the show, and into the originally unfinished song, so they can finish it.
  3. This is less common, but happens every now and then: A song is for some reason not finished during a gig (mainly because the band gets carried away and jams into something else and forgets all about it) - and then they finish it the next day! I don't know what term to put on this - a trans-performance segue? Of course, this can be seen as a variation on the above. Notably, Motorpsycho did this during the spring 2006 tour: on April 30 they ended the show with a unfinished version of "Hogwash", but the next day in Berlin they spontaneously finish it (it wasn't on the setlist that night, it just came out of the end-jam in "Bonny Lee") - see Alex' superb Motorpsycho blog for details. Another good example, tied to the previous point, is again the Disco Biscuits. Several of the songs started in the above mentioned example (2002-07-26) were left unfinished that night, but they finished them the next night (2002-07-27). (Note: I haven't actually heard these two DB shows, but I've heard other shows by them, and I trust the comments and setlists for these two shows.) Grateful Dead also did this, but I can't remember any dates from the top of my head.
It could also be noted that both Ratdog and Phil & Friends have become masters of playing shows where the songs intertwine and one or more songs becomes the "frame" for a show, much like the literary device where the author lets one story be the frame for a multitude of sub-stories. A good example is "Canterbury Tales" by Geoffrey Chaucer, where a lot of characters are assembled together and they haven't got much to do to pass the time but tell each other stories.

So, here are, from the top of my head, some of my favorite segues so far (but hey, there's a lot I haven't heard!):
  • Grateful Dead 1972-04-08: Dark Star -> Sugar Magnolia In addition to being a scaringly good Dark Star, the transition into Sugar Magnolia is simply put the definition of smooth. It's incredible. Too incredible to be true. It's hair-raising every time. Every baby's ass envies this one. It's totally incomprehensible! Go listen, and melt. (Btw, 1972-04-14 has a similar sequence of "Dark Star -> Sugar Magnolia", which is just as good as -04-08.)
  • Grateful Dead 1977-05-19: Playin' In The Band -> Uncle John's Band AKA How To Do Uncle John From Behind. I believe this is the only time they did this: They jam from Playin' into the ending of Uncle John's Band, and then they continue with the song from the beginning as normal. But the jam and the transition into UJB is phenomenal. Man oh man. I think this is the only time they "entered UJB from the behind".
  • Grateful Dead 1972-01-02: Good Lovin' -> China Cat Sunflower -> Good Lovin' I believe this is another one-time-only, but the transition from Good Lovin' into China Cat is superb, with a great example of the entire band turning around on the spot, and some really beautiful interplay between Garcia and Weir!
  • Grateful Dead 1974-03-23: Playin' in the Band -> Uncle John's Band -> Morning Dew -> Uncle John's Band -> Playin' in the Band I mean - come on!
    Look at that sequence! They only did that a few times, and this one is totally over the edge. As someone on a forum somewhere once remarked: "This one wrote the textbook on 'How To Do Transitions Between Songs'!" - I remember one time I had a really bad hangover, and I put this one in my discman and went for a walk. Seriously, I was immediately cured!
  • Motorpsycho 2006-05-14: Triggerman -> Manmower -> Triggerman OH yeah. They really did that.
  • Grateful Dead, Fall 1971, The Other One -> Cowboy song -> The Other One In this context, "Cowboy song" means "Me and My Uncle", or "El Paso", or "Me and Bobby McGee", and "The Other One" could also be "Dark Star", depending on the jamming vehicle of choice a particular night, but usually it was TOO.
  • Grateful Dead 1972-05-25: Uncle John's Band -> Wharf Rat -> Dark Star -> Sugar Magnolia A quite unusual sequence, but super-smooth segues! The transitions are beautifully seamless, and it's both a huge listening pleasure and a good way to show off what this band was capable of!
  • Grateful Dead 1973-02-19: He's Gone -> Truckin' -> The Other One -> Eyes Of The World -> China Doll This is one of my favorite pieces of GD music ever. "Eyes" & "China Doll" are picture perfect, and all the jamming and transitions inbetween these songs (there's a lot more than it seems!) is just gorgeous!
  • Motorpsycho 1993-09-18: 21st Century Schizoid Girl -> Giftland -> Blueberry Daydream -> Free Your Mind Wow, this shows off MP's ability to do strange things. Especially the Giftland -> Blueberry segue is cool, mainly 'cause they play a long & heavy version of Blueberry Daydream instead of the normal quiet acoustic version.
  • Motorpsycho 2006-04-22: The Wheel -> Plan #1 I was there. OK, so maybe the segue wasn't an amazing pull-off, they just made sure they were in the right key and triggered the Matt Burt sample, but holy c-rap! After that huge and powerful "The Wheel", which was the first I ever experience live, I got another huge first - "Plan #1"! I'd never experienced it live before. This combo is one of the greatest things i've experienced in live music, even thought the sound at the venue was crap. I swear, I was trembling and shaking and had tears in my eyes during this. Wow-o-wow!
Ya, okay. That was some of the best segues I could think of from the top of my head. I'll probably continue this subject later, I definitely need to include some Phish in that list, but for now this'll do.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Grateful Dead 1985-11-02 (set 2) & more

I've heard the 1985-11-02 show (set 2 mostly) several times, and tonight I watched it (set 2 only) on DVD (audience shot, available at ) and felt like writing this piece. This post will be a little serious as well, so bear with me...

For a very long time I was very reluctant to listening to any of the GD's 80s output. One thing was the fact that it was their 60s & 70s shows that got me hooked. Another was my somewhat strange feeling that the 80s was a dark, strange period of GD, a sort of wasteland, something I can't quite describe. I knew that Garcia's health was bad especially mid-80s, so that was one reason. And I felt drawn towards this great depth of mystery and darkness, but I wanted to wait. I don't remember exactly when or how, but at some point it struck me: Yes. Now. The 80s. It felt just right. I must have been a heavy period of my life, with my mind in the darkness and things in general being difficult. Anyhow, all I remember is that my first encounter with this was very much as expected! The darkness and sadness, and at times brilliant beauty, was there. Just exactly right. And sometimes they fuck up things so bad it's a shame, but usually Garcia manages to pull out all his powers and deliver something truely wonderful filled with truth and beauty, even during this dark age.

1985-11-02 is no exception. I would want to "dedicate" this review to a friend of mine who commited suicide last November, a little more than 20 years after this show.

Set 2 starts with "Iko Iko", a nice and inspired version, although Garcia's voice is kinda shot. Next comes an "Estimated Prophet", wher Weir is certainly in the mood, jumping around and waving his hands in the air. Garcia starts to get his fingers going here, and they jump into a very nice, jammed out "Uncle John's Band". After the last chorus Garcia hints at "Playin' in the band", but quite quickly draws everything down to the minor scale, and hey! A great, and unusual transition into the perfect song. And so damn good executed. Yes, it's the omnipotent "China Doll". And what a version! Garcia suddenly sings good. Really. And his solos are true perfection, pure haunting beauty! This is art imitating life, I suspect. "China Doll" during the mid-80s was something spectacular, and can't really be compared to the 70s-versions. OK, and here's the suicide-link. The working title of this song was "The Suicide Song", according to Robert Hunter (I believe). Reading the lyrics, it's not hard to understand at least that the song is about death.

After that they jam a little bit and Garcia once more hints at "Playin'", but they decide not to, and the drummers get to do their thing. This of course leads into "Space", out of which comes a powerful "Morning Dew". This song never disappoints, does it? At least Garcia's voice is even better now than before, and he sings with a lot of emotion, as well as playing the guitar magnificently and very inspired. All in all, a great "Morning Dew", although not the best one I've heard. After the final climax, not surprisingly, they dive straight into "Throwing Stones". This one nicely segues into a "Lovelight" which of course isn't the same as a 60s-Pigpen-Lovelight, but you gotta give it to Weir for trying. He does really do a good job, no doubt. And he's very theatrical on stage, doing lots of cool moves :)

The "Baby Blue" encore is also nice. Personally, speaking of GD doing Dylan covers, among many I love the few performances of "She belongs to me" they did in 1985.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Jerry Garcia + Merl Saunders 1974-09-02

One can probably think long and hard about the Grateful Dead and their connection with jazz. I'm not gonna try to analyze that any further right here and now, except to say that this gig must be one of Garcia's finer moments, even though that's just a stupid statement on par with "Yeah, today the sun shone particularly well!" - but anywho/anyhow:

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders 9/2/74
Marx Meadow (Golden Gate Park) San Francisco, CA

I Second That Emotion / Expressway (To Your Heart) / Sitting Here In Limbo / Neighbor, Neighbor / La-La / Mystery Train / How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

What can i really say? A beautiful soundboard recording (atm available at least at and the music is just beautiful! "Expressway" has got Jerry playing in a style I can't recall having really heard before, it's very different from anything he did with GD. And, holy cow, "Sittin' here in Limbo" is simply the sweetest, most beautiful version I've heard so far! (It must be said: I am no expert on the JG solo bands and I haven't really heard super-much of Garcia's solo bands, but hey, this is a blog and what you get is my subjective view on this! ;) ) "Neighbor, neighbor" is a little bit more blues/rock-ish, but the second true highlight this night is "La-La" - what a wonderful tune! This night it's performed thoroughly beautifully, with flutes and everything, everyone in the band hitting every note just right - at points, small points, in a way, it reminds me of GD's "Eyes of the world" and the jazzier renditions of that one, and at times Garcia's guitar playing is very recognizably in that mood.

So far, so jazzy.

Next comes a funky, rocking "Mystery Train" that's sure to kick some life into your dance muscles! After that one Jerry informs us that the time is almost up, but they got time for one more tune. "How Sweet It Is" is a wonderful song - sit back and enjoy!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Motorpsycho 1993-09-21

Motorpsycho, Rote Fabrik, Z├╝rich, SUI - 21.09.1993
Source: Unknown audience > ana? > CD-R > FLAC

Setlist: Home Of The Brave / Flesh Harrower / Feedtime / Mountain / Giftland -> The House At Pooneil Corners / Demon Box -> Step Inside Again -> Walk On Guilded Splinters -> Demon Box / The Golden Core / Nothing To Say

The sound ain't on top of the world here, but it's quite clear, maybe lacking some bass, but in any case it really manges to capture & transmit the wild energy unleashed by Motorpsycho this september evening back in 1993. They are simply on fire, on the verge of complete meltdown!

"Home of the brave" is raw, pure, kick-ass horse power, with a potentially deadly, intense & insane noise jam in the middle, and also some Matt Burt-samples here & there. After some inaudible jokes from Bent and monkey-like screams from someone in the audience they head into "Fleshharrower", a rendition covered in barbed wire. "Feedtime" is no less so. I'm wondering if maybe the "Rote Fabrik" got its name because of getting red hot after Motorpsycho played there? It wouldn't surprise me! This gig is btw the first one at this venue, and they didn't return before 2002 I think (or maybe 2001). Anyway, the reader is probably not surprised to learn that the next song, "Mountain", carries on the show with an equally heavy force. The middle part of the song jumps right out into space, with the familiar "Echoes"-ish groove, and Snah doing some really delicate and melodic soloing, and Geb keeps the train perfectly on time and helps fill out the sound at the same time. Is that Deathprod I also hear there? If I'm not mistaken he was with them on this tour, and judging by the sounds here that's very much possible! In any case they build up their mountain to a big and powerful one, in a masterful way. The overall structure is very much as one expects.

After "Mountain" they quickly get the "Giftland" intro-loop starting, and Bent announces that "This is a powerballad" and everyone should light their cigarette lighters (I think that's what he says). Well, the word "powerballad" certainly gets redefined here! But in a strange way it fits - i mean - "Giftland" can be called a ballad, but it's damn powerful! The song had its live debut less than 3 weeks earlier (september 2.), and of course wasn't officially released yet. Luckily Bent's voice is in better shape now, so Snah doesn't have to sing it this time. This has got to be one of the coolest of the early versions of "Giftland" that exists on tape - it's quite simply gorgeous - because just when you expect the song to explode into the magnificent climax - it doesn't! Do you wanna know what happens? Without a warning they take a detour straight into "The House at Pooneil Corners"!!! How strange, and cool! It leaves "Giftland" as simply a gorgeous, and somewhat strange, ballad! And with the way cool and unexpected segue into "Pooneil" this gets 5 stars in my book!

"Demon Box". Ah. Yes. That one. There's not much I feel I can say! Take all the power and energy displayed earlier this night, add it together and multiply the result by your favorite high number, and you're close. And oh, they end up enteraining us for over 24 minutes with this "Box". Please fasten seat belts. Noisespacenoisecrazynoisemeltdownmindblowingyeah! The middle jam is heavily dominated by Deathprod and various synths - way cool actually! And yeah, then we get "Step Inside Again" coming out of that semi-chaotic jam, a somewhat noisy, scary version. It continues into a "walk on guilded splinters" before they explode back into the Box. It ends quietly, and they go almost straight into "The Golden Core". Or, that is, they start the Core, but stops, perhaps to let the monkey-impersonator do his thing? (He does!)

Disc 2 starts here, and the sound is slightly different. Different source? Or perhaps just the taper moved to a better location? The sound is now quite a bit clearer at least. "The Golden Core" starts its magnificense, and what can one say? There are really not many words capable of doing this song justice. Perhaps the germans have one? Anyhow it's a bit disappointing that Snah sings, but this time he actually does a quite decent job! And it all gets sweeter when Bent joins in on the "a time for everything" part.

They end it all with "Nothing To Say", which is missing from the official setlist at the unoff.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My favorite Grateful Dead songs

OK, here's an impossible task: list your favorite Grateful Dead songs!

Here's mine:
(I omit the obvious ones - Dark Star, The Other One & Playin' In The Band.)

1. China Doll
2. Terrapin Station
3. Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain
4. Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower
5. Eyes of the World
6. Weather Report Suite
7. Althea

uh, crap. This is impossible! I think only the first 2 are correct. The rest should all be on a shared third place! And yes, a lot more songs should be there! This is just a tentative list.

The Grateful Dead anno 1977 (and some more)

I can't help but ask - what in the world was this band doing in 1977? I mean - how is it possibly to play such majestic, perfect music? Any song the Grateful Dead played in 1977 seems to be able to raise the dead, create world peace & cure cancer - to say the least! OK, my enthusiasm is enormous, but - listen! How can one, if one has heard this, a sufficient amount of times, not agree that it's the best thing ever? The complexity & the emotions, the synchronicity, a band shock full of creativity & synchronized like an atomic clock! And the most beautiful songs EVER!

Hell yeah, I've come to love every era of the Grateful Dead, be it the psychedelia of '69 or the haunting ghostly darkness of the mid-80s or the bursts of genuine brilliance that were more or less present in 88-95. But: 1977. How can anything beat this? Ah yes, everything is just as fantastic - 1972 Dark Star, 1973 Eyes of the World, 1984 China Doll, ...

Ah, it's impossible to say what is better... Just enjoy it all! :)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Motorpsycho 1993-09-02

motorpsycho - democrazy, gent, belgium - september 02, 1993
source: Front-of-the-house recording made with a tape deck.

1 intro/home of the brave [aborted] (6:20) / 2 home of the brave (7:32) / 3 sheer profoundity & flesh harrower (7:31) / 4 nothing to say (6:10) / 5 giftland (7:53) / 6 demon box (19:16) [incl. "step inside again"; "walk on guilded splinters" & "free your mind"] / 7 the golden core (14:50)

"Hello, we're Motorpsycho and we fucked up again." says Bent after Home of the brave is aborted due to being out of tune. They restart it after getting in tune, and we're treated to a thick, heavy and wild version! In the middle they suddenly play some sample of Matt Burt reading one of his poems, one I've never heard before. I don't know if that was normal back in '93. After the song a banter-happy Bent tells us that he broke a string, and "Okey, this gonna be one of those nights, huh?" He continues talking about that he's having a cold, so the audience shouldn't stand too close to him. "Sheer Profoundity" is introduced as "a little song" which I find most inappropriate! It's a heavy metal beast! Anyhow it's not too exciting for me personally, except Bent's hilarious lyrical twist in this performance: "I've waited all my life, sir, to tune my guitar for you, sir!", keeping up with the out-of-tune-guitar theme which seems to become a running joke of the night. The following "Flesh harrower" continues the heaviness and screaming, and there is something about this quite simple and angry song that catch my attention!

Btw, the sound of this recording is very good for a MP audience recording.

"Nothing to say" is introduced by joker Bent as a song from Demon box called "Nothing at all" and kicks off just like it's supposed to do. It moves along with no major fuck-ups of any kind. Finally, after a while, Snah goes into a short solo, and they take it down "to the river". Nothing big happening so far, as opposed to later versions where they went into great impovisational spaces. This night though, they keep it safe and close to the album version, perhaps because they are afraid of fucking up more...?

"Giftland" is a real treat - still banter-happy Bent informs us that it's a new thing "we've never ever played live before"! The intro is different, it lacks the deathprod-noise-loop, and it's somewhat fast. For some reason Snah sings lead, and confesses before that chorus that he can't remember the words! Snah's voice back then wasn't very good, so it's nice when in the chorus Bent joins in, and after that Bent keeps up singing, doing lead on the next verses, which gets strangely funky, mainly driven by Gebhardt serving us some delicate drum-work! The big climax kicks in just as expected, but Snah's solo/playing is slightly different from the finished version, but that's no surprise. but then comes something I've never heard before! An ending part that fits nicely into the known climax, with Snah singing, unhearable words, but a very nice melody! They must have dropped this afterwords, or maybe it was improvised there and then?

"Let's party!" Bent says after "Giftland", and then they kick into "Demon Box", which is a good 19 minutes long this time. It starts like one expects, it's an angry & heavy piece! It's a screamer, and a great one! The "Demon Boooox!"-part kicks hard with backup vocals probably by Snah. Bent delivers a very rythmic second verse, like "I - saw - you - carve - Love - on - your - knuckles"! Now I expect the space out portion of the song to emerge, in the post-chorus aftermath which for a while here continues grooving on, before things fall down into unknown territories. They seem to go for space this time. Noise. Space. Synth. Aia! I suspect Deathprod is there. And whaddaya know? "Step Inside" emerges from this spaciness! And it's a very space rendition of this multi-faceted tune. After a bit Bent converts the lyrics into "I walk on guilded splinters" & further quotes Hawkwind (?) - "Free your mind & your ass will folllow!" - and then, after some ad lib vocalization, they jump back into "Demon Box" to finish it! A truly wonderful version of this motorpsychodelic anthem!

After that excursion, Bent announces that they'll finish with another unreleased thing called "The Golden Core". Why on earth Snah sang that song back then is uncomprehensible to me, but he did. Too bad he couldn't sing particularly good back then! Nowadays he's improved his voice a lot, but back then it was quite ... uhm ... not good. The song picks up when Bent kicks in on backup vocals though! Those moments are magnificent and witness of times yet to come! The structure of the song was at this point in time very much as we have come to know it through "Timothy's Monster". The build-up is quite glorious, it's very impressive to hear what this band was capable of as early as 1993! A strange memory just popped into the consciouspart of my1 mind, btw. Strange. Anyway, they build up "The Golden Core" into something extraordinary, and it becomes clear why they quickly gained a great reputation/audience after releasing "Demon Box" and the subsequent touring. What a band!

Email me if you want a copy of the show!

Grateful Dead 1977-04-23

OK, the "Help on the way > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower" on this one is stupendous. Slipknot alone, 9 full minutes of it, can bring tears to your eyes! The GD Taping Compendium comments that it's particularly long for 1977. It sure is a perfect giant, shock full of confidence, truth & beauty! In the end they pull of the transition roll into "Franklin's Tower" - and my god!!! What a raging, fire breathing, insane creature that has taken place in the Tower this night!

"If you get confused, listen to the music play!" INDEED!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Grateful Dead 1973-09-11

Quick review:
Tremendous "Looks like rain"! Also good: "The race is on" & "Loser", to name a few. The 14-minute "China > Rider" ain't too shabby either! ;)
Very, very cool "Playin' in the band" with some great jazz-funk-thing and a bit of wonderful interplay between Garcia & Keith, in addition to Garcia's ever-incredible solos! Set 2 features "Let Me Sing Your Blues Away" through "Let It Grow" with Joe Ellis on trumpet and Martin Fierro on saxophone, a new experience for me, as I haven't heard these "horned" fall '73 shows before. Gotta love it though, great solos in "Let It Grow". The "Dark Star" shines majestically and ends up with Phil doing some wonderful noisy soloing, which leads them directly into the always-welcome sweet and tender beauty of "Morning Dew".

Grateful Dead 1977-10-29

Kickstart/first highlight: "Might As Well", "Jack Straw" (very good!)
Second highlight: "Loser" - hear Jerry milking that guitar!!! And put your gold money where your love is, baby.
Third: "Ramble on Rose" - blistering, sparkling, bouncing!
The best part of the first set: "Let it grow"

Set 2 kicks inn with a very nicely paced, unrushed "Bertha" jumping around, right into "Good Lovin'"

Friday, February 03, 2006

Grateful Dead 1973-02-22

This recording is only partial, but luckily it's got most of set 1, and the juciest looking parts of set 2, all in quite splendid soundboard audio. You can stream it here:

First set starts with a quite standard "Promised Land". After follows a very smoking version of the always welcome "They Love Each Other", still very upbeat, in contrast to the slower versions they played later in their career. "El Paso" is nice as well, but nothing spectacular. I didn't give much attention to "Bird Song", but it was anyway the first real (but short) jam-out of this show, nice and jazzy! Next up comes more fun with "Mexicali Blues" & "Deal", both well-played and all good. "Looks Like Rain" is almost always good, and for this version I made notice of the sweet interplay between Garcia's guitar & Weir's ad lib vocaling close to the end of the song. Sweet! After that we got "Tennessee Jed", a song I don't care much about really, but this one is good, with a thick carpet of Phil underneath it. "Box of Rain" comes next. Wonderful, with Donna doing lovely backup vocals (I like Donna!) and Jerry's guitar rolling along perfectly.

After that the first set comes to an end with a 17-minute treatment of "Playin' in the Band":
It starts tight and fine, and after the second (?) chorus they slide into the jam as expected. Garcia puts on some wah-wah-ish effect and turns the PITB-theme upside down & inside out, before he moves out into a more free form space, while Phil & Kreutzmann keeps it all together, Billy being very very jazzy behind the drums and Phil grooving along, and Garcia gets wilder, he teases "The Tiger" but falls back into jazzy jamming freely based over the PITB-theme. Phil is moving all over the frets, high and low, now, while Garcia has gotten an idea and started something else, free improvisation, yeah, free your mind and your ass (or: fingers) will follow, - it's Garcia who dominates, and Phil laying down a very very good foundation with Billy out there keeping it all wildly together somehow- damn, that drummer is good! - now they're moving out into a more open space, there's a lot going on here, but it's good, ... Garcia starts freaking out, the band takes it down to a low, but fast groove, and kick off! Everyone follows everyone and Garcia goes blues-psych-jazz! Ah, just sit back and enjoy! We're only about 10-11 minutes into it...

Set 2: They start with straight versions of "US Blues" & "Me & My Uncle". Then comes the real goodness.
"Dark Star" starts very laidback and lovely, kinda slow, with that incredible -73 jazz all the while, dipping into the blues here and there, she is walking, slow and fast, a little sad, thoughtful, conclusions appear and disappear, she enters a groove and dissolves into jazzy laidbackness, and very, very gently moves into the first theme and then goes into a detour, the first verse doesn't come as expected! But the pieces fall smoothly together after a little while, and the first verse is masterfully delivered. Shall we go? Yes, let's see where this goes, where the road takes us this time. Ah, out into space and dissonance, the strangeness. Let's explore the unknown territories we always seek. Come on. Everyone leads and everyone follows. We don't care if we get lost; we'll find our way back somehow. "Relax man, everything's gonna be allright!" as Garcia said during an acoustic set in 1970. On the recording you can really hear him smiling when he says it! OK, the dark star, she moves into space still, further, down, in slow motion. Phil lays his carpet down deep. Garcia is way out, and then he starts something really wild, it goes up and away, what is this? A rocket? A crazy carousel? The madness is complete, the melt-down quick and whoa! Garcia holds the controls and the ship dives straight into the Eyes of the World, the sweet safety, the home world, the wonderfulness of those early -73 "Eyes"... Oh yes. Mmmmm... It reminds me of an all-time favorite of mine (maybe not so strange): 3 days earlier - February 19, 1973. It's in that vein, it's truly great, yeah. Just go listen. I can't say much more. It's really great. Really. In a wild, jazzy, tight way. Listening to this is 16 minutes of your life well spent.

Eventually they collapse into the perfect beauty of "China Doll", and it's a really nice version, not the all time best, but check out the short but terribly sweet guitar playing just before the "Take up your china doll" line. It's a slow and well-behaved version, they don't rush it, the details are being taken care of and the occasional improvised lick here and there.


Hey and welcome to any and all reading this!
Alright, I feel I should explain a little bit. I'm a fantatic lover of live music, and therefore I collect and listen to it almost all the time. Of course not all kinds of live music, but my taste varies a lot. I can listen to Kraftwerk one moment and Mozart the next. One of my greatest loves in music has during the last years become the Grateful Dead, which simply put is the best band there ever was. Seriously; if any music can save the world, it's the music of the Grateful Dead.

So, the main purpose of this blog is to write about music, mostly live music, and I've got a feeling that alot of it will be, as was the plan from the beginning, reviews of live recordings of Grateful Dead shows. But I will also post reviews of other bands, and posts generally about music.