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The Unofficial 31 Days Of Dead - 2016
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR MORE GREAT GRATEFUL DEAD RECOMMENDATIONS TO BRIGHTEN UP YOUR DAY, CHECK OUT THE FIRST IN OUR NEW SERIES THAT IS FOCUSED ON POSTING ALL THE INCREDIBLE SONG VERSIONS, JAMS, AND SHOWS THAT HAD SOME, BUT NOT ENOUGH, SUPPORT TO MAKE THE TOP 10 LIST IN THEIR RESPECTIVE PROJECT. OUR PROJECTS OFFER RECOMMENDATIONS TO SOME OF THE BEST THERE IS BUT WITH SOMETHING AS SUBJECTIVE AS THIS, NO DOUBT SOME WE LEFT OFF ARE LOVED MORE THAN THOSE WE ENDED UP CHOOSING. THE FIRST INSTALLMENT IS NOW UP, PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO CHECK OUT, THE TOP 31 JAM SEGMENTS: THE OTHER 28, AND ENJOY!!!
Make sure to check beneath the write-ups for audio/visual stream links, artwork, concert posters, photos, and other miscellaneous goodies.
2016 Track Listing
December - 1
No matter which way you voted last month I think we all can agree that the year leading up to the election was 1,000 times more brutal than the brown acid at Woodstock. I’m not sure if “U.S. Blues” was ever intended to provide any serious commentary about politics. With silly rhymes and references to PT Barnum and Charlie Chan set to an upbeat shuffle it has always seemed more of a happy and frivolous song to me. But when you consider how much politics has divided us it makes you wonder whether there is a darker side to “U.S. Blues.” Maybe those frivolous lyrics were intended to drip with biting sarcasm. It’s pretty amazing how a song can take on new meaning more than 40 years after it was written. Oh, the genius of Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia.
Because democracy can be messy sometimes, I selected a version of “U.S. Blues” that is about as filthy as they come. The band pummels their instruments and Garcia growls the lyrics. The singing is so over-the-top with exaggeration that it is really quite astonishing. Listen to the way he screams, “I’lllllllll steal your WIFE” and later in the song, “my, my, my, my, my, MY, MY, MY, MY, OH MY, OH MY!” Back to Top
December 2 - Alabama Getaway > Promised Land
5/16/80 – Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
Today’s selection goes out to Yankus whose love for “Alabama Getaway” knows no bounds. The Dead take a huge risk by opening with the same song they encored with the previous night. There is no doubt in my mind that this decision was met with a great deal of scorn and derision by the fans at the time but with the benefit of 36 years of hindsight and a great recording as proof, it was absolutely the right call because both versions are blistering. The version from 5/15/80 was used on Go To Nassau but this one from the next night with “Promised Land” tacked on just might be better. The source I am using is from the King Biscuit Flower Hour FM broadcast which unfortunately is not available on LMA and has much better audio sound than any of the sources there so be sure to download my link. Back to Top
December 3 - Sugaree, The Music Never Stopped
10/9/77 - McNichols Sports Arena, Denver, CO
Jerry puts on a clinic for guitar fanning in this set closing duo of “Sugaree” and “The Music Never Stopped.” Both are powerhouse versions but the second guitar solo in "Sugaree" just might hold the record for the longest sustained fanning in Grateful Dead history. Rocky Mountain High indeed! Back to Top
December 4 - My Brother Esau
9/7/85 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO
Since I’m always curious what people want to hear, I recently solicited requests from fans of this project and was surprised to find a lot of interest in “My Brother Esau.” Say what?! I remember when people dreaded this quirky Bob Weir song at shows in the 1980’s. The lack of any kind of jam, hook, harmony or chorus makes it hard to love. I’m not sure whether the band or even Bob Weir himself liked it. I mean, it was left off the album, In The Dark (the LP and CD; for some unknown reason it was included on the cassette). That speaks volumes when you consider that weak songs like “Tons of Steel” and “When Push Comes To Shove” were included on the album. The ill-fated “Esau” was played a little over100 times between 1983–87 before being retired for good. After nearly 30 years I have made peace with “My Brother Esau.” I think I might even enjoy it now. I guess absence and obscurity make the heart fonder. The version I selected is one of the better ones I have heard from one of the better shows in 1985. Here is an excerpt from a review I found on LMA from somebody who attended this show. At the time he was a n00b who had just started seeing the band in the spring 1985 and these shows at Red Rocks were the first that he traveled to:
By the time Weir got to “Shadowboxing the Apocalypse” I was a mess. I had not even heard that tune before and I am not even sure they played it again at any shows I saw after that.
I recommend checking out the entire show. It has all the necessary cosmic factors present that make a great show: (1) Strong Venue – Red Rocks; (2) Strong Set List – check out set 2; (3) Rare/Underplayed Garcia Nuggets – “Loser,” “Dupree’s,” “Crazy Fingers” and “Comes a Time;” (4) Bust-outs – “Frozen Logger” & “Hey Jude” (last played in the 60’s); and (5) Mixing It Up – two consecutive Jerry tunes in the first set (“Loser” followed by “Dupree’s”) and “Saturday Night” to close the first set instead of in the encore slot.
Although he is more of a hipster than a hippe, I dedicate this selection to my brother, Brian, who is celebrating his birthday today. Back to Top
December 5 - Bird Song, Black-Throated Wind, Don’t Ease Me In
11/19/72 – Hofheinz Pavilion, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Because 3 songs are better than one, especially on Monday. Here is a triple-play from the great month of November 1972. The first two songs are from Jerry and Bob’s solo albums, Garcia and Ace – which were released in January and March 1972 respectively. The medley concludes with the Dead’s take on the blues standard, “Don’t Ease Me In” which was a bit of a rarity before Brent joined the band.
This version of “Bird Song” ranks in the Top Ten by the team at Grateful Dead Projects (www.gratefuldeadprojects.com/bird_song.html).
Here is an excerpt from The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Vol I (1959-1974)
Several attempts have been made to label the music created by the Dead with a simple catch phrase. One label that frequently surfaces is "cowboy rock 'n' roll." With the Weir-Barlow influence one would have to agree, but with the hodgepodge of other influences a lone cowboy rock label doesn't suffice. But, as we all know, this band loved the exception, and on November 19, 1972, the band was almost completely in a Southern-style country image. This monumental and legendary show rates as one of the longest and widest-ranging of all time; nearly every taste is satisfied here. The first set is nearly flawless and demonstrates how much this band had matured since the loss of Pigpen. This historic show was to have started with a set by the Allman Brothers Band, but due to the tragic death of Berry Oakley, the Dead had to perform alone. After a standard set of opening tunes, the flavor changes from flawless to spectacular with Bird Song. A deep and spacey sound is created through Jerry's improvisational harmonics, inquisitive bass bombs from Lesh, and just plain weird organ notes from Godchaux. The jams are slow and thoughtful, yet at the same time energetic. The following Black-Throated Wind would have made any parent proud. Following its progression from July through November, one would have to conclude that this version certainly is one of the finest ever. Weir's singing is neither too screamy nor too blunt, and Garcia's improvisations are superb. The finale jam combination of Weir's bellows and Garcia's guitar would bring anyone to tears. Switching into a more upbeat tempo, Garcia makes Don't Ease Me In an exceptionally bouncy version by adding new lyrics, referring to the Texas Blues. A very funny, half-assed attempt at Shave and a Haircut Two Bits follows Immediately - just one of several ditties interjected between songs on this evening that prove the band was having at least as much fun as the audience. Robert A. Goetz
December 6 - Jack Straw, Shakedown Street > Samson & Delilah
10/20/84 – Carrier Dome, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
I received multiple requests for this monster version of “Jack Straw” from the final show of the 1984 East Coast fall tour. It has been on my short list for several years so I am glad to finally include it in this project. I also tacked on the incredible “Shakedown Street” that opened the second set – how could I NOT include that? Both these are Hall-Of-Fame, super-charged, high-energy versions. Sure Jerry completely butchers the first verse of “Shakedown” but hey, it’s 1984 and things were a little fuzzy for him. Besides, he more than makes up for it by playing his ass off. This version is everything a Shakedown should be. Up tempo, energetic and full of WAH and FUNK. Healy gets into the act by manipulating Garcia’s voice with a cool delay effect which actually WORKS unlike some of his experiments with Bob Weir’s vocals. A standout version by any year's standards, even 1979 or 1981. The “Samson” that follows keeps the pace up with more blazing guitar work from Garcia. Here are some concert memories I found on LMA of fans who attended. I know some of you on this distribution were there so let's hear from you! Back to Top
Reviewer:12 Joshua - October 18, 2006
High Power 84 barn burner. My second GD show. At this time in the game the dead were normally suspending their PA system from the roof scaffolding and playing in mid-sized hockey/bball arenas. The Dome being a soft roof didn't have the support for PA suspension so they went old school and built up with stacks off the stage platform with a massive wall of drivers to fill the hugeness of the venue. The crowd was pumped and mayhem ensued with the floor seats being flooded with crashers. I ended up about 100' from the stage, Phil's bombs were so loud I remember my pants vibrating against my legs. I love this first set nice thick sound. Great Birdsong & The Jack Straw is indeed one to behold, I remember thinking "Set break!? man, you guys were just getting revved up"...little did I know what was in store for us. At set break I kept hearing people in the concourse and in the seats mentioning shakedown like pssst..Shakedown! etc. the place was kind of a buzz with it, it was weird as I was hoping for one…They came out and completely tore up the joint with it and the place turned into a popcorn machine 40,000 of us all bouncin’ to Shakedown.
Reviewer:ripcurldead - January 20, 2006
This 1st set at the Dome will always stand out in my mind as a crazy night.. Partially from my own ingestions, also musically I thought the band was well greased. No doubt the highlight in the 1st set for me is fantastic Bird Song then the relentless Jack Straw, it was like a runaway freight train thundering down the tracks...It never wanted to end wave after wave of bone shaking power rock pummeling every deadhead in the building!! When I got my 1st aud tape of this show I remember labeling the cassette and putting exclamation marks at the end of JACK STRAW!!! ..as if I'd forget,!HA
Reviewer: TigerTrance - July 3, 2004
I agree, that was one momentous Jack Straw. It was also a tension-filled performance of that song. Weir had to tell the crowd to "take a step back" a couple of times. He did so with weary resignation in his voice. I'm not sure he appreciated the tricks Healy was playing with his voice as he tried to get the crowd to move back. That set the stage for an angry version of that song. Weir was jacked and it shows. Also note how he ends the set. "we're gonna take a break, everybody move back!" I was, um...out there at the time and having a band member pissed at the crowd definitely put a bummer on my head. All was well by the time Shakedown Street started. Check out the Jack Straw, it's interesting to hear them playing angry.
December 7 - China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
8/28/82 – Oregon Country Fair - Veneta, OR
"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can" – The Great Gatsby
The Dead’s legendary concert at Ken Kesey’s farm in Veneta, Oregon on 8/27/72 is considered one of their best ever. While the "Second Decadenal Field Trip" to Veneta fell short of the original trip, the vibe was very much present, and as further described below, this jammed-out version of “China > Rider” makes a compelling argument for Gatsby’s argument that the past can indeed be repeated.
Excerpted from The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Vol. II (1975-1985):
By the time the Dead took the stage, the setting was just exactly perfect for a Sunshine Daydream to unfold. Disappointingly, most of the first set was mediocre. We were beginning to fear mediocrity in the face of legendary potential. Then something positively remarkable happened. Jerry launched into China Cat Sunflower. Now those of you intimately familiar with the '72 Field Trip tapes know that the magic of that show began to unfold during China Cat. Incredibly, as Bobby started to play, we all clearly noticed that he had a very unusual reverb effect on his guitar - the same exact effect that can be heard on the '72 Field Trip tapes, which was the only other time we've heard this effect. (Compare the tapes: it's uncanny). Just then, six women around us take their clothes off all in unison. Why do I mention this? Because in Sunshine Daydream, the film of the '72 Field Trip, the editor chose to use the China Cat Sunflower as the segment in which to edit together many different clips of naked or topless women writhing sweatily in the hot Oregon sun. Needless to say, we all noted this decadenial similarity. China Cat moves from lyrics to jam, and as the musicians all find the same deep groove, the whole blessed event moves instantly to a higher level. The sky is blue, the sun is hot, trippers are starting to peak, hippies are naked, the Dead are galloping through one of their most psychedelic numbers, and suddenly, for a few minutes, there is no difference between 1972 and 1982. It's happening again - that ineffable sacred Grateful Dead magic. The jam builds and builds to a remarkable climax and then, exactly as in the '72 version of this medley , the band plays yet another after the climax. Wow. I Know You Rider is no less blistering hot. That finished, the band takes its break as we look at one another realizing that if for only a few minutes there we really did get to celebrate the legend of the '72 Field Trip in the hippest way possible. The second Field Trip left an indelible mark on my mind that the power to transform the mundane into the magical was within each of us – John Dwork.
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December 8 - Hey Pocky Way > Iko Iko
6/18/89 - Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA
In searching for some Brent I came across this unique pairing from Shoreline ’89. Since it closes the first set we would expect a little magic. Here, we get a mixed bag that can best be characterized as sloppy but awesome. Things are off to a great start until Brent begins to sing. He gets a few words out, confuses the verses and then draws a blank. Uh oh. In a frantic effort to make a recovery he lays down a keyboard fill and leads the band into the safety of the chorus which gives him the opportunity to press the re-set button. Cue the second verse but Brent still isn’t ready. Instead, we get another brief instrumental fill as he desperately tries to remember the lyrics but it’s futile. He comes back with only a few words before laying another giant goose egg. This time even the chorus is botched. OMG! WTF?! Fortunately, divine intervention descends from the cosmos to remind Brent of the most basic tenent of the entire Grateful Dead trip – “If you get confused just listen to the music play.” With his tail between his legs, he pushes the microphone off to the side and turns to his B-3 organ seeking/hoping/praying for magic. Things start off a little tenuous which is understandable given the abomination that just occurred but he quickly recovers and literally pours every shred of his soul into it. This is a beastly attack of mammoth proportions. This version of “Hey Pocky Way” is the musical equivalent to Brent’s vocal performance of “Blow Away” at JFK on 7/7/89 - raw and powerful. Eventually it’s Jerry’s turn. Brent’s cataclysmic solo is not an easy act to follow but Jerry eagerly takes the baton and heads for the finish line. Not to be outdone by his band-mate, Jerry patiently builds his solo up to an immense, cathartic peak complete with some vicious fanning that equals and possibly exceeds Brent’s performance. With the peak(s) reached, there is only one place to go: cool-down mode. Jerry leads the band into a smooth(ish) transition into the happy land of rainbow and unicorns with a jubilant “Iko Iko” to close the set. This yin-yang moment that teeters between disaster and mind-blowing brilliance reminds me of the time that Jerry came to the rescue during Brent’s haunting meltdown performance of “Maybe You Know” at the Berkeley Community Theatre on April 21, 1986 except this has a much better ending.
December 9 - Terrapin Station
3/24/87 - Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
A HUGE “Terrapin” that has been made even more famous by a YouTube video that has been viewed over 10,000 times! This is the version where Bob and Jerry do synchronized Pete Townshend-style power chord windmills on their guitars. A healthy and vibrant Garcia is all smiles as he follows Weir’s lead. Rare are the times when we get to see Jerry this animated. The audience knows it and they understandably go wild. The energy from the band and the crowd builds like giant ocean waves with each crashing chord. Here is Dr. Flashbacks review on LMA:
Reviewer: dr. flashback - September 25, 2012
For those whose memory of the 80's has, let's say faded a bit - I want to first put these shows at Hampton in perspective. This was the first post-coma tour on the East coast, so the crowd in VA was really psyched to say the least. And from the sound of it, so was the band. Now, these 3 shows suffer from a less than stellar SBD quality, actually they are Healey Matrix SBD's and so you get a huge dose of the audience, which is a good thing here, because the energy and love of the crowd is right there. Playin delivers what we need next - a trippy ride that takes us to the Station. A fairly mellow jam that stays on one motif pretty much. Then come the "magic chords" and the crowd goes bonkers. Everything comes together with this version - the vocals, the harmonies, the Drums, the crowd. And the whole thing just builds and builds, louder and louder until the roof comes off. This ain't your kid sister's Terrapin folks. They mean it tonight. Jerry's fuzz tone glows right through your speakers like a tube amp on overdrive. One of the best versions in the 80's, hands down.
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December 10 - Playin’ in the Band
Version A - 7/31/73 - Roosevelt Stadium - Jersey City, NJ
Version B - 2/22/73 - Assembly Hall, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL
Everybody knows and loves the famous Jerry birthday show on 8/1/73. What’s not to love? It boasts a dream set list that includes the band’s most coveted songs - “Bird Song,” “Dark Star,” “Eyes of the World” and “Morning Dew.” In addition, we are fortunate to have a beautiful soundboard audio source that is well-circulated for all to enjoy. Far in the shadows of that show is July 31, 1973. With a pedestrian set list that lacks the big jam songs and no soundboard audio source it just may be one of the most overlooked shows in 1973, if not ever. The website, headyverison.com has this version of “Playin’ in the Band” way down at the bottom of the list with a ranking of about 200. Thankfully, one review on LMA caught my attention. Here is an excerpt:
Reviewer: travis1 - August 8, 2014
If the audience source bothers you, then skip right to the jam. Yours ears will adjust very quickly. As the last notes of the composed section are played Keith and Billy lay down the perfect groove for Jerry who enters with a spacey and heavenly melodic lead. Oh my, this is engaging. Keith stays on the Rhodes/electric piano throughout this entire musical journey. Billy, who is Keith’s counterpoint, is at his jazzy best. Jerry is flying, weaving his way in and out of the musical web. This is a speedy and highly sophisticated musical conversation that could only happen in 1973. And, it is sooooo kind! After 11 minutes of sustained intensity we get a special treat – a much-needed break-down for some reflective space and weirdness. This was common after the first verse in “Dark Star” and "The Other One," but rarely – if ever – was it done in “Playin’ in the Band.” Some detours into “Space” can be too long and boring but this one is the perfect length. Weirdness descends on the unsuspecting audience. There are wind chimes, sleigh bells, and splashing cymbals behind atonal sounds that eventually build to Jerry's signature “Tiger.” Just when things can’t get any weirder Jerry suggests the “Playin’ Reprise” theme with an eye towards returning to the safety of “home base” but Keith and Billy aren’t having any of it. Must.Have.More.Acid.Jazz. Jerry is only too happy to oblige. The quick paced electric piano and drums kick back in. Soon Keith lands on a new theme. Jerry picks right up on it and off they go again. Wild yelps of approval from the audience can be heard. Garcia peels off quick runs of notes that dart in and out of Keith and Billy’s madness. Jerry tries again to suggest the Reprise and this time he gets his way. One characteristic that all the best “Playin’s” have in common is a great "Reprise." It’s those magical times when Jerry triumphantly takes a musical victory lap by playing his guitar like a banjo with that really twangy sound for a few extra glorious rounds (see 5/4/77 and 5/19/77 for examples). This is a masterpiece that should be heard at all costs. My unrequited love for it cannot be contained any longer. Everybody needs to know just how great this criminally underrated "Playin" really is. Top 10? Quite possibly.
For those who can’t handle the audience source, I included an alternate version for you even though you don't deserve it – the amazing "Playin" from February 22, 1973 from Champaign-Urbana. Back to Top
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December 11 - It Must Have Been The Roses
5/12/81 – Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, CT
A top-5 version of “It Must Have Been The Roses.” Beautifully sung with a stellar guitar solo. This show is known for the “He’s Gone” that was dedicated to Bob Marley who lost his battle with cancer the day before. There are also great versions of Althea and Shakedown Street too. Back to Top
December 12 - Big Railroad Blues, Let It Grow, (Keep Your) Day Job
10/15/83 - Hartford Civic Center - Hartford, CT
“Day Job.” Happy Monday, bitches. Yeah, that’s right. I went there. Don’t judge me. "Day Job" is easily the most maligned, hated song in the Dead’s entire career. Dead fans practically bullied the band into retiring the song in 1986. The truth is, I never planned on featuring “Day Job” in this project – ever. But then I came across what have now become two of my absolute favorite comments on the website, headyversion.com:
#1 version - Rockin' version that comes out of a shredding Let It Grow. Fuck you hippies!
…and the follow-up…
They play Day Job to close the 1st set 2 nights in a row at Hartford!! Fuck you hippies indeed!! ;)
I whole-heartedly agree! This version of “Day Job” totally rocks. If there is such thing as a “best” version of this song then this is probably it. Obviously, I didn’t make today’s selection based solely on the quality of this “Day Job.” But, after 30+ years can we bury the hatchet and acknowledge that this song did not deserve as much hate as it received – especially on a night like 10/15/83 when it served as a bonus set closer that followed all-time versions of “Big Railroad Blues” and “Let It Grow” (and, let’s not forget the dream-like second set which included a rare St. Stephen!). The “Big Railroad” is perhaps the best modern version ever; Jerry's guitar solo goes on and on and on and ON! It’s absurd. “Let it Grow” is one of the great post-74 versions, ranking alongside other luminaries like 3/25/85, 6/27/84, 5/14/78 etc. I am SHOCKED that this show has not been officially released yet!
FWIW, this (or possibly 10/14/83) was Trey Anastasio’s first GD show and he talks about it as a “life-changing event.” I included the YouTube clip below for those who are interested. Back to Top
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December 13 - Stella Blue
Version A - 3/21/94 – Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, OH
Version B - 8/1/94 – The Palace, Auburn Hills, MI
When you can’t decide between two versions you just pick both. Several years ago I worked with a great group of folks from the Phantasy Tour discussion board on what has now become known as “The Grateful Dead Projects.” When we made our Top 10 list of “Stella Blues” we wanted a good cross-representation of eras/years so we were a little hesitant to select two versions from 1994. It was really hard to pick one because each version was worthy so we ultimately wound up picking both. http://www.gratefuldeadprojects.com/stella_blue.html I have no regrets. I think it was the right decision. Why choose one when you can choose both?
In many ways these two versions of “Stella Blue” are musical twins. Both are from 1994. Both have huge, soulful, cathartic endings with cries of unmatched passion that continue to send chills down my spine after 22 years. Garcia gives a perfect, in fact breathtaking, delivery of the lyrics in both performances. The 3/21/94 version might have the edge for the "Nothing comes for free" line which is an all time, all world, Garcia scream. Both versions are bittersweet because they come at a time when Jerry’s health was failing and when there were more bad nights than good ones. Yet, when the magic returned, even when it was for just a fleeting moment, it was stellar and quite emotional. These versions of “Stella Blue” are fine examples of those moments and are among the last few great performances by Jerry Garcia. Moments like these were the reason we kept coming back – even when we had the painful decision of choosing between seeing an aging, inconsistent band or a new, fun band, named Phish who were in their prime and killing it every night. Back to Top
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December 14 - Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain
4/20/84 – Philadelphia Civic Center, Philadelphia, PA
Scarlet > Fire on 4/20? Yes please! Back to Top
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December 15 - Estimated Prophet > Eyes of the World > Drums
12/28/78 - Golden Hall, Community Concourse, San Diego, CA
In the days before the Closing of Winterland, you’d think the band would have been saving their energy for the big show on New Year’s Eve. Nope. Quite the contrary. The band was absolutely killing it in San Diego and Los Angeles. Those SoCal shows are packed with so much energy that it’s amazing the band anything left in the tank for the Winterland finale.
If you like the “Estimated > Eyes” combo then you probably already know that this is a top tier version. The first “Estimated” jam is very powerful – almost anthem-like. Just when you think it's done, Jerry and Bobby take it higher, and then higher. Simply breathtaking. The outro jam is also superb with many peaks and valleys. Jerry’s playing gets very fast towards the end as he sets up a sublime transition into “Eyes.”
I generally prefer the 1973-74 versions of “Eyes” but this one easily ranks among the top super-fast versions of all time along with 11/4/77 and 6/4/78. Jerry’s playing is glorious in its noodlely splendor. There is a fantastic peak in the jam after the last verse where Jerry finds a note he likes and sends it into orbital bliss. Check out Phil’s “Lovelight” tease just before the drums take over – 3 years before the band’s bust-out in Amsterdam. Back to Top
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December 16 - The Other One > Wharf Rat
9/23/72 - Palace Theater, Waterbury, CT
Just when you thought there could not possibly be any more magic from this band in September '72 there is this otherworldly sequence from Waterbury. The two shows that bookend 9/23/72 are legendary - 9/21/72 (Spectrum in Philadelphia) and 9/24/72 (Palace Theater in Waterbury). Both have been officially released as Dick’s Picks Vol. 36 and 30 Trips Around the Sun, respectively. They are known for all-time versions of “Dark Star.” Equally impressive is the transcendent “Other One > Wharf Rat” combo that the band unleashed on 9/23 which is featured today. Here is Robert Goetz’s great write-up in The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Vol. I (1959-1974):
The band launches into an eerie version of “The Other One.” This version, like that of September 17, 1972, in Baltimore leaves “The Other One” and transforms into an improvisational beast. Initially, the band fools around with a straightforward jam, but with the help of Weir plucking harmonics and Billy slowing the pace, the band hits rock bottom. Garcia picks them up and with Lesh's help, wanders through several “Other One” funk jams. The final jam before the lyrics is towering intimidation. Garcia changes the band's pace back into the “Other One” chords and they rise higher than ever. At its peak Garcia erupts with a nasty “Other One” siren. Truly one of their best moments ever, featuring a stormmmmin' Jerry Garcia. After the first verse the theme changes to a frightening, dark tone. The band melts into a fanatical sprint toward the bowels of the Theatre. In some jams, like September 17, 1972, in Baltimore, the band sounds as though they are being attacked and fleeing for their lives. Garcia seems to be the unfortunate soul taking the brunt of the attack. The feedback that he emits sounds as though he is in pain. Weir does an excellent job of masking Garcia by letting off strange sounds along with Lesh. The jam enters several off-beat atonal blasts that make no sense and should logically enter other jams. One is left wondering why and what is going on. Ultimately, they wind this bliss back into “The Other One” and instead of finishing off the “Cryptical” with He had To Die reprise (damn!), the band enters one its finest Wharf Rat's. Weir provides a stellar performance at rhythm, letting off some awesome power chords. Garcia, though, turns this into one of his saddest performances. When he sings "I wondered downtown, no place to go but just a hang around," it sounds as though he is crying. An excellent conclusion to another stellar September 1972 round-trip into the Dead's improvisational mind. Back to Top
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December 17 - Throwing Stones > Not Fade Away
12/30/86 - Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, Oakland, CA
The Dead loved to play this combo in the Big 80's...alot. For many fans - me included - it was played so frequently that it became a little too formulaic and predictable. It was not long before some jaded vets started referring to it as "Throw-Away." But this phenomenon was nothing new to the Dead. They played its predecessor, "NFA>GDTRFB>NFA" to death in 1971-72. Same thing for "Bertha" in 1971, "Estimated Prophet" in 1977, "Playing In The Band" in 1972-73 and "Dark Star>Stephen>Eleven>Lovelight" in 1969. And, unlike "Throw-Away," those songs were played at practically every show(!) Although the band was clearly getting off, the fans were getting bored which made it difficult to decipher a great version from an average version. Fortunately we have the recordings and the benefit of 30 years to listen with fresh ears, open minds and greater appreciation. With that new perspective I have found this version of "Throw-Away" to be of the highest octane. The band is firing on all cylinders. Jerry is feeling great after returning from a near-death experience so we have that one-with-the-universe-band-and-fan-community-energy-feeding-off-each-other-trip in play. Add in the anomaly that the band always seemed to play better on the night before New Year's Eve than they did on the "big" night itself. And then there is the Bobby factor. He is totally in command of this version. All of these elements result in a rockin' show closer. Actually, the entire show is well worth checking out. The 10-song first set, which was considered long at the time, boasts excellent versions "Althea" (featured in the 2011 edition of "31 Days”) and "Music Never Stopped" with Bobby reprising the vocals, "never stopped," during the outro. The second set is even better with high-energy versions of China>Rider, Saint, Estimated and a post-space appearance by the Neville Brothers lending a hand on Iko > Women. Both ballads, "Ship" and "Stella" have incredible soaring guitar solos. It truly is an under-appreciated show. Check it out! Back to Top
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December 18 - Dark Star > Feelin' Groovy Jam > Tighten Up Jam > Dark Star
11/2/69 - Family Dog at the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
"There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave." -- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
Yeah, that quote pretty much sums up what the Grateful Dead were doing in 1969. This majestic, 30-minute “Dark Star” takes you on a musical journey of melodic beauty, contemplative nirvana, and strange, dark valleys of psychedelic mayhem. Before returning to the final verse the band explores two favorite thematic jams – “Feelin’ Groovy” followed by “Tighten Up.” This “Star” is ranked in the Top 10 by Grateful Dead Projects whose strict guidelines are based upon “good taste and common sense.” http://www.gratefuldeadprojects.com/dark_star.html
Here is Dr. Flashback’s review on LMA:
Reviewer: dr. flashback - November 8, 2005
Although I think the Spring 69 period was their high point of the year in general, there are some Fall 69 shows that really stand out, and this is one of them, along with of course 11/8/69, which is Dick's Picks #16. When you think of the truly great 1969 Dark Stars - 3/1 and 4/5 and 4/21 and 4/27 - this one is on the same shelf. 30 minutes of Capt. Trips and Company taking your mind back to its senses and beyond the 4th dimension. What you get here is focused, crafted playing within every moment, creating a moving sound collage that rises, fades and spins colors in ever-changing hues and moods. This is what artful improvisation is all about. They listen, they blend, and they play off each other in a seamless flow of inspired moments. First we get a jam for about 10 minutes, just to get in the mood before the first verse. Then it's off to Edgar Varese land - don't know who he is?? The Dead sure did. Any fellow music majors out there?? Win a free show - who is Varese??
But I digress - the middle territory is a jungle full of strange sounds and entities. Whirring organ, whooshing cymbals, bird-like chirping from Jerry's guitar, water sounds from Bobby. Don't get lost folks! This morphs into a fast MLB-type, or Feelin Groovy, whichever you prefer jam, followed by a rocked-out Know You Rider-ish jam before turning on a dime into - a fast 2 chord jazz riff that REALLY sounds a lot like Eyes of the World. Did the Dead suddenly jump forwards in time?? You decide. This jam is as smooth as cream cheese on a toasted bagel. Then they land you back into the 2nd verse with soaring blazing guitars, before gently fading away as the bells chime. A near-perfect version. If 1968 can be said to be the year when they mastered The Other One, then 1969 was certainly the year that Dark Star came into its own. And what we celebrate here is a matured, late 69 version that shows all the signs of a band in its full jam potential, and they prove it for half an hour!
This Dark Star needs your full attention - take some special time to get magical, light the incense, light the candles and prepare to be enchanted. Back to Top
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December 19 - Cumberland Blues
10/17/72 - Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO
A hyper-drive Cumby full of hillbilly-pickin' madness for your back-to-work Monday blues -- "Gotta get down to the mine" Back to Top
December 20 - New Speedway Boogie (Acoustic, with David Crosby)
7/14/70 - Euphoria Ballroom, San Rafael, CA
A sublime, semi-acoustic version of “New Speedway Boogie” with spellbinding vocals by Jerry and guest, David Crosby. This has to be one the best versions of the song available. Back to Top
December 21 - Seastones > Jam > Ship of Fools
6/23/74 - Jai-Alai Fronton, Miami, FL
The famous “Bermuda Triangle Show.” I received my much anticipated copy of 6/23/74 during my tape trading days in the 80's. Included in the package with the Maxell XL-IIS cassettes was a cryptic, hand-written note warning me that the Bermuda Triangle had somehow affected the band’s performance at this concert. I was intrigued -- very intrigued.
You don’t hear too much about the Bermuda Triangle these days but back then it really was a thing. For those who are unfamiliar with this phenomenon, the Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is a legendary area of the Atlantic Ocean between Puerto Rico, Florida and the Bermuda Islands where strange and unaccountable events are believed to have occurred. The cause of that speculation has been the disappearance of ships and airplanes, the failure of navigational instruments and the occasional appearance of an eerie, yellow fog while traveling through the area. These mysterious occurrences have been attributed to the paranormal. Well, when you take THAT into consideration along with all of the usual freakiness that comes with a Grateful Dead concert and then add in the absurdity of the band playing at a jai-alai fronton(!), you begin to wonder whether there just may be some legitimacy to what my tape-trader friend was suggesting. I mean, how could those factors NOT impact the music?
This one is a total face-melter. Here, we have an evening of unusual song choices and weirdly-placed jams. Not surprisingly, this is a very “dark” show. An insidious theme of death permeates the entire performance. Jerry provides the very ominous warning right from the beginning when the band opens with a super-rare “Ramble on Rose” and he sings the first verse, “Just like Jack the Ripper.” Later, we get “To Lay Me Down,” “China Doll” and “Black Peter.” Then, there are the less obvious references: “Half-Step” (“I’m gone, goodbye”), “Jack Straw” (“dug for him a shallow grave and laid his body down”), “El Paso” (“everything's gone in life nothing is left”) and “Weather Report” (“darkness falls”).
Augmenting the death theme is the very first performance of Phil and Ned’s avant garde electronic experiment known as “Seastones” which itself must have sent any navigational instruments within the Bermuda Triangle into a tailspin. With its unrelenting assault of harsh tones, "Seastones" makes a conventional Grateful Dead feedback jam actually seem quite accessible (not to fear, I gave you guys an abridged version for today’s jam). There is no doubt in my mind that the poor, unsuspecting people in the audience who were hearing this for the first time were ill-prepared for what was about to hit them. The intensity of the electronic noise powered through the mighty Wall of Sound must have been apocalyptic. It probably was too much for even the headiest of fans who blissfully dance to “everything.” One can only imagine how this terrifying assault affected the curious local, Jimmy Buffet-types who decided it might be a fun novelty to drop a little acid and get mellow with the Dead. People must have been losing their shit left and right - fragments of brain matter sprayed all over the jai-alai fronton. Were there any survivors?
Fortunately, the band has mercy on the audience and comes out with a palate-cleansing, drifty jam to kick off the second set (or is it the third set?). Beautiful and melodic, this jam wants for nothing. It takes its sweet time wandering around, figuring out where it might take itself. This was the first time to my knowledge that the band took a free-standing, impromptu jam like this into a song. They did it only a precious handful of times in 1974: 6/26/74 (Jam > China Cat); 9/11/74 (Space > Eyes); 10/16/74 (Seastones > Wharf Rat); and 10/18/74 (Seastones > Dark Star). In this case, the jam gently floats into one of the finest versions imaginable of "Ship of Fools." Song placement is everything, and here it is executed perfectly. Whether it was done intentionally or not, that sequence of music represents a metaphorical voyage through the Bermuda Triangle: a terrifying maelstrom of electronic noise > a calm-after-the-storm, dream-like jam > “Ship of Fools.”
The set continues with a hypnotic twenty-five minute “Dark Star jam” > “Spanish Jam” which leads into a fantastic “U.S. Blues.” That entire sequence is featured in the box set, So Many Roads (1965-1995).
With 30 years upon my head and repeated listening, I have come to understand the cryptic, hand-written note I received with the cassettes…
Though I could not caution all, I still might warn a few
P.S. While doing research for this write-up I learned a bit about Ned Lagin, who is as mysterious as the legend of the Bermuda Triangle. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about him if you are interested:http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2011/05/ned-lagin.html
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December 22 - Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower
2/26/77 - Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA
Garcia’s possessed playing puts the exclamation point into this “Slipknot!” - Howard F. Weiner, Grateful Dead 1977: The Rise of Terrapin Nation Back to Top
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December 23 - Uncle John’s Band
8/26/71 - Gaelic Park, Bronx, New York, NY
Less than three weeks after Pigpen’s definitive performance of “Hard To Handle” at the Hollywood Palladium, the Grateful Dead play the final date of their summer tour in 1971 at Gaelic Park in the Bronx. It will be Pig’s last show until December and the last time the band will ever perform in their original quintet configuration of Jerry, Phil, Pig, Billy and Bobby. By September, Keith will be rehearsing with the band to assume a full-time role on the keys. Perhaps anticipating his absence, Pigpen leads the band through 6 of his songs including the rarely played, “Empty Pages” and the last “Hard To Handle.” It is also one of the last performances of “St. Stephen” until the band revived it in 1976 with a major facelift, never to be played the same way again. When you consider these historical milestones along with the departure of Mickey Hart and the closings of the legendary Fillmore East and West earlier in the year it makes you realize that this concert carried a little more weight than anyone could have ever foreseen at the time. It truly was the end of a chapter in the life of the Grateful Dead. As you listen to each song you can’t help but feel a certain degree of nostalgia. For me, the hidden gem of the show is the outstanding version of “Uncle Johns Band.” Jerry’s first guitar solo is an absolute joy to hear. His notes sing with irresistible melody and happy sunshine which perfectly capture the nostalgia of those carefree early years. If you listen closely you can hear Pigpen playing the wood claves.
This show was supposed to be played the day before the Yale Bowl concert on July 30 (as the date on the ticket in the artwork below proves) but some issues with the equipment trucks and/or weather prevented it from happening from the scheduled date. There are a few stories on the web about people who didn’t get the message (no twitter back then!) and dropped some acid only to show up to an empty stadium. Haha!
The handbill for the show read… “In the land of the night the ship of the sun is drawn by the Grateful Dead.”
Here are some reviews I found on LMA from people who attended:
Reviewer:ajb2 - January 22, 2010
This was truly a wonderful show. Not perfect, not textbook, not pristine...but if you liked the GD being themselves...this was it. Before the show Pig and Jerry were hanging out by the fence (yes, an old fashioned metal fence) between the audience and the stage yacking away with us...The sun faded behind the dark sky, the trains circling the field and Jerry without glasses just having a great old time. I clearly remember Phil starting the show by saying "this is the last time we are going to do a show like this" and it was as Keith joined and Pig Pen took a back seat. On this night he was clearly out front..when did you see a show in those days where he would sing two songs in a row...They were high, healthy and seemed quite happy with the gritty Bronx tale surroundings...I tell you of my 400 or so - this was one of the most pure fun shows i attended....
Reviewer: kennyzee - July 25, 2007
Open seating on the ground. Bring a blanket, bring a jug, bring whatever. Dealers making their way through the crowds. Elevated subway going by every so often outside. Van Cortlandt Park nearby on one side, Riverdale on the other. What struck me most (I was 17) was that the band just walked out and started playing. No warm up group, no loud mouth NYC DJ to intro them, no nothin'. Where we were sitting, half way back, people just suddenly realized there was music and turned to face the stage. The band was out, plugged and playing. All the Dead Metaphysics, the Way, the Whatever, were encapsulated in that. Just walk out on stage, plug in, and play the music.
Reviewer: ommani - September 10, 2004
One of my first shows, it was freaky to take the IRT train to something like 247th St. traveling from Brooklyn and watching the floor of the train start to bubble like something out of Terminator 2....without the usual New Riders as an opener The Dead took the stage and bolted out of the gate with a fantastic "Bertha" and cooked with only five musicians onstage (Mickey was on sabbatical, perhaps never to return, who knew?). St. Stephen came from nowhere and was a rare treat at the time! I remember a fan being totally naked sitting on a 20 foot high fence after the show with several other fans trying to coax him "back to Earth" as it were...it was a seventies thing.
Reviewer: frankmunz - March 28, 2007
I was 16 at the time. I hung outside the park with friends in 90 degree heat all afternoon. They opened the gates at 5:00. I remember The Dead started early (about 6:00) due to the threat of thunder storms. Well, it never rained, and they played till after 11:00 playing 3 sets. It was the only time I saw the band with Pigpen. After all the shows I've attended over the years, I look back and feel that this is probably the last show that had that classic "Grateful Dead Fillmore Feel" if you know what I mean. That rustic, garage sound that when they were tight and together with a song was really awesome.
Reviewer:Grey Lens - July 15, 2012
This was my first show. The only time I ever saw Pig Pen. I was 17, had just gotten in the gate and as I walked across the field I saw Artie Carlisle (Whoopakee) who promptly and without warning shoved several barrels of Sunshine into my mouth.
Reviewer: bearzz - August 27, 2010
I remember witnessing the "Miracle of St. Stephen". During the 2nd set, one of our friends was in the process of having a bad LSD experience. Then St. Stephen started, and he immediately snapped out of it, and returned to normal, or at least normal under the circumstances.
Reviewer:oldschool71 -February 9, 2011
This was our second show. We got on the bus at The Yale Bowl that July, had our epiphany there when Pig did H2H. Gaelic Park just cemented us into the scene, and we're still riding. As I recall, "Park" is a misnomer. This was an open dirt field that the Dead filled with glorious music (Empty Pages, St. Stephen). Had our first psychedelic experience when we drank from a wine skin passed to us (didn't know what hit us until we intentionally repeated the experience).
Reviewer: BarChaplain - - March 3, 2014
I'm reading the autobiography of Ace Frehley (KISS) who consistently was able to work his way backstage at concerts as a young man and encountered various well known rock stars. This was the one and only Dead show he attended. Managed to get backstage and had a chance conversation with Jerry....
December 24 - Run Run Rudolph
Yesterday I featured the band's last show as a quintet with Pigpen in the Summer of '71. I thought it would be cool to compare their sound with Keith after Pigpen returned in December. Today’s selection highlights the barrelhouse piano of Keith Godchaux and the soulful vocals of Pigpen performing a rare holiday tune - Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph." It was only played 7 times ever - all in 1971. Speaking of rare, tonight we have the rare occurrence of Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah falling on the very same night. Peace and love to all my friends. Back to Top
December 25 - I Need A Miracle
12/28/88 - Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Merry Chrismanukah! On this day of miracles for both Christians and Jews, we visit the church of Bob Weir for a passionate reading of "I Need A Miracle." Normally a quick, throw-away tune, this HUGE version is powerful enough to make you a believer. Bobby is so amped up that he can barely spit the verses out fast enough. The vocal theatrics are complemented by Jerry's searing, distorted guitar and Brent's squealing organ. The band is clearly feeling invigorated. With a head full of steam, they extend the outro jam a little more than usual and build it up to a fantastic peak. To say this is an over-the-top version would be an understatement of biblical proportions.
December 26 - Might As Well > Jam
8/2/76 - Colt Park, Hartford, CT
Whether it was planned or a miscue, the band takes this unique version of “Might as Well” for a ride into the bonus zone by tacking on a superb, extended blues jam. Back to Top
December 27 - China Doll
5/8/79 - Rec Hall, Penn State University, State College, PA
The Dead break out an extremely rare “China Doll” at Penn State in Brent's freshman year with the band. It’s the first with Brent and only the fourth version played since the “Retirement Shows” in October 1974.
As the first notes are played you can hear cheers of delight from the audience who know all too well that the band is giving them a very special treat. Despite the long absence, Garcia delivers a stunning performance. The magic ends all too soon and is put back into the bottle not to return until the acoustic sets in September 1980.
6/18/83 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY
Lightning bolts that synchronize with “The Wheel” (“if the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will”) and a colossal “Morning Dew” for the ages. Welcome to SPAC’83. This "Dew" is one of three top versions from the 1980's that comprise the “Holy Trinity." The other two are from Augusta '84 (See 2013 edition of the Unofficial 31 Days of Dead) and MSG '87 (See 30 Trips Around the Sun). The SPAC “Dew” is ranked in the Top 10 versions ever by my friends at Grateful Dead Projects - http://gratefuldeadprojects.com/morning_dew.html
Today’s write-up is excerpted from two excellent reviews in the blogs, Rock the Body Electric and The Hal Blog...
The second set kicks off with an all-time version of "Scarlet > Fire." This is followed by a long and winding "Playing in the Band." Following Drums and Space we get an enchanted "The Wheel>Playing In the Band Reprise" under thunder and lightning that just happened to be booming. An incredible set is about to get even better. When you ask DeadHeads about the group and SPAC, you usually get a one-word answer - "Dew."
The "Morning Dew" that comes in next is what really puts this show on the map and in discussions of all-time best versions. The opening cataclysmic riffs signal that the folk inspired end of the world tale will be launched into by the cosmic crew. Every note just rings with authority, and Phil joins Jerry in the forefront, dropping bass bombs and eschewing majestic phrasing. The band starts out hot and builds ever higher in intensity. Jerry winds up and explodes during the "THOUGHT I HEARD A YOUNG MAN!" verse.
This is audio fireworks; explosions building on top of each other, brief moments of pause add to the intensity of the next climax which will arrive right after the next verse. After Jerry sings the last "Guess it doesn't matter anyway" his lone guitar seems to represent the last man on earth that the song references before coalescing the frightened survivors together for one final galloping rush to the top of the mountain. Beautifully intoxicating, this is one for the ages.
While as a complete show I do find myself going back to the Lake Placid show as their best in 1983, the high points presented on this night, especially the Dew, are just astonishing. Those fans in attendance (and there was a lot of them as it looks like this show broke SPAC's attendance record) witnessed a night in the Grateful Dead's history that is still talked about, listened to, and cherished.
Here are some fan reviews taken from LMA...
Reviewer: sheikyerbouti - August 18, 2004
We hitched from Boston for this with 1000 hits of blotter and almost got pinched by a statey so when we got there Friday night there were probably 100 people camped in the parking lot but when we woke up sat the parking lot was filling and people were everywhere doing these whippets from the radioactive gas coming out of the ground and Saratoga had no idea how to deal with this onslaught of humanity that barreled into town for this - the hells angels were driving their bikes around inside the show people were dancing everywhere and they finally just opened the gates for everyone - great 1st set Scarlet>Fire>Playin long and very trippy - powerful back end of the show in particular m'dew which was one of the best they ever played and got the crowd out of their tripped out stupor...vibe-wise no way to top the millions of fireflies in the trees and beautiful early summer night – really, really hot show.... suffice it to say we left with about a dozen doses the crowd got the rest and think the band may have gotten a wee bit too.... the dead were staying in town at this hotel we all went back to and we had an impromptu bongo chant to get jerry et al out (didn’t work) this was how psyched we were and did not want the night to end...
Reviewer: 2dose - October 24, 2012
This was the first time they played at the S.P.A.C. and one of my faves being I went to all of them. We had a convoy of 4 cars and 2 vans all the way up to Saratoga and by the time we got there early in the afternoon the place was packed, There were many alien life forms walking around dispensing their mind bending elixirs. Everyone of us drank their Kool-Aid that day and it was just a beautiful summer day with many happy, smiling people all around the place.
Reviewer: westchesterdead - August 26, 2008
Of course, like the others who attended this show, I can agree that it was a monster show. There were several reasons why.
Sources for Write-Up:
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December 29 - Gloria > Turn On Your Lovelight
10/16/81 - Club Melk Weg, Amsterdam, Netherlands, NLD
The Oops Concert. The Grateful Dead. Playing an acoustic and electric set. With borrowed instruments. In a tiny, 1,500-person-capacity nightclub that was once a milk factory. In Amsterdam, the hashish capital of the world. On Bobby’s 37th birthday. Oh yeah, and the band busted out the first and only “Hully Gully,” the first “Gloria” since 1965 and the first “Lovelight” since 1972 – a sacred Pigpen song that nobody thought the band would ever play again. It doesn’t sound real. But it was. A tape-trader friend of mine told me that his sister was one of the lucky few who attended this legendary concert while she was studying abroad for a semester in college. There are a handful of shows that are so epic and legendary that we all wish we could have attended. Veneta, Cornell and the closing of Fillmore East & Winterland are a few that quickly come to mind. This show at the famed Melk Weg Club in Amsterdam falls in that elite category. Rock Scully wrote that this was the Dead’s “last great adventure.” He probably is right.
Here is the backstory of how the Melkweg shows happened…
Flooding rains cancelled the band’s two shows in the south of France. They had performed at Walter Koebel Halle in Russelheim, West Germany, on October 13th, and now with the cancellations, they had a couple days to burn with nothing on the tour schedule. Garcia and Weir had played a short, seven-song acoustic set at the Melkweg two days earlier (following a friend’s poetry reading). Jerry and Bobby, with Scully’s help, talked the rest of the band and their crew into returning to Amsterdam to play two impromptu gigs at the Melkweg. The one condition the crew had was that they travel light, leaving their heavy load of instruments and equipment behind. That is why the band rented/borrowed equipment.
This review by Robert Minkin really captures the evening….
The highlight of my Grateful Dead concert career took place on two nights in Amsterdam, Holland, October 1981. Dateline: Russelheim, Germany, October 13th – The Dead just finished their encore and their manager Rock Scully announced from the stage that the next two scheduled shows in Nancy and Frejus, France were cancelled. The tour was to resume in Paris on the 17th. We knew better. “We” being the handful of Americans who came over for the tour. Rumor had it that the Dead, instead of taking a few nights off were to play in Amsterdam’s famed Melkweg (or Milkyway) Club.
Since there were no advance ticket sales and save for the scattered “OOPS” posters in Amsterdam’s Leidplein district, no advance notice either. It was first come, first serve at the door. Ticket price worked out to about seven bucks. By the second night word got out that the Dead were in town so the tiny club was packed, about 400 people inside(!)
Cindy Peress, an acoustic blues guitarist opened the show at about 10:00. Her set was well received. At 11:00, the Dead came onstage after squeezing through the audience to get there. Since most of the band’s equipment was on its way to Paris, they played borrowed instruments. Jerry sported a Strat styled Yamaha 1000 sunburst guitar and Weir, a white Fender Telecaster, Billy and Mickey’s massive drum ensemble was missing, leaving them with a simpler drum arrangement.
Phil started clowning over the PA saying “Oooooops, Oooooops” and that this was an informal evening. Bob was welcomed with a bouquet of daises. We also sang him Happy Birthday to which Jerry replied, “touching, touching.”
The band opened (appropriately) with On The Road Again, acoustic. Jerry and Bob both standing as the band played. The audience and band were getting off on the intimate atmosphere with between song banter and beaming smiles as they played. They knew what they were doing to us, and we gave it back to them. This was raw Grateful Dead, stripped to the essentials.
There were many amusing moments such as the girl who jumped onstage and writher on Phil. He sent her off with a reverberating note over to Jerry who gave her a polite “hello” before she was zapped away.
The second set was very electric.
It was Bob’s night as they opened with Playing in The Band. Never before Dead renditions of Hully Gully and Gloria were performed. During the jam after Gloria, an old familiar melody was heard and Bob haltingly sang, “without a warning, you broke my heart.” They played a kickass Lovelight, almost a decade after it was last performed with Pigpen.
There was no encore that night. None was needed. They were literally dripping wet.
The houselights came on at 2:00 AM and Rock Scully stepped onstage and told us, “This was a very special treat for us (the band) and a gift to us from you guys.” – Taken from Deadbase XI: The Complete Guide to Grateful Dead Song Lists
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December 30 - Going Down The Road Feelin’ Band > One More Saturday Night
6/19/76 - Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ
If you are a fan of the version of this combo that is featured in the Grateful Dead movie then you will love this version too.
The Dead close out a 3-night stand at the legendary Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey with a show-stopping pair of rockers that bring down the house. You know it’s powerful when the frenzied crowd refuses to leave after the house lights have been on for 15 minutes! Here are a couple of fan reviews that will give you a pretty good idea just how powerful this closer really was:
The really cool part of that evening was after OMSat Night, the band left the stage & the crowd would not stop screaming, I mean it was deafening. Now it was 30+ years ago, but my recollection is that the roar continued for 15+/- minutes. The house lights went up and the noise got louder.
Then the crew came out and started taking down the band's equipment, and the crowd sounded like a tornado. WOW, we were freaking out. The drums were torn down, lights up full-blast, and the crowd knew there was more...and they were right. Out strolls Jerry, guitar and microphone in-hand and the audience went nuts. Billy & Mickey carried their drums back on stage and started the hypnotic beat to NFA. Really cool. From dead.net -- country-don | July 26, 2007.
After the last song the lights came on and the side doors opened and people started to leave. Me and my friend were drained from the show and sat there blown away, talking about the show. We notice the roadies were on stage but not breaking down the equipment. It was the end of the Capitol run. A few moments later the doors were shut, the lights went off and the boys came back out for the encore. The place went wild with the people who were left. We ran from our seats (about 30 rows back) and ran to the stage. We got about to the 4th row. The drums started and the music just fell into place. You could hear people banging on the side doors. It was rocking and rolling and it was one of those moments u hope u were there 4. After that, the band left quick, lights came on and the doors opened. We all were dazed and walked out floating on air, SMILING. Everybody was asking what happened. They couldn’t believe it. Fantastic evening, a very unexpected ending. One of my top shows for so many reasons. From jerrygarcia.com -- Matthew Turkin Friday, December 18th, 2015.
This was a very significant show at the time because it was the first time a Grateful Dead concert aired on a national radio broadcast. There had been many local radio simulcasts in years past but this one was special because the band had just returned to touring after a two year hiatus. It’s interesting to note that none of the FM broadcasts include “Not Fade Away” because nobody expected the band to play an encore after the house lights had been turned on.
I’ve had a very good quality copy of the FM broadcast in my collection for years and it has been a favorite of mine. There is plenty to love here besides the rocking show-closer that is featured today. The dazzling opener, “Help> Slip> Franklins> Music Never Stopped” showcases the band’s new album, Blues For Allah, and sets the stage for an amazing night. “Cassidy” is perfectly played. One of the casualties of the hiatus was that “Playing in the Band” became a second set song so to have it close the first set on this evening as it routinely did during the 1972-74 era was a very big deal. The band takes this 18-minute version for a deep dive into space. The second set is highlighted by one of the finest versions of “High Time” ever (featured in my 2010 edition of the “Unofficial 31 days of Dead”) and a jam-o-licious, “Let it Grow > Dancin’ > Cosmic Charlie” before moving into overdrive.
This show was well-circulated back in the day thanks in large part to the high quality FM broadcast but it doesn’t seem to receive the love it once did. You won’t find the “GDTRFB” or “Saturday Night” from this show on headyversion.com. Give it a listen and show it some love. Back to Top
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Re-Listen to the Dead Audio Stream Links:
December 31 - The Last Time
5/6/90 - Cal State Dominguez Hills Soccer Field, Carson, CA
Just in case because you never know…
I leave you with Bob Weir at his rock-star best. Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the ride. Back to Top
Audio Stream Links:
He's Gone > Truckin' > Other One > Eyes of the World > China Doll, Sugar Magnolia
2/19/73 - International Amphitheatre, Chicago, IL
One of the great things about a New Year’s Eve Grateful Dead concert was the tradition of a third set or at least an extended encore. Taking a page from the band’s playbook, I have followed that tradition in these projects. This year my “third set” is taken from February 19, 1973 in Chicago - the home of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs.
Coming off one of their best years ever and armed with a treasure trove of brand new songs, the band was in peak form when returned to the stage in February 1973.
This set has a real winter vibe to it and is best enjoyed during the cold and snowy days that lie ahead. Especially noteworthy is the version of “China Doll.” It is only the third live performance but for me, the ending solo is one of the prettiest things that Jerry has ever played. It is beautifully complemented by Bobby’s backing guitar. If you only listen to one thing from this “set” I implore you to check out the “China Doll.” The solo begins at about the 5:06 minute mark in the YouTube link I posted below. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Here is John Dwork’s review from The Deadhead's Taping Compendium - Volume 1 (1959-1974):
This is a tape for Phil phreaks. "He's Gone" is sweet, and "Truckin'" rises steadily to a thrilling climax, but the highly memorable action starts shortly thereafter as Phil brings the band into "The Other One." As the post-"Truckin" jam evolves from the familiar to the unknown, Phil starts to play his bass in a highly animated "plucky" style; the rest of the band responds and the energy rises. But then Jerry, Bob and Keith step back to let Phil and Billy take a fast-paced duet. Phil then triumphantly states the official opening to "the Other One" (for the second time!), and they're all off in unison again. Somehow, this digresses into yet another spacey jam from out of which Phil and Billy let rip yet another duet! Eventually the song comes back around and Bobby sings the first verse. Off they fly into the unknown again - and, before the second verse appears, the tape cuts.
The music comes back in again with the opening chords of "Eyes of the World." Now Jerry seems to be the leader again. This version of "Eyes" is long and drawn out. The band knows it's in the groove, and they have no desire to leave such a delicious space quickly. This is the jazzy Grateful Dead at its finest. After a very long jam Jerry eventually brings the energy down to a slow throb with a heartfelt and emotional reading of "China Doll." But wait the fun isn't over. "Sugar Magnolia" is nothing less than incredible - one of the better versions I've heard.
YouTube Visual Stream Links:
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