jazzbo

The Grateful Dead Dark Star

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What do you think, is it time for the Grateful Dead to have their own "Corner" thread?

I confess that about a decade, the whole nineties, went by and I hardly heard the Dead. I was deep into jazz, gave up playing drums in rock and roll bands (I mean how many times can you really pack your station wagon full of equipment with gusto to go out and make gas money playing for drunken frat boys?) and really only Hendrix showed up on my radar from my earlier rock listening world. . . .

But in the last year suddenly (and I solidly place the blame on ORGANISSIMO.ORG!) I'm buying Dick's Picks and the box set and the Garcia box set (TWICE! anyone needing a copy cheap pm me!) and . . . well. . . I'm back to being a Deadhead!

What is it about them? I haven't really put my finger on it, but I think it's part Garcia's eclectic mastery of the guitar, part Billy Kreutzman's wonderful drumming, and part Weir's quirky guitar, voice and songs. . . those are the top three ingredients that keep me going back to the Dead . . . .

So chime in if you're a fan and it's too bad Jeff isn't posting nowadays!

Edited by jazzbo

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I've always meant to give them more attention-in fact, I have found that since I was immersed totally in jazz for a long time, that when I do go back to rock occasionally, it's the Dead or Allman Brothers that I listen to (more the ABB actually). But I did pick up Dicks Picks 28, 4 discs from Feb 1973 that has some great jazzy playing, especially Godchaux's solos. Really enjoyable set. I intend to get more Dicks Picks eventually. I also recently got One From the Vault because I couldnt find Blues for Allah anywhere and I read that the tunes on that album are heavily jazz influenced.

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Yes, Blues for Allah is an interesting album, jazzy mostly in a fusion way. . . .

Going to have to get #28 if it's from 1973, I love that band with the Godchaux the most. . . not sure why. . .maybe because it is the band with just Billy on drums and I may be one of the few on the planet that likes Donna Jean's singing MOST of the time!

^_^

Allman Bros. . . . There's a band I haven't heard for a long time, and probably should refresh myself with. . . or not. . . I'm getting so much stuff as it is!

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Thanks for starting this thread, jazzbo. Although my time span is probably shorter than yours, my story is similar. The Dead became my favorite band of all time during my college years, but shortly before I graduated 4 years ago, the jazz bug bit me hard and it was pretty much just jazz up until recently. On a recent road trip, I grabbed some of my old Dicks Picks to listen to just for old time sake, and lo and behold I fell in love with the Dead all over again. What a great band! Jerry's guitar, absolutly amazing songs and a Miles Davis Quintet - like group chemistry just made for what I believe to be the best rock n' roll band ever! And the seemingly unlimited availiablity of recordings make them a very fun group to be a fan of.

Thanks for making me aware of Dick's Picks #28, GregK. I haven't bought a Dicks Picks since around #20 or so. Can anyone give me recommendations for the MUST HAVE Dick's Picks from Vol. 20 to the present? Please don't say "all of them"! :P

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My dead faves from my very small collection:

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:tup

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You're right, the chemistry of the band members together is an important factor in the appeal and the longevity of the band. . . .

I've actually been exploring some of the earliest albums for the first time in a Loooooong time. . . probably hadn't heard some of those since the mid-seventies until this year. It's interesting to hear the development of the band, and how the band sort of dealt with the loss of Pigpen to become the band that lasted then for over twenty years. . . .

The work that drew me back into the listening was "Wake of the Flood." I started thinking about this album and bought a Dick's Picks that had peformances of selections from the lp, and then I bought the cd. This was an ambitious time for the band: starting their own record label, trying to organize more for themselves and to coordinate more directly with their fans. I just really enjoy the sound and structure of this album, and it was the first one I felt passionately about when it was released and after I first listened to it I was launched into my only really "Deadhead" time where I saw them a number of times and followed the solo projects etc. I think that it really holds up now 30 years later; I still love "Weather Report Suite" and "Mississippi Halfstep Toodleoo". . . !

Edited by jazzbo

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I bought a copy of "Terrapin Station" on vinyl in about 1980/81, and loved it. But most of the rock-n-roll I liked at the time was a little heavier, so I didn't follow it up and check out the earlier recordings.

I just kept going back to that one everytime I wanted my fix of the Dead. Then a couple of years ago I picked up the Arista compilation and enjoyed it as well. A little voice inside me kept telling me to explore further, but it seemed overwhelming, to be honest - between all of the studio recordings, the live stuff, and the subsequent archival live recordings.

But earlier this year I was able to nab a copy of the WB/Rhino box set for a good price, and have really been surprised at the quality of the music!! I've been enjoying all of those albums - great sound, great bonus tracks, and great book that came with the set. Could kick myself for not exploring their music earlier. I want to digest this box further, before exploring all of the live recordings. I just saw where they recently released another archival live recording, "Rockin' the Rhein", a 3 disc set from the '72 European tour. Looks like a good package.

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That really does look great, that Rockin' the Rhein. It IS overwhelming how much stuff there is out there; that's why I've been concentrating on just one edition of the band, and still there's a ton of material!

The Rhino box set is amazingly good, well produced, well remastered, and as you say an excellent booklet. That was partly what inspired me to buy the Rhino box set of Garcia studio recordings and it too is excellently produced in all ways (and I liked the music on these recordings more than I remembered/thought I would and the extra material is killer!)

I've gotten the Dick's Picks I need from the first twenty, and I have a few more to get from the next ten. . . . I think this kick I'm on is going to be a long one this time.

Noj: Greyfolded: pretty astonishing work (and amount of work!)!

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Despite being an avid riock listener from 1970 the Dead passed me by. I tried a couple of the albums in the 80s - 'American Beauty' and 'Live Dead' but nothing clicked.

And yet I had a nagging feeling there was something there. As music similar to that era dried up in contemporary rock I was longing to find a old seam to mine where there might be gold and I felt sure at some point the Dead would reveal it. Hearing Garcia on other albums - notably David Crosby's first solo album - made me sure there was something there for me.

The disc that began to open it up was 'One from the Vault', a live set from around the time of 'Blues for Allah' that I borrowed from the library in the mid-90s. I then took the plunge on the 5CD box 'So Many Roads' set that features the instrumentals heavily. I think not having to plough through the dodgily harmonised cowboy songs helped me to connect. Some of the playing on those discs is stunning. One minute they're chugging along on a bar band boogie beat, next they've gone spacewards with the guitars and bass weaving around one another with incredible invention!

Since then I've picked up a dozen or so of the live records (Dick's Picks and others) and the big Warners box. I'd agree that it's the live sets that really make them take off - why I even enjoy the dodgily harmonised cowboy songs now. And join in, making them even more dodgy.

I go through Grateful Dead phases where I might play several sets in succession, overdose and then leave them aside for months. And then back I go again.

I suspect part of the appeal is nostalgia. Nostalgia for an era I was contemporary with but never really part of.

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Hi Bev,

I'm not sure in my case nostalgia is in play. . . . I actually hear more in the music than I did before and I think not only does this tickle me but it is intriguing me to keep exploring it. For example: one thing that netted me into this recent spree is noticing a distinct similarity in playing between Kreutzman and DeJohnette. No one influencing anyone, but a similar way of connecting bass drum, tom and cymbals in patterns that both mater drummers have going on. . . . Also, as you mentioned, the sort of interaction of the guitarists with Lesh in these jams reminds me of jazz interactions that I hadn't quite absorbed and identified the first time I was a "Deadhead" and do latch right on to now. . . . Nothing about the era and time really holds nostalgic appeal for me. I'm so glad I'm not living the life I did then, alienated preacher's son in a very small town in Ohio! Anyway, I'm enjoying a lot of the music this time around. . . even those cowboy tunes, which like you I sort of skipped over before.

You guys are making me realize I need to get Two from the Vault, the five cd live set, etc. . . ARGH!

Edited by jazzbo

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I saw them a little over a dozen times in the late '80s thru the early '90s. During that time I was content to have about 8 albums and just a few tapes which were radio comps that I made. I never found the band of that era to be worth following (though some of the extra curricular stuff was interesting.) ;) I remember thinking that people who collected hundreds of tapes to be kinda sad as it seemed like that was all they ever listened to.

Something really strange happened to me when I gave up cigarettes about 5 years ago. There must have been some sort of massive physiological change as somehow instead of nicotine I started craving Jerry's guitar. Around the same time I had bought a CD burner and I replaced one addiction with another. I now have something like 900 hours of unreleased live Dead (mostly from '72-'74 & '77), about 20 Dick's Picks and all of the pre-Brent era Vault releases. Oh, lets not forget the DVDs.

The trading experience was a lot of fun as there are so many friendly & sharing people in the community and in a way I think it's kind of a shame that now so many people miss out on that and just download shows. Although the shows on the servers are in such amazing editions thanks to folks who get ahold of the original reels and put in a lot of time on workstations. Many of the shows I picked up just 3 years ago now circulate without any cassette generation. It really is hilarious how some shows (such as 8-27-72) have been "reissued" more than Blue Train.

Like many I prefer the 1 drummer era. Those muscular Fall '72 "Other Ones", the delightfully weird & spacey jams of '73, and those "Weather Report Suites" of '74 that float along so beautifully. And like Bev I love the cowboy songs from that era as they still put their heart into 'em then. Although there are times when I crave the more primitive sounds of '68 & '69, or that sunshine sound of '77. Or early '78, or Fall '79... heck, sometimes even '90. :)

Oddly enough it was when I finally had more Dead than I needed that my jazz obsession began. And now instead of trading CDRs of shows I'm spending much more money buying jazz discs. And couldn't be happier!

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I, too am glad that someone started the Dead Thread.

My taste for the band has always been quite narrow: I love the sprawling psychedelia of 1968-1970. I do not own any of the studio albums, just a couple of the legit live releases and several CD-rs of live material downloaded from various places. A couple of goldmines in particular:

4-22-69 The second set here is exquisite. The Mountains of the Moon transitions into Dark Star in a smooth, subtle way. Jerry jams at the end of mountains first on acoustic, and switches to electric, and finally moves into Dark Star for about 1/2 hour.

4-21-69 & 1-20-68 This is two shows, with the second being short, incomplete and filler. All that said, 1-20-68 is quite nearly my favorite. Clementine is the pinnacle of swirling psychedelic ecstasy for me.

Other shows can be found at the main level of that site.

Dark Star is my absolute favorite. I listen to Jerry's guitar playing and I try to figure out where all of the ideas come from. You can easily pass over some of it as noodling, and granted there were not always on, but much of that is pure beauty. I hear some of his bluegrass roots, but he brings something original to the table as well.

Phil Lesh's bass playing during these years sound as if he is playing regular guitar on the bass, at least part of the time. It is as if he is not part of the rhythm section, but rather part of the front line.

Live / Dead is a fave! :tup

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I mean the nostalgia comment in the nicest possible way, Lon. I more or less gave up on rock music in the late-70s with a few exceptions and for a time found my musical pleasures elsewhere - folk, jazz, classical. But I kept going back to my 70s rock collection and by the late 80s realised it filled a musical space I liked that neither folk, jazz or classical could. So I started to fill in the gaps in what I knew I liked - I really got to know The Byrds and The Band then rather than in the 70s when I was only dimly aware of them. So it was only a matter of time before the Dead connected.

There was a programme on the TV here a few nights back challenging the myth of the 'Sixties' in Britain. A bit of a right-wing foggies backlash but with some pretty wry observations (e.g. that Swinging London ceased to exist once you went a hundred yards from Carnaby Street or the King's Road). And that was my experience of the 60s and 70s - I enjoyed them as a young chap growing up but against a rather grey backdrop. Faultering economy, inflation, power cuts, unstable governments etc.

Yet still I find myself drawn to the myth and will happily watch anything on TV or read any old recollection of the time.

In some ways those Dead records sound like the Sixties and Seventies should have been. Maybe they were for some people.

**********

Like so many great bands the Dead benefitted from having players from such different backgrounds - rock, blues, bluegrass and then Phil Lesh's contemporary classical studies. I think that helps explain their range.

It is so easy to hear them as a bar room band. But as everyone has said above when they take of the music is as intricate as any jazz band. There are times when the endlessly unfolding jams remind me of the second Davis quintet. Not in instrumentation or even overall sound but in they way the music seems to be evolving and developing from all the players simultaneously. A far cry from the usual rock recipe of a rhythm section holding down a beat while a soloist plays on top.

Another thing I find is their songs rarely get you on initial hearings. But then sometime down the line they just hook you. Very unusual constructions. I especially like things like 'Bird Song', 'Eyes of the World', 'Estimated Prophet', 'Terrapin Station' (completely weird in construction) and the 'Scarlet Begonias/Fire on the Mountain' pair.

********

I'm not too keen on those endless Pigpen blues rants on the earlier discs (a personal thing; I know they are regarded with great affection by many fans). And on the later discs the guitar and keyboards sound too processed for me to really enjoy them - but there are nice moments.

But a great band nonetheless. And one it would be so easy to completely miss because what they seem on the surface only hints at what lies beneath.

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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The disc that began to open it up was 'One from the Vault', a live set from around the time of 'Blues for Allah' that I borrowed from the library in the mid-90s. I then took the plunge on the 5CD box 'So Many Roads' set that features the instrumentals heavily. I think not having to plough through the dodgily harmonised cowboy songs helped me to connect. Some of the playing on those discs is stunning. One minute they're chugging along on a bar band boogie beat, next they've gone spacewards with the guitars and bass weaving around one another with incredible invention!

Is this box, So Many Roads, out of print?? I can't seem to find it in any local stores anymore, where just a few years ago it was in Media Play, Best Buy, Borders, etc. I knew I should have gotten it back then! Another great thing about this band is how their legacy is being handled- they are giving the fans what they want, the Dicks Picks and many other live releases, and at the same time they undermine the bootleggers. Every few months I go to dead.net and select another Dick's Picks usually at random. I recommend #28 to anyone who enjoys the '73 era, one drummer, Godchauxs (Donna doesn't sing too much, thankfully!!) and great versions of the Weather Report suite, Eyes of the World (two of them) and Box of Rain, over 4 discs.

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Is this box, So Many Roads, out of print??

I recommend #28 to anyone who enjoys the '73 era, one drummer, Godchauxs (Donna doesn't sing too much, thankfully!!) and great versions of the Weather Report suite, Eyes of the World (two of them) and Box of Rain, over 4 discs.

You can still get it where you get your Dick's Picks at the Grateful Dead store.

I'll 2nd your rec on #28, though for '73 #14 is still my favorite. And honest, it's only a coincidence that Donna being away on those nights is why I love it so! :lol:

Though with '73 I've bought 'em all, even shows I already had on CD-R.

*edited to shrink the quote box*

Edited by Quincy

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Is this box, So Many Roads, out of print??

You can still get it where you get your Dick's Picks at the Grateful Dead store.

Well, I was hoping to find it cheaper. It's something like $75 there, but I do recall it being in the $50s or so at Media Play and Best Buy. Oh well, I still have plenty of Dick's Picks to choose from! I'm looking forward to some recommendations from you folks; thanks again for starting this thread

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Here's a show that might change your outlook of the cowboy songs, and wonder if The Grateful Dead could have become a country band. Some really great takes on songs that I thought were familiar! This was a brand new sound to me.

June 28, 1969 Veteran's Auditorium

Garcia sticks to the pedal steel for a handful of tunes, gazing up at all of the treble coming from Pigpen's organ. Bob's voice is full and they are really enjoying themselves.

Check it out!

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I've been on the early-Dead kick lately. 1972 and before. And yes, DO CHECK OUT THE ALLMAN BROTHERS FROM THIS ERA!

I LOVE Birdsong. Without A Net has a great version. Definitely not the only great version out there, but I had the discs playing last night. This compilation of live recordings from Fall 1989 and Spring 1990 has always sounded great to me.

I was 12 at the time and my cousins and a couple of older friends wanted to take me with them to RFK. Of course my Mom said no way. I got the Without a Net double disc with my hard earned money as a consolation prize.

The first Dead I ever bought was Dead Set on cassette. I listened to it as much as I listened to Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsies 2 cassette. Wore them out. My Mom made the comment once that "Rhythm Devils" sounded like putting sneakers in the dryer. That has always stuck with me. I think that is when I realized how infinite rhythm really is. BTW, I love the sound of sneakers in the dryer!

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I've been on the early-Dead kick lately. 1972 and before. And yes, DO CHECK OUT THE ALLMAN BROTHERS FROM THIS ERA!

True, but also check out the current version of the ABB. With Derek Trucks in the band they have the biggest jazz inflected sound in their history. Check out the recent live double disc, One Way Out- his solo in Desdemona is intense, free and extraordinary, to these ears. Ok, back to the Dead discussion......

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Is this box, So Many Roads, out of print??

You can still get it where you get your Dick's Picks at the Grateful Dead store.

Well, I was hoping to find it cheaper. It's something like $75 there, but I do recall it being in the $50s or so at Media Play and Best Buy.

Yeah, the Dead store is always more expensive for things like that. Amazon has a few used copies in the $50 range (before shipping.)

It does seem like they're not putting out new copies of this. Awhile back I thought I heard another similar sort of songs-across-eras box was in the works, though there were never any hard confirmations from reliable sources. We are getting the Grateful Dead Movie on DVD in early November though with a bonus disc. :)

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I've been on the early-Dead kick lately. 1972 and before. And yes, DO CHECK OUT THE ALLMAN BROTHERS FROM THIS ERA!

True, but also check out the current version of the ABB. With Derek Trucks in the band they have the biggest jazz inflected sound in their history. Check out the recent live double disc, One Way Out- his solo in Desdemona is intense, free and extraordinary, to these ears. Ok, back to the Dead discussion......

They are coming to the Minnesota State Fair, and I am there with bells on! I am a huge Derek Trucks fan, so I can't wait to see them.

After cruising around the ABB website to find who is currently in the band, i made my way over to Truck's website. The Derek Trucks Band has a new double live disc out, but it is only available on iTunes and via web order for the real discs. Bummer! However, it is a double for only $11.99, so I might have to make a birthday purchase on that one...

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Is David Murray on any of those live sets?

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After cruising around the ABB website to find who is currently in the band, i made my way over to Truck's website. The Derek Trucks Band has a new double live disc out, but it is only available on iTunes and via web order for the real discs. Bummer! However, it is a double for only $11.99, so I might have to make a birthday purchase on that one...

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I think I will have to purchase this album. They cover Rahsaan and Wayne Shorter, which should be really interesting.

I saw the Derek Trucks band live a few years back and they did a killer version of "Afro Blue."

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The "So Many Roads" box set is fantastic. I highly recommend that every Dead fan pick this one up.

Another great live set that was somewhat recently released was "Ladies & Gentlemen.....The Grateful Dead", which is a 4 disc live set from the Fillmore East from I think 1970. This one is one of my favorites!

Anyone else with post-Dick's Picks #20 recommendations, keep em coming! I've added #28 to my list.

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I came to the Dead pretty late in my musical journey. I'd seen them a couple of times in the '70's when they blew through the Northwest, but they never quite clicked with me. I think getting seriously into jazz as I did maybe 15 years ago made me more able to appreciate what the Dead was about when I started listening to them again about two years ago. There are still aspects of their approach that I don't care for...most notably their vocal work...but there is no way you cannot appreciate their musicianship and their ability to improvise. That comes straight out of the jazz tradition and, given the fact they were all big fans of Coltrane, I guess that shouldn't be too surprising.

I am firmly convinced that the only way to listen to the Dead is live. For me, their studio efforts come across as flat and uninspired. There's something about getting them on stage in front of their fans, though, that just seems to push them to a higher level. I'm sure that phenomena was somewhat chemical in nature, but performing live also provided the band an extremely broad canvas upon which to paint their musical pictures, unemcumbered as it were by durational limitations and playing for an audience that was completely willing to embrace either their brilliance or their mediocrity on a given evening.

BTW, while were on the subject of The Dead, if any of you haven't read "A Long Strange Trip" by Dennis McNally, I would highly recommend it.

Up over and out.

Edited by Dave James

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