Jan 12, 2016

1971: Historic Dead Review

THE GRATEFUL DEAD
'HISTORIC DEAD'
(Sunflower-MGM)

It's the Grateful Dead and what more can you say. Not much, but.....'Historic Dead' is an album of four songs recorded in live performance(s) (the applause after each song hipped me to the fact), each many years ago. In one very huge way the album is a ripoff. The first side of the album contains less than fourteen minutes of music and the second side is only fifteen minutes long.
The album definitely sounds like it predates the Dead's first album released on Warner Bros, their regular label. It isn't today's perfected style of Jerry Garcia that you hear, with every note overflowing with emotion. But it is Jerry Garcia. And his "back then" is still special now. You can tell Garcia had his incredible style as far back as this album goes. And Phil Lesh, my nominee for best bass player ever, the first man who could get me to stop and listen to a bass player, isn't up to 1971's Lesh with his full, rolling sound but.....
The first song is 'Good Morning Little School Girl' and it started me off expecting a total ripoff. It's the same arrangement as on the Dead's first album, but five minutes longer. A harp is prominent, the leads are different, but it must be that it's just too similar a version. Even Garcia's runs didn't inspire me. Next came "Lindy" and it really perked things up. It's an old funky blues, jug band music. The Dead had a couple of updated jug band tunes on their initial album, this one is closer to the roots.
Side Two: 'Stealin'' is another classic blues. I love this song. It's been done by everyone. The Dead do a great version with the arrangement sounding more like the first album again. The song is highlighted by a fine organ that's a cross between something of Al Jolson's, a calliope, and the organ on 'Double Shot of My Baby's Love' by the Swinging Medallions. And finally, after only seventeen minutes of music, the twelve minute finish 'The Same Thing.' This one is when you get to hear Garcia, Lesh and company step on out a la 'Viola Lee Blues.'
If you like the first Dead album, you'll like 'Historic Dead' - what there is of it.

(by Michael, from the International Times (London), 18 November 1971)

http://www.internationaltimes.it/archive/index.php?item=IT_1971-11-18_B-IT-Volume-1_Iss-117_018-019

See also:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/07/1971-vintage-dead.html
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/07/1971-sunflower-records-story.html

Jan 1, 2016

March 21, 1971: Expo Center, Milwaukee WI

GRATEFUL DEAD RIDES AGAIN

Even after spending an afternoon getting stoned, listening to the Dead sounds of yesteryear on records & tape & in general preparing oneself for the ritual of an evening with the Grateful Dead, many that attended the March 14th concert walked away bitterly disappointed. The New Riders of the Purple Sage played too long...too much country & western music...The Dead came on late & played dead. You get a different version of the same story no matter who you talk with, but a sense of disappointment pervades any description of the Madison performance of the Grateful Dead & the New Riders of the Purple Sage. 
A week later the Dead & Co. played to an estimated 10,000 people at the Expo Center near Mitchell Field in Milwaukee and got a medium cool to overwhelming response. This time around The Dead really cooked but only intermittently - presenting their material in an individual song format instead of their characteristic style where one song tapers off & becomes integrated into the beginning of the next. Even at the height of all the excitement in Milwaukee you had the feeling that either something was missing or something had been added that didn't quite seem to fit. Perhaps the vitality & spontaneity of the Dead's extended improvisation & jams were missing or maybe it was the show biz touch of playing one song at a time that seemed out of place.
Given the disillusionment & disappointment of many folks in Madison & the ambivalent reaction of the crowd in Milwaukee, the door is open for much speculation & criticism as to what happened & why. To the Dead, Madison must have seemed like every other date in every other Midwest College town - in other words, "business as usual." Their lukewarm performance in Madison was evidence of this. Whether students or not, most of those attending the Dead concert in Madison were of college age & came from Madison. In Milwaukee the crowd was a colorful conglomeration of bikers, members of the East Side "youth community," but most visibly the hordes of bell-bottomed, sheep-skin-coated teenies from the affluent suburbs of Fox Point, Whitefish Bay & the like. The average age at the Milwaukee concert was 14 or 15. It is interesting to note that of the estimated 10,000 people attending the Dead concert in Milwaukee, not more than 6000 entered with tickets purchased from Primo Productions, the promoters. An estimated 1500 bogus tickets were either sold or given away & at least another 1500-2000 people successfully crashed the main entrance & stage doors.
After a weak set by Ox, a local 3 piece band, the New Riders of the Purple Sage strode on stage & played a very mellow, tasteful but nonetheless tiring 1-1/2 hour set of country-flavored material featuring the fine work of Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. Although they are forging their own existence for themselves, the New Riders of the Purple Sage are as supportive of the Dead by functioning as a warm-up act as the Dead are of the New Riders by taking them along with them on their tours. Although the New Riders are a thoroughly satisfying act in & of themselves, their role as a warm-up act that helps to build the tension & eager anticipation for the Dead's appearance cannot be underestimated. They played their role perfectly in Milwaukee...
After some equipment juggling it was time to reach the Apocalypse. As the individual members of the Dead ambled onto the stage & began to tune up, cheers rose from the sardined masses of true believers & potential converts who had patiently waited four hours to see & hear them. The set opened with "Cold Rain & Snow," a Dead standard which got most people up on their feet. On to a raunchy r&b styled vocal by Pigpen which got most folks dancing. Then just as things really began to cook the Dead ended the song, waited for applause & rolled on through some old ("It Hurts Me Too," "Chinese Cat Sunflower," "That's It For The Other Side," "Not Fade Away"), some new material ("Me & Bobby McGee"), thru Bill Kreutzman's drum solo leading into "Not Fade Away" & much solid guitar work from both lead guitarist Jerry Garcia & rhythm guitarist Bob Weir throughout the 2 hour set which ended in thunderous applause & calls for an encore.
I don't know whether the Dead played an encore or not as I escaped after the last number in order to avoid the push & pull of the crowd only to have to squeeze between the three chauffeured Cadillac limousines parked by the stage door waiting to whisk the Dead away. I simultaneously experienced both a feeling of satisfaction/exhaustion & emptiness/loss as I walked back to the car. Satisfaction because I got to see the Dead perform again for the first time in two years & felt the same exhaustion I always had in the past from trying to absorb & understand the kind of energy the Dead project.
A sense of emptiness & loss because there seemed to be a greater distance between the Dead & the audience than ever before. 
Even tho there were points throughout the Dead's set in Milwaukee that captured the intensity of their music in 'the good old days' (such as "Not Fade Away"), the overall performance of the group was only fair to good. I am sure many of us were disappointed with the Dead because our expectations of them were bloated & after all even the Grateful Dead have bad nights now & then, but I think the Madison & Milwaukee performances reflect much more than the crowds' bloated expectations or a bad night for the Dead. The performances reflect not only the obvious musical changes in the group but significant attitude changes as well.
Jerry Garcia quipped in a recent CREEM interview: "...I mean we aren't restricted - we don't give a fuck about [the] audience, man, have you ever seen us seriously go on a trip about what the audience suggests?" Garcia's statement reads loud & clear - after 4 years of dealing with busts, police harassment, avaricious promoters, equipment breakdowns & the other realities of being on the road, the Grateful Dead have moved from a naive optimism to cautious cynicism. According to the annals of hip folklore, the Grateful Dead have always maintained an affinity with the nebulous entities we all know & love as the "people" & the "community." As the Dead's attitudes change so does their relationship to & for the "people" & the "community"...
From 1965 on the Grateful Dead (then known as the Warlocks) formed the backbone of the first generation of San Francisco bands, including the Charlatans, Big Brother & the Holding Co., The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe & the Fish, & the Sons of Champlin, that gave birth to a whole new era in American pop music most often referred to & hyped as the "San Francisco Sound." The Dead were there at the legendary Trips Festival in 1966, the Gathering of the Tribes & at many of Ken Kesey & the Merry Prankster's Acid Tests.
From the very beginning the Dead have occupied a unique position among other American bands, both artistically & politically. Artistically the Dead have established themselves as one of the best performing bands ever - combining consistently high-quality musicianship with a willingness to innovate & to experiment with a variety of material from 12 bar blues to early r&b Chuck Berry/Bo Diddley sounds to electronic & tape music to country & western ballads and back again. They have produced 6 albums on the Warner Bros. label to date & retained complete artist control thanks to some foresight at contract-signing time. Altho none of the albums thus far have captured the excitement of the Dead in person, they have served as representative samples of where the Dead & their music are at various points in time.
Politically the Dead have always been regarded as a "people's band."
The Dead was & is a cooperative band with the office staff, equipment men, sound men & band all sharing money equally on a weekly salary basis. Bob Weir notes, "...we make, quite frankly, a working class salary...nothing spectacular...ninety bucks a week." In addition to themselves the Dead support a family of at least 50 people. "We support the hippie scene around us too. Not just our family but the hippie craftsmen & artists & stuff like that. And we have electronics crews who are exploring new horizons in sound...& video for that matter too. And they need support, & we're just about the only people who can give it them, us & the Airplane. And that's expensive. We have to more or less subsidize them by giving them our projects..." At one time the Dead all lived communally in their famous Haight-Ashbury house, since forsaken, & again in a summer camp ranch, but now they live separately. Decision-making in the past was always done collectively & hopefully this process has continued altho it is dubious given the business pressures & personalities that now influence the Dead.
Rock Scully & Larry Rifkin originally served as personal managers for the Dead & have since departed along with Lenny Hart, father of Mickey Hart, one of the (former?) Dead drummers, who unsuccessfully tried to erase some of the Dead's debt by more careful business management. It was Scully & the Dead that coordinated the Great Northwest Tour, a cooperative booking, light sound & music package that included them, the Quicksilver, the Airplane & the Ace of Cups & toured the Pacific Northwest playing most of the then-existent clubs, ballrooms & other psychedelic dungeons. It was also the Grateful Dead & the Jefferson Airplane who made a noble but unsuccessful attempt to provide a viable alternative to rock entrepreneur Bill Graham's monopoly on San Francisco rock audiences by leasing the Carousel Ballroom (which was subsequently taken over by Graham & is now the Fillmore West) & running it themselves. Besides money the Dead & the Airplane lacked the business sense & expertise that has made Bill Graham the prototype of the successful promoter & a millionaire. Now after a [series] of abortive attempts at trying to book & manage themselves largely by themselves & after a former manager left with all their money adding to their already heavy debts, the Dead have signed with the International Famous Agency (IFA) to do their booking & hired notorious Sam Cutler, former road manager for the Rolling Stones on their Fall 1969 American tour, to act as their road manager.
The Grateful Dead used to book themselves, then they worked through the Millard Agency, another branch of Bill Graham's growing financial empire that includes the Fillmore East & West & a record label & now the move to IFA which is owned by Kinney National Service, Inc., a vast conglomerate holding company. According to the 1970 annual report Kinney is a 1/2 billion dollar yearly enterprise. Kinney got its start with parking lots, but real estate, janitorial services, pest control, construction, industrial painting, the Garden State Bank & a chain of funeral parlors are other interests, but its holdings in the "Leisure Time Group" are considered the most lucrative. Kinney's holdings in the "LTG" include motion pictures, television, records, music publishing, product licensing, magazine publishing & distribution. Kinney owns the film, WOODSTOCK, as well as Atlantic, Elektra & Warner Bros/Reprise Records & the International Famous Agency.
Point of interest: the 3 Kinney record companies have been working hard to establish their own national record distribution network that would go over the heads of regional & local distributorships. "So that distributors can no longer say 'No' to our requests," commented Mo Ostim of Warner Bros. Kinney's assets in rock include Led Zeppelin, CSN & Y, Eric Clapton, the Doors, Iron Butterfly & now the Grateful Dead. The move to IFA is consistent with their desire to work themselves out of debt by getting more money for less work but inconsistent with the "people's band" visage since a large booking agency like IFA is hardly an alternative agency with top priority for people rather than profit.
Garcia, speaking again from the Dead's office in San Rafael, California... "We need an office with people to take care of 'business.' We tried to do it ourselves & we couldn't. We got into debt & we've been trying to get out of it for two years. Without all this (he gestures, indicating both office & people) there wouldn't be any Grateful Dead... We just can't do it ourselves."
As road manager for the Rolling Stones' Fall '69 American tour, Cutler became famous as one of the prime organizers & movers of the ill-fated Altamont festival where one black youth was killed & several injured by pool-cue-wielding Hell's Angels that had been hired as a "security force." In their characteristic zeal to provide an afternoon of "free" music for everyone involved - performers, as well as the audience - Rock Scully & the Dead worked hectically alongside Cutler to find a suitable site for the Rolling Stones "free" concert/farewell performance that would also include themselves, the Airplane, Santana, etc. With such inadequate planning & preparation & drunken Hell's Angels on the loose as a "security force," it is a wonder that more of the 300,000 people that came to Altamont didn't get offed or at least seriously injured. Cutler, acting on behalf of the Stones, hired the Angels to act as "security" at Altamont for $500 (one truckload) of beer.
Altamont represented the culmination of some of the worst trends in rock & also marked the nightmarish end of the mass festival era. For the Grateful Dead, who never got to play after helping organize the event, Altamont meant the end of "free" concerts, which had become synonymous with their name & a function in which the Dead took considerable pride, especially when considering the undisclosed sum of money the Rolling Stones received as advance royalty payments on the film (now showing as GIMME SHELTER) shot by Warner Bros.
I don't know when Cutler was hired by the Dead, but he was keeping things running smoothly from behind the scenes in both Madison & Milwaukee. Two members of Parthenogenesis, Madison's Musicians Coop, spent an hour talking with Garcia & Cutler at the Holiday Inn on the East Side trying to get permission to make an announcement to the audience about the coop before the Dead's set... Permission denied.
Cutler is in a precarious position. Now separated from the Stones' organization, he will still have the Altamont monkey on his back for some time to come, no matter what he does in the music industry. Granted Cutler made some monumental errors & blunders in organizing Altamont, but he has also been conveniently objectified & used as a scapegoat by the same media who played down or overlooked the roles & responsibilities of the Rolling Stones in the whole affair.
The Dead have performed innumerable free concerts & benefits throughout their lifetime, but according to a recent interview with Jerry Garcia, free gigs have become impossible -
"Free means it has to be free for US too. If we're EXPECTED to do them (the free concerts) - which is what was beginning to happen - then they can't be free. It was getting to the point where we were expected to do nothing else. See, the road is a bummer & we look at the road as work. The object is to get off the road as soon as possible. We may play one town one night, & another town, not too far away, the next. That leaves an opening in between, an afternoon, when we could conceivably do a free concert. But then that means the equipment crew has to move all the stuff from the first place to the free gig & then to the place we have to play at night. It's an equipment hassle...& a question of logistics. We'll do it when we can...but it's a lot of hard work when you're on the road & out here (Calif.) the free gigs aren't legal. In the old days, we used to play in the park. It was really a nice scene. Then the meth freaks & the smack freaks took over & the park people got up tight & put a stop to it."
The Dead are very conscious of their complete vulnerability as a "people's band" & have endured much criticism from some politicos who want the Dead to do more free concerts & benefits & [a] comment from Bob Weir typifies the Dead's attitude towards this criticism & pressure: "I've always felt that those people are low-consciousness people not to realize that we are doing our part by doing music & nothing else."
A concept of themselves as super-stars or a super-group is repulsive to the members of the Dead, but they are definitely concerned about their responsibility to their faithful fans, such as those who slept out on the sidewalk in New York City last fall in order to be first in line at the ticket window. Phil Lesh, bass player for the Dead, asks, "How much responsibility do we as a band have to reach the people we want to reach?"
Bob Weir replies, "It may well be that we have to take a hundred percent responsibility because nobody else is willing to accept it."
"Well, the people themselves aren't willing to accept it. That's the trouble. That's where it ultimately lies, I think," suggests Lesh.
Garcia offers the final word on the Dead's responsibilities: "Well, I think the musician's first responsibility is to play music as well as he can, & that's the most important thing. And any responsibility to anyone else is just journalistic fiction...or political fiction.
"Because that bull shit about the people's music, man, where's that at, what's that supposed to mean? It wasn't any people that sat with me while I learned how to play the guitar. I mean who paid the dues? I mean if the people think that way they can fucking make their own music. And besides when somebody says people, to me it means all the people. It means the cops, the guy who drives the limousines, the fucker who runs the elevator, everybody..."
Yeah, but whose responsibility is it?!?

(by Harry Duncan, from the Madison Kaleidoscope, unknown date 1971)

https://archive.org/details/gd71-03-21.aud.cotsman.12074.sbeok.shnf

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com 

See also other reviews of the 3/21/71 Milwaukee show:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/11/march-21-1971-expo-center-milwaukee-wi.html

Dec 25, 2015

January 1971: Jerry Garcia Update

DEAD LEADER WHO IS VERY MUCH ALIVE

Jerry Garcia is the principal power plant and instrumental, as well as inspirational, leader of San Francisco's oldest continuing rock band, the Grateful Dead.
Garcia is also the hardest working and most musically catholic of the Bay Area's electric-rock musicians.
He represents in every way the very best of our contemporary music image - too bad more people couldn't have seen and heard him via TV from Winterland on New Year's Eve.
That KQED presentation was, I think, an unrecognized classic in portraying the remarkable musical abilities of such as Garcia as well as capturing the camaraderie of the Grateful Dead's loyal fans.
Garcia is best known for his electric guitar work, his band leadership, his lyric composition and his singing. And also, probably, for his image - the shaggy patriarch of all that's San Franciscan in hard rock.
He is also deeply into acoustic guitar playing, and is becoming a bright and inventive master of the pedal-steel guitar which he plays with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a Dead subsidiary group.
Lately Garcia has been jamming at The Matrix (on Fillmore) with organist Merl Saunders, drummer Bill Vit, and John Kahn on bass.
What they have going in these sessions is experiments in sound. In the intimacy of a living-room full of good friends the audience and musicians alike have a chance to get to know each other through music.
The music is a revelation - free-form, pops, rock, blues, jazz, complex and basic. David Crosby, Dead and Jefferson Airplane members, blues and jazzmen also drop in for a jam.
The excitement comes from the appeal that any artistic experiments-of-combination represent. Confrontations in style and personality and musical approach.
Saunders, for instance, is out of the world of small combo night-club jazz, rich in blues and "soul" and variations on pop-tunes. He plays organ with emphasis on sound, not volume or flashy runs or ridiculously weird effects.
A performance by the Garcia-Saunders ensemble may last 20 minutes to an hour a crack and range from an initial blues statement to a combination of "Something" and "A Good Man Is Hard To Find."
"Where's today's music going?" Garcia repeated back to me during a break. "Hmmm - right now it's going in all directions at once, and I think that's where we're at right now.
"There isn't going to be any big trend toward some new thing or single style. There's too much happening, too much being discovered, too many great new sounds getting laid down.
"No, I don't think any of us are going to get trapped in any bag.
"Right now I'm doing more exciting things in music than I've done in my whole life. Recording with old friends like the Airplane, learning new things from people like Merl..."

(by Philip Elwood, from the San Francisco Examiner, 11 January 1971)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

January 31 - February 1, 1970: The Warehouse, New Orleans

ROLL OVER AND PLAY LIVE...

Saturday nightwind cold down dark of Tchoupitoulas. Saturday blue cold nightwind blue cold. Welcome to the warehouse, Tchoupitoulas.
I am the warehouse. Goo goo goo joob! Tripping flipping, red brick ripping, crescent city slipping down the delta.
Sometimes this city is a dung heap. You know it. The Jefferson Airplane know it. The Grateful Dead know it. But why get into that? Understanding and action are one. A unitary process. When you dig it, in other words, it's done. Things will either get better here or the city that care forgot will find itself flushed "straight down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico."
So anyway, the Warehouse is an attempt on the part of some person or persons calling themselves Beaver Productions Inc. ("We're local people.") to make a dung heap bearable to the bugs that call it home. That's you and me, brother roach.
So anyway, the Beavers have procured a beautiful old red brick warehouse at 1820 Tchoupitoulas Street with room for five thousand insects, more or less, under its hundred year old beamed ceiling. Now they are trying to fill it, with people and sound. Friday night's bust won't help. (Members of the Grateful Dead and Owsley Stanley were arrested at their hotel in a drug raid after Friday night's show. - Editor's Note.)
Nor will reports that some members of the audience were stopped and searched by New Orleans Police while many others received parking citations or had their cars towed away by our super-efficient friends in blue tow trucks. All of which is not irrelevant to music.
Last weekend's inaugural Beaver production included the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, and the Flock, uh, Flock. All three groups appeared on both Friday and Saturday nights, with Fleetwood and the Dead returning Sunday afternoon for a legal defense fund benefit performance made necessary by Friday night's display of creole charm and hospitality. This turned out to be the high point of a generally successful weekend. OK.
Fleetwood Mac are one of the best rock groups around. Too few people know it, however, and in spite of three pretty good albums and a hit single ("Albatross") they are still largely unknown outside of Merrie Olde. Perhaps it is because they, like the Dead, are better heard live than on plastic. At any rate, they are good. Really good. Drummer Mick Fleetwood is capable of almost anything. His art is flawless as he pounds life into the group, driving them beyond what you think they are capable of.
His relentless rhythms set the pace for lead guitarist Pete Green, whose skill, versatility and originality border on brilliant. These two, Fleetwood and Green, usually carry the group, but when Jeremy Spencer (organ, guitar) uncorks his teen-age dream voice on oldtimers like "Great Balls of Fire," look out. Fleetwood's music is a combination (yes, another damn synthesis) of basic black and British rock and roll. Their lyrics are unspectacular but their instrumental power is tremendous. After a rather slow start, they build and build, getting tighter and harder as they go, until the crowd is on its collective and individual feet and heads are bobbing all over the place. They are nothing but fun.
Flock, on the other hand, are loud, derivative, and boring. Their violinist seems to remember just enough of his classical training to be pretentious. Their horn section proves once again that blacks know better than whites what to do with horns. Between songs they give you the ol' bullshit about what a bringdown the south is and how they sure can't wait to get home to Chicago and don't forget the REVOLUTION guys n gals. Whee! Saturday night at the groovies! I heard they were better on Friday. Perhaps.
Now to the Dead. There are a few magical bands and the Dead are one of them. Unfortunately, they couldn't get together with the sound system Saturday night and so a promising set was shortened somewhat by the treachery of certain electronic devices. And so Jerry Garcia, who emanates peace and light (each member of the Dead is a star) played acoustic guitar and sang to us. He was joined by bass player Phil Lesh and rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, and together they created some beautifully poignant moments while the cops towed our cars away. The Dead represent the best of what happened in San Francisco several years ago. They also represent the best of what's happening in music right now. The best.
Sunday afternoon, the Dead completed the set they had been unable to finish the night before and this time even Pigpen was fantastic. Their old "psychedelic" songs, like "Cold Rain and Snow," sounded better than ever and their new "country" songs, like "Don't murder me" are perfect. As it is impossible to explain magic, it is impossible to explain the Grateful Dead. Garcia's guitar screams, then gently weeps and all is love. His voice, soft and assured renews your faith in living things. Lesh's bass is innovative, intricate and always provides a firm foundation for Garcia's and Weir's lyrical fantasies. Bob Weir is the kind of person you trust instinctively and his singing and playing justify your confidence fully. Drummers Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart are adequate and occasionally more so. Pigpen is Pigpen and the group wouldn't be the same without him. The music of the Grateful Dead is pure light.
When the Dead got into "Love Light" they were joined by Fleetwood Mac in a jam of incredible power that lasted well over an hour non-stop and flew through so many changes that the stunned crowd was almost as exhausted as the musicians at the finish of it. Anyone who taped that session has a collector's item. Garcia and Green traded some beautiful licks and Fleetwood's drumming was, again, flawless. The bands obviously respected each other and I wouldn't say that the Dead were better, for although their influence was obviously dominant, there was only one band playing, the Grateful Mac. Let your love light shine. Theirs did. Like a diamond in a dung heap.
Next weekend, the Beavers are presenting Jack Bruce, Sly, the Rascals, PG&E and several lesser lights. Watch Bruce. He may be the surprise of the weekend.

(by Tom Voelker, unknown paper, unknown date)

For a review of the 1/30/70 show, see:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2014/02/january-30-1970-warehouse-new-orleans

https://archive.org/details/gd70-01-31.sbd.cotsman.7045.sbefail.shnf
https://archive.org/details/gd70-02-01.sbd.kaplan.9629.sbeok.shnf

Dec 23, 2015

1971: Live Album Review

GRATEFUL DEAD RETURN; NEW SOUNDS - OLD STYLE

Those of you who have seen the Dead recently know that they are into a straight hard rock thing. This is a reversion to their early sound, and up until now the best representation of the group has been on a live album made in 1966 (Vintage Dead, Sunflower records). The Dead's current style has alienated a lot of their old fans from the period when they were into long improvisationals filtered through a lot of acid and general flower punk mysticism.
It seems that sometime between the release of Live Dead and Workingman's Dead, Garcia and his boys got turned onto beer and steel guitars; it was a great gimmick for Workingman's Dead, and the image of the group as post psychedelic era rednecks served as a decent vehicle for Jerry Garcia's steel guitar and Bob Weir's background tomes...unfortunately the boys took it to heart and recorded an album full of bucolic whimsy called American Beauty. American Beauty did and still does sound like out takes from Workingman's Dead.
These days Jerry Garcia has his spin-off group, New Riders of the Purple Sage, as an outlet for his pickin' and grinnin', and Bob Weir has been listening to old R&B 45's. The result is on the group's new album, Grateful Dead, which is such a reminiscence trip it's enough to scare you off. (The title and personnel are the same as their first disc, and the cover is a reproduction [of a] 1966 Avalon Ballroom poster.)
Instead of just a memory exercise, the new Dead album is a logical extension of everything they have done, well...you see, there's a few long improvisations, and there's easy to take folksy stuff for all the new fans...and then by the time the second album in the double set comes on and things start to drag, Jerry Garcia hits a damn familiar riff and jesus christ if the whole band doesn't play the hardest sounding Johnny B Goode since the Steve Miller Band backed up Chuck Berry in 67...things go uphill from then on, and it sounds better the second time.
The album should be titled The Grateful Dead Play Hard Rock...and they play it as good as anyone else. The new Dead album and the Allman Brothers' live album are the only two indispensable sets I've heard yet this year, no doubt about it, everyone has to hear them once.

(by Charles Eschweiler, from the Behrend Collegian, 7 October 1971)

http://digitalnewspapers.libraries.psu.edu/Olive/APA/behrend/?skin=behrend&AW=1450673818047&AppName=2#panel=home

See also other reviews of the album:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/11/1971-live-album-reviews.html
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/07/1971-live-album-review.html 

October 17, 1970: Cleveland Music Hall

IF YOU WOULD JUST TAKE THE TIME TO

ACIDOWSLEYELECTRICKOOLAIDACIDTESTSPRANKSTERSKESEY-GRASSNIRVANABLOWNOUTFREAKSCOLORSBUSHAPPINESS, and the Grateful Dead are synonymous.
Last Saturday we caught the Dead's Cleveland concert and it was something. The vibes were good, while strange clouds attacked the ceiling. This has to have been one of the most dynamic bands I've ever seen. It's easy to see why they've survived with virtually the same personnel as they hit the parks of San Francisco with some years back. They were so tight and so attuned to each other, that I'm beginning to wonder if it is the acid that's got them to a unified consciousness point.
Contrasting the calm flow between the Dead and us out front, was the frenzied electrical charge running through the air. While members of the group calmly sipped beer between songs, joints passed freely from hand to hand in the aisles. Why I was just sittin' there and lo and behold a "J" was in my hand, so rather than chance a bust, I took a hit and passed it on. "Don't Bogart that Joint?" Things were really cool, a kid was just lightin' up when a uniformed man walked up and asked him to please smoke in the lobby. Yes, things were beautiful.
From the Dead's tie-died polka-dotted electric amps flowed the sweetest country pickin', and solidest bass lines I've yet to hear. Jerry Garcia really got into things with an at-easeness that made him look like he was out in the hills, back of someone's barn; he was right at home. His vocals were smooth and flowed right-on with that pretty-smellin' smoke.
Phil Lesh had that smile, and well I just know that he was. Four Sunn bottoms put depth into the songs and you could feel it in your....well you could really feel it. His harmonies were fine as ever. Jack Cassidy and Phil Lesh are the two finest bass players ever. They both are into things other bass players won't ever get into.
Bob Weir played a rhythm guitar that wasn't all chords. His riffs intermingled with chords sounded real fine. His vocals, lead as well as harmonies, weren't as smooth as Garcia's but they weren't meant to be. Blues chording is not monotonous with Bob Weir. He's "far-out."
Two drummers not involved in a hype thing are Bill Kruetzman and Mickey Hart. The Dead are the first to use the twin drummer concept fully and well. The rapport between the two was flawless. Their togetherness left no gaps. With Phil Lesh they really make for a solid bottom. Percussion was their thing and they did it well. Some gongs were used as well as other percussion instruments throughout the night. The gong song was so strange; it sounded like Owsley was behind it all. In the beer....no, it couldn't have been.
Anyways, the only member left to rap about is Pigpen and he was, to quote Esch, "grunting, howling, and spitting out the lyrics." Pigpen's vocals were unique to say the least. He really got into "Love Lights" and an old Rascals tune. Between his vocal efforts, the tambourine and sitting at the organ sipping beer was his thing.
This was a concert....no Chicago -(censored). When the Dead jammed, it wasn't a garbled mass of nothingness. The Dead knew what they were doing. Their years of playing together, living together, and tripping together show in the music they play. "The family that trips together stays together?"
For an encore they did "Uncle John's Band".
"Goddamn well I declare have you seen the like,
Their walls are built of cannonballs:
Their motto is don't tread on me.
Come, hear Uncle John's Band playing to the tide
Come with me or go alone, he's come to take his children home."
The concert was everything anyone could have asked for. My only complaint is that they only played four hours and that we came late and missed "Casey Jones."
"Trouble ahead
Oh lady in red
Take my advice
You're better off dead."
Workingman's Dead is their most recent album. Previous releases have always been good and at times fantastic cuts have appeared (St. Stephens), but this is the first time the Dead have really got their stuff together in a studio attempt. Every cut on this album merits listening to. "Casey Jones" alone is worth the price.
The album is super tight: Guitar riffs are smooth, with Garcia and Weir engaging in instrumental intercourse. Phil Lesh's bass lines wander on and on always changing like the sand in the sea. Also as evasive, but always there: soft, but supporting the rest. More instrumental play takes place between the drummer twins, who are again flawless. Pigpen saved his beer this time and lends himself to the organ, which he plays real fine.
The good cuts on the album include: Uncle John's Band, High Time, Dire Wolf, New Speedway Boogie, Cumberland Blues, Black Peter, Easy Wind, and Casey Jones.
"Trouble ahead
Trouble behind
And you know that notion
Just crossed my mind."

(by Gary Thornbloom, from the Nittany Cub, 22 October 1970) 

https://archive.org/details/gd1970-10-17.aud.linton.miller.119329.flac16 

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com
http://digitalnewspapers.libraries.psu.edu/Olive/APA/behrend/?skin=behrend&AW=1450673818047&AppName=2#panel=home

Thornbloom also reviewed American Beauty three months later, the sixth & last review here:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/07/1970-american-beauty-reviews.html 

Dec 13, 2015

April 24, 1970: Mammoth Gardens, Denver CO

SAN FRANCISCO SOUNDS

Last weekend, we had the chance to see two of the finer American rock bands live, both from San Francisco, both dating from the original musical upheaval there of three or four years ago. Friday and Saturday, the Grateful Dead, along with John Hammond, played at Mammoth Gardens here; Saturday, Quicksilver Messenger Service, with Judy Roderick and the Righteous Bluegrass Band were in the fieldhouse at CU in Boulder.
At Mammoth, the atmosphere seemed a lot easier than on the opening last weekend; this was due, at least in part to the comparative smallness of the crowd; everyone there seemed a little more at ease, spread out a little further, both physically and spiritually, and the crowd reacted as an entity to the music of the Dead, which is to the credit of the Dead and to the audience as well.
John Hammond came before, though accompanied only by himself, on regular and old steel guitars; the rumors of a big electric blues-rockout did not come to pass. Hammond, however, was quite solid by himself, sounding much as he did on his first two records, which were sort of landmarks of the old folkie revival. He is a blues singer, traditional southern country-type blues, where the roots of people like Muddy Waters and all the others began long ago to grow.
Hammond sang rich and natural, hard but never forced; he did a lot of bottlenecking on his steel guitar, and a lot of pretty intricate rhythm stuff (pounding on the body, maintaining two separate lines of progression), and it all came out earthy and authentic. While Johnny Winter pours lots of his energy outside of his songs (extended fast runs on his guitar, flailing around in general), Hammond pushed all his energy right into his songs, maintaining just below the placid, regular surface of them an immense intensity of gut raw emotion. And that, as far as I know, is what the blues is all about.
And while the crowd got into Hammond (his excellence caught most of them quite by surprise) to the extent of a rousing standing clapping cheering ovation, and hence an equally rousing bottleneck encore, most everyone there was out to see the Dead. Even Hammond announced that he was splitting so that the big boys could come on. As the Grateful Dead set up and tuned up, the crowd drew together to its feet, historical kaleidoscope shift from sprawl on floor folk groove to rock body anticipation.
It is hard to get at length into any of the band as individuals; they have two drummers, both of them competent and skillful, yet subdued to the overall impact of the band's collective sounds; that phrase pretty well describes each of the musicians.
A couple of brief exceptions: Jerry Garcia, lead, was quite the master in his playing of all the situation, so subtle, smiling and winding in his playing all the ends of the band together; that is about as specific as recall allows. Also, during their first set, there were a couple of breaks for a drum duo, which for all practical purposes were four-handed solos. I stood in amazement watching the two drummers carefully sorting out their rhythms, keeping half an eye on each other - you could have seen the vibrations darting back and forth. But that probably just stood out there with the two of them only playing, and hence with all the attention on them; that inter-band communication undoubtedly cascades among them all as they play: all that acid you know...
The Spontinuity light show was small and limited to one screen, but was very good, clever and filled with gentle visual puns.
Anyway, the first set: joyous, all encompassing, a distillation of the deepest primeval energy. All the brightest colors of the rainbow flowing one over the other so fast as to form at surface glance/listen a shimmering gold projection that wound then all around and round the room and all the people...many many smiles exchanged all round.
After a short break, the Dead moved into an acoustic set, couple of guitars, bass (amplified), drums: country-folkish. They drifted through a few numbers, informal relaxed, the sound there being an almost polar opposite to the driving rock of only minutes before. I was beginning to think how much they sounded like the Everly Brothers moved to a higher plane, when, lo and behold, they broke into Wake Up Little Suzie, bouncy and congenial, sorta countrified, very loose, and the crowd got back into the sprawl/talk/listen folk scene.
Right on top of that came through the ultimate rush of rock, nonstop ride back into body ecstasy think/dance music. The Dead got moving on Not Fade Away (old heavy R. Stones number) with a heavy bass pulsing through an exuberant countrified vocal, so sincere. And just as they ended that song (maybe 10 minutes worth), with all the folks just relaxing from it, they held back a bit, then plowed into Turn On Your Lovelight, which is the all-time classic mover.
Pigpen subdued a little on the vocal, gettin' into just tellin' his baby to, well, turn on her lovelight, and the band revved up behind him, came to an abrupt (but logical - not jarring) downshift of tempo, fade out a minute as Pigpen, a little more urgent, on the vocal again, and back to the compelling color merge interweaving of sound; as the music paused it would pick more momentum, on and on; it became impossible for anyone not totally incapacitated to refrain from moving. On and on, layer of music drawing you from your feet up like a magnet.
And as the crowd was getting all into it and getting a little worn out, gauging reststops here and there, the band got really into pouring it on, heavy loud tunnel of sound through the cavern of your mind loud heavy, like as if into a grand finale, and everybody applauding and cheering and ready at last to sit down and catch a well-earned breath, and when you're lonely, in the middle of the night, right, then they get right back into it, turn on your light! and the band turned it on heavier and deeper sound tunnel colors of sound driving over and around and through them...this happened about 8 or 9 times!, climax over heavy climax. When they closed out, the whole audience was stomping the floor, up and down, clapping, calling exuberant sweaty for more...indefinably incredible.
A little while later John Hammond came back and sang, backed by Pigpen on harp and second guitar, a mellow denouement, and we all after a while filed out.

Two days later, we hitched up to Boulder to catch Quicksilver, and, as karmic luck would have it, got a ride straight there (to the concert) with some dope-smoking folks; the fieldhouse, a huge building, had a stage at one end, lotsa folks on the floor, lotsa good will in the air.
The Righteous Bluegrass Band opened, and while they were not outstanding, they were very good and fun. I am not a lot into bluegrass so I did not recognise most of their stuff, save for something from Flatt and Scruggs and their finale, the Stones' Country Honk, really countried up and honked up, fiddle and all, and it was really a gas (what?) to listen to. Judy Roderick, who has been said to be very good, was next, but she and her backup had a lot of trouble and could not get going.
The major hassle was with the sound system: the bass came through too heavy, drowning out Judy's vocal and most of the guitar work. They only did a few songs, spent more time tuning up than playing, and split. I was sorry to see things work out so badly; I would like a chance to see Judy working well. Between Judy and Quicksilver, a dude worked out on congas, very fast and driving, and got many of the crowd (about three or four thou, altogether) up and moving about. I think it was the same dude who played at the Moon Bell, named Couga John or something...
Quicksilver had some hassles getting set up; pianist Nicky Hopkins and his piano got mixed up or something...they continually commended the audience for its patience. But once they got going, they got into it good: three guitars, bass, drums, piano, interplaying well, splashes of ringing color flowing vibrant, unabashed, splashes of piano adding tinkling depth to the texture. Dino Valente did most of the singing, urgent plea to the emotions, stirring and straining to put all his voice into it; the guitars rang on...
One of the highlights was one of their self-proclaimed golden oldies; Hamilton Camp's Pride of Man; that came through an overwhelming swell of those guitars, a collusion of sound color burst on the strident broken in the dust again moral: grandiose as rock can ever be. But the major focus was on the two Bo Diddley tunes they did, Mona and Who Do You Love.
Both with pounding piano began not unlike the recorded Shady Grove, and brought out the bass only later, then left it all open, a forum for the guitarists and Hopkins on piano to work out on and into. Things came through well and strong with Mona, a quarter of an hour or so of one guitar moving on another, then the other, nothing fast or jumping out, but all integrating, constructing brightly flowing surfaces of sound about each other, forming a well-faceted jewel of a whole.
Who Do You Love was about the same as it began and progressed through a similar opening structure; the band moved deftly and well, fast building up almost the momentum of the Dead at Mammoth; layer upon moving layer, etc. However, after about half and hour, they either got all too far and entangled in the web they had woven, or ran out of invention, a web to pull out on; they were just all of a sudden at a loss. Hopkins tossed a few bits of piano in, and they tried to work themselves out of their jam from there, striving and striving...they finally just rared back and broke out and finally made it to a tired end.
But you see that is not a thing to put them down for; Quicksilver just got going all so stoned fast that they lost track of that delicate muse's thread by which they had pulled themselves there; on the whole the Messenger Service delivered, delivered a well-cut, moving music. We got a ride back home, and thought about the enjoyable evening, the enjoyable week just ended.

(by Milt T., from Chinook, 30 April 1970)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

Alas, no tape!

See also the review of 4/25/70:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/07/april-25-1970-denver.html

Dec 10, 2015

January 1971: Touring & Recording Plans

From the Music Capitals of the World
Domestic
San Francisco

The New Riders of the Purple Sage, country offspring of the Grateful Dead, are mixing their first album, "New Riders of the Purple Sage," to be released March 15. The New Riders and the Dead travel to the University of California, Eugene, Ore., Vancouver, and Seattle later this month. Then they'll take three weeks off and come back to San Francisco to develop new material. February 18-21 the two groups will be in Port Chester, N.Y. The first three weeks in March will be spent on a Midwestern tour being set up now by Bill Graham and Warner Bros. During the first week in April the group will tour the East Coast with dates in New York, Boston, and possibly Washington. In June, the entire Dead Family (some 50 people) goes to Europe for a one month tour. They have rented six barges, each capable of carrying 15 people, and will travel where they can by water. One of the barges is a sound stage and the bands will play as they travel down the canals of England and Holland. Tour also includes dates in France, Sweden and Germany, and the entire trip will be filmed for release as a full-length feature.

Jerry Garcia is starting to think about doing his own album, and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann (the group's two drummers) are recording an album in the new studio in Mickey's barn. Pigpen is also working on his own album. All will be on Warner Bros.

Jefferson Airplane is finishing up their final album for RCA under the terms of their existing contract. Album should be out in February. Hot Tuna has one more album to do for RCA and will start work on that soon.

(from Billboard, 23 January 1971)

November 1970: Alan Douglas & the Dead

DOUGLAS TO RECORD 2 LP'S BY GRATEFUL DEAD ARTISTS

SAN FRANCISCO - Douglas Records will record two albums with individual members of the Grateful Dead, a Warner Bros. group. In the arrangement, Alan Douglas, head of Douglas Records, will produce and release one LP featuring Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia and organist Howard Wales, who was with MGM Records' A.B. Dick Band. [sic] The second album will be based on a percussion concept developed by the Grateful Dead's two drummers, Bill Kreitzman and Micky Hart.
Recording of the Garcia-Wales LP was completed last week in San Francisco at Wally Heider Studios. It will be released by Douglas through its distributor, Pickwick International. The Kreitzman-Hart LP will be recorded at a fully equipped 16-track studio Douglas has installed in Hart's barn in Navato, Calif. The studio, designed by Kreitzman, Hart, and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead under the supervision of engineer Dan Healey, will be completed within the month.
Joe Smith, Warner Bros. executive, said that the Douglas recordings will be beneficial to Warners in terms of artist exposure as well as enhancing the climate of artistic freedom which is so necessary among serious musicians who want to work with artists from other labels.

(from Billboard, 7 November 1970)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

Dec 8, 2015

October 4, 1969: Boston Tea Party

GRATEFUL DEAD

Saturday night the Tea Party was filled to capacity. I didn't expect the turnout, since the Dead aren't played up as much as blues and English groups in Boston. It seems, though, that their few concerts, along with their reputation as one of the original Frisco groups, have been powerful enough to draw a crowd larger than the sellout at the Who concert last spring.
The Dead weren't the sort of group at which one fires questions - few groups are. After hassling them for a few details, I left it open to them to tell me something that they would like people to know. Something they can't say in their music. Jerry Garcia suggested that people save their pennies in protest against the Vietnam [war] which, if done effectively, would indicate mass distaste with the government, and its war policies. To quote Garcia, "tell your friends to tell all their friends to tell all their friends."
According to Garcia, they foresee the eventual union of all blues, rock, and folk performers, whom they hope to record all under one label, without the profiteering influences of executives. Under this plan, each individual musician would be free to produce his record the way he wants to. The Commons, as they call the growing association, already includes the Airplane, It's A Beautiful Day, and Head Lightshow. Whether such a setup as the Dead envision is merely wishful thinking or, in fact, could become a reality remains to be seen.
They themselves have very few of the production problems of other groups, since they engineer their own records completely. Their new album "Live Dead" will be released soon on Warner Brothers, but the Dead hope to record for Atlantic in the near future, as their contract with WB is about to expire.
On stage, the Dead went smoothly, wildly appreciated by the overflow crowd present. With two drummers, two guitars, a bass, an organ, and Pigpen (Ron McKurnett) "lurking," as they put it, the variety of rhythmic overlays, folk, and jazz riffs was amazing. Their ability to assimilate several traditional styles of music, all completely unrelated, was unique among all groups I've seen. They pretty well recreated the acid-rock scene of a couple of years ago, with the help of the Tea Party lighting.
Before their set, they joked about what they call, "Music Store Monsters," musicians who "show off on every guitar in sight," getting feedback and "crappy" sounding fuzz-tone effects on everything. Although they did use some feedback guitar at the end of the night, they were limited and tasteful about it.
Like just about everyone else, the Dead really enjoyed Woodstock. From what I was told, they got just as much sunburn, and just as soaked as everyone else, although Pigpen admitted he really didn't mind the mud at all.
In addition to their musical talent, the Dead are actually highly sophisticated backstage comedians. A soccer game with a roll (unused) of toilet tissue for a ball followed the interview. I only wish I could reveal everything that happened up there...
Backing up the Dead were the Bonza Dog Band, to my mind, the wrong group for three nights at the Tea Party behind the Dead. Bonza would have nothing to do with them offstage, preferring to sit in a room and consume gargantuan quantities of beer. Bonza Dog Band were primarily a put-down of "ancient greasy rock" groups, admittedly influenced by, and owing a lot to the Mothers.
As you can see, the Dead are very much alive, and doing great things in the studio, on stage, and for the music world. Dig what they are doing on their new album, and don't miss these people the next time they are in town.
FLASH!! Watch this paper next week for an exclusive interview with you know WHO.

(by Brian Pecy, from Mass Media, early October 1969)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

Another review of the Boston Tea Party run:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2014/02/october-2-4-1969-boston-tea-party.html