For a number of years I've been keeping a Grateful Dead notebook. Eventually, I began writing impressions and capsule reviews of shows I have in my collection. I've adopted the style Dead archivist Dick Latvala used for the sake of organization, but also as a small tribute to the man. This blog will be an online version of that notebook. Feel free to leave comments or to email me. I want this space to be an open forum for all Deadheads.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

1970-09-19 - Fillmore East

Venue: Fillmore East - New York City, NY
Tape History: SBD
Release History: None

Set 1
Morning Dew [missing from tape], Me & My Uncle [missing from tape], G.M. Little Schoolgirl [missing from tape], Cold Rain & Snow [missing from tape], Easy Wind [missing from tape], Sugar Magnolia [missing from tape], *Dark Star -> *St. Stephen -> *NFA -> *Darkness Jam -> *China Cat Jam -> *NFA -> *Lovelight

12-07-2010: There is a ton of intrigue involved with this show. Apparently, there are mislabeled tapes circulating under the previous day's date with music from this show. According to deadlists, there were three sets played on 09-19, and the one above is part of the second set and all of the third. I am not sure what is what so I'll only address what I have. I treasure this incomplete tape (search nugs stash...) more than some great full-length shows I keep in rotation. The main reason is this perfect "Dark Star." I'll take a risk and say it's a top three version for me. Maybe 09-21-72 and 11-11-73 are the other two. But this one is right up there, and some days, is the only one there. A+, five stars.

It begins slowly, sullenly, and then starts climbing towards the stratosphere, shedding layers of sound while traveling in zero gravity, vulnerable, then reforming at light-speed with Jerry staffing the ship of the Dead towards certain explosion. Jimi Hendrix died the night before, and it seems to me as though the band is playing their respects to him through the luminous feedback bursts throughout the set and the crazed, prickly guitar lines Jerry creates. After the quiet section, Bob's rhythm work establishes a firm ground for Jerry to take off from. Unexpectedly, the band dips into the "Feelin' Groovy" jam (or "UJB Jam," if you prefer) about 16 minutes into "Dark Star." Five minutes later, they're back to the main theme. Jerry's guitar is melting throughout this section, evaporating, ceasing to be a physical object and instead uniting with the spirits to create one consciousness. I can't overstate how special this "Dark Star" is. The tape is worth a Lightning Skull for this tune alone. Not surprisingly, the rest of the set is exceptional too. The three-way harmony in "St. Stephen"'s key riff is awesome to behold. The jam leading to "NFA" is so high energy, you wonder how they could keep it up. The "NFA" burns and the transitions into and out of the "Darkness Jam" and "China Cat Jam" and back to "NFA" are mind-blowing. Leave it to Pigpen to close the show with his signature R&B rave-up, "Lovelight." A must-hear, necessary component to any Dead collection. One of my favorite 1967-1970 tapes.

Dark Star

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