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.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
1980-11-29 - U. of Florida
Venue: Alligator Alley Gym - Gainesville, FL
Tape History: AUD by Jim Wise [Charlie Miller transfer] (download here)
Release History: None
*Alabama Getaway, Promised Land, *Candyman, New Minglewood Blues, Row Jimmy, Mama Tried -> Mexicali Blues, *Althea -> Lost Sailor -> *Saint of Circumstance -> Don't Ease Me In
*Shakedown Street -> *Franklin's Tower -> *Estimated Prophet -> *He's Gone -> *Truckin' -> *Drums -> *Space -> *The Other One -> *Stella Blue -> Good Lovin', E: Casey Jones
12-04-2010: There a number of tapers that are known as the best of the best. Rob Bertrando, from the previous 1971-08-06 post, is one. Jerry Moore and Jim Wise complete the trifecta, for me. There are others, such as Bob Menke, Rango Keshavan, and Joani Moore/Paul Scotton, whose tapes we will be reviewing too. This particular Wise tape was transferred by Charlie Miller. If that name doesn't mean anything to you, just know that he began taping in 1983 and is entrusted with choice AUD and SBD tapes from great sources (including the ones mentioned here), and he gives the tapes a new transfer using modern equipment. Any time you see his name on a tape, trade for it immediately. Many times I've gotten rid of old tapes that have new Miller transfers. The sound on the recordings he works on is clean, you can feel the space of the venue, and in the most inspired tapes, you can hear the notes reverberate and reach the mics. In SBDs, the music goes straight to your headphones. Here, the music is in the venue, among the crowd, filling the space. The best AUDs are able to convey this.
Which brings us to this wonderful audience recording by Jim Wise. Miller's notes say that Wise's mics were set up at the soundboard. It's a good distance away from the stage, and it captures the numerous nuances coming from the musicians. I love hearing how wide-open space sounds in this recording. We have the music, of course, it's a fairly immediate sound, but the individual components of it unfold and develop in front of our ears, if you will, as if we'd be standing next to the soundboard that Saturday night. At the same time, you can hear the crowd's cheers beneath the music, some clapping, and, most importantly, you can feel the energy of the crowd when jams really get going. It's an amazing tape, one of the most fun, and multi-faceted AUDs I've heard.
This is also the first Brent Mydland-era tape I post up on the site. I always felt like bringing in Mydland was an attempt to regain what they lost when Pigpen died. During the Godchaux years, we only had the Fender Rhodes sound and no vocals from that seat. With Brent, the organ is back in play, as are synths and other keys, and his rough voice blends in sweetly with the rest of the band's voices. Here he doesn't contribute as much as he would in later years, since he had only been with the band for a little bit more than a year. The first set is a table-setter for the explosion that the second set provides. "Alabama Getaway" is a nice dig at the U. of FL's rival. Jerry takes tremulous leads in "Candyman," and slows the tempo considerably for a bottom-shaking "Althea." It's a memorable take on this great song, and Jerry's first run through the solo section, although short, is melodically impeccable. Good thing there's an ending solo! The "Sailor" -> "Saint" is well played, and the "Saint" has a good peak, but overall they are average versions.
Second set "Shakedown" opener. Oh yes. You have a pretty good shot of getting a stellar set when this happens. We get the expected crowd-clapping. Not annoying, but somewhat grating. Phil is way up front with his bass fills, as are Brent's keys. The slight disco beat we get from Bill and Mickey keep the band playful and energized. I thought I heard a "Feel Like A Stranger" quote from Jerry. A nice transition into "Franklin's" leads to a spirited climb, with Jerry milking every note from his axe. I love hearing the crowd clap a 4/4 beat during the "Estimated" intro (the whole song is in 7/4), and then give up as soon as Bob starts singing. What a raging version! What year is this, '77? Phil and Jerry whip the band into a frenzy let groove just ride without getting in its way. I love hearing the band playing in this way, three, four minutes of this kind of jamming is much better than obtrusive, self-conscious playing. "He's Gone" -> "Truckin'," a great pairing that began in 1972, serves as a deep breath and a big dive back into the fray. "The Other One" -> "Stella Blue" is one of my favorite Dead combos. Here Phil rips a hole in the gym roof with his intro and Jerry fills the void with lightning. "Stella" always feels like heartbreak, and Jerry and Phil (see the pattern yet?) bring it home with their special playing. Other than "Good Lovin'," this set is remarkably well constructed, great song placement and inspired jamming throughout. A singular gig and a top show for the year.