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.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Venue: Santa Fe Downs - Santa Fe, NM
Tape History: AUD (Unknown, download here)
Release History: None
*Half-Step -> *Franklin's Tower -> *New Minglewood Blues, Candyman, *Me & My Uncle -> Mexicali Blues, *Althea, Man Smart-Woman Smarter, Ramble On Rose, *Let It Grow -> *Deal
*Shakedown Street -> *Samson And Delilah, Good Time Blues, *Estimated Prophet -> *He's Gone -> *Drums -> *Space -> *Throwin' Stones -> *GDTRFB -> *The Wheel -> *The Other One -> *Wharf Rat -> *Good Lovin', E: Don't Ease Me In
01-12-2011: From the dawn of 1980 to the end of 1983, the Dead were on a serious roll. Each year had its own first-rate shows and and top-notch tours, but each of these four years were uniformly strong. 1982 is probably the most underrated of these years, and this particular show is the big time gem from the fall of 1982. The most obvious choices for '82 are 07-31 Austin, 08-10 Iowa, and the pair of shows at the Frost Amphitheater about a week before this one. Here at GD Notebook I give equal love to the gems and the stand-outs. Little by little, I'll be filling out the GD years with both types of gigs.
The first set is expertly crafted. "Half-Step" -> "Franklin's" openers are always a good omen, and here they do not disappoint. Jerry overcomes a few vocal flubs in "Half-Step" with sweet leads through the changes. "Franklin's" doesn't hit a peak until near the end of the tune, where Jerry brings it all home while playing off the Rhythm Devils. Following with "Minglewood" makes three it burners to begin the first set. Can't beat it! I love Bobby's comment after Candyman, "We're going to do some local color tunes" to introduce the C&W songs. Jerry takes three turns through "Uncle," using the chord progression to create melodic phrases that shift seamlessly through registers. I am going to go out on a limb and say that the early '80s was the best period for "Althea." This is another tremendous version (forgotten verse by Jerry and cut ending notwithstanding.) Phil, Bob, and Brent are locked into the main verse groove, it really bumps and struts. I always imagined that the Althea in the song had a sultry walk because of this groove. I get the feeling that whenever Jerry forgets a lyric he amps up his playing for the rest of the tune, which carries over to the rest of the set and perhaps show. The band ends the set with authority with "Let It Grow" -> "Deal," a warning to all comers that the second set was going to rip fire.
Opening with "Shakedown" -> "Samson" ought to do it. (As one audience member says after the opener's conclusion, "Wow! Samson!") I consistently come back to this second set. It's one of the best, most resolute sets of the '80s. I can't say enough about it. The only pause they take is with "Good Time Blues." After that, they apparently said to hell with regaining their collective breath. Everything else is superb Dead, rigorous jamming, focused movements through segues, and a completely unyielding post-"Drums" segment. We'd be lucky to get a "Throwin' Stones" and "GDTRFB" and then maybe a "Black Peter" and, for this era, an almost guaranteed "Sugar Magnolia." But instead, they bring a segment from about a month earlier (09-09 New Orleans), and close out with "The Wheel" -> "The Other One" -> "Wharf Rat" -> "Good Lovin'." Incidentally, 09-09 and this gig are the only two times in the Dead's history these four songs were played in the same show, and here we have them in the same sequence, both to end the second sets of their respective shows. I'm telling you, you just can't make things like this up. This is a necessary show in all Deadheads' '80s collections.
Me & My Uncle
(Poster design by: D. Larkins and D. Sawyer)
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Venue: Winterland - San Francisco, CA
Tape History: SBD (AUD by Reinhart Holwein, download here)
Release History: Two songs in Road Trips Vol. 1, #4 bonus disc (Sept. 2008)
Promised Land, *Friend Of The Devil, Mama Tried -> Mexicali Blues, *TN Jed, I Need A Miracle, Stagger Lee, *Jack Straw
*Scarlet Begonias -> *Fire On The Mountain, *Estimated Prophet -> *Eyes Of The World -> *Drums -> *Space -> *If I Had The World To Give, Around & Around, E: U.S. Blues
01-05-2011: First night of a smokin' five night run at the Winterland, and the Dead's first show back from Egypt. These shows were billed as the "From Egypt With Love" shows. Word on the street is that there were pictures from the trip projected onto a screen behind the band as they played these shows. The only reason I'm posting this review before others from the stand is only because it's the first show. Otherwise I would have gone for the much superior 10-21 or 10-22 gigs. But take a look at that second set! Wow.
Before I completely get ahead of myself, let's take a short stop in the first set, even though it's not something exactly to write home about. Keith takes a turn in "FOTD" without sounding spent and bored, which is saying a lot for his musicianship in this era. Jerry's solo is phenomenal. His mastery of melodic phrasing is ever evident, and his signature tone is displayed in absolute glory. I love this cut. Things look unevenly formed for most of this set though, even when the band destroys "Jack Straw" as a set closer (?!). The second set, in contrast, is burning for its entirety. The segue between "Scarlet" and "Fire" is naturally arrived-at with Jerry leading the way and Phil following close behind with his high-register theme. Keith feels the transition close at hand and slowly moves in that direction. It's silky smooth. The transition into "Eyes" is more deliberate, but it still works. Phil's playing in this whole sequence is simply incredible. He plays with the melody and firmly within the rhythmic framework. He's a singular talent. Out of the three times they played "World To Give," this particular version stands head and shoulders above the others. Bob weaves in touching slide chords and lines below Jerry's heartfelt solo, where he stretches the emotive content of the melody. Recommended, but still not a top notch show.