Friday, June 23, 2017

Weekend Mix/ Dead Ahead

This started in the comments section of Sal's post from last week. I said (lightly edited):

"I heard "Truckin'" as a 'hit' on the radio and thought it sounded like the Beatles, specifically side two of Abbey Road. It knocked me out. The harmonies worked and I liked the stories.

"Sugar Magnolia" and "The Wheel" were included on a couple of the first "Loss Leaders" I bought. 
Later I shoplifted "Europe '72" (3 records were too much money, I haven't changed. I'm still stealing music). 
I still can't quite figure out the appeal of "Casey Jones".

Their second album, "Anthem Of The Sun" is unlike anything else and to me an interesting, but unlistenable psychedelic artifact. For awhile "Born Cross Eyed" opened the mix, because it's fun, and is two minutes long, but isn't really a song, so didn't make the final cut.

They had quite a run with "AOXOMOXOA", "Workingmans's Dead", "American Beauty" and "Grateful Dead(Skull and Roses)". Throw in "Garcia" and "Ace", with highlights from "Wake Of The Flood" and "Mars Hotel". 
They kinda lost me after that.

I saw them once in Santa Barbara, at the County Bowl. I climbed over the fence while Warren Zevon opened with "Werewolves Of London". When the Dead came on I could tell which ant was which in the distance.

Caught Jerry and Merle Saunders some time in 1973 at The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach California. It wasn't The Dead and the saxophone was too loud. 

Hold you thumb and forefinger apart the thickness of a dime, and that's how close The Grateful Dead have come to being a Weekend Mix."

"Charlie C. said...
@buzzbabyjesus: Just Do It!"

I immediately accepted the challenge.

In 1987 I was a driver on the movie "The Winter People" (with Kurt Russell, Kelly McGillis, and Lloyd Bridges). 
I drove the camera crew to and from the set. Dick Latvala was running sound. We got to talking and I expressed admiration for his other employers, The Grateful Dead. He told me that "Dick's Picks" were on the way. He was really excited about it.
Years later I bought 7 of them, used, at NYCD.

While I'm a longtime fan, I'm not a Dead Head. The live stuff just doesn't interest me. There is so much of it and it's rather repetitive. A lot of the extended jams are boring. You defintitely had to be there. 

You could just get "Workingman's Dead", and "American Beuaty", and call it a day.Those are the best artistically. Jerry's definitely in charge. In addition to guitar he plays banjo and pedal steel. (David Grisman plays mandolin).

I'm a little tired of "Uncle John's Band", "Sugar Magnolia", "Casey Jones", and "Till The Morning Comes", so losing them made room for "AOXOMOXOA", "Wake Of The Flood", and "From The Mars Hotel".

I soon realized I'd made "Cherry Garcia" which wasn't my intention, so I decided to include "live" material from "Grateful Dead"(aka Skull and Roses), because I've always liked Bob Weir's vocal on Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried", and "Wharf Rat" is a favorite that never made it to a studio album. 
Merle Saunders overdubbed the organ parts.
I can't imagine a better take, and the Dick's Picks I have bear this out. 
"Wharf Rat" was first performed at The Capitol Theater (Passaic,NJ) on February 18th, 1971. (They played it 398 times, and it was their 20th most performed song)
Both of them were recorded at Fillmore East in April 1971. 
There was a three year gap between "American Beauty" and "Wake Of The Flood", however Jerry and Bob both made solo albums, employing no one not already in the band.
During that time they toured extensively and some new songs were introduced on the road.
But it's obvious something happened which severely changed the arc of the band.
For one thing they became, in Bill Kreutzman words, addicted to the road, and the money it brought in.
Some of the acoustic material didn't adapt to the stage, and the new songs were arranged with that in mind.

Pigpen died in March 8, 1973, joining the "27 Club". 

"Bombshelter Slim said...
Of course, my bias is that they never did anything worthwhile after Pigpen passed... (well, not really, but you know what I mean)."

While Ron Pigpen McKernan was a founder and spiritual center of the band, I'm not crazy about his voice or musical contributions.

Phil Lesh said after Pigpen died it was "all showbiz".

According to drummer Bill Kreutzman, the band's use of cocaine accelerated throughout the early '70's.
Jerry started using heroin in 1974. He struggled with addiction for the rest of his life. 
He was in rehab when he died. 

Turn the cover of "From The Mars Hotel" upside down and look at it in a mirror you can see the words "Ugly Rumors" under the title.

While researching I found many forums. Here is an excerpt from one:

"There is a lost Grateful Dead album from this era. It's called Rambling Rose.
Hunter talks about it. He wanted to do a third album in the style of Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, turning those two into the first parts of a trilogy. Hunter's working title for the third record was Rambling Rose. It would have been in 1972 instead of '71 but that's about the only difference. Even if you allow for all the great songs on Garcia and Ace, both released in 1972, there are still plenty of wonderful songs left over. But the Dead didn't make another studio record until 1973. Pigpen's being sick and soon dying, the desire to get out of the contract with Warner Brothers, plus great tapes coming out of the 1972 European tour, kept the band from focusing on recording Rambling Rose."

There were a lot of comments, and no one agreed on the songs or the order. I'd already made "Dead Ahead", 
but since I'd really wanted to include "The Wheel" from "Garcia", and while at it dig out my vinyl 
copy of "Ace" for "Looks Like Rain" and "Cassidy", I couldn't help taking a crack at "Rambling Rose" myself.

As a result there are two Weekend Mixes. 

Jerry Garcia died on August 1, 1995. The Grateful Dead played their last show at Soldier's Field, Chicago,
on July 1, 1995. It was number 2,318.

There are about 50 songs they played only once out of over 400. For instance they covered Hall & Oates, 
"Everytime You Go Away" at Madison Square Garden on September 24, 1988.

 My favorite song is probably "Dupree's Diamond Blues". The bluegrass and ragtime folk elements really 
prefaced "Workingman's Dead, and "American Beauty", only to be abandoned in favor of what worked best 
with electric guitars on the road.
Except for a little surface noise, I think vinyl sounds better. The version of "Playing In The Band from "Ace" is amazing. 
They'd played it live just enough to really nail it in the studio.

My band had too many people trying to play guitar. There was a vintage '50's Hammond organ no one was using 
in the room, so I took it up. I found my daughter a piano I ended up playing, but wasn't that helpful in approaching 
the organ, which is a beast, with two keyboards and bass pedals to contend with. It started to be fun after two years, and 
since then I was able to rescue a beautiful 1966 Hammond in Montlair. 
I had to replace all 15 tubes, but now it sounds wonderful.
When struggling with the instrument I found the organ parts in these Grateful Dead songs to be the most helpful in
making sense out of the thing.


Grateful Dead Tour Statistics

Full Show Beat Club 1972

Dead Ahead

Dead Ahead, too

Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose, too


kh said...

Casey Jones appeal? Blatant drug use references. Trucking well that notion just crossed my mind as well.

Interestingly, a study by the website claims that country music contains more drug references than any other genre.

I would have thought Rap by a wide margin but April 21, 2017 and news week

Shocking? Drug references can push music sales banning a song just fans the flames.
Don't get me started on back masking lyrics!

Ccjctwo said...

I will start off by just saying - 'Thank you!'
Huge fan of the mixes, so cool you could take the time to do this!
I disagree with some of the text - but so what?
I will take one small point up regarding Pigpen - it wasn't what he specifically brought to the band musically (keys and harp were rudimentary at best), it was what the band brought to the table when freed up of the vocal duties! I have heard some Lovelights and Hard to Handles where the playing reached some of the most sublime heights I have experienced. Garage band heaven!
But - whatever floats one's boat here!
Thanks again . . .
Charlie C.

Anonymous said...


I don't want to sound like a rube but what does " back masking lyrics" mean?

Captain Al

kh said...

google judas priest suicide for one in the national news .. back in Dec 1985

“I don’t know what subliminals are, but I do know there’s nothing like that in this music,” band manager Bill Curbishley complained before the trial. “If we were going to do that, I’d be saying, ‘Buy seven copies,’ not telling a couple of screwed-up kids to kill themselves.”

backwards track recording "I buried Paul" would be a back masked message

Lyrics to me are poetry not commands

A walk in the woods said...

Now this is what I've been needing - a curated entryway into The Dead. There's so much out there, especially so much live stuff, I don't know where to start. Thank you for this BBJ!

buzzbabyjesus said...

As far as I'm concerned this is all the Dead you really need.

Dr Wu said...

Really enjoying the 'Rambling Rose' mix. Thank you!

rick said...

Great mix. Am also a big fan of Wharf Rat and Weir's Mama Tried. As far as "all the Dead you really need", I'd want to add Brokedown Palace and Know You Rider. Thanks!

buzzbabyjesus said...

"Broke Down Palace" was on Dead Ahead for awhile, and "Know You Rider" nearly made Rambling Rose. Also "Tenessee Jed" was considered.

dogbreath said...

I'm late to the party but just wanted to say thanks for the Dead Ahead mix (I was going to say I'm grateful but ....). Glad to see 5 tunes from American Beauty made the cut as that album still resonates for me. Up till then it had been Sabbath, Purple, Zep, Heep and other noisy individuals, whereas the Dead changed my musical worldview from the instant the needle dropped and Box of Rain poured out of the speakers. Great stuff. Cheers!