Monday, August 19, 2013

finally some actual BTS Guitar on the BTS Guitar blog



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jerry Garcia

Happy Birthday, Jerry Garcia!

In the past few years, the GD newsletter (taken from the heads themselves?) has been calling the time between August 1st and August 9th, the "days between". This is because Jerry was born on August 1st, 1942 and sadly passed away on August 9th, 1995.

Every year around this time, I drag out the Dead's studio albums (and official live albums like live/dead and europe 72) and listen to them all in order. There's a huge number of gems to be found for sure, but this year I'm adding a new twist and I'll be listening to the entire Dick's Picks series (1-36) in order. Dick's Picks were a series of mail order releases of live shows, sometimes complete, sometimes piece meal, put together by the late Dick Latvala, the Dead's first archivist. They jump around between the years 1968 and 1991 but mainly feature 70s shows (my favorite period anyway). Here Jerry and the boys

s   t   r   e  t  c  h

out on the great tunes, chase the rabbit down the rabbit hole with Alice, discover new dimensions in drums/space and in general beef up the dead's legacy as the greatest American band of all time [whew, now Led Zeppelin won't be offended].

Highlights highlights highlights ...

official studio and live

Dark Star - Live/Dead --- we could argue for days on end about which dark star is THE BEST (and the dark star on dick's picks 7 is damn fine) but this one is, for me at least, the prototypical dark star which first propelled me deep into deadhead land and improvisational music, and even jazz as a result. a must listen.

Friend of the Devil - American Beauty --- a fine, fine example of western faux Americana as constructed by Mr. Jerry Garcia and lyricist Mr. Robert Hunter. excellent sparse orchestration and acoustic guitar work.
Eyes of the World - Wake of the Flood --- there are many many fine live versions of this tune (the best being EITHER the Grateful Dead movie version OR the One From the Vault '75 version with the awesome bass solo) but the studio version has a clarity and innocence and freshness which makes it worth looking into.

St. Stephen - Aoxomoxoa - whimsical, imaginative, musically powerful (with a lot of help from Phil Lesh) and intricate --- not a lot of Americana here but more progressive rock sounding "early" dead. Garcia on SG or Les Paul here... not sure...

Uncle John's Band - Workingman's Dead - and they can SING too. The first mini-hit for the GD.

Dick's Picks
Help on the Way -> Slipknot! -> Franklin's Tower from Dick's Picks 17: This is waaaay waaay late in the Dead's career by Dick's Picks standards yet the boys, with new keyboardist Vince Welnick AND Bruce Hornsby on board - rip up the joint with this awesome triple feature from the Blues for Allah album

Terrapin Station - Dick's Picks 3 - "He put the Grateful Dead in the dress" is what Garcia reportedly said about Keith Olson's production of the "Terrapin Station" album, but here you have a version played shortly after the album's release in a way which the Dead thought it should sound. The studio version is a bit over the top (and a lot of mickey hart 16th notes) but live it was expansive, and ploddingly majestic.

Playing in the band - Dick's Picks 7 - there really aren't any bad versions of playing from say 1972 - 1985. I never tire of the middle jam section of this song (as seen in the grateful dead movie). bliss.

Dark Star -> Mind left body jam -> Morning Dew - Dick's picks 19 - hardly fair to include this as 1 song as its about 38 minutes of cosmic apocalyptic journey to the heart of the soul via a fender stratocaster with an alligator sticker on it (formerly the property of Graham Nash), a fender twin reverb amp, and 9 and a half fingers.

China cat -> I know you rider - Dick's Picks 11 - again there are about a million fantastic versions of these songs and this is one of them. Europe '72's version has its good points too...