Grateful Dead question...

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by beninma, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. GoldieLocks

    GoldieLocks Tele-Afflicted

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    If Bruce Hornsby thinks they are good enough to play with... Then take his word for it. They aren't lazy stoners lost in endless jams (not all the time anyway... and not all of them at the same time).
     
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  2. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My first Dead concert was in 1969 at the Family Dog in San Francisco. I was mostly familiar with the songs on their first album. Other then Morning Dew, I didn't recognize a single song, and I loved it.

    I also saw them with Miles Davis opening at the Fillmore West. After having Miles take the top of my head off, "Cold Rain and Snow" just seemed like bubble gum music or something. I had to leave and go process what I just heard.

    Full disclosure. Drugs were involved in both of these experiences.

    Of course, I got back on the bus and saw many more shows up until about 1993. I saw some great shows and a few not as good, but always memorable. They are still one of my favorite bands of all time.

    As much as I miss Jerry, I came upon this. A rewrite of a song Jerry and Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane) originally wrote which Robert Hunter added to. One of my favorite post-Dead configurations.



    BTW, Phil started as a jazz trumpet player and an avant-garde composer before taking up the bass.
     
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  3. bowman

    bowman Friend of Leo's

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    It can be hard to figure out exactly what's happening on their songs. My '80s band played a blend of blues/rock/country/trucker tunes, and for whatever reason, our eclectic setlist attracted the small group of local Deadheads, who then began showing up at all our gigs. They even hired us for private parties. We decided to learn a couple of Dead tunes as a thank you, and we soon found that we had to just do them the way that made sense to us - keep the chords, but make the feel our own. We couldn't cop that odd, timing/no timing thing the Dead were doing.
     
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  4. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I had the rhythm pretty close but had the chord changes at the wrong place in the rhythm, had a lesson yesterday.

    Also I was fooling around with it with open chords and barre chords.. My guitar teacher corrected me on where the chord changes are and suggested a devious exercise with the song for me.. he transcribed it all as triads in a way that I will have to learn/play a ton of different voicings of A-G-D-G up and down the neck to play the rhythm. The voicing switch up every 2 bars. Pretty darn cool.. I am hoping it helps get me over the hump in terms of knowing the shapes.
     
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  5. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    That sounds very cool. Is it a written down in a way that you can share?
     
  6. Greggorios

    Greggorios Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    +1, re: Bruce...and Branford Marsalis and so many others.:)...re: lazy stoners...:lol::lol::lol:
     
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  7. Matt G

    Matt G Tele-Afflicted

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    What an interesting and useful thread. I always wondered why I struggled to keep up with Dead tunes, even over nominally simple chord changes. Cool to listen to . . . I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who struggles to jam along with their tunes.
     
  8. Linkslover

    Linkslover Tele-Meister

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    My first Dead show was February, 1973 and last show was 1994.

    I've never head a problem keeping the rhythm playing sling with the band.

    I think part of the confusion players who are new to the Dead have is that they do have a propensity to shift time signatures away times during their songs and often change the key they're in as well.

    My "trick" is that I've heard the songs so many times that i have a feel for them. A lot of times they aren't hitting the 1, but emphasizing the upbeat on the 2. Listen to the vocals and lots of times, Bobby starts singing just before the chord change.

    And, Phil doesn't play rhythm bass. He's usually playing a lead, just on a bass instead of a guitar.

    Bobby always said that hits job was ri find the center between Jerry and Phil and try to hold things together.

    It's not undisciplined, just a different discipline.
     
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  9. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

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    Englishtown was actually the last show he used the Travis Bean guitars at. He had one with humbuckers that he used in 76, and then in 77 he switched to the one with the single coil pickups, and the first iteration of his "effects loop" mod (basically he had a stereo cord that ran his guitar signal down through his effects pedals, then back up to the guitar, all before the volume control). The single coil Travis Bean is what he used through most of 77.

    But when the band went back on tour in October '77, Jerry switched back to using Wolf, which now also had the effects loop on it. That's the guitar you're hearing on the various live recordings from October 77 through the first month or two of 78. Then, I think in March or April of '78, he had humbuckers installed in Wolf. I don't think his tones were ever as good after he switched to using humbuckers. For me, the best Jerry tones were when he was playing Alligator (his extensively customized pre-CBS Strat), and when he first started playing Wolf circa 73-74. Nothing like Strat pickups through a Fender amp, and with minimal effects in between (in Jerry's case, just a wah wah pedal and occaisonally a fuzztone).
     
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  10. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

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    I believe he only used the Strat during the Space segments when he was still using Tiger, during the first half of '89. You can see him playing it in the Summer Solstice pay-per-view concert that year. Then, at some point he brought Wolf out of mothballs, with the Roland hex pickup mounted on it. I've seen photos where it looks like at first had the version that could be mounted on any guitar, with the guitar synth controls covering the Wolf inlay. Then, I think, at some point he had the synth electronics installed in the guitar, similar to the setup he had on Rosebud.

    If I remember correctly, he debuted Rosebud in early '90. I only got to see the Dead twice, in '90 and '91 (first one was Vince Welnick's second show, actually, at Richfield Coliseum), so I only ever got to see him play Rosebud.

    That's when you started hearing the guitar synth stuff during other parts of the shows besides Space.

    I believe I read he wanted to install a new bridge on the Cripe guitar, that's why he's playing Rosebud during those last few shows.
     
  11. Chip

    Chip Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for the info on the black Strat. Maybe my memory is a little foggy, it was a long time ago.
    Anyway, my first show was the night before yours (Vince Welnick’s first show, also at the Richfield Coliseum).
     
  12. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

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    Ah, so you saw the show where Vince walked off the stage at the end of Sugar Magnolia, but before the rest of the band launched into Sunshine Daydream, eh? I remember reading in Relix about how Vince was seen scrambling back to his keyboard when the band started playing again.

    And speaking of keyboards, that's the one thing that's the one thing I think the Dead never really got right. I kinda wish they could have had Ned Lagin as their full time keyboardist after Tom Constaten, but for whatever reason that didn't happen. Ned played those weird synth/bass duets with Phil during the summer and autumn '74 shows, but he had been hanging around the band since 1970. That's Ned playing piano on the studio version of Candyman on American Beauty. But for whatever reason, that didn't happen.

    Keiht was a fine pianist, but for the most part, that's all he was. I think the band could have used a more versatile keyboardist during the '72-'74 era, a little organ or even synth would have sounded great during the more improvisational things. Keith did occasionally play synth, but only very rarely.

    With Brent Mydland, first of all he always had a lousy piano sound. He had a Fender Rhodes when he first joined, and in theory that should have sounded great, but somehow they got the worst sound I've heard anyone get from a Rhodes. And he said he didn't like using synths, because "This isn't the kind of band where you can go to preset 7 or whatever", and he felt that setting up synth patches on the fly took too long for the way the band performed.

    But then later, he got a MIDI master keyboard, and basically went to digital synths and piano, apart from his B-3 (the only keyboard he had that good tones from). With the digital synths he kinda backpedaled on his "you can't use presets in this band" thinking, and the digital piano...well, digital pianos didn't sound that great back in the 90's.

    And the crummy keyboard patches continued with Vince. Vince and Brent were both great keyboardists, it's just the actual sounds you hear. (shrug)
     
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  13. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

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    Oh, and I think the Cornell show is massively overrated. It's a fine performance, yes, but I don't think it tops the stuff they were doing in '72-'74. I agree they were more a interesting band with Billy as the only drummer. They went further "out" during the improvisational things like Dark Star or The Other One, and there was a lot of what I call "spontaneous orchestration", with different instruments dropping in and out. That kind of went away after Mickey came back, you started getting this things where they'd get the sort of jamming bits, with everyone all playing at the same time, something akin to listening to six people sitting around a table talking all at the same time, sometimes.

    Whether that's because of the drugs the various band members were on, I don't know, or what was going on. It just seemed like their approach to improv changed, and not for the better, in my opinion.

    Having said that, there were certain things that would sometimes sound great. Things like Estimated Prophet and Terrapin Station sometimes went to some very interesting places.

    Also, I should mention the late 67-early 69 era, when they were a truly great psychedelic rock band. The Dead don't get the respect they deserve for pushing forward the possibilities in song structure during that era. Listen to side one of Anthem Of The Sun, their second album if you don't believe me. Who else was doing stuff like That's It For The Other One, or New Potato Caboose, at the time? This all presaged the prog rock era, I think.

    Born Cross Eyed has a really interesting arrangement trick, where the band rests on the downbeat. The first chord you hear in the song is actually the two. Then they play two bars and come back to resting on the 1 again.

    And then there were things like Mountains Of The Moon, and later on, Weather Report Suite, and Unbroken Chain. Supposedly, they dropped a lot of those songs after playing them for relatively short periods of time because Jerry decided they were "too uncomfortable to play". I gather they had to put a lot of work in rehearsal to playing stuff like New Potato Caboose and St. Stephen, and I get the feeling Jerry didn't like doing that.

    In the case of Unbroken Chain, they literally never played it live until the 90's, when they had the teleprompter system, that could feed the changes to the musicians onstage. There's a tape of them rehearsing the song, I think in Philly, during a soundcheck, in '94. And you can hear Phil getting really frustrated with everyone else because he really wanted to do this song live, and the rest of the band was struggling with it. There's a bit where they play the intro, and Phil stops and says, "Vinnie, think of it as a bar of 4/4 with the 1" and things like that. Then he gets mad at the guy running the teleprompter system, who didn't have his monitor headset on, so he couldn't hear Phil when he was telling to change the font so they could fit all the verse lyrics onto the screen at once or whatever.
     
  14. raysachs

    raysachs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I was pretty sure he was playing the Travis Bean when I saw them on 10/2/77 in Portland. Photos online that purport to be from that show also show him with the Travis Bean. I saw him in Eugene in January '78 and he was definitely playing Wolf, but I think he was still playing the Travis Bean in at least early October of 77...
     
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  15. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

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    You could be right. I know he was playing the Wolf by the time they got to the New Year's Eve run at the Winterland. And the photos in one of the Road Trips releases that was drawn from the October and November Midwest run show him playing Wolf too. Maybe he started the tour with the Travis Bean, because Wolf wasn't quite ready, or something.
     
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  16. raysachs

    raysachs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Or I could be wrong, if the photos I saw weren’t actually from that night. I don’t trust my memory, particularly since I’d just started playing guitar at the time of that show and didn’t really know my gear very well yet.

    BTW, I agree with you about Cornell - a really fine show, but there were so many that year - I thought the night before and the night after were at least as good. And I’ll still take almost any show from the 72-74 Billy era over any of them...

    But one thing I am certain about is that Unbroken Chain was first played in ‘95, not ‘94. I was at that whole Philly run and the soundcheck tape was from the same day they broke it out. The lot was buzzing with people who heard the soundcheck from outside that afternoon and I thought that building was gonna come down when they started playing it that night. The slowly building recognition of what they were doing started as a roar and then became something much MUCH larger than a roar as they worked through the intro. It was the last night of a pretty bad run. The only other highlights I remember from the three nights was a great Iko Iko from the previous night where what was left of Jerry was actually moving to it onstage (practically dancing) and a beautiful soulful Jerry vocal on So Many Roads from the second set of the last night, after they’d closed the first set with Unbroken Chain. They played that tune a lot better later in the tour but never really nailed it - I guess there was a reason it took them that long to try it live.

    But that was the last really electric, send a chill up your spine, moment I ever had with the Dead. I saw them two more times at DC that fateful summer and the only good thing I remember from those shows was Jerry playing the last couple songs with Dylan in his opening set and smiling and looking pretty animated, but both nights of the Dead were pretty bad and the first night was certifiably awful, with Jerry really looking and sounding terrible. It was really sad and, in retrospect, I think everyone knew he was about done. Didn’t know he was a month or two from dying, but it seemed clear he couldn’t go on touring like that...
     
  17. brbadg

    brbadg Tele-Afflicted

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    I find there's alot of offhanded slagging of the Dead
    from people who say they've heard them.
     
  18. brbadg

    brbadg Tele-Afflicted

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    Wellllll.,these days it's hip to do it your way anyway.The band would approve.
     
  19. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

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    Again, I'm sure correct. A lot of that latter day era stuff, I don't have the exact dates committed memory. I just remember the soundcheck tape where Phil sounds furious that it's not coming together the way he wants. He's like "I want to play this song in Philly", like he's tired of waiting of not being able to do the song for whatever reason.

    My feeling is, one of the problems they had with those more complicated things, was Jerry. I think Jerry just didn't like doing stuff that he had to work at, if you know what I mean. He didn't like having to play a song again and again and again in a rehearsal room to make it sound good, and I think maybe he didn't like having to deal with remembering the structures of things like Unbroken Chain, St. Stephen, etc.

    I know there's at least one interview where Jerry said the reason they eventually stopped playing most of the stuff that was Aoxomoxoa was because "It's uncomfortable to play". I suspect is true also of New Potato Caboose, Born Cross Eyed, The Eleven, etc. And it's interesting that a lot of those things cropped up in the setlists when Phil, Bill, Mickey, and Bob started touring as The Other Ones. The show I saw in Cleveland (a day or two before Thanksgiving 2003) had St Stephen, Born Cross Eyed (which took me totally by surprise) and, I think, The Eleven. And I believe I saw setlists from other shows on that tour where they were doing New Potato Caboose, the full That's It For The Other One suite, etc, too.

    Thus, I think it was really Jerry who pulled the plug on doing those songs way back when. I think Jerry preferred doing stuff taht required a minimum of effort, a minimal amount if rehearsal. On the other hand, they continued to do Estimated Prophet, which most people would say is difficult just because it's in 7 (note: David Gilmour admitted the reason Money changes from 7 to 4 for the guitar solo was because he didn't want to deal with counting to 7 during the solo). And I would think Terrapin Station took a little work to be made playable.

    But I'm not surprised they never quite got a handle on Unbroken Chain. I'm not sure I've heard any of the live versions, but that staccato unison passage probably was a source of frustration, among other things. 1995 was a rough ttime for the Dead. Somewhere around here I have the last show, the one at Soldier Field, but I'm not sure I've listened to it in the last 23 or 24 years.

    But I remember Dick Latvala being interviewed in, I think, Guitar World, and he was asked about the possibility of releasing shows from the 90's, and he said something to the effect that he listened to every show from 1993-1995. He said there some good things on the 93 and 94 shows that could be released, but there was virtually nothing from '95 that he would even considered worth releasing.
     
  20. raysachs

    raysachs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Probably right. I think Jerry was one of the drivers, along with Phil, for doing really HARD stuff early on, but at a certain point either he didn't want to keep working as hard or maybe he just wasn't satisfied with the quality of how some of the harder stuff was getting played, and he more or less pulled the plug. Then again, they were playing Slipknot right up until the end, which sounds like a bugger to me...

    In terms of listening to their stuff. I occasionally pull out something from the early 90's with Branford or David Murray sitting in, or some of the Hornsby shows, but I don't think I've listened to anything newer than '91 since shortly after Jerry died. And even though there were good years in the '80s, I rarely listen to any of that either, except for a few shows I was at. 99% of what I listen to when I still put the Dead on, which isn't that often anymore anyway, is from the 70s, with 70, 72-74, and 77 getting the bulk> But I have to include January 78 because of the one show I went to that month that I still rate as the best post-hiatus show I've heard. And, yeah, sure, I'm biased... ;)
     
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