Grateful Dead question...

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

  1. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I tried to play along to a Grateful Dead track last night. I am not real familiar with their music. This is off "Blues for Allah". I have mostly only heard their really mainstream/popular stuff.

    Is it me or are a lot of their songs really hard to "feel the beat" on? Listening to the album through today and it's like that feeling is there through the whole album. Like the drums come and go or they're passing around who is in charge of keeping the beat. Same time signature but the rhythm changes a lot?

    Is this a characteristic of "jam band" stuff? I've listened to a lot of Phish over the years.. not sure if I feel the same way about them. I don't think I was thinking real hard about what I was listening to.
     
  2. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not sure I can answer your question, but I believe that album was more influenced by free jazz than the other albums.
     
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  3. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    With the Dead, a good part of that feeling you are getting is Phil Lesh's approach to the bass, which acts melodically more often than rhythmically. In other words, he doesn't just match the kick drum and do the root note.

    He never was a bass player until he joined the band, so he learned in that unit and played as the music required. This is one of the reasons that some people will never 'get' the Grateful Dead.

    Guitar player doing whammy fuzz wanking? Sure, no problem, whatever you want. Bass player doesn't play with the kick drum? Burn the witch!!!
     
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  4. steve v

    steve v Tele-Holic

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    Despite being a huge Deadhead, I sometimes struggle with the rhythm section. I remember reading something where Jerry, in a moment of frustration, compared them to a popcorn machine (or sneakers in the dryer, I forget).

    I actually quite enjoy the Kreutzman-only stuff, it really shows off what he can do on his own
     
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  5. Texicaster

    Texicaster Tele-Meister

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    Yep!

    That's Phil's fault! :D Plus those drummers don't keep basic timing either.

    He doesn't play a classic 1 so the timing can feel off.

    Blues For Allah is one of their more "progressive" albums. Lots of stuff going on..

    Try some earlier stuff like "Skull and Roses" album. Europe '72 has more accessible stuff too. Garcia's first album a good one to learn too! Those three albums would give you the basic core of the sound IMO.

    Even straight ahead stuff like American Beauty can be tricky to keep a basic rhythm to but along with Workingman's Dead their "country rock" entries. Even Ripple can throw a curve at you! Try it!

    Phill never should have been allowed a 6 string bass! That really changed to sound to me...Sometimes better but always more complicated.

    Tex
     
  6. teleforumnoob

    teleforumnoob Friend of Leo's

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    Which track was giving you problems?
     
  7. omahaaudio

    omahaaudio Friend of Leo's

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    What beat?
    Seriously.
    Most Grateful Dead tracks from that era that I've heard (live and recorded) seem to have no consistent "beat".
    It's every player for themselves in whatever time signature he/she feels like at the time.
    Good luck in your quest.
     
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  8. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Right, they were just playing whatever they felt, no discipline, no time at all. They DIDN'T spend days at a time rehearsing 11/8 time so they could play "The Eleven" or "Estimated Prophet". Nothing to it at all, just all wanking. YOU TRY IT...





    The Kreutzman only era is my favorite era of Dead. They were great with Mickey, but they were like an ocean liner who'd get up a head of steam but it could be tough to maneuver through the various icebergs. With just Billy, they were like a speedboat that could turn on a dime, dance through the waves, do whatever they wanted. More like a swinging jazz quintet, where Mickey always locked them down more. I loved most of it, but the Billy only years the most by a lot.
     
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  9. East Coast Rick

    East Coast Rick TDPRI Member

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    I have tried over the years to get into the Dead but I too can't find a groove with it and have wondered the same thing. Yet I love weird records like Miles Davis Live Evil. I think the Dead aren't jiving with an Afro-beat like most of the jazz, blues and rock we all grew up hearing.
     
  10. ElJay370

    ElJay370 Tele-Meister

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    When I was developing as a bass player, I was very into learning all sorts of styles. I could get with looser, free form playing...but I had no luck at all keeping up with Phil. Their songs have such barely nailed together structures that there is no "1", there is no time signature you can really assign to anything, it's just the song starts...it goes over here for a bit...then goes over there...this part repeats...then maybe it doesn't...then it does...then the song ends.

    Perfect example:



    The rubbery groove is their signature. You can play a Grateful Dead song, but you'd be hard pressed to play it the way they do. They're having a musical conversation that you can really only either add to or reinterpret.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2019
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  11. Bellacaster

    Bellacaster Tele-Holic

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    When was the Kruetzmann only era? Looks like Mickey Hart joined in 1967 and went through 1995.
     
  12. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Mickey was gone from early 1971 through until the very last 'retirement' show in 10/1974, really. His father was acting as manager and embezzled funds before skipping out. They kept Mickey for a while, understanding that he was not his father and not guilty of anything, but he eventually took a hiatus.

    In his book, Bill blamed it partly on Mickey's heroin problem.
     
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  13. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Lenny Hart, Mickey's old man, was the band's business manager for a while and basically took them for all they were worth. They didn't blame Mickey for his old man but everything I've read indicates he felt horribly guilty about it in that he was at least partially involved in convincing the band his Dad could improve their business situation (which was a mess for a loooooong time - it wasn't their priority). So many of the 1971 shows and ALL of the 72, 73, and 74 shows were Billy alone on drums. Mickey came back and played the second set of the last Winterland show that October before they took a long break for most of the next couple of years. He was in the band from that point forward. Listen to any of the Playin' In The Band versions from 72 or 73 and you'll hear a lightness to the rhythmic feel of that band that they never had any other time. They could turn on a dime in those days. I didn't first see them until '77 and a lot of people's favorite period is when they first got into them, but to me 72-74 was the best they ever were. They had plenty of great shows before and after, but every band has a peak and, for me, that was theirs...
     
  14. steve v

    steve v Tele-Holic

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    I think because I grew up listening to so much Dead, I sometimes struggle to play in straight time, especially on bass (play on the one, what one?)

    And I agree, those early 70's show are the best. Although I do love Brent...
     
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  15. Bellacaster

    Bellacaster Tele-Holic

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    Thank you so much for this information. I'll check out some 72 - 74 shows!
     
  16. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Holic

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    I didn't understand the Dead until I saw them, then it clicked. I think that seeing other people move to it helped.
     
  17. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I agree, their music sounds disorganized sometimes, but when you try to play it, it is more difficult than it sounds. On Blues for Allah, there's a lot of odd time signatures. Great record, though. While you are checking out early 70s stuff, '75-'78 shows are also some of my favorites.

    Also, Garcia was so fluent with chord tones, arpeggios, and scales it's hard to keep up with.
     
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  18. Texicaster

    Texicaster Tele-Meister

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    THis^^^^

    Indicates an utter lack of musical understanding or simply stuck in 4/4 "missionary position" music.



    Here's a link for a "few" prime shows: https://www.mediafire.com/folder/y6o8xkzmdar9t/Grateful_Dead)

    Tex
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
  19. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I’m a short time, fair-weather fan.
    I really liked Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, but I bailed right after.
    It was Phil’s “anywhere but the tonic” bass style that made them so, uh, unique.
    It is indeed hard to jam along with them.
    Anyways, I’m glad they are/were here!
     
  20. omahaaudio

    omahaaudio Friend of Leo's

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    I'm so happy to see that your inherently superior "taste" in music and its time keeping allow you to appreciate the Grateful Dead's rendition of songs in 11/8 time.
    Bless your heart.
     
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