School me, briefly, on the Grateful Dead essential album or two.

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by TokyoPortrait, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. Walker

    Walker Tele-Afflicted

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    Everyone's pretty much summed it up pretty well. American Beauty and Workingman's Dead are great albums, but I agree the live stuff is where it's at and there's plenty of it: Europe '72, Veneta OR 8/27/72 (The Complete Sunshine Daydream Concert), Wake Up to Find Out..., Spring 1990:So Glad You Made It, Cornell 5/8/77, I could go on and on. You start going down the rabbit hole and it goes pretty deep. And then there's Jerry's solo stuff!

    Unfortunately, I didn't get into the Dead and Jerry until after he passed. I sure wish I saw it live.
     
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  2. McGlamRock

    McGlamRock Friend of Leo's

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    Definitely get American Beauty. What a great album.
     
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  3. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    Imo, check out the 1,000s of live shows found online. That's where the best shows are found. Lots of people will point you in the right direction and tell you what their favorites are.
     
  4. Ex-riverman

    Ex-riverman Tele-Holic

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    I agree. But wading through stuff as a novice would be tough. Not only finding the right shows but the right versions. That’s I why I get the official live releases (Dick Picks, Road Trip Series, etc) - you know the sound quality will be good. Surprisingly, not even all of those official releases are great. I stand by the official Sunshine Daydream release of 8/27/72 Veneta OR. Quality across the board and gives you a wide range of their material from country and blues and the trickier stuff. If you catch the bug, the resources are endless.
     
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  5. Ex-riverman

    Ex-riverman Tele-Holic

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    In addition to the Internet Archive site, RE Listen is a great app that just focuses on live music.
    If you want to hear some great new live GD music check out Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. They have many concerts on ReListen and they have the snap and drive of the Dead with just one drummer and some sharp musicians. Anyway, probably the best way to experience GD music live these days. Dead and Co is great too, but JRAD can get people off their feet.
     
  6. raysachs

    raysachs Friend of Leo's

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    Really good advice here. I didn't start seeing the Dead until '77, which was a good year, but for my money, the BEST they ever played live was from 72-74. They only had one drummer for that period and whatever that caused them to lose in pure momentum, they more than made up for in nimble playing, quick time changes. With two drummers they were a big ocean liner that could build up a head of steam, but might not be able to avoid the icebergs. With one drummer, they were a lithe little speedboat that could dance in the waves and turn on a dime. And that Veneta show was one of the great shows of that great period. There was also some really fine stuff from 69-70 (the Fillmore East shows from Valentines Day of 1970 are pretty epic, with some nice acoustic stuff in addition to some very OUT electric playing. Live Dead and One From the Vault are both I think 1968 recordings and they had a lot of creative energy at work at that point, but I just think they'd harnessed it and refined it a bit by 1970.

    After 74, I'd say check out some 77 shows - Cornell (5/8) is the most famous, but I'd take the Buffalo show from the next night personally. The best show I ever saw was 1/22/78 in Eugene - it was released as a Dave's Pick a couple of years ago (I think volume 23) after some great tapes of it surfaced. Jerry did a solo exploration of the theme from Close Encounters that was simply epic, as was the whole second set. And the first set was way better than average too. To me, that's the best show they played after their 1975 hiatus, but I'm not gonna pretend to be unbiased. There were plenty of fine shows in the 80s and even through about 91, particularly when jazz guys like Branford and David Murray and Ornette sat in with them. But honestly, I don't think even the best of the 80s or 90s is in the same league with that period of 70-74 and particularly 72-74. The reason to listen into the 80s it to pick up some great versions of some of the stuff they wrote in the late '70s and early '80s. Stuff like Estimated Prophet, Terrapin, Shakedown Street, Feel Like a Stranger, and, IMHO maybe the greatest single Grateful Dead song ever, which came waaaay after their songwriting peak, "Althea". So check some of those shows out, but the veins than you can just mine and mine and mine are earlier than that.

    As far as albums, yeah, American Beauty (Reality?) and Workingman's Dead are probably their best, but they're kind of like The Band albums. The Dead never really made great studio albums in the style of the Dead. And their live albums are great, but no greater than so many of the shows that are available for easy streaming on Archive.ORG. It's all out there, just gotta look around, yeah, just gotta look around.
     
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  7. erix

    erix Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I think there’s no such thing as a bad dead recording, just some are better than others. :)

    That said, call me a freak but I like the late live stuff the best, the eighties and nineties. It may be because that’s when I started going to shows but I really think it’s because the recording and sound-shaping technology was just blowing up during that period. All the sampling that happened in the middle of the shows, the patches the drums went through during Space... nobody has done that before or since. It was my favorite part of the experience.

    And the early guitar synth stuff. Listen to “Eyes Of The World” from that show with Branford mentioned earlier: right in the middle of one of jerry’s solos the engineer turns his guitar into a flute. Listen to how he changed his phrasing to accommodate and didn’t miss a beat. It’s a moment of random musical magic that you only got when Jerry was playing. I miss that guy...

    So, my vote would be Infrared Roses. Go weird or go home!
     
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  8. ScubaGeek

    ScubaGeek Tele-Meister

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    If you like that sort of late 60's psychedelic sound, I'd suggest you grab the recently reissued Anthem Of The Sun and Aoxomoxoa. The new versions are double CD's, with the first CD containing both the original mix of the respective album and the early 70's remix, plus a CD's worth of live material.

    These are two of the great unsung psych rock albums, and are highly recommended to anyone who think sthey don't like the Dead. It might not change your opinion, but the music is light years beyond what you've heard on the radio.

    Also, American Beauty is essential, if for no other reason than the studio versions of Box Of Rain and Ripple. They never played either of those songs as good onstage as they are on this album (part of the reason why Box Of Rain never sounded as good live is because that's not Phil Lesh playing bass on the studio version, it's Dave Talbort, who had a much more conventional approach, let's say, to the instrument, and as such the track has a little more oomph than it's live counterparts).

    You should also have From The Mars Hotel, which has a great song called Unbroken Chain, which they never played live until 1995 (it's so complicated they needed to have cheat sheets to play it, which they finally had once they started using teleprompters circa 94-95...there's a soundcheck rehearsal tape where you can hear Phil Lesh getting upset at everyone else because he's anxious to play the song and the rest of the band don't quite have it together)

    As for live stuff, I've always had issues with the Dead's original live albums, circa 1969-1990. Virtually all of them have the wrong selection of material, in my opinion. The exceptions are:

    Live/Dead it's pretty good under the circumstances. The only way they could have made it better would have to been to expand to a three LP set. But track down the raw tapes of the shows that were recorded for this album. That little scrap of improvisation that kicks off side one, before the band launches into Dark Star proper? That's actually the end of jam that segued a mostly acoustic Mountains Of The Moon to Dark Star.

    Skullfuck aka Skull ANd Roses the second live album, which was put out with an eponymous title (even though the band's first album was also eponymously titled). Not bad, good versions of The Other One, Bertha, and Wharf Rat. Playin' In The Band is particularly frustrating, as it hadn't yet developed into the improv vehicle it would become in the following year. Here, it's just a decently played rock n roll song that happens to be 10/4 time (before playing it in concert, Bob Weir woudl sometimes hold up all ten fingers, to indicate to the rest of the band that was the song he wanted to play next). I'm not really keen on the "bar band" side of the band that was prominently featured in their live shows in this era. There's way too many cover tunes here.

    Europe '72 A lot of people are gonna tell you this is the one to get, but I'm gonna go against that logic for a couple of reasons. Notably, I don't think the improvisational side of the band was well represented here. Part of that was because I think they decided they didn't want to use Dark Star or The Other One on this album (they had included a version of Dark Star on Live/Dead and The Other One is on Skullfuck). Also, they left off two great Pigpen sung songs called Chinatown Shuffle and Two Souls In Communion. Both songs can be found on Steppin' Out With The Grateful Dead (a four CD set compiled from the British dates of the tour), so I would say, at the very least, try to track down that album in addition to Europe '72. Also worth hearing is Hundred Year Hall, which was recorded during one of the German dates. Most of the other shows are worth hearing, for the improv numbers. The Rotterdam show in particularly has a 46 minute Dark Star.

    The rest of the live albums they put out in the 70's and 80's suffer too much from the wrong material being chosen. STeal Your Face is especially an atrocity given the material that was availabe, in that case you want to see the Grateful Dead Movie and it's corresponding five CD soundtrack release, which do a better job of presenting the October '74 Winterland run.

    Once you get into the 90's, the Dead started figuring out they might be able to dust down some of the old live tapes and put out those out and the fans might go for it. And of course, we did. There's a lot to choose from, many of which are out of print and thus going for stupid prices on E-bay, but for now, the above should give you a place to start, beyond what others are telling you.
     
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  9. PastorJay

    PastorJay Tele-Afflicted

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    As you can tell, Deadheads agree on little. Except that we love the Dead's music.
     
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  10. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Whatever you do, don't start here:

     
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  11. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    My two favorites are "Grateful Dead", the 2-record album with the rose-crowned skeleton on the cover, and Europe '72, a 3-record set. I like Workingman's Dead and American Beauty as well.

    This is a fun thread. I never really became a "Dead-head", but I have known several, and I've enjoyed a few Grateful Dead shows and acquired a few records and CDs. I often wore J. Garcia ties during my teaching career. . . . This thread has piqued :twisted: my interest in a few other titles; I might go shopping.

    That word started out French, and it was okay after they gave it to the British, but after so many years of American corruption--we changed it from "pee-kay'd" to "peeked"--I just try to avoid using the word at all, especially out loud.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
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  12. hekawi

    hekawi Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've got this one, and it seems to cover all the bases. One disc of studio tracks, the second disc has very good live stuff:

    GratefulDead_BestOfWhatALongStrangeTrip.jpg
     
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  13. eddy b.

    eddy b. TDPRI Member

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    Skeletons From the Closet, Shakedown Street. In some ways I get the “acquired” taste aspect of the Dead. Having seen them live maybe 10 times I’d say the live experience is unlike any other. Though for me, without Jerry, it’s a little like RUSH without Neil.
     
  14. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Holic

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    Hi.

    Yeah, after living in Japan for more than twenty years, and being around a lot of different versions of English, this is one of the increasingly large number of formerly comfortable words that I start to use out loud, only to stop half way through, thinking "Uh oh! How the flip DO you say this?!!?"

    Thanks for the other info.

    Pax/
    Dean
     
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  15. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I still enjoy listening to them once in a while, but my interest in the Grateful Dead pretty well peaked before Jerry died.
     
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  16. brbadg

    brbadg Tele-Afflicted

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    It never really bothered me.Funny clip though.
     
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  17. brbadg

    brbadg Tele-Afflicted

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    I've been spending the week driving through the countryside
    back and forth to work with the Dead blaring. 5-11-72 Playin',Sugaree
    10-16-89 set 2,7-13-84 Dark Star( hey it works in the daytime too).
    I must say the contributions to this post from my fellow fans have got me a little misty.
    Great work y'all.You make me proud!
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
  18. brbadg

    brbadg Tele-Afflicted

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    Aye,yi yi.So Many Roads,Lazy River Rd.GREAT songs!
     
  19. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Tele-Holic

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    Hi everyone.

    Thanks for the responses. It's been fantastic. And not too overwhelming :)

    I'm still digesting, ruminating, and all that. I'll come back in a bit and share my conclusions / progress.

    Pax/
    Dean
     
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  20. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    The mailman just got past the dog, bringing my "Without a Net" two-CD set. Not everybody in the house likes the Dead as much as I do, so I'll wait until I'm in the truck by myself to hear it. The song lists look great!
     
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