Sunday, 20 October 2013

Grateful Dead - Live Dead (First Live Recording US 1969) + Extra Studio Bonus 1970


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Artwork Included
Source: Japan SHM-CD Remaster

Live/Dead is the first official live album released by the San Francisco-based band Grateful Dead. It was recorded over a series of live concerts in early 1969 and released later in the year on November 10. At the time of its release, Robert Christgau wrote that side two of the double album "contains the finest rock improvisation ever recorded." A landmark live album that captured the Grateful Dead's improvisations at their best—Allmusic would write that "Few recordings have ever represented the essence of an artist in performance as faithfully as Live/Dead".

It was the final album with keyboardist Tom Constanten.

The songs were recorded with a mobile 16-track studio. Owsley "Bear" Stanley also asked Ron Wickersham to invent a mic splitter that fed both into the PA and the record inputs with no loss in quality. "Dark Star" and "St. Stephen" pairing was taken from the February 27, 1969 show at the Fillmore West; "The Eleven" and "Turn On Your Lovelight" were from the January 26, 1969 show at the Avalon Ballroom; "Death Don't Have No Mercy," "Feedback," and "And We Bid You Goodnight" were from the March 2, 1969 show at the Fillmore West.

Unlike in later years, in early 1969 the contents of the Dead's set lists varied little. They improvised the medley of "Dark Star"/"St. Stephen"/"The Eleven" several times a week, which enabled them to explore widely within the songs' simple frameworks. The album was a financial success for the band in the eyes of their label, Warner Bros. Constanten had commented that "Warner Bros. had pointed out that they had sunk $100,000-plus into Aoxomoxoa ... so someone had the idea that if we sent them a double live album, three discs for the price of one wouldn't be such a bad deal."

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A six-and-a-half-minute edit of "Turn On Your Lovelight" was issued first on Warner/Reprise Loss Leader album The Big Ball in 1970, and later on Skeletons from the Closet: The Best of Grateful Dead.

The cover art for Live/Dead is by R.D. Thomas. The word "Live" is seen on the front cover, and the word "Dead" fills the back cover. The top part of the word "Dead" on the back cover spells "acid", a slang term for LSD.

The original Warner Bros. LP [#2WS 1830] included a 8.5" X 11" bi-fold art and lyric book containing the lyrics to "Saint Stephen", "The Eleven", and "Dark Star".

The Grateful Dead's fourth title was likewise their first extended concert recording. Spread over two LPs, Live/Dead (1969) finally was able to relay the intrinsic sonic magnificence of a Dead show in real time. Additionally, it unleashed several key entries into their repertoire, including the sidelong epic and Deadhead anthem"Dark Star" as well as wailing and otherwise electrified acidic covers of the Rev. Gary Davis blues standard "Death Don't Have No Mercy" and the R&B rave-up "(Turn on Your) Lovelight." Finally, the conundrum of how to bring a lengthy performance experience to the listener has been solved. The album's four sides provided the palette from which to replicate the natural ebb and flow of a typical Dead set circa early 1969. 

Tomes have been written about the profound impact of "Dark Star" on the Dead and their audience. It also became a cultural touchstone signifying that rock music was becoming increasingly experimental by casting aside the once-accepted demands of the short, self-contained pop song. This version was recorded on February 27, 1969, at the Fillmore West and is presented pretty much the way it went down at the show. The same is true of the seven remaining titles on Live/Dead. The rousing rendition of "St. Stephen" reinvents the Aoxomoxoa (1968) prototype with rip-roaring thunder and an extended ending which slams into an instrumental rhythmic excursion titled "The Eleven" after the jam's tricky time signature. 

The second LP began with a marathon cover of "(Turn on Your) Lovelight," which had significant success for both Bobby "Blue" Bland and Gene Chandler earlier in the decade. With Ron "Pigpen" McKernan at the throttle, the Dead barrel their way through the work, reproportioning and appointing it with fiery solos from Garcia and lead vocal raps courtesy of McKernan. "Death Don't Have No Mercy" is a languid noir interpretation of Rev. Gary Davis' distinct Piedmont blues. Garcia's fretwork smolders as his solos sear through the melody. Likewise notable is the criminally underrated keyboard work of Tom Constanten, whose airy counterpoint rises like a departing spirit from within the soul of the song. The final pairing of "Feedback" -- which is what is sounds like it might be -- with the "lowering down" funeral dirge "And We Bid You Goodnight" is true to the way that the band concluded a majority of their performances circa 1968-1969. 

They all join in on an a cappella derivative of Joseph Spence and the Pinder Family's traditional Bahamian distillation. Few recordings have ever represented the essence of an artist in performance as faithfully as Live/Dead. It has become an aural snapshot of this zenith in The Grateful Dead's 30-year evolution and as such is highly recommended for all manner of enthusiasts. [Wikipedia + AMG]

Grateful Dead:
Rock's longest, strangest trip, the Grateful Dead were the psychedelic era's most beloved musical ambassadors as well as its most enduring survivors, spreading their message of peace, love, and mind-expansion across the globe throughout the better part of three decades. The object of adoration for popular music's most fervent and celebrated fan following — the Deadheads, their numbers and devotion legendary in their own right — they were the ultimate cult band, creating a self-styled universe all their own; for the better part of their career orbiting well outside of the mainstream, the Dead became superstars solely on their own terms, tie-dyed pied pipers whose epic, free-form live shows were rites of passage for an extended family of listeners who knew no cultural boundaries.

The roots of the Grateful Dead lie with singer/songwriter Jerry Garcia, a longtime bluegrass enthusiast who began playing the guitar at age 15. Upon relocating to Palo Alto, CA, in 1960, he soon befriended Robert Hunter, whose lyrics later graced many of Garcia's most famous melodies; in time, he also came into contact with aspiring electronic music composer Phil Lesh. By 1962, Garcia was playing banjo in a variety of local folk and bluegrass outfits, two years later forming Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions with guitarist Bob Weir and keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan; in 1965, the group was renamed the Warlocks, their lineup now additionally including Lesh on bass as well as Bill Kreutzmann on drums. 

The Warlocks made their electric debut that July; Ken Kesey soon tapped them to become the house band at his notorious Acid Tests, a series of now-legendary public LSD parties and multimedia "happenings" mounted prior to the drug's criminalization. As 1965 drew to its close, the Warlocks rechristened themselves the Grateful Dead, the name taken from a folk tale discovered in a dictionary by Garcia; bankrolled by chemist/LSD manufacturer Owsley Stanley, the band members soon moved into a communal house situated at 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco, becoming a fixture on the local music scene and building a large fan base on the strength of their many free concerts. Signing to MGM, in 1966 the Dead also recorded their first demos; the sessions proved disastrous, and the label dropped the group a short time later. 

As 1967 mutated into the Summer of Love, the Dead emerged as one of the top draws on the Bay Area music scene, honing an eclectic repertoire influenced by folk, country, and the blues while regularly appearing at top local venues including the Fillmore Auditorium, the Avalon Ballroom, and the Carousel. In March of 1967 the Dead issued their self-titled Warner Bros. debut LP, a disappointing effort which failed to recapture the cosmic sprawl of their live appearances; after performing at the Monterey Pop Festival, the group expanded to a six-piece with the addition of second drummer Mickey Hart. Their follow-up, 1968's Anthem of the Sun, fared better in documenting the free-form jam aesthetic of their concerts, but after completing 1969's Aoxomoxoa, their penchant for time-consuming studio experimentation left them over 100,000 dollars in debt to the label. 

The Dead's response to the situation was to bow to the demands of fans and record their first live album, 1969's Live/Dead; highlighted by a rendition of Garcia's "Dark Star" clocking in at over 23 minutes, the LP succeeded where its studio predecessors failed in capturing the true essence of the group in all of their improvisational, psychedelicized glory. It was followed by a pair of classic 1970 studio efforts, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty; recorded in homage to the group's country and folk roots, the two albums remained the cornerstone of the Dead's live repertoire for years to follow, with its most popular songs — "Uncle John's Band," "Casey Jones," "Sugar Magnolia," and "Truckin'" among them — becoming major favorites on FM radio. 

Despite increasing radio airplay and respectable album sales, the Dead remained first and foremost a live act, and as their popularity grew across the world they expanded their touring schedule, taking to the road for much of each year. As more and more of their psychedelic-era contemporaries ceased to exist, the group continued attracting greater numbers of fans to their shows, many of them following the Dead across the country; dubbed "Deadheads," these fans became notorious for their adherence to tie-dyed fashions and excessive drug use, their traveling circus ultimately becoming as much the focal point of concert dates as the music itself. Shows were also extensively bootlegged, and not surprisingly the Dead closed out their Warners contract with back-to-back concert LPs — a 1971 eponymous effort and 1972's Europe '72. 

The latter release was the final Dead album to feature Pigpen McKernan, a heavy drinker who died of liver failure on March 8, 1973; his replacement was keyboardist Keith Godchaux, who brought with him wife Donna Jean to sing backing vocals. 1973's Wake of the Flood was the first release on the new Grateful Dead Records imprint; around the time of its follow-up, 1974's Grateful Dead From the Mars Hotel, the group took a hiatus from the road to allow its members the opportunity to pursue solo projects. After returning to the live arena with a 1976 tour, the Dead signed to Arista to release Terrapin Station, the first in a series of misguided studio efforts that culminated in 1980's Go to Heaven, widely considered the weakest record in the group's catalog — so weak, in fact, that they did not re-enter the studio for another seven years.

The early '80s was a time of considerable upheaval for the Dead — the Godchauxs had been dismissed from the lineup in 1979, with Keith dying in a car crash on July 23, 1980. (His replacement was keyboardist Brent Mydland.) After a pair of 1981 live LPs, Reckoning and Dead Set, the group released no new recordings until 1987, focusing instead on their touring schedule — despite the dearth of new releases, the Dead continued selling out live dates, now playing to audiences which spanned generations. As much a cottage industry as a band, they traveled not only with an enormous road crew but also dozens of friends and family members, many of them Dead staffers complete with health insurance and other benefits. 

Still, the Dead were widely regarded as little more than an enduring cult phenomenon prior to the release of 1987's In the Dark; their first studio LP since Go to Heaven, it became the year's most unlikely hit when the single "Touch of Grey" became the first-ever Dead track to reach the Top Ten on the pop charts. Suddenly their videos were in regular rotation on MTV, and virtually overnight the ranks of the Deadheads grew exponentially, with countless new fans flocking to the group's shows. Not only did concert tickets become increasingly tough to come by for longtime followers, but there were also more serious repercussions — the influx of new fans shifted the crowd dynamic considerably, and once-mellow audiences became infamous not only for their excessive drug habits but also for their violent encounters with police. 

Other troubles plagued the Dead as well: in July 1986, Garcia — a year removed from a drug treatment program — lapsed into near-fatal diabetic coma brought on by his continued substance abuse problems, regaining consciousness five days later. His health remained an issue in the years which followed, but the Dead spent more time on tour than ever, with a series of dates with Bob Dylan yielding the live album Dylan & the Dead. Their final studio effort, Built to Last, followed in 1989. Tragedy struck in October of that year when a fan died after breaking his neck outside of a show at the New Jersey Meadowlands; two months later, a 19-year-old fan on LSD also died while in police custody at the Los Angeles Forum.

As ever, the Dead themselves were also not immune to tragedy — on July 26, 1990, Mydland suffered a fatal drug overdose, the third keyboardist in group history to perish; he was replaced not only by ex-Tubes keyboardist Vince Welnick but also by satellite member Bruce Hornsby, a longtime fan who frequently toured with the group. In the autumn of 1992 Garcia was again hospitalized with diabetes and an enlarged heart, forcing the Dead to postpone their upcoming tour until the year's end; he eventually returned to action looking more fit than he had in years. Still, few were surprised when it was announced on August 9, 1995, that Garcia had been found dead in his room at a substance abuse treatment facility in Forest Knolls, CA; the 53 year old's death was attributed to a heart attack. 

While Garcia's death spelled the end of the Dead as a continuing creative entity, the story was far from over. As the surviving members disbanded to plot their next move, the band's merchandising arm went into overdrive — in addition to Dick's Picks, a series of archival releases of classic live material, licensed products ranging from Dead T-shirts to sporting goods to toys flooded the market. Plans were also announced to build Terrapin Station, an interactive museum site. In 1996, Weir and Hart mounted the first Furthur Festival, a summer tour headlined by their respective bands RatDog and Mystery Box; in 1998, they also reunited with Lesh and Hornsby to tour as the Other Ones. In spirit if not in name, the Grateful Dead's trip continued on.

Grateful Dead:
Tom Constanten – keyboards
Jerry Garcia – guitar, vocals
Mickey Hart – drums, percussion
Bill Kreutzmann – drums, percussion
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan – vocals, congas; organ on "Death Don't Have No Mercy"
Phil Lesh – bass guitar, vocals
Bob Weir – guitar, vocals

01. "Dark Star" (Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Robert Hunter, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and Bob Weir) 23:18
02. "St. Stephen" (Garcia, Hunter, and Lesh) 6:31
03. "The Eleven" (Hunter and Lesh) 9:18
04. "Turn On Your Love Light" (Deadric Malone and Joseph Scott) 15:05
05. "Death Don't Have No Mercy" (Reverend Gary Davis) 10:28
06. "Feedback" (Tom Constanten, Garcia, Hart, Kreutzman, Lesh, McKernan, and Weir) 7:49
07. "And We Bid You Goodnight" (Traditional, arr. by Grateful Dead) 0:35

Bonus Tracks:
08. "Dark Star" (Single Version)
09. "WB Commercial For Live Dead"

Extra Bonus: KQED Studios, San Francisco 1970 (Bootleg)
01. ... Easy Wind [7:08]
02. Candyman [7:18]
03. Casey Jones [4:49]
04. Brokedown Palace [3:44] 
05. Uncle John's Band [5:43]

Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
or
Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
.

7 comments:

WILLARD said...

Hi Chris,
We've had you in our blog roll since you re-opened. Your links are always part of this blog. Thanks.
W

hippy djkit djfanis said...

Welcome back Chris...
dj fanis

Estradas Flamejantes said...

Hi Chris,
Your blog is one of my favorites, I have on my list.
Greeetings

anyonesdaughter said...

Hi Chris,
thanks for adding Twenty Flight Rock to your blog list. I'm glad to see your blog has been re-opened, and I just added the new address to my blog list.

Rock on!
anyonesdaughter

DoKtor Alphonzo said...

Groovy post - Dead always welcome
Many thanks

Anonymous said...

Thanks !

JonnyJ said...

Enjoyed reading the blog. Great job. I love Go To Heaven but I understand why it gets flak. Many of the songs from that album continued on into the repoirte over the years and are now tried and trusted jams :-D