Monday, October 22, 2012

Grateful Dead Live at Greek Theatre, U. Of California on 1968-10-20 (October 20, 1968)

If you were to as "Dave, what do you like the most about the grateful dead" one might ask in speculation and possibly, concern. My answer would certainly have to be:

Grateful Dead Live at Greek Theatre, U. Of California on 1968-10-20 (October 20, 1968)


This is a show that I just came across by using the "this day in history function" on Archive.org and it is AWESOME. This show is really rocking; the energy is high; the voices are soulful; and the bass is bouncing. Jerry's late 60's distorted SG bluesy sound is edgy and cutting. The drummers are having a high energy battle. Although Bobby is a bit quiet in the mix, it does not seem to matter. The band is on tonight baby! They are on fire!

The first track is a real showcase of Phil Lesh's ability to play what he hears in his mind. He truly does not sound anything like any other bass player that is out there (other than the players who copy his style in Grateful Dead cover bands). Rhythmic, Melodic, Chord-driven, Aggressive, Honest and Powerful! There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this man is my favorite bass player. Sure his studio stuff is a bore, but man... on stage this man throws down. Jerry once said that Phil does not have to listen to what other bass players do, because he just listens to his brain. Another thing to note is that Phil was a huge fan of classical music, and you can truly understand his conceptual understanding of dissonance and harmony in this first track. He has some licks that are off the wall, impressive, and mind bending! I would say this show is worth the listen, even if it just for that first track! This is a fun show!

Dark Star: Man O Man, Phil is still laying down the groove with an almighty purpose. I am finding myself enjoying a sober, spiritual experience. Jerry's singing coming in between those long splash cymbal crashes combined with the transcendental lyrics of Hunter! What a great rendition of this song! Around five minutes into the song, a new theme emerges, mainly by Jerry, and it is really something unique, tastefully upbeat, and melancholy. Something I have never quite heard before. Sometimes I feel that I need to be in a state of confusion to truly grasp Dark Star, and when it does happen, it rocks me! This is no exception! For the first time the words of this song, resonate with me, and I could not feel more moved.

Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter. Glass hand dissolving to ice petal flowers revolving. Lady in velvet recedes in the nights of good-bye. Shall we go, you and I while we can. Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

St. Stephen: The slow opening phrases of this song which lead into the quicker, heaviness that follows, always sets me up with a broad grin. The harmonies are a bit rusty (a bit?  They are plain rust), but that does not even begin to take away from Jerry's playing! He is on! And when he is on....all one can say is WHOA! David Gans is quoted in Garcia, an autobiography by Blair Jackson:
"I've always thought that part of what made the Dead so great was their willingness to cooperate...Although, everyone adored Jerry's solos, the thing that made him such a magical player was how well he blended in and cooperated with the others....He [Jerry] was almost never at a loss for a musical thought, but also never really obsessed with domination everything. So if an idea needed to come up, he'd be there with one, but it was also an idea that was freely shared. Then someone else could answer it..." 
Really, Jerry is a force. Bobby, is coming out a bit more in the mix. Always a good thing! And I have finally noticed Pig Pen, doing his thing, nothing too special, but chordal and adds a nice dimension to the end of this track! I have always loved his voice more than anything else. 

Eleven: Is another song that I have never quite understood until now. Some nice distortion. Jerry, slow down bro, you are going to lose your mind, and you are making me lose mine, 40 years later! Jerry has never sounded more raw or more authentic! More stylistically impressive! More inventive! More! More! More! Each track blows me away more! Phil is laying down some really quick staccato grooves, really fast playing, especailly from a man who uses a pick. WOW! I love Eleven, because it goes from a main theme back to chaos back to a theme that is semi-mellow but is still hot, then back to agression then back to a semi-mellowness. It makes you realize that life is funny like that. Do what you can with what you got! This is a really impressive song! Listen to Hunter's lyrics! What a poet!

Caution: Bobby is playing this one and he is playing it mean! Great aggressive rhythm playing to start it off, and then Pig Pen come in with some really dirty playing! Man I love me some Piggy! Oh yeah! That is all I can say! and his voice; the pain, the drink, the feeling, you can hear it all. He is a  performer, in every sense of the word. The drumming is kind of cool too, with lots of flams, sort of jumpy and uneasy! It sets a cool mood, with a real nice barratone voice coming in. Who is making that sound? "All you need!" The chaos in this song, is blowing my fragile mind!

This show is really grabbing my brain by the horns and running with it. After a week filled with long car rides, none of which involved the Dead, this was exactly what I need. A vial of Dead put on simmer in the mind, is always a cure for the maladies that a busy, hectic week brings. 

You dont find music like this every day! Take it while you can!

-DW



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