Monday, April 12, 2010

Dead and the Neville's Part 1

The Grateful Dead and The Neville Brothers have been friends since both bands left their indelible marks on American music (both could be considered in the discussion of best American bands, but that is for another bar and another time...)

The Mid to Late 80's found both bands having a re-emergence of sorts, With the Dead releasing their most popular albums and the Neville's rediscovering their artistic voice.  This Monday's show pops up a bit before those high points commercially for both groups but comes on another special day, Mardi Gras 1986.
Today's show is 2-11-1986 you can click that link or listen c'here:

The sound of this recording is a perfect 10 out of 10, you couldn't ask for a more excellent capture of this historic and special night in deadistory.

The first set, and first song, is hotter then a spicy jambalaya.
 The opening "China>Rider" combo offers some intense playing, this is a money version of the popular combo. During "China Cat Sunflower", Phil in particular is all over the place with great bopping and plucking on his bass, taking the tune in new directions Jerry accepts the challenge and the 2 drummer boys start to rev up the engine.  The transition between the two tunes see's Brent catching up but Phil is still driving the train, with Jerry as his co-pilot.  They get the vocals out of the way for "I Know You Rider" and continue the majestic interplay.  I talked about a great China>Rider a Little bit ago and this version is totally different and equally great and probably even more underrated because most Dead fans don't dig on 1986...yet one more example of why this band is special.

After "China>Rider" gets the crowd alive Bobby sings (with quite a bit of echo) about those "East Bay Phillies" in "New Minglewood Blues".  The blues continue with one of my favorite versions of the sparsely played "Dupree's Diamond Blues".  Jerry's voice is struggling (It is 1986), but he gives it his all on this version as the tune shuffles behind him on the classic tale of a man stealing a diamond for his honey...and killing a cop in the process...whoops!

Bobby isn't exactly nailing the vocals either on his duo of "Me And My Uncle" and "Mexicali Blues", standard versions here, but the tempo has obviously been sped up by the band.  "The Bird Song" is noticeably quicker then lazier, more successful versions, making this one a bit unique, Phil also has some loud riffs that mix things up. It seems the band was in a hurry to get out their guest and Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

Once the "Drums" hit to start the 2nd set, you can feel the Cajun in the air as The Neville Brothers join the fella's.  "Iko Iko" is fleshed out and the highlight on this night with one of the Neville's trading lead vocals with Jerry, this is a monster version of this fun tune.  Then one of the coolest aspects of this show...a sped up, percussive version of "Eyes of The World" that the Neville's help push along with frantic speed.  It sounds like people are banging on everything available and still keeping time and making things interesting.  I love it when guests push the Dead, especially late in their career when they tended to get in a live comfort zone, song-structure wise.

This leads to another "Drums" with the Brothers, this is a big deal as tells me they hadn't done 1 drum solo, let alone 2, since 10-2-1980 which is over 379 shows. These "Drums" possess tons of energy and also get freaky before sonic excursions in "Space", however on this night the drums win the battle.  The Neville's take a break for "Truckin'">"Stella Blue">"Not Fade Away" to end the show, average versions of these tunes, well, a bit below average for Stella with Jerry's Kermit voice in full effect. 

The Neville's rejoin for the Encore and with the crowd's help start back up "Not Fade Away" again before moving into the bands covering "Hey, Bo Diddley" this would be the last time the Dead played this classic standard tune, I am not sure about the Neville's, and while both bands seem to not want the jam to end the Dead really don't give it much of vocal least not like Daddy: 

As Tom Petty said, "Elvis is King...but Diddley is Daddy!" Indeed...this is intense!  May have to come back to Diddley at another point...Back to the show...

The Night (at least for the paying crowd) closed with a stretched out, organ laced "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad" but it is rumored the jam session lasted until the morning...and with the ease of mixing sounds and styles, it is easy to see why.

EXTRA CREDIT...if you read this far I got something to share...
As a special bonus, the next night's (2-12-1986) opening set by the Neville's was captured and placed on the Archive, go hear to listen to it (you need to scroll down to the end of the Dead set).  It starts with "Fire on The Bayou", and while the quality isn't the best, it is nice to have this for the listen anyhow. I almost posted this show instead today, but thought 2-11 was the better Dead can be the judge though, and then there is always next week....    

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