Friday, October 1, 2010

Freaky Friday, What if it was Monday with the Dead? 1-20-1968 Eureka, CA

Well I am back in the saddle on the East Coast after a visit to left coast fraught with great peril.  I managed to survive thanks to some great friends out there, you cats know who you are.  Today I have a couple of posts to get up, out, and back on track, the first being a Dead show!

What if 6 was 9?

What if Friday was Monday (Well most people would be pissed) but I didn't want to miss a week in the Monday's Grateful Dead Series, so I am presenting this quick show either very late or super early depending on which way you look at it.

One thought...EUREKA! Today's a shorty but a goody coming from that west coast I just left (though slightly higher north) and finds the boys in the middle of their Anthem of the Sun Days.  It is 1-20-1968 Eureka Municipal Auditorium.

Click that link or listen here:

 This show was part of the the groups smoking Northwest Tour at the beginning of 1968 that really got tripped out.  Today's four songer is blazing, a really top notch recording that finds the Dead tight as the train on the tour poster.

The first song is the fantastic first ever performance of "Clementine".  It starts what seems to be the theme on this short set, jazz.  The group has a certain swing-groove to their playing that is a cosmic bebop.  The light touch of Billy and Mickey on the drums can account for some of it, but on "Clementine" the group as a whole embraces the idea.  Phil bumps his bass lines in a smoky manner, Pigpen inserts himself expertly on his organ and Jerry embraces the leads as if he was a saxophonist.  This is a high water mark for the group concerning this song, the more you hear it, the more you want to hear it, give it a go as the boys are obviously clicking before they drop right into "New Potato Caboose".

"New Potato Caboose" was never one of my favorite psychedelic voyages that the fellas made, but on this night the track packs some pop.  That could have something to do with the distinct "Other One" vibe that is being laid down about 5 minutes in until the end, especially by the rhythm section.  "Born Cross-Eyed" comes next and allows Weir to get his freaky deaky on for a few uptempo minutes but I really dig (along with the "Clementine") is what pops up next.

"Spanish Jam" has always held prime real estate in my mind, before I ever got into the Grateful Dead, I was a big jazz fan and in particular a fan of Miles Davis.  My father also loved jazz, but he was always a bigger fan of the smooth stuff as I veered more avant-garde, where we always found common ground was early Davis and particularly the theatrical Sketches of Spain.  I distinctly remember him driving me to practice through the snow and both of us just being enthralled with the mix of Gil Evans orchestration and Miles virtuosity on that album.
We were transported instantly to Pamplona and were racing with the bulls and dancing with brown eyed women.  That classic jazz masterpiece will always ring true with me, and its memories become inflamed whenever I hear the Dead dip into their structured "Spanish Jam" which is based, loosely, around "Solea" from the Evans and Davis classic.

Today's show presents the first and perhaps the greatest of these excursions, Mickey and Billy slap the snare easing in before treating it like a piece of raw hide letting it reverberate majestically while one takes up the shaker.  Phil is really in his element here, letting his jazz background take over and darkly leading things along for the whole group, Lesh is in charge while the weeping guitar leads from Jerry tear up.  There is a tension that builds and builds through out. with Pigpen even adding dynamic organ swells, the snare march continues to drive the music and Phil darkens it with his leads.

You can almost hear lovers quarreling under the moonlight.

This version is exhilarating and the only downside is that it set the bar too high because I wish the the group was more prone to dipping into this workout as they thrive in it's environment.  They tell a story without speaking and draw you in with their power, call it Jazz-Rock, call it whatever, just give it a listen.  The brief "Caution>Dark Star" is more of a tease then anything else with the tape cutting off.  "Dark Star" is nothing more then a sped up opening riff, and while it would have been glorious to have heard what they were going to drop on the crowd, up in Humboldt this night, today I am not going to complain about what we can't hear, I'll just enjoy the great tunes we got.       

No comments:

Post a Comment