Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Dead 2-23-1993 Oakland, CA

This Monday we are picking a a show from a year we haven't touched upon yet here at Rock The Body Electric...1993.  Not the best of years from the fellas as the end was pretty near, but that doesn't mean there aren't any high points, and this is one...
 Mardi Gras 2-23-1993 in Oakland California.  Click that link or listen right c'here:

This recording is spot on, if a bit sterile, but it sounds straight from the Soundboard.  The bass sound is pretty loose and piano is pretty high in the mix as well, with Vince Welnick twinkling the ivories very admirably on this night.    The first set is pretty standard 90's style Dead, not much energy but lucid excursions.  They were never in a hurry to do much of anything towards the end, but "Loser" benefits from this slow pacing.  "Way To Go Home" and "Stuck Inside A Mobile..." are skippable, but the first does hold one little treasure, the bands first ever performance of "Broken Arrow".   It is fun to hear Phil sing this Robbie Robertson song, the Dead pulled this one out quite a bit in it's last few years, and I am a sucker for it.  One of my favorite Phil and Friends shows has a fun version of it, and the Dead even played it when they sung through Albany a month after today's show:

"Johnny B Goode" ends the set on a high note, letting Jerry shred a bit before the band breaks, returning with the Mardi Gras tradition of Drums into "Iko Iko". 

The first part of the second set is a bit weak in my opinion, I could do without "Corrina" and this Lazy River Road is average at best, but things really start to come together when the band dips into "Playing In The Band".  The drums and the digeridoo come out with Ornette Coleman and Graham Wiggins, and here is what set this show apart. 

The Godfather of Free Jazz and the the Dead seem like a perfect fit, but Ornette Coleman only played with the group twice in 1993, this being the first and the better of the 2 shows.  While the Dead were in obvious decline, Ornette was just starting a rebirth, he put out a bunch of albums in the 90's and started to be recognized more and more for his greatness.  While it would have been epic for them to jam at both of their peaks, this is a pretty fun excursion.  Things start off with "Space" as both prties are well accustomed to performing without a net in the sonic realms.  Garcia in particular loves this combo and gets freaky with his tone as he chases Ornette who is rolling out saxophone licks.  Garcia actually played with Ornette on his Virgin Beauty album in 88 so the two had been friends and musically connected.
As things start to coalesce with the musicians the rhythm boys want to have some fun so they start pumping the low end for "The Other One" which leads to some fireworks.    The scrambling to start the song moves the band in multiple directions with squawks from the sax branching out this is not your ordinary "Other One" with it's building peaks that soar higher and higher; a uniquely excellent version of this song.  "Stella Blue" manages to sound revolutionary and triumphant, the tune is expertly adjusted to by Coleman, ideally a mix that downplayed Vince a bit and amped Coleman would be ideal, but this is what we have.  The "Lovelight" is simply one of the best post-Pigpen versions that is out there.  The encore of "Brokedown Palace" is dynamite and just dominates with Coleman's blowing presence. 

You can download the Ornette section, which makes this show special, right c'here.  Happy Grateful Dead Monday with a saxophone's some Ornette for the road, "Dancing In Your Head":

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