Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Grateful Dead 12-7-1968 Bellarmine College Louisville, KY

This was a great weekend for me on many levels, caught an amazing concert and got to hang out with old good friends on Friday.  Also had a magical day by all accounts on Saturday with more friends and a bunch of horses.  So since this years Breeders Cup was so good to me, I figured why not look for some Kentucky magic from the fellas today, and I found a goodie.
Today's show is December 7th 1968 from Bellarmine College, in Louisville KY.  Click that link or stream the full show right c'here:

Not quite sure what made the fellas stop by Bellarmine College, now Bellarmine University, but Knight's Hall was jumping back in 68 with a great night of tunes from the California kids.  The band had played the recently closed Spectrum in Philly a couple of nights before and were heading back west when they dipped into Louisville to treat the kiddies.  The night is captured with grade A sound for this point should we expect anything less from Charlie Miller?!?  If there is a complaint it is that there are a couple of cuts in the songs, but as I have mentioned before we shouldn't complain about what we don't have and just enjoy what we do...and what we have is a group cooking.

Want to start off a show with a bang?  Here you go..."Darkstar".  Not as massive as they would eventually become but mellowed and cosmic for 68, showing talent and restraint to go along with the trippiness before it drips into the blasting of "St. Stephen".  While a week ago I posted the last Stephen played and talked about it's merits, this one has all the energy that the last version lacked complete with William Tell's kick out.  The first cut of the night hurts a bit as the band is fired up and jamming out of Stephen into the 11 when the tapes gave out and I am sure the music kept soaring.
 Who know who soared pretty dam high?  Zenyatta.  I will admit I never gave this Philly a ton of respect as she was very obviously a West Coast horse that loved to run on a synthetic track, a combo that never inspires much love/respect in my eyes, but after these last 2 Breeders Cup Classic races I have to say she was a pretty special horse.  I still think the majority of hype surrounding her was just that, man made hype, but the way she closes is rarely seen in horse racing, for those who missed the race, give it a peep and see just how far back she comes from:

Only to lose by a nose to Blame.  Had the race been one more furlong she would have been an amazing 20-0 for a career.  As it is she will be regarded as one of the greatest horses in this new modern era of racing, and deservedly so.  It was a race that will be remembered for a long time, and it was so exciting that my crew hadn't even realized we had hit our second trifecta in as many races.  When they replayed the race we noticed that Doug's pick Fly Down swooped into third giving us the big money I said I did well and I had Blame to upset Zenyatta and managed to come away golden on that front too.  Don insisted we put the big lady in our triple and he was right to do so, it is not every day you hit back to back group picks, but when it is Breeders cup it makes it even more special.  Nice work fellas...and we should also give props to Dangerous Midge, Champ Pegasus and Bekhabad who came in 1-2-3 for us in The Breeders Cup Turf the race before...good looking fellas way to bring home the Kentucky green backs.     

Back to the Kentucky tunes...After the cut and some tech problems, we get a louder Dead for our worries and the group gets spooky with it's always killer rendition of "Death Don't Have No Mercy".  The energy keeps rambling as the group plows into an adventurous version of "That's It For The Other One".   While the intro Cryptical section isn't here, Phil's thundering bass line and the fantastic feedback sustains from Jerry and Bobby are dynamite.  The drums bang all around the gym as the group really lets loose here.  The "Cryptical Reprise" pops up early, but it doesn't signal the end of this great jam, the group then dips back into "The Other One" and are off racing again, a really great version of this old song pairing; I wished they weaved them together like this more often.  The ending of the tune just gets weird with everyone doing their own thing yet still managing to keep it together...the Dead at their best.  
The oddness keeps flowing into the long jammed out "New Potato Caboose" which is conducted admirably by Phil, and escapes out into the black holes of space.  A rollicking journey that just screams 68 Dead and should be taken by all with open ears.  The band then breaks and the volume drops noticeably in our recording when it comes back for the once and only live version known of "Rosemary".  Here is the original recording of the tune that never again saw the hot lights of the stage:

A shame as it has a really distorted vibe and probably would have sounded great dropped in the middle of some of the groups longer excursions. Another extreme rarity was laid out next with "He Was A Friend Of Mine" which I discussed a few weeks back, this is a tight version that unfortunately ends is cut off right in the chorus but this tune foreshadows the groups upcoming move to harmonies in the studio.

Pigpen gets in the mix next with the ballad work of the pain soaked, "It Hurts Me Too".   Garcia's guitar has a rich tone here and cuts deep working with Pig's vocals and harmonica dissecting the tune right down to the bone.  Post song you can check out the free wheeling feeling the band was putting out on this night with Jerry going so far as to start taking requests, he mentions they can't do "Alligator" but they can do "Morning Dew".
The Dew crashes to life and the band wiggles upwards towards the massive crescendos that the tune calls for.  Garcia strums for all he is worth as Phil again bumps the bass just behind him, this is a great early version of this classic from the fellas.  The group ends the night with a quick version of "And We Bid You Goodnight" before Garcia states:
 "You've just been victimized by the Grateful Dead!" 
Indeed Kentucky, and thanks for the love this weekend.           

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