Grateful Dead album by album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by jacksondownunda, May 8, 2009.

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  1. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yeah, yeah, Ceddy, we were hoping you wouldn’t notice but now that you’ve busted us, let’s do a big album-by-album Dead Thread including music, lyrics, sound quality, and the spirits of the day. There’s the wonderful all purpose thread, Anthem and Aoxomoxoa mixes threads, a bit of American Beauty, and the great Dick’s Pick live series thread. I think seeing their multitude of commercial releases in era-by-era “clusters” like “Anthem” sessions or “Europe 72 Tour” or “What We Did On Our 1975 Vacation” might be more wieldy and cohesive. “Era’s” will be somewhat arbitrary as they seldom stopped touring, but hopefully it’ll gel. With SO much material now and still becoming available, please feel free to chime in when I miss stuff (there are all kinds of bonus discs I hadn’t even realized existed), or boldly howl me down if I start telling ridiculous untruths (I’m just a Bozo, not an expert). Maybe we’ll get it in the proximity of “just exactly perfect”.
    My own perception is that the Grateful Dead were an amazing yet hard to define animal of many contradictions. They could give mind-torqueing performances yet often deliver absurdly tame records. They could pursue some of the most non-mainstream, non-corporate directions in Rock, yet often paralyzed by group indecision. They had the heart of an old-timey jug band and could also be a seven-headed psychedelic monster band with the most gargantuan hi-fi sound system on the planet. They had some similar “acid-test” beginnings to Pink Floyd, yet where Floyd’s stony forte was spacey sustain the GD broke down time into milliseconds and fractal micro-rhythms. They had one of the most enduring lyrical legacies in their own original songs, yet still played cover tunes as a “dance” band throughout their lifetime. They had the most rabid cult legion of fans in rock (no one was quite sure if there were a million or more DeadHeads, or if the same 30,000 followed them to every show across the country), yet their music, lyrics, and significance meant completely different things to different people.
    I’m not now or have ever been part of the Grateful Dead organization yadda yadda (though I’m sure many DeadHeads would like to wish they were), but as so many of the cd’s to be discussed are only available mail order, it might be a good thought to provide this link to their own official Grateful Dead website for news, archives, and store; . (You never know when you’ll need fridge magnets!)

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  2. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    A note about Beginnings & Roots of the Grateful Dead

    Neal Young once surmised that the Grateful Dead “grew into their greatness”. Everybody starts somewhere. Their story has been related in numerous books, both scholarly and comically, but just for the sake of understanding “beginnings & roots” of GD, I’ll take a VERY brief stab at a mini-intro history. (Rest easy, I have NO intention of doing introductions like this when the thread gets rolling, as the albums and shows will speak for themselves).

    The Grateful Dead (mostly babies of the 40’s, BTW) would NOT have sounded the same without Bob Weir’s songs and mercurial rhythm guitar, or even Phil Lesh’s rubbery sandworm bass, yet it’s generally agreed that somehow musically Jerry Garcia was the heart of the beast. As a child, Jerry lost his father in a fishing accident, and more famously lost the middle finger of his right hand in a wood chopping accident. (Most guitarists hold a pick between thumb and index finger, but if you hold it between thumb, index and ring finger, there’s a very strong and forceful fulcrum.) Jerry took up electric guitar as a teenager as a focus in his troubled teenaged years, but took up acoustic guitar during a brief stint in the Army (where he quickly washed back out). Jerry survived a car crash which killed one teen, and claims to have found a “drive” and focus which he began to tenaciously apply to his playing, particularly the banjo which demanded much precision and attention to the individual “note”.

    Jerry found himself living in abandoned car next to one Robert Hunter, who had been a prodigious reader and writer as a child with a shaky early family life. They had a mutual affinity for “authentic” American folk music including Harry Smith’s Folkway’s Records “Anthology Of American Folk Music” and New Lost City Ramblers, and joined forces from 61-63(4?) in various folkie guitar duos and combos like “Bob and Jerry”, “Tub Thumpers”, “Hog Stompers”, “Hart Valley Drifters”, etc. Phrases like “buck dancer’s choice” prophetically appear in even these early (not yet commercially available) tapes. Other local folkies like Jorma Kaukonen, David Frieberg, and Garcia’s wife’s roommate Joan Baez frequented those scenes. Hunter also just happened to be in 1961 one of the volunteers at the VA Hospital LSD experiments (Ken Kesey was a janitor student BTW). He was to depart but return to the GD scene later as top wordsmith.

    Ron “Pigpen” McKernan’s father had been a boogie-woogie pianist and a R&B radio DJ, so much roots & blues music rubbed off on Ron. He claimed to be drinking “horrid” rotgut wine from the age of 12, developed a delightfully gross persona (hence the Peanuts comix nickname) and was playing blues in 1961 at the age of 15 where he crossed paths and took a lesson or so from Jerry.

    Phil Lesh had an early childhood affinity for classical music and trained on violin and trumpet throughout his school and college years, had “perfect pitch”, and developed a serious interest in composing modern music. Reportedly Hunter and Garcia came across him in 1961 at a party or frat house working on his “The Sun Cycle” piece for multiple orchestras. He befriended one like-minded Tom Constanten, and together they enrolled in a course by modernist composer Luciano Berio. Lesh also was a volunteer engineer at KPFA, and did a solo folkie Jerry spot on Midnight Special in 1962.

    By summer 1963, Jerry was teaching guitar (showing kids to learn by ear) at Dana Morgan’s Music. Bill Kreutzmann was a very hot local drummer with lots of “feel” who also taught there, and there was briefly a side-electric band called the Zodiacs with Bill, Pigpen on Harmonica and Jerry on bass, but Jerry wasn’t at all ready yet to put aside his “authentic” folk and bluegrass pursuits (Jerry can be heard introducing the Kentucky Colonels on a 63-64 live album).

    Bob Weir was the “youngster”, with severe dyslexia which caused great learning difficulties and eventually landed him at a Fountain Valley Colorado school for “difficult” kids where he met lifelong pal and future Weir-Dead lyricist John Barlow. Weir was into guitar and good times (and a brief band called the Uncalled Four).

    And as the scribes also tell us, on New Year’s Eve 1963, Weir and some friends heard a lone banjo coming from Dana Morgan’s, and suggested that Jerry’s music students “might not be arriving tonight”, so they pulled some instruments off the wall and jammed. Eventually, in the spirit of folk, fun and the times, a jug band was formed with Jerry on guitar and vocals, Pigpen on “harp”, and Bobby on washtub bass and jug…most probably that same “jug band on the far side of the hill” they sing about in the song “So Many Roads”.

    Attached Files:

  3. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions

    From Wikipedia;
    Released 1999
    Recorded July, 1964

    Length 49:05
    Grateful Dead Records

    Michael Wanger
    Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions is an American folk music album. It was recorded live by the band of the same name at the Top of the Tangent coffee house in Palo Alto, California in July, 1964, and released in 1999.

    • The band Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions was a precursor of the rock group the Grateful Dead, and included three future members of the Dead — Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.

    Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions was a jug band. Jug band music is a type of folk music that uses traditional musical instruments such as guitar, mandolin, and banjo, combined with home made instruments, including washtub bass, washboard, kazoo, and, eponymously, a jug, played by blowing into it as if it were a brass instrument. Jug bands were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1960s, jug band music enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence as part of the American folk music revival. Jug bands of the 1960s often played popular music from the earlier jug band era, along with more contemporary folk and blues songs, as can be heard on the Mother McCree's album.

    The performances on the album were recorded by Stanford University students Pete Wanger and Wayne Ott. They played the recordings on the folk music show "Live from the Top of the Tangent", which was broadcast on Stanford's FM radio station KZSU. The tapes were thought to be lost to history until Pete Wanger and his brother Michael found them in the attic of their mother's house in 1997. The recordings were subsequently mastered for CD by Grateful Dead recording engineer Jeffrey Norman. Michael Wanger was a boyhood friend of Bob Weir, and wrote the liner notes for the CD.

    Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions includes several songs that were later played in concert by the Grateful Dead — "Overseas Stomp" (also known as "Lindy"), "Ain't It Crazy" (a.k.a. "The Rub"), "On the Road Again", "The Monkey and the Engineer", and "Beat It On Down the Line".

    1. "Overseas Stomp" (Will Shade)
    2. "Ain't It Crazy" (Sam "Lightning" Hopkins)
    3. Boo Break
    4. "Yes She Do, No She Don't" (Peter DeRose, Jo Trent)
    5. "Memphis" (Chuck Berry)
    6. "Boodle Am Shake" (Jack Palmer, Spencer Williams)
    7. "Big Fat Woman" (Huddie Ledbetter)
    8. "Borneo" (traditional)
    9. "My Gal" (traditional)
    10. "Shake That Thing" (Papa Charlie Jackson)
    11. "Beat It On Down the Line" (Jesse Fuller)
    12. "Cocaine Habit Blues" (traditional)
    13. "Beedle Um Bum" (Booker T. Bradshaw)
    14. "On the Road Again" (traditional)
    15. "The Monkey and the Engineer" (Jesse Fuller)
    16. "In the Jailhouse Now" (Jimmie Rodgers)
    17. "Crazy Words, Crazy Tune" (Jack Yellen, Milton Ager)
    18. Band Interview

    • Jerry Garcia – guitar, kazoo, banjo, vocals
    • Ron "Pigpen" McKernan – harmonica, vocals
    • Bob Weir – guitar, washtub bass, foot crusher, jug, kazoo, vocals
    • Dave Parker – washboard, kazoo, tin cup, vocals
    • Tom Stone – banjo, mandolin, guitar, vocals
    • Mike Garbett – washtub bass, guitar, kazoo

    • Produced by Michael Wanger
    • Recorded live at the Tangent by Pete Wanger and Wayne Ott
    • CD mastered by Jeffrey Norman, Club Front
    • Cover art by Timothy Truman

    Attached Files:

  4. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Mother McCree's might be a bit of a tease as it's not a "real" GD album, but there's some thing fundamentally and primally Grateful Dead about this. Anyone heard it or have observations? (It'll help kill some time to get ready for "Warlocks, The Acid Tests, and Grateful Dead as Psychedelic Ballroom Dance Band")
  5. signothetimes53

    signothetimes53 Forum Resident

    Burlington VT USA
    I'll bet there are a lot of Dead fans who've never heard this one. I'm one of I can't offer any comments.
  6. Olompali

    Olompali Forum Resident

    Poster featured on back cd art...notice the misspelling.


    1st tune "Overseas Stomp" features a nice back and forth vocal by Jer and Weir.
    And a kazoo solo!

    After Pig's "The Rub" Jer suggests a "Boo Break" for those who may not find the show to their liking.

    This is an early, fine and essential recording for those delving into the Dead Americana.
  7. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll

    Avon, CT
    Thank you so much for stepping up to do this thread -- I salute you. I spent many years as a young music fan not liking the Dead at all. As my tastes and world-view opened up, I finally 'heard' their magic and it changed my musical life forever.

    Almost everything I could hope to musically want from a band was in their music -- Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Folk, Rock N Roll, Garage, Psychedelic, Ragtime, Free Jazz, Prog, Fusion, Avante Garde, Jamaican, African, Zydeco, and on and on. A musical universe full of mystery, wonder, fun, parables, fables, characters, myth, and majesty.

    The last of the old west psychedelic pioneers, upholding the american dream on the road of whitman, kerouac, ginsberg, kesey, and neal cassady.

    When I finally "got it," I immediately immersed myself in every book, record, tape, CD, vhs, DVD, and concert I could get my hands on for a good 10 years straight. I always return to their music, and can see myself listening to it until I die.

    Good Bless the Good 'Ol Grateful Dead.

    I'll pull out the Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions CD this weekend...

    As I recall, it sounds great for the period, and it's a loose and fun set -- lots of laughs and energy! Very interesting that several of the songs stayed in the GD Songbook throughout their career, with Beat It On Down the Line being a staple of the repetoire, performed hundreds of times over almost 30 years.
    ianuaditis likes this.
  8. MikeP5877

    MikeP5877 Non-essential

    I missed out on the Mother McCree's CD when it was out, but I bought the lossless download from them. It's a neat slice of history, especially the band interview.
  9. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    clifton park,ny
    of course the hardest thing about this undertaking is to include or not all of the archive releases; dick's picks, road trips, etc.
  10. on7green

    on7green Bionic Man

    NY & TN
    From the release's Producer's Notes:

    There's the Boo Break, in which Jerry encourages the audience to "boo" the band in order to release any "unenjoyment" that they may have built up. After the audience lets loose, Jerry says, "I heard a few good hisses in there." Another exchange, just before Borneo, goes like this:

    Bob: Wait a minute, wait a minute.
    Jerry: (mocking) "Waaait a minute, waaait a minute."
    B: Gimme a G.
    J: A G, man? This is in B flat!
    B: Gimme a B flat, gimme a B flat
    J: C'mon. You aren't foolin' me, ... pretty boy.
  11. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    One Thread Gathers What Another Thread Spills...


    "Thank you so much for stepping up to do this thread -- I salute you."

    PLus one on both :righton:, a large, brave undertaking JDU!!! :wave:

    I do have both box set so I will be looking forward to finally really exploring them in depth (with odd vinyl copies thrown in as well-MFSL/WBW7) over the next year?... :righton:

    Is it safe to assume you are doing only studio Lps, or the 'regular' live Lps too, not all the DPs? :confused:

    I saw them twice and loved both shows (84 & 77), but I have always been partial to their studio output: both 1970 Lps, and Flood/Mars/Allah etc... oh and Jerry's fine solo spaces on the extra disc of Zabrinske Point, a long strange trip in itself... :agree:

    Anyhow, I look forward to exploring, learning tons, and joining in on the festivities with the most important band to come out of SF eevr!!! :righton:

  12. BNell

    BNell Forum Resident

    South Norwalk, CT
    I had a set of the WB Dead album cover magnets on my fridge for years. I knew I was marrying the right woman (we tied the knot three weeks ago) when she told me I must put them on the fridge in her place as I was moving in last summer. She's no Deadhead, but she knew what they meant to me. Plus she described them as "really cool". I'm a lucky man. :)

    Looking forward to a great thread!!

  13. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll

    Avon, CT
    my wife is not a music freak like me, but ONE band we DO agree on is the Dead! our mutual love of the GD is a part of what drew us together...
  14. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    clifton park,ny
  15. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll

    Avon, CT
  16. Great to see this thread. Hopefully it will include all of the Dick's Picks and other vault releases as well. I'll join in once we get to Birth of the dead or their self titled debut, which one of these will come first?
  17. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Believe it if you need it...

    I'd love to see a 'projected' running order... :righton:

    As for DP's jeezeus, if we include ALL those this will take literally years (see current Dyland and Thompsand threads) and some of us old hippies will die off before we even get to In The Dark... :winkgrin:

    But, I Will Survive either way... :wave:
  18. Yes, what are we going to do with all those vault releases? Discuss them at the point in the thread when they were recorded, or are we going to do this strictly by the date of release?
  19. mrbillswildride

    mrbillswildride Internet Asylum Escapee 2010, 2012, 2014

    Well, I for one, would vote for the later, so we could cover the 'classic period' album releases the way that many first heard, bought them, without tons of live shows muddling it up for weeks on end, but, judgling from the first release discussed above, maybe we'll half two fall beneath The Wheel... :angel:
  20. jacksondownunda

    jacksondownunda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The Dick's Pick's thread is good, but a jumble. My intention is to do this thread chronologically by recording dates (or as near as possible), and yes, with every live and studio release I can find (and help from you for any I miss). That way we can focus on the music, lyrics, shows, and times that created something like "Anthem".
  21. ddhd

    ddhd Forum Resident

    Long Island, NY
    Lots of GD DNA in this album.

    My Gal - really shows the pipes that Ron has. Its also indicates the direction the other members contribut as a supporting cast - this I think is something the GD accelerated at throughout the years.

    Big Fat Women - Jerry is really strutting his stuff - front and center.

    Cocaine Habit Blues - great rhythm, nice riff, seems to me more advanced then some of the other songs presented.

    On the Road Again and Monkey & the Engeneer both resemble very much so what was performed 20 yrs later, on Reckoning.
  22. ddhd

    ddhd Forum Resident

    Long Island, NY
    Oh btw Mother McCree's is not what I would call folk music but rather bluegrass - I guess.
  23. JimSmiley

    JimSmiley Team Blue Note

    Compare the sound of Mother McCrees to latter day Dead..from acoustic to the wall of sound to the beam/midi toys of the nineties. Has any other band's sound changed/evolved this much?.........and still be damn good!
  24. mike65!

    mike65! Forum Resident

    Thanks for starting this thread. It's going to make a fine read!
  25. Norbert Becker

    Norbert Becker Forum Resident

    Your love of the Dead shines through so well. Any of us who have gotten hooked on a band can relate to your words.

    Undoubtedly one of the best posts ever written in this forum, and a nice kick-off for what should be interesting reading.
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