Pass it Around

"If I made records for my own pleasure, I would only record Charley Patton songs." - Bob Dylan

Oodles of Crispy live Noodles. Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead Archive Live

I have always been a bit afraid of the Grateful Dead.  Not the fellows, the fans, or their music, all which certainly instill far love more than fear.  What scares me is the vast amount of available material and the possibility I might like it.  I simply do not have the time left to study and enjoy it. 

Unique in that the band always allowed loyal fans to tape their shows, many went to great lengths to create their own exceptionally precise memories.  Every Dead gig had a forest of professional quality microphones hoisted in the air like dead heads on pikes.  Consequently an enormous archive of stunningly crisp live documents were captured.

Unlike Dylan, who apparently has his people  (rather, corporate robots with software) scrub the web daily to remove purloined unauthorized material, the Grateful Dead material is loaded up for all to enjoy.   I was astounded recently to find entire concerts Dylan did with Dead on the lovely archive the band has mounted.  There are over 30 tapes and oodles of songs all with Jerry Garcia's guitar noodling.  And it is great.

The period of their joint appearances has not been studied much by Dylan fans, since the official document Columbia released a year or two later was deadful dreadful.  No one seems to have been motivated to explore the era.  As usual,  the label blew it, pulled "greatest hits" crappers from the soundboard and dumped them on the public.  I guess Dylan is doing fine, and who can quibble about his career, but he should have long, long ago let the fans do the recording for him...and once in a while let them edit and produce.

The rehearsal tape alone has a stunning version of "Man of Peace" with the Dead's twinkly, trippy embellishments HERE recorded at the Club Front in June 1987 in studio quality.  The song starts organically, players fall in slow and a strong Dylan drops down his voice for a fascinating rendition, his voice low and at times quivering like Son House preaching to his rediscovered audience in the 1960s.  Then he stands back for Garcia to squeak out one of his his delicate leads.

There are plenty of gems.  Slow Train?  In the Summertime?  Walkin' Down the Line? Pledging My Time done as a sleazy slow blues just like it should be? All to be found with a search.  The Ballad of Frankie and Lee?  Yup.

He even does The French Girl, a song he has been performing surreptitiously since the Basement Tapes!

Interested in a seven minute version of All Along the Watchtower live a month later?   Does peaceful Jerry have the rage to perform the solo?   Give it four minutes and hear the three minutes of applause.  You'll see.  HERE

The Wicked Messenger from Giants Stadium?  The stoners indexed it wrong but it is there.
I only did acid once, and it was okay, but the only Grateful Deal LP I ever owned was the triple lp Live in Europe and I didn't quite get them then, and I am scared to get them now.

Do I really have the time left to listen to even the material the did with Dylan?