Posts Tagged ‘Grateful Dead’

4th Of July Playlist

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4th Of July Playlist

Here’s my own personal 4th Of July Playlist. I’m sure there are songs you feel deserving of such an endeavor. If so, add them and let me know…

 

  1. Woody Guthrie: This Land Is Your Land http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaI5IRuS2aE
  2. Ray Charles: America The Beautiful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRUjr8EVgBg
  3. The Beach Boys: Spirit Of America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc0cvsSwvs0
  4. Grateful Dead: U.S. Blues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPBLfzTPCDc
  5. Chicago: Saturday In The Park https://youtu.be/PLiMy4NaSKc
  6. John Mellencamp: Pink Houses http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOfkpu6749w
  7. Los Lobos: One Time One Night https://youtu.be/cjq4y9EFLMA
  8. X: 4th Of July https://youtu.be/lhu807VUY24
  9. Aimee Mann: 4th Of July https://youtu.be/vOYI85anqmQ
  10. Bruce Springsteen: 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) https://youtu.be/KgFHM8HMbWQ
  11. Hair Original Cast: Don’t Put It Down https://youtu.be/_w2gyWE0M0k
  12. West Side Story Original Soundtrack: America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy6wo2wpT2k
  13. David Bowie: Young Americans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFudBQcplj4
  14. The Clash: I’m So Bored With The U.S.A. https://youtu.be/A13vj5vdlCU
  15. Devo: Freedom Of Choice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVGINIsLnqU
  16. Neil Diamond: America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3S7mlRYL-8
  17. Paul Simon: American Tune http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE3kKUEY5WU
  18. Johnny Cash: Ragged Old Flag http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbbGi3mTjCo
  19. Jimi Hendrix: The Star Spangled Banner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_3uHYd7pV0

 

Edited: July 4th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “If I Had My Way” by Peter, Paul and Mary

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “If I Had My Way” by Peter, Paul and Mary

They were the original prefab group, put together by their manager much in the same way that The Monkees were. But instead of a casting call, Albert Grossman knew exactly what he was looking for to form his folk group…two bearded guys (one on stand-up bass, one on guitar) and one woman, preferably a blonde, who could all sing. That’s how the folk trio of Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey & Mary Travers came to be. But unlike The Monkees who were ridiculed by many and spent years proving to their audience that they were the real thing, PP&M were welcomed with open arms right from the get-go.

After auditioning for the job of being Peter, Paul and Mary, the trio cut their teeth performing in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village in New York City. Not only did Peter and Paul write many of their biggest songs including “Puff The Magic Dragon,” “The Cruel War,” “Gone The Rainbow,” “Day Is Done” and “I Dig Rock ‘n’ Roll Music,” but they introduced a whole host of songwriters’ material to a new generation of music fans, including songs by Gordon Lightfoot (“Early Morning Rain”), John Denver (“Leaving On A Jet Plane”) and, most crucially, Bob Dylan (“Blowin’ In the Wind”), who not-coincidentally was also managed by Albert Grossman as well. The trio went on to record memorable versions of Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin,” “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “I Shall Be Released,” “Too Much Of Nothing” and “When The Ship Comes In.”

In 1963, Peter, Paul and Mary appeared at the March on Washington for equal rights, sharing the stage with Martin Luther King when he gave his famous I Have A Dream speech and performing their version of “If I Had A Hammer.” While they were already the darlings of the collegiate generation of folk fans who were also tuned into groups like The Kingston Trio and The Chad Mitchell Trio, that appearance also established them with the burgeoning counter-culture.

After scoring numerous hits, the trio split in 1970 to try their luck at solo careers, with Stookey composing and scoring the hit “Wedding Song (There Is Love),” which went on to become a standard played at millions of weddings each year. The group reformed in 1978 and resumed regular touring together again until Mary Travers died in September of 2009.

The original version of today’s Song of the Day by Eric Berman appeared on the trio’s self-titled debut album from 1962 which spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. With a story line drawn right from the Bible, the tale of Samson & Delilah has been fodder for numerous artists throughout the years (and under different names including “Samson & Delilah” and “Tear That Building Down”) including the Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, Ike & Tina Turner, and most notably by the Grateful Dead, who performed it as part of their regular repertoire for many years.

Edited: November 3rd, 2014

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Midnight Moonlight” by Old & In the Way

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Midnight Moonlight” by Old & In the Way

This happened 41 years ago the other day…

When not playing with The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia liked to dabble in side projects including stints with his own Jerry Garcia Band, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, gigging with Merle Saunders, recording with John Wales and guesting on albums by the likes of Ornette Coleman, David Bromberg, Brewer And Shipley, Bob Dylan, CSN&Y, Jefferson Airplane and many others.

But Garcia was also a member of a bona-fide “supergroup.” When most people hear the term “supergroup,” bands like Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominos, CSN&Y and The Traveling Wilbury’s come to mind.

Garcia’s supergroup was Old & In The Way, a bluegrass collective of great pedigree featuring Jerry Garcia on banjo and vocals, David Grisman on mandolin, Peter Rowan on guitar, Vassar Clements on fiddle and John Kahn on bass. (John Hartford sat in with the band before Clements came on board.)

Rowan and Grisman played together with ex-Byrd Clarence White in the bluegrass group Muleskinner, and also in the Elektra Records recording group, Earth Opera. Grisman also played with The Even Dozen Jug Band and guested on The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty album. Rowan and Clements were members of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, and John Kahn played with Muleskinner, Howard Wales and Garcia.

Garcia formed Old & In The Way in 1973 as a vehicle to play bluegrass banjo. The group grew out of living room jams between Garcia, Grisman and Rowan who all lived near each other in Marin County, California. Together they would gig around locally with John Kahn in tow and John Hartford on fiddle. After Hartford could not commit to a tour, the group called on Vassar Clements to take his place.

They were together for a total of nine months, and the Old & in the Way album was recorded on October 1st and 8th 1973 in front of an audience at The Boarding House in San Francisco.

Their one-off eponymously titled album was subsequently released on The Grateful Dead’s Round record label in 1975 featuring today’s Song of the Day by Eric Berman, which was penned by Peter Rowan. The album also included their bluegrass cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” a version of the Peter Rowan-penned New Riders’ tune “Panama Red,” and traditional tunes like the Delmore Brothers’ “Pig In A Pen” and Carter Stanley’s “White Dove.”

With great harmonies and instrumental interplay, Old & In The Way’s old timey, good-feeling vibe struck a chord with Grateful Dead heads, making it one of the best selling bluegrass albums of all time. And indeed, several songs from the album have gone on to become standards of the Bluegrass repertoire including “Midnight Moonlight, “Wild Horses” and the album’s title track. Even more so, today’s Song of the Day by Eric Berman became a standard of the Grateful Dead repertoire as well.

Garcia continued to record numerous records with David Grisman, including Not For Kids Only, one of the greatest children’s albums of all time, and two Old & In The Way albums were subsequently released featuring live recordings from the same gigs after Jerry Garcia’s death.

Last year, Grisman’s label finally got around to releasing all of the group’s recordings which consisted of two nights encompassing four sets of music in the order in which it happened, and it was all recorded 41 years ago this week.

Edited: October 9th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Easy To Slip” by Bob Weir

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I love the Grateful Dead, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Bob Weir. That might seem strange to say, since Weir was responsible for some of The Dead’s best-loved classics including “Estimated Prophet,” “Black Throated Wind,” “Jack Straw,” “Playing In The Band,” “Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Cassidy,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “The Music Never Stopped” and even a late-period entry like “Hell In A Bucket.”  More than that, Weir brought balance to the sound of the band, supplying the necessary ying to Jerry Garcia’s far superior yang.

While I truly like the above list of Weir songs, he was also responsible for some of The Grateful Dead’s lamest material, like the dreadful “Throwing Stones,” “Victim Or The Crime,” “Lazy Lightning,” “Looks Like Rain,” “Weather Report Suite,” “Lost Sailor/Saint Of Circumstance,” “I Need A Miracle” and “Picasso Moon.” On top of that, it is also hard to forgive his many years of over-singing, especially at the ending of songs in concert.

As far as his choices of covers go, Weir mostly got it right by introducing songs like “El Paso,” “Me & My Uncle,” “Me And Bobby McGee,” “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” “Mama Tried” and “Dark Hollow” into the Dead’s arsenal, however, you can also hold him accountable for many years’ worth of uniformly horrible version of “Little Red Rooster,” “Desolation Row,”  “Good Lovin’,” and “Wang Dang Doodle” as well.

Weir’s first solo album Ace from 1972 was basically a full-blown Grateful Dead record and introduced many of his finest tunes into the Dead’s repertoire. His second solo record, Heaven Help The Fool was released in 1978 during a break in Grateful Dead activity while drummer Mickey Hart recovered from a car accident. The record was produced by Keith Olsen, who also produced Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station album the previous year, and many of the same flaws appear on both records: slick and soulless production and song arrangements that ultimately hamper much of the top material within.

A bevy of top-shelf session musicians participated in the recording of the album, including Waddy Wachtel on guitar, David Foster on keyboards, Bill Champlin (from Sons Of Champlin) on keyboards, Mike Porcaro on bass and David Paich on keyboards (both from the band Toto), Tom Scott from The L.A. Express on woodwinds and former Elton John sidemen Nigel Olsson on drums and Dee Murray on bass, however their performances come off somewhat flawed by the many questionable production choices made by Weir and Olsen.

It’s a shame too, because if you can get past the bad disco of “Wrong Way Feelin’,” the synth-laden faux reggae of Smokey Robinson’s “I’ll Be Doggone,” and the generic background vocals on almost everything else, you’ll find a clutch of worthy tunes written by Weir and his longtime writing partner John Barlow that are well worth your consideration, especially the album’s sturdy title track, “Bombs Away” and “Salt Lake City” (which subsequently made it into the Dead’s repertoire).

Today’s Song Of The Day was written by Lowell George and originally appeared on Little Feat’s 1972 album Sailin’ Shoes. Lowell George would hop aboard the Grateful Dead bandwagon to produce their next studio album Shakedown Street in 1979.

Ever since Jerry Garcia left this mortal coil, Weir has become the de facto leader of The Dead leaving his excruciatingly awful imprint all over their doings.  It just goes to show that sometimes it’s better for bands to pack it in and rest on their laurels rather than tarnishing their good reputation by staying on the road long after their mojo has left the building.

Edited: September 9th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/2/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “The Promised Land” from Sunshine Daydream by Grateful Dead (from the film Sunshine Daydream, Veneta Oregon, 8/27/72)

I look all around me and see dead people…”

We’re in our local movie theater in Lincolnshire, Illinois waiting for the Third Annual – (Jerry Garcia’s Birthday) -Grateful Dead Meet-up At The Movies to begin. This year’s film is from footage that was shot at a benefit show for the Springfield Creamery (makers of Yogurt) in Veneta Oregon on August 27, 1972.

The superb footage in this film is a treat for the eyes …where has this footage been for 41 years?

The film captures the band basking in the afterglow of their triumphant Europe ’72 tour from the previous April and May where they introduced a whole host of new classics into their repertoire. Most of the songs performed in the film turned up the classic trio of 1972 albums Europe ’72, Garcia (his first solo record), and Bob Weir’s Ace. Only about half of the show is represented by video in the movie, but what is there is terrific to watch.

It’s great to see such great footage of the Dead at the height of their powers with the classic lineup Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzman, and Keith & Donna Godchaux, still settling down as a unit, in the wake of the departure of founding member Ron ‘Pig Pen’ McKernan from the group. There is very little footage of Keith and Donna Godchaux in the film. Although heard on the soundtrack, neither of them show up on the screen until well after an hour has lapsed.

The show took place on a blazingly hot August afternoon where temperatures were over 100 degrees, and indeed themes of dire heat and water conservation play as a backdrop to footage. It doesn’t stop Jerry and company from raising the temperature from the get-go on a rollicking concert-opening version of Chuck Berry’s “The Promised Land.”

Jerry, Bob and Phil are all in very strong voice throughout the show, harmonizing together on a terrific “Jack Straw.” Donna Godchaux shows up on stage with the band late in the film for a tender Jerry-led version of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home.” There’s also great footage of Bill Kreutzman throughout the film playing the drums looking like a total biker dude.

You really get a great sense of the interplay between Garcia and Weir in the film, particularly watching Weir drive Jerry’s soloing along with his rhythm playing.  There’s so much improvisational electricity between Garcia and Weir on “Bird Song,” and they musically challenge each other on a rousing performance of “China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider,” as the band cooks up their own kind of prog-rock-psych-jazz brew.

And there are lots of naked dancing hippies!

Did I mention the naked dancing hippies? I love the classic concert footage of 20,000 hippies getting down to the music. (It’s a scene I only wish would reproduce itself this weekend at Lollapalooza.) There are also great photos and some vintage footage of many from the Dead’s inner circle including Owsley Stanley (Bear), SF legend Wavy Gravy (who does his interview in the reclining position), tour manager  John Cutler, Rock Skully, most of their crew, and many others.

Like 1974’s The Grateful Dead Movie, psychedelic visuals accompany the trippiest parts of the music, and in this concert it’s the epic 31 minute “Dark Star.” I would gladly forgo the psychedelic visuals in Sunshine Daydream in favor of the rest of the footage of Jerry, Bob and Phil improvising together. You can actually see how intently they listen to each other as they are playing.

The film and the full concert are being released in September in several different formats through Rhino Records. Here’s a link to www.dead.net for more information about the Sunshine Daydream film and soundtrack, plus the full track listing of show:

1. Introduction [4:01]

2. Promised Land [3:24]

3. Sugaree [7:30]

4. Me And My Uncle [3:16]

5. Deal [4:55]

6. Black-Throated Wind [7:01]

7. China Cat Sunflower> [7:58]

8. I Know You Rider [7:03]

9. Mexicali Blues [3:49]

10. Bertha [5:59]

11. Playing In The Band [19:57]

12. He’s Gone [9:32]

13. Jack Straw [5:06]

14. Bird Song [13:17]

15. Greatest Story Ever Told [5:36]

16. Dark Star [31:28]

17. El Paso [5:04]

18. Sing Me Back Home [10:51]

19. Sugar Magnolia [8:45]

20. Casey Jones [6:25]

21. One More Saturday Night [5:03]

Edited: August 2nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/27/13

45 adapterpersuasionsSong Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Lumpy Gravy” by The Persuasions

From Gospel to The Grateful Dead, The Persuasions are an a capella group whose musical tastes know no boundaries.

The group’s five original members, Jerry Lawson, Jesse “Sweet Joe” Russell, Jayotis Washington, Herbert “Toubo” Rhoad, and bass vocalist Jimmy “Bro” Hayes began singing on the street corners of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn during the early 1960s. Jerry Lawson was their arranger, lead singer and producer for most of their career until his departure in 2003.

Their big break came in 1968, when Stan Krause, who owned Stan’s Square Record Store in New Jersey, played a concert recording of theirs over the telephone to his friend, Frank Zappa. Zappa, being a doo wop aficionado, was intrigued enough to fly them out to LA where he produced their 1969 debut album A Capella for his Bizarre/Straight record label.

Over the years, the group recorded 26 albums for numerous labels including Zappa’s Bizarre/Straight, Capitol, MCA, A&M, Elektra, Flying Fish, Rounder, Earthbeat, Chesky and Grateful Dead Records. Their background vocals grace albums by artists as far flung as Joni Mitchell, The Grateful Dead, Stevie Wonder, Don McLean, Phoebe Snow, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli and a whole host of others.

By way of thanks for producing their debut record, The Persuasions recorded the album Frankly A Capella in 2000. On the album, Zappa classics from early and late in his career get the Persuasions treatment including a capella versions of “Electric Aunt Jemimah,” “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” “Cheap Thrills,” “Love Of My Life,” “You Are What You Is,” “Hotplate Heaven At The Green Hotel,” and “Anyway The Wind Blows.” The album also includes cameos by Zappa sidemen Bruce Fowler, Bobby Martin and Mike Keneally. Today’s Song Of The Day is a cover of “Lumpy Gravy” which originally appeared as the title track for Frank Zappa’s 1968 album Lumpy Gravy.

The group followed their Zappa tribute album with one for The Grateful Dead called Might As Well: The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead where they took on the Dead classics “Bertha,” “Here Comes Sunshine,” “Must Have Been The Roses,” “Ship Of Fools,” “Greatest Story Ever Told” and several others.

They’ve also recorded tribute albums to The Beatles featuring versions of “Eight Days A Week,” “Love Me Do,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Come Together,” and U2 including “Even Better Than The Real Thing,” “One,” “Angel Of Harlem,” “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Pride (In The Name Of Love).”

The group’s baritone, Herbert “Toubo” Rhoad died in 1988 while on tour, and Jerry Lawson left their ranks in 2004; however the band still continues to perform today. The Persuasions were a huge influence on the modern vocal groups, Take 6, The Nylons and Boyz II Men, and if ever a group deserves to be in heavily flawed Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall Of Fame, it’s The Persuasions.

Edited: July 27th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/29/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Midnight Moonlight” by Old & In The Way

When not playing with The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia liked to dabble in side projects including stints with his own Jerry Garcia Band, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, gigging with Merle Saunders, recording with John Wales and guesting on albums by the likes of Ornette Coleman, David Bromberg, Brewer And Shipley, Bob Dylan, CSN&Y, Jefferson Airplane and many others.

But Garcia was also a member of a bona-fide “supergroup.”

When most people hear the term “supergroup,” bands like Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominos, CSN&Y and The Traveling Wilbury’s come to mind.

Garcia’s supergroup was Old & In The Way, a bluegrass collective of great pedigree featuring Jerry Garcia on banjo and vocals, David Grisman on mandolin, Peter Rowan on guitar, Vassar Clements on fiddle and John Kahn on bass. (John Hartford sat in with the band before Clements came on board.)

Rowan and Grisman played together with ex-Byrd Clarence White in the bluegrass group Muleskinner, and also in the group Earth Opera.  Grisman also played with The Even Dozen Jug Band and guested on The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty album. Rowan and Clements were members of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys, and John Kahn played with Muleskinner, Howard Wales and Garcia.

Garcia formed Old & In The Way in 1973 as a vehicle to play bluegrass banjo. The group grew out of living room jams between Garcia, Grisman and Rowan who all lived near each other in Marin County, California. Together they would gig around locally with John Kahn in tow and John Hartford on fiddle. After Hartford could not commit to a tour, the group called on Vassar Clements to take his place.

They were together for a total of nine months, and the Old & In The Way album was recorded in October of 1973 in front of an audience at The Boarding House in San Francisco, where most of the group’s discography was recorded.

Their one-off eponymously titled album was subsequently released on The Grateful Dead’s Round record label in 1975 featuring today’s Song Of the Day, which was penned by Peter Rowan. The album also included their bluegrass cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” a version of the Peter Rowan-penned New Riders’ tune “Panama Red,” and traditional tunes like the Delmore Brothers’ “Pig In A Pen” and Carter Stanley’s “White Dove.”

With great harmonies and instrumental interplay, Old & In The Way’s old timey, good-feeling vibe struck a chord with Grateful Dead heads, making it one of the best selling bluegrass albums of all time. And indeed, several songs from the album have gone on to become standards of the Bluegrass repertoire including today’s Song Of The Day, “Wild Horses” and the album’s title track, “Old & In The Way.”

Garcia continued to record numerous records with David Grisman, including Not For Kids Only, one of the greatest children’s albums of all time, and two Old & In The Way albums were subsequently released featuring live recordings from the same gigs after Jerry Garcia’s death.

Edited: June 28th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 4/22/13

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Walkin’ The Dog” by Grateful Dead/Record Store Day Recap

I’m a dyed in the wool, straight up record collector. I’ve been collecting records for more than 40 years and my thirst for music is pretty much insatiable.

Today, I got totally played on by “the man.” I’m talking about “the man” who presses the records I buy. The man that I help keep relevant by going back to the tap and sipping in new music in all different formats. It gives me pleasure and enjoyment.

By now, record labels fully how to push record collector buttons to get me back into the record store. They’ve turned record buying into a holiday, an event that I literally totally buy into. All the buzz words are fully at play here: “limited edition,” “180 gram,” “colored vinyl,” “MONO,” “previously unreleased,” I’m a total sucker for all of the above. It’s much more than my love for the music; it’s also the appreciation of great sounding physical product.

So, Record Store Day (RSD) comes twice a year, once in April, and once on Black Friday in November. The Black Friday RSD is a recent addition, and judging by the turnout last November, is here to stay. Today was the seventh RSD, and while this is only the fourth I’ve participated in, I do find myself getting exciting, and yes sometimes a little apprehensive, about getting the titles I’m interested in as I begin to drink in the hype well in advance of RSD.

I go to this store in Barrington, Illinois called Rainbow Records. This morning, I got there at 8:15 and found my place in line was already at 13. The store is just the kind of record store I like, a great selection of used records at reasonable (for retail) prices, and a well-curated selection of new releases by longtime owner, John Thominet. Thominet is the fifth owner of Rainbow which has been around since the 1970s. Thominet is also the kind of guy who fosters community around him which breeds a great atmosphere to hang out in.

My wife, who tolerates all of this nonsense (and has done so for years), gamely went with me for the ride although she stayed in the car where it was warm and enjoyed the parade of males before her, all of paunch and receding hairlines, including of course, me in line. However, there were plenty of younger people in line as well. It was a cool enough group of people. We all swapped war stories about record collection and past RSD and what we were hoping to add to our collections.

I did very well. I was most interested in obtaining the Grateful Dead’s 2 LP Rare Cuts & Oddities 1966. The album was originally released over ten years ago through the band’s distribution channel as a limited edition CD only, and it has long been out of print. I love 1966 Grateful Dead. Garcia was a much different guitar player back then. He was a far more conventional and played much harder then, but boy he sure could ramble. It was far different than the type of fluid/noodling kind of jamming he ended up doing. The material on this album is all stellar too. Lots of organ-drenched covers including rare studio demos and alternate takes of “Good Lovin,” “Walking The Dog,” “Silver Threads And Golden Needles,” and very early versions of “Not Fade Away” and “Promised Land” (with Jerry on vocals instead of Bob)that never ever left their repertoire.

I also picked up a couple of the Miles Davis reissues today. I originally purchased most of my Miles vinyl in college during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s when I worked in record stores. At the time they were only selling re-channeled fake stereo pressings of the albums Milestones and Round About Midnight. It never really bothered me; it was the only way I knew the records until they were properly reissued on CD many years later. So today, I picked up MONO 180g individually numbered pressings of both records. I listened to them in their entirety this afternoon at a pretty nice volume and, I’m here to say, that these records have never sounded better. The bass on this pressing is so vivid, it generates an energy that just couldn’t be felt on my old pressings of these two classic albums.

I also got several other albums by the likes of The White Stripes (Elephant), Flaming Lips (Zaireeka), Shuggie Otis (Introducing) and also some cool singles by Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd.

Yup, I got played by “the man.” I took the bait like catnip, and I’m happy I did. I’ll write about some of these other records as I ingest them, so stay tuned.

Edited: April 22nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 2/9/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Catfish John” by Jerry Garcia Band

It was a tale of two Jerries.

By 1980 Jerry Garcia had his day job with the Grateful Dead. During that year, the band released the somewhat weak studio album, Go To Heaven, and took to the road to promote it. While the 1979-1980 shows generally found the band in excellent form, in order to keep things interesting for the fans and themselves, they performed some very special shows.

They kicked off their 15th anniversary celebration (1965-1980) with residencies at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and at The Warfield Theater in San Francisco. The shows revived the format of an acoustic first set followed by an electric second set, for the first time since the early 1970s. For the most part, the acoustic sets were uniform ally superb, while the electric sets were workmanlike, as can be evidenced by the acoustic live album Reckoning and the electric Dead Set that were released to commemorate the event.

During breaks in the Dead’s touring schedule, Jerry Garcia toured with the Jerry Garcia Band playing small theaters around the U.S. with Ozzie Ahlers on keyboards, John Kahn on bass and Johnny De Foncesca on drums. It was during the JGB shows that Garcia’s enthusiasm really showed through,  as evidenced by this performance from the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey from March 1, 1980, that has just been released as part of the first volume in the newly launched Garcia Live series.

With the JGB (and in this particular show), Garcia had the freedom to stretch out and choose material that really turned him on, including tunes from the Motown songbook (“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”), songs by Bob Dylan “Simple Twist Of Fate,” The Beatles (“Dear Prudence”),  Jimmy Cliff (“The Harder They Come,” “Sitting In Limbo”), Elvis Presley (via Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup) “That’s All Right” and even Irving Berlin (“Russian Lullaby”).

The JGB repertoire for this particular show also included other Garcia related tunes including the Grateful Dead staples “Deal” and “Sugaree,” solo tracks like “Mission In The Rain,” and a thoroughly enjoyable romp through  the Old And In The Way favorite “Midnight Moonlight.”

Today’s Song Of The Day is “Catfish John,” which was written by Bob McDill and Allen Reynolds and was originally recorded by country singer Johnny Russell in 1972. Garcia originally recorded the song for his 1976 album Reflections.

The Capitol Theater in Passaic New Jersey was partially run by the promoter John Scher, who would come out at the beginning of each show to introduce the band. Hearing his introduction at the beginning of the show (and on the CD) brings back great memories of a great venue. It was pretty much standard practice that the shows at the venue would be filmed and recorded, leaving behind a treasure trove of great ‘70s and ‘80s concerts. Some of the notable artists who played the Capitol included Springsteen, The Who, The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones. The theater hosted shows between 1971 and 1989. If memory serves me right…and it doesn’t always…I think I was at this JGB Capitol Theater show…

And here’s the whole show!

Edited: February 8th, 2013

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 1/4/13

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “If I Had My Way” by Peter, Paul and Mary

They were the original prefab group, put together by their manager much in the same way that The Monkees were. But instead of a casting call, Albert Grossman knew exactly what he was looking for to form his folk group…two bearded guys (one on stand-up bass, one on guitar) and one woman, preferably a blonde, who could all sing. That’s how the folk trio of Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey & Mary Travers came to be. But unlike The Monkees who were ridiculed by many and spent years proving to their audience that they were the real thing, PP&M were welcomed with open arms right from the get-go.

After auditioning for the job of being Peter, Paul and Mary, the trio cut their teeth performing in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village in New York City. Not only did Peter and Paul write many of their biggest songs including “Puff The Magic Dragon,” “The Cruel War,” “Gone The Rainbow,” “Day Is Done” and “I Dig Rock ‘n’ Roll Music,” but they introduced a whole host of songwriters’ material to a new generation of music fans, including songs by Gordon Lightfoot (“Early Morning Rain”), John Denver (“Leaving On A Jet Plane”) and, most crucially, Bob Dylan (“Blowin’ In the Wind”), who not-coincidentally was also managed by Albert Grossman. The trio went on to record memorable versions of Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin,” “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “I Shall Be Released,” “Too Much Of Nothing” and “When The Ship Comes In.”

In 1963, Peter, Paul and Mary appeared at the Equal Rights March On Washington, sharing the stage with Martin Luther King when he gave his famous I Have A Dream speech and performing their version of “If I Had A Hammer.” While they were already the darlings of the collegiate generation of folk fans who were also tuned into groups like The Kingston Trio and The Chad Mitchell Trio, that appearance also established them with the burgeoning counter-culture.

After scoring numerous hits, the trio split in 1970 to try their luck at solo careers, with Stookey composing and scoring the hit “Wedding Song (There Is Love),” which went on to become a standard played at millions of weddings each year. The group reformed in 1978 and resumed regular touring together again until Mary Travers died in September of 2009.
The original version of today’s Song Of The Day appeared on the trio’s self-titled debut album from 1962 which spent seven weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. With a story line drawn right from the Bible, the tale of Samson & Delilah has been fodder for numerous artists throughout the years (and under different names including “Samson & Delilah” and “Tear That Building Down”) including the Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, Ike & Tina Turner, and most notably by the Grateful Dead, who performed it as part of their regular repertoire for many years.

But, as much as I love the good ol’ Grateful Dead’s version, it doesn’t hold a candle to this 1967 live version from Japan. For years, this version was available on a Japanese-only vinyl release, until late last month when Rhino Records finally got around to releasing the whole concert on an expanded 2-CD set called “Live In Japan 1967”.

Edited: January 3rd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10/1/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Someday Baby” by Merle Saunders, Jerry Garcia, John Kahn & Bill Vitt

Last week I posted a deservedly less than positive Song Of The Day critiquing the music from the Dead’s 18-CD “Spring 1990” box set…and I heard plenty about my comments from lots of my Deadhead friends. So, I thought I’d make it up to them with some pre-Jerry Garcia Band, JGB from the Keystone in San Francisco. Back in 1973, Jerry Garcia and Merle Saunders could be found multiple nights at the club playing low-key gigs. It was an opportunity for Garcia to stretch out musically, playing mostly covers with musicians other than The Grateful Dead. On nights when he wasn’t on the road with The Dead or playing at The Keystone with Merle, he would also show up at the club with his other band, the equally great Bluegrass unit, “Old And In The Way.” Here we have the boys stretching out on a high-energy Lightning Hopkins original, from the newly released 4-CD box set called “Keystone Companions” featuring the complete 1973 Keystone recordings. If you want to hear a fully-engaged Jerry Garcia, look no further than these recordings!

Edited: September 30th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/28/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Loser” by Grateful Dead

The latest mammoth box from the Grateful Dead archives is “Spring 1990” featuring 18 discs spanning six full shows between March and April 1990. If you believe the powers that be at Dead.net, the Spring 1990 tour was “consistently great, where every show is excellent, not a dud in the bunch.” Now I saw my share of Dead shows and have pretty much purchased everything Dead.net has foisted in my direction, including last year’s exceptional 73 CD “Europe ‘72” box set, but for this one, I didn’t even nibble. I saw them in 1990 and like most of the shows from the 1990s; Jerry was phoning it in from la-la land while Brent Mydland attempted to take up the slack, failing miserably. So when the archive decided to release a more manageably priced 2-CD retail edition called “Spring 1990 – So Glad You Made It,” I decided to give it a try, figuring that I’d get the best performances from the big box. If that is the case, the box set must be one dismal listening experience. Even at a modest two discs, this set exemplifies all that was wrong with the Dead circa 1990: Jerry’s ravaged voice is buried in the mix to cover its shortcomings, Mydland’s also ravaged vocals supporting Jerry’s and his endless noodling on an annoying electronic keyboard supposedly for that “spacey feel,” the dual drumming of Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman plodding away and dragging every song down to a crawl, Weir at his most annoying especially on the “ad lib” vocals that end many of his songs, Phil Lesh and his sub-sonic bass blasts strategically placed to stir the crowd, and a host of cover tunes rather than the material that made them legends in the first place. Sure, Jerry could still play guitar and he shines on a few of the tracks, including this one and “Bird Song,” but this sad state of affairs makes me feel sorry for those who parted with their hard-earned $200.00 to buy the full set…

Edited: September 27th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 5/6/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Row Jimmy” by Grateful Dead

While most Deadheads would agree that 1972 was a key year for the band due to the amount of then-new material added to the mix now considered standards, as evidenced on last year’s essential “Complete Europe ’72″ mammoth box set release. I too agree, but I really love the 1973-74 shows and the tracks from “Wake Of The Flood” and “From The Mars Hotel” that were entered into the band’s canon which brings us to this great Jerry track originally from “Wake.” Even though this is a 1978 version of the song, the reason I chose it is that I received my “Dave’s Picks Volume 2″ subscription CD in the mail today featuring a show from Dillon Stadium in Hartford, CT from July of 1974. Its arrival coincided with a 3-hour ride each way downstate to the University Of Illinois to see my daughter perform at Superstate with her High School Band. Timing is everything, so I took the opportunity to spin the show which has an interesting set list with nice early versions of the “Mars Hotel” songs played at much quicker tempos that the band ultimately settled upon and many then-current “Wake” tracks. The release is somewhat patchy which is of some concern because the folks at Rhino keep going to the well for releases and I’m beginning to wonder if they’ve begun to hit bottom for some of the key tour years for the Dead. Nevertheless, what was good on the set was great as long as you can put up with the numerous lyrical flubs and mistakes the band made on this show. I guess that’s part of the charm of these releases anyway…

Edited: May 5th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 2/3/12

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Russian Lullaby” by Jerry Garcia

Like his first solo album, Jerry Garcia’s second solo album was plainly title “Garcia.” When promo copies were shipped to reviewers upon its release in 1974, the cover came with a “Compliments” sticker on it and reviewers believed the record was titled “Compliments Of Garcia,” hence the record became known by that title. When it was re-released on CD in the 1990s, the title was officially changed to “Compliments.” I always liked going to see the Jerry Garcia Band in concert more than seeing the Dead. While I love the Dead repertoire, a Garcia show always promised a more interesting set of material featuring many covers that you wouldn’t think would be associated with the lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead. “Russian Lullaby,” written by Irving Berlin, was one of them. The song was written in 1927 and performed at the opening of The Roxy Theater in New York on March 11, 1927. The clarinet on this track was played by none other than Geoff Muldaur.

Edited: February 3rd, 2012

Song Of The Day – 12/10/11

 

 

 

 

 

Song Of The Day – “The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion) by Grateful Dead

One of the many joys of listening to the “Complete Europe ’72″ box set by Grateful Dead has been the many versions of this Pigpen tune. Pig is at his soulful best on this tune…and for a guy who was ailing and on his last tour with the band, his performances of this song and the many others are nothing short of top notch. Why this Ron McKernan classic never made it to a proper Grateful Dead album is way beyond me…

Edited: December 9th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 9/28/11

Song Of The Day – “Rain And Snow” by Obray Ramsey

The Grateful Dead’s “Cold Rain And Snow” was based on Ramsey’s version of this traditional favorite. Ramsey was a banjo playing extraordinaire who worked with his cousin Byard Ray in the duo Ray and Ramsey. He was also a member of the group White Lightnin’. While hardly a household name, he did have a song, “Ballad Of Obray Ramsey,” named after him by Matthew’s Southern Comfort.

Edited: September 28th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 7/28/11

Song Of The Day – “Turn On Your Love Light” by Bobby “Blue” Bland

Drawing on Soul, Gospel, Big Band and the Blues, Bobby Bland has one of the most expressive voices in R’n’B. The meat of his recorded output was released on the Duke record label between 1952 and 1972. This 1961 classic later became a staple of Grateful Dead shows in the capable hands of “Pigpen” Ron McKernan.

Edited: July 28th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 3/24/11

Song Of The Day – “Easy Wind” by Grateful Dead

Here’s some musical comfort food for you from the good ol’ Grateful Dead featuring the late great “Pigpen” Ron McKernan on vocals.  Originally from their exceptional “Workingman’s Dead” album, this is a funky live version from 1970 recorded somewhere in Canada probably along the “Festival Express.”

Edited: March 24th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 2/24/11

Song Of the Day – “Catfish John” by Grateful Dead

Here we have the Grateful Dead studio outtake version of “Catfish John” from the 1976 sessions for their album “Terrapin Station.” This song was originally recorded by the Jerry Garcia Band and released on their 1976 album “Reflections.” This version has a more upbeat feel and features a solo Jerry vocal rather than the Jerry/Donna Godchaux vocal on “Reflections,” reflecting the commercial direction producer Keith Olsen unsuccessfully attempted with the Grateful Dead. You can lead a horse to water…

Edited: February 24th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 1/20/11

Song Of The Day – “El Paso” by Marty Robbins

Back in 1959, America was having a love affair with the Wild West with shows like “Gunsmoke” and “The Riflemen” lighting up millions of TV screens. Marty Robbins was a singer/songwriter who had dabbled in Rockabilly, Pop and Country recordings. It was against this backdrop that Robbins released the album “Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs” featuring this self-penned classic featuring the great guitar work of Grady Martin and background vocals by The Glaser Brothers.  It was easily twice as long as any other record to hit the radio airwaves, yet it managed to top both the Pop and Country charts.  Later on, it was widely covered by groups like X, Meat Puppets and the Grateful Dead who made it a staple of their concert sets from the early 1970s on. Robbins, a race car enthusiast, went on to place 47 records in the Top Ten of the Country charts and to record several more albums of Gunfighter Ballads before his death in 1982 at the age of 57.

 

 

 

 

Play: “El Paso” by Marty Robbins

Edited: January 20th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 12/31/10 – New Year’s Eve

Song Of The Day 12-31-10 – “And We Bid You Goodnight” by Grateful Dead

As we get ready to put another year to rest, what better way to send you all off than with this standard performed by Grateful Dead.  They had been closing shows with this song for over 25 years by the time of this 1989 performance. Many a-New Year’s Eve was spent in my youth listening to the Grateful Dead broadcasting from the West Coast on the radio as our own New Year’s Eve parties were beginning to wind down on the East Coast. Jerry’s gone…but not forgotten…2010 is gone…and in many cases…better forgotten…”And We Bid You Goodnight.”

Edited: December 30th, 2010