Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jerry Garcia Wearing Zubaz

Jerry Garcia Wearing Zubaz

Jerry Garcia wearing Zubaz

Jerry Garcia wearing Zubaz

Jerry Garcia wearing Zubaz.

For whatever reason, it happened. While playing at Soldier's Field in 92 or 93, Jerry traded in his trademark black sweats for a pair of Chicago Bears Zubaz. Great look.

And, Mickey Hart:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Head Dead Head

5 Grateful Dead Songs You Should Know and Love 

 In preparation for his 27th annual Grateful Dead marathon, Head Deadhead David Gans wrote a list of the 5 Grateful Dead songs you should know. An interesting premise, as it is not his 5 favorite, or 5 best performances, etc., but the 5 tunes any person should be familiar with by the band. Good fodder for discussion. 

David Gans. Photo by Jamie Soja

Gans may just be the preeminent Grateful Dead scholar in the cosmos, and he certainly has listened to the band more extensively than myself and just about anyone except the most devout heads. But these lists are meant to stimulate discussion, and this blog is Walk Like a Giant, so Gans is wrong and I'll tell you why. 

First, Gans' list:

David Gans' 5 Grateful Dead Songs You Should Know
  1. "Dark Star" (Live Dead) – The most important and unique aspect of the Grateful Dead's music is their collective improvisation. This song has two verses and a two-line "chorus," but what happened in between the words could take you from a whisper to a scream, through gardens and galaxies. They played it differently every time.
  2. "Shakedown Street" (Dick's Picks vol 5) – The band's "disco" song, introduced in 1978. A look into the Dead culture, set to a powerful dance groove.
  3. "Truckin'" (American Beauty) – the Dead's own story, sung to a swingin' shuffle beat. They thought it was "a long, strange trip" in 1970, and that was only five years in!
  4. "Playing in the Band" (Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack) – A ten-beat musical phrase borrowed from Alla Rakha, developed by Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist Bob Weir into a rocking philosophical musing on the act of making music. Started out small, but over time the jam in the middle of the song grew into one of the band's most magnificent vehicles for exploration.
  5. "Turn On Your Love Light" (Live Dead) – In the beginning, the Grateful Dead were fronted by Ron 'Pigpen" McKernan, a hard-drinking bluesman who prowled the stage and whipped audiences into a randy frenzy with his lascivious stories. Pigpen died in 1973. The Dead changed their style and carried on, but he was missed!

While I agree that everyone should know Dark Star, as it was the Dead's magnum opus, the problem is that it is a tune that is difficult to know. Around the 2 minutes of verses and chorus there was typically about 20 minutes or so of jams, each quite distinct. It's a song you really have to sink your teeth into, but if you listen to a few different versions from different eras, you'll get the idea. So Dark Star is a keeper.

Shakedown Street is a great tune, and one of the Dead's more accessible, upbeat, and fun tunes. But compared to others, not one you should know. Feels like it's being included just because it is a different sound from a different era, not because it is essential. Sorry Gans.

Truckin' is probably the best known Dead song, and a great one at that. Some bluesy riffin, and includes classic Robert Hunter storytelling, in this case the story of the band themselves. It's a keeper.

 Playing in the Band? No, no, no. First of all, we've already got the jam tune. Although more upbeat and less out there, this tune was all about the jams and pales in comparison to Dark Star.The main riff of the song, the "Main Ten" jam, is excellent, and was a nice tension builder. But the lyrics are Bob Weir not quite at his cheesiest, but certainly close, and give me little idea of what it's actually like to be making music. Does not make the cut.

Although we've already got a bluesy number in Truckin', it's hard to argue against Lovelight. This was the early Dead show stopper, and Pigpen's defining song. To truly know the Dead, you have to know Pigpen, and this sums it up better than any other single tune.

So, if you're keeping score at home, Gans scored 3 out of 5. Not too bad, although at 60%, not a passing grade. So what 2 tunes are more essential for all to know? 

In my mind, China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider count as one song, as the 2 were always paired together (starting around '71?) as a seamless piece of music.This musical suite might sum up the Dead better than anything else. First, in China Cat you've got the intricate flowing psychedelia, with melodic and cosmic jams. In Rider, you've got a classic Americana folk song that shows the roots of the band, and how they updated that genre into their own language. The two songs together meld the weird with the traditional, the experimental with standard, the cosmic with the organic. It's like a perfect psychedelic trip contained in 15 minutes. Check it out!


Terrapin Station is a song that is tough to put into words, but as far as the Dead are concerned, it's got it all. It starts out with the bands folky roots, and moves to space prog, with a labyrinth like jam at the end. It features some archetypal and cosmic storytelling, that is in complete synchronicity with the music, just as it was written.This is the song, and anthem, that would come to define the band in the second half of their career, as the Dark Star continued to grow dim. Touch it!

So that would make my top five Dead tunes to know:

1. Dark Star
2. Truckin'
3. Lovelight
4. China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider
5. Terrapin Station

You can disagree, but just like David Gans, you'd be wrong.

Finally, here's film on the hippie scene in San Francisco from 1967 featuring the Grateful Dead. A few choice quotes: 

"In Haight Ashbury, the doors are for letting people in, not keeping them live in a universe of your own creation."

Also, few video snippets of the band from 1968, and a Garcia interview from 1967.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ziggy Played Guitar


Seems only logical that Spock would be a fan of the Allman Bros.

Allman Brothers Band
Lakeside Amphitheatre
Darien Lake, NY

Disc 1:
Don't Want You No More >
It's Not My Cross To Bear
Ain't Wastin' Time No More
Ramblin' Man, Good Clean Fun
Hoochie Coochie Man
Tombstone Eyes, Stand Back
Disc 2:
In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed
I Know I Will Leave Here
Stormy Monday, End Of The Line
No One To Run With
Disc 3:
Back Where It All Begins
encores: Blue Sky
Dreams, Whipping Post
Probably Thom Yorke too.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Decadent and Depraved

The Rolling Stones, Cocksucker Blues

The unreleased and controversial documentary of the Stones made while touring in support of Exile on Main Street. Life on the road with the Stones, groupies, drugs, TV's getting tossed off balconies, etc. The title comes from a song of the same name, also known as Schoolboy Blues, and includes rather subtle lyrics:

Oh where can I get my cock sucked?  
Where can I get my ass fucked?
I ain't got no money,  
But I know where to put it every time

I'm a lonesome schoolboy in your town  
I'm a lonesome schoolboy

Stay classy, Mick. 
The Stones didn't want the film released, as particularly following the debacle at Altamont they felt it made them look like idiots. And it does, but that's why we love them, right? It's entertaining, if a bit uncomfortable at times. Here it is, what they've been celebrated for, taking it to the extreme, and maybe the dark side isn't just some fun little game anymore. And this is the point where I say "It's only rock n' roll, but I like it," right? Musically and artistically, it was all downhill from here.


Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill
I saw things getting out of hand
I guess they always will

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kind Tune Anniversary

Grateful Dead, Eyes of the World

Forty years ago today, the Grateful Dead debuted Eyes of the World, along with six other original first timers. Wake of the Flood would be released in September of 73, about 3 years since their previous studio album, American Beauty. While Garcia had released his first (self-titled) solo album in 72, he obviously had some tunes in the can. Amazing thing about Eyes, it didn't need any fine tuning, and they jump right in with a 19 minute monster that flows into another debut, China Doll. These two were paired a number of time over the next few years. The first two versions of this tune that I loved are drastically different: the one from Without a Net featuring Branford Marsalis on sax, and the space jazz version from One from the Vault. Both versions demonstrate how the song changed with the band over the years, fitting perfectly into whatever style they found themselves to be in at the moment. 

1: Promised, Row Jimmy, B. T. Wind, Deal, Me & My Uncle, Sugaree, L. L. Rain, Loose Lucy, Mexicali, B. E. Women, El Paso, H. C. Sunshine, Playin
2: China Cat> I Know You Rider, Jack Straw, TLEO, Truckin> Eyes> China Doll, Big River, Ramble On, Box Of Rain, Wave That Flag, Sugar Magnolia, Uncle John, Around E: Casey Jones
"Beer Barrel Polka" tuning before "Mexicali" - first "China Doll" - first "Eyes" - first "H. C. Sunshine" - first "Loose Lucy" - first "TLEO" - first "Row Jimmy" - first "Wave That Flag"

Note that the track list is a little messed up on that link, with Eyes actually being labeled as China Doll. Also, Wave That Flag is the early version of US Blues. 

Here's a fine version of the tune from the Grateful Dead Movie, audio of which was also included on the So Many Roads box set.

Here's a version with Branford:

And here's an excellent pro-shot video version of the tune that opened the first set at Giant's Stadium in 91:

The Stereo Types




Friday, February 8, 2013

El Gato Con Botas


Allman Brothers 1996

 After being the biggest band in America for a few years in the 70's, the Allman Bros wallowed away in Southern rock star cliche and substance abuse for several years. In the mid 90's, they enjoyed a resurgence after Warren Haynes and Allen Woody joined the group. Warren certainly is no Duane, but he's no slouch either, and he did an excellent job contributing vocals and original songs to the band. Woody is a beast of a man. Legend had it he would eat bass guitars for breakfast. There's no denying Berry Oakley's greatness, but not knowing much about him, and having witnessed the power and glory of Woody up close, it is hard to imagine a better Allman's bass player than Woody. While it's arguable who was a better, certainly this lineup was the 2nd greatest version of the Allmans, making them relevant again. Unfortunately Dickey couldn't hold his shit together, and while the current lineup with Derek Trucks and Oteil Burbridge might be the most musically competent, they are certainly well past the peak. But that's neither here nor there. What is here are a couple great shows from this great incarnation of the Bros.

One of my favorite things about Allmans shows post-95 were the St. Stephen jams they would bust out, usually in the middle of a Liz Reed, Jessica, or other instrumental tunes, following the drums, with Woody leading them into it with a bass jam. It seemed sometimes they'd riff around on other tunes like Dark Star and Lovelight as well. Certainly, it was the ultimate tip of the hat to the Grateful Dead, and St. Stephen was such a fitting way to do it. Unexpectedly, in the middle of an Allman's show, you'd be sitting on the lawn during drums, tripping your face off, freaked out by the gnarly biker dude to your left and the space cadet hippie to your right, thinking it might be time to go home, then you hear something familiar: what is that melody, could it be, it can't be, holy shit I think it is!!!!! For Deadheads like me, the wounds were still fresh from Garcia's passing in '95, and the Allmans got what it was all about for us. It was an acknowledgement of the loss, and the greatness of the music. The perfect song choice, the lyrics really say it all:

Saint Stephen will remain
All he's lost he shall regain
Seashore washed by the suds and the foam
Been here so long he's got to calling it home

And Woody would be there in the middle of it all, thumping away, looking as though he had just been released from a cage, yet still on chains to prevent this beast from tearing the heads of folks in the front row, who were being drenched with his drool. So enjoy these Allman's shows as a tribute to another great beast of a man, Allen Woody.

Allman Brothers Band
Oak Mountain Amphitheater - Pelham, AL

Disc 1:
1. Don't Want You No More
2. It's Not My Cross To Bear
3. Ain't Wastin' Time No More
4. Seven Turns
5. Good Clean Fun
6. Blues Jam > Hoochie Coochie Man
7. Tombstone Eyes
Filler: Chicago, IL - 5/12/96
8. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed > Drum Solo > Bass Solo

Disc 2:
1. Stand Back
2. True Gravity > Jam > Drum Solo >Bass Solo > St. Stephen Jam > TrueGravity
3. When It All Comes Down
4. Stormy Monday
5. End Of The Line

Disc 3:
1. Southbound
2. Nobody Left To Run With
3. Back Where It All Begins
4. One Way Out
5. Jessica
Filler: Chicago, IL - 5/12/96
6. Jam > Blue Sky
7. Jam > Ramblin' Man 

Allman Brothers Band
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Saratoga, NY

Disc 1
1. Intro
2. Statesboro Blues
3. Midnight Rider
4. Blue Sky
5. You Don't Love Me
6. The Same Thing
7. True Gravity

Disc 2
1. Dreams
2. Hoochie Coochie Man
3. Soulshine
4. End Of The Line
5. Back Where It All Begins

Disc 3
1. No One To Run With
2. Jessica
3. One Way Out 


Talking Pics update


Doom and Gloom  just put a post up with video of George Clinton and the Parliaments from 1969. Certainly in the embryonic stages, kind of a mix of Sly Stone, later era Hendrix, early Floyd, and Yardbirds style rave-ups.

 Stick around for the jam at the end. Interesting to consider what could've been if they had taken a more musical rather than theatrical path.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Talking Pictures


P-Funk, Flashlight

One of the ultimate funk tunes, from the craziest band of all time. Videos don't nearly do this band justice, as it's hard to fathom just how wild it would to be at one of these shows back in their heyday. An insane stage show literally presented as if from another world, making little logical sense, something straight out of the unconscious. It certainly helped that the band and audience were fueled by freely flowing chemicals in those days, a mix of psychedelics, uppers, downers, whatevers. I managed to see P-Funk once, around 2000. Certainly past their prime, but a great show. At one point I think I counted 27 people on stage, playing, singing, dancing, just getting weird. And the musicianship cannot be downplayed. Many notable musicians spent time among the P-Funk ranks, including Eddie Hazel, Bootsy Collins, and Bernie Worrell among others. That is possibly what made the band so exceptional: amid all the chaos and surrealism, they would lay down some of the greatest music ever heard. At the show I was at, a flutist and guy on a double-necked acoustic guitar jammed out the intro to Stairway to Heaven. It was breathtaking. At another point in the show they had five guitar players driving a monster riff, ala the Beatles' I Want You (She's So Heavy). 

I believe in Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, in what is otherwise a great book, he mentions something along the lines that black people didn't like to eat acid because they were too concerned about losing their "cool." Thank Owsley that George Clinton and crew weren't concerned about that, as their simply is nothing in the cosmos cooler than these freaks tripping out and getting down. Get weird!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kind Tune of the Moment

 Thirteen, Big Star


Just a beautiful song that sums up those simple yet confusing times, from a band championed by some, but unknown by most. Here's the original:

Won't you let me walk you home from school
Won't you let me meet you at the pool
Maybe Friday I can
get tickets for the dance
and I'll take you

Won't you tell your dad, "Get off my back"
Tell him what we said 'bout 'Paint It Black'
Rock 'n Roll is here to stay
Come inside where it's okay
And I'll shake you.

Won't you tell me what you're thinking of
Would you be an outlaw for my love
If it's so, well, let me know
If it's "no", well, I can go
I won't make you

Here's a version by Elliot Smith, before he stabbed himself to death:

If that wasn't precious enough, here's a choir doing the tune:

Brian Wilson eat your heart out! This tune really hits the heartache, innocence, and hope of the teenage years, with beautiful harmonies and melodies that surpass all but one Pet Sound (God Only Knows). 

Here's Wilco's version: click here.

Finally a weird version by Albert Hammond Jr. of the Strokes, it turns up the jangly rhythms of other Big Star songs I guess, but largely misses the mark: stroke it.

There you have it folks, until we meet again...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Talking Pictures


Jerry Garcia Band 3-1-80 Capitol Theater Passaic NJ Early Show

This show, and the late show, have just been remastered and released through the official Jerry Garcia Store. But I just stumbled across the video of the early show. The audio is pretty good, the video a bit choppy but doable with a good buzz.  These shows have been widely celebrated and traded, and it's evident why. Jerry's in great form, and the rest of the band is locked in.  This is just before Melvin Seals joined the band for the rest of their duration. And while I love Melvin, Ozzie Ahlers is rather interesting on keys, particularly the synthesizer effects he uses. Ozzie had been around, playing in a number of notable bands, and backing up musicians such as Van Morrison. He's a natural fit with Jerry, and pushes the music to some interesting places.

 It's just a one set show, short and sweet, but the setlist is kickin', and the energy is cracklin', not always the case at a Jerry show.  

Catfish John
How Sweet It Is
Simple Twist of Fate
Sitting in Limbo
That's Alright Mama
E: Deal

Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
John Kahn - bass
Ozzie Ahlers - keyboards
Johnny de Foncesca - drums

Robert Hunter opened