I tend to think that I was born at the right time to see and hear most of the important bands of my lifetime. But for all intent purposes I rarely ventured out to see most of them. I was too young for Woodstock and the Haight Ashbury Love In of 1967, saw the future of FM underground radio only to be brought out by Corporations and turned into the same 13 songs of the past 40 years, likewise the major labels morphed into three bloated behemoths that would threatened even the ones trying to preserve the chart topping ratings of the billboard top 100. The resource that I used to find chart positions of songs back then bullfrog's pond, got sued by one of these corporations (betcha I know which one) so that resource got taken down for a while. Strange to see that our love and hobby of music, and trying to preserve the legacy of the forgotten artist is always being tested by one of the big three and their high ranking lawyers. Basically things started going downhill by the late 70s and early 80s when corporations begin to buy up the independent labels and what was promised for more music ended up being the opposite. If nothing else, I've seen the regressing of music, to the point of today that new music on a major label sucks. When you have Kayne West trying to bullshit people thinking he's rock and roll, is laughable. He couldn't have done this without his processed auto tuner voice. At least Miley Cyrus is more into the spirit of rock and roll than Mr. Kadashian.
Dead......truthfully I never was a big fan of theirs, not when Jerry
Garcia was alive but when they came into town, it was a big event, with
The Dead Heads hanging around the Five, it must have been nice to do
that, go from town to town, dancing in the aisles, toking up a joint and
getting that free loving. But their records remain somewhat spotty. I
thought their WB debut was hippie fun, Anthem Of The Sun, trippy
freaky, Axomoxoa a bum trip and Workingman's Dead and American Beauty
their flawed classics. I don't recall the United Artists era all that
much, the records were boring and it was strange to see Clive Davis sign
them to Arista for more unevenness. Oh, once in a while they would
score a decent track (Passenger, Alabama Getaway) but by then, the Dead
were more interested in playing live and letting people record it on
their own, but Go To Heaven sucked. The surprise hit of In The Dark and
overplayed Touch Of Gray, still good but I'd rather not hear it
anymore. In The Dark turned out to be their best since American Beauty
and while their final effort Built To Last got poor reviews, I find it a
better listen than say, Go To Heaven. But there's tons of their live
shows available via bootlegs, or regular releases. Mike Gallucci might
disagree but I like Dead Set. And the Skull and Roses album of 1971
which gets my vote over Live/Dead, both classic albums but the S/T album
having a good time jam and better songs. The Dick's Picks series,
which Rhino started out and now taken over by Real Gone Music gives the
listener the whole ball of wax of being at a 3 and half hour Dead show,
the 1978 Madison/Cedar Falls shows of that year I got simply of the fact
it was recorded at home. But a document of the past, it works well for
me but I don't play it too often.
And so The Dead
continue to play live up till 1995, twenty years on after the passing of
Jerry Garcia, the band came to an abrupt end. And strange things
happened, Bob Weir grew out his beard, Phil Lesh continues with friends
and once in a while make a album and Mickey Hart went back to do his
Planet Drum projects. Weir started Ratdog, and once in a while get back
with Lesh and Hart as simply The Dead, but without Garcia, that special
feeling was gone. This year to celebrate The Dead's fifty years of
music, they started The Fare Thee Well tour, with Trey Anastasio
replacing Garcia on guitar and vocal. Last weekend they played in
California and this weekend, they're playing at Soldier's Field in
Chicago. So basically this is their last go around, the return of Bob,
Mickey, Phil and Bill Kretzman. The set lists are varied and different
than most and they promise that surprises are in store. Judging by the
July 3rd Set list. They are right.
Box Of Rain
The Music Never Stopped
Fire On The Mountain
New Potato Caboose
Playing In The Band
Let It Grow
Help On The Way
second night brought out more surprises and more obscure songs, some
were a chore to sit an listen through, Lost Sailor comes to mind. But
what better way to end a Dead show on the Fourth Of July with U.S.
Blues. While Trey Anastasio shined the first night, tonight belonged to
Bob Weir. Even if Lost Sailor wasn't one of the better numbers, The
Dead sounded pretty tight, even going into different songs without
missing a beat. The fireworks at the ending of US Blues is the stuff of
rock legend. Even with all the money grabbing crapola that's going
around during the run of shows.
Set One:"Shakedown Street"
"Standing on the Moon"
"Me & My Uncle"
"Little Red Rooster"
"Friend of the Devil"
Set Two:"Bird Song"
"The Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)"
"Lost Sailor" > "Saint Of Circumstance"
"West L.A. Fadeaway"
"Drums" > "Space" > "Stella Blue" > "One More Saturday Night
The final night: July 5th
saved the best show for last, as if they knew this would be it and
nothing more would be heard from the Dead again. Beginning with China
Cat Sunflower, they even pulled out Terrapin Station before the Drums
and Space sequence. The interesting inclusion of Days Between, one of
the last songs Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote together has to be
noted since it's one of more darker Dead songs written. However, they
pick up the good vibes with a very rocking Not Fade Away one of the
highlights of the show with Trey Anastasio and Bob Weir trading licks
and vocals. Then have the band leave off the stage one by one till only
the drummers remains and playing. Somehow this led to the encore of
Touch Of Gray at which Trey and Bruce Hornsby took turns singing as Bob
and Phil would sing the chorus. And the show ended with Attics Of My
Life, a problematic song which somehow was a perfect ending to a wild
weekend of ups and downs of a storied career of a band that invented the
long standing jams. After five decades, two of them without Jerry
Garcia, The Grateful Dead survives and still does with the many many
live bootlegs and official releases of their concerts over the years.
I'm certain that these shows will be epic and must haves. For a band
that started out On The Golden Road to unlimited devotion, they end up
in the attics of our lives and changed it for the better, or to some the
worst. To the beginning of Pigpen's Vox organ, it ends on Bob Weir's
acoustic guitar and Trey Anastasio and Phil Lesh singing along. Nothing
left to say but....fare thee well.
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Built To Last
Samson & Delilah
Mountains Of The Moon
Not Fade Away
Touch Of Gray
Attics Of My Life