Grateful Dead

February 26 - March 4, 2007

Tapers Section By David Lemieux

We’ve got some great material this week in the Grateful Dead’s recorded history, plus a few extra tracks that we didn’t play in December, but which have significance in the history of the band’s recorded legacy.

We’ll start this week by playing a couple of tracks from the February 28 and March 1, 1970 shows at the Family Dog in San Francisco. Although anything from this month is going to be compared with 2/13&14/70, standing on their own, these Family Dog shows do have some excellent music, all recorded to ¼” tape at 7.5 ips. First up is the impressive jam from 2/28/70, featuring Alligator>Drums>The Other One>Mason’s Children>Lovelight, Uncle John’s Band. A couple of things to note about this jam: there is a reel flip in the Drums portion (left as-is for authenticity’s sake), and this Lovelight is the tail end of the Lovelight that opened the show, a Lovelight Reprise if you will. It’s also interesting to hear The Other One out of its usual 1970 context, sandwiched between Cryptical Envelopment; it just sort of slips smoothly out of Drums. Worth noting from this jam, too, is that it was played one year to the day from the famous 2/28/69 Fillmore West concert, and featured a few of the songs from that night (Alligator, Other One, Lovelight). Also from this run is another meaty 1970 version of Dancing In The Streets from 3/1/70, with Phil and Jerry trading off some wonderful riffs.

From 1975, we have the bonus track from the HDCD reissue of Blues For Allah, Distorto, recorded 2/27/75 at Weir’s studio. As far as we can tell based on tape box indications, 2/27/75 marked the start of the recording sessions for Blues For Allah, and 2/27/75 contains some interesting jams and melodies that would be reworked in the next couple of months as they polished them into the songs that would be recorded for the album. Distorto, in particular, demonstrates how much songs can change during the writing and recording process, later becoming, of course, Crazy Fingers.

From 1981, Dick Latvala had put together a very nice 4 CD (he’d compiled it on cassettes…) compilation from 2/26 to 28/81, at Chicago’s Uptown Theatre. The master source tapes are cassettes, and there is a little bit of hiss on the masters, but they do sound good, and the music is certainly worth hearing. From 2/26/81, this Bird Song enters some good spaces, and from 2/27/81 is this terrific Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain combo. And, because it’s always got such potential for greatness (reached here), from 2/27/81 is this Not Fade Away that emerged from a nice space jam.

In 1990, the year began with three shows at the Oakland Coliseum, and, as were most shows from June, 1989 through April, 1990, these three shows were impeccably recorded to 24-track tape by John Cutler. From these shows, we have the then-standard post-Drums sequence of The Wheel>Gimme Some Lovin’>Wharf Rat from 2/25/90 (we didn’t have time to play it last week, which would have been a little more time-appropriate), and from 2/26/90, the first-set closing The Music Never Stopped>Don’t Ease Me In.

In the odd grab-bag of vaguely labeled reels in the vault, there is a reel labeled simply “1979 Rehearsal,” and although likely around June, no date is given. From that reel, though, we found this interesting segment of Dancing In The Streets, with loads of great Brent throughout.

Finally, going back a couple of months, here are a couple of songs from 12/30/82 at the Oakland Auditorium Arena (now the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center). From the first set is this mid-set Feel Like A Stranger, and from the second set is Throwing Stones>Franklin’s Tower, with this early Throwing Stones featuring a few different lines. What makes this recording so unique is that this New Year’s run in Oakland featured the band’s first time recording with the then-new PCM digital recording technology, in which digital audio was recorded onto the video track of a standard Betamax (and later VHS) tape. This made for a few benefits: uninterrupted recording up to 2 hours with no reel or cassette flip; clean, crisp sound; and the ability to record the show on 4 tracks on one tape, with the stereo soundboard feed going to the video track as a digital signal, and a stereo audience feed going to the audio track as a standard analog signal. These 4 tracks can later be blended in the studio to make a nice matrix tape, with the audience and board feeds in perfect sync with no drift.

Check back next week to hear some music from 1981, 1993, and loads of other material. As always, we welcome your input, suggestions and questions, so feel free to write.

David Lemieux
vault [at]


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GratefulGooner's picture
Joined: Oct 15 2007
Thanks for '75 Distorto and the Wharf Rat '90!!!

Another week of outstanding gems...
well done.

keep on, keepin on.
"And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone..."

canimAl's picture
Joined: Jun 5 2007
huh huhhuh hey beavis

everyone of these songs is the same, the other one. every last one . Be kind please r

jaybird's picture
Joined: Jun 11 2007

I love it keep it going can I please get more of that early 80's that Scarlet>Fire one of my personal favorites.. Brent tickles,,Phil drops small bombs,,Bobby works those difficult chords in time,,,Mickey w/ his beats and cow bell...Jerry working the Distortion+ and that funky sweet Mu-tron..Billy hits those cymbals in perfect time..Its the Magical Grateful Dead sound I love so much the last 5 minutes of Fire on the Mountain are EPIC!!!! Please keep it flowing.....We need more of this Music release some entire concerts from 81~ 83 Etc.?
Thank You for this...Jay

GrayFolded's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007
Thanks for Distorto

Really cool to hear the birth of a song....Love 81, thanks for that nice early Brent mix...

Dead to the Core


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