Sunday, May 27, 2018

2/24/73: at long last

poster by S. Ross, courtesy concertposterauction.com

The aud tape for 2/24/73 Iowa City is finally circulating!  Can I tell you how happy this makes me?  I'm really happy that the aud tape for 2/24/73 is finally circulating!  There has always been this mysterious snippet of the tail end of the jam  (/Phil>Feelin' Groovy) which, despite many folks' ravings (including Lavala's) was always hard for me to genuinely enjoy, given what was missing from the front end of it.  Dead.net posted that same fragment plus the Sugar Magnolia closer as part of one of their 30 Days of Dead series.  There's a second sbd fragment from the first set (with a killer Playin', at least), but for a long time that was the most of it.  Frustratingly, there was a gushing review of the whole jam in the first Taper's Compendium, published 20 years ago almost to the day before this aud tape finally reached general digital circulation.  No matter now.  It's here!  Listen!

God, this is good.  They blaze through Truckin' and a nicely developed Nobody's Fault But Mine instrumental/jam, then spiral off towards the Other One.  It seems like they're nearing escape velocity, but right at the moment when it could explode, it implodes instead and they peel back the surface to see the space within.  "Dark Star," says the taper(?), right on cue, but nope: they explore a sparse, darkly melodic space that sounds like it could be a prelude for Stella Blue, if that song existed yet (edit: duh), and Garcia and Lesh spin out one of the most beautiful duets they ever played, Lesh's harmonics pinging out around the arena, while Garcia plays longingly and mournful -- I may be imagining things -- almost maybe like he was thinking about Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground?  (could it be? two tributes to Blind Willie Johnson in the same show!?)  Wishful thinking, I'm sure.  Then a wonderfully timed blast of feedback (Phil?) and it eases itself right into Eyes of the World.  It's almost alarming how tight and fully-formed some of these earliest versions were, and they bite down hard on this one at first.  As they glide into the post-verse jam, Garcia abandons the changes and veers into a spacey tailspin.  There's a small cut at 9:50, the taper reckons this "could be the Other One" (fair enough), but Lesh steps to the fore and starts playing along with Garcia, who backs off and lets him have the wheel.  Lesh solos for a few minutes (our commentator's assessment @12:29: "really hardcore"), and Garcia returns to usher in an utterly joyful Feelin' Groovy jam and a final slam through Sugar Magnolia (always a thing of beauty on an aud tape) which clips unceremoniously a second before the end.

If you're not satiated, then perhaps another listen to 2/19/73 might be in order, another show that belies the expectations you may have for a 'typical' 1973 Truckin>Other One jam.  There are plenty of exciting cat 'n mouse games turn unexpected corners into explosive passages, but none of the brooding melodic spaces of this one.  A very potent pairing.

4 comments:

  1. I spun this two days ago while cleaning the garage, and I need to sit down to give it more attention, though even from a cognitive distance I heard some great stuff.

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  2. What can compare to Garcia & Lesh's duet here? There are other shows where they briefly drop into a similar space, but none I recall as sustained, luscious and haunting as this.
    Though the tape quality is rather murky and echoey, if anything it enhances the feel here, making it sound like a broadcast from a distant galaxy. If we had the SBD, it probably wouldn't sound so dark and mysterious.

    After Feelin' Groovy, the band kind of putters around uncertainly for a little while, not quite cohering or knowing where to go next. On the AUD tape, Keith's piano is reduced to near-inaudibility and partly as a result, the music sounds more punchy and purposeful.
    It's interesting that in the excursions after both Truckin' and Eyes, the band resolves the music with a definite finish before starting the next tune - a little glimpse into their method.

    It's neat that one guy accurately IDs the Other One as soon as Garcia starts teasing it (he must have been an experienced showgoer)...until the Dead change direction and defy expectations.

    Small correction: Stella Blue not only existed, they'd been playing it for months.

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    Replies
    1. duh... right about Stella. I'm firing my intern.

      I agree, this Garcia/Lesh space is a thing of true beauty. 2/15/73 was once the hallmark (or maybe 9/11/73?), but this one may be a new standard.

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  3. Going through 1973, I found a couple other examples of Jerry/Phil spaces that are VERY similar, and worth checking out:
    9/26/73 - the last 90 seconds of Truckin', before they start Eyes;
    10/23/73 - the beautiful post-drums Jam (with Keith on the Rhodes), which can't be praised enough.

    The Dark Star a couple days earlier, on 2/22, also has a similar section about 11 minutes in, though it's busier and just an interlude on the way to a freakout.

    I also noticed that, whether Eyes came out of Dark Star or Truckin' or the Other One, the Dead would frequently set up a little quiet space ahead of it for Jerry to start the song in... An interesting example of '73 Dead set architecture!

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