Monday, January 25, 2021

1/26/72 setlist (outer space regions)

Howard Wales in Buffalo, 1/29/72, by Phil Simon (GDAO)

For the anniversary of this show, and in belated memoriam for Howard Wales, it is time to clean up my listening notes and correct some longstanding setlist confusion.  For background, context, and commentary about all things Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales, I direct you to:

I am not going to comment much on the quality of the music itself, but I have to emphasize up front that this set is hot.  Hot hot hot.  Garcia is playing out of his skin, in prime 1972 flight for almost all of it.  Wales, of course, is a mad genius, and this is likely the closest we'll ever get to hearing what it might have sounded like if he had actually joined the Dead instead of Keith Godchaux.  Jim Vincent (guitar), Roger Jellyroll Troy (bass/vocals), and Jerry Love (drums) more than hold up their end of the bargain.  They had been together as Wales regular gigging quartet for over a year at this point, and while Garcia and Wales understandably attract the most attention, everyone else does a top-drawer job.

My goal is to propose a more accurate setlist than the one that has been around at least since the Deadbase days, and that still lives on in Jerrybase,, and the latest digital fileset (the earlier one is better, fwiw).  My guess is that either the taper himself or some well-meaning goober somewhere down the line did his best to cobble together an impressionistic semblance of what he was hearing, with nary a thought for any future obsessive nerdherders like me who might be fretting over it almost 50 years (!) later. 

Observation/theory #1: This tour was over a year removed from the recording of Hooteroll? and the general vibe of the music here actually reminds me less of Hooteroll? itself and more of the music from Roger Troy's own Jellyroll album (released in 1971, albeit with none of these musicians).  I'm not sure to what extent the performances on Hooteroll? were arranged in advance, but -- as loose as they are -- the music on that album sounds a little more planned out than most of the music here, a lot of which sounds like jams on a one chord groove.  That's not to say it's not exciting and compelling music!  But I don't think it's a stretch to think that a fair portion of this show is totally improvised.  By all accounts, Wales' MO was jamming without a net, and Jim (James) Vincent recalls in his memoir Space Traveler that the group rehearsed with Garcia exactly once prior to this tour.  

So here goes.  If anyone is hearing anything else or can identify some piece of music, please let me know!

d1t01. South Side Strut - the tape starts off with everyone getting the noodles out, a weather report (doesn't sound too awful for Boston in January), and the MC welcoming the group.  "South Side Strut" was the only single from Hooteroll? and is played here in a more stripped down arrangement (Wales plays the horn melody).  So far, so good.

d1t02. unknown mellow groove (Dm) (mislabeled "Up From The Desert").  This is not "Up From the Desert" from Hooteroll?, which has a distinct chord progression and is in a different key.  What they play here is mostly a D minor vamp with a mellow "Riders on the Storm"-ish kind of jazzy feel.

d1t03. One AM Approach - basically the same as the Hooteroll? performance, a meditative cosmic duet between Wales on Fender Rhodes piano and Garcia.  Sublime.  Of course this is when the DJ takes the opportunity to do his station ID (insert eyeroll emoji).

d1t04. unknown blues-rock (Em) ("Come On Baby > Jam > Outer Space Regions")  Observation/theory #2: I suspect that most of Troy's lyrics are mostly improvised, kind of like what Sarah Fulcher would later do with Garcia/Saunders.  Troy does have a song called "Come On Baby" on his Jellyroll album, but this isn't it.  The "chorus" of what Troy sings in this jam is "come on back child, come on back girl," but that's the chief similarity with the album cut. 

This is where the tape labeling gets a little squiggly.  The track begins with Wales playing simple E blues riff, and Troy starts playing a bassline.  They cruise on an E minor blues-rock groove.  Troy starts singing over this -> Wales solos -> more vocals -> Jerry solos, and things slide into A major and then get spacey -> more Troy vocals.  @6ish min the beat doubles up; Troy sings "get on down to the railroad tracks..." and the guitarists take solo breaks over the drums (still playing the blues in E minor) -- this is pretty uptempo, and pretty shredding.  Towards the end it kiiind of wanders back to Troy's initial groove, but not really.  This segues into...

d1t05. Troy plays a short bass solo.

d1t06. funk instrumental (G) (labeled "Get Funky Brother") - After Troy's brief solo, there's a quick drum break, then Troy announces “We’re gonna do something extraordinary - ha ha! - get funky, drummer, get funky!” which leads into a funky instrumental in G.   It follows the basic James Brown template, i.e. a complex drum pattern, a simple bassline, and the two guitarists playing call & response figures, while Wales solos over all of this.  It's not much of an arrangement, but I don't think it's being totally improvised on the fly.  After 5 minutes it dissolves into spaciness for about a minute; Vincent takes the wheel from Jerry briefly, then everything gets quiet...

d1t07. Wales solo (mislabeled "A Trip to What Next") - ...and this track starts with 30 seconds of full-band space, then drops out into a mostly a Wales unaccompanied solo on Hammond B3.  This is wild, ranging from from Sun Ra to Sunday morning gospel and everything in between.  I'm not sure how this got labeled "A Trip to What Next" (another Hooteroll? tune) but I'm not hearing any connection to this wild solo.

d1t8. My Blues (mislabeled "Would You Leave Me") -> blues in G ("Wales' Boogie")
Two songs here on this track.  The first is actually a Wales original called "My Blues," the b-side to Wales' "Huxley’s Howl" single (see below) and also on his later Rendezvous with the Sun lp.  It's a nice, slow, soulful instrumental.  This segues into a brisk blues instrumental in G with a pretty simple riff and the usual blues changes.  I don't know what this is (if it's anything), so "Wales' Boogie" might as well do for now.  In the last few seconds they move into E minor (?), which sounds like it could be a bridge, but instead the tune just ends somewhat abruptly.

d1t09. Garcia announces, “thank you very much, I’m gonna sit out for a while and let these guys play for you for a while.  This is Howard Wales playing the organ here.  And Jim Vincent playing guitar.  Jerry Love playing drums.  And Jellyroll playing bass.”  The tape cuts--

d2t01.  --and the DJ welcomes us back: "Howard Wales is just beginning a solo set."  The broadcast fades into

d2t02. "Get Down Mama" - a blues-rock shuffle in progress, with most of the song missing.  It fades in on Troy's vocal, then Vincent solos, then more vocals.  I don't know if "Get Down Mama" if really the name of this, but based on Troy's lyrics, it's a good guess.  Anyone recognize it?  When they finish, Troy addresses all the deadheads: “Thank you.  Jerry’ll be back in a few minutes, he wanted to get off and fix his guitar, all right?”

d2t03. Huxley's Howl (mislabeled "DC 502") -- The track begins with a minute and a half of spacey noodling by Wales on Fender Rhodes, before the tune begins.  "Huxley's Howl" is a Wales original released on a pre-Hooteroll 45rpm single.  There's no relation to "DC 502" (a song from Hooteroll?) that I can hear.  Vincent’s solo here is pretty angular, advanced jazzy stuff. 

d2t04. drum solo -> 

d2t05 - Huxley's Howl, cont ("DC 502") - they jam the tune some more, never returning to the head, but it's still basically the same song.  If I were retracking this, I'd just lump these last three tracks together.

d2t06-07 - They tune up, and Troy says, “Since we’re being way up north and east, uh -- do you like the blues?  Them people down south, they don’t know.”  Yeah, I bet.
Blues medley: over a slow blues, Troy sings a verse of "Sweet Little Angel" (BB King), a verse of "Sweet Cocaine" (not sure), and then a third verse that I don't recognize (labeled here "Shine On Love").  Labeling these as three separate songs seems like it's missing the point.  I'm sure Troy is either just singing whatever comes to mind, or it's a blues medley that he sang before.  I'm not sure what variant of "Sweet Cocaine" he's singing, or if he's just riffing on his own thing.  Wales and Vincent both take solos in here.

d2t08 - Garcia returns and Troy introduces everyone.  Then they start a one-chord groove in G, pensive, with a kind of an early electric Miles Davis feel.  It dissolves into spacier arrhythmic playing (i.e. more like a GD "space") ->

d2t09 - starts off in space still (again, I wouldn't track this as anything separate).  Garcia’s off on his own spacey jag when Troy starts a bassline (about 1:20 in) that everyone else locks into and things groove along still in G.  Jerry is wailing over this with some heavy wahwah.  This groove provides the loose backbone for the jam, all while Garcia takes the lead in playing over the top.  The groove pulls up and stops, as Jim Vincent comes to the fore with a big countryish/wahwah trill

Someone labeled some part of this "Fighting for Madge," presumably after the Fleetwood Mac track from Then Play On.  That track was an except from a one-chord blues jam (in B), a pretty fiery duel between Peter Green and Danny Kirwin.  I can see why someone might hear a similarity -- but it's not what they're playing here.

d2t10 - The drums double up the beat, and this leads into a new groove, but it's still basically just a one-note thing in G.  Wales takes the lead.  The beat shifts into a Bo Diddley kind of syncopation (think Not Fade Away), and at 3 minutes Troy starts singing an assortment of Bo Biddley lyrics, but mostly "You Can't Judge a Book" (note that the band follows the changes of the tune).  This jams until the end.  Troy introduces everyone again. 

d2t11.  blues-rock in E ("Gypsy Woman")  The audience calls for an encore.  I hear someone holler for Sugaree.  Troy starts a hard-driving blues rock tune in E with Troy vocals - again, this sounds more like free associated lyrics than an actual composed song.  It lasts under two minutes, then Troy breaks for an audience clap-along, and then the groove breaks apart into something more Walesian and fusion-y.  Everyone gets a solo break, then they land on a big sustained ending chord.  

So, what's the setlist already?

How's this?

1/26/72 Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

South Side Strut >
unknown jazzy (Dm) >
One AM Approach
unknown blues-rock (Em) >
bass solo >
unknown funk (G) >
organ solo >
My Blues >
blues instrumental (G)
- (Garcia out)
"Get Down Mama"
Huxley's Howl
Blues Medley
- (Garcia in)
unknown jazz/space/rock (G) >
You Can't Judge a Book
e: "Gypsy Woman"

Not terribly satisfying, perhaps.  But at least you can fix some errors.

1/29/72, by Phil Simon (GDAO)

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