Thursday, May 23, 2013

It Must Have Been the Roses - Grateful Dead Song Review

What an amazing catalog of music Jerry and the Dead have.  This song is basically "lost in the shuffle" of a hundred other great tunes but something tells me if most country artist's had written it, it would be one of their signature 'greatest hits.'

The studio version of the song is from Jerry Garcia's amazing Reflections album. This is a 'must have' for any Deadhead - not a single disappointing track in the bunch.  It sure does sound like The Grateful Dead backing him up on that version.

This song is credited to Robert Hunter on (both words and music - possibly the only GD song with this distinction?). This song simply has to whet your appetite for more Robert Hunter, whose catalog  I've always meant to explore more fully.  It is such a simple and beautiful country ballad.  It's just so authentic and laid back.

I remember hearing from some friends who had traveled back to see the Dead that they had gotten a hold of some blotter with roses printed on it.  When the band played this song, it provided a very special moment for them.

Favorite Version:

The version off of Dick's Picks 17 from Boston Garden September 25th, 1991 stands out to me.  This is not available streaming online (due to being on Dick's Picks) but there's a version from September 16th, 1991 from Youtube below that is also very good (albeit a few mistakes).

Incidentally, Dick's Picks 17 is probably tied with Dick's Picks 27 (December 16th, 1992) as my favorite Dick's Picks.  Both are late era shows (with Vince no less), and might not  appeal to many Deadheads as much, but I sure do wish we had more releases from this time period(which is why I wrote an open letter for the release of all 1990's era Dead recordings).

It Must've Been the Roses Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.1

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion(read my blog manifesto to understand my Grateful Dead background a little more).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Russian Lullaby at The Warfield - Garcia Grisman video

Wow, this is really great footage, thanks to Loloyodel for posting it.  Garcia/Grisman is a great album and I actually remember when it came out and what a nice surprise it was to hear Garcia in this setting.

This video shows a relaxed and happy Jerry playing an Irving Berlin classic.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's All Over Now Baby Blue - Grateful Dead Song Review

You may be surprised to know that (It's All Over Now) Baby Blue was first played in the earliest days of the Dead and of course throughout the 80's and 90's.  There was a long stretch from 1974 through 1981 where the band didn't play the song.

This song is a good example of Jerry and the Dead showing their love and respect for Bob Dylan's songwriting.  It's also a good example of the band putting a song in the encore spot that lyrically works well for the end of a show (ie Brokedown Palace: "Gonna leave this ...." or And We Bid you Goodnight.  This type of detail is what made Grateful Dead shows such a nice encapsulated "trip."

The song's lyrics are a somewhat bitter and cruel "telling off" of a lover (or some other close relation).  This kind of theme is not unlike other Dylan songs like It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.  The song brings an air of "f--k you" attitude to it that I think Jerry might've connected with because of the difficult nature of his relationships and his need to frequently pick up and start fresh (with wives, family, etc).

Jerry does some pretty powerful singing during Baby Blue, as you can hear in the embed below (from 10/19/1990 in Berlin Germany).  There's one line in each verse that requires a really powerful delivery (strike another match, start anew) and the key is just perfect for Jerry's range.

The Rolling Stones also have a pretty well known version of Baby Blue.  It is from their version that the famous sample in Beck's Jackass was taken.

I'm a little less enamored with Baby Blue than most Deadheads.  I never got to see it live (although I could hear it one time in the parking lot at Shoreline), and the song has kind of a sour overtone due to Dylan's cruel lyrics.

The rest of the band really doesn't bring much flavor to this song, it's played really "straight" almost like karaoke.  Unfortunately, Bruce Hornsby is playing accordion on the embed below.  I really like what Hornsby brought to the table except that damn accordion.

Baby Blue seems like it would've fit in a little better with the JGB repertoire than the Dead's.

It's All Over Now Baby Blue Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 8.1

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion(read my blog manifesto to understand my Grateful Dead background a little more).

Thanks Schnukleford for posting this on Youtube.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Unbelievable Morning Dew from Chapel Hill, North Carolina 3-25-1993

Is this my favorite Morning Dew? Why not ? I think it's the best I've ever seen on Youtube at least.

I am still partial to the one I saw on 6-26-1994 in Las Vegas and I know I heard an even more epic one from MSG I've heard in late 1993 I think. It feels weird to pick a favorite, I enjoy them all.

Some would say blasphemy to pick a favorite Morning Dew from this late period.  I have listened to every year, even the coveted 1970s, and the band simply didn't use to play with such collective dynamics as they do in the second half of  this video.

During the beginning of Jerry's 5 minute epic guitar solo to end this show, you can hear a pin drop in between notes - everyone in the band is so tastefully laid back, whereas in the 1970s the drummers would be hammering a steady beat during this part.  Little things like that are what make me appreciate this era.

Also, gotta hand it to Vince Welnick on the keys here, really beautiful playing, it reminds me of Keith in 1972.

Thanks to LoloYodel for the post on youtube.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Iko Iko - Grateful Dead Song Review

Iko Iko is a great song, it just "brings the party" with it. Although Iko Iko (sometimes spelled Aiko Aiko) is a bit mellow in its tempo,  the infectious beat and "hand claps" made it perfect for it's typical slot as 2nd set opener.

If I close my eyes and imagine seeing Iko Iko, I picture it at an outdoor stadium show during the daytime. There are beach balls being bandied about by the audience on the floor and everyone is having a good time and enjoying each other a lot (as opposed to being enraptured by what's going on up on  stage or closing their eyes and experiencing the music in an introverted manner).

This song embodies the spirit of a Mardi Gras "second line" which is an impromptu parade of party people often wearing Indian headdresses and colorful outfits. This song no doubt is a "traditional" type chant that became a pop song after someone put it down on wax (wikipedia credits James "Sugar Boy" Crawford as the composer but then the Dixie Cups also recorded it claiming to have learned it from their grandmothers and a lawsuit ensued).

Iko Iko was played pretty regularly throughout the rest of the band's career after its debut in 1977. As with most of the Grateful Dead songs that I write about, I am sure most Grateful Dead purists would prefer earlier performances but I am partial to performances of this song later in their career.

To illustrate why I prefer later versions,  I'm going to refer you to this version from Vegas 1994.  Just listen to the opening few minutes and how relaxed and explorative Jerry is as he toys around with the guitar melody. It sounds like he is emulating the piano licks of Professor Longhair.   If you've written off the 1994 version  of The Grateful Dead as unlistenable (even I admit it was a trying year), then you'll probably be surprised at how tight this version is and how lively Jerry's guitar and vocals are.

Similarities to Man Smart Woman Smarter
This song definitely has a similar chord structure and feel to Women are Smarter, but it's definitely not "indistinguishable until either Bobby or Jerry sings" (as I've heard  a couple of Deadheads describe it).  Iko Iko starts off with Jerry's bouncy guitar 'single note' figure and Women are Smarter starts off with Bobby strumming chords.

Iko Iko Song Rating on a Scale of 1-10: 9.0

Disclaimer: This is part of my blog that reviews all things Grateful Dead for fun. Music is a beautiful thing because it is so personal and subjective, so keep in mind that this is one man's opinion(read my blog manifesto to understand my Grateful Dead background a little more).

Note: comments are encouraged and appreciated (enter them below) but it takes several days for them to show up in the blog entry (due to a Disqus plugin issue).  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A couple of cool Grateful Dead Pictures

I'm so sorry this photo is so tiny.  This is really ridiculous for me to share it but something about it really  appeals to me.  It's a side of the Grateful Dead you don't really see  - the backstage.  I think that's Kidd Candelario in the foreground. I'm friends with him on Facebook and this is  a picture someone tagged him in.

This one is Jerry prowling at night.  He lived hard, you can just tell.  That's a special Fender briefcase that is the color and material of a Fender guitar case.  Look how dirty it is... I'm guessing this is 1980 or so.