Friday, March 13, 2020

SUPERCOMET - Final Approach

Over the years I have had the pleasure of knowing and sometimes working with some amazing musicians. Benjamin Kammin featured in the last post is one of those. Here is another.

Supercomet is Eric Olson. Better known as the guitarist in the blues band The Spectaculars. This is a side project he recorded in the early 2000s. It is more in the style of Pink Floyd with a touch of Black Crowes with solid songwriting and introspective lyrics. There is some amazing production here for being a home recorded project. Eric is one of those natural musicians with an ear for just the right sounds and the ability to achieve them with seemingly minimal effort.

I purchased my first mixing board from Eric when he upgraded his recording equipment before recording this album.

Tracklist

01 Days
02 Ascension
03 Laurie
04 Shades of Grey
05 Nuts
06 ECG Day
07 Words
08 Malaise
09 We Know
10 Power (Bonus Track)

Reality Notes

Eric comes from a musical family. Growing up in northern Wisconsin his father (my wife's uncle) grew tired of playing in regional country bands and taught his kids how to play so that he could play the music he liked. Eric took up the the guitar and his brother Mike the drums. Both are impressive multi-instrumentalists as well. I assume that is Mike on the drums here but both have the ability to switch roles with ease so without a "who did what" list I can't be sure. For all I know Eric might be playing everything.

I never had a physical copy of this album so I had to grab the songs from his ReverbNation page. I had to do some minor editing to smooth out some of the track transitions but other than that, this is how I found them.

The last track is an alternate version of a song from the recent album by the latest incarnation of their blues band The Spectaculars. I've always liked this song and I have a couple different versions but this one is my favorite. There have been a few different line-ups of the band over the years but the core has always been the father and sons trio. The current version is the first to have an album released and available for purchase (Let's Hear Us, Now!). Find it if you can. I have a live tape that I ripped from a video I took of a previous line-up. I posted that on my Sybil Records blog a long time ago and just updated the download links there.

In their early days they had a side band with an augmented line-up called Think Floyd. A Pink Floyd tribute band that did shows around the northern Wisconsin circuit. The first time I saw them perform was at a music festival as Think Floyd followed by a club show as The Spectaculars in my hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin. A great day and one of the first "dates" with my future wife.

The original cover was a non-text version of the cover used here. I added the band name and title.

ReverbNation

The Spectaculars
ReverbNation
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YouTube
Apple Music

Friday, March 6, 2020

Ben Kammin - seventunes&threesongs (2001)


[This is a slightly edited repost of a post from my original Sybil Records blog. The links there were down and I have not posted anything there in quite some time. I've been wanting to reshare this album for a while now so a recent message from a reader asking if the album is still available was the nudge I needed to finally put it back up. I have updated all the links there if you want to check it out. It's a bit messy but I hope to clean it up soon.]

I've been wanting to post this album for a long while but because I had nothing to do with this project I needed to get the OK from the artist. Ben Kammin is a fingerstyle guitarist in the style of Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke. I first ran into Ben many years ago when he was playing at a Barnes & Noble bookstore. I ran into him a few more times before striking up a conversation with him. There was a lot of common ground between us as musical influences go and I really wanted to work with him in some way. It took a few years but I finally got him into my basement studio to do some demos. These are not them but you can find those here.

Tracklist

01 Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring -J.S. Bach (Arr. David Qualey)
02 Amazing Grace -Traditional (Arr. Randy Scruggs)
03 Solitude -Ben Kammin (Chorus By William Blake)
04 The Happy Couple -Michael Hedges
05 Too Much Saturn -Francis Dunnery (Arr. Ben Kammin)
06 Dreamsketcher -Billy Mclaughlin
07 Ojo -Leo Kottke
08 Let Them In -Anonymous (Melody based On an arr. By David Wilcox)
09 Song For Robbie -Peppino D'agostino
10 First To Go -Leo Kottke

Reality Notes

What we have here is Ben's first CD. Recorded and released in 2001 it predates our demo sessions. This CD is sold out and long out of print with no plans at this time to reissue. I wanted to share this for many reasons but mainly to give more people access to this album. More often than not I have had to listen to Ben tell inquiring fans about the unavailability of this CD. So with Ben's approval I am putting this up here for all to download and enjoy.

If I could have one complaint about this album it's that Ben does not sing enough. As a guitar player first I'm sure that's where he wanted the focus to be but he has such a nice voice as well.

For more information about Ben go to his website. He doesn't perform very often these days but he is far from inactive.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Bing Crosby - Dancing and Reminiscing

And then there is Bing. Like The Osmonds, I've been a fan of Bing from an early age. I remember sitting in front of the TV in the days before cable watching the Hope-Crosby Road pictures. I also remember at that young age walking home from school through the open field behind our house during a snow shower trying to sing like Bing.

My Grandmother gave me this album on cassette when I was in my early 20s and I played it a lot. This is not the old time radio Bing. This is the late 50s Dixieland/big band jazz Bing with his voice in top form and his delivery relaxed and his sense of humor in full view. Gal pal Rosemary Clooney is featured on three songs.

I eventually combined this tape with a few other tapes by Bing that I had with every song on this tape and my faves from the others mixed in. I gave this tape to a friend and never saw it again but I still had the songs so I wasn't disappointed by it. When recordable CDs appeared I longed to recreate this tape but my friend lost the original in a house move so I didn't have the tracklist. Once I was on the internet I tried for a long time to find info on this album and I finally found what I was looking for. I had the albums these songs are from so now I could finally hear this in its original form. Comfort food for the soul.

Side One

01 Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella
02 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter
03 I Can't Get Started*
04 Exactly Like You
05 Down Among the Sheltering Palms
06 You Came A Long Way From St Louis*

Side Two

01 Some Sunny Day
02 Whispering
03 Brazil*
04 Mack the Knife
05 Dream a Little Dream of Me
06 Last Night on the Backporch

* with Rosemary Clooney

Reality Notes

I had been searching and searching for info on this album for as long as I have had access to the internet and it had eluded my google-fu for all that time. A few weeks ago I had a realization as to its source and within a few clicks, there it was. I had assumed that it was a Time-Life release so that is where I concentrated my efforts. I had forgotten the name of the album so I couldn't search by that. I had a memory flashback when I recalled that My grandparents were subscribers to Reader's Digest and sure enough I found it among those.

This is a compilation of two albums that were released close together in the late 50s, namely Bing With A Beat (1957) and Fancy Meeting You Here (1958) which was a duet album with Rosemary Clooney. The bulk of the songs came from the former with three songs from the latter. The two albums have a similar production style so the songs blend well with each other. Both albums are great on their own but if you're unfamiliar with the original Croz and are looking for a place to start, this gets my highest recommendation.

Not many people are aware of Bing's contributions to the recording industry. Like George Martin and The Beatles that followed, Bing was at the forefront of pushing recording technology forward. He was there in the early days releasing his first album with Paul Whiteman and his orchestra in 1927. His first record under his name was released in 1937 which was a compilation of previously released singles. In 1940 he released his first album of all new material. His last album was released in 1977 shortly after his passing. Between 1937 and 1966 he released at least one album per year, usually three or more, and only missed releasing product in the years '67, '69, '73 and '74. He was a busy man. Between albums he made movies, did radio shows and TV specials.

Der Bingle passed in 1977 right around the same time we lost Elvis and Marc Bolan.

The cover is the original cover. I could have made a new one but it would have turned out much the same.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Osmonds - The No Schmaltz Box 1970 - 1974

I'm going out on a limb and exposing myself a bit here. The Osmonds are one of my super secret guilty pleasures. I first heard them when I was 9 years old listening to the Phase III album when it came out so keep that in mind. Because of my age I was the target demographic for the light and poppy bubble gum hits which I carried in my memories into adulthood.

But there was so much more to the boys than top 40 AM radio hits. They covered a lot of ground from their earliest days singing barbershop quartet songs on the Andy Williams show. They also did country, R&B, pop, adult contemporary, religious themes, Broadway and disco over the course of their long career. But deep down the boys wanted to rock.

Most of the lighter fare was under the orders of Papa Osmond who guided their early output. I've never been a fan heavily orchestrated middle of the road type stuff. Like Paul McCartney's response to George Martin when he first suggested string arrangements for Yesterday, I want "none of that Mantovani rubbish". So what I've done here is make a three disc box set of just the good stuff, no schmaltz (well, some on disc three but only if the song is worth it), no sister Marie and no little Jimmy. One disc on the side of Rock and Roll, One of the more R&B/soulful grooves and one of the best of the Top 40 teeny bopper hits. Of course there is some stylistic cross pollination between the sets.

Disc one - Ballin' the Jack

01 Hold Her Tight [Crazy Horses]
02 My Drum [Phase III]
03 Having A Party [Love Me For A Reason]
04 Down By The Lazy River [Phase III]
05 Life is Hard Enough Without Goodbyes [Crazy Horses]
06 Business [Phase III]
07 Utah [Crazy Horses]
08 Traffic In My Mind [The Plan]
09 Ballin' The Jack [Love Me For A Reason]
10 One Way Ticket To Anywhere [The Plan]
11 Hey,Mr Taxi [Crazy Horses]
12 Sun, Sun, Sun [Love Me For A Reason]
13 The Girl I Love [Love Me For A Reason]
14 The Last Days [The Plan]
15 Crazy Horses [Crazy Horses]

Disc Two - Don't Panic

01 Goin' Home [The Plan]
02 Mirror, Mirror [The Plan]
03 Lonesome They Call Me, Lonesome I Am [Osmonds]04 A Taste Of Rhythm And Blues [Phase III]
05 Movie Man [The Plan]
06 Send A Little Love [Love Me For A Reason]
07 We All Fall Down [Crazy Horses]
08 Gabrielle [Love Me For A Reason]
09 Find 'Em, Fool 'Em And Forget _Em [Osmonds]
10 I Can't Get Next To You [Love Me For A Reason]
11 Motown Special [Osmonds]
12 It's Alright [The Plan]
13 Flirtin' [Osmonds]
14 Fever [Love Me For A Reason]
15 Don't Panic [Phase III]

Disc Three - Sweet and Innocent

01 One Bad Apple [Osmonds]
02 Puppy Love [Portrait of Donny]*
03 The Proud One [Non-LP Single]
04 Yo-Yo [Phase III]
05 Sweet And Innocent [The Donny Osmond Album]*
06 Double Lovin' [Homemade]
07 He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother [Osmonds]
08 Go Away Little Girl [To You with Love, Donny]*
09 The Twelfth Of Never [Alone Together]*
10 Girl [Crazy Horses]
11 Hey Girl [Portrait of Donny]*
12 And You Love Me [Crazy Horses]
13 Lonely Boy [Too Young]*
14 Chilly Winds[Homemade]
15 In The Rest Of My Life [Phase III]
16 Are You Lonesome Tonight [A Time For Us]*


Reality Notes

You can say what you want about the Jacksons vs the Osmonds but when it comes to their peak periods in the early 70s, I love them both. I'll give the Jacksons the edge on footwork and songs (when you have the Motown machine behind you how can you not have the songs) but damn these boys can sing. Impeccable harmonies throughout. And it certainly doesn't hurt that they utilized some of the best studio musicians in the biz for the bulk of their backing tracks. There is some top notch playing going on. Both camps were fine musicians on their own and could play with the best of them. I didn't find enough info to assess the ratio of outsourced songs to those written by the Jacksons but the Osmonds did write a large portion of their songs from at least Phase III onward. I guess the biggest difference between the two is you don't have to hide your love of the Jackson 5. The Osmonds will always be a guilty pleasure unless you were a 11 to 15 year old girl at the time.

Not much more I can say about this. Just make sure you close the drapes and use headphones if you feel the need to dance and keep it private. I made a separate cover for each disc that kind of reflects their contents. You can delete the third disc if the teen idol pop stuff isn't to your liking but the other two are required listening. All the songs on the first two discs come from their first six Osmond albums. The songs on the third disc marked with * are Donny Osmond solo singles.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Grateful Dead - Acoustic Dead 1971

"And you thought you were going to hear rock & roll..." JG 1970/02/07

Every time I think I'm done with the Dead something else punches me in the face demanding to be constructed.

In 1971 the Dead released a live album named Grateful Dead, AKA Skull and Roses. That album was compiled from a string of shows in April of 1971 but in 1969/70 they performed a series of acoustic sets, some planned and some impromptu. This live set is culled from those unplugged performances. A precursor to 1980's Reckoning which I feel they could have released in 1971 had these shows been recorded properly.

To be up front and clear, this is not a compendium of every song they played during the acoustic sets. Nor is it the best version of each song I chose to include (more on that below) or even the best songs they did. I did this to please myself first and foremost and I am happy with the results. This has been my pet project for a while vowing to myself to not share it until it was as perfect as I could make it. It goes without saying that if the band had planned ahead with the intention of releasing an album like this they would have recorded at least a few shows on 16 track tape and possibly even sweetened those up with new vocals.

Because this is suppose to be a vinyl release I sequenced and edited each side to have a continuous live flow. When two songs did not flow into each other well I used clips of audience noise from an audience tape to create the missing flow. In most cases it worked fantastic, in others you can hear the transition from one source to another but the applause feels like it belongs to one or the other song in the transition.

I used setlists to help with sequencing, putting songs where they would typically appear in an actual show. Though I used them to suggest rather than dictate. I tried to sequence each side to be independent yet contribute to the whole. I tried to create a balance between slow and somber songs and the more upbeat tunes. This comp has gone through several complete rebuilds and many subsequent overhauls and tweaks until I was happy with the tracklist and version selection.

Side One

01 Don't Ease Me In (Trad.)
- 1970-05-14 Meramec Community College - Kirkwood, MO
Right from the start when I first heard this take I knew it had to be the opener. If only for Pig on the harp. An amazing take. This song was often the acoustic set opener but this is one of only a few times Pigpen played harp on it. One of the few songs they played consistently from the very beginnings of the band up to the end. I used the Bill Graham intro from 1970-09-20 where he introduces the band as the Acoustic Dead.


02 The Rub (Hopkins)
- 70-05-15 Fillmore East, New York NY, [Early Show]
From Pigpen on harp to Pigpen on vocals and harp. This comp was almost subtitled "Hey Pig!" Pig would normally sit on the side during these sets but Jerry or Bobby would call him out to the stage with that phrase. I had initially planned to keep as many of those in but they ended up getting cut for time. An old Lightnin' Hopkns song actually titled Ain't It Crazy but the Dead always referred to it as The Rub.

03 I Know You Rider (Trad.)
- 1970-06-05 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA
This song would normally follow Don't Ease but I felt it slowed things down too soon so I bumped it back one. A great rendition that almost takes it into Morning Dew territory. During electric sets they eventually pair this song with China Cat Sunflower that would become a standard until the end.

04 Friend of the Devil (Garcia/Hunter/Dawson)
- 1970-05-15 Fillmore East, New York NY, [Late show]
A nice early rendition. Jerry is still not sure of some of the lyrics but the song is there. I often chose early renditions of songs rather than later ones that sounded too much like the record. There was a show (9/20/70 ?) that had both David Nelson and David Grisman sitting in and they were able to recreate most of American Beauty very closely. Nice, but is it interesting?

05 Beat It On Down The Line (Fuller)
- 1970-05-02 Harpur College, Binghamton, New York
I don't know why but I really enjoy this song in all its incarnations. In this acoustic setting it still flies and has a nice charm about it.

Side Two

01 The Master's Bouquet (Baumgardner)
- 1969-12-26, Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX
At the beginning of the acoustic sets they weren't sure what to play so they dug up a lot of old folk songs, spirituals, country and blues numbers, many they used to play in their pre-Dead days. This is an old Hank Williams song.

02 Sawmill (Whatley/Tillis)
- 1970-01-31 The Warehouse, New Orleans LA
I added this one at the last minute. Originally I had Seasons in this slot but I felt I needed something a little more lively. Jerry plays electric guitar for this one. This show started electric then ended acoustic, the reverse of how they normally happened. This is also the only time the Dead played this live acoustically.

03 Truckin' (Hunter/Garcia/Weir/Lesh)
- 1970-09-20 Fillmore East, New York, NY
From the show with David Grisman sitting in. I've been led to believe that that is David on piano. A nice rendition somewhat close to the record if not slightly laid back.

04 Little Sadie (Trad.)
- 1970-02-28 Family Dog at the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
A nice little folk song about a man who takes the life of some poor woman, runs from the law, is captured by the law and gets what 's coming to him. Death and murder songs seemed plentiful throughout the run of acoustic sets starting with Dupree and Dire Wolf. I had to pass on some great songs simply because all of the darkness was bringing the mood down.

05 A Voice From On High (Monroe/Mauldin)+
- 1970-05-15 Fillmore East, New York NY, [Late show]
The first track to feature David Nelson from NRPS on mandolin and harmonies. An old bluegrass tune by Bill Monroe.

Side Three

01 Black Peter (Hunter/Garcia)
- 1970-02-14 Fillmore East, New York, NY [Late Show]
Another song about death and bad luck. From Workingman's Dead a nice somber yet moving performance.

02 Silver Threads and Golden Needles (Reynolds/Rhodes)
- 1970-06-07 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA
An old country standard first recorded by Wanda Jackson in 1956. The Dead played this often from '66 on but this is one of the last times it was played.

03 Cold Jordon (Rich)+
- 1970-06-07 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA
An old gospel number popular with bluegrass groups like The Stanely Brothers. More commonly titled "Jordan" the Dead added the "Cold" to the title and spelled Jordan wrong. NRPS members sit in to add mandolin and harmonies.

04 Cumberland Blues (Hunter/Garcia/Lesh)+
- 1970-09-20 Fillmore East, New York, NY
David Nelson moves to guitar while Jerry plugs in.

Side Four

01 Dupree's Diamond Blues (Hunter/Garcia)
- 1969-04-05 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco CA
This was soon paired with Mountains during the early sets of '69 and continued through November even after they stopped playing Mountains. Once the 1970 sets started they played this during the electric sets.

02 Mountains of the Moon (Hunter/Garcia)
- 1969-01-18 Playboy After Dark
This is another song that was on the must have list from the very beginning. This is my one cheater song. While it is live it is live in a TV studio. This was part of a Playboy After Dark episode. I wanted this version over all the others because it features Tom Constanten on the harpsichord. For a TV broadcast this was very noisy no mater which copy I used. I cleaned it up as best I could.

03 Katie Mae (Hopkins)
- 1970-02-14 Fillmore East, New York, NY [Late Show]
Another Pigpen spot. This time he plays the guitar to accompany himself for a true solo spot. During all of the acoustic sets, if Pigpen sang, he usually sang this one. He would sometimes do more but this was his goto song for these sets.

04 Wake Up Little Susie (Bryant/Bryant)
- 1970-02-14 Fillmore East, New York, NY [Late Show]
I rejected this song at first, it seemed a bit hokey maybe but I put it in after removing another song in this slot, Long Black Limousine, when I realized the set was already overloaded with death and murder songs. This helps lighten the mood a bit.

05 Uncle John's Band (Hunter/Garcia)
- 1970-02-11 Fillmore East, New York, NY
By the end of the acoustic sets in 1970 this song was more often than not the closing number. I got lucky and the audience tape I used for applause links ended with this song. They were playing it with full harmonies by then and I was able to use the end harmonies from the aud tape to supplement the end of this take to smooth out the transition to the end applause.

+ Features David Nelson and/or John Dawson from New Riders of the Purple Sage

Reality Notes

This post is one of my longer ones and it could easily be longer. There is so much to say about this that it could fill a small booklet.  Because of the size and scope of this project it is possible that I may have mislabeled a song source or two though I did my best to keep everything straight. Feel free to correct me if I did. I’m a freshman Dead scholar at best. If you want a more detailed description of the acoustic sets this is a great place to start.

A brief history of the 1969/70 acoustic sets starts in early 1969 when they started performing Mountains of the Moon. The song would appear randomly during the shows and was quickly paired with unplugged versions of Dupree's Diamond Blues, always played before Mountains, and Dire Wolf which also appeared during a few of these spots. By the end of the year Mountains had disappeared and after '69 Dupree was played electric and the acoustic sets briefly stopped.

But in late December the sets returned and came back big with longer sets and more songs and continued on through the next year. The first couple happened out of necessity due to equipment troubles or late musicians. By the end of the run they were longer and a bit more planned on with a typical show opening with an acoustic set then a short break then an electric set sometimes with a NRPS set between them. The length of the sets varied from show to show and not every show featured an acoustic set in the same spot, if at all.

At the start the sets were mostly just Jerry and Bobby but by the end the full band was involved with the drummers alternating from show to show. Pigpen always had a spot, usually Katie Mae but sometimes he would switch things up and throw a different blues number in the mix. They even did Operator four times but unfortunately those shows only circulate as audience tapes which prevented their use here.

There is a string of shows that featured the New Riders of the Purple Sage playing after the acoustic set. New Riders at this time still had Jerry and Mickey in the lineup. Often David Nelson and John (Marmaduke) Dawson would join them during the acoustic set, usually for a sacred number or a deep country cover. David Nelson would often switch from mandolin to acoustic guitar for Cumberland Blues while Jerry switched to electric. Jerry also played electric on this version of Sawmill.

When I started this project I had a few simple goals. One, no tracks that would duplicate songs from Reckoning or the two roughly contemporary live sets Live/Dead and Skull and Roses. I was fine with songs also appearing on Dead Set which was released about the same time as Reckoning as those would be electric and 10 years later. Two, the final run time must be between 75 and 80 minutes, long enough to justify a double vinyl album but still fit on one CD. And three was to not overload with too many new songs from the recent 1970 albums Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. Overall I knew my biggest challenge was to create a balance between clean recordings and good and interesting performances. Even after removing the duplicate songs from Reckoning and the other live albums and what appears here, there is still at least another single album's worth of songs leftover for a volume 2. I could have easily made a three disc set but then it wouldn't fit on a single CD.

There was another live album that most fans tend to forget about (I did). History of the Grateful Dead Vol. 1, Bears Choice was a single disc live album released in 1973, it contained some of these songs, one side acoustic and one side electric taken from Feb. 13 and 14 1970. I had chosen the same version of Katie Mae but it had some tape artifacts in it. The version of Black Peter I originally used had some flaws as well. The version of Wake Up Little Susie I originally chose was from a different show but this one was marginally better so I used these cleaner versions from the album though they weren't that much cleaner. I'm going to pretend that Bear's Choice never happened or it had different song choices. That album was assembled for Warner Bros to fulfill their contract, owing one more album to the label. So let's just say that this album filled that slot instead but released two years earlier.

It wasn't easy but I think I achieved that balance between good, interesting performances and sound quality but I still had to make a few compromises. When I started digging I found that this was not a good time for soundboards. Due to legal troubles, Owsley was absent for much of the tours outside of California leaving us with a lot of shoddy recordings and missing shows. The mixes were often unbalanced with the bass, drums and keyboards (if present) slightly buried but they’re there if you listen close. While it is fortunate that there was enough good sounding shows to choose from, the best shows were not always captured well if at all. The last three sets in November exist as audience tapes only. While I passed on using those for quality reasons there are a couple aud tapes that almost sound as good as the soundboards (here's a nice one from 11/08 I used applause clips from this one to help smooth out the song transitions). So, while the final results here may not be as pristine and perfect as I'd hoped, I'm very happy with how it did turn out and feel lucky to be able to pass it along to you.

The cover was constructed from several elements but the main center image comes from a floor mosaic by Gianlorenzo Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria. John Hilgart over at Save Your Face recently used the image for a post and I fell in love with it and extracted the center image for this cover. I had originally planned to name this after the working title of Aoxomoxoa with the cover to the left but when I changed the image the title didn't work for me anymore so I changed it to simply Acoustic Dead. There were vinyl bootlegs with the same name featuring one of the many acoustic sets from 1970 so it all felt proper to me. And before anyone points out the the working title of Aoxomoxoa was Earthquake Country not County I felt county rolled off the tongue and fit the image better.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Bob Weir Band [Grateful Dead] - Acoustic 1978

Another rare acoustic set for The Dead. This time from 1978. The Dead were in the middle of a three night run in Chicago when they did this impromptu performance earlier in the day. Billed as the Bob Weir Band but really the band minus Keith, Donna and Bill.

The show was a benefit for the college's Hunger Week and saw the band dig out some old favorites and a couple of new ones and one original and that was a Bobby song from his recent solo album, Heaven Help The Fool.

I love acoustic music in general but acoustic Dead always seems like something special. Enjoy.

Side One
01 Whinin' Boy Blues
02 Tom Dooley
03 This Time Forever
04 Deep Elem Blues
05 KC Moan

Side Two
01 Knockin' on Heaven's Door
02 Big Boy Pete
03 Jack-A-Roe
04 Dark Hollow
05 Oh Boy

Reality Notes

Not too much more I can say about this one. It's a fun listen and unlike other shows I've edited This one was pretty tight with very few long bits between songs. The recording is a clean and decent soundboard which required no touching up. The song choices are mostly old folk and blues songs with one original. Many are making their first and last appearances.

I wanted the cover to have a bootleg feel. This is pre-CD era and their label Arista was still pushing them to deliver slick production product so this would never see an official release making it perfect bootleg material. Even before doing my usual trimming of between song chatter this was barely over 45 minutes long and would split nicely between songs five and six on a vinyl disc. For this reason I did not try to smooth out every edit. I imagine the bootlegger had rudimentary tape editing skills and just chopped what he could to make it fit on the disc.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Phil & Friends [Grateful Dead] - Unplugged '94

To ring in the New Year for the next three weeks I'll be posting nothing but acoustic Dead. This is leading up to something special I've been working on for a while now that I'm really excited about.

My favorite part of the Dead is when they just get down to it and play songs. I love the jamming if I'm in the right mood but the songs will always lift me up when I'm feeling a bit low. And in an acoustic setting we get more songs than jamming. I'm also a big fan of acoustic music in general so acoustic Dead seems to be a natural fit for me.

On September 24th, 1994 the Dead played an acoustic set at Berkeley Community Theatre. Billed as a Phil & Friends show, it featured everyone except the drummers. The setlist was a nice mix of old and new songs. As a prelude to a future Dead post that is just about ready I thought I would share this.

Acoustic sets were rare occurrences for the band outside of 1970 and 1980. The latter giving us the wonderful Reckoning album. I'm working on 1970. There was also a 1978 set that I will be posting next week. I've seen some nice alternate Reckoning comps out there. I encourage you to seek those out if you're into this but I don't see them as essential, just more of a good thing.

Tracklist

01 Tuning & Bob Weir intro
02 Walking Blues
03 Lazy River Road
04 K.C. Moan
05 Dupree's Diamond Blues
06 Childhood's End
07 When I Paint My Masterpiece
08 Attics Of My Life
09 Cassidy>
10 Bird Song>
11 Throwing Stones

Reality Notes

A nice, tight, one hour set that is a treat to listen to. It's nice to hear Vince just playing piano with no midi stuff in sight. Everyone is in fine form. Some songs to note; Lazy River Road and Childhood's End are songs that were considered for the final album that never happened. For those that have/are constructing that album I recommend this Childhood's End as the version to use. Phil's voice is a bit more relaxed which makes him easier to listen to. Cassidy>Bird Song is just wonderful. And a beautiful version of Masterpiece as well. The whole set is just a great listen. If you like acoustic Dead then you need this.

As always with live shows I trimmed the between song tuning and chatter to help the overall flow. I'm visualizing this as a gray market CD rather than trying to pass it off as an official release. That gives me some wiggle room on overall quality and editing.

I threw the cover together featuring a pic from the event. There was a better, clearer version but it was cropped at the top so wouldn't fill the cover like I liked. I think it completes the gray market feel I was going for. Enjoy!