Monday, November 10, 2014

live / dead

The Grateful Dead turned on their love light and gathered what another man spilled in this transitive nightfall of diamonds.   With three studio albums ('The Grateful Dead', 'Anthem of the Sun', and 'Aoxomoxoa') under their belt, the band was still not satisfied with the limitations of their music.  According to keyboardist Tom Constanten, the decision to record a live album was a practical one:     "Warner Bros. had pointed out that they had sunk $100,000-plus into Aoxomoxoa ... so someone had the idea that if we sent them a double live album, three discs for the price of one wouldn't be such a bad deal."

'Live/Dead'  was taken from three live performances at the Fillmore West with a sixteen track mobile recording studio.  The album was produced by Grateful Dead, with engineers Bob Matthews and Betty Cantor.  Owsley and Ron Wickersham were consulting engineers and sound was done by Bear.  At this point, The Grateful Dead consisted of  Tom Constanten on keyboards;  Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals;  Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann on drums and percussion;  Ron "Pigpen" McKernan on vocals, congas, and organ on "Death Don't Have No Mercy";  Phil Lesh on bass guitar and vocals;  and Bob Weir on guitar and vocals.  

Garcia considered:     "We got more into wanting to take it farther. In the nightclubs, in bars, mostly what they want to hear is short fast stuff, uhm...and we were always trying to play a little, stretch out a little...So our trip with the Acid Test was to be able to play long and loud. Man, we can play long and loud, as long and loud as we wanted and nobody would stop us...Of course, we were improvising cosmically, too. Because being high, each note, you know, is like a whole universe. And each silence. And the quality of the sound and the degree of emotional...when you’re playing and you’re high on acid in these scenes it is like the most important thing in the world. It’s truly, pshew, cosmic...Our consciousness concerning music is opening up more, so the music is becoming, having more facets than it seemed to, having more dimensions...and we’ve also seen the effect of all of a sudden we find a certain kind of feeling or a certain kind of rhythm and the whole place is like a sea and it goes boom...boom...boom, it’s like magic and it’s like that something you discover on LSD and you discover that another kind of sound will like create a whole other, you know...We’re just playing what’s there, is finally what it comes down to, because we’re not in a position to be deciding."

'Live/Dead' made it to number sixty-four on the US album chart.  It was not only the first of many live albums to be released by the band; it was the first live album ever to be recorded on a sixteen track.

"Dark Star" was the first song that the band wrote with lyricist Robert Hunter.  The song evolved from a brief single to an extended improvisational template in their live shows.  It was the centerpiece for 'Live/Dead'. 

Hunter:   "I arrived in San Francisco with a case of walking pneumonia and the clothes on my back. The next day I was writing Dark Star, feeling pretty much as the lyric suggests...I was in my cabin. They were rehearsing in the hall, and you could hear from there. I heard the music and just started writing Dark Star lying on my bed. I wrote the first half of it and I went in and handed what I'd written to Jerry. He said, 'Oh, this will fit in just fine,' and he started singing it... [When] I heard the Grateful Dead playing, those were the words it seemed to be saying.... That did it for the time being...I was very impressed with T.S. Eliot around the time I was writing Dark Star," Hunter said, and one line was clearly influenced by a line in 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock' - "Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky." "Beyond that, that's just my kind of imagery.... I don't have any idea what the 'transitive nightfall of diamonds' means. It sounded good at the time. It brings up something that you can see."

Garcia:   "You gotta remember that you and I are talking about two different "Dark Stars." You're talking about the "Dark Star" which you have heard formalized on a record, and I'm talking about the "Dark Star" which I have heard in each performance as a completely improvised piece over a long period of time. So I have a long continuum of "Dark Star" which range in character from each other to real different extremes. "Dark Star" has meant, while I'm playing it, almost as many things as I can sit here and imagine, so all I can do is talk about "Dark Star" as a playing experience."

studio single version

Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes.
Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis.
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
Shall we go, you and I while we can

Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?
Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter.
Glass hand dissolving to ice petal flowers revolving.
Lady in velvet recedes in the nights of goodbye.

Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

"Turn On Your Love Light"

single edit

full album:

Side one
00:00 "Dark Star" (Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Robert Hunter, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and Bob Weir) 23:18
Side two
23:18 "St. Stephen" (Garcia, Hunter, and Lesh) 6:31
29:50 "The Eleven" (Hunter and Lesh) 9:18
Side three
39:10 "Turn On Your Love Light" (Deadric Malone and Joseph Scott) 15:05
Side four
54:15 "Death Don't Have No Mercy" (Reverend Gary Davis) 10:28
01:04:43 "Feedback" (Tom Constanten, Garcia, Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, and Weir) 7:49
01:12:33 "And We Bid You Goodnight" (Traditional, arr. by Grateful Dead) 0:35

bonus tracks
01:13:10  "Dark Star" (studio)
01:15:52  "Live/Dead radio promo"

'Playboy After Dark'
"Mountains on the Moon" and "St. Stephen" 
January 18, 1969.

'Fillmore West 1969'!/playlist/Fillmore+West+1969+Grateful+Dead/94750571

February 27, 1969

First set: "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" (Sonny Boy Williamson) - 00:00 "Doin' That Rag" (Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia) - 11:48 "That's It for the Other One" (Garcia, Bill Kreutzman, Bob Weir) - 19:40
Second set: "Dupree's Diamond Blues" (Hunter, Garcia) - 39:43 "Mountains of the Moon" (Hunter, Garcia) - 43:40 "Dark Star" (Hunter, Garcia, Mickey Hart, Kreutzman, Phil Lesh, Pigpen, Weir) - 49:36 "St. Stephen" (including William Tell Bridge)" (Hunter, Garcia, Lesh) - 1:11:21 "The Eleven" (Hunter, Lesh) - 1:19:37 "Turn On Your Love Light" (Joseph Scott, Deadric Malone) - 1:32:47
Encore: "Cosmic Charlie" (Hunter, Garcia) - 1:51:56

February 28, 1969

First set: "(Walk Me Out in the) Morning Dew" (Bonnie Dobson, Tim Rose) - 0:00 "Good Morning Little School Girl" (Williamson) - 10:58 "Doin' That Rag" (Hunter, Garcia) - 22:00 "I'm a King Bee" (Slim Harpo) - 28:59 "Turn on Your Love Light" (Scott, Malone) - 36:04
Second set: "That's It for the Other One" (Garcia, Kreutzman, Weir) - 55:17 "Dark Star" (Hunter, Garcia, Hart, Kreutzman, Lesh, Pigpen, Weir) - 1:15:02 "St. Stephen (including William Tell Bridge)" (Hunter, Garcia, Lesh) - 1:34:48 "The Eleven" (Hunter, Lesh) - 1:42:37 "Death Don't Have No Mercy" (Reverend Gary Davis) - 1:57:52

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