Jul 31, 2012

December 1971: The Dead So Far


FELT FORUM, NYC - It's funny how musical values change. Once upon a time, there was something called the "star trip." Rock & roll musicians would dress in their flashiest wardrobes, play their most attention-grabbing licks and, in general, act as though they were gods that came down from Olympus to honor the peasant listeners with their presence. And the listeners swallowed the hype, serving to further deify the star trippers.
Also, once upon a time, there was a group called the Grateful Dead, who was different than everybody else. Granted, they were a part of the San Francisco sound, but there was something that set them aside from the Jefferson Airplane and the others. They didn't come riding up in shiny silver armour, in fact they wore pretty funky clothes, just like you and me! They weren't a fantasy, they were real people making real music just for the sake of seeing how far they could ride the notes, and how much fun they could have doing it. They were accessible: you knew you could talk to them about real things if you met them in the streets, just like any other people. This reality, this anti-superstar attitude, is eventually what made the Dead so popular amongst admirers of reality.
But then these admirers grew from a group into a clique, and from a clique into a cult. All of a sudden the Dead were superstars, with all the fantasy trimmings. This was something they had rebelled against, but by rebelling, they became so popular that it caught up to them.
This whole dissertation has nothing to do with the delivery of their music, but with its reception by the audience. The Dead are playing as far out as ever, doing oldies ("Cold Rain & Snow", "Beat It On Down The Line"), their hits ("Casey Jones," "Truckin'") and special interpretations of tunes such as Marty Robbins' "El Paso." But the audience reaction is predictable - brainless acceptance of everything with loud cheers and continual screaming for the songs they already know (from having heard them at least ninety times previously). The energy level is higher than ever, but communication lines between performer and listener are down.
In short, will success spoil the Grateful Dead? For a group as dedicated and progressive as they are, the answer is no. But it certainly has ruined their audience, which is eventually bound to affect the group in one way or another.
The New Riders of the Purple Sage, a progressive country-pop group, haven't been on the Dead trip from the very beginning, but they're certainly along for the ride at the moment. They are riding the wave of excitement generated by the Dead and in doing so, are learning how to generate their own brand of enthusiasm.

(by M.P., from the NY Cash Box, December 25 1971)

December 1, 1971: Boston Music Hall


To begin with, the presence of police set a bitter tone for the evening. A burly officer flanked the usher at the entrance of the Music Hall, eyeing suspicious types and confiscating unspeakable amounts of liquor. Smiling benignly at the pile of contraband, one officer quipped, "What do you kids want to bring booze to a wake for? This is the Grateful Dead, don't you know?" Very strange.
The week before the concert Pete Seeger (of all people) wrote a very sagacious piece in the New York Times. He said, in brief, that one of this country's biggest problems is that it survives on a diet of a handful of artists and two hundred million television sets. The increasing mechanization of society, he asserted, has engendered a sense of creative sterility (but surely not impotence) through all strata of comfortable America.
Thus it was with considerable pleasure that I anticipated last week's evening with the Dead. They are, in my view, consummate rock and roll artists. An advised use of the term "artist". The components of the particular musical magic which that band works over its following has long been the subject of zestful speculation. I've often wondered that popular recognition was accorded to the group only following the 1970 release of Workingman's Dead. The finest, and also most innovative body of their work is to be found in the four albums preceding.
The group went through the drug involvement, which has now become a rather trite metaphor for Middle American adolescence. Led by Jerry Garcia, an itinerant Berkeley banjo player, they began expanding on the poems of Robert Hunter, weaving exotic musical tapestries of unprecedented grace. Garcia soared in front of the band with melodic inventions of overpowering purity and beauty. The subtlety of jazz extempore had been wedded to the sexual electricity of rock and roll.
They played with the frenzied amphetamine energy of post-Savio Berkeley. The Dead, along with the Airplane and Quicksilver, beat the rhythms for Kesey, Brautigan and Co., those self-conscious saviors of the Western mind. Yet the music was always theirs alone, and through it all they maintained a musical identity distinct from the political stamp which eventually blotted out any trace of individuality among the so-called Volunteers of America.
From the beginning a rousing dance band, they eventually expanded their style experimenting with pure electrical sound and adding a second drummer into the group. The two drummers were to become a much initiated rock convention, most effectively exploited by Carlos Santana and the late Duane Allman. The Dead throbbed with a will to create and their second album was an endeavor unpretentiously titled Anthem of the Sun. And if you don't think that that work is a genuinely artistic statement--a portrait of the energy source of both nature's world and (excuse the philosophic indulgence) the world of the soul, I'd advise you to listen to it again.
The work is little short of a 20th Century Odyssey, with every conceivable metaphoric cultural transformation. The most striking of which is perhaps from the Homeric balladeer to an eclectic, electric band of gypsies. Listen to the story of Casady, Kesey and the Merry Pranksters on their transcontinental trip--set into a musical creation of elegant turbulence. Most important, the music. Listen. They don't just play it. They create it. Give birth. And the musical communication involved is ineffably complex.
Live Dead carried this disciplined freedom to its logical conclusion. The group presented four sides of music, each bearing an original composition. The most advanced piece, "Dark Star", is the Dead's crowning achievement. A cogent critique of the work will doubtless be the subject of future music scholarship, yet I hesitate to leave you with a mere assurance that it is an exceedingly far out piece of music.
The melodic ideas of Anthem achieve lyrical fruition in "Dark Star." While Anthem bespeaks the darkest underbelly of the acid experience, "Dark Star" is a polished gem of intergalactic proportions. The Dead has clearly made a significant transition in their relationship with drugs. Merely in poetic terms, consider the relationship of the Sun in the Anthem album to the portrait of a "Dark Star." Contrast the frenetic percussion work of Hart and Kreutzmann on "Caution" and Anthem to the brilliantly subtle and suggestive use of gongs, bells, cymbals on the later effort. Try "Alligator", a piece of unabashed musical sarcasm complete with a three-part kazoo introduction, on which Garcia's guitar solos are mocking and derisive. "Dark Star", however, displays a tone of ethereal coldness and humility. For twenty minutes, Garcia, Wier, Lesh, and Constantine weave in and out of each other, building harmonic bridges over acid rivers designed by mad chemist Stan Owsley. An invitation for the future:
Shall we go, you and I, while we can
Through the transitive night fall of diamonds
Simply as a matter of intellectual speculation, one might postulate a similar development in the work of the Airplane: progressing from the vibrant newness of Surrealistic Pillow to the unrefined energy of Baxter's (sample "A Small Package....") to the fourth dimensional perspective of Crown of Creation with Grace beckoning:
Come with me my friend,
Come on now and take my hand,
You can be my friend,
Soon we'll be in another country.
After Live Dead, however, there was a curious turn in the Dead's style. Tom Constantine, one of the strong forces of musical experiment, left the group. Their next albums, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, were pleasant indulgences paralleling the post-Woodstock "back to the country" bulls being issued by the Papacy of hip AM radio and sundry rock publications. Indeed, with "Uncle John's Band", the Dead had something distressingly close to a hit. A non sequitur for many.
And there was a concomitant adjustment in the Dead's following. They were now a real popular group, a "people's band." Their shift to a terse country format made the music accessible to everyone, not merely [those] weird enough to sit enraptured by sixty-minute musical explorations of inner space. The bovinization of the Grateful Dead; Nietzsche would love it.
Dead concerts, once a revered institution, underwent similar changes. The fabled rapport between the group and their fans (and Owsley) was no longer in evidence. Jerry Garcia once said, "The perfect Dead concert would be one in which everyone is onstage playing." (That, I would suggest, is much more to the heart of the notion of "Art for the People" than free, passive enjoyment of the creative efforts of a few.) Unfortunately, the People made the band into unreachable objects of adulation. They were heroes of the media, the center of as much creative energy as applause can ever represent. The Social Contract of the Woodstock Generation read: "You create the music and we'll get stoned."

And so I was wondering how the Dead has reacted to it all. I went to the Music Hall eager for some sort of statement from what many consider to be the foremost artistic personalities of our generation. I have always been fascinated by the fact that for some reason (ostensibly because of the political connotations of the art form), rock musicians have never been considered genuine artists--of the same order as a Casals, a Picasso, a Rubinstein, or (God forbid) a Beethoven or a Bach. Yet I would suggest that the work of the Dead compare favorably with the work of any of these. Listen to the early recordings. For the last six years, every concert something else--a musical manifestation of a unique juncture in time and space, with thematic relevance to all others. Not only were they creative, but each (with Pigpen standing at the side guzzling beer or reaching for his harp) a technical virtuoso. And just exactly why can't one be considered a virtuoso on the electric guitar or bass? (Just check out any of Jimi Hendrix's last albums for the word on encompassing the creative possibilities of a particular instrument). They made it up as they went along, and it came out beautiful.
The last four times I've gone to the symphony I've pined in my seat wistfully hoping for an original and not simply creatively interpretive (whatever that means) statement from the orchestra. Could you get into a tape of a jam featuring Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms, just to see what they might have come up with, had they ever gotten it on together?
So when I went to hear what the band (a term used with the greatest affection) had to say this time around, I came away quite disappointed. I was particularly saddened by the degree to which the extraordinarily creative can become alienated from a mindless following. Pete Seeger said it with just a bit more patience. (One wonders exactly how Wagner might have looked at Nietzsche when it was all over.)
The first thing that became apparent was that the New Riders of the Purple Sage have no business on a stage with the Grateful Dead. They are a very neat group within the limitations of tight, well-rehearsed material. But I would be reticent about endeavoring to present any of my own compositions as back-up at a Bob Dylan concert. Unfortunately for Marmaduke et al. (Garcia was sorely missed on pedal steel), when they put their musical cards on the table, they simply did not have the hand. Only once did they attempt to break out of the dreary cowboy framework that shackled their entire presentation, and then they found themselves unable to extend their creative instrumentation beyond the solitary musical idea that constituted their two-minute jam.
The Dead followed them, complete with a new piano player, Keith Godcheaux, who fitted into the band quite comfortably. The crowd was wrecked, on their feet, and screaming with unbounded enthusiasm before the first number. They were here to have a good time regardless of what came out of the performance. There were faint echoes of prepared laughter like the canned hysteria of television comedy. Significantly, the concert hadn't started yet because of a Dead equipment failure. Weir and Lesh took the opportunity to make some condescending remarks to the kids, suggesting helpfully that they might amuse themselves by "scratching each others' butts" during the interlude in the entertainment. The show that ensued can only be described as a nominal discharge of the group's concert responsibilities. They played many of the songs off their recent hit album, as the crowd knew and loved them, just like on the record.
There was little attempt at innovation and an air of bitter resignation hung over the performance (which leads me to believe that had Pigpen been featured in Woodstock doing "Lovelight," the Dead might have become Ten Years After three years earlier). The new material was melodically simple and tendentious, as if the band's creative energy had been applauded out of it. The vocal harmonies were, as always, technically impeccable if not particularly enthusiastic. The mood seemed typified by a new work entitled "Knocking' It Up"; a crassly liberal protest song coming from Hunter. There was a righting persuasiveness in Garcia's delivery of the lyrics.
Gotta make it somehow,
On the dreams you still believe,
Got an Empty Cup,
But still knockin' it up.
Only once did the Dead come to life. Late Wednesday evening they did an "Anthem" which opened onto forty minutes of brilliant musical improvisation. The unruly crowd was awed in silence as Godcheaux and Garcia led the band into a coldly crystalline atonal frame of mind. Winding on through "Me and My Uncle," they eventually ended the piece by returning to "Anthem." A cathartic ooze slid over the hall, exactly the kind of communal satisfaction that follows the successful completion of any artistic whole. Renewal. Too bad that the Dead slipped back into a perfunctory closing of the concert.
The other highlight of the visit was a tape the group had played during the intermission. It featured piercing guitar feedback and cavernous waves of applause. For twenty minutes. Barren of thought, grating, annoying--and after a while maddening. Nietzsche once wrote. "The voice of disappointment: I listened for an echo; but heard nothing but praise."
I'm not sure what to make of Jerry Garcia's reported comment that he dreamt of taking the Dead to sea in a large boat and playing endlessly for their friends. It would be too bad, but I wouldn't blame them.

(by Jim Krauss, from the Harvard Crimson, December 15 1971)



November 20, 1971: Pauley Pavilion, UCLA


The scoreboard over the arena floor should have read Concert Goers - 10, Pauley Pavilion Ushers - 0 at last Saturday's Grateful Dead-New Riders of the Purple Sage concert.
The sounds were good, despite acoustical problems of presenting a rock concert in a basketball arena. But at times, the audience couldn't have cared less.
As the lights dimmed for Purple Sage's nearly two-hour set, people began dropping like flies from the arena-level seats onto the playing floor where those with $5 tickets sat and danced.
The ushers stood - either helpless or uncaring - as the group made the 12-foot drop. They also stood by watching and absorbing the strange smells wafting through the arena as many people smoked marijuana.
More than 400 joined what was already a sellout crowd and swelled the ranks to nearly 2,000 standing, sitting, bobbing and dancing bodies.
During the concert, which was broadcast live on FM station KMET, balloons and frisbees flew through the air and the crowd rocked to the sound of Purple Sage and the Pig Pen-less Grateful Dead.
Purple Sage brought the audience to its dancing feet with the lively sounds of Johnny Otis's "Hand Jive." The performance was good and kept the attention of the crowd, which waited patiently for the Dead.
Although suffering from the absence of Pig Pen (Ron McKernan) who is recuperating from a kidney operation, the Dead played two sets and sounded like a different group each time.
For the first 90 minutes, they seemed oblivious to the people, spending as much as five minutes between songs retuning their guitars and trying to get the bugs out of the sound equipment.
But after a half-hour break, they returned and played the song "which rocketed to the number one spot in Turlock, Calif. within a week," "Truckin'." It was the beginning of a second 90-minute set which included 25-minutes of jamming, some Chuck Berry tunes from their new album, and "Casey Jones."
The Dead, in the old Fillmore West-type informal setting, played to the crowd's highest expectations during the second set. It was only too bad that the sound system gave them as many problems as it did.

(by Kathy Lemmon, in 'The Now Generation' column from the Santa Ana Register, November 25 1971)

* * * * *


PAULEY PAVILION, U.C.L.A. - When the Grateful Dead come to town it's a real event, and this college concert was no exception. License plates in the parking lot indicated attendees from all over Southern California and, no doubt, most felt this to be one of this year's real biggies.
There was dancing on the lower level and fairly comfortable seating for those of us who vastly prefer such arrangements. And - glory be! - the back of the stage area was roped off so that nobody was forced to sit behind the Warners' group. This should be the practice of every group and every promoter but, sadly, isn't.
The music went on for hours; again, Dead fans were probably thrilled. Selections from albums going back to the first were presented, plus additions such as "El Paso." Pianist Keith Godchaux more than filled in for an ailing Pigpen; he's now a permanent member of the group. (Mr. Pen will in the future, forsake his organ playing and concentrate on singing "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and "Turn On Your Lovelight.")
Second-billed were Columbia's New Riders of the Purple Sage, who started as sort of a Dead equivalent to the Airplane's Hot Tuna but who have now apparently given up any sharing of personnel - they have their own steel guitar player and drummer. They performed an opening set that ran for at least an hour. Most of the songs were from their first album, with a couple of ringers like "Down in the Boondocks" thrown in.
Both bands are pretty good for the idiom (long-haired pseudo-country) that they have chosen to work in. And they put on a pretty good show, even if the Dead seemed to take ten-minute breaks between every number.

(by T.E., from the NY Cash Box, December 4 1971)

* * * 
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles
It is indeed ironic that although the Grateful Dead have always been one of the tightest, funkiest groups around, they have only just begun to receive mass recognition and popularity. They are probably the best dance band in the country and play with an exhilarating enthusiasm which is rarely found in today's jaded pop world. In no way can a Dead concert be termed a rip-off as they regularly perform an amazing five-hour set. 
Their set this time was highlighted by a 40-minute version of "Truckin" which showcased an incredibly fluid jam. Trading off vocal and lead guitar chores, Phil Lesh and the gnome-like Jerry Garcia performed in a relaxed, self-assured manner. The group is quite simply a lot of fun and spending an evening with them is like being with five very close friends who delight in you as much as you in them. 
Playing a captivating blend of bluegrass and rock, The New Riders' set took on the appearance of a giant country hoedown with the audience square dancing. Ex-Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden is playing better than ever and lead singer and guitarist John Dawson combines an ebullient stage personality with musical skill. Standout numbers included "Hand Jive," "Louisiana Lady" and the fast-paced "Jukebox Song." 

(by Shelly Heber, from the "Talent In Action" column, Billboard, 4 December 1971)
* * * 
Despite a series of sound system problems that seemed to continually distract the Grateful Dead and cause delays between songs Saturday night at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, the group proved every bit as good as its fans have been saying for so long now. As soon as Jerry Garcia began the vocal on the opening selection ("Bertha"), the reasons for enthusiasm about the Dead became obvious, reasons that seemed unclear to me at times on their often uneven albums. The Dead has an excellent instrumental design to its music and flavorful vocals. It is currently working in a country vein and included Marty Robbins' "El Paso" in its set. 
Besides the music, part of the effectiveness of the evening Saturday came from the concert setting. In the style of the Fillmore West and Winterland concerts in San Francisco, promoter Mike Davenport removed chairs from the arena floor so people could move about freely (even dance if they could find room) or sit in permanent seats on the concourse levels. By removing the chairs, the concert had a more informal atmosphere and confrontations with ushers over things like keeping aisles clear were eliminated. 

(from the Los Angeles Times, 23 November 1971)

See also:

November 1971: Consumer's Guide to the Dead


Well, Dead freaks your time is here. Never before in the history of Los Angeles have you had so many opportunities to hear the Grateful Dead. First and foremost is the upcoming concert in Pauley Pavilion. Next comes the plethora of Dead records which has recently become available. These records include the new double album on Warners (WS 1935), two bootleg sets, one of which is a double album of the last night at the Fillmore West, The New Riders of the Purple Sage, an effort featuring Jerry Garcia and several other people, who have each at one time or another assisted the Dead. Finally there's Hooteroll? (Douglas 5), an effort featuring Garcia and keyboard man Howard Wales.
With regards to the live concert, it should be pointed out that on a good night there is no other rock band that can come anywhere near equalling a Dead performance. This point will be readily admitted to by Dead freaks, but the uninitiated will understandably be skeptical. To substantiate this point it should be noted that the Dead usually play for two hours and often play much longer than that. During this time they will perform country folk songs, rhythm and blues numbers, old time rock and roll, and inevitably end up with an extended tune in which they will reach musical frontiers undreamed of by most rock musicians, and attained by none others. During this time they will be doing new material and redoing old material (not surprising as the Dead rarely do a song the same way twice), in contrast to your ordinary rock band which will do most of the songs off of their new album and a few favorite oldies.

The problems and advantages of live as opposed to recorded music are well exemplified in the New Riders of the Purple Sage album (Columbia C 30888). The band consists of Dead side kicks John Dawson (Marmaduke), who wrote all of the album's cuts and sings and plays guitar, David Nelson singing, guitaring, and mandolining, Dave Torbert singing, guitaring, and bassing, with J. Garcia pedal steeling and banjoing, and Spencer Dryden (late of Airplane) drumming. Occasional drums are provided by Mickey Hart (late of Dead) and occasional piano by Commander Cody.
The set is a tightly done collection of country tunes and as such has few mistakes in it. The vocals and harmonies are all flawless and so forth. Very nice, but the whole affair is nonetheless rather sterile and lacks the excitement of the live product, though you might well counter that the live product is often accompanied by less than perfect vocals and assorted raunch. Undeniable, however, is the fact that the only innovative aspect of the album is Garcia's weird pedal steel guitar work on "Dirty Business." On that song, he makes use of assorted distortions and unusual pedal steel techniques which he uses extensively in concert and which have never been equalled by anyone else. The album is pleasant to have around, but I would rather see them live doing "Street Fighting Man" and other shitkicking music.

Rolling on down the line drinking a little wine, we come across the hallowed Hooteroll? (Douglas 5). What is this Hooteroll? It is none other than our hero J. Garcia ganging up with Howard Wales, flash keyboard player, and a few of their friends to play 2 sides of music sans vocals. The whole album is very mellow and soothing to the spirit, ideal for laying back and listening to while the universe merrily slips by on its way to oblivion.
While all tunes on the album share a lay back quality, there are differences in all of them. At one extreme is "One A.M. Approach," a slow modal tune featuring Wales on electric piano and Garcia on electric guitar. At the other extreme is "DC-502" which is a more quickly paced boogie type tune which inspires the listener to get up out of his vegetative state and dance around. Here Garcia is still on electric guitar and Wales is playing electric organ with the rhythm section being much more prominent than on the previously mentioned cut, so that the whole group cooks along. Still, the album as a whole seems to lack real guts and may inspire some critics to dismiss it as so much more shlock, especially in light of some of the overdone horn arrangements on the first side. However, with repeated listening, the superb musicianship of Garcia and Wales overpowers any real or imagined flaws, instilling joy and involvement. This is definitely not music to sniff glue by, but may well be a fine elixir to the souls of those who care to become involved with it. It definitely sounds better with each subsequent listening. Skeptic, bear with it.

Of major significance is Grateful Dead (Warner Bros. WS1935), which is the first Dead album to give an idea of the full abilities and versatility of the Dead to those who have never seen the band live. Contained in this two record live set are a number of country tunes such as "Me and Bobby McGee," some good old rock and roll which is best exemplified by "Johnny B. Goode," and an extended jam, called "The Other One."
In some ways it should be said that this album is superior to the Dead in concert because it is edited down from a number of concerts and as such contains the best moments, especially in the case of the vocals, an area in which the Dead are not very consistent. This particular problem is usually a function of inferior sound systems which lack proper monitors. This, in turn, causes the band to be unable to hear each other, and that results in the occasional bad harmonies.
On the other hand this album is much shorter than a typical Dead concert, and more importantly, "The Other One" has been shortened to one side of the album. The Dead have been known to put this song together with one or two others in a jam which goes on for an hour. Needless to say the impact of the recorded version is less than the live version, but it will give the novice insight into what is in store for him at a live concert, and will stimulate the pleasant memories of long-time Dead freaks.
The country and rock and roll on the album is all well executed and a gas to hear. It is, however, the Dead's jams which set them apart from any other known rock band. This is attested to by the fact that whenever critics fall in love with false gods they immediately say that this band does what the Grateful Dead is supposed to do. This is usually in reference to some group exploiting with little creativity some new electronic gadget. Unfortunately, that particular group is usually only as good as their latest electronic toy. Not so for the Dead, folks. They've been doing many of the same songs for years now, but they are constantly changing and a tune is rarely played the same way twice.

For those interested in the quintessence of rock improvisation, I refer you to "The Other One." This song was originally recorded in 1967 and 1968 for Anthem of the Sun (Warner Bros. WS1749). I have listened to this cut hundreds of times and can say assuredly that every time I listen to it I find something new in it. The new live version is easier to come to grips with than the old one, due to the fact that keyboard man Tom Constaten and second drummer Mickey Hart have since left the group. The tune starts off with a solo by drummer Bill Kreutzmann after which the rest of the band comes in. On top, playing over the rhythm, is lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. His playing and Kreutzmann's drumming constitute the extremes of the tune. Between them play bassist Phil Lesh and rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, always in constant motion, moving from one side to the other. Sometimes Weir will play chords while Lesh will play runs moving right along with the lead, while at other times Lesh will play rhythm while Weir plays in and around the lead. All of the time the relations of the musicians to each other are constantly changing in the uncanny fashion which comes from playing together for years. The only other group of rock musicians ever to display such amazing interaction was the Paul Butterfield Band on "East West."

The Grateful Dead is the finest improvising band in rock and there is good exposition of this on their new album as well as in concert, like the one coming up this Saturday in Pauley Pavilion. One should be warned however, that as an improvisational band they are subject to off nights, and as Frank Zappa said, "When you play music in a place designed for basketball, you take your chances." However if everything comes off well, those who are there will never be the same.
Depending on your interests you might also be well advised to pick up the New Riders of the Purple Sage and/or Hooteroll? Hard core Dead freaks should be advised of the existence of the two bootleg albums, but should be warned that the technical quality of them is somewhat marginal.

(by Bob Lynn, from the UCLA Daily Bruin, November 18 1971)

1971: Hooteroll Review

Howard Wales & Jerry Garcia
Douglas 5

I just found out last Friday that Jerry Garcia buys his comics from the same little shop in Mill Valley that I purchase mine at. As I was searching through some old Marvels, looking for a few that I'd missed last summer, John (the cat that runs Village Music) strolled in and lazily noted that he's been selling more comics than records lately (which didn't overly surprise me) and then off-the-cuffly remarked that he'd just sold ninety dollars worth of old EC's to Jerry Garcia a couple of days ago. Which did surprise me.
So where is Garcia getting all the bread from (for ninety bucks you get six or seven EC's)? From all that he's been doing lately. The recent New Riders of the Purple Sage disc didn't count for much; it seemed to me to suffer from a musical lifelessness and from John Dawson's mostly uninspired vocals - Garcia plays some pedal-steel and banjo on this one. Maybe next time they should be recorded live. However, Garcia's also-recent outing with keyboard man Howard Wales is an unqualified success.
Wales has been around for a while - I believe he was the original piano-player for Commander Cody, but I could be wrong - and it really matters little as far as this record goes. With more-than-able assistance from Garcia, a couple of drummers, Ken Balzall's trumpet with Martin Fierro's saxophone (another fellow who has also been around a while), Wales delivers one of the most expert and exciting rock cum folk cum jazz albums of the year.
Pass over BS&T, the Nice and Emerson Lake & Palmer, and steer toward the instrumental magic of Hooteroll - to my jaded ears it is packed with all the streamlined rigor and abandon that all those old Robbie Basho and John Fahey Takoma albums were full of. Whether it's the super-charged intensity of a "South Side Strut" or a "DC-502" or the laying-low, mandala qualities of a "One A.M. Approach" or "Da Bird Song," Wales, Garcia and companions (who is Doris Dynamite?) prove that there definitely is something worth listening to before the just-around-the-corner massive Christmas releases are upon us once more. "A Trip To What Next," and the elusive "Up From the Desert" are also rewarding - "A Trip" particularly demonstrates the volatile rock organ prowess of Mr. Wales.
Back to the comics. There are probably a hell of a lot more EC's that Jerry would like to have - how about a Volume Two of Wales' compositions, entitled Jazzerock or whatever, to pay for them.

(by Gary von Tersch, from Rolling Stone, November 11 1971)

1971: The Sunflower Records Story


SAN FRANCISCO - All Bob Cohen knows is that he didn't mean for it to happen, and he wishes the Grateful Dead wouldn't give him such weird looks whenever he's around them.
Cohen is a sound man, and he was half-owner, with Chet Holms, of the Family Dog, back in the days of the Avalon Ballroom. As such, Cohen made, saved, and owns a pile of tapes of most of the bands that played there - the Grateful Dead among them.
And when Cohen was approached, in spring of 1969, by a Los Angeles record company to sell some of his tapes for an anthology of circa-hippie San Francisco bands, he could see no problem. It was Howard Wolf doing the talking, and Wolf's immediate past included the two Great Society albums Columbia had issued. And he was representing Together Records, a frisky new label headed by Gary Usher, former producer of the Byrds and Firesign Theatre, among others. In fact, the Dead saw no problems either when they were asked to sign releases for nine cuts. "We didn't dig the tapes, the quality that much," said Rock Scully, "but we thought it'd be nice to have this anthology of all the bands." With the Dead set, all Together had to do was get releases from enough of the other groups, like Big Brother, Moby Grape, Steve Miller, Quicksilver, Great Society, and Daily Flash. The idea was a three-LP package.
But, Cohen said, "they had trouble getting those releases." Then, "all of a sudden I find out that in one day Together ceased to exist! To settle everything, Gary Usher should have told me to get my tapes; I assumed the deal was off. My tapes are sitting there. But when I try to get them, I can't. MGM bought them."
A year later, out of the blue, there's an album on the market, Vintage Dead, on another new label, Sunflower (with MGM Records taking manufacturing and distributing credits) - not an anthology but, rather, a Dead album featuring five cuts, all Cohen's, along with, strangely enough, liner notes signed by Cohen. The Dead are wondering. Then, three months ago, another album, Historic Dead, four cuts, two credited to Cohen, two to Peter Abram, owner and tape machine-operator at the old Matrix club. It is absolute bottom of the bag, the four songs totalling 29 minutes. Warner Bros., trying to sell contemporary Dead, are pissed. ("The Dead were freaked out because of the timing," Cohen said. Vintage was released in fall of 1970, just after Warners had put out Workingman's Dead. Vintage Dead has sold more than 74,000 according to the latest word from Rick Sidoti, general manager of Sunflower Records.) The Dead, not knowing what's happening and not wanting to sound like they're being milked by the phone company, are pissed. And Cohen is suffering from this persecution complex, spinning around dizzily, wondering where to point his finger.
Actually, the Dead are more upset with Sunflower/MGM than with Cohen. "We feel they've perpetuated a hoax on us," said Scully, once a manager of the band. "At the very least, it was a misrepresentation." The Dead just recently got hold of copies of the contract, the original having vanished with Lenny Hart, the ex-manager they recently filed embezzlement charges against. Hart was the Dead representative in the deal, Scully said. "We found that those masters they said we'd signed for had all been penciled in," he said. "Everybody who signed swears there were three masters in there now that weren't in there before." But the fact is, they signed, and there's little, legally, that they can do.
Sunflower Records actually paid royalties to the band, $3650.51 in April for 51,683 albums sold between September 1st, 1970, and February 8th, 1971.
Another statement to Cohen, citing identical sales figures, didn't include a check, instead claiming that a $5000 advance cancelled out any money owed. Which got Cohen further upset. "I haven't got any money from them," he claimed, and when he wrote to Sunflower about it, "they called me up and said they're putting out another album. Now they've told me they're going to take both of them and put them together as a two-LP package for Christmas!"
So Cohen was thinking about legal action. His friend and attorney, Creighton Churchill, exchanged letters with Sunflower, and he learned that the advance promised to Cohen was contingent on releases being secured from all the bands on the 37 cuts Cohen had provided, and that Sunflower, in the middle of the Together-to-MGM transaction, thought a payment had been made. "So he can get the royalties," Churchill said, "if he's lucky." Churchill also said that Cohen had in fact been paid a separate fee of $1500 for giving the tapes to Together.
Cohen himself says Howard Wolf got the most money - "about $10,000 in fees and expenses." But Cohen did more than his share of work. After learning about Sunflower's plans for the Dead cuts, he said, "I talked them into at least making it groovy. I put together the Vintage album, because they would've put it out anyway, with or without me. They were gonna put it out as a bootleg. There was no way I could stop them."
So he joined them - after one desperate attempt at sabotage. He had given Together a set of mix masters, keeping the original tapes himself. "I went to their studios," ostensibly to identify tapes for MGM. "I looked at each box, and I had a big magnet with me and erased the tapes." To no avail. "They had quarter-track dubs made, too, and they were going to release those." Still, he contributed the liner notes for the Vintage album. He said he refused to do anything on the second one, which carries no information on recording dates or places.
"We had no liner information," Sunflower's Sidoti claimed, "because we didn't want to take away from the artwork."
Sidoti said he couldn't help Cohen point fingers. "There was nobody involved in the Dead albums from the executive standpoint," he said. "This was a deal made by Together and we just picked up the contract. When Together was disbanded or whatever, the tapes were laying around in the Transcontinental office, and Mac Davis [the veteran songwriter and president of the eight-month-old Sunflower label] bought the tapes from Transcon."
Transcontinental Investment Corporation is the holding group that formed Transcontinental Entertainment Corporation and hired young Mike Curb, now president of MGM Records, to be its head. Curb in turn, hired Gary Usher to form "an avant-garde artist-oriented record label, a division of TEC," as Usher put it. "They made a lot of promises - $1 million to work with, total autonomy, and a three-year minimum. TEC owned 40 percent of the racks in the country; they had lots of money." Usher had been successful with the Beach Boys, co-writing some tunes with Brian Wilson, as well as with the Byrds and Chad and Jeremy (as a producer). He was looking to do something different.
"I always wanted to do a series called 'Archives.'" In fact, Together put out two interesting collections, one of the Pre-Flyte Byrds, and one of various L.A.-area artists and bands. "Pre-Flyte sold well, it got the company off, and other people started bringing me tapes - Lord Buckley and good material like that." That's when he told Howard Wolf about "Archives" and sent him off to San Francisco.
But six months into Together's existence, Usher said, "Transcon started fudging with money, saying, 'We think the San Francisco scene is bullshit and we don't know who Howard Wolf is.' [Wolf, Usher said, had been advanced $5000 on the project.] I took Howard over there, he explained it, and they bought the idea of one full album from the Grateful Dead." Transcon stock then dropped, Usher said, and Curb split. "I simply walked out of there and went to RCA. I signed all my rights and interest over to TEC, who then sold out of the record business, and MGM took over all the properties."
So now you have MGM Records, whose president had so loudly announced a purge of all MGM artists who "advocate and exploit drugs," squeezing out every acidic second of Grateful Dead music that they can.
Sidoti says Sunflower is "a solely-owned label owned by Mac David." But MGM, it says on the liners, manufactures and distributes, and even the lion head appears on the two Dead albums. "Well, it's a joint venture with MGM." Watch your choice of words.
"Mike Curb has nothing to do with it," Sidoti continued. "There's lots of controvery surrounding whatever he does. God bless Mike Curb, whatever his thing is."
But how do you justify putting out shit and misrepresenting a group at the same time?
"There was no motive of hurting the Grateful Dead," Sidoti said. Earlier in our conversation - and this helps explain the motive - he had said, "Since the first one sold well, we decided to go ahead with another. We had four masters left over - they were decent tapes. There were a lot of dropouts on the tape, but we got rid of all those. I really think this helped the group. Actually the record buyer would have to be a Grateful Dead freak to be interested, and there's an X amount of people who otherwise couldn't buy the LP and compare."

(by Ben Fong-Torres, from Rolling Stone, October 28 1971)


1971: WB History of the Dead's Albums

Back in 1966, or close, it was decided by a few exalted arbiters of taste (rock critics) that no San Francisco band could possibly make a record as good as its live performance, an opinion probably generated by the ecstasies experienced in those first mind-expanding San Francisco dance concerts. So it was that when The Grateful Dead was released, it was condemned as a poor substitute, a pale appetizer for the live main course. Only in recent months and years have those same critics admitted, ruefully even, that the first Dead album holds up very well indeed. Some have even deemed it a masterpiece in retrospect, for on it are classics like "Viola Lee Blues" (the song that really did get you high), "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and the beautiful "Morning Dew."

There was an interminable time lapse between the Dead's first and Anthem of the Sun, the second. They started Anthem in Los Angeles (where they had recorded the first with Dave Hassinger producing), but the Dead hated Los Angeles and kept scooting up and down the West Coast and across to New York, recording some in the studio, some live. Just read the list of locations on the back of Anthem and know why Joe Smith - and Dave Hassinger - fretted frequently in 1967. Anthem marked the end of "outside" producers for the Dead.
It didn't mark the end of the myth - that the Dead couldn't harness the recording techniques necessary to make a "live-sounding" album, and so many people missed songs with fanciful names and spellings like "Cryptical Envelopement" and "New Potatoe Caboose." [...]

Aoxomoxoa (the name is a palindrome; no hidden meaning) was the true test of a Dead freak; it contained "St. Stephen," a crowd pleaser, but also such avantly weird things as "What's Become of the Baby." It was a transition album, with the band sometimes exploring heady regions of non-rock while sometimes thumping away on toe-tappers like "Doin' That Rag." It has been their least worldly successful album - and it might well be the only rock album in recent history with no production credit. None.
The label copy reads "Arranged by the Grateful Dead" and the liner mentions Bob Matthews and Betty Cantor as Executive Engineer and Engineer, respectively; nobody was named Producer. But it was the first of a long and happy relationship with Bob and Betty, who have been involved in almost every Dead album thereafter, receiving co-production credit on Live Dead and Workingman's Dead.

Then Live Dead appeared in 1968 [sic], a double package, their first breakthrough into the Hit Album area. Live Dead had what everyone (at that time) went to Dead concerts for - long lyrical guitar passages, lengthy Pig Pen growls ("Turn On Your Love Light" was guaranteed to get an audience standing for Mr. Pen). "Dark Star," the entirety of Side One, remains one of the better examples of Garcia's mystical guitar journeys. Still, Live Dead marked the end of an era, that era of early Grateful Dead. It was as if they said, "Here it is, the live performance sound you've been harping about for so long. Now we'll get on to something else."

That something else was Workingman's Dead, released early in 1969 [sic]. It dispelled all doubt surrounding the Dead's ability to control a studio control room, and it brought forth songs - not just a few lyrics attached to instrumentals, but real songs with beginnings, middles and ends. And vocals. The Dead had been listening to their friends Stephen Stills and David Crosby and had decided that singing real harmonies could be fun. [...] Workingman's Dead is notable for one other thing: it is the only Dead album with a photo of the group on the cover.

American Beauty surfaced in the fall of 1970 with ever tighter vocals, ever better songs like "Ripple" and the Grateful Dead chronicle, "Truckin." It also had "Sugar Magnolia" by Bob Weir, one of the most commercial Dead songs ever, if Circular could be pardoned the use of the word commercial in a Dead article. It had "Operator" by Pig Pen, who had been writing songs all along (and plans a solo album some day). American Beauty also has, to the best of Circular's admittedly limited knowledge, the only song on which Phil Lesh sings lead - "Box of Rain." [...]

On the first album the Dead's original songs were credited to McGannahan Skjellyfetti; on Anthem of the Sun they noted "All selections written by the Grateful Dead." By the third album, Aoxomoxoa, they had overcome reticence about personal names and listed "All tunes written by Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh." Although every Dead has since had some kind of writing credit, most songs come from the busy minds of Hunter and Garcia. [...]

Grateful Dead is the name of the new album [...] not to be confused with The Grateful Dead, the group's first album released back in 1966. This here new one, besides fulfilling the imposing promise of presenting the Dead in their inimitable live style, marks the emergence of one Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist, as strong lead singer and the Dead Most Likely to Become a Pop Star If He Ever Wanted To. Handsome Bob sings lead on seven of the 12 songs. [...]
Behind the voices is the omnipresent elliptical perfection of Garcia's guitar, about which much has already been written (Mr. Garcia's first solo album, by the bye, will come forth in November). There's also the solid Mr. Pen (nee Ron McKernan), a lengthy drum solo by Bill Kreutzmann, the complex bass lines of Phil Lesh, and occasional thundering crowd noises. Four sides, a whole concert. New versions of old Dead songs and some brand new ones...

(excerpt from the Warner Brothers Circular, October 4 1971)

Fall 1971: Promoting the Live Album

Warner Brothers went to great lengths to promote the new Dead album that came out in September 1971, one reason it became the Dead's best seller & first gold album.
One can only imagine how they would have promoted an album called "Skullfuck," but nonetheless, they had a distinctive-looking album cover offering some Dead iconography to draw from. A few examples follow.

* * * * *

From the 10/2/71 Billboard:

The Grateful Dead will have their month at Warner Bros. in October, when the label keys the San Francisco group's new album, "Grateful Dead," to a major merchandising, advertising, promotion and publicity campaign on all seven LPs in the group's Warner Bros. catalog...
[The album] will ignite promotions of Grateful Dead baseball shirts, wall posters, cover slicks, AM & FM radio spots, ads and personal appearances by the Dead throughout October.

* * * * *

From the 10/4/71 Warner Brothers Circular (with a skull cover):


Though most Grateful Dead fans would insist there is a Grateful Dead month 12 times a year, Warner Bros. records has nevertheless issued an edict declaring October, 1971, as The Month for those Dead Folk. October because it's a nice time of year after the summer doldrums and before the Christmas rush, and because there happens to be a new Grateful Dead album to celebrate.

Most months (a cryptic record company merchandising term, bearing little relation to an actual calendar) are celebrated in order to ballyhoo an artist's new album and glorify all the old ones (old albums being termed The Catalog). Thus it is not possible for Neil Young to have a Month this October because he doesn't have a new album; nor is it likely that the Beach Boys would have a Month this October because they have only two Brother/Reprise albums in their catalog. The Dead qualify all round, and besides, as Joe Smith, Executive Vice President and original signer of the Dead once said, "The Dead are one of the most influential, exciting and important bands in the country." Amen....

Grateful Dead's advance orders exceeded the total sales of some previous albums...
To set all 50 of the United States ablaze with enthusiasm for the Dead's seven WB albums, the merch/ad/promo people in Burbank have been working overtime for the last month, in consort with the Dead's management, to come up with a campaign known loosely as "Fill Your Days with the Dead." Here's what's happening:
* Currently arriving at the WB warehouse in Burbank are 10,000 Grateful Dead T-shirts, the rose-crowned skull of their new album cover blazing chest-height in four-color splendor...to hang wall to wall in record stores across greater America...
* ...Also for instore display are giant black-and-white blow-ups of the Dead and slicks of their seven album covers.
* Grateful Dead patches, also using the rose-topped skull, are in the process of being stitched by gnomes at an undisclosed location. Delivery is imminent, and these, too, will be made available to record stores - for their own use and customer giveaway. If they turn out as smashing as anticipated, radio and press will also be on the receiving end.
* To lure Dead fans off the streets and into the stores, a variety of advertising aids have been devised and manufactured for use by the WB branches... Dealer ads suggesting that Dear Consumer be aware that there is now a Dead album for every day of the week; radio scripts; miniatures of album covers for use in local newspaper advertising...
* Lending strength to the above is radio play...dealer ads, prepared radio spots and scripts...

* * * * *

From a 9/28/71 internal WB letter by Ed Rosenblatt:

The Grateful Dead album is shipping today. Listed below are the advertising and merchandising aids which will be shipped to each branch when available, as well as some advertising purchases already made from this office.
As I have previously mentioned before, there are "mucho" advertising dollars available, and additional help if necessary.

Grateful Dead Month Aids:
1. Decal...
2. "Now In Stock" posters
3. Dealer Ad
4. Radio Spots
5. Order form...
6. Patches - Sewn circles, using skull art.
7. Baseball shirt display...
8. Baseball shirts - extras to ship with display kit for record store employees to wear.
9. Black and white Grateful Dead blow-up poster
10. Slicks - of all catalog albums.
11. Advertising/Merchandising envelope - skull design in black and white to hold...advertising materials.
12. Dealer Ads - to include all catalog albums.
13. Radio spot scripts...
14. Radio Advertising buys from home office:
October 6-10
New York WPLJ-FM
Boston WBCN-FM
Los Angeles KPPC-FM
San Francisco KSAN-FM
Chicago WDAI-FM
Phoenix KIKB
Atlanta WPLO-FM
October 14-17
New York WABC
Boston WMEX
Los Angeles KPLA
San Francisco XYA
Chicago WCFL
Phoenix KXIZ
Atlanta WQXI
15. Print Advertising buys from home office:
Rolling Stone full-page ad, on sale October 12
Dealer ads furnished to branches
Dealer ads placed in the October 10 Sunday Entertainment section of the following papers:
Phoenix Republic Gazette
Los Angeles Times
San Francisco Chronicle
New York Times
Boston Globe
Atlanta Journal Constitution

Hopefully, all of the above will insure a most successful promotion.

* * * * *

From a 9/17/71 internal WB letter by Dick Hughes, for Tower Records in San Francisco & Sacramento:

I will have the entire side wall of Tower Records (S.F.) painted with a reproduction "Dead Is Here". This will remain on the wall for one month. Several thousand people a day pass the corner the store is on, so it will give us a tremendous viewing audience.
I am having 15"x15" billboards painted to go on the roof of both Tower stores in Sacramento. Again, these stores are located on well traveled intersections and will reap us great benefit and sales.
Tower is taking a full page ad in the Rolling Stone's insert on the "Dead Month" and will reproduce the ad in poster form and give them away in their stores. This has worked very well in the past.
All the clerks will wear their Grateful Dead T-shirts all month. (They should smell great by the end of the campaign.)
We will also have a large quantity of decals and iron-on patches to pass out to the customers.
...On the day the LP is delivered, myself, Gary Davis, Bill Perasso and Pete Marino will meet the truck before it hits the store and will load a quantity of the LPs in a casket and, dressed as pallbearers, will deliver it to the store in a hearse where the LP will be sold during the month, out of the casket, which will remain in the store. All the other LPs will be displayed around it. (We will have TV coverage of the event.) We are buying a full month of spots on KNDE (Sacto.) and KSAN (S.F.) where they will run a constant low key sales campaign on the "Dead".
The initial orders from Tower were 2300 Pcs. in SF and 1000 in Sacramento.

* * * * *

From a Billboard article (unknown date):


CHICAGO - Some record-tape marketing campaigns go too far. The State Street Council of stores here balked when a Grateful Dead campaign included the placement of wooden coffins in a store window. However, the massive...local promotion ended up a smash success, according to branch chief Vic Faraci...
Actual coffins were designed to be used as browser bins in the Ward's stores. Ward's...checked out the coffin in the window idea and got a polite veto. Instead, the downtown store utilized a rear Dearborn street window for tombstone-style posters, ghosts and other horror props.
The wooden coffins were utilized as browser bins for all seven Grateful Dead packages throughout Ward's stores. Mini-cardboard coffins were used as props in at least 22 store windows by other firms...
Product in advertisements was pegged at anywhere from $5.78 to $6.88 for the Dead's two double pocket LP's and from $2.97 to $3.79 for the other single pocket units. (Tape was advertised as also available...)
Other props included such items as clothes lines strung with Grateful Dead teeshirts, stickers and posters. Faraci used WCFL, WLS, WDAI-FM, and WGLD-FM for radio spots. In addition, WGLD-FM aired a three-hour concert by the Grateful Dead live from Auditorium Theater [October 21]. Faraci did not disclose the total cost of the campaign... "But no one else had coffins," he added.

* * * * *

From an 11/3/71 SF Progress article by Mike Miller, KMPX:


...The Dead has a new album out on Warner Brothers. It's a double album and is selling well enough that it has already been certified 'gold' by the record company. October has been Grateful Dead Month and it has been on a national tour.
It's difficult to think of the Dead in the context of gold records and tours and Grateful Dead Month. They have always been a local band, concerned with the people of the Bay Area. They have probably played more benefits than any other group around. And I'm sure they will continue to do so. They deserve the recognition that they have been getting this month. It has been a long time coming.

The new album doesn't need a lot of praise; it's yet another fine album by the Dead. If you have been lucky enough to see the Dead perform lately, you'll be happy with a couple songs that they have been doing live that appear on the album: Kris Kristofferson's "Me & Bobby McGee" and the good old Chuck Berry tune "Johnny B. Goode."
...The new Dead album...has some country influence. Besides "Me & Bobby McGee," there is a fine arrangement of a Merle Haggard song, "Mama Tried," which is down-home, funky country at its electric best.
One of the most interesting cuts on the double album is "Big Railroad Blues." Partly because it's just a fine arrangement, but also because it was written by Noah Lewis of the old Cannon Jug Band. This marks the first time since the first Dead album when they played "Viola Lee" that they have come back to a Noah Lewis composition. Back to the roots.

* * * * *

From the 11/20/71 NY Cash Box:


Warner Brothers' "Grateful Dead Month" culminated with a sales increase of 50% on the Dead's entire Warner catalog of seven albums. The pioneer San Francisco rock band also attained its first gold record for its current double LP set, "Grateful Dead."
The Dead who are currently winding up a sell-out tour of the Midwest and California, were spotlighted with a merchandising, advertising, and promo campaign that focused on the complete LP catalog. Director of merchandising Hal Halverstadt designed a clothesline display for in-store promo as well as Grateful Dead T-shirts, patches, stickers, and the logo that appears on the new album.
The month-long drive featured a "Why I want to grow up and be like the Grateful Dead" contest that culminated with a mock funeral procession with horse-drawn hearse for the winners. San Francisco's Warner office placed a hearse-and-coffin display at Tower Records, and the New Orleans staff hosted a party at the Louis XIV room of the Marie Antoinette Hotel.

Jul 30, 2012

October 1971: Ralph Gleason Looks Back


Well, it's only five years give or take a few months since the San Francisco Music Renaissance revitalized and forever changed the course of American popular music, and this month is officially Grateful Dead Month.
Officially that is, by fiat of Warner Brothers Record company, though the day may come when it will be the Congress of Washington, not Warners, that so decrees.
Record companies do this sort of thing periodically, just as they send out T-shirts, chewing gum, plastic buttons and any other thing they can think of to draw attention to an artist. It's a harmless exercise in Parkinson's Law as Adapted to the Record Business: gimmicks expand numerically to fill the time of those available to play with them.
But I really think that something more important, even if it was never in the mind of the Warner Brothers' executive who dreamed up the tribute to the Grateful Dead, is implied in October being Grateful Dead month nationally in the recording world.

San Francisco Scene
The Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane sum up the whole San Francisco Scene, as it's been called. Both exist today as important, successful and highly profitable recording groups five years after they first surfaced.
RCA Victor has just financed the Airplane in its own record company, Grunt. Warner Brothers has put out a double package Dead album and declared the month a tribute to the band, with posters and stickers and lord knows what else.
The Dead, possibly even more than the Airplane, have always symbolized the long haired, hippie costumed, communal living, fearless dedication to personal living style and the group effort in music.
They have lived on Marin county ranches on and off since the early Haight days, when they inhabited that Victorian relic on Ashbury from which Bob Weir threw his water-filled balloon at a cop and got busted. The Grateful Dead got busted more than anybody over the years. And not only here.

Power of Music
But the Dead also performed a vital function in the early days of the Haight. Before Alioto's stormtrooper sweepout of the Haight took place, it was basically the Dead's understanding of the power of music to quiet masses of people that kept several Haight Street Sunday frolics from developing into trouble.
Their name even crept out into the world of straight life pop music when they were mentioned in a piece of bubblegum music (the Cowsills' version of "Hair") as a kind of symbol of hippiedom.
But the Dead, like their running mates down the years, the Airplane, really were symbols. They have played for everyone, aided innumerable causes without becoming political themselves, and have helped establish the whole concept of San Francisco rock as superior music with a series of really excellent Warner Brother albums.

Rock Conscience
I don't think their importance musically or sociologically can be overestimated. And Jerry Garcia, their lead guitarist, is not only one of the most important musicians ever to develop in the Bay Area in terms of his own influence on other instrumentalists and bands, but also one of the most important spiritual spokesmen. He has been a sort of conscience of the rock scene for a long time, and his validation of something counts for a great deal.
Along with the Airplane, the Dead really originated the concept of free music in the parks which has spread all over the world now and is a standard part of young people's life style.
With the Airplane, the Dead operated the Carousel Ballroom on Market Street. They were better musicians than they were businessmen, and the ballroom was finally taken over by Bill Graham and became Fillmore West. But while the bands ran it, it was by all odds the grooviest indoor place to hear music that has existed here in recent years.

Fugazi Hall Gathering
When the Dead signed with Warner Brothers and made their first album, it was released with considerable fanfare including a huge party at Fugazi Hall. That was a gathering which should have been preserved on film, believe me.
At that time, the executives of the record business were still trying to dress like vice presidents of banks. They all came up from Warner Brothers for the party and they were in blue suits with white shirts and ties and short hair.
Inside the hall, there was a big spread of free food and the crowd at the table was lined up according to cultural symbols. On one side, the Warner Brothers executives and their local representatives. On the other, the representatives of the various Grateful Dead splinter groups.
The fascination with which the record company people looked at that array of Haight Street fashion was incredible. They had simply not seen anything like it. It was quite dramatic, to say the least.

The Big Change
Nowadays, after four years, the record company executives who come up from Los Angeles periodically for the promotion parties that are still given, are all doing their best to look like owners of poster companies or Polk Street clothing stores. You can't find a blue suit anymore anywhere but in court. And the last time anybody had short hair at a rock music promotion party was when Michael Bloomfield got his locks shorn and turned up at the Family Dog.
Sometimes I think we overlook the tremendous changes that really have occurred in recent years in clothes, in language, in music, in fact in almost everything in our culture. And in all of this, the Grateful Dead has had an important role.
At the beginning, the Dead were considered an uncommercial band and the Airplane a hot commercial property. There was a time when the booking agency couldn't get gigs for the Dead in what one of its executives referred to as "Iron Butterfly territory," meaning the great Midwest where first the Iron Butterfly and now Grand Funk Railroad reigned supreme.

'Uncle John's Band'
But having a hit record changed all of that. "Uncle John's Band" and Bob and Betty Mathews recording got them on the Top 40 stations all over the country and it brought them the audience they needed, and now the Grateful Dead are one of the strongest box office attractions among American groups.
The interesting thing about it, of course, is that it has made no perceivable alteration in the Dead's music. They are just as determinedly individualistic today as they were in the beginning, and even though "Truckin'" followed "Uncle John" to the charts and even though their albums are now part of everybody's rock pile, the Grateful Dead just go on about their business in their own way.

(by Ralph Gleason, from the SF Examiner & Chronicle, October 17 1971)

September 1971: Promo Letter


Wake up, America. The Grateful Dead is making another pass at you. Their new two-record album, Grateful Dead, is crowned with the rose-wreathed skull of an early Dead dance poster. The release itself - all live music - is the group's seventh, marking their seventh anniversary in one of the longest marriages of the business.
For the Dead, it's been a scene - rather than a group - since the 1964 beginning. A scene, meaning an ongoing family-community which includes not only musicians (on the new album, the original Dead quintupling of Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Pigpen, Bob Weir) but also managers, sound men, equipment handlers, accountants, attorneys, and those incredible chicks who do the paperwork at the Dead house in Marin. Not only that, but more - a pyramiding of domestic scenes, recording facilities, instrument makers, designers, suppliers, good friends, protectors, disciples, all interacting in what Rolling Stone has described as "the joy of the mystic vision."
Like the weather, such a vision plays havoc with predictions and relies mostly on good luck. Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist and centering influence among Dead members, laughs when asked to "define" the Dead. Listening to the Dead's music, however, one gets the impression that music is closest to their kind of truth.
Because by indirection and instinct, the Grateful Dead have been on a funky kind of truth crusade, have pursued a vision, for the seven years of their existence. At times a joyous undertaking, at others a forced march, the Dead trip - more than any other group's today - parallels the development of rock music in this country.
But from the start, the Dead's mode - an optimistic cynicism laid over a blues base like the bad tooth you loved to touch - was apparent. Remarkably, almost ten years later, that mode remains unchanged. It is music that moves, that trucks, a constant progression toward some final statement which itself keeps changing all the time. Evolution is the best way to understand Dead music.
In the late sixties, there were the experiments, the mistakes, the development of craft. All of the Dead had been into theory at one time or another. Phil Lesh (bass player) being the most formally educated in music. The big breakthrough occurred with Workingman's Dead, an album which was the result of almost a year's work plus hanging out with David Crosby, Steve Stills and Graham Nash who were working with complex, almost classical harmonies at the time. Noticeably tighter than any of the previous albums, Workingman's Dead was the beginning of a new dimension for the Dead - in terms of structure, vocals, instrumentation. Also, it was their most polished studio product - the kind of musical landscape where the trip lay in working for relative perfection.
The opposite experience - live recording - produced a different kind of mystical sweat, a spiritual statement in an environment - performance - which always affects the content of the Dead's music. During the Acid Tests, the group's performances had been "lab situations" where audience and musicians were virtually one. The euphoria of these first Trips Festivals broke down barriers on both sides of the stage. Ever since, audiences - specifically, the Dead kind of audience - have been part of the music: "Sometimes we get off on them, sometimes they get off on us, sometimes it happens together. Any which way, we make music so that what's happening (off-stage) can be worked in."
The ongoing response to the Grateful Dead comes from heads, from hippies, from free spirits, from mid-cult Americana. It consists of a unique rapport with each other and with the touring musicians to the degree that, hassles and bad press notwithstanding, the group feels "audiences all over the country are the same...we get it on great wherever we go."
At the beginning of the seventies, the Grateful Dead continues to evolve - sometimes resembling an action painting, sometimes sounding like the light shows they helped to invent. No-one in the Dead is totally satisfied. There have been major organization problems, management crimes, hassles with the media, with the studios, and an impatience to expand into other projects. Most of these remain in the category of unfinished business.
Still, after almost a decade a group mellows out, plays more music and less "material". So the greening of the Grateful Dead has inevitably influenced the music on their latest release. Produced by Warner Bros., Grateful Dead is culled from the largest aggregation of music (13 performances, 9 reels of usable songs, 60 hours' worth) the Dead has ever assembled.
The album is also a sampler of ideas long brewing but never fully realized before. First, there was the opportunity to include songs - "Bertha", "Wharf Rat", "Playing in the Band" - which weren't on any of the six previous releases. Second, there was the magic of live-performance energy - part sermon, part carnival - bouncing back and forth between the Dead and their audiences. That mood, that movement, helped to create, for example, "The Other One", a long percussion solo breaking into three-quarter time dissonance on bass and lead, complete with mike feedback and the sounds of a crowd getting off on pure rhythm. Third, there was the chance to produce an album with "good old songs" on it. Like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad", music that is traditionally western, nostalgic, that turns toward the country/western genre as both a tribute and a challenge.
Most important, Grateful Dead sums up, for the musicians, an attitude toward what they are doing right now. A live recording means that the Dead have responded to the dynamics of their setting moment by moment. And thus a listener can feel he is part of that setting - on those particular nights, at those particular places. The new album has the tight chemistry of simple songs that cut through heavier rock progressions like a laser beam. It's almost impossible to mistake the Dead sound but sometimes the message gets confused, so - from the lips of its makers - here it is: Grateful Dead means straight-arrow sanity in a chaotic world.
The album covers that - and more. It illustrates the craft of the Grateful Dead as musicians. It tells of all the mishaps and celebrations and loneliness of being on the road - perhaps somewhere in the music it tells of the difference between east and west.
Most of all, it gives a beautifully recorded slice of one month in the life of the Grateful Dead's music, sounding as it sounded on summer evenings somewhere out there on the road, where nobody knew if it was going to be any good until they got home. And listened to it all again and knew they had a record on their hands.

(from Warner Brothers, September 24 1971)

April 1971: Recording the Live Album


(Recorded live at The Manhattan Civic Centre, Bill Graham's fabled Fillmore East, and at Winterland, San Francisco - Spring & Summer '71)

The new Grateful Dead album was recorded 'on the road', and is their first album to include material recorded live on both the East & West coasts. It is the 'best' of some sixty hours of tape, and the recording, over-dubbing, mixing, album art-work are all the product of the Dead and their immediate family.

The Manhattan Civic Centre in New York City was the first East coast gig to be recorded live for the album. The Centre is a four-thousand-capacity poorly-ventilated fifty-year-old monument to some past era's civic pride, immediately opposite the largest precinct station in Manhattan. For both of the nights that the Dead played there in concert it was packed to way beyond any legal or realistic capacity by the diligent efforts of ticket scalpers, ticket forgers, and the cop on the back door, who seemed as if he wanted to let everyone and anyone in for nothing. An hour before the music was due to begin, nothing could be seen of the stage through the mass of people who surrounded it on every side.

The New Riders of the Purple Sage played each of the concerts that were recorded immediately prior to the DEAD, and took the edge off the evening, with their layed-back approach, encouraging people to stay cool, get high, and dig that the music was being recorded, and could they please not stand on the stage and stomp in time 'cos it was playing havoc with the microphones. Though not credited on the album, their paving the way for the Dead and setting the scene for the music that followed them, played an important part in the overall success of the recording, allowing the Dead to play to an audience that had already achieved a groovy ambience before their music began.

In the hour that it took to get everything set for the Dead to begin, everyone breathed a little. Cops removed jackets and caps - one even removed his shoes and wiggled his toes a little. Garcia sat absent-mindedly charging at neck-breaking speed thru endless variations and varieties of scales on an un-plugged guitar; grinning, rapping, toking, and in the stifling atmosphere drinking hot, sweet coffee. Weir combed his hair. Phil Lesh bravely attempted to explain the intricacies of the sixteen-track to a blond newspaper reporter who seemed to have a hard time getting a portable sony tape-recorder together enough to catch their conversation. Ramrod & Jackson and Sonny Heard laboured on stage between the bodies - this amp over here, and this one over there, and mind me boots mates, they cost a hundred and fifty at Nudies and I think they're pretty sharp, don't you? Yellow leather boots with maruhana leaves clinging in green right up the legs get placed on top of Weir's amps. The last microphone lead gets untangled, too-obtrusive bodies get moved to the side of the stage, and finally the drummer gets nailed down (his drums!) and we're all set. Pigpen strolls thru the back door, one minute too late - and reaches for the organ as Howie Stein introduces the band. Pandemonium! Two nights of mildly-hysterical New York binge, ninety-five degrees, and everyone wasted before the music's even begun.

Somehow the concert gets advertised as a marathon (whose bright idea was that?) and all the audience is equipped with sleeping bags and tooth-brushes - everyone's ready to boogy 'til daylight, believing the band will play right thru, or at least until everyone drops from sheer exhaustion. The Dead play for four hours non-stop. Hard sweating music, with everyone breathing down their necks 'cos there's no place else to catch any air.

The control booth is little larger than a closet stuck between the stage and the back door. The back-door cop (who doesn't want to be a cop at all - at least on this night) keeps sticking his head round the door and trying to fathom what the hell these freaks are doing. The freaks (blissfully ignorant) toke on, and record the music. After four hours Garcia, dripping in sweat, explains that everyone's had it. Worn out. The audience hits the street tired, confused, happy and high. Garbage knee-deep at the end, naked freaks strolling in the happiness. The emotional armageddon of New York - nobody knows what the tapes are like - nobody cares too much. Tomorrow another night in the same place, and the same scene.

Incredibly, even more crowded. How many people can this place hold! It becomes like the marathon, as advertised. The marathon of heat, and holding up in all the jostling, push-shove, mind-your-elbows, I-only-want-room-to-breathe, New York zaniness. At the end of the second night even the floor is wet from perspiration - the very garbage glistens. And when it's all done people hit the street in the same way. The New York air! Fresh air! Who'd ever believe it would be a joy to breathe that city's atmosphere - but the Dead & freaks alike hang at the back door gasping in the springtime of two o'clock in the morning, Manhattan, and over in the precinct station two cops having a hard time getting a drunk to walk up the steps and be booked like a bad guy should. Everyone smiles. The freaks go home and wait for the next time - the Dead leave the sardine-can and strike out for three weeks on the road, before returning to the Fillmore East, for a last shot before going home.

Boston and a good two nights in the Music Hall. Old friends in a groovy city and trying to keep Phil from going to play space-war on the MIT computers 'cos we haven't got time man, and we're going to Pensylnania? Pennsylvania-piddling. First this side of the state in a gymnasium at some anonymous college (is this place run by the Hamish?) and then in to Pittsburgh where we play to two thousand heads in the middle of a bus strike and a snow storm that leaves twelve thousand empty seats and everyone pissed off. Back on the bus. You're on the bus or you're off the bus. Where is the damned bus. Flitting between Holiday Inns and up tight campuses in a Greyhound bus with a straight driver who's doing his best to be groovy but this all here's a bit much. And didn't we fuckin' drive past here yesterday godamit, and Weir telling shaggy-dog stories over the intercom and everyone hollerin' shut the fuck up! And stops at small grocery stores where we buy thirty-three beef sandwiches (twenty-one with everything etc) and two cases of beer, and no-one knows where the hell Pennsylvania is at, those guys don't even stock Doctor Pepper down there. And it all wears thin. Even with some of the old ladies along to cheer things up no-one knows how we got there. And as soon as it all becomes a bummer, just as quickly it ends. We change plans whilst we're making them, and fly to Bangor Maine, where we've never been, and there's gotta be some freaks up there. And then, inexplicably, to Durham North Carolina, the truck driver (Slow Jo) cruising thru two thousand miles in forty-eight hours with two gigs, three girl friends, and no sleep. No magic. No highs. The dour dampening down struggle of getting it on (one more time) without sleep or a break, and I tell you man I'm ill, and I think I'll make it, but if the agent was only here man, if only the agent were here, we'd tell him man, by God we'd let him know what we think of his little act. And then New York City - where we recognise people, and the Fillmore East is almost home.

Bob and Betty establish the recording-booth under the stage. The equipment crew struggle for the last time with three tons of shit that feels like forty, and the road-manager's back at the hotel spewing his heart out and sure he's gonna die behind all the changing plans. Everyone's dead on their feet, but incredibly, ready to play!

The Fillmore becomes a transformed world of tye-dye sheets & flashing green and red lights and meters peering thru the half-gloom, and the sixteen track squatting ready to catch every nuance. Everything trim, and snug. A home away from home. A good place to get high in, and the misery becomes less and less and forgetting too many dumb miles to all those other places soon forgotten the band plays its way to that next airplane ride that'll cruise us all to California and home in Marin county, where a man can hang out and get high in some kind of comfort.

Each night becomes a struggle towards that final escape, and the audience (knowing that the Fillmore is to close) picks up on all the elements of desperation that seem to typify the close of a major tour. Hard to play out, to really cook, especially after so many up-tight places, each with its own peculiarity that it laid on you, and that now sweep around in everyone's personal ozone like mini-memories to disturb both concentration and expression.

But here is almost home. The band sleeps all day, and evenings are spent at the Fillmore. The big apple. The Grateful Dead doing their uptown for all New York, with interviews and out-of-mind telephones that never stop ringing, and pretty girls with tired faces who can't imagine why it is that they never turn this particular band on. (It worked with all the other ones!) And our friends. The few islands of sanity in the midst of it all. They're taking photos, rolling joints, trying to keep out of the way of people taking care of business. And the road-manager's smuggling in Hells Angels thru the back door, whilst equipment guys smuggle in ladies thru the front, and everyone's tripping on the light show, and then Bill Graham's saying thank you to everyone, and back to the hotel for one last fling and it's the 9:15 flight from JFK and we're all going home. Nobody says a thing. Everyone sleeps on the plane.

The album covers all that - and more. It breathes Hunter's lyrics and the craft of the Grateful Dead as musicians. It tells of all the struggles and hardships of the road - perhaps somewhere in the music it tells of the difference between east and west. Most of all it gives a beautifully recorded slice of one month in the life of the Grateful Dead's music, sounding as it sounded four months ago on hot summer's evenings in New York City, somewhere 'out there' on the road, where nobody knew if it was gonna be good until we got home and listened to it all again, and we knew we had a record on our hands.


("Grateful Dead LP Story," promo letter by Sam Cutler, issued September 24 1971)

1971: Live Album Review


When Jerry Garcia can blow the lyrics to "Saint Stephen," as he did last spring at the Fillmore East, you know the Grateful Dead have come a long way since [Live] Dead. Grateful Dead, their newest release, shows it.
After Live Dead the group released two studio albums with music totally different from anything that they had done before. This music was much smoother, oriented more toward country and Fifties rock music.
With the exodus of drummer Mickey Hart and organist Tom Constanten, the Dead is now composed of its original five members--the five who put out the Dead's first album. And, not surprisingly, their new album resembles their first more than any since.
The result of these changes is an album oriented toward Dead renditions of country and simple rock songs. Unfortunately, since Grateful Dead is weighted to one side, it gives an inaccurate picture of what the group is like in concert now.
The Dead have by no means moved away from the type of music that they did on Live Dead, but the new album gives that impression. The group still does "China Cat Sunflower" and "Saint Stephen," and "Dark Star," the epitome of the Dead's jazz-influenced acid rock, has come back into their repertoire.
So, the Dead have by no means moved away from the acid rock of old; they have merely tempered it with a good measure of country and rock.
The new Dead material on the album is all of the quality that a true Dead freak would expect. However, since there are only three new songs by the Dead, it is hard to tell from the album what direction they are headed in their writing.
The best of the three is "Wharf Rat," which almost unquestionably reflects the musical state of mind that brought forth American Beauty. A reflection on a chance encounter during a walk through a city's docks, "Wharf Rat" is the Dead at their mellowest.

The other two new Dead songs, "Bertha" and "Playing in the Band," are almost polar opposites. "Bertha," typical of the Dead's blues, is a lament on moving on and leaving a woman. "Playing in the Band," however, is a personal statement on what playing in a group means to one of the members.

Standing on a tower, world at my command,
You just keep a-dreaming while I'm playing in the band.
If a man among you got no sin upon his hands,
Let him cast a stone at me for playing in the band.

There is one cut that the Dead have recorded before: "The Other One," first released on Anthem of the Sun. The number merely demonstrates how much the Dead have been limited by the loss of Hart and Constanten. The opening drum solo shows that Bill Kreutzmann, in spite of his technical skill, is unable to fashion a solo with enough continuity and development to hold the listener's attention. Without Constanten's classically-influenced keyboard work to give the number structure, the remaining instrumental portion of the song degenerates into a rather aimless, formless guitar exhibition by Garcia and Weir.
The remainder of the album is made up of Dead renditions of other people's songs. The best of these is a 12-minute medley of "Not Fade Away" and "Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad." This is one of the few songs on the album that sustains the energy that is the live Dead's trademark.
Some of the shorter numbers on the album are tight, but almost all of them seem to lack this energy that the Dead can inject into a song to lift it far above any version any other group could do.
Quite a few of these shorter songs suffer from a common fault--they are almost skeletal compared to the usual concert versions. Many of them consist of precious little beyond vocals and a short instrumental break. And, as any good Dead freak knows, vocals have never been the Dead's strongest point. So, in effect, one often gets a tantalizing whiff of what the Dead can be, rather than a substantial taste of what the Dead are. "Mama Tried" and "Me and My Uncle" epitomize this lethargy.
The Dead have done much better versions of many of the songs on the album, as a single listening to the bootleg album of the Dead at the closing show of the Fillmore West will show.

The Dead's choice of material for the album is disappointing. Anyone who has seen the Dead in the last six months knows that the group has some incredibly good new originals that were not included. The album could not have suffered if a version of "Morning Dew" or another of the Dead's long numbers was released instead of "The Other One."
Garcia's performance on this album is truly superb, as it has seen on every other Dead recording. His playing seems to be more mature, with fewer of the acid pyrotechnics and a much more reserved, flowing style. He is beginning to show the almost lyrical influence of the pedal steel guitar, especially on the country numbers that the Dead do.
Weir and Lesh both turn in amazingly good performances, although the Dead have mixed Lesh too low again. Weir's vocals have also improved amazingly in the last two years.
Pigpen, for one who has stolen the show as often as he [has], seems to have been slighted on this album. The Grateful Dead should have included one more of his better concert numbers, such as "This is a Man's World" or "Hard to Handle."
Kreutzmann's drumming is adequate throughout, even good in places. However, it is simply impossible for any one drummer to replace the Hart-Kreutzmann combination of Live Dead.
One thing that is incredibly irritating about this album is that there is so little music on it. There is no one side with as much as 19 minutes of music, and two sides don't even top 18 minutes. When Captain Beefheart can squeeze 28 minutes of music onto a side of a live album, there is no reason for the Dead to be content with 18.
Grateful Dead cannot be seen as anything but a good rock album. Unfortunately, it does not approach the near-perfection of which the Dead are capable.

(by Roger Smith, from the Harvard Crimson, November 18 1971)


August 1971: Lenny Hart Arrested


SAN FRANCISCO - The Grateful Dead have found and busted Lenny Hart, their elusive former manager and the father of ex-drummer Mickey Hart. He was in San Diego, the Dead said - baptizing Jesus freaks under the name and title with which he had first approached the band two years ago: The Reverend Lenny B. Hart.
A warrant had been out, and a suit filed, for Hart since he split in spring last year. The charge, said Dead accountant David Parker, was embezzlement. Hart was found by private detectives two weeks ago, according to Rock Scully, and spent a weekend in jail. Bail was set at $38,500; Hart reportedly bailed himself out.
Various members of the Dead organization tried to piece the father-and-band association together. "He had come to us as a man of God," said Scully, who left the Dead while Lenny Hart was there. "He said, 'You've been fucked around. Now, I don't ask you to believe in Jesus, but believe in me. Fill the vessel!' You know, 'The content's beautiful but we've got to hold it!' He really cleaned the hell out of all of us."
Parker joined the band's office around the time of Hart's departure, in March, 1970. "It became obvious to everyone - something was strange," he said. "He wouldn't hand over the checkbook or let us look at the books. There were several confrontations with a number of people; we were going to file suit.
"Then he got a lawyer and said he'd pay the money back. $70,000 was the amount we put down for suit; that was the amount clearly beyond a doubt that had been dealt with in a suspicious way. It may have been double that, we didn't know. He promised to pay, put down $10,000, and split. He cleaned out all the bank accounts, and the band didn't even have any money to go on the road with."
"When he ran off on us," said Scully, "he'd just gone to L.A. with Garcia to negotiate for music in Zabriskie Point. Well, he just took the check and split. We found out he had 11 accounts spread out through California. He'd open up 'new companies' and put the money there." The band, he said, thought Hart was putting aside money to pay taxes. "You know how you save to avoid getting hit at the end of the year? Well, we got hit."
Manager John McIntire shook his head. "So much of it's so cut and dry it's amazing how stupid we were," he said. "It was a classic trip: Elmer Gantry coming in. We deserved it. But you wouldn't think he'd fuck his own kid."
Mickey Hart left the band shortly after his father had split. "Mickey's still reacting to it," said Scully. "I mean, he was burned by his father."

(from Rolling Stone, September 2 1971)

See also: 

August 26, 1971: Gaelic Park, NYC


The Grateful Dead is one group that seems to get better each time out as their solid performance before 15,000 at Gaelic Park, N.Y., last Thursday (26) showed. Offering a program of more than three hours, the Dead never lagged in playing the best in rock, blues and country rock.
Among the pioneers of the "San Francisco Sound," the Dead were infectious in old and new material. The guitar work especially stood out as Jerry Garcia was inspired at lead; Bob Weir, steady at rhythm; and Phil Lesh again proved one of the best of bass guitarists. The rhythms also were strengthened by Bill Kreutzman on drums, while Ron (Pigpen) McKernan was dependable on organ.
Included were some of the top numbers from their Warner Bros. albums, including "Sugar Magnolia" and the rockin' "Truckin," "Casey Jones," and a distinctive version of the Rascals' "Good Lovin'." The program also was rich in improvisation and the fine vocals of the guitarists and Kreutzman. [sic] The Dead were the only act on the bill and they were more than enough for this most unified of groups.

(by Kirb, from the NY Variety, September 1 1971)


August 5, 1971: Hollywood Palladium


The 4,000 kids who paid $5 and $5.50 for Thursday night's Grateful Dead dance at the Palladium more than got their money's worth.
The New Riders of the Purple Sage, whose first album will be released by Columbia, is an interesting new and good group out of San Francisco. With all the overlapping of music, pinpointing their bag is difficult. Country seems the best tag, but it is country in the special way the young people have adapted that genre to their own hopes, humor and worries.
With Jerry Garcia, leader of The Grateful Dead, sitting in on pedal steel guitar, the group ran rhythm and harmony from blues, rock, slow country to near-hoedown.
"The Last Lonely Eagle," a plaintive commentary on man's waste of his planet, written by the group's leader, guitarist John (Marmaduke) Dawson, hushed the house, while "Down in the Boondocks" and the Stones' "Honky-Tonk Woman" had the kids whistling and stomping.
Dawson, who handled most of the singing, also wrote much of the evening's repertoire and while his voice is good he is even better as a composer. He expresses old thoughts in fresh ways, but most importantly for the kids, he talks their language, something which another act, The Rowen Brothers, did not do.
In spite of all the Rowens' hokum dating back to the early days of rock and their attempt to have an audience-participation show, the kids did not join in. They listened and some of the pieces evoked mild approval but there was no real communication. As musicians the brothers were okay, but as communicators they were slick.
All this was quickly forgotten when The Grateful Dead took the stand. The turn-on was instant and overwhelming, and there were no antic arts. It was all art, with Garcia leading the group through intricate harmonics, worthy of the L.A. Philharmonic. Their 20-min. improvisational piece, "The Other," reminiscent of Miles Davis and featuring Bill Krutsmann on drums, was brilliant and spine-tingling, a virtuoso display of performance and arrangement. It is no wonder their concert scheduled for Friday (6) was sold out within a week, necessitating the second gig hastily scheduled for Thursday.

(by Beth, from Variety, August 9 1971)