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Not Sure Where To Begin?

The intro posts are always a good start, followed logically by
my thoughts on Music & Being, which guide my writing.
You could also try my current favorite show on the blog,
plus there's good reading under the trading community label.
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Listening Trail.

Friday, August 29, 2008

1973 July 1 - Universal Amphitheatre

Jerry Garcia - December 18, 1973

Sunday, July 1, 1973
Universal Amphitheatre – Universal City, CA
Audience Recording

I want to explore a bit more of my favorite portion of my favorite year. Here we will walk the path of one of the earliest 1973 AUDs I added to my collection. The sound quality of this AUD is among the best of the year – recently mastered beautifully by the Mouth Of The Beast team. If there is any knock against it, it is nothing more that the fact that Jerry’s guitar is high in the mix, a fault that no one can bemoan for long. The pure fidelity of the tape reflects just what you might expect from the team of Harvey Kaslow and Craig Todd, who also brought us the legendary 08/06/71 recording. You can luxuriate in this tape.

The middle of 1973 doesn’t get as much love as the more “historic” portions of the year near its end. I’ve explored the contradiction of the mass appeal to my personal preference for the summer shows in the "Getting Seriously Dead" post. So, I will refrain from hopping up on that soapbox again. However it bears mentioning that for the longest time there were scant few pristine soundboard recordings to be found of these summer shows, while November/December offered quite a good number a great sounding tapes. This no doubt impacted (and continues to impact) opinion. That’s just the way it goes. But the Summer shows are the hidden jewel of the year as far as I’m concerned.

This July 1st show in particular is the epitome of a relaxed Dead show as it gets started. It’s far more like we’ve arrived at the Grateful Dead’s house for an afternoon pool party, rather than a mid 70’s rock concert. The energy is mellow – thick with no expectations. As a result, the start of the show can be seen as coming off a little flat. But it’s no matter. The highlights of this show bring it to a level of complete classic 1973 Dead. That this is an AUD, and a darn good one at that, only serves to enshrine the show in my heart as a priceless piece of Summer ’73. This show sits in the shadows of other 1973 shows, and, as with so many others like it from any year, its being regularly overlooked somehow makes it all the more special.

Grateful Dead - July 31, 1973The first set contains a great China>Rider that you won’t want to miss. But it’s the second set that deservers our complete attention. On this night, Playin’ In The Band didn’t close set one. It opened set two. And it is a monstrously large portion of the very marrow found within the bones of 1973. There were a lot of great Playin’s before the summer of 1973, but the song evolved around this time, and perhaps even on this very night. Maybe it was because of the set two placement, but this Playin’ In The Band demonstrates a few characteristics that would follow the song all the way into 1974 - it is enormous (25 plus minutes); it winds its way utterly outside of the semblance of what you could call the song itself; and it finds Jerry hinting numerous times within the jam back at the song’s head long before actually wrapping the song up. These combined elements would follow the song from the Summer of ’73 for years.

The exploration starts off with a prolonged luscious section of jazz-infused jamming which features Jerry changes tone and inflection over and over again. Having Jerry’s guitar so directly in our face, we can fully discern each adjustment he makes in tone and volume. It’s like watching a painter adjust colors on his pallet before applying paint to canvas. Here, instead of the continual adjustments giving a sense of searching and frustration, Jerry is clearly feeling very very good. The jam’s energy grows and the band begins to spiral as if into tightly wound pinwheels of music. After a time things settle way down, and the Playin’ theme appears. Just as it gets pronounce acutely enough to start the crowd clapping in appreciation of a great jam ending, the rug slips out from under everything and we enter an even more slippery jam section of ever-blossoming colors and sounds. We’re hardly ten minutes in.

Eventually they wind through a more aggressive portion of the jam, each member stretching out in multi-directions. Then, as we are bathing in everything there is to love about mid-‘70’s Playin’s, the music frays away completely and we find ourselves in a corner of the universe quite a bit further away from Playin’ than we’d gone before. The music almost completely fractures leaving the focus on Jerry playing an ascending and repetitive five chord pattern over and over again that haunts your heart like some forest of ghosts mingled with a time-imploding ride in outer space. Playin’ is absolutely gone, and we’ve arrived at a destination together with the band that could never be traced back home. The sheer beauty of this place is its own assurance that it will not be found again – a secrete kept by the music itself. This is a measureless landscape of Space. Breathtaking. Gentle. Soul piercing.

From the absolute outer edges of this riveting passage, Jerry tosses the Playin’ theme back into the hall ever so lightly, and it coalesces the band right back into the jazz tinged jamming that so typified 1973. Now we’re following a path down million colored tree lined roads that float in ever-curving arches before our eyes - as if the landscape before us is undulating like a flag in a slow motion wind. That sense of tumbling over one’s step without fully falling is completely prevalent here. This goes on and on and on, over delivering everything known to be idyllic about the band in this year. Finally, the Playin’ theme is back again (for the third time?), and we amble slowly toward what seems to be the end portion of the song. But no. Jerry again drifts the theme out into the most delicate space before finally allowing it to truly return on the gentle breath of sunlight. We hit the song running, and you can’t help but know that this band is the master of their domain, utterly. No one can do what they do.

Later, after a well delivered Truckin’ stomps its way through an energetic post jam, the band hints at Other One before allowing Billy to take a brief drum solo. They come back into Other One proper and immediately the music is slipping deliciously back into that ever falling forward pace, pushed into curves and crevices by Garcia, who can’t seem to hit a bad note. This is textbook 1973 jamming, fluid and syncopated, rolling and spiraling. Along the way they decide to slip into the now well-honed jam that Phil has been nursing all year (something born to 1973 only). It overflows with groovy, jazzy psychedelia. This jam theme took until the late Spring of ‘73 to really pull together nicely. It is very satisfying. Then the Other One returns and the first verse is sung.

Out of the verse, the band tumbles into Space. Again unlike the Spaces later in the year, this is a spectacular chaos of noise and feedback wherein you can tell the band if fully engaged, really working the sound into the fabric of the experience. This is no Space for Space’s sake plopped into a show for effect. They let the noise take on a life of its own, morphing into indescribable, ever-shifting visions. The world forms and reforms before you like a fireball explosion undulating and spreading massive flamed branches and roots in all directions. The Space cools and empties out into an endlessly wide vision of sound patterns. There seem to be light years of space between the individual sounds coming off the stage. Under Jerry’s crooning, lamenting notes, Phil is fluttering against his strings, bubbling as if from just below a still, glass perfect sea. He gurgles and sputters in such a way that leaves you incapable of knowing if it’s him, or your mind playing tricks with the sound. There’s a spiritual majesty to this section – a hush; a calm. It whispers. Its energy has so completely overtaken the musical path, there’s no going back to Other One. Wharf Rat was born for this transition. It picks you up like a shipwrecked survivor who has come to the shore with the tide.

Bob Weir - September 26, 1973Within Wharf Rat, Jerry’s solo is forever etched into my mind because of his guitar’s unmistakable mimicking of a sitar. The strength of the sound rings like bells and resonates electricity for miles and miles as the solo goes on. You hear him turn up, and then up again. It’s fleeting, yet tremendous and not quite duplicated ever again.

Out of this solo, Me & Bobby McGee appears like a sudden shift in the weather. It doesn’t matter whether you think a cowboy song has a place here or not. What’s to be cherished is Jerry’s solo work. He remains quite locked into the precious Wharf Rat moaning as Bob sings. As he enters the true solo after the first chorus you can’t help but completely sink into his tone again. He threads notes and runs together as if they are sacred prayers that could never be expressed in words. It all comes off as effortless – something that often exemplifies Jerry at his most tuned in moments. The song wraps up the wonderful set two jam – Truckin’ > Drums > Other One > Space > Wharf Rat > Bobby McGee. Wow.

Everyone has a Dead song or two that they don’t really need to hear again. For me it’s those ’73-74 Sugar Magnolias. For others, no doubt, it is Casey Jones. Not me. I dig this tune, and in 1973 it just had a wonderful bounce to it. The set ends with Casey Jones, and the show is feeling very mellow again. It’s the send off for the past three day run at the Universal Amphitheatre, and it completely feels like a friend hugging you goodbye. The Dead were about to mount some of the greatest concert work of their career in the upcoming three show run on the East Coast. But that’s a story for another review…

07/01/73 AUD etree source info


  1. You review these shows with as much's truly a pleasure to read your words as much as it is listening to the shows.

    I hope this blog goes on's a great resource and hopefully will get more people on to the bus.

  2. kreutzman, Thanks for your kind words. You know it does pose a bit of a conundrum - the thought of this blog going on forever. After all, as I add more and more shows, the ease of a newbie making use of the blog might become as daunting as just landing on directly.

    However, I have given this some thought (as I *do* want to keep doing this blog at quite some length), and have started to conceptualize new ways to help people make the best use of the content as it grows. Top five show lists by year, descriptions of the Dead's sound and vibe by year, recommended listening orders, etc.. These are some of the things I'm working on as the blog grows.

    Interestingly, I added the simple "Not Sure Where To Begin" sticky post at the top of the blog after chatting with some new comers early on, who felt a bit daunted even a month or two back.

    Right now, a new comer can safely pick any show, and it will serve well. But eventually, it will become a very large garden, no matter how well pruned it is. I'm going to have to keep adding signs and "how to use this user guide guides," as we go.

    Thanks for reading.

  3. Your ideas are sound.
    I've always found it hard to introduce friends to the Dead..."Not Sure Where To Begin" section would be an ideal area.

  4. Noah,

    you are not only a Dead Head but a great blog manager. Your proposals sounds those of a management consultant.

    Take the above as a compliment, please. Your blog becoming archive, org - no way, your guidance is so precious to me.

    Now a new guiding criteria, humbly proposed by me. Comparing versions of same songs over the years. Take Dark Star for example. As they say, you never listen to it yo just enter into it and then leave it for a while waiting to come back.


  5. hey aegert here.. Nice blog I like auds too!
    Come check out my site...

  6. This blog is great. Keep up the great work.

    Oh, and you can never go wrong with MOTB, either.

  7. I recently discovered your blog and I have to say, great work! I enjoy your reviews and it's good to hear that you plan to keep going - it's almost like a 5th volume of the Taper Compendiums! Having tried to 'write up' shows myself, I know it's quite difficult to do at this level of description.
    Anyway, 7-1-73 was a show that hypnotized me in the jams, quite a trip! I'm also a fan of aud tapes, which often in '73/74 bring you things you just don't hear on the sbds. I've started posting a series of early-Dead essays, on the Archive and the newsgroup; here's an example of one post (which could use updating) on 1970 audience tapes:

  8. Caleb, welcome. Glad to have another AUD lover among us. Nice work spreading the word on 1970's AUDs over at rmgd, not to mention, thanks again for posting the link to the GD Listening Guide there. I appreciate it.

  9. I've finally gotten around to downloading this AUD recording and I must say this is one the finest versions of "The Other One" I've ever heard.

    Thanks again for posting these wonderful signposts to new spaces.

    I love soundboard recordings as much as the next Grateful Dead fan, but I'll take audience recordings like this over the board any day of the week.

    Now I'm off to 10/3/76....


  10. Mike, So glad you enjoyed this AUD, and its wonderful Summer 73 Other One. Very special indeed.

    The 10/03/76 AUD isn't quite up to 07/01/73's standards, but the show is absolutely worth it. I'd recommend dropping in at the Playin' to give it its best chance.

  11. I settled in for some quality time with the second set last night and was yet again overjoyed by this jam. This and the night before keep returning to my rotation -- the aud sound is addictive! Your comparison of Jer's tone to a sitar is dead on in spots, especially during the transition out of space into WR. I was floored at how much it sounds almost like the alap introduction to a raga. The way they ease into the space after the O1 verse is remarkable as well, with Garcia really working his volume knobs. Everyone should be listening closely to these shows, both for the atmosphere and the incredible detail it allows us to bask in Garcia's sound (which, though I never would have believed it prior to hearing this, would be as fully possible on a sbd, regardless of quality). Anyone who doesn't have this needs it!

  12. I'm glad you're using my photo; it is from the same era, but it is NOT from the Universal Amphitheatre, it's from Buffalo Memorial, September 26th, 1973.

    You are violating the terms of the Creative Commons License under which my picture was made available. You need to give attribution.

    You also should not mislead people about where/when the picture was taken.

    If you provide a link to the source where the picture is posted on Flickr, all will be forgiven


  13. Grant, Thrilled to have you checking out these pages. Your pictures are wonderful. I'm glad you went a head an linked the credit here.

    Of course, given the way images propagate across the net, there's no way on earth to conclude I got any of your pics from your flickr pages directly and simply chose not to credit you. That is certainly not the case. So I'm glad you put in links for me here. Most of the images I get come from friends in e-mail and many go back 10 years or more, long after anyone could remember where they came from originally.

    Also, if you mouse over the images you will find all the alt tags pop up with the correct date of each picture when known (you'll see all of your 9/26/73 shots are correctly dated), and are given no date when the date of the picture is unknown. I'm obsessive that way, I guess. :-) I tag them all so people will know when (and when not) the pictures are from the date being reviewed.

    I can't agree that I am misleading folks on the dates since the site isn't about sharing pictures from certain concert dates at all, and every one of them is alt tagged appropriately. Though I can see how a person that doesn't check the tag nor the image name (they are all dated too) could miss that.

    Again, thanks for coming through and adding links back to your online collections. They are a treasure trove, and I will strive to credit you moving forward, assuming I can keep straight in my mind where each picture (of the thousands I have) came from.

    As for protecting your Creative Commons License, I would suggest you watermark your images like many other photographers do. Given the complete un-traceability of photo credit online, I've found that this is a good way to keep your stamp on your stuff.

  14. I'm coming to this post late, since I'm working my way backwards. I'm on set 2 right now, having just finished the first, and I feel like I have to point out how amazing the 7/1/73 "Around and Around" is. Maybe it's because I'm used to 'tuning out' when that song comes on, but this one is FIERCE. Jerry is on for both solos, and Bobby's vocals take their cue from there. Unbelievably rocking version.

  15. Yeah, nice job!

    Really well written!
    Keep up the good work!

    I'm gonna go root around in my box o' tapes now!

  16. the pic of Jerry is from 11-30-1973

    just fyi

    Mike Sanditen
    DP # 14

  17. Actually, no. It's a shot from 12/18/73. You can see the known dates of all pics if you mouse over them. A personal friend sent this one to me to digitize years ago.

  18. "Everyone has a Dead song or two that they don’t really need to hear again." I think I can say that there are only two songs that would qualify in this area for me: Johnny B. Goode and Promised Land. For me, it was one time too many after the first time I heard these tunes played. It is always especially disappointing to see a Johnny B. Goode encore at the end of a smokin' hot second set. I would rather hear Casey Jones or One More Saturday Night...hell I would even take a Day Job over another Chuck Berry encore.

  19. One of my favorite audience tapes ever, but I'm having trouble believing that the WONDERFUL performance of Row Jimmy didn't merit a mention! It's never been one of my top-ten favorites, but this one breathes, walks & grooves like no other. Keep up the great work!

  20. Great, classic tape gig! I'm with you as far as summer '73 goes...there was a certain vibe. I really dig all the Fender Rhodes stuff. As fall '73 got on, Keith went back to using mostly piano, especially on Eyes. This summer has got some of the best Dead stuff ever. Fluid, jazzy, flowing at just the right flow, ya know?


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