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Friday, August 26

Today's Grateful Music Fryday Show is Back to the Seventies. Way Back. : The Grateful Dead at The Felt Forum 12-7-71

1971 is one of those years of change that sometimes gets overlooked. With Mickey leaving and Pigpen not always at his best, this show is a smoking hot night that showed Pigpen at the top and Keith playing beautifully behind him. 

1971 was a year of transition from the acoustic sets with the NRPS and long sets of 1970. They are even farther from the "Primal Dead" of 69'.  Towards the beginning of the year, Mickey Hart's father Lenny's scams caught up with him and he finally bailed with the band's money and the respect from his son. Mickey wasn't blamed or asked to leave but in February, he took a sabbatical that lasted until 1974, right before the whole band took a sabbatical.  So Mickey really didn't come back until 76'. Then, after T.C. leaves and Pigpen comes back for good until he can't perform anymore, Keith Godchaux starts playing. So we have this little window that has Billy the K as the only drummer, Pigpen on organ, Keith on keys, and no Donna yet. Out of this window comes this incredible show.  These little shows, tucked in before 1972 and all the fanfare of that year, are some of my favorites. It's a band just getting better and growing every show and keeping on through adversity and making a foundation that really comes to fruition in 73-74 for me.

There has always been a saying in the Deadhead community, "It's not what they play, it's how they play it" and this show is the epitome of that old dictum. There aren't any of the huge jam vehicles that you see in 69' or are right around the corner in 72'. No "Dark Stars" or "The Other Ones" the nearest thing to that in this show is the "NFA>GDTRFB>NFA" but that isn't the highlight of the show. It's amazing, don't get me wrong. What you get here is Jerry leaving his soul on the floor with "Brokedown Palace" and a "Smokestack Lightning" that will blow your smokestack. The best version of "Run Rudolph Run" is here. The Pigpen songs like "Hurts Me Too" makes you feel it. Bobby is right there with "Jack Straw" and "Sugar Magnolia", even "El Paso" which Jerry filigrees with more notes than you feel like can fit in a bar, Bobby sells it to you like life insurance. Add the wonderful harmonies on "Jack Straw", which was just played for the first time in October with five other songs, Bobby sings all the parts. It wasn't until Paris in 72' that Jerry and Bob started trading verses. Add the lovely "Ramble on Rose" and you have one of those shows that has it all and is tight and well-played. Not super exploratory, just locked-in, right on the money versions of the songs that could've gone on an album.

There are a ton of songs in this show and not a clunker in the bunch. From the opening riff of "Cold Rain & Snow" to "One More Sat. Night". The show I had originally picked for today I checked and found it had been released as a Road Trips. That show is epic,too. So check out 8-6-71, as well. 

Grateful Dead
Felt Forum

Set One:

Cold Rain And Snow ;
Beat It On Down The Line ;
Mr. Charlie ;
Sugaree ;
Jack Straw ;
Next Time You See Me ;
Tennessee Jed ;
El Paso ;
Brokedown Palace ;
Run Rudolph Run ;
You Win Again ;
Cumberland Blues ;
Casey Jones

Set Two:
Sugar Magnolia ;
Ramble On Rose ;
Big Boss Man ;
Mexicali Blues ;
Brown Eyed Women ;
Me And My Uncle ;
Smokestack Lightnin' ;
Deal ;
Truckin' ;
Not Fade Away >
Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad >
Not Fade Away

One More Sat. Night

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