To start with, the only full versions out there are 1/20/68, 1/23/68, 2/02/68 and 1/26/69.....There are some excellent Clementine jams out there as well, 10/8/68(Mickey and the Heartbeats), and one I really enjoy is from the 10/13 San Mateo studio reels also available on reissue of AOXOMOXOA as bonus material......
1/20/68- I really dig this one but it is not my favorite. It is clipped at the beginning, but that really does not affect my opinion. Phil seems to stand out in this effort. This one is really jazzy and progressive. Jerry gets hotter and hotter throughout, and his patience is excellent. Raw, classic 1968 Grateful Dead right here.
1/23/68- First off they skip the whole intro on this version. Skipping it takes away from the song. This jazzy two chord jam requires Jerry's noodling to be succesful. Although he does come on strong, and Pig does well on the keys, this is not my favorite. Actually this one would be bringing up the rear. It just does not have the life the other ones have.
2/02/68- This is how this song should be played. Classic Garcia right here, taking a basic two chord jam, and turning it into, well, something completely different. Wicked progression and emotion, without the chaotic feel of 1/20 and 1/23. Phil really shines here as well, the only problem here is that Garcia outshines him. I'm quite certain this is something he got very used to over the years. This is the best Clementine out there and this show is extraordinary.
1/26/69- TC's influence is noticable right away. The song takes on almost a Dark Star quality with TC on board. It is truly a different song at this point. There is no intro, yet there are several jams later in the song that account for the ten minute length. The progression is there and the band is on. Again, classic '69 Garcia here. Spacey Clementine.
OK, so with all that, I rank them as follows:
This was extermely interesting for me. As you all know I am a fan of the early stuff with my favorite year being '68. The evoloution of the band's sound has never been more evident to me. If you listen to any of the '68 versions and then listen to the '69 version you will see what I mean. It is not just a different sound, it's a different band.
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