This is the 6th of a 20-show northeast tour (with a brutal drive from Bangor, ME on the 22nd down to Durham, NC on the 24th, then back up to NYC on the 25th). The last show is the closing of Fillmore East run with a mini-collaboration set involving the Beach Boys on the 27th, Tom Constanten as guest on the 28th, and that memorably fantastic final gig on the 29th. This was their 2nd visit to the East Coast of the year. They had played six shows at Portchester in February, followed by a mini six-show tour in the mid-west in March (Yikes! Sometimes “taking it where they need it the most” involved some genuine sacrifice and outright suffering).
From a peak of seven players in 1969 (including TC), they were down to playing as a quintet for the first time in over three years as a result of Mickey Hart’s departure after the February 18 Portchester show. As a result, however, of guitars and drums drowning out the organ, they often sounded like a quartet.
They played 52 songs on this tour (not including Beach Boys set). Nine of those songs were played only once, and five of these were played on 4/29. So the 19 songs they played on this night represented nearly half their current play-list.
New songs introduced in late ’70:
Me and Bobby McGee
Around and Around
New songs at the start of ’71:
Playin’ in the Band
Johnny B. Goode
New songs on this tour:
I Second That Emotion
Sing Me Back Home
I’m a Hog for You (played once)
Oh Boy (played once)
New songs at this show:
So, even though there were no breakouts among the 19 songs played at this show, six songs were relatively new to their repertoire: Me And Bobby McGee, Loser, Bertha, PITB, Deal, and Sing Me Back Home.
This recording has a lot of problems, so many, in fact, that it‘s hard to judge the performance separate from the recording. Truckin’ is a good example: does it totally suck or is it just a bad SBD mix of an otherwise good performance? Hard to say. What is easy to say is that the track is really unpleasant to listen to. That goes for several other tracks, too. So rather than wasting time on bemoaning the bad, I’ll emphasize the good.
OK, so there isn’t much to talk about. Loser and Cumberland Blues I liked; Midnight Hour I really liked. Everything else I had problems with. Sugar Mag was cool because I love that early wah-wah-drenched sound, but the brutal end of the Daydream pretty much killed that idyll. Good Lovin’ had too many minutes of drums, too many details about Pig’s visit to the doctor, and not enough jamming. (My idea of a great Pig Pen Good Lovin’ is MIT ’70: Pig at the beginning and end, but Lesh, Weir, and Garcia in the middle.)
The China-Rider is worth bemoaning at length. Did it kick some ass? Probably: you can hear a very happy audience at the end. But it suffers on this recording, and perhaps at the gig, from the harsh isolation of the mix. Every instrument is clear and loud, but each one hits your ears like a jackhammer. Lesh is crushing over there; Garcia is killing over here; but what’s in the middle? Nothing. It’s an object lesson on why they were, at various points in their career, looking for “fill” and “color.” This show needed it like crazy.
Uncle John’s Band was a sad reminder that these guys had serious problems harmonizing. Weir, especially, never hits a right note.
But enough whining…. Someday I might listen to that Midnight Hour again. The rest of it? Never.
I has a busy week so I heard just once to the show in the car during a hot ride today. Here my over all impressions:
1. The soundboard feature very low vocals, but Jerry guitar and Phil's bass are clear and prominent. I would have really loved to have the voices at least a bit up. Nice Phil work througout the show.
2. The overall feeling and sound is of a "garage punk band" with no extended jams, with only Good Lovin' which had some goovin'. The sound of Jerry's guitar is different a kinda of razor sound which sound interesting to me. The songs are most of the time slow paced .... So, this show could be heared also by a non GD audience becaouse has a nice balanced setlists of R&B, ballads, cowboy songs ecc. The down point no exceptional jams.
3. The favourite songs: Hard to Handle (the most concise song withsome sharp and interesting Jerry solos) and Good Lovin' (expecially the second part of the song). As for the ballads Sing me back Home is the best. For the non GD fans the first set with Me and Bobby McGee will do just fine. I know you rider had some interesting final jams by Jerry!
4. The worst song: Truckin' ..... bad .... I mean when they started this version I thought that they would stop as a false start, but no that was it .... slow and uninspired. Then Midnight hour .... again uninspired and it seems as the whished the song would just finish ......
I think that I am in the mood for a more "dirty" GD sound in this phase ... so the 1987 choisce for the next review will have more of my attention. I will come back to this show when I will want to hear some light show with a good Phil bass sound.
This tour was the build-up to the big, big Fillmore East shows later that month – which I think are some of the band’s best, so there is bound to be some magic in this mid-April college swing through the near Midwest. This is Skull and Roses Dead, so soak up every note of Jerry’s crunchy guitar playing and Phil’s punchy bass. I don’t have any idea what guitar Jerry’s using at this show, since he played a lot of different ones during that period. Perhaps Doug Irwin’s “Eagle” or some other Alembic project. Maybe just a Gibson. Either way, it sounds raw and beautiful at all these shows – super crunchy. Imagine if these guys coming to play at your little college town in spring 1971.
Casey Jones sounds nice in the opening slot, despite some level issues. Bob is very loud, but that only highlights the precision of his playing on this number in an era where this was one of their hit songs and thus very well-rehearsed. The vocals are way low, however, marring the experience a little. Still, lots of energy in this opener if you like Bob.
They follow up with Bobby McGee, an ode to Janis that was practically automatic in 1971, played at about 2/3 of the shows that year. A somewhat better version of the song from the end of the month was featured on Skull and Roses. The guitars are still much louder than the vocals in this mix tho. Nice picking from Jerry throughout.
Pig takes the mic for Next Time You See Me, a nice first set blues number to get everyone involved. Then a slow, mournful Loser. Quiet song, so you can hear the vocals a bit better. Nice solo, nothing extraordinary. Bob counts off a 12-beat BIODTL, then Pig comes back up with Hard to Handle. This song was then approaching peak form, and you can hear glimmers of future brilliance here in the rising and falling action of this bouncy blues jam. Jerry says they’re going to change the set-up, acknowledging that “it sounds awful up here.”
With the levels slightly better, they continue with a nice spritely Bertha, then one of their newer tunes and one they’d been playing a lot. This is a close facsimile to the excellent version on Skull and Roses, though not flawless. It has one of those really happy, almost Allmans-esque, solos by Garcia. Playin in the Band was still pretty raw at this point, and nowhere near the heights it would rise to the following three years. Basically just some cool riffs and some bad singing from Bob. Deal has an okay solo, but feels like sort of an afterthought.
However, the next 25 or so minutes make you forget about that. Good Lovin’ starts out like the standard cover song, but after a pretty good drum interlude Jerry’s playing is more focused and by the end the jam it’s turned into a really great Garcia-led bluegrassy breakdown. Certainly one of the better tracks of the show. Great raw and funkadelic energy and a hilarious rap from Pig. Garcia’s guitar just screaming during certain parts.
Truckin and Sing me Back are only so-so, followed by a typically hot MAMU for the period. But everything really comes together for the next few songs. China> Ride is up-tempo version with some nice Phil power chords and a smokin’ hot, but altogether too short, transition. Rider features more superb jamming from Jerry, with that characteristic, “electrified” sound. There’s nothing quite like it, and it’s fully evident once again on Cumberland. Piercing and beautiful. A nice version of a song that was almost always good. It’s easy to forget how great Sugar Mag was during its youth, and this version might be the highlight of the show. Jerry trots out the wah-wah pedal, and a few more young minds are permanently warped for the better. Song part is actually a little sloppy, but the SSDD part blazes like the desert sun. Ends abruptly with an unfortunate cut during Bob’s wailing at the end.
Midnight Hour lumbers along for a while before finally finding a nice mellow groove somewhere in the middle. Uncle John’s has some nice moments, but is also unremarkable.
I enjoyed this show, but I’d probably give it a B- given how much better some of the neighboring shows are from this month. The NYC shows at the beginning of April and the end of April are really the crème de la crème, but if you want some of that mid-tour flavor, try 4/13, 4/15 or 4/17 before listening to this one.
4-10-71 East Hall, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, PA
One Casey Jones [#5:00] ; Me And Bobby McGee [6:07] ; Next Time You See Me [3:32] ; Loser [7:05] ; Beat It On Down The Line [3:13] ; Hard To Handle [7:57] ; Bertha [6:08] ; Playing In The Band [4:54] ; Deal [5:26] ; Good Lovin' [25:54]
Two Truckin' [9:44] ; Sing Me Back Home [9:05] ; Me And My Uncle [3:18] ; China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider [10:13] ; Cumberland Blues [4:42] ; Sugar Magnolia [6:00#] ; In The Midnight Hour [12:21] ; Uncle John's Band [6:28]
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The show starts in Casey Jones. Instantly I notice the vocals in this mix are sort of low. The music does sound pretty clear. This was a standard Casey. [/b]Me & Bobbby McGee[/b] comes next. This is the twentieth time they played this song. Normally I skip this one unless it is a part of sequence. This had some nice closing guitars. Next Time You See Me is pretty standard as well. Pigpen and Jerry do some nice harmonizing.Loser begins and instantly we are treated to some great vocals from Jerry. The band is pretty much on for this one as well. Nice Phil sounds. This song was still pretty much brand spanking new at this concert. This would mark the 18th time it was played. Around 4:30 Garcia lays down a well executed solo. Once again the vocals in the background sort of get on my nerves in the 5 minute mark. "This next one is out there for all you 12 men. Everybody out there that gets off on the number 12 well get off on this one," Bob Weir exclaims as Phil and the drummers begin Beat It On Down The Line. I enjoy this one. After a tuning we are treated to a Pigpen tune, Hard to Handle. I am really happy the Dead started to cover this after they heard the Black Crowes version on Shake Your Money Maker.I am sure you are wondering how this is possible, TIME TRAVEL!!!This is the ultimate power of Jerry's beard. Seriously this a pretty rockin version. The band find it's groove pretty early in the song. 4:23 has a some fun guitar work. Garcia really starts to explore what else he can do in the minute mark. After a stage banter from Jerry announcing they are changing their stage setup because "it sounds awful up here". The band launches into Bertha. This has to be the coolest song ever about a fan. The vocals are still in the background to some degree. Also during this song there is some feedback. It seems to level out pretty fast though. Jerry starts an interesting solo around 3:45-50 and he rocks it, then the vocals come in a little too low. Which kinda ruined the build up. Still I am enjoying this version. This is the 18th time Bertha was played. After a countdown from Weir the band begins the 16th time Playing In The Band was played.This is shorter then what the song will become in just a few years from 71. Once again the band knew this with their power of time travel from Jerry's beard. This is a pretty solid version though. The jam seems very focused. Deal is up next. This is still in the infant stage as this is only the 6th time played. It is a pretty solid version. I do dig Garcia's tone during this song. Once again this was a pretty straight forward rocker. Good Lovin' begins. This is the last song of the first set. Also the 3rd Pigpen sung song this show. This is a monster version. From the intro you know you are in for a treat. The vocals are once again pretty muddy here. A small Drumz is in the middle of this Good Lovin' pretty early in the song. This drums last for about 4 minutes. Then at 7:03 guitars begin to creep their way back into the music. A very inspired jam comes out of this. I really dig Phil and Jerry's interplay amongst each other. Bob adds some nice rhythm. Next thing I know I begin to become hypnotized by Lesh's bass. About a minute later Pig steps up to the mic and begins to sing Good Lovin' once again. I really enjoy this Pigpen rap. The moral of this rap, "Get out and do something. The corners are already full of folks anyways." This quickly moves into, "Everyone touch somebody next to you". He also declares, "Hey baby lets fuck" when rapping about his "old lady". Then the band begins to jam once again. After some really fun jamming Bob brings back the Good Lovin' theme. Holy Phil Bomb Batman, listen to 20:48. This carries on throughout the 21 minute mark. However, I really think the levels got messed up again as you can barely hear Pigpen. That is the end of set one.
I took an intermission between sets. I listened to The Decemeberists' awesome album Hazards Of Love. Get this album and thank me later.
Truckin starts off the second set. Like the first set the vocals are kinda low. This has some nice jamming in it. Overall a pretty standard Truckin' for this era. Around the 6 minute mark the band starts to jam a little. I am digging this part a lot. The jam mellows out before it slowly fades. Then they play Sing Me Back Home I listened to this version earlier this week when I was listening to a bunch of Sing Me Back Homes. This one is pretty nice. I think it is one of the prettier songs from this era. I think they nail the vocal harmonies. Weir and Garcia's guitars melt into one throughout this song. Me & My Uncle was pretty good. China Cat begins with strong guitar. The transition from China cat to Rider is pretty fun. Some nice riffs from Garcia and Lesh. Weir is also keepin up with the musical frenzy. I Know You Rider this song features some good harmonizing as we have heard earlier in the set during Sing Me Back Home. Cumberland Blues also sounds pretty standard for this era. I like some of the guitar riffs during this song, but not too much to say about it. Sugar Magnolia is hinted at during tuning between these two songs. Then the song starts with a great wah effect that reminds me of The Greatest Story Ever Told. Bobby sings this a lot better then he did on Truckin'. Also it sounds that vocals are fixed in this mix during this song, which is also a plus. It sounds like everyone was ready for Sunshine Daydream which gets cut. That sort of makes me sad cause I was getting into that. After a long tuning the band begins In The Midnight HourThis is the last Pigpen song sung in this concert. His vocals are strong. The rest of the band is also in the zone. Check out Jerry at 1:45. This song features some excellent jamming as well. Between this song and Good Lovin' one could make the argument that The Grateful Dead was Pigpen's band.The last song of this concert is Uncle John's Band. You can hear the audience begin to clap at the beginning of this. They start to really rock this song around 5:00. Also features some nice harmonizing.
Things we have learned.
a. Time travel is possible if you happen to have Garcia's beard lying around.
b. Bertha is the coolest song about a fan....EVER!!!
c. Knowledge is power.
Things we haven't learned.
a. How to make a lemon chiffon cake.
This show as a whole was not a great show of this time period by any means considering sound levels, equipment, setlist, or execution. Pigpen drops the F-enheimer though while rapping, so it gets points for that.
//Casey Jones is not very good, standard opener marred by the cut and equipment sound levels that seem off, the vocals in this show are low in the mix in general throughout.
Me and Bobby Mcgee is next, not huge on this song by the Dead, at least in this slot. Levels are still kind of cruddy. Near the end Weir sings something like "freedoms just another word....when Bobby sang the blues" Nice.
Next Time You See Me is strong enough, but lays another block toward setlist mediocrity. Pig's harmonica sounds decent though, and the levels are improving somewhat by now.
A nice Loser picks it up a little, fairly strong version of this tune. Garcia's tone in this show in general has a nice hard edge to it typical of the era, and it comes through here.
Bob announces prior to Beat It On Down The Line that this is for 12 fans, people who get off on twelve, leading to a twelve beat intro to a fair intro. This is a fair to decent song in the Dead's oeuvre, but again, I want something else here.
Hard To Handle is all right, Pig gets in some "jump on my pony and ride action" that he often raps about in Good Lovin, and at one point it almost seems like they could go into a St. Stephen if they wanted to. Not a very inspired version on the whole though, although Bob and Jerry throw in a couple of nice licks. After this Garcia announces that they are changing the setup because it sounds awful which is not a huge surprise, although Hard To Handle sounds fair enough.
Bertha is pretty boring until near the end, when Jerry picks it up a little.
Playing In The Band is exactly what you'd expect from a very early version of this song, no jams really, pretty short.
The early Deal is better. I could be wrong, but I think this is the fifth time ever played by the GD, and it's easy to see why they kept this instant classic in the long-term rotation here.
Good Lovin has a weak beginning, Pigpen and Jerry aren't ready at all. Drum section was boring for me. The segue back into the song heats up a little and we are treated to a not bad but it is not rewarding enough for how long it is, although Pigpen says "bullshit" around 12:50, there is too much talking about touching, contacting, jump on that pony and ride, and getting out of the corner and not enough inspired rapping. He does let fly the "Let's fuck" line as a cure for his ills with his woman to not much crowd or band reaction at all around 14:55. Also kind of funny the way he mimics the doctor in his imaginary Dr. visit that is typical of the song around 13:10. The whole track rounds out to about 25 minutes.
Truckin is pretty bad. Bob's guitar seems awol besides other skippable offenses. It finally gets going in the last couple of minutes.
Too bad because Sing Me Back Home benefits massively from strong energy in the song prior in my experience. It is a fair version but, yet again, not what I want to see at this particular moment, also more low vocals.
Me And My Uncle is average, this setlist is killing me.
China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider is good, and so is Cumberland. Phil's bass sounds pretty good for the Cumberland especially.
Sugar Magnolia>Sunshine Daydream is the surprise of the show with Jerry choosing some weird reverb/wah pedal for his guitar that sounds dirty and funky, yet awesome.
In The Midnight Hour was getting shouts out from the crowd and gets dusted off after Sugarmags. It is slow and never really takes off for me although for a few moments around the 5:30 mark Jerry could take it to a Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (song by Sly and the Family Stone) jam if he wants to, I am left wondering if he ever jammed this out more fully.
Uncle John's Band rounds this one out, typical.
Joined: 07 Jul 2008 Posts: 917 Location: Under the sea, dressed in green.
Posted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 1:56 pm Post subject:
What happened to our Borg Hive-Mind?!? Can we agree on nothing?
To answer the second question: it looks like we all liked the Cumberland Blues. A slender reed around which to form consensus, but sometimes the merest nub will do.
snow_and_rain is correct to point out that this is Skull and Roses territory, but to me this observation merely underscores the fact that this is A) a sub-par night, B) a flawed soundboard recording, and the reality that Skull and Roses presents exceptional performances that have been burnished to a high sheen in the studio.
The difference between this night and April 29 is startling. Thank goodness for nights like April 29!
Thanks, dogstarz, for another exceptional chapter in our summer review series.
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I think it was obvious to all that the soundboard mix left something to be desired on this one, besides the obvious issues with low vocals there was this undercurrent of something that was hard to put my finger on, the guitars just didn't sound right much of the time.
I listened to this show twice for review, and I did like it a little more the second time. The first time I was pretty underwhelmed, especially the first half.
I've heard 4/17/71 Dillon Gym, a week later, a few times, that one is far better, Pigpen busts out the Brooklyn Bridge prostitute rap in Good Lovin and plays matchmaker in Lovelight.
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