Posted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:22 am Post subject: 9/15/73 -- a random review
I had this vague notion of doing a full-scale personal reassessment of Sept 73, but I'm not willing to put my foot in my mouth by making a big claim then dropping the project. So we shall see. I remembered this show had some unusual jam segments, and I was curious to hear the last 1970's Bird Song again, so this wound up just coming out as a full review.
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Okay. This one is lumped in with the written-off September 73 horns tour, and if this show is remembered for anything, it's for being the last time they played Bird Song until 1980. The first set is from an aud tape: the sound is muffled for the first 2:20, then clears up into a pretty good 73 aud (very little crowd noise). The closeness of the occasional crowd voice and the muffling and what sounds like a very occasional mic stand bump makes me pretty sure that it's a really good stealth fob, not one of the crew-made auds (see 9/24 and 6/30 for good examples). Second set is a typically decent (ie, fine but not inspirational) 1973 board.
Pretty typical laid back 73 first set. Bob starts it off with some sound concertgoing advice -- "Everybody relax, enjoy yourselves, try not to spread germs" -- and after a jumpy BIODTL opener and a laconic Sugaree, they hit the groove. Some decent Jerry action at the end of GSET after a slow start (minimal audible Donna wailing on this aud, Donna haters take note), and Jer plays some nice slide in LLRain. I enjoyed Deal, Jack Straw, Jed, and El Paso, which all keep it rolling in the right direction. Keith sounds very engaged and adds a lot; I particularly like the honky tonk feel to these Deals, even though there's no jam. I also like the one guy who near the mic who roars a very appreciative YES! At the opening Bird Song chords Ė I like auds like this, because you can really hear that this one guyís night has been made already; Iím right there with him. This is the highlight of the set for me. Jerry rubs the genieís lamb and begins his solo with a heaven-sent descending cascade of notes that instantly puts me in the clouds -- then he plays the same descending run again, almost exactly the same. This has a similar effect as that repeated figure he plays over and over again in the end jam of the 9/7 HCSunshine. Ahhhh. His whole first jam is the highlight of the set for me, nothing showy or daredevil, just some A+ zen Jerry flowing; the rest of it is its own usual beautiful self, but without that glow of absolute perfection -- the aud quality kind of gets in the way here, since the rest of the band kind of mushes together underneath Jerry, with Bob and Keithís Rhodes kind of indistinct from each other. Still, itís a very, very fine version, and itís still confusing why they dropped it (mid-tour!) after this for the next seven years. The Bird Song-Playin closer was a rare 73 combo that always (not surprisingly) came off great. Here, Playin gets off to its usual start, Jerry caressing the wah while the rest of the band do the regular jazzy comp behind him; not lethargic or dragging, but not particularly exciting either, though it feels like the energy picks up when Keith becomes more assertive on the Rhodes about halfway through. Decent, nothing notable for 73, but itís still a 1973 Playin. Around 11 min, thereís a source shift to what Iím pretty sure is a sbd, though thereís still a fair bit of audible crowd noise in the background. The sound is much clearer, but still pretty muffled (maybe by a few tape generations?); it's far from a great sounding board and still inferior to the 2nd set, but certainly listenable and kind of like a fresh breeze at this point.
With a noticeable jump in sound quality, the second set gets off on the right foot with strong, good energy versions of Half Step (a nice one), Big River (a couple slips), and Row Jimmy to set up the main event. Truckin doesn't benefit from the horns at all, imho, since they just adding these little riffs that sound like they were worked up a minute beforehand, plus the trumpet player sounds kinda flat (a monitor issue?); they're loud in the mix, but that's not their fault: given that they're playing into mics directly into the PA, they're about as loud as the vocals, which is a little louder than they should be. But they're not very tight either, and Truckin especially has this kinda drunken wedding band feel. Phil does add a little "Howard Cosell said that!" after the "walstib" line, and you can hear Keith playing that short-lived Hammond(?) organ behind one of the verses, way low in the mix but still sounding kinda cool to me. As the song spreads out into the short jam, each horn takes a decent small solo; Martin sounds really good in this context, imho, but that trumpet player does not -- he's kinda brash and not too inventive, somewhat similar to the mystery dude on the Pure Jerry Keystone 74 release. Billy takes his solo and right on cue, Jerry starts up Eyes. Here, the horn lines seems to work a lot more, and I wouldn't mind if Martin got more room to play. He does get to do a little Coltrane-freakout after Phil's solo. Eyes itself sounds fine, though still a little sloppy. Hard to believe that they actually rehearsed, as Martin claimed in that 2006 interview that was posted here somewhere.
The Eyes jam isn't a disaster, but it ain't great either: it sounds like they're all kind of cautiously stepping around each other rather than driving in the same direction. At the end, however, they redeem the whole thing with this cool little extra jam as if to say, "okay, that didn't work, let's just groove a bit so the horns can blow for a while." And indeed they do, and it sounds pretty cool. I like those random little 73 jazz jams. A little splice sounds like it cuts a segue into Let me Sing Me Your Blues Away, which I actually kinda dig. Definitely ragged but charming (jer's enthusiastic backing vocals help: "let me sing your baLOOOOes away!"). I like the sound of Martin's flute on the WRS prelude and the horns sound fine on LIG, as do the boys -- a very early version, obviously, but it sounds great. I should probably relisten before claiming this, but it sounds to me like there's a trombone in the mix in spots (!!), though it's hard to tell if it's a third horn player (seems pretty doubtful) or just the trumpet doubling (I'm pretty sure it's not just him playing real low, though he does do that in spots too, so??). huh!? Martin's back on flute during Jerry's solo, and the horns move to the front at the end for a neat little end jam. Martin takes it there with his vocalizing/yodeling effect, ala Rahsaan Roland Kirk or Leon Thomas (the guy who sang "The Creator Has a Master Plan" with Pharaoh Sanders). yikes. But after that, however, is a very cool Jerry wah/Keith rhodes space. Delicious -- really chill vibe and a very nice drip down into Stella. Awesome (6/30/74, btw, has another cool spacey Keith/Jerry jam that segues into Stella). The horns sound pretty and unobtrusive on Stella, which is quite lovely. A strong Sugar Mags finishes (the horn punches here kind of add to the excitement at the end, imho) and OMSN takes it home.
So there you have it. An overlooked show, but not without its merits, two of which being the un-noted jams after Eyes and Let it Grow. Definitely worth a listen for fans of 73.
Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:42 am Post subject: Re: 9/15/73 -- a random review
I am not as familiar with the month as I would like to be, so maybe you will spur me towards changing that.
I'm doing this more to spur myself to formulate more of an original opinion of my own
Conventional wisdom has it that, outside of the 9/11 Williamsburg show with the DS>Dew, the whole month of September 73 sucks (though Dick did profess much love for the Nassau shows), and outside of some scattered samplings, I'd always just accepted that as being probably true. Given that summer 73 and fall 73 are some of my favorite GD periods, I figured I'd use my own ears and dig a little deeper. It's been a few years coming...
Joined: 23 Jun 2008 Posts: 10252 Location: Davy Jones' Locker
Posted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:36 am Post subject:
Definitely a worthy effort... I basically think the same way, I need to really hear it, to get my formal opinion on it (to be forgotten by myself shortly afterwards)... and yes, the general consensus is that it sucks, but I liked Sax/Jazzy GD, so?
The general consensus seems to be that 93 sucks too, and I love it!
Joined: 03 Mar 2010 Posts: 286 Location: Rhode Island
Posted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:57 pm Post subject: Checked it out
This I can tll you. I wish i was there esicially since I was born and raised and Still live in Rhode Island. One thing I can say is THANK GOD they got rid of the horns. It just didn't work. Althoughmimwas at the MSG shows in 1990, and marsallas kicked ass. So maybe Maybe they just had a bad horn section than
I'm gonna just blame the mystery trumpet player. I enjoy pretty much every pairing of Jerry + saxophone, be it Garcia/Saunders or LOM w/Martin, JGB w/Clarence, Branford, Ornette, David Murray, whatever. It's always at least interesting. But something about trumpet just never gelled. These Sept 73 shows I think just suffered from under-rehearsal and an bad mix that showed off the horns' flaws, but those few early 70's Jerry gigs where a trumpet player shows up (and it's always a mystery who it is! why is that?) always sound like duds to me. The Pure Jerry "9/1/74" release? Love Martin, don't love the trumpet.
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