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« Auld Lang Syne | Main | At the movies »

Jan 01, 2010


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Now he has been gone a long time but brings back dead shows in early 70's - how different things are today. Memories providing a frame work of a completely different and perhaps more simple - so many changes. Nice to remember as we march forward into 2010.

A. Bulluck

Wish you had been able to interview the old man during the smack-infused/insulin-lacking spring and summer tours in 1986. Very undervalued year, in my opinion. I just robbed the archive of every show from that year. From start to finish it's like a roller-coaster -literally.

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Jerry does a little two-step during the first guitar solo in this video (build up begins at 4:30 mark). For me that is about the moment of crescendo for music in the 20th Century.

The video is from 1977 and Jerry's use of the envelope filter is to die for.

Alo get to see Keith rockin a Moog.

Last two minutes is sweet envelope filter outro.

David Wharton

The Dead were a good bar band -- though in concert they were frequently muscially lazy, self-indugent, and off-key in their vocals. When you put them up against a tight bar band like NRBQ, the Dead's weaknesses really stand out.

Old joke: What does the Deadhead say when the drugs wear off? "Hey man, this band sucks."

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DW: I like NRBQ a lot, but can they really touch Help On the Way/Slipknot? (skip to the 3:30 mark for the jazz)

I haven't heard anything close to Slipknot from anybody, including Miles, Chick, etc.

Some of the middle parts of Coltrane's Favorite Things comes close.

David Wharton

Oh, Jeff. I think there's a chasm of taste between us. And as to you your judgment of the jazz skills of Jerry Garcia ... I couldn't disagree more. Jerry does some jazz-inspired noodling, though "inspired" is probably too strong a word for his soporific, low-key riffing.

I played in a few bands in my youth, and played with some people who were not only light-years beyond me, but also quite a bit better, deeper, and more interesting guitarists than Jerry. Here's one: Dennis McMurrin, who has been a staple of the bar scene in central Iowa for decades. He blows the doors off Garcia in virtuosity, emotion, and energy. And he's just a guy who plays in bars in the midwest (though he deserves a much wider audience).

And check out my old friend Bruce Millard (nice solo on acoustic at about 2:20), who can play circles around Garcia.

I also got to play with Chris Carringon who's sitting on the far right with Al Di Meola.

All of these guys play with more skill and intensity than Garcia. As John Sebastian once said, there are 1352 guitar pickers in Nashville -- and each and every one plays bettern' Jerry did.

The Dead are a venerable cultural phenomenon whose musical appeal eludes me entirely.

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David: Thanks for the leads on those players. I love checking out all types of guitarists.

As my friends redneck dad told me when he handed me a Budweiser when I was 16, "It's an acquired taste."

I was never into Deadheads and it took a long while for the Greatful Dead to grow on me, but after spending my 20s listening to the entire Miles and Coltrane catalog, I can def. say that Garcia's work on Slipknot is approaching what Coltrane was doing at the end of his career. The fact that JG was a granola growing out of his bluegrass roots and doing what he did on guitar was pretty cool to me.

He was never a virtuoso, but on Slipknot and so much else in the early 70s (see Estimated Prophet above) he was leading the way into the new era that brought us fusion and Return to Forever and led to the Al DiMeloa virtuoso era of the late 70s and beyond.

Ed Cone

Your favorite band sucks.

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I'd put up the Estimated Prophet clip, specifically the 4:55 mark to the 5:30 mark, against any and all comers for best use of guitar and effects within the technological confines of the player's era.

My 4 year-old, after three plays of that section, came over to me from playing with his Thomas trains and said "Daddy, what are you listening to? That sounds crazy!"

Note: I would say that Zappa's Inca Roads competes with the EP clip above, specifically the solo beginning at 1:44 of this iteration of the tune and lasting ad infinitum.

David Wharton

Jeff, I guess there's no point in arguing tastes. My attention span is too short for most jam bands, and I sort of resent having to separate the wheat from the chaff -- that should be the band's job, not mine ("don't bore us; get to the chorus").

My favorite electric pop/rock guitarist of the past 30 years is Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. Not only an impeccably tasteful soloist, but also a missile defense consultant!

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DW: Skunk is something we can agree on. I think there is a 60 Minutes piece about his defense consultant work.

Ed Cone

There was a front-pager in the WSJ some time ago about Skunk's consulting work, too.

I've read that Jimmy Page's favorite guitar solo was one Baxter didn't play -- Eliott Randall's work on Reeling in the Years. I like it, too, but like all recordings it sounds the same every time you hear it...


While we're on the subject of the greatest guitar solo of all time...

Brandon Burgess

I think the Band of Gypsies show is probably the finest performance I've heard from Hendrix, in or out of the studio. Never got into the Dead; just haven't heard much.

Speaking of Miles' catalog, Jeff, tell me I'm not the only fan of Miles early-mid 1970's work.

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Cheri: Love that one. Definitely a great couple of minutes of rock bliss there. I cut a video in college made up on anti-war clips from CBS news set to the solo bit of Machine Gun.

Brandon: Def. not alone. I started on Miles with In A Silent Way/Sketches of Spain, a tape I found in a store when I was 18. I thought I should know about this Miles Davis guy and I had a three hour drive back and forth to school. Later I went back to the Prestige Years and started at the beginning. I got back to In A Silent way era about 10 years later and then bought Live Evil, which blew my mind. Love Big Fun as well. Live Evil has some tracks where Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Joe Zawinul are playing together in one combination or another.

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