December 17, 2011

Playlist Week of 12-17-11

Grateful Dead - Road Trips Vol4 No5

* Dowland: Complete Lute Works Vol.5 (O’Dette) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* Rameau: Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts (Rousset/Terakado/Uemura) (Harmonia Mundi CD)
* Vivaldi: Cello Sonatas (ter Linden/Mortensen) (Brilliant Classics 2CD)
* Dvořák/Walton: Cello Concertos (Boston/Munch/Piatigorsky) (RCA-Victor/Sony SACD)
* Copland/Grofé: Billy The Kid, etc./Grand Canyon Suite (Morton Gould Orch.)(RCA-Victor/Sony SACD)
* Sun Ra: Live At Montreux (Inner City 2CD)
* Sun Ra: Cosmos (Cobra/Spalax CD)
* Anthony Braxton: Tentet (Wesleyan) 2000 (d.2) (New Braxton House FLAC>2CDR)
* Joseph Holbrooke Trio: The Moat Recordings (Tzadik 2CD)
* David S. Ware/Cooper Moore/William Parker/Muhammad Ali: Planetary Unknown (AUM Fidelity CD)
* Pat Metheny Group: The Way Up (Nonesuch CD)
* John Lennon: Imagine (2010 remaster) (Apple/Capitol CD)
* Grateful Dead: Live/Dead (Warner Bros./Mobile Fidelity 2LP)
* Grateful Dead: Lyceum Theatre, London, England 5/26/72 (GDP/Rhino 4CD)
* Grateful Dead: Road Trips Vol.4 No.5: Boston Music Hall 6-9-76 (GDP/Rhino 3CD)
* Crosby, Stills & Nash: Crosby, Stills & Nash (Atlantic/Audio Fidelity CD)
* Joni Mitchell: Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (Asylum 2LP)
* Pink Floyd: Meddle (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: The Dark Side Of The Moon (Experience Edition) (d.1) (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (Experience Edition) (d.1) (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* Pink Floyd: Animals (Pinkfloyd/EMI CD)
* King Crimson: The Nightwatch: Live At The Amsterdam Concertgebouw 1973 (DGM 2CD)†
* Helios Creed: X-Rated Fairy Tales (Subterranean LP)
* Massacre: Funny Valentine (Tzadik CD)†
* Massacre: Melt Down (Tzadik CD)†
* Massacre: Lonely Heart (Tzadik CD)†
* Yo La Tengo: Summer Sun (Matador CD)†/‡
* Aphex Twin: The Richard D. James Album (Warp/Sire CD)†
* Buckethead: Bucketheadland (DIW 2CD)†
* Buckethead: Bucketheadland 2 (ION CD)†
* Cobra Strike II: Y, Y+B, X+Y (ION CD)†
* Mastodon: Leviathan (Relapse CD)†
* Mastodon: Blood Mountain (Reprise CD)†
* Mastodon: Crack They Skye (Reprise CD/2-45RPM LP)(†)
* Mastodon: The Hunter (Reprise CD)†
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner CD)†(‡)
* Ray La Montagne: Trouble (RCA/Legacy LP)
* Ray LaMontagne: Till The Sun Turns Black (RCA/Legacy LP)



Turns out Volume 4 Number 5 is the last of the Grateful Dead Road Trips series. I can't say I am broken-hearted since it was only a half-way good idea that would never quite satisfied anybody’s expectations. Originally, they were to be two-CD sets consisting of highlights compiled from a particular tour or run of shows, but with a third, limited edition “bonus disc” which often contained better music than on the official release. I found this approach annoying and elitist and the “bonus disc” idea was, thankfully, abandoned by Volume 3 Number 4, which was sensibly expanded to three CDs. However, by this time the chorus of “picky Deadheads” were insisting on complete shows and they effectively derailed the original conceit. Road Trips became just another Dick’s Picks type of release, (mostly) complete shows derived from the original two-track soundboard tapes. Nevertheless, some classic stuff has surfaced over the course of years, including the Carousel Ballroom show from Valentine’s Day 1968 (Vol.2 No.2); Big Rock Pow-Wow ’69 (Vol.4 No.1); Fillmore East 5/15/70 (Vol.3 No.3); Austin 11/15/71 (Vol.3 No.2); Denver 11/20/73 (Vol.4 No.3) and Oakland 12/28/79 (Vol. 3 No.1). There were also some welcome releases from underrepresented years like 1980 (Vol.3 No.4); 1982 (Vol.4 No.4); 1988 (Vol.4 No.2) and 1993 (Vol.2 No.4). Unfortunately, some of the transfers suffer from neglectful mastering (particularly the cassette sources) but by and large, the sound quality is usually an improvement over circulating “bootlegs.”

The final volume closes out the series with another semi-underrated year and it's certainly a good one. Recorded at the Boston Music Hall on June 9, 1976, this was one of the first shows of their “comeback tour” after their semi-retirement in October 1974 and it has a flavor all its own. I have a certain fondness for ‘76: after a long absence, Micky Hart is back on the second drumstool and his presence has forced the band to completely re-think their approach. And while these performances may lack the majestic power of 1977, the jams have a light, jazzy flavor that is invigorating—you can tell they’re really paying attention. This was reflected in setlists which were almost totally unpredictable during the spring of 1976, as evidenced by the “St. Stephen>Eyes of the World>Let It Grow” which opens the second set here—not to mention the encore placement of a stand-alone “Franklin’s Tower.” Filler from June 12 includes more tasty treats, like a rare “Mission In The Rain”; a super-spacey “Wheel”; and a heartfelt “Comes A Time.” There are a few musical gaffes here and there and the stereo image is inexplicably reversed on 6/9 but, being a “Betty Board”, the sound quality is excellent. I just wish they’d give EVERYTHING the Plangent Processes.

A new series of CDs has been announced, unimaginatively titled, Dave’s Picks. “Dave” is, of course, David Lemiuex, the posthumous Dead’s Vaultmeister. The first volume will be released in February and will contain the complete concert from The Mosque in Richmond, Virginia on May 25, 1977. This is a fine show from a classic tour, but it strikes me as lazy a choice as the series’ moniker. Unlike Spring 1976, Spring 1977 is well-represented in the catalog—and rightly so—but how about something else from that year, something that doesn’t circulate, like the Palladium shows from earlier in the year? Or how about more ‘80s and ‘90s stuff to fill out the band’s macro-history? Well, whatever. Like the last volume of Road Trips, Dave’s Picks is available as a fairly-priced subscription, which includes free shipping and a “bonus disc.” However, unlike Road Trips, each edition of Dave’s Picks will be pressed in a limited edition of 12,000. Of course, I signed up. I am a sucker for this band—besides, maybe Dave will surprise me.

Then again, who am I to complain? Heck, GDP truly outdid themselves with the Europe ’72 boxset (despite some rather serious logistical problems getting here). I just finished listening to all twenty-two shows in chronological order and I am thoroughly blown away. They start out strong and just get better and better over the course of a short six weeks; in fact, the last four nights at The Lyceum in London may be the best of this grandest of tours. It should also be noted that the Dead’s catalog has been getting the audiophile vinyl treatment lately, not only on their home-base Rhino, but on high-end boutique labels like MoFi and Audio Fidelity. So, while I might quibble about this and that, now is definitely a good time to be a Deadhead. I’m looking forward to what comes next in 2012.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Thanks for the overview of the Road Trips series.

Here's my lists for last week (a bit late!):

Playlist 2011-12-19:

*Elton Dean's Ninesense: Oh! For the Edge
*Dizzy Gillespie: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings 1937-1949 (disc 2)
*Coleman Hawkins: The Bebop Years (disc 2)
*Billie Holiday: The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959 (disc 10)
*New Loft: 2011-11-28 "Scream Queen" (wav)
*Nine Strings Trio: Live July & August 2010 (CDR)
*Sun Ra: The Eternal Myth Revealed, Vol. 1 (disc 11 selections, 14)
*Henry Threadgill & Make a Move: 1999-07-09 The Hague (CDR)
*Various artists: That Devilin' Tune (Vol. 1, disc 9)
*Vijaya Anand: Dance Raja Dance
*Mike Blooomfield & Al Kooper: The Live Adventures of Mike Blooomfield & Al Kooper (disc 1)
*Chemical Brothers: Further
*Deerhoof: Deerhoof Vs. Evil
*Grateful Dead: Live Dead "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: 1969-04-13 Boulder, CO (CDR) "Dark Star > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Alligator"
*Grateful Dead: 1972-11-15 Iowa "Playing in the Band"
*Grateful Dead: 1989-10-26 Miami (CDR) "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: View From the Vault II (1990-07-12) "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: 1990-09-20 NYC (CDR) "Dark Star"
*Brenda Holloway: The Motown Anthology (disc 2)
*Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks: Mirror Traffic
*Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello: bootleg selections (CDR)
*Jackie Mittoo: Last Train to Skaville
*National Health: Of Queues and Cures (side 2)
*Prince: Emancipation (disc 3)
*Soft Machine: Bundles
*Sonic Youth: Rather Ripped
*Tad Thaddock: First Without Jeff
*Various artists: District of Noise Vol. 2 (Sonic Circuits DC)
*XTC: Oranges and Lemons

Reading List 2011-12-19:

*Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire (started)
*Bate, Jonathan. The Genius of Shakespeare (finished)
*Esslemont, Ian C. Stonewielder (finished)
*Marlowe, Christopher. The Jew of Malta (reread/started/finished)
*Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (transl. Malcolm C. Lyons) Vol. 2 (in progress)
*Bradbury, Ray: Bradbury Stories (in progress)
*Bride of Dark and Stormy, compiled by Scott Rice (in progress)