The Grateful Dead established the genre of rock improvisation and have always been innovators, establishing trends both good and bad. Over the band’s 30-year history they went through many changes in their sound and personnel. Fans have very different opinions on which years they love and which years they hate, and now I present my list of the five best years in Grateful Dead history.
Read on for my comprehensive look at the Dead’s five best years, including links to what I think are the five best of each year and some analysis on why I think the things I think. Make sure to jump into the deep end at the end and tell me why I’m dead-on-balls accurate or so horribly wrong I should cut myself at night…
5. 1979: Nineteen seventy-nine was a year of major change for the Grateful Dead. Keith and Donna Godchaux left the band and Brent Mydland entered. Keith was no doubt an amazing player, but he seemed to be allergic to any keyboard that wasn’t a piano. Brent revitalized the band with his dynamic organ and synthesiser tones. May 1979 itself is severely underrated, but the band really hit its stride towards the end of the year.
New Songs: Althea, Saint of Circumstance, Alabama Getaway, and Lost Sailor
Most Played: Minglewood (42), Good Lovin’ (37), and Deal (32)
Last night Trey Anastasio premiered his new solo album, Traveler, on SiriusXM’s Jam_ON radio. Big Red offered a bit of insight on each of the LP’s 10 tracks before he played them. Anastasio hosted a radio show called Ambient Alarm Clock during his University of Vermont days and seemed at ease on the air as he waxed poetic on the Peter Katis-produced album.
When Trey reached out to Katis about producing his next album, the pair came up with a statement of purpose. They wanted to create an unapologetic studio record in which they used the studio as an instrument. The duo certainly succeeded on that end which gave Anastasio plenty to talk about last night. We’ve put together a list of ten cool facts/tidbits we learned from the broadcast…
1. Jennifer Hartswick nailed her part of Clint Eastwood in one take while sitting on the floor
Anastasio went on and on about JHA’s contributions to the Gorillaz cover and also called her the best person on earth, mentioning that anyone who has gotten to know her would agree. Hartswick took the mic for Clint Eastwood while sitting on the floor of the studio and nailed her rap/vocals in one track.
It being Friday, and just shy of half-way through the ninth month of the year, this morning I (@andykahn) decided on a whim to tweet out my Top 9 Albums of 2012 (so far). Along with the nine I chose, I also added a handful of, “Honorable Mentions,” that didn’t quite make the cut. With a quarter of the year left, 2012 has thus far proven to be another impressive year of album releases.
For generation upon generation, fathers have handed their skills down to their next of kin. Rock music is no different, as many children of rock stars go on to take the stage themselves. A famous name gets you in the door, but it’s hard to keep an audience unless you have your own style. So this week’s B List looks at 10 second generation rockers that aim to pick up where their fathers left off:
1. Dweezil Zappa — There are tons of pros and a few cons to being Frank Zappa’s son. The major con is that you are given the name Dweezil. But on the plus side, Dweezil got to learn guitar from the best in the business. I think Frank would be happy with the career Dweezil has blazed: He’s put out six stellar, albeit low-profile, records, starting out with Havin’ A Bad Day in 1986. In my opinion, his best work was with his brother Ahmet when they formed the band Z. Z put out two fine albums in the mid ’90s that still get tons of play on my iPod.
Over the past few years Dweezil has started Zappa Plays Zappa to honor his father’s legacy and incredible catalogue. Dweezil put together a fine touring band of relative unknowns that he has mixed with a few established, more well-known musicians who toured with his father. This summer, Zappa Plays Zappa is embarking on a major tour with Ray White as a special guest.
READ ON for nine great second-generation rockers that made the list…
It’s hard to believe YouTube is only seven-and-a-half years old as the video portal has become a ubiquitous part of life on the internet. In that time music fans have filled YouTube servers with video from the past which brings us to today’s B List topic. We’ve compiled a list of the oldest video on YouTube for 10 of the most successful bands to develop out of the jam scene.
These classic clips bring us back to a time when Al Schnier, John Medeski and Page McConnell had full heads of hair and gives us a look at the days when the members of these bands stood nearly on top of each at small gigs before they achieved success. Now, keep in mind that the footage needed to be worth watching to make our list, so even though there might be older videos out there for a few of these groups, but if you can’t see the band it defeats the purpose.
1. Medeski Martin and Wood – September 12, 1993
In searching for the oldest MMW video(s) on YouTube we hit paydirt with this one-hour, professionally-shot episode of Live at Lucille’s which was recorded at the Knoxville jazz club on September 12, 1993. John, Chris and Billy talk about their signature sound and roll through such classics as Syeeda’s Song Flute, Chubb Sub, Hermentos Daydream and Wiggly’s Way.
Yes, we know the focus should be on the incredible 45-minute Rock and Roll > Ghost segment from last night’s Phish tour-opener in Long Beach, but we couldn’t help but be intrigued by pop star Justin Bieber and his nearly-as-famous girlfriend Selena Gomez taking in their first Phish show.
Biebs is far from the only celebrity Phish fan as for this week’s B List we’ll detail nine others.
Last night Bieber attended his first Phish show after years of hearing about the band’s greatness from Dan Kanter, the 18-year-old’s guitarist and musical director. Kanter is a longtime fan and struck up a friendship with bassist Mike Gordon. Dan finally convinced his boss to check out a show and from the looks of the tweet above he enjoyed it.
Once YouTube upped its limits allowing users to upload videos of any size, the portal has been filling up with many exceptional clips containing entire shows from nearly every band you can think of. We want to show our readers these videos and we’ll do so every Friday moving forward. Tomorrow we’ll be introducing a new weekly feature called Full Show Friday in which we’ll hip you to a killer video featuring a full concert from some of our favorite acts.
As a pre-cursor to tomorrow’s launch of Full Show Friday, we’ve prepared a list of 10 amazing, full-show videos from the past seven months featuring the likes of Wilco, MMJ and Radiohead.
Here’s pro-shot footage of The D’s set at Germany’s Rock am Ring festival from June.
00:00 Rize of the Fenix
06:00 Low Hangin’ Fruit
13:00 Deth Starr
21:30 Throw Down
34:40 The Metal
38:35 Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)
44:50 The Who Medley
47:55 Fuck Her Gently
56:00 Double Team
One of the more unfortunate aspects of being a rock star is that fame and fortune attract shady elements like a moth to a flame. Local boy does good only to meet his demise at the hands of a hanger-on gone bad — we’ve seen the same story repeated on all 150 episodes of Behind The Music. So many legendary musicians have been robbed from us under the most suspicious of circumstances.
Perhaps this week’s B List is a little too morbid, but hey…life isn’t just sunshine and lollipops (go fuck a rainbow, hippie). So we’ve assembled a list of 10 rock stars whose lives were cut short when they were violently murdered. Some of these stories are absolutely crazy and deserve a whole post. But we’re not going to get into all the gory details, so click on the rocker’s name to find out more.
1. Jaco Pastorius: John Francis Anthony Pastorius II was arguably the best musician to ever play bass. His solo work, and the time he spent as a member of Weather Report, showed off the precision and speed he brought to the table. Check out this clip of Pastorius nailing Slang for an example of what made him such a unique player. Jaco’s career ended tragically in 1987 when he was beaten to death by a bouncer at a nightclub in Florida. Read on for more…
New music is the best. It’s food for your brain, manna for your soul. All you need are open ears, an open mind and an open heart. Don’t let your taste atrophy away as you listen to those same albums from your sonically impressionable years (~ages 12 – 22) over and over, the ones you inevitably wind up fast forwarding through, even your favorite tracks, before they’re over. The new music doesn’t even need to be new, so much as it needs to be new to you. Explore what’s out there. Don’t be satisfied. Ever. A couple weeks ago I was talking to my mother’s 55 year-old cousin-in-law and he’s into Skrillex. To each his own, but that man is young at heart, my friends.
The following is a list of albums that have made their way into my heart this year, many will remain there indefinitely. Also, I like making lists and comparing things.
You wouldn’t think Akron, Ohio would have much to offer New Orleans. But Dan Auerbach (producer; The Black Keys) is the best thing to happen to a Mac Rebennack (aka The Night Tripper aka Dr. John) album in 40 years. A return to form with updated production that preserves New Orleans with just enough gritty garage peppered across the album.
Today marks the 10th anniversary of Widespread Panic namesake and founding member Michael Houser’s last performance. We wanted to honor Mikey by presenting a B List featuring ten great Panic videos from the Houser Era which we originally compiled a few years back.
Let’s get down to business, shall we? Take a look…
Mikey wrote and sang lead on this single off 1994′s Ain’t Life Grand. Airplane was considered such a quintessential Houser song by the band that they waited over four years to bust it out after his passing.
Considering how big of a role music plays in everyday life, it’s not surprising that characters in dozens of sitcoms and animated television series have attended concerts or formed bands. Most of the time these fictitious artists are seen and not heard, but in a few instances the writers of these shows actually write songs for the fake bands to perform.
For this week’s B List we detail ten songs from fake bands you may have seen on television. We stuck with songs from series that weren’t focused on these fictitious artists, so we’ll save shows like California Dreams, The Heights, Kids Incorporated, Jem and The Monkees for another edition.
Here’s what we came up with…
1. Killer Tofu – The Beets [Doug]
The Beets were a fictitious band that made numerous appearances on the Nickelodeon animated series Doug. The Beets big hit was Killer Tofu – a catchy ditty that will stay with you for days whether you love it or hate it.
Phish’s summer tour begins tonight and it kicks off with two shows at Worcester’s DCU Center, a room that will see its 13th and 14th Phish shows. There have been many notable moments dating back to the venue’s first Phish show in 1993 and for this week’s B List we’ll take a listen and/or a look at an individual highlight from every show at the room we’ll always know as The Centrum.
After these shows wrap up, this Massachusetts arena will have housed more known Phish shows than all other venues except seven: The Front (53), Nectar’s (43), Madison Square Garden (23), Deer Creek (20), Hunt’s (16), Alpine Valley (15) and Hampton Coliseum (15).
12/31/1993 – Auld Lang Syne > Down with Disease Jam
Though Down With Disease wouldn’t see its proper debut until April 4, 1994, the band brought out the sick jam introducing the world to Trey’s blistering guitar solo as the year turned from 1993 to 1994. The premature jam came about because Mike Gordon taped the footage of the jam for future use in the DWD video. When my friend put the XLII in for our first listen I was told to prepare for the best guitar work ever, and it’s still one of my favorite moments in the band’s history. - Andy Kahn
We put this list together back in 2010 and since then a number of these incredible moments in Grateful Dead history have surfaced on YouTube. A few are audio-only YouTube clips, but a handful show the bliss and emotion from the crowd as they realize what they are seeing.
The Grateful Dead were a revolutionary act in a number of different areas. The Dead were one of the first major groups to change their setlist on a nightly basis and succeeded in making each show different. Throughout the years, the Grateful Dead built up a massive repertoire that made it easy for them to let certain songs fall by the wayside. Also, the group – or particular members of the group – weren’t interested in performing several tunes from their early days in the later years. Yet, the fans always seemed to wanted to see these rare songs and once in a while the band obliged.
This week’s B List looks at what I think are the ten best bust outs the Grateful Dead broke out over the course of their career. Some of the entries contain songs that disappeared for over a decade while others feature tunes that only went away for a few years. What mattered most to me was a combination of the crowd’s reaction, the quality of the tune and the quality of the performance. Let’s get down to business…
The studio version of That’s It For The Other One on Anthem of the Sun contains four sections, one of which is sung by Jerry Garcia and called Cryptical Envelopment. The Dead would play Cryptical into and out of The Other One from the late ’60s through the early ’70s, at which point the tune disappeared from the rotation until a fateful evening in 1985 at the legendary Greek Theater in Berkeley. The group performed Cryptical four more times that year and then never again.
Now more than ever aging rockstars are signing on with publishing houses to pen memoirs about their sex, drugs and rock and roll-soaked lives. Last week Gregg Allman’s My Cross To Bear came out and yesterday we found out that Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann has a new tome in the works. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ten rock autobiographies we’d like to see.
For the purposes of this list, we’re avoiding rock autobiographies that are already in the works. In addition to the aforementioned Billy K. memoir, both Robbie Robertson and Neil Young are preparing volumes on their lives that we can’t wait to read. Alright, enough with the small talk, here we go…
10. Les Claypool
The Primus front man certainly knows how to put a book together as displayed by his 2006 novel South of the Pumphouse. Now we’d like to see him use those skills to reflect on the many incarnations of Primus, his friendship with Kirk Hammett (including his side of the story on why he didn’t replace Cliff Burton in Metallica) and all of the rock n roll debauchery in which he’s partaken.
9. Gene Ween
Since the man born into the world as Aaron Freeman seems to have his shit together these days, let’s get a memoir from the Ween front man about the decades he spent living on the edge. We’re sure he’s got any number of interesting stories to tell about working with the South Park creators, tripping for days at a time in New Hope and his well-known distaste for the jam scene.
Thanks to our friend Ed Watts for contributing this week’s B List.
In 1976 Peter Frampton made the “talk box” guitar effect famous with Frampton Comes Alive!, an album which featured the device on the songs Do You Feel Like We Do? and Baby, I Love Your Way. With a sound as thick as the lava in a lava lamp, the talk box would propel Frampton Comes Alive! to become the best-selling record of 1976, win the Album of the Year prize in the 1976 Rolling Stone readers poll and in 1994 be recognized by Ben Stiller’s character in the movie Reality Bites as the album that totally changed his life.
So what exactly is the talk box? Officially, it’s an effect unit which allows a musician to control the tone of an instrument with a tube inserted in his or her mouth. Unofficially, it’s a magical talisman that could cause rock fans to go nuts when it was introduced 15 minutes into an already interminable concert jam, containing enough power to nearly make a grown woman cry when a rock star made eye contact with her and approximated the words “I Love You” through it. Oh, and it kind of looks like a cross between night braces and an experimental device to deal with emphysema. See it in action here:
So now that you what it is, here’s the top ten songs featuring a talk box that were not performed by Peter Frampton: