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Monday, January 18, 2010

Garcia on Stephen Stills albums

Matt Scofield's discography, at http://www.deaddisc.com/, is one of those incredible community resources that I have vowed never to take for granted. It's amazing, obviously a labor of love, and it contains a wealth of information about the GD, Garcia, and lots of the related and contemporaneous acts, venues, albums and individuals of interest.

Here I'll just mention a few things that have not traditionally been represented there regarding Garcia's work with Stephen Stills. This information comes from an interview with Jerry conducted, I think, in March of 1981 and published in the amazing British 'zine Swing '51 (1). Both quotes are from page 26.

Regarding Stephen Stills 2, deaddisc has traditionally said that "Garcia possibly plays pedal steel on one track." Matt has now included what follows on the site, but unless Jerry is talking out his ass it doesn't sound like there's much doubt about what's what. Here's what Jerry told Ken Hunt of Swing 51: "that's me playing pedal steel [on 'Change Partners'] and there's an uptempo tune on that LP that I played on." Steve Silberman has told me that Change Partners is a well-known Garcia appearance despite being uncredited, though I don't know where things stand in terms of the "uptempo tune" that Jerry mentions (nor which tune it is - I don't own the album yet).

Regarding Manassas, deaddisc has recently included this Garcia quote from the Swing 51 article, though indicating that things are still uncertain: "There are a couple of tunes on there where I play pedal steel and maybe even guitar on one, but there's at least two that I'm not credited on. But I did the sessions and it's me playing." Silberman is much more enthusiastic about this possibility, suggesting that has been previously unknown. He also reports that while Al Perkins probably did most of the (and arguably the finest) steel work on Manassas, the style suggests that Jerry might well be playing on "Jesus Gave Away Love For Free."

We may never know. Garcia describes working with Stills in the studio in this way:

Sometimes they were very weird experiences. Like, for [Stephen Stills 2 and Manassas] I didn't know what records they were for or anything. The way Stills worked at the time was he just accumulated endless tracks. He worked on dozens of tunes. He actually flew me into Florida for a week, me and Ramrod, my equipment guy, with my pedal steel and guitars. I went down there and did sessions at the weirdest hours! Stills had two teams of engineers, two shifts. The way he worked in the studio was totally crazy. At the time he was really happenin', really doing well, could afford it easily. They were not only studies in over-indulgence, but there was some pretty OK music too!

Anyone know the dates that Jerry was down in Florida for this? :)

Anyway, as is the typical MO here, I am mostly just putting this down so I don't forget it. Best thing about a blog, far and away.

REFERENCE:
Hunt, Ken. 1983. Jerry Garcia: Folk, Bluegrass and Beyond [part II]. Swing 51 no. 7: pp. 22-28.

15 comments:

  1. "Change Partners" is likely the uptempo tune. But "Jesus" is our discovery. Great stuff!

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  2. This is indeed fascinating (for those who don't know, the first Manassas album is a truly great album, Stills best work ever in my opinion).

    I just cleared off the turntable and listened to Jesus Gave Love Away For Free. It sounds to me like there are two steel guitars, so I wouldn't rule out the possibility of both Perkins and Garcia playing on the track (or multi-tracking, of course).

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  3. I subsequently talked to Garcia in October 1981 when the Dead returned to London. In part it was to ask about clarifications, spellings and suchlike arising from the second of two March 1981 interviews that we had done. I have no memory of querying or checking anything about the Stills sessions. Sorry. Keep up the bright work, chaps. Ken Hunt

    PS There may have been an LP and a 45 rpm version of 'Change Partners' if that, so to speak, doesn't help.

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  4. Stephen Stills has just released a "new" Manassas album called Pieces, recorded during the 1971-72 period. His two engineers, Ronnie and Howie Albert, assembled 16 hitherto unreleased tracks (some incomplete sketches) from this period.

    Much as I love both Manassas albums (yes, even the second one), I'm not ready to spend 16 bucks for the cd. But whoever of us is the first one to break down and do so needs to listen for Jerry.

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  5. Goodwin, Michael. 1971. Jerry Garcia at 700 MPH: Incidental Music at the Celebration of Life. Flash 0: 32-39. I reckon that this interview is from roughly late October 1970. Just a tidbit on Stills:

    Jerry: "Steve Stills' album will be out soon. Crosby describes it as bein' like God on a good day and that's just what it's like. It's fuckin' incredible."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Stills#Discography says that Stills' first (eponymous) record was released on 11/16/70. Really a note to self.

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  6. The pedal steel in "So Begins the Task" (on Manassas) sounds a lot more like Jerry than Al Perkins. I know he's not credited on the album, but the volume pedal work, tone and phrasing really sound like Jerry Garcia to me.

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    1. If you're a PS player and know Al's style..and Jerry's..it ain't that haard to decipher who is who..AGREED!

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  7. Thank you, Bobby Lee. Ultimately, ears maybe the only way to really to know.

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  8. Garcia in 1971, on Stills: "Stephen is an extreme dude. He's a guy who goes too far, all the time. Takes a lot of drugs, stretches his mind out a lot, he's into some kind of complex, competition scene with his father. ... He's too far ahead. But he's a good dude, he's got a good head. I respect him and dig him. He's not any kind of asshole or anything, even when it seems like he might be" (Garcia et al. 2003 [1972], 94).

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  9. Hi. I wrote the liner notes for 'Manassas Pieces.' Al Perkins and Chris Hillman both told me that it's Garcia playing pedal steel on 'So Begins the Task.' This was confirmed by Ron and Howie Albert, and later by Stills himself, who says the 'steel' at the end of the song was dreamed up later, and it's actually him (Stills) on electric guitar, trying to sound like Jerry's steel.

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    1. I don't exactly follow ... was it Garcia, or was it Stills trying to sound like Garcia? Thanks so much for clarifying.

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    2. I just want to say, per my post above from some years ago, where I said "I'm not ready to spend 16 bucks for the cd," the fact is I did eventually buy it and its really great (assuming you love Manassas, which I do).

      Faby22, thanks for the details, but I second JGMF's question

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    4. the one thing that bothered me about the liner notes on manassas pieces is on "Lies" the Miami version,it says joe walsh plays slide on it but totally sounds like al perkins on his steel,they both have vary different sounds.

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