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Thursday, December 22, 2011

LN jg1974-08-24.jgms.all.sbd.10162.shn2flac


On Saturday, August 24, 1974, the Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders played the Great American Music Hall at 859 O’ Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA, 94109. I have written about this show once before, just to lay out a few contradictions around the date/venue combination, which I basically dismiss. I am of the view that this show happened as we have it in The Garcia List despite lots of other weirdness around the August 1974 record of shows (about both of which – The Garcia List, and August 1974 confusion—I will post before too long).

Here I report on what I hear through shnid 10612, a very nice soundboard recording from the First Betty Batch, taped by the incredible Betty Cantor-Jackson.

Tape Provenance and Quality

The etree copy is identified as 10" MSR > C > DAT > CD > EAC > SHN. It entered the lossless realm in around July 2002 via jjoops, who had received CD copies from Katy Miller. For reference, Eaton lists this date as follows: "08/24/74 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco Ca - complete; 4.6, 135min, Sbd, A1D0, Reel Master > Cass 1 > Dat 0, 48k; 7inch Master Reel @ 7.5 ips 1/2trk > Tascam 122mkIII 1st Gen Cass > 3800 x0."

The first question I have is whether these are different reel sources, one of them 10” and another 7”. It is possible. As I note, these recordings almost have the feel as if they were intended for a live release. I have seen hints and allegations of various 1st gen mixdowns involving this date, 8/28/74, and other dates, perhaps around the release ofthe “9/1/74” Keystone show (which is not from a single show, but from at least a couple of them, I think). That said, it’s probably safest to assume that these came from the same 1st gen cassettes that Eaton has on DAT, and possibly from Rob’s DAT itself.

Either way, these look to be part of the First Betty Batch. Recall that the First Betty Batch and the Second Betty Batch were tapes that were bought in the storage locker auction ca. 1986 and digitized by a large crew of people, many of whom had the idea that they should be freely and widely circulated. As reported in Dwork et al. (2000), Harvey (2009) and various other sources, the daisy chain involved in transferring these tapes (7” and 10” reels) was as follows: 1x Technics 1506 reel to reel playback deck (Bob Menke's) > 1x Sony PCM-501ES (Dougal Donaldson's) > 1x Panasonic VHS hi-fi VCR deck > 3x Beta hi-fi VCR decks > 1 other VHS hifi VCR deck > 2 cassette decks. I don’t know to whom the various other decks belong, nor the extent to which their Garcia tapes have circulated. I know that some of Dougal’s Garcia PCMs emerged (e.g., 7/21/74, maybe 7/22/74, maybe 6/4/74), and that there other tapes that are identified as MSR > cassette (such as the Sacks version of 7/21/74 [shnid 10127] and this 8/24/74 tape). That may imply that whoever got cassette copies also circulated them independently, that Dougal himself had cassette copies, or some other arrangement.

The tapes are beautiful. Even with the limits imposed by the (various) A>D steps (e.g., wasn’t the Sony PCM 501ES doing A>D at 14bit/44.056kHz?) and an assigned cassette gen, underneath it (and, don’t get me wrong, it’s not far underneath) lies a gorgeous, full, rich, balanced, crisp Betty Cantor-Jackson recording. She has amazing ears.

Personnel

This is Garcia, Saunders, Fierro, Kahn and a drummer. I believe the drummer is Paul Humphrey. Argument against is that Bill Kreutzmann is known to have played the day before (8/23/74) at the Berkeley Community Theater for the Ethiopian Famine Relief Benefit. Argument for is that this sounds like Humphrey to me. I don’t trust my ears, but this is my thinking. As I note below, I think this is the period in which Martin really starts to step forward. I like that, but others find it less appealing. Kahn is really good here, and Garcia is right, if a little be restrained.

Song Notes

Some notes on some of the songs, straight from my listening notes.

La-La” [Allan | Scofield | TJS] is understood as a Martin Fierro composition and features him on flute. I know little about the song, beyond that it was released on Keepers (1997). As I have conjectured, August 1974 is where Martin Fierro really starts to step in front of this band. He leads the first five minutes here with his flute. In the 4-min mark he uses some really nicely controlled echo and reverb. I suspect if we go back and compare we'll find that he only really started using this sort of thing from July 1974. Folks who object to Martin's playing (I am not generally among them) will probably like his playing less and less from July 1974 to the end of the year. (I haven't revisited true 1975 LOM shows with this hypothesis in mind, so let me not comment on his playing there yet.) During this time, Garcia is very subtly strumming a vaguely Brazilian rhythm behind. Really tasteful, "back" stuff. Betty's recording really does La-La justice, too. Everything is mic'd just perfectly. the 9-minute mark, after some really nice gentle Merl solos, John Kahn steps forward a little, even more prominently in the 10-minute mark. Everyone is really tight here. @ 11:15 La-La I think Merl is the one who signals a decay of the song structure, which really interests me. Garcia is always ready to go to space, so it's probably part of their playing together that Jerry restrained himself and put Merl in front of it (at least in this case). I need to revisit, but he does something right around this time that decays the notes, I can't describe it. By mid-to-late 11-minute mark, Garcia has heard him and he signals that he's ready to get spacy. John is there, too. Late 12-minute mark, there is some spacy knobbing going on. I have typically associated this sound with Martin's saxophone, but here it is. I wonder if it's a synthesizer that Merl has that can either be keyed to the saxophone or switched over to a knob or pedal or key that Merl has? Late 12-minute mark, just some nice decayed jazzy spacing it. Martin has picked the flute back up (he had laid out for a few minutes, or maybe was just doing that funky space sound I just described) Garcia speeds up 14:12, tries a little fretting, Martin is doing the reverb and echo on his flute again. Early 15-minute mark the drummer digs in and tries to set a faster pace, getting underneath John who's going that speed as well and scaling around, a little fast wiggle @ 15:47ish. Jungle echo'ing, gotta be wired up through Martin's flute? Yep, listen @ 16:50, where it's coming out as hybrid flute and jungle echo. Garcia leads a more urgent decay @ early 17-min mark. I find this material engaging. I think some would critique it, but I find it to be pretty productive jamming for this whole time. The song clocks in around 18 and a half minutes, but it doesn't sound to me like it meanders. The transition to PMTWGR is flawed but interesting. Martin quite explicitly blows the “La-La” theme on the flute, while Kahn quite explicitly (and rather more definitively) asserts the “People Make The World Go Round” intro. Bass v. flute, so to PMTWGR we go!

People Make The World Go Round” [Allan | TJS] is absolutely fantastic. It starts with the bass-led intro, beautifully accompanied by the flute, Merl running some nice gentle organ keys, Garcia just strumming, nice tight-string rhythm happening. A little palate cleanser after the space out. It's interesting to me that this is indeed how this band used PMTWGR, a warmdown and not a jam vehicle. In the one Aunt Monk version in circulation (2/14/75), it was a 20+ minute echofest (and really good). I have always assumed that these guys got the song from Milt Jackson's 1973 album Sunflower (my CD version of which is part of a "CTI Catalogue Re-Launch Series", produced by Didier C. Deutsch, ZK 65131, 1997), since on that album the song precedes Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” [Allan | Scofield | TJS] (called just “Sunflower” on the Milt Jackson album), which this group also played (7 times between 5/9/75 and 7/4/75 in various personnel/band configurations, according to TJS). (Blair Jackson has said this latter tune was brought in by Martin, FYI.) But beyond their propinquity on the Milt Jackson album, there’s no particular reason to imagine that PMTWGR came from there. Composed by the Stylistics’ writing team of Thom Bell (music) and Linda Creed (lyrics), and released on that band’s eponymous 1971 album, it was covered by inter alia Michael Jackson and Ramon Morris (on Sweet Sister Funk). These guys could have gotten it from anywhere, and listening around a little bit I don’t hear a distinct arrangement that jumps out as the source for Merl/Martin/Jerry and the rest of these guys.

(I’m A) Road Runner” [Allan | Scofield | TJS] was written by the Holland/Dozier/Holland team at Motown and first released by Junior Walker & The All Stars on the 1965 record Shotgun. JGMS had started playing it around the start of 1974, and IMO it got better by August 1974 than it had been earlier. The song lives right at the top of Garcia's vocal range in this period, in fact probably just a bit beyond it. When he first started singing it, to get to these notes he sort of parodied them, which is just not a good emotional register for Garcia. It doesn't make me as uncomfortable as Marmaduke's {RIP} treatment of Honky Tonk Women, which had a worse to-be-taken-seriously-ratio for a more parodiable song, but I don't like those early Roadrunners (see 2/5/74, 2/9/74 for reference). Look it ain't a Dylan song, but it's a good piece of Americana and it deserves some respect, dammit!

Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting In Limbo” [Allan | Scofield | TJS] is an early version for this band (third time), performed with extreme care to good effect. It almost sounds like Garcia thinks he's on the radio, that's how careful he's being. Almost like he thinks he's being recorded for release. The vocals are as perspicacious as Garcia vocals could get. Despite that this song lives in a really tight spot for his vocal range, he doesn't crack or clam up, not once. He doesn't sound too thin (though a critique might say it is, indeed thin). He doesn't stumble once on the lyrics. His guitar playing is reasonably safe, but pretty well flawless. I think he really likes and respects this song. And, again, Betty's tape does this quiet song great justice. Now, this sort of thing doesn't light me up (I like the rough as much as the diamond), but if you want to hear Jerry paying attention, this is as good an example as any.

Overall

Great recording, pretty good show. La-La -> PMTWGR are the highlights, for me.

Listening Notes after the jump.

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
Great American Music Hall
August 24, 1974 (Saturday)
132 minute Betty Cantor-Jackson soundboard

--Set I (6 tracks, 69:34)--
s1t01. ... Neighbor Neighbor [#7:53] [0:08] %
s1t02. Favela [16:01] [0:04] %
s1t03. I Second That Emotion [12:58] [0:07] % [0:13]
s1t04. Problems Got Problems [11:35] [0:09] % [0:06]
s1t05. He Ain't Give You None [12:02] [0:11] %
s1t06. Money Honey [7:53] (1) [0:11]

--Set II (5 tracks, 62:30)--
s2t01. The Harder They Come [15:17] [0:10] % [0:04]
s2t02. La-La [18:32] ->
s2t03. People Make The World Go 'Round [3:43] [2:08]
s2t04. (I'm A) Road Runner [9:55] [0:08] %
s2t05. Sitting In Limbo [12:26] (2) [0:07]

Lineup:
Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
Merl Saunders - keyboards;
Martin Fierro - saxophone, flute;
John Kahn - el-bass;
?? - drums.

JGMF:
! Recording: symbols: % = recording discontinuity; / = clipped song; // = cut song; ... = fade in/out; # = truncated timing; [ ] = recorded event time. The recorded event time immediately after the song or item name is an attempt at getting the "real" time of the event. So, a timing of [x:xx] right after a song title is an attempt to say how long the song really was, as represented on this recording.
! db: shnid 10612 (this recording).
! R: Source: "10” MSR > C > DAT > CD > EAC > SHN. Source discs provided by Katy Miller. Extraction and normalization using EAC, tracking using CDWave, .shn encoding using mkwACT, and sector boundary verification using shntool by Joe Jupille (jjoops@attbi.com)." Shn to flac conversion using TLH by jgmf, 12/21/2011.
! R: Seeder Notes: "Disc one peaked at 90.3%, but only reached 47% after Neighbor Neighbor.  I normalized the rest of the disc to 90.3%, and also normalized disc two from around 30% to 98% using EAC."
! R: this is a beautiful recording, though it may run a touch fast?
! R: provenance. Since I have spent time with so many beautiful Betty tapes, future tape historians might find useful the little bread crumbs I can leave about how these tapes came into the present (mine or yours - 's'all good). This one traveled a little different path and is a little different. Eaton lists it as follows: "08/24/74 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco Ca - complete; 4.6, 135min, Sbd, A1D0, Reel Master > Cass 1 > Dat 0, 48k; 7inch Master Reel @ 7.5 ips 1/2trk > Tascam 122mkIII 1st Gen Cass > 3800 x0." Not sure why the fileset says a 10” master reel. This tape must be derived from that same cassette (and possibly Eaton’s DAT). Note that this is a different provenance than the Third Betty Batch tapes (which are MSR to Rob's DAT) or the First Betty Batch tape we encountered with JGMS "7/21/74" and "7/22/74" (which had a PCM gen attributed to Dougal Donaldson)). There was an earlier seed of 7/22 made by Darrin Sacks (shnid 10127) that listed MSR > cassette > DAT. I suspect that this tape and that tape came from the same original tape made during the transferring of the First Betty Batch. (The standard understanding of the daisy chain involved in transferringt the First Betty Batch is as follows: 1x Technics 1506 playback deck (Bob Menke's) > 1x Sony PCM-501ES (Dougal Donaldson's) > 1x Panasonic VHS hi-fi VCR deck > 3x Beta hi-fi VCR decks > 1 other VHS hifi VCR deck > 2 cassette decks.) The limitations of the cassette medium may also partly explain why, in general, this tape is edited between every song.
! R: s1t01 Neighbor Neighbor fades in, not much missing. Mix and level fluctuations, with low vocals and guitar, loud horn, etc. Clears up gradually over the first couple of minutes.
! R: s1t02 Favela considerable mix fluctuations first few minutes.
! s1t02 Favela drummer is very busy. I wonder if this is Paul Humphrey?
! s1t04 PGP is just a little sluggish and out of sync, though Merl is growling enthusiastically.
! P: s1t06 Money Honey is done faster than usual.
! s1t06 (1) JG: "Thank you. We're gonna take a break for a little while. We'll be back later on."
! s2t02 “La-La” [Allan | Scofield] goes into some interesting places in the first five minutes. This is understood as a Martin Fierro composition. As I have conjectured, August 1974 is where Martin Fierro really starts to step in front of this band. La-La is obviously a Martin Fierro feature. I know little about the song. It was released on Keepers (1997). But, getting back to Martin, he leads the first five minutes here with his flute. In the 4-min mark he uses some really nicely controlled echo and reverb with the flute. I suspect if we go back and compare we'll find that he only really started using this sort of thing from July 1974. Folks who object to Martin's playing (I am not generally among them) will probably like his playing less and less from July 1974 to the end of the year. (I haven't revisited true 1975 LOM shows with this hypothesis in mind, so let me not comment on his playing there yet.) During this time, Garcia is very subtly strumming a vaguely Brazilian rhythm behind. Really tasteful, "back" stuff. Betty's recording really does La-La justice, too. Everything is mic'd just perfectly. the 9-minute mark, after some really nice gentle Merl solos, John Kahn steps forward a little, even more prominently in the 10-minute mark. Everyone is really tight here. @ 11:15 La-La I think Merl is the one who signals a decay of the song structure, which really interests me. Garcia is always ready to go to space, so it's probably part of their playing together that Jerry restrained himself and put Merl in front of it (at least in this case). I need to revisit, but he does something right around this time that decays the notes, I can't describe it. By mid-to-late 11-minute mark, Garcia has heard him and he signals that he's ready to get spacy. John is there, too. Late 12-minute mark, there is some spacy knobbing going on. I have typically associated this sound with Martin's saxophone, but here it is. I wonder if it's a synthesizer that Merl has that can either be keyed to the saxophone or switched over to a knob or pedal or key that Merl has? Late 12-minute mark, just some nice decayed jazzy spacing it. Martin has picked the flute back up (he had laid out for a few minutes, or maybe was just doing that funky space sound I just described) Garcia speeds up 14:12, tries a little fretting, Martin is doing the reverb and echo on his flute again. Early 15-minute mark the drummer digs in and tries to set a faster pace, getting underneath John who's going that speed as well and scaling around, a little fast wiggle @ 15:47ish. Jungle echo'ing, gotta be wired up through Martin's flute? Yep, listen @ 16:50, where it's coming out as hybrid flute and jungle echo. Garcia leads a more urgent decay @ early 17-min mark. I find this material engaging. I think some would critique it, but I find it to be pretty productive jamming for this whole time. The song clocks in around 18 and a half minutes, but it doesn't sound to me like it meanders. The transition to PMTWGR is flawed but interesting. Martin quite explicitly blows the “La-La” theme on the flute, while Kahn quite explicitly (and rather more definitively) asserts the “People Make The World Go Round” intro. Bass v. flute, so to PMTWGR we go!
! setlist s2t03 “People Make The World Go Round” [Allan | TJS] is absolutely fantastic. Bass-led intro with beautiful flute accompaniment, Merl running some nice gentle organ keys, Garcia just strumming, nice tight-string rhythm happening. A little palate cleanser after the space out. It's interesting to me that this is indeed how this band used PMTWGR, a warmdown and not a jam vehicle. In the one Aunt Monk version in circulation (2/14/75), it was a 20+ minute echofest (and really good). I have always assumed that these guys got the song from Milt Jackson's 1973 album Sunflower (my CD version of which is part of a "CTI Catalogue Re-Launch Series", produced by Didier C. Deutsch, ZK 65131, 1997), since on that album the song precedes Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” [Allan | Scofield | TJS] (called just “Sunflower” on the Milt Jackson album), which this group also played (7 times between 5/9/75 and 7/4/75 in various personnel/band configurations, according to TJS). (Blair Jackson has said this latter tune was brought in by Martin, FYI.) But beyond their propinquity on the Milt Jackson album, there’s no particular reason to imagine that PMTWGR came from there. Composed by the Stylistics’ writing team of Thom Bell (music) and Linda Creed (lyrics), and released on that band’s eponymous 1971 album, it was covered by inter alia Michael Jackson and Ramon Morris (on Sweet Sister Funk). These guys could have gotten it from anywhere, and listening around a little bit I don’t hear a distinct arrangement that jumps out as the source for Merl/Martin/Jerry and the rest of these guys.
! R: s2t03 bad PA buzz after the song, @ 3:45-3:50. NB the room definitely sounds roomy, like the GAMH rather than the Keystone.
! context: s2t03 PMTWGR the audience is giving the band a really nice round of applause, all the way to 4:30. @ 4:30 Garcia is teaching someone some chords. "You gettin' it?" @ 5:17 JG is saying over and over and over again "the chords, the chords, the chords, the chords".
! personnel: Martin Fierro plays flute on La-La and PMTWGR only, I believe. I am trying to pin down which songs were his flute songs. Wondering Why, for sure. What else?
! setlist: s2t04 “(I’m A) Road Runner” [Allan | Scofield | TJS] was written by the Holland/Dozier/Holland team at Motown and first released by Junior Walker & The All Stars on the 1965 record Shotgun. JGMS had started playing it around the start of 1974 (TJS), and IMO it got better by August 1974 than it had been earlier. The song lives right at the top of Garcia's vocal range in this period, in fact probably just a bit beyond it. When he first started singing it, to get to these notes he sort of parodied them, which is just not a good emotional register for Garcia. It doesn't make me as uncomfortable as Marmaduke's {RIP} treatment of Honky Tonk Women, which had a worse to-be-taken-seriously-ratio for a more parodiable song, but I don't like those early Roadrunners (see 2/5/74, 2/9/74 for reference). Look it ain't a Dylan song, but it's a good piece of Americana and it deserves some respect, dammit!
! P: s2t05 Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting In Limbo” [Allan | Scofield | TJS] is an early version for this band (third time), performed with extreme care to good effect. It almost sounds like Garcia thinks he's on the radio, that's how careful he's being. Almost like he thinks he's being recorded for release. The vocals are as perspicacious as Garcia vocals could get. Despite that this song lives in a really tight spot for his vocal range, he doesn't crack or clam up, not once. He doesn't sound too thin (though a critique might say it is, indeed thin). He doesn't stumble once on the lyrics. His guitar playing is reasonably safe, but pretty well flawless. I think he really likes and respects this song. And, again, Betty's tape does this quiet song great justice. Now, this sort of thing doesn't light me up (I like the rough as much as the diamond), but if you want to hear Jerry paying attention, this is as good an example as any.
! s2t05 (2) JG: "See y'all later. Good night."
! overall: My overall evaluation, in terms of performance, recording, historical interest, everything, is as follows. Recording is an A. It's very, very nice. A high-resolution digital transfer of the master reel (presuming it's been safely stored) would be release-quality. Betty brough her A-game this night, probably with two-week old Cole on her hip. This particular fileset has some sonic limitations, just given its history (possibly an A>D transfer at 14bit/44.056kHz?, plus the cassette gen after passing through a long line of shitty ca. 1987 gear [see note on tape provenance for thoughts on the gear involved]). This fileset is not release-quality, notwithstanding the amazingness of Betty's master tape. The performance is average for the period (which is to say, for my money, excellent overall), with the exception of the @@ La-La -> People Make The World Go Round in set II, which I think is top-notch. There are some interesting selections in set I. Jerry seems mostly into an AM radio kind of mood with Neighbor Neighbor, I Second That Emotion, HAGYN and Money Honey). I tend not to find most of these songs that interesting, with HAGYN my most preferred and ISTE my least. I always think of Neighbor Neighbor in terms of the gradual erosion of a healthy private space for Garcia, but that's certainly me over-reading things. The more bitter he sounds during Money Honey, the better to my ears, and this one doesn't stand out. The only Merl vocal of the night, PGP, is a little bit disjointed. Favela, which is a song I can like a lot and to which I pay a lot of attention, also failed to light me up on this listen, though I have come to understand that could change with the next listen. Set II, also, is more careful than hot. The best balance to my ears comes with La-La > People Make The World Go Round, a 20+ minute excursion through some really tasteful jamming. The rest of it is nice, clean (good music to introduce a non-fan to, perhaps), but not risky or flawed enough for my taste.
REFERENCES:
·         Dwork, John, and Alexis Muellner, with Dougal Donaldson, Doug Oade and Mark Kraitchman. 2000. Outside the System. In The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, vol. III, An In-depth Guide to the Music of the Grateful Dead on Tape, 1986-1995 (New York: Henry Holt/Owl Books.), pp. 33-62.
·         Harvey, Katie A. 2009. Embalming the Dead: Taping, Trading and Collecting the Aura of the Grateful Dead. Master of Arts Thesis, Tufts University, August. URL http://www.scribd.com/doc/26367749/Embaling-the-Grateful-Dead, consulted 12/18/2011.

2 comments:

  1. Add this to your notes under "Personnel" above, I guess Merl's memory is off by a day...

    Jerry was in New York and he said he'd do the gig [in Berkeley]. I said, "How will you do this, Jerry?" He said, "Just get me a limo and I'll be there." He flew in that morning, did the gig and flew back to New York that evening. He never asked for a penny. That was Jerry. (Merl Saunders; Garcia made the trip to do a concert for Ethiopian famine relief)

    http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20063552,00.html

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