Sunday, June 17, 2007

35 Years Ago Tonight...

A grand anniversary it is, of the Monterey International Pop Festival, which took place 40 Years Ago Right Now. Tomorrow the Dead would play amongst a whole slew of other great bands...

Just five years later would be Pigpen's last show...

Grateful Dead 6-17-72
Hollywood Bowl

Los Angeles

1st Set
The Promised Land, Sugaree,
Black-Throated Wind, Tennessee Jed, Me & My Uncle,
China Cat Sunflower I Know You Rider
Playing In The Band, Loser,
Beat It On Down The Line, Stella Blue,
El Paso, Casey Jones

2nd Set (partial)
Truckin' Drums The Other One,
Ramble On Rose, Sugar Mags, Not Fade Away

After nearly two months spent in some weird foreign land (Europe) gaining a whole legion of Euroheads, the boys went to LaLaLand for their first American show in 2½ months and their first on the West Coast since the first week of March.

Whipped right along, they did, playing one lickety split number after another. A super sweet China->Rider is sadly interrupted by a tape flip, wiping out practically all of the Northbound Train->Colorado Rain verse. Ouch. The non-invention of DAT yet really hurt right there but a nice 10 minute or so Playin' followed which almost made up for the suffering in my soul from a few minutes before.

A few songs later came another highlight for the 1st Set -- a brand new song, a ballad type of tune sung by Jerry and oh so nice it was! Most of the crowd seemed to give Stella Blue a very nice reception and deservedly so!!

What would the rest of this night at the foot of the Hollywood hills have in store? Impossible to assess from this recording made those so many years ago. Set 2 brought a change in quality of the recording, a bad change, like a hurricane blew through and Set 1 was the peaceful calm before the storm. Not only do we only have a partial setlist but it's not the most pleasant to listen to. The 1st Set was maybe, in general, overall, about A- quality which sometimes wasn't too bad for an Aud of any era. Perhaps at times it even held very nicely with a solid grade of A ... but other times it dropped momentarily to a measely C+/B- due to microphone jostling, crowd voices, and dropouts here and there. Set 2 on the otherhand, well, it doesn't make sense to listen to the 2nd Set first but if you did with this show, you'd Love the quality of the 1st Set. I stuck with the whole almost hourlong of exisiting Set 2 but sadly I probably never will again, it stinks that much. That's terribly unfortunate because the 22 minute Other One is pretty sweet. Oh well.

It's really a shame that this (mostly pathetic) Audience recording is all that circulates for this somewhat historic date in the Dead's history. Pigpen's last show, and the very first playing of Stella Blue, should be given more importance. Does a Soundboard even exist in the vault? Why would it be stashed away all these years? Maybe this is it.

Pigpen was a One of a Kind and it's sad that even though he was on stage here this night in Southern California, you can't even tell. In a way it's okay because the body of music that we are left with where Pigpen absolutely shines is sufficient enough considering the period of time when he was with the band. Not a whole lot in superior quality survived from those years so we should be thankful for what we do have. He may have gone out with a wimper but there's no doubt he was missed each and every day right up until this very moment in time. Thanks, Ron. Without you the Grateful Dead may never even have existed!

No comments:

one says one number and the other another
but they were set at the same time. Hmmm...

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated