Sunday, December 7, 2008

12/2/81 Reckless and Hot

Sorry, no download here. Inspiration, Move Me Brightly (and 100 Days Of The Dead) was never always solely about downloads so there ain't no reason not to dig and comment on an Aud-only GD show from time to time...

Grateful Dead University of Illinois Steal Your Face designed by Zoooma for my lovely, wonderful, groovy Sugarmag1991!  I love you, Sweetheart!!

Grateful Dead
Assembly Hall, December 2, 1981
University of Illinois, Champaign, IL

12/2/81 aka 12/02/81 aka 12-2-81 aka 12-02-81 aka 81-12-02 Champaign-Urbana setlist and mp3 download
1st Set: Bertha-> Greatest Story, Peggy-O, Mama Tried-> Mexicali Blues,
Brown-Eyed Woman, Passenger, Never Trust A Woman, Cumberland Blues->
Looks Like Rain, China Cat Sunflower-> I Know You Rider

2nd Set: Feel Like A Stranger-> Franklin's Tower-> Sailor-> Saint->
Terrapin Station, (missing Drums), Space-> Not Fade Away-> Stella Blue->
Around And Around-> Good Lovin'

(missing the encore)

Hey now it's me, Sugarmag. I have been in a bit of a slump lately and I have hardly listened to any music in a while. For the last couple of weeks I have been doing uploads for this blog and I have read Zoooma's posts and I've thought, "That looks like a good show! I should listen to it." But yet somehow I never do. I have these shows on my computer, how lame is that? I guess I have just been busy with Christmas preparations, getting ready to start graduate school, being a mom, my dog's injury...where does the time go? So I was glad when my dear friend Zoooma gave me an assignment. He said, "Sugarmag" and I said "Yes Zoooma?" and he said, "I want you to write about a show." I said, "Ok, which one?" and Zoooma said, "How about when they played at the Assembly Hall in 1981?" I said, "It will be my pleasure." I am so glad he gave me a writing assignment!

So today I enjoyed listening to this show that happened here at The University of Illinois, my alma mater as well as my home town, and now the school that has just accepted me once again as a grad student. Is it obvious that I have great affection for The University of Illinois? My parents met here, they left and came back, I left and came back, it's a great place to live. But I digress, my purpose here is to tell anyone interested what I thought of this show. The recording itself is not bad, I would consider it listenable but I am not as picky as some of my friends. My biggest complaints about this recording are the way the songs cut in the end and the people who are talking during the show and they just do not shut up. I wish I could tell them, "Dude, if you are going to be in the tapers' section, then be quiet. Make yourself useful and catch balloons before they hit microphones or something." Anyway...:)

The show starts out nicely with great energy during Bertha and Greatest Story Ever Told. The guy who reviewed this show for The Deadhead's Taping Compendium mentions the Peggy-O as a highlight of the first set and it is pretty great. I always like that song. Bobby messed up the lyrics in the beginning of Mexicali Blues, but he makes up for later on. The actual playing of the song has great energy and is fun to listen to. Brown Eyed Women is good but unremarkable and then after that I really (really!) dig Passenger. I love Bobby and Brent singing together, they sound great. This song has such great energy and it had me up and dancing. Never Trust A Woman after that is nice, it is pretty mellow, I really like Brent's playing a lot. Brent had such a great sound! Jerry's blues lead (mentioned in the review below) is wonderful, beautiful. This song builds up to some really sweet energy near the end. Cumberland has some really sweet energy too, it's another of those songs that I think is never bad. Looks Like Rain is another one of my favorite songs (are they all my favorites? Yeah pretty much) and this is a nice one. It being 1981 and just two years post Keith and Donna, and can't halp but think of her and how much I liked the way she and Bobby sounded singing LLR together, but Bobby by himself is good, too. I love Jerry's guitar playing on LLR, too. This song is nothing unusual, it's pretty much how they always played it, but it is great. Sigh. I had to close my eyes for awhile and listen-but damn the people who are standing around talking during the whole damn show are annoying. Do they know The Grateful Fucking Dead are playing Looks like Rain? Apparently not. China Cat Sunflower is another one of them songs that always rocks. After sitting and closing my eyes to listen to LLR, it was time for me to get up and dance around. I Know You Rider is not as good as it sometimes is. One of my favorite parts is when Jerry sings, "I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train" and on this night he did not sing it with the passion that he sometimes does.

The second set opens with a hot Feel Like A Stranger that features really cool jam with some great guitar licks from Jerry. Franklin's Tower seems really fast to me, so much so that I wondered if the recording is at the correct speed! I'm curious about that and I think later on I'll go back to and listen to a couple of other Franklin's Towers from around this same time. It's been a while since I have listened to a Franklin's Tower from around then so I'm not sure how fast they usually played it that year. The reviewer from The Deadhead Taper's Compendium mentioned Franklin's Tower, too, and then went on to call the rest of the second set an "unexceptional Weirfest punctuated by a sweet Stella Blue." While there is probably some truth to what he wrote, I am not as willing to dismiss the rest of this show. Well, maybe he's right that the show is unexceptional, I but that does not mean it's not good! Pick any random show and it will have moments of greatness. It's The Grateful Fucking Dead!

Lost Sailor is sweet and reminds me why I love Bob so much. Yeah I know I sometimes joke around and call Bob "Booby" but I do love Bob. The cut between Lost Sailor and Saint of Circumstance is a little rude but Saint of Circumstance is great, it's one of my favorite songs!. I like when Bobby says "Weee!" and "What the fuck you gonna do now?"

Terrapin-Jerry messes up the words a little in Terrapin and although I still enjoyed it, I have definitely heard better Terrapins. Even so, this Terrapin builds to a great climax the way Terrapin always does, and by the end of the song I was reminded once again of why I love the Grateful Dead. Some rise! Some fall! Some get to Terrapin. Lame that drums is missing, I dig the drums after Terrapin. There is a really cool jam near the end of Space before they start playing Not Fade Away. It starts out as a song I can't identify and then begins to sound more and more like NFA. There's also a really nice jam near the end of Not Fade Away with another rude cut. Stella Blue is beautiful, Jerry's guitar playing in the end is just, wow! It's everything I love about Jerry, with another annoying cut before Around and Around. I have heard people say that they don't like Around and Around because it means the end, but I always enjoy hearing it. I don't think I've ever heard a bad one and no matter how tired I am (like right now) it makes me want to get up and dance. Also, on this night there was another song and an encore (missing from this recording) after Around and Around. Good Love was a rockin' good time on this night. I would have liked to have been there but I was 7 then and my parents weren't Deadheads, so it didn't happen.

Grateful Dead ticket for 12/2/81 Assembly Hall, University of Illinois, Champaign

What does someone in the Compendium say?


The Dead's second and final performance at my alma mater, the University of Illinois, did not quite measure up to the "Dark Star" > "Eyes of the World" > "China Doll" performed there on February 22, 1973, but then what '81 show did? Still, I enjoyed seeing a competent performance in the mushroom-shaped Assembly Hall, and Garcia does things during "Peggy-O" for example, that he couldn't have attempted back in '73. An interesting early version of "Never Trust A Woman" is mellower than subsequent versions, and features a poignant blues lead from Jerry, who lost interest in the song in later years. Set 2 opens with a spacey "Feel like a Stranger," which segues into a jubilant "Franklin's Tower." I remember the rest of the second set as an unexceptional Weirfest punctuated by a sweet "Stella Blue." I am glad that I attended this show, but I cannot honestly hail it as one of the highlights of the Dead's career, or even of the 1981 tour.

transcribed from:

The Deadhead's Taping Compendium Volume II, 1975-1985 [guide to Grateful Dead music]
The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Volume II:
An In-Depth Guide To The
Music of
the Grateful Dead on Tape, 1975-1985
[out of print]

Source: Audience
FOB (Front of Board)>
Cassette Master> DAT> CD

Audio Quality:
12/2/81 Champaign @
the Aud/FOB for Downloading...

No soundboard is in
public circulation for this show.


freakypete said...

thanks for this one sug, i saw them just after this as they came to scotland (yes SCOTLAND! the only time they ever did) i had one of the most memorable nights of my life

Sugarmag said...

Hi Freakypete, Thanks for reading what I wrote and commenting. Cool that you saw The Dead in Scotland, sounds like a good time!

LSDAmerica said...

Looks like a keeper! Many thanks for sharing Sugarmag.

Zoooma!! said...

Heya Babe! Is that exactly how our conversation went? I just don't recall but since it's in quotes, I'll take your word for it! ;)

So these cuts you speak of -- "the way the songs cut in the end" and the one that's a little rude between Sailor and Saint -- are not on the master recording, that's just the way mp3 files have a gap between them. With some mp3 players you can click a "Gapless Play" option and so voila -- no gaps. I'm guessing those gaps are also there when listening right from Archive (something I don't do.) And if you downloaded the lossless files and burned the show to discs, it would be gapless that way, as well.

On my mp3 player, they're not bad, not more than about a half second and my mind can, most of the time, just ignore them.

Anyway, the show itself ain't terrible... but then not many really are. There's not a whole lot that stands out here but this be true -- there's plenty of great Jerry on lead throughout!

Bertha rocks and Peggy-O is really strong. I dug Mexicali a whole lot and Passenger is one of the only tunes you hear a lot of Phil. This recording definitely suffers a little from lack of bass. Passenger just wails, though!

There's a lot of yackety yack, talkity talk from people around the taper and that's too bad. Just when it stops and I forget about them, they're back. It's not all the time during every song but it sure does come and go from early on all the way till the end.

I thought China->Rider fell kinda flat but the 2nd set steam really picked up with that rollicking and fun Franklin's which I liked a whole lot. It's not always easy to hear but Bob & Jerry on rhythm and lead are going so strong here!

Not wicked hot but Saint has a pretty nice buildup to the peak moment of the song, I thought better than the Terrapin that followed.

Stella was sweet but what was it with talkers during Jerry's most beautiful moment?? Ay caramba! Same thing earlier during the quiet Looks Like Rain. SHhhhhh!!!!!

Good Lovin' allows Bobby to cheese it up some but I'm sure the crowd felt real good those last 10 or 12 minutes before the encore.

My favorite part of the whole show was Not Fade Away actually. The song you think you hear near the end of Space, well, I think it's just the beginning of NFA sounding a little different than usual. If you listen closely it's Bobby, I think, or maybe it's Phil, who gets it going with that Pink Floyd-ish sounding chord repetition. That might be what you thought was some other tune.

NFA is soon underway and the first 4+ minutes they just spend in that jam leading up to the first verse. What I love the most is at about the 4:30 mark you can hear Phil muscle his way into things and to my ears his bass is saying, "Alright, guys, let's proceed in earnest with this song now, shall we?!" Everyone takes Phil's heavy cue and the direction changes course out of that jam and into NFA proper. I swear, while listening to the show only twice, I've listened to that one part like 9 times now! Mmmm! Love it!!!

Overall it's a decent show but unfortunately I'm not really left feeling totally exhilarated. Ya know what, though? If I was actually there I'd've walked out of The Mushroom (Assembly Hall) one Happy Camper, that's for sure!

If I had a gun to my head and had to grade overall Show Performance -- a solid B to B+... maybe even A-. There's better from '81 and other '81 Auds without so much talking but I'll probably listen to this again someday.

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

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated