Thursday, March 12, 2009

Frozen Jerry

-- Grateful Dead 5/3/86 Cal Expo, Sacramento - soundboard (SBD) download (mp3 - 320 kbps) and setlist ... THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED 2009 - VOL. 25

Grateful Dead -- May 3, 1986
Cal Expo Amphitheatre, Sacramento, California

1st Set: Cold Rain & Snow The Race Is On,
They Love Each Other, C.C. Rider, High Time,
Beat It On Down The Line
The Promised Land Deal

Set 2:
Scarlet Begonias Fire On The Mountain,
Women Are Smarter Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad Drums
The Other One Comes A Time Sugar Magnolia

Twas a few days ago when I listened to a Jerry show from a couple months before this Dead show. Since this is a hugely under-listened to year, I thought I'd give some Dead from '86 a spin.

Listening first to the AUD source of this show, I wasn't too impressed with the boys on this night: good but nothing outstanding.

Listening to the SBD -- I've changed my mind!
With the exception of a somewhat sloppy Promised Land, the first set features some fine versions. Very cool to listen to a show when they bust out a tune for the first time in a few years (The Race Is On) not to mention one that is extremely rare to hear period. They Love Each Other and C.C. Rider are both so solid. Before BIODTL, if you crank it up for a moment and listen oh so closely, the boys can be heard deciding how many beats to start with. Someone, maybe Phil, twice belts out "forty!" They settle for considerably less. I really with the mics were on for this stuff!!! Oh well but I'm glad I noticed it. Jerry smokes during a very good Deal making it a nice end to a short set. Say what ya want about Jerry's health at this time, he still went out there and had a lot of great moments in '86! One more thing to note, Phil's wailin'!

Set 2 kicks off with an outstanding Scarlet Begonias. Oh, hell yeah! What a happy ride to Fire. Oh man. I wasn't hearing Bob so much but Jerry's on auto-pilot, Mickey & Billy carry the weight and then Brent and Phil so perfectly round the edges. This is a good night. Some faint chatter is heard between the drummers during Drums, including the most perfect piece of evidence that the mood is good: Mickey's heard saying to Billy, "I'm having too much fun to stop." Ya gotta love that, don't ya?! An awesome Drums it is, too, with an equally nice Space that follows. As they work their toward The Other One, and then on their way to the first verse, between Jerry, Bob's rhythm guitar, Phil's thumping away on bass, and Brent's playfulness on keys, and soon the drummers again, there's just so much to listen to! Everyone here is reaching such perfection. The end of the show ain't bad with a really nice Comes A Time and a bunch o' great bass from Phil in very lively Sugar Mag but that Space-> Other One section of music is definitely the best part of the show.

I used to have this show on good old analog cassette tapes and the only reason I remember is because the very end of Sugar Mag is completely unforgettable. Something goes massively awry -> big feedback/reverberation in the amplifiers -> unknown planetary meltdown?!? Bob then steps up to the mic and calls it a night. Phil announces it proper right immediately after -- no encore. Broken guitar, Jerry's fingers are frozen and Phil's mind is blown so see ya tomorrow, everyone!

Wow. I wasn't really looking forward to '86, and I had forgotten I once owned this, but the randomosity of my choice of what to listen to today turned out to be something that's definitely worth a listen! At least a little, I might still look down on '86 but not as much as before.

transcribed from:

The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Volume III:
An In-Depth Guide To The Music

of the Grateful Dead on Tape, 1986-1995
[out of print]

The band sounds relaxed as they hit the stage, "Cold Rain" steered along by pulsing playing from Lesh and Brent's ever-confident touches, but nothing prepares us for the fall into "The Race Is On," achieved by Bobby with balletic poise, played for the first time since 1981 (and only the second time electric since 1974) to celebrate the Kentucky Derby that day, though you'd never notice the long retirement. "C.C. Rider" appears in one of its fastest-ever incarnations--a perky version. "High Time" makes a rare 1980's appearance. Bobby continues in spirited fashion on "Beat It on Down the Line." So far his tunes have been the heart and soul of the energy of this set, but he starts to stumble quite a but in "Promised" and Brent, as usual, steps forward to fill the gap with style. Garcia solos at some length in "Deal" to end a set that feels rushed, even before you consider that it is only forty-five minutes long. However, it was apparently quite cold and that could have attributed to the hurry that the band appears to have been in.

Garcia drops a few lovely vocal flourishes into an extended first jam in "Scarlet Begonias," but the real magic here lies in that area between his playing and the consistently inventive leads from Brent. The transition into "Fire" is simply one of the best ever as they trade ideas, Phil soon spotting a good thing and appearing for a slice of the action. As the first jam in "Fire" begins they are back at it again, but Garcia's contribution seems to die away until the closing jam, where he takes hold of a short but interesting theme and shakes it about with the help of the ever-present Brent whose playing throughout has bubbled over with delights. There's a strange air to Garcia's playing that is evident even if it weren't also the case that he sometimes just seems to disappear. When it's good it can be very interestingly different, but he's only "coming through in waves," as Roger Waters would say. Unfortunately we can all suspect one of the main reasons why this might be happening, but again the cold must have been an issue. "Woman Smarter" peters indistinctly into a rare pre-"Drums" "Goin' Down the Road" that Bob dedicates to either "Larry" or "Lara." Whoever it is, they are to be thanked for inspiring the second major highlight of the evening, which has a mellow Allman-esque feel. "Drums" really goes places, with enough mutant jungle rhythms to addle the most polymorphously polyphonic of minds. It spins, twirls, and juggles itself through a myriad of dazzlingly distinct soundscapes before abruptly abandoning the stage to the rest of the band for an initially gentle "Space." After a while the sounds gets stranger but it is not chaos the band seems to be striving toward, it is simply a sound sufficient to render the extended majesty of the cosmos. Somehow, gloriously, they seem to be able to produce it. Then Garcia leads a substantial shift in direction, signaling a slow and fascinating advance into the one tune that may have appeared the only melting pot big enough to accommodate the whole band and yet continue to express the same vibrant patterns of chaos and order that they had been producing so perfectly while in two groups--"The Other One." There is no great eruption into the song, rather a gradual buildup, and, as Weir starts singing, Brent appears all around with lightning flashes of electric piano. However, Garcia is simply not present and, after a short time and only that one verse, they fade out their contributions and start "Comes a Time." The only thing Garcia is in the mood for tonight is being mellow or being spacey, and if the band attempts anything else he simply switches off! Of course I'd never seriously argue with a fine version of the vehicle for Hunter's most searingly soul-searching lyrics. Nevertheless the furiously inventive energy that was present in "Drums" > "Space" seems to have dissipated when faced with vocals and song structure. "Sugar Magnolia" ends, however, with a surprising burst of "Space" that makes you wonder what on earth could be about to happen before Bob makes an announcement about broken guitars that is mostly lost in the super-weird twists Healy puts his vocal through. Then Phil steps up to say in an appropriately deranged voice, "What Bob meant to say was that Jerry's fingers are totally frozen, his guitar is broken, and my mind is blown so I don't think we're going to do an encore tonight. See you tomorrow!"

What can one say in summation about such a short yet fragmented performance? There is no doubt in my mind that the "Drums" > "Space" sequence is one of the finest ever. However, overall, this show is maybe more for those appreciative of occasions when the band was "different" than of when it was fully on form. There are certainly at least two remarkable and quite lengthy sequences that deserve to be heard by all, and superb playing by Brent, much, unusually, on piano. Some of the rest of it is a bit of a blur.

Grateful Dead ticket - 5/3/86 Cal Expo Amphitheatre, Sacramento (borrowed from

GD 5/3/86 @ AUD for downloading SBD for Listening Only
Audio Quality: AUD (shnid=9626)♦ SBD

The aud's not bad, in fact the instruments are really clear.
There's some sort of minor distortion that almost sounds like
a metal chain being waved next to the mics but overall it's decent.


Source/Lineage: shnid=81516 ♦ Soundboard> Cassette Master> FLAC

1st Set - Cal Expo - 5/3/86
5/3/86 - Cal Expo - Part 2
5-3-86 aka 05-03-86 aka 5/3/86 aka 05/03/86 aka 05-03-86 Cal Expo Amphitheater


Anonymous said...

Chris, I had computer probs and couldn't check your blog for a while. You were talking about going "private". Sure am glad you didn't lock the door while I was offline.
"Anonymous Deadhooker"

Anonymous said...

Lets face it 1986 was not a good year for the band,but after reading what was said about this show,i took a chance on it anyways.
worth the download for sure.
the guy from INDY,IN.

Zoooma!! said...

Nope, not private... yet. It probably won't happen but the thought occurs every now and then. I suppose I don't have to look at the # of Downloads for each show; I wish it wasn't there but it is and it's hard to not notice. If I never knew how often stuff gets downloaded, then it might not bother me that 100 people might download a show but there are only 3 or 4 comments on it. That's totally lame. Comments are not required but it kind of sucks that some people silently download to their ears delight, treating this place like a depot. Those who download and never comment, not once -- they suck. If only they'd choose to redeem themselves by expressing a little gratitude then all would be right in the world.

Fortunately there are some grateful downloaders, kind folks who, from time to time, take a moment to leave their Thanks or even a few words more than that. All of those people - you people, and who know who you are! -- are always welcome to the tunes!

Anyway....... even when Jerry wasn't all there, the band had the magic to play a show that had many sparkling moments. And while Jerry's voice isn't as perfect as it used to be, one thing I've noticed and appreciate in these later years is you're really able to notice when he puts that extra emotion into a part of a song. There are so many perfect Dead shows where Jerry's guitar is on fire but vocally he doesn't hit any tremendous heights. In later years, a single moment like that can turn a decent average version of a song into one that's absolutely worth listening to.

I'm sure there are gonna be a bunch of duds from '86 but this one's not bad!

keith h said...

Hey Zoooma,
I'm always happy to hear dead shows from any era, but especially any from the late 80's. it's hard to believe that Jerry could be playing so well here, and then a few months later goes into the coma. I'm glad he pulled out and continued his playing. Thanks for this show!

TheNWRA said...

Cheers for posting - it's always interesting to here shows like this; there are always hidden gems

MH said...

EPIC - killer show I am also going back and forth between it and the JGB Stone show.

Thanks so much!

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

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated