Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn

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Grateful Dead

On Instrument Positioning in Live Recordings

11/27/2012

All recordings of concerts are artificial. But once you’ve gotten that out of the way – you simply accept that you can never reproduce the actual sound of a live performance – you have to approach the question of how these recordings should be mixed. Not only are there questions of the volume of individual […]

The Grateful Dead Movie Now Available on Blu-Ray

11/07/2011

I remember well, back in the summer of ’77, when The Grateful Dead movie was released. I don’t recall exactly where it was showing in New York City, but with my friends, I went to see it shortly after it opened. It was in one of the few movie theaters that had Dolby sound, and […]

Europe ’72 Is Here

09/12/2011

I finally got my Complete Europe ’72 box set: I got number 3047: In my initial listen to parts of the first show (4/7/72, Wembley Empire Pool, London, England), I’m very impressed by the quality of the mix and remastering. The instruments all sound fresh and clear, and the overall sound is very nice. It’s […]

Coming Soon: Grateful Dead Complete Europe ’72 Box Set

08/23/2011

For Deadheads, there are few periods as cherished as 1972, and particularly the European tour, where the band rode around on busses and played 22 shows in a seven week period. While an early live album was released from this tour (called Europe ’72, this triple-LP set was a big hit in the 70s, but […]

Coming Soon: A Grateful Dead Video Game

02/10/2011

Rolling Stone reported on this last month: a video game about the Grateful Dead, “featuring the act’s music and signature imagery and lore.” Featuring all band members’ names and likenesses, as well as audio recordings, artwork, photography and video culled from the psychedelic pioneers’ fabled Vault, the outing will be playable from multiple platforms and […]

Essential Music: Dark Star, by the Grateful Dead

12/25/2008

As any Grateful Dead fan (aka Deadhead) will tell you, “Dark Star” is the ultimate Dead song. This cosmic symphony of rock was the optimal vehicle for the group’s improvisations, a template for the moods and feelings that the various musicians wanted to express in their music. Jerry Garcia said, “Dark Star has meant, while I was playing it, almost as many things as I can sit here and imagine,” and Phil Lesh called it “the one we tacitly agreed on where anything was okay.”

While the Dead jammed many of their songs, Dark Star has a special place. It stands aside several other classic tunes that often stretched on for 30 minutes or more–That’s It for the Other One, Turn on Your Lovelight, Playin’ In the Band–but always offered a less structured environment for improvisation. The Grateful Dead performed Dark Star at least 232 times, according to Deadbase.

Book Notes: Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip

12/23/2008

Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip
by Robert Hunter, Stephen Peters, Chuck Wills, Dennis McNally
481 pages. Dorling Kindersly, 2003. $50

Buy from Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon FR

What can you say about an illustrated book about the Dead? It’s fun, disjointed, fragmentary, but it fits perfectly with the Dead and their style of living and music-making. In the usual Dorling Kindersly style, this book contains lots of sidebars with illustrations, scattered all over the place. Since I bought this book more than two years ago (this addition November 2006), I’ve found myself reaching for it when I just want to experience a bit of Deadiana, or when listening to a Dead concert to look up the context.

There’s no narrative, other than time itself. The timeline, which is the thread through this book, moves from the earliest days to Jerry’s death and beyond, covering the albums, important concerts, drug busts and all the other highlights of the Dead’s career. If you are, or ever have been, a Deadhead, you’ll want this book to leaf through while listening to live Dead shows.

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