Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Mother Lode- Grateful Dead Complete Winterland Recordings, 1973

I am the guy at work who has to go and pick up the mail everyday at the downtown Tulsa post office. I go at about 9 am, and the <15 minutes I spend in the car I find myself flipping between the radio stations. It is amazing how many of the same songs I hear. I've gotten my limit of Nickelback's "Rock Star"- all I know are the lyrics "everyone's got a drug dealer on speed dial." There's a new band Paramore that I've discovered, and they are terrible. I've heard the same Spin Doctor's song from 1993 a few times, and what I can enjoy the most is "Our Song" on the country station by Taylor Swift, who's apparently like 18 years old. The best thing you can really ask for is something like a "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" or an "Interstate Love Song." I saw one of these typical rock stations was doing a March Madness bracket online, except instead of basketball teams they had their favorite rock bands. I think there was a Fuel/Korn matchup.

Why do I say this? Because the trip to the post office pretty much constitutes my entire music listening during the week. Until now, sucka! I've always been a Grateful Dead fan, and I'm not ashamed of it. The package on my door yesterday was a gold mine- Nov. 9, 10, 11 concerts from Winterland, San Francisco, 1973- a 9 disc feast, three for each show! Plus I got a 10th bonus disc for ordering before April 30! I wouldn't label myself a Deadhead; obviously I've never been to a GD concert. I think I was 12 when Garcia died, and I don't trade concert tapes or anything like that either. But I have more shows to say I go beyond just a casual fan.

First of all, what is better than getting CD's when their packaging is tip-top? This set comes in a nice box with psychedelic squiggles behind the skull logo. Each concert is in its own tri-sleeve case with the same pattern but different colors. And the box smells really great, too. I'm halfway through the second disc right now, watching the Card's beat up on the Astros, and the music is amazing. The sound quality is great- I can get bass, drums, boards, and both guitars crystal clear- a lot of times with my bad ear I can't hear at least one of the instruments very well. So far the solos and jams are real good, and there are 3 X "Bertha" in the collection, one on each night- a favorite of my favorite Dead tunes! There was a similar collection released awhile ago from the Fillmore West in 1969, and is now unavailable. I have seen it go for $600++ on eBay, another reason to pick up your copy of this box set today! Plus, I could possibly be convinced on any given day that 1973 is my favorite year for these guys.

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to write something about the Grateful Dead on charz2k, and I thought what better time to defame a perfectly good indie rock blog with something on this band. I feel like the Dead get a bad wrap sometimes. They must be one of the least pretentious bands ever, but can do more musically than 10 other bands combined. I've always found their sound to be the most colorful of any group; the jams can evolve into something as quality as, say, "Bitches Brew," but garner none of the latter's "coolness." I even like some of their other shorter songs, which some consider more as throwaways- but I dig the combination of folk and pyschedelia that they did so well. Their whole music is the perfect blend of country, rock, and jazz- like John Wayne on his horse meeting up with Neal Cassidy's Hudson in the middle of the 1960's San Francisco Haight. Bottom line- you can keep all your Animal Collectives and Arcade Fires, I'll take this any day of the week. This and maybe Slanted and Enchanted.

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