Saturday, April 29, 2017

First Two from May 1977: May 1-3 at the Palladium

These new nights are lightly regarded compared to other shows at the Palladium and from the Spring tour 1977 but still worth considering which you can do here

Set two of May 1, 1977 is just another one of those really great May 77 nights. What is so remarkable is that in a Jambase poll of the Spring tour, this show got 1% of the vote.  Think of that 1% with that setlist. Listen and tell me what you think.  Most underrated show of May 1977?


April 29 is a gem as are April 30 and May 4, all of which you can read about at this blog
http://gratefulseconds.blogspot.com/2017/02/opening-night-at-palladium-april-29-1977.html
http://gratefulseconds.blogspot.com/search/label/1977-04-30
http://gratefulseconds.blogspot.com/2017/02/may-4-1977-mind-melt-at-palladium.html

Sunday, May 1

Might As Well El Paso Ramble On Rose Cassidy They Love Each Other Lazy Lightnin' > Supplication  Roses Estimated Prophet Tennessee Jed Sunrise Samson And Delilah

Dancing In The Street > Brown Eyed Women Playing In The Band > Drums > The Other One> Comes A Time > Playing In The Band Brokedown Palace









Low Rankings on a Jambase Poll of May 1977 shows:  1% of voters go for a nice Dancing In The Street > Brown Eyed Women Playing In The Band > Drums > The Other One> Comes A Time > Playing In The Band Brokedown Palace. Hmmm must have been a good month









Tuesday May 3

The Promised Land Bertha Me And My Uncle Peggy-O Jack Straw Row Jimmy Lazy Lightnin' > Supplication Deal Good Lovin' Ship Of Fools The Music Never Stopped

Might As Well Estimated Prophet Sugaree Samson Friend Of The Devil Eyes Of The World > Space>  Wharf Rat> Drums > Not Fade Away  > Around And Around Uncle John's Band

NY Times on May 1, 1977 review of April 29 show

Friday, April 28, 2017

Best Show Ever, Take 2 June 24, 1970 Capitol

Despite shows as far afield as Oahu and France over the past month, the Grateful Dead were ready on June 24, 1970. Garcia played on 62 songs in a row?  No soundboard here, but the Lees make you not need one. A Capitol Show with a dizzy fizzy Attics Dark Star frenzy and some cool acoustic tunes and the New Riders. All yours. Attics acoustic early and Attics in middle of Dark Star electric later.
There's also an Attics in the middle of the Other One, however this may be mislabeled.



The Grateful Dead Listening Guide says about this show:

Interestingly, I would have never sent you home on day one with this tape. Not only do you need to have at least a slightly AUD-tuned ear to fully grok this tape (you don’t want to be bitching and moaning about this not being a soundboard while listening), you might also do well to have built up a tolerance/appreciation for great Dead moments before launching yourself into this one. Too large a dose of something could have adverse affects if taken too early. 6/24/70 peaks the meter above the red zone. You need to have some semblance of that upper range to best appreciate this gold medal show.

This Dark Star suite is something quite above and beyond your standard wonderful Dark Star. And this tape allows you to hear every pin drop, every flash pot go off (you’ll lose count), every ripple of deeply psychedelic energy fill the entire Cap Theatre to the rafters, washing the entire audience away into other dimensions.

http://www.deadlistening.com/2008/04/1970-june-24-capitol-theatre.html








Band Grateful Dead Venue Capitol Theater Location Port Chester, NY Date 6/24/70a - Wednesday posters tickets, passes & laminates
Acoustic
Dire Wolf [5:50] ; Don't Ease Me In [3:17] ; Attics of My Life [6:12] ; Friend Of The Devil [4:59] ; Let Me In 83968 [4:44] ; Candyman [7:30] ; Uncle John's Band [6:10]
Electric
[65:01] ; Intro [0:43] ; Casey Jones [4:43] > Black Peter [8:16] ; [0:48] ; Drums [0:22] > Good Lovin' [1:42] > Drums [2:18] > Good Lovin' [6:#50] ; [0:49] ; Mama Tried [2:34] ; [1:21] ; High Time [7:23] ; [1:42] ; Cryptical Envelopment [2:02] > Drums [4:24] > The Other One [9:18] > Cryptical Envelopment [2:32] > Cosmic Charlie [6:51]
Encore
[4:57] ; Intro [1:13] % New Minglewood Blues [3:44]
Band Grateful Dead Venue Capitol Theater Location Port Chester, NY Date 6/24/70b - Wednesday posters tickets, passes & laminates
One
[27:00] ; Intro (1) [0:59] ; Big Railroad Blues [3:15] ; [0:50] ; Deep Elem Blues [5:20] ; [1:44 intro] ; Monkey And The Engineer [1:40] ; [0:46] ; The Rub [3:22] ; [0:59] ; Silver Threads And Golden Needle [2:12#] % Friend Of The Devil [3:28] % Candyman [5:31] % [0:19] ; Cumberland Blues [3:03#] % Cold Jordan [0:51#]
Two
[1:14:41] ; Intro (2) [2:36] ; Drums [0:13] > Not Fade Away [11:38] > Easy Wind [7:54] ; [2:18 broken string] ; Me And My Uncle [3:18] ; [2:#16 intro] ; Dark Star [10:20] > Attics Of My Life [5:34] > Dark Star [7:48] > Sugar Magnolia [1:43] > Dark Star [3:01] > Saint Stephen [6:13] > China Cat Sunflower [3:02] > Jam [2:05] > I Know You Rider [4:17] ; [0:25]
Encore
[14:10] ; Tuning [0:58] ; Uncle John's Band [6:46] ; [0:07] % Tuning (3) [2:24] % Tuning [0:35] ; Swing Low Sweet Chariot [3:08] ; [0:10]

Thursday, April 27, 2017

One Stoned Evening With the Dead At the Fillmore, April 1971


Looks like they reviewed Sunday, April 25, but I'll leave you with the TC set from April 28. Enjoy
Love that the cool Columbia Daily Spectator has a giant article on the Grateful Dead on the very special New York day of the Dead, April 29, 1971




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Revitalized Grateful Dead Proves They're Still The Best Live Rock and Roll Band In History: Dallas Got The Soft Machine October 15, 1977





Dallas Fuck Ya. This lesser known show Rocks the planet back in October 1977, maybe the best one of the month. In many years, it would have been the show of the year. How did they keep up playing weird and wonderful shows?  Just a few more left in the year but so many killers.

The setting is set two. After a solid Samson and Sunrise it starts. The band snakes through:

Terrapin Station>St Stephen>NFA>Stella Blue>Sugar Magnolia.

But they quite arent finished and encore with Truckin'>Saturday Night.  How far are we from the Soft Machine? Ask Phil from 1969 below.

"The second half of the program was simply overwhelming" says awesome Reporter Pete Oppel.







Her name is Susan, she's 19, she's a devoted fan of rock music and she didn't like at all what she just read in The Bee. Your reviewer is simply wrong. He is biased, she told me. June 1984 Cal Expo




In 1984 in Sacramento, Susan got tired of reading a negative review of the Grateful Dead, and gosh darn she did something about it.  The Sacramento Bee provideds a fascinating look inside the world of the Ombudsman and what happens when a single individual, 19, takes action.

SACRAMENTO BEE

June 17, 1984
Edition: FINAL
Section: METRO
Page: B




GRATEFUL DEAD

Author: BY ART NAUMAN
Her name is Susan, she's 19, she's a devoted fan of rock music and she didn't like at all what she just read in The Bee.
Your reviewer is simply wrong. He is biased, she told me.
What Susan was talking about was an assessment in last Monday's Bee of a concert in Sacramento by the Grateful Dead, one of the country's longest-lived rock groups.
The Bee's reviewer, David Barton, had panned the Grateful Dead. They were, he wrote, far from their best, and musically disappointing.
He called guitarist Jerry Garcia the chief musical vandal in the six-member group whose solos were numbingly dull wanderings that went nowhere, not even around in circles, which then at least would have had their own inner logic.
That last part probably irked Susan the most: Garcia knows exactly what he's doing. I wonder if your reviewer knows what he's doing.
The Dead had given two concerts last weekend at Cal Expo. Barton had attended Saturday's; Susan had gone to Sunday's.
There was dancing to their music and everybody was enjoying it, she said. Obviously, if the Dead was doing something musically wrong, the audience cared not a fig, was her message.
Well, as I told Susan, reviewers are paid to give us their opinion about the quality of the cultural event, whether it is a movie, a symphonic performance, the ballet, or, as in this case, a rock concert.
The reviewer is chosen because he knows the subject and can write clearly and insightfully about it.
Most definitely, the reviewer isn't a cheerleader, and if you're the dedicated fan of something or somebody the reviewer has put down, you feel especially stung.
At the same time, a reviewer's work isn't to be taken as gospel. It's still all a matter of opinion.
But what about Susan's allegation of bias? Certainly if the reviewer walked into the concert with an anti-Dead tilt, his assessment could be tainted.
David Barton is a 28-year-old native of Sacramento who's been providing rock music reviews to The Bee on a free-lance basis for about a year. His interest in the musical genre dates to preteen days and started with the Beatles.
I tried to be fair to the Dead, Barton told me. I have much respect for them, and I went to the concert expecting to have a good time. If I had a bias at all, it was to like the band, not to dislike it.
He also mentioned that people I've talked to since the weekend, who went to both concerts, said the Sunday show was better musically than Saturday's.
Reviewing a rock concert has its own peculiar challenges, I gather from talking wiih Barton.
These concerts are often a sort of orgiastic release for the audience, he said, meaning that the technical virtuosity of the artists isn't always of paramount importance to the listeners.
There is an emotional involvement at these rock concerts, a connection between the performers and their audiences that sometimes is enhanced by drugs, Barton said.
But the reviewer must remain detached from that involvement, he said.
Thus, the reviewer's assessment, unblurred by the euphoria, can indeed read harshly in the cold light of the next day.
If that is the case, so be it. Last Tuesday's edition of The Bee literally sickened one Sacramento reader. But she really wasn't complaining about it
she just needed to talk about it.
It was in that edition, on page B1, that the paper published a near-lifesize color photograph of a large, hairy spider that an apartment maintenance man had found. It probably was a tarantula.
I saw that and I screamed and threw the paper off my lap, the woman told me. Then I ordered my daughter to throw the paper into the garbage.
The rest of the day I felt fear and occasional nausea.
What she suffers from, of course, is a phobia about spiders, a longstanding and illogical fear she can't explain.
So deep is this phobia - call it arachniphobia, I guess, because it doesn't extend to insects - that when I asked her if she'd ever sought help, she answered that she actually fears not having that fear.
I mentioned her comments to Harlin Smith, The Bee's chief photographer, and he said, Say, that's not so funny. I remember years ago I took a picture out at the Junior Museum of a woman who had entwined around her a harmless bull snake.
We published the photo, but then we got a memo from upstairs saying we'd no longer run pictures of people holding snakes because some readers had phobias about them, and also we didn't want to encourage children to pick up the creatures.
Later we learned that one of the high front office people here had a snake phobia. 100014987

Memo:
THE OMBUDSMAN
Record Number: 094

Blair Agrees with Susan in an Early Issue of the Golden Road 1984




The original review is here:

SACRAMENTO BEE

June 11, 1984
Edition: FINAL
Section: SCENE
Page: B

IT'S TIME TO BURY OUR DEAD
Author: David Barton

A FAVORITE PHRASE of the cult of Grateful Dead fans known as the Dead Heads is direct and forceful: There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert. If Saturday afternoon's show is any indication, we should all be grateful for that.
The Dead are a unique ensemble. Along with the Beach Boys, they are the longest-lived American rock group of the '60s, and their relaxed approach to a song stands in sharp contrast to today's often slick show-biz attack. Their music, at its best, has the same loose charm that made the Band and Little Feat great.
Unfortunately, the Dead were far from their best Saturday. Although they provided the proper party atmosphere for the 8,000 fans, some of whom had come from as far away as Seattle for the shows (the second was Sunday), they were musically disappointing.
Chief musical vandal was guitarist Jerry Captain Trips Garcia, who played remarkably sloppy guitar, missing notes and repeatedly playing out of key. Worst of all, his solos were numbingly dull wanderings that went nowhere, not even around in circles, which then at least would have had their own inner logic.
Garcia also seemed disinclined to put much work into his singing on numbers such as Bertha and Ace. Weak and wobbly at best, his voice needs all the effort he can muster, and his casual approach resulted in some mighty ugly sounds.
Rhythm guitarist Bob Weir tried considerably harder. His voice on numbers such as Playin' in the Band and the closer, One More Saturday Night beat Garcia's by a mile, but when they teamed up, their harmony vocals were anything but harmonious.
The rhythm section of bassist Phil Lesh and drummers Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart carried the band with the loose interplay that gives the group it's unique, swirling rhythmic feel. The drummers followed each other's beats and offered effective rhythmic counterpoints that, aided by Lesh's ambling bass, created a shuffling, bopping groove.
Dancing was the main response to this flowing music, from a gentle, general swaying to the group's bluesy reading of C.C. Rider to the full-on rocking and spinning encouraged by Deal and Sugar Magnolia. By show's end, the audience, a show in itself, was dancing and reeling all over the amphitheater grounds in a display of reborn hippiedom that is rarely seen these days.
Things slowed down considerably during the two-and-a-quarter hour show's middle section, when the band embarked on several 10-minute jams, interrupted by occasional songs such as China Doll and Wharf Rat. Those jams were dull, atonal experiments, much more of which would have turned anyone into a literal dead head. Nevertheless, the dropped jaws and nodding heads in the crowd were indications that they were indeed getting through to some Dead Heads.
The Grateful Dead are less a pop group than the house band to the lingering '60s drug culture, and as a launching pad to inner space, they are apparently unequalled. But as a musical ensemble, at least Saturday, they were a dead loss. 100014096
Caption:
PHOTO


The day-of piece

SACRAMENTO BEE


June 10, 1984
Edition: FINAL
Section: METRO
Page: A



AGING 'DEAD HEADS' FOLLOW GRATEFUL DEAD TO CAL EXPO
Author: Jim Morris

Article Text:
Like apparitions from the '60s, long-haired, aging disciples of The Grateful Dead filled the Cal Expo parking lot Saturday, preparing themselves for yet another Dead concert - or primal experience, as one steadfast flower child put it.
For the uninitiated, The Grateful Dead is a San Francisco country-rock band that has been touring for 19 years and has attracted a devoted lot of followers, who affectionately call themselves Dead Heads. Other bands might draw larger audiences, but few can claim a core group of fans who literally will traverse the country to hear a few hours of music.
Dead Heads, however, say it is more than the music that brings them in. For me, it's more like going to a family affair, said Rosell Campos Jr., 32, of Sacramento. No two shows are ever alike, and they have a good rapport with the people. The band plays for the people, not for themselves.
Campos was selling rubber stamps bearing Dead insignias. He has been a fan for 14 years and has a large Grateful Dead tattoo on his right arm to prove it. I've seen 11 shows already this year, he said proudly.
By scanning the parking lot before the afternoon concert, one could detect a clear hierarchy among Dead fans. There were the newer con verts, those in their teens and 20s, who sported fashionably short haircuts and had the audacity to play taped music other than the Dead's.
The more seasoned fans had settled in the overnight camping area next to the Cal Expo Amphitheater. A walk through the area was like a trip back in time - say, 15 years.
Dilapidated, brightly painted school buses. The pungent smell of marijuana. Men with shoulder-length hair and ponytails. Women in madras dresses and wraps. And hundreds of people in tie-dyed shirts.
A group in and around one of the larger buses epitomized the Dead Head way of life. A bearded man wearing a psychedelic smock, shorts and tennis shoes stood next to the bus, selling T-shirts. He identified himself only as Buffalo, and said he was from the People's Republic of Berkeley.
Buffalo is 38 and has been a Dead devotee for 18 years. People really enjoy themselves at the concerts, he said. It's much better than most of the New Wave shows.
At that point, a gravelly voiced bear of a man wearing a cowboy hat leaned out of a bus window. He called himself Cassidy, and said he is a 16-year veteran of Dead shows.
His occupation? Hog farmer. And why does he like the Dead? Basically, I find that they resemble human beings more than rock stars.
Inside the bus, 39-year-old Dr. Spaghetti offered a more cerebral explanation of the Dead's appeal. I think the music is fractured time, on the threshold of enchantment, he said. There's a certain amount of timelessness, as well as what we need today.
One could easily imagine Dr. Spaghetti sitting in an incense-filled apartment in Haight-Ashbury in 1967, quoting philosophy as he draws anti-war posters. He said he has followed the Dead all over the country and through Europe.
The music - a mixture of country, rock and jazz - is never played the same way twice, he said. If you pay attention to it, it's like making love to now.
Dead songs blared from huge speakers on the bus, which is equipped with two stoves and a collection of mattresses that form a communal bed. As Buffalo peddled his T-shirts, a young woman danced euphorically nearby, oblivious to the people around her.
Not far from the bus was an old, black Cadillac hearse, laden with bumper stickers: Caution: I Stop for Hallucinations. University of Space. One Nuclear Bomb Can Ruin Your Whole Day. And, of course, a profusion of Dead stickers.
On the other side of the camping area, self-professed Dead Head Bill Collins, 33, of Sonoma, sat contentedly in a folding chair, taking in sights and sounds that all but disappeared more than a decade ago.
The band, he said, draws one of the more laid-back crowds. You don't get the rowdiness of heavy metal. A lot of it goes back to the Haight days, keeping that going in a nucleus of people.
Dead Heads remember with uncanny accuracy the time and place they first became entranced with the group. They speak of getting turned on in Houston in 1968 or New York in 1969, much as others describe their first encounter with marijuana.
The Dead, said fan Gordon Kraft of San Francisco, have positive, creative energy as opposed to the negative, violent energy of New Wave. This is Old Wave - good Old Wave.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

House Band for Syracuse War Memorial, September 28, 1976



Another college newspaper, another amazing review of a Grateful Dead show on September 26, 1976.  This time it's the Daily Orange from Syracuse, NY.

In the Fall of 1976, the band played some remarkable sounding shows; they are really hybrid between 1976 and 1977, between the past and the future. Actually I love the entire three week long tour from Duke to DTLA, but this one is special, especially starting with Let It Grow (turn it on above)

Syracuse student journalist Irwin Fisch says:

 "The Dead have a rare knack for making a seemingly aimless jam evolve into something definite with remarkable subtlety"

You mean the ending of set one with Let It Grow>Goin Down the Road?  For a second at the end, it almost sounds like it's going into Stella Blue.

Or you mean like
the monster from set two:

Playin' In The Band-> The Wheel-> Samson & Delilah-> Comes A Time-> Drums-> Eyes Of The World-> Dancin' In The Streets-> Playin' In The Band

Yes, this is a Dick's Pick, partnered with Landover 9-25 for Dick's Picks 20, but here is a well regarded audience of the same show

See what happened when you write something well thought out and positive about the Grateful Dead


Irwin Fisch is an Emmy-nominated arranger, composer and performer who creates music for media and live performance.

He has scored numerous television movies and miniseries, and composed hundreds of scores and songs for advertising. His arrangements have been heard by millions on the Kennedy Center Honors, the Tony Awards and the Super Bowl, on stage behind Bette Midler, Beyonce and Barbra Streisand, on Grammy-nominated recordings, and in Tony-nominated Broadway musicals. He serves as arranger and co-producer of musical performances for New York City's annual 9/11 Commemoration at Ground Zero.

Among the hundreds of artists with whom Irwin has played or recorded are Bette Midler, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Carole King, Celine Dion, Run-DMC, P. Diddy, Harry Belafonte, Peter Allen, Woody Allen, Jimmy Webb, Shawn Colvin, Tom Scott, Chuck Berry, Jackie Gleason, Sara Silverman, Elmo, Elmer Bernstein, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. He can be seen and heard in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom. His television performances have included The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Live with Regis and Kelly, The View, Ellen, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Christmas in Washington and two Presidential Inaugurations.



http://www.syracuse.com/kirst/index.ssf/2012/01/post_235.html


House band for history: The Grateful Dead at the War Memorial

Sean Kirst | skirst@syracuse.comBy Sean Kirst | skirst@syracuse.com 
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 13, 2012 at 12:17 PM, updated January 13, 2012 at 12:19 PM





If the Onondaga County War Memorial had a psychedelic house band, you’d have to go with the Grateful Dead. The California rockers, whose rolling style fused many musical forms, played the downtown arena six times.

Their early Syracuse concerts came amid the turbulence of the early 1970s. Knowing the band attracted a legion of loyal "Deadheads," many of whom indulged in marijuana, Syracuse authorities beefed up enforcement when the Dead arrived: The first show in 1971 led to 16 arrests. By the late 1970s, the band started to assume its mantle as a living bridge to the "peace and love" movement. Those who followed the Dead from show to show grew to expect some inspired musical moment ...
Such as the War Memorial show of 1978, when the band offered Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London as an encore. The late Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist for the Dead, "dug Warren and loved the ambiance of the song," says Dennis McNally of San Francisco, longtime historian for the band. After that tour, and until Garcia’s death, the band rarely played "Werewolves" - except as an occasional treat on Halloween.
The Dead shows are now part of the War Memorial’s extraordinary musical heritage, the focus for an in-depth piece Sunday by columnist Sean Kirst. The story will be accompanied by a bevy of treasures at syracuse.com, including this link to the Dead’s 1978 performance of "Werewolves" at the old arena, in which a joyous Syracuse crowd of 8,000 joins repeatedly in an impassioned chorus:
"Ahhh-Woooooooo!"
One of the best of the Grateful Dead listening blog analysis
http://www.deadlistening.com/2008/09/1976-september-28-syracuse-ny.html


Monday, April 24, 2017

Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales, Boston, January 26, 1972



It was a blip in time, some clubbing jamming, an LP and a short tour of the northeast for a week or so in late January 1972. But it makes for some interesting music. Most of the January 26 show is available on a long out of print Live LP, but today you can have it all, one way or another. (see soundcloud above) This darkness got to give.  Glad to see that there were at least two well researched and written thoughts on this Wales thing from Light Into Ashes and JGMF

The Boston Globe stayed away from this show, but the Boston Herald makes a few short comments on Jerry and Howard. At least, the students at Harvard wrote a longer and more detailed review.


Rock and Schlock

Howard Wales and Friends, and John McLaughlin at Symphony Hall, Jan. 26

They came as they always come, carrying their sacraments with them; wineskins over the shoulder and carefully rolled joints in their pockets. The rank and vile of sub and inner urbia filed neatly into the beige somnolence of Symphony Hall. There it was, a ritual procession with all the passion of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade; the worshippers were as enthralled as a gaggle of catatonic turkety buzzards watching a tennis match; the penitents approached their shrine with all the fervor of the champagne cooled Boston Pops crowd. It's not that rock concerts aren't interesting anymore, there's something perversely fascinating in contemplating these ambulating escapes from Madame Tussaud's. The music, with few exception, fulfilled the audience's craving for a thousand decibel dry hump. And Howard Wales' sterile charade delivers: drum solos with all the pulse of a seconal addict; keyboard work with all the sensuousness and imagination of a computer print out; treacly singing; the stage presence of a sloth; and above it all in smug squalor was the ego of Wales, ballooning over the audience with all the magnificence of a slug in heat.
The only member of Howard Wales and Friends who did not join in the cosmic ineptitude was Jerry Garcia. Standing to one side of the stage, he seemed at times almost disgusted by Wales' displays of pretension. He played only half of the set, but even then was not able to lead the group out of the mechanistic vacuum they served the audience.
While Garcia was playing the band seemed to be the ultimate extension of the trend toward long improvisations. Their failure illustrated the basic drawback in the technique: very few musicians have the musical vision, the expertise, or the experience to pull off long jams. Long improvisations are extremely boring unless the musicians have something to say and the context into which to fit it. The Dead and the Allman Brothers are the only rock bands so far to succeed with this format, and Garcia's failure to make the technique work with Wales proves that one musician's expertise cannot be grafted onto another inexperienced band with real hope of success.
Garcia looked as if he wished he were back with the Dead, and if he wants to accomplish anything in improvisational music he'd be better off back with them.
John McLaughlin and his Mahavishnu Orchestra, in spite of their second billing, gave a one-hour demonstration of some of the yet untapped potential of rock. They were introduced to mild applause, and came on stage quietly. McLaughlin, a small man dressed in an Indian cotton shirt, baggy cords and tennis shoes, hefted the strap of his Gibson double-necked guitar over his sloping shoulders. With only a polite smile from McLaughlin, Jerry Goodman arched the bow of his violin high into the air and blasted out the opening run of "The Meeting of the Spirits." The band was as tight as the Dead at their best. That first number, as internally complex as anything the Band has ever done, soared and rolled for 12 minutes, with McLaughlin raising his guitar skyward in devotion, running off riffs that Hendrix never dreamed of.
The members of the Mahavishnu Orchestra do not smoke, drink or eat meat, and this discipline is reflected in their music. The group does not have the carnivorous overtones of Grand Funk Railroad or Alice Cooper, the smoky sense of the Doors or the Dead, or the alchoholic tendencies of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. They are truly an organic band. Their jazz-oriented music is, according to McLaughlin, the only rock music today to which one can meditate.
Some of the band's spiritual intensity comes from their devotion to Sri Chinmoy, whom they consider to be divine. McLaughlin claims, in fact, that he is only a medium, that Sri Chinmoy is actually playing the guitar.
McLaughlin has chosen to work toward a musical intensity that aims inward rather than outward. There is never a wasted note, yet the improvisation by each member of the group is always present, always building and directing the music. The band's music has integrity, perhaps more than that of any other rock group. Solos are not proving grounds for technical virtuosity, but ways of building the music.
After an hour McLaughlin left the stage like a small child after his first recital. The audience, impatient with the wait for name brand Garcia, gave McLaughlin some applause, but it was certainly an inadequate response to a remarkable performance.
It is only through musicians such as McLaughlin that rock music will emerge from the stoned age.