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Always Grateful: Garcia and Saunders’ “Keystone Companions” Coming from Concord, Rhino Readies “Spring 1990” Dead Box

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2012 marked what would have been Jerry Garcia’s 70th birthday year.  The favorite son of San Francisco is being celebrated this fall with two monumental new box sets: one chronicling a renowned stand with The Grateful Dead, of course, and another turning the spotlight onto his less-heralded collaboration with keyboardist Merl Saunders.

Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings is the most complete edition of the yet of the concerts recorded on July 10 and 11, 1973 at Berkeley, California’s Keystone Club.  When Garcia and Saunders got together, audiences were rewarded with wide-ranging renditions of songs crossing genre barriers, with both musicians challenging each other to new, improvisatory heights.  Due on September 25, the lavish box set from Fantasy Records premieres seven previously unreleased tracks.  It includes a booklet with liner notes from Grateful Dead historian David Gans, numerous photographs, and an assortment of swag such as a poster, coaster, button, and “scratchbook” (replicating the design of the original album’s promotional matchbook).

Live at Keystone was originally released as a double LP in 1973.  Further material was issued on two LP volumes of Keystone Encores in 1988.  The tracks from the original double LP and the two Encores sets were then reconfigured and released on three CDs.  Live at Keystone, Volumes 1 & 2 arrived on CD in 1988 along with one CD of Keystone EncoresKeystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings simplifies matters considerably, assembling the original recordings and presenting them in the order in which the songs were performed at those two shows on July 10 and 11, 1973.

Garcia on guitar and vocals and Saunders on keyboard were joined by John Kahn on bass and Bill Vitt on drums.  David Grisman contributed mandolin to Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street,” one of two Dylan songs performed over the two nights.  Dylan joined a stellar array of songwriters represented in the eclectic sets, including Jimmy Cliff, Dan Penn, Holland/Dozier/Holland and even Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.

The rapport between Garcia and Saunders shines through on these performances.  It was a mutual admiration society, with Saunders once reflecting, “Anything he played was very musical. He knew how to do a rhythm on any kind of tune — gospel, blues, jazz. I was amazed.”  Garcia returned the compliment, definitively stating, “He taught me music.”  The Keystone gigs weren’t the first (or the last) collaborations between the two men.  By December 1970, Saunders, Garcia, Kahn and Vitt had all been participating in a weekly jam session at the famed Matrix in San Francisco.

Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings will be joined on September 25 by a vinyl reissue of the original Live at Keystone double LP, pressed on multi-color vinyl.  After the jump: meet the Grateful Dead in 1990!

The second-largest box set ever from The Grateful Dead is set for release on August 31, and it’s a doozy!  Grateful Dead: Spring 1990 – offers six complete shows on 18 CDs from the band’s epic Spring 1990 tour, with one concert from each city the band played, as curated by the band’s archivist David Lemieux. The concerts are as follows:

  • 3/16/90 Capital Centre (Landover, MD)
  • 3/19/90 Hartford Civic Center
  • 3/22/90 Copps Coliseum (Hamilton, Ontario)
  • 3/26/90 Knickerbocker Arena (Albany, NY)
  • 3/30/90 Nassau Coliseum (Uniondale, NY)
  • 4/2/90 The Omni (Atlanta, GA)

Grateful Dead: Spring 1990 is handsomely housed in a 12-1/8″ x 3-1/8″ x 12-1/8″box also containing a 60-page hardcover book and various memorabilia.  This detailed account of the tour includes color photos by Jim Anderson and Michael Laurentus, artwork by Brooklyn-based artist Wes Lang, business letters and communications related to the tour, an essay by Dennis McNally, a Producer’s Note by David Lemieux and individual show descriptions by Blair Jackson; a reproduction of the tour program (printed and sold later in 1990, for the fall and Europe ’90 tours); tickets and backstage passes for all six shows; a band publicity photo from 1990 by Ken Friedman; Dennis McNally’s tour laminate; and reproductions of the colored 8×10 sheets sent out with hotel, food and other information for each city on the tour.  Whew!  The recordings were made John Cutler and have been mastered in HDCD for this release by Jeffrey Norman.

Needless to say, a package this large won’t be around forever.  It’s limited to 9,000 numbered copies, and the Dead organization is emphatically stating that “this is the only time these shows will ever be officially available on CD.  There will not be an All Music Edition and single shows will not be available physically.”  The retail is $199.98, and you can order yours here!

The track listings for both titles follow, along with order links!

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders, Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings (Fantasy/Concord, 2012)

CD 1

  1. Hi-Heel Sneakers
  2. Keepers (Previously Unreleased Take)
  3. The Harder They Come
  4. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Previously Unreleased Take)
  5. It’s Too Late (She’s Gone)
  6. My Funny Valentine (Previously Unreleased Take)
  7. Mystery Train

CD 2

  1. I Second That Emotion
  2. Someday Baby
  3. Merl’s Tune
  4. It Ain’t No Use
  5. Positively 4th Street
  6. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) (Previously Unreleased Take)

CD 3

  1. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
  2. Keepers
  3. One Kind Favor
  4. That’s All Right, Mama
  5. The Harder They Come (Previously Unreleased Take)
  6. My Funny Valentine
  7. Money Honey

CD 4

  1. Someday Baby (Previously Unreleased Take)
  2. Merl’s Tune (Previously Unreleased Take)
  3. Like a Road Leading Home
  4. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

The Grateful Dead, Spring 1990 (Rhino/Grateful Dead, 2012)

Show No. 1: Capital Center, Landover, MD (3/16/90)

CD 1

  1. Let The Good Times Roll [4:11]
  2. Touch Of Grey [6:28]
  3. New Minglewood Blues [7:44]
  4.  Peggy-O [6:34]
  5. Queen Jane Approximately [6:15]
  6. Loser [7:22]
  7. Black-Throated Wind [6:03]
  8. Bird Song [14:23]
  9. Blow Away [12:02]

CD 2

  1. Scarlet Begonias [11:21]
  2. Estimated Prophet [11:04]
  3.  Ship of Fools [7:39]
  4. Man Smart, Woman Smarter [6:55]
  5. Jam [5:24]
  6. Rhythm Devils [9:37]

CD 3

  1. Space [10:42]
  2. The Other One [6:55]
  3. Stella Blue [8:49]
  4. Sugar Magnolia [9:16]
  5. The Last Time [5:19]

Show No.2: Civic Center, Hartford, Ct (3/19/90)

CD 1

  1. Hell In A Bucket [6:43]
  2. Bertha [7:10]
  3.  We Can Run [7:05]
  4.  Jack-A-Roe [5:13]
  5. Picasso Moon [7:41]
  6. Brown-Eyed Women [5:59]
  7. It’s All Over Now [7:25]
  8. Deal [8:41]

CD 2

  1. Box of Rain [5:27]
  2.  Foolish Heart [11:35]
  3. Playing In The Band [8:32]
  4. Eyes Of The World [14:41]
  5. Rhythm Devils [10:26]

CD 3

  1. Space [10:52]
  2. China Doll [6:13]
  3. Gimme Some Lovin’ [4:31]
  4. Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad [6:55]
  5.  Around And Around [6:36]
  6.  Brokedown Palace [5:48]

Show No.3: Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (3/22/90)

CD 1

  1. Feel Like A Stranger [8:12]
  2. West L. A. Fadeaway [7:41]
  3. Easy To Love You [6:14]
  4. Beat It On Down The Line [3:34]
  5. It Must Have Been The Roses [6:29]
  6. The Last Time [5:40]
  7. Picasso Moon [7:07]
  8. Don’t Ease Me In [3:30]

CD 2

  1. Scarlet Begonias [8:30]
  2. Fire On The Mountain [11:44]
  3. Samson And Delilah [6:51]
  4. Believe It Or Not [6:32]
  5. Truckin’ [11:04]
  6. Rhythm Devils [11:36]

CD 3

  1. Space [8:14]
  2. The Other One [6:42]
  3. Hey Jude [4:53]
  4.  Dear Mr. Fantasy [3:58]
  5. Hey Jude [4:31]
  6. Sugar Magnolia [8:45]
  7.  It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue [7:10]

Show No.4: Knickerbocker Arena, Albany NY (3/26/90)

CD 1

  1. Hell In A Bucket [6:53]
  2. Dupree’s Diamond Blues [6:08]
  3. Just A Little Light [5:15]
  4. Black-Throated Wind [6:32]
  5. Big Railroad Blues [4:40]
  6. Picasso Moon [7:17]
  7. Row Jimmy [10:53]
  8. Blow Away [11:31]

CD 2

  1. Built To Last [5:29]
  2. Victim Or The Crime [9:56]
  3. China Cat Sunflower [5:45]
  4.  I Know You Rider [5:24]
  5. Man Smart, Woman Smarter [6:14]
  6.  Rhythm Devils [11:21]

CD 3

  1. Space [8:29]
  2. I Need A Miracle [4:03]
  3. Dear Mr. Fantasy [5:20]
  4. Gimme Some Lovin’ [5:09]
  5. Morning Dew [11:57]
  6. Brokedown Palace [5:37]
  7. Let The Good Times Roll [4:01]
  8. Help On The Wa> [4:05]
  9. Slipknot! [3:50]
  10. Franklin’s Tower [8:04]
  11. Loser [7:30]
  12.  Tennessee Jed [7:53]

Tracks 7-12 are bonus tracks From 3/24/90 Albany concert

Show No.5: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (3/30/90)

CD 1

  1. Help On The Way [4:12]
  2. Slipknot! [5:49]
  3. Franklin’s Tower [9:39]
  4. Little Red Rooster [9:13]
  5. Dire Wolf [3:28]
  6. It’s All Over Now [7:18]
  7. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues [6:12]
  8. Picasso Moon [7:56]
  9. Don’t Ease Me In [3:26]

CD 2

  1. Iko Iko [7:07]
  2. Playing In The Band [9:19]
  3.  China Doll [5:41]
  4. Uncle John’s Band [8:16]
  5. Terrapin Station [12:59]
  6. Rhythm Devils [9:48]

CD 3

  1. Space [11:30]
  2. I Need A Miracle [4:02]
  3. Gimme Some Lovin [4:55]
  4. Standing On The Moon [8:56]
  5. Not Fade Away [7:40]
  6. Attics Of My Life [5:12]

Show No.6: The Omni, Atlanta, GA (4/2/90)

CD 1

  1. Feel Like A Stranger [8:44]
  2. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo [7:02]
  3. The Weight [6:34]
  4. Queen Jane Approximately [6:13]
  5. Easy To Love You [5:37]
  6. Brown-Eyed Women [5:46]
  7.  Let It Grow [12:21]

CD 2

  1. Foolish Heart [9:20]
  2. Looks Like Rain [8:26]
  3. He’s Gone [8:59]
  4. The Last Time [5:43]
  5. Rhythm Devils [10:42]

CD 3

  1. Space [9:04]
  2. The Other One [6:24]
  3. Death Don’t Have No Mercy [7:37]
  4. Around And Around [3:41]
  5. Good Lovin’ [7:12]
  6. Black Muddy River [6:28]

Written by Joe Marchese

August 17, 2012 at 13:55

One Response

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  1. I might have to get the Keystone collection, because that’s some great stuff. I’d love to have all the music in the correct order.

    The Spring 1990 GD box, however, is infuriating. $200, which doesn’t include the shipping costs, and that price probably could’ve been lowered considerably had they not thrown a bunch of other swag in that box. How about just the music, dammit?!?

    Limiting it to just 9000 copies (and according to, there’s only about 3000 left) means anyone who would like it has to pretty much scrounge up the cash NOW, since once it’s gone it’s gone. In spite of the trouble they went to putting this set together, there’s not going to be any selling the individual shows later, not even making them available for download later. What would be the harm of making downloads available, after the print run is sold out, or maybe producing discs on demand? Instead, just nothing. I think that’s crap.

    The 3/22/90 (Ontario) show is especially great. It circulates as a good sounding bootleg, but I’d love to have a pristine, professionally mastered copy. The shows from the Knickerbocker were great too. Unfortunately, it’s shell out $200 now or nothing.

    Because the Dead organization used to be a lot more fan-friendly than this, and this kind of crummy business practice shouldn’t be encouraged, I’ll pass.


    August 18, 2012 at 09:52

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