Friday, November 18, 2005

From the Attics #1

Given that the Grateful Dead's ouerve is now available online in its (virtual) entirety -- and linkable with relative ease -- I want to do a little mining, both as a matter of personal interest and as a matter of posterity. With over 2300 shows to their credit, there's a wealth of material to examine. I want to start today with all-time classic, Louie, Louie. Although the band's history with this song extends from May of 1967 through April 1989, the only played it 8 times for an audience. I happened to catch two iterations, one in Manhattan and the final Louie, Louie in -- wait for it -- Louisville, Ky.

The earliest version was played on May 18, 1967 at the Await High School in Mountainview, California. However, the earliest recorded version that currently circulates -- September 7, 1969 -- is from a place called The Family Dog that used to exist in San Francisco. On this night, the Dead were joined by the Jefferson Airplane and vocals for Louie, Louie were provided by Joey Covington. Download and hear the .mp3 file or select track seven from this stream (recording .nfo file here). Two points of added interest from this show: from Louie, Louie, the band seques nicely into their only attempt at the Beatles' Twist and Shout and, at one point, in response to a crowd request, drummers Billy and Mickey drag the band into classic surf tune Wipe Out (or track 5 in the stream).

Compare the Family Dog stuff with Brent's whiskey-soaked Louie, Louie. Here's the April 5, 1988 breakout (or select track 11 from this stream), which arrives 1300 shows after the rowdy Family Dog nght (.nfo). Here's the final version -- a steamy slow blues treatment -- from the April 9, 1990 Louisville show (track 11 in this stream) (.nfo). As an aside on the Louisville show, all throughout SPring Tour 1989, which I did in its entirety, rumors were swirling that the band was ready to reintroduce the classic Help on the Way>Slipknot>Franklin's Tower trilogy back into the lineup. It had been four years since they dropped it from rotation and expectations were high. The strange notes emnating from the stage during the tuneup for what would turn out to be Louie, Louie to open the Second Set had everyone keyed up thinking that Help was indeed on the way. But alas, we'd have to wait another six months for that one. And that weekend in Hampton is another post entirely. The four other Louie, Louies were all attempted during 1988 04.15 (Chicago), 04.22 (Irvine), 05.01 (Palo Alto), 09.20 (NYC) in 1988.

*All .mp3 downloads are (relatively) small 64Kbps files while the streams are vbr m3u.

More: For reasons noted here, many of the links will no longer work.