Grousing The Aisles: Jammin’ on the One

Jerry Does Van: A Compilation (FLAC, MP3):

Photo by Andy Leonard

I recently came across this amazing collection of Jerry Garcia covering Van Morrison tunes. Check out this e.e. cummings-esque description written by RobbieM, who put together this excellent compilation:

For me, the pantheon is Van and Jerry.
What Van does with his voice, Jerry did with his fingers.
So it seemed only natural to marry the two.
Van never covered Jerry.
But Jerry covered Van.
He only covered five of his songs and much of that was in his later years.

Jerry’s versions seemed somewhat pedestrian at first. They were rather faithful to the originals, not terribly expansive as Jerry was known to be. But listen closer and they’re real Jerry. The artistry. The sense of fun. The passion.

The centerpiece of this set is He Ain’t Give You None. It’s the one song that Jerry covered in distinctly different phases, all of which were notable by the keyboards. There’s the r&b/jazz/funk stylings of the Garcia & Saunders/Legion of Mary years. The understated elegance of the Keith Godchaux years. The gospel of the Melvin Seals years, further enhanced by the additions of the exquisite Gloria Jones and Jackie LaBranch on backing vocals. It was the one song in this collection (and Vanatics will understand when I say this) that Jerry “workshopped.” So I’ve included a version from each phase.

I have a feeling Van fans that aren’t Jerry fans will be disappointed. There will be a tendency to compare the voices. That would be unfair. As Hunter once said, “I thought Jerry had a glorious voice, or maybe I had to to write the songs.” But he did have a glorious voice. What he lacked in range and technique, he made up for with passion and emotion, even in his later years when he croaked through many a show. When Jerry growled or strained, you knew it wasn’t artifice.

So take this for what it is. One musical god paying homage to another. Without comparisons.

320 kbps MP3s:

Gov’t Mule 04/11/96 SBD (FLAC):

Recently Rock Music Daily started a weekly feature called Mule Mondays. I’m not the biggest Warren fluffer, but I was intrigued by the songs that RMD uploaded this week, so I went and downloaded the whole show. What a great decision that was, as I was blown away by the interplay between the late, great Allen Woody and Warren. For instance, check out the unspoken communication between the two during the St. Stephen jam. These two guys knew exactly where the other was going. Add Matt Abts’ steady and powerful drumming to the mix, and you have one of the finest power trios of the ’90s.

One of the many treats on this recording is a sit-in by Derek Trucks. Trucks, who was 16 at the time, adds some rippin’ guitar work to both Spanish Moon and Gonna Send You Back to Georgia. When I was 16 I was busy playing video games and doing my homework, all while Derek Trucks was playing encores with the Mule at the Georgia Theater. Unbelievable. Also of note is a tasty Mule sandwich that includes a smokin’ version of Who Do You Love? Download this show for a reminder about how powerful the Mule was as a trio.

Phish 04/18/92 SBD (FLAC):

During my senior year of high school I plastered my first car with tons of Phish stickers. One day I ordered some pizza and the guy delivering the food told me he was a big Phish fan as well. We exchanged phone numbers, and he gave me a tape of this unbelievable show from 1992. Twelve years later, the “pizza guy” is one of my best friends, and I still listen to 4/18/92 at least once every few months. And all I wanted was some Chicken Parm!

The only problem with that show is that my copy of the soundboard recording was missing a few songs. Finally someone has pieced together Kevin Shapiro’s audience recording and the pristine board tapes with sexy results. When I would introduce my friends to the music of Phish, I would start by playing the Harry Hood from this show. Mike, Page, and Fishman lay down a solid base for Trey to just go nuts over. After some Trey face-melters, the whole band stumbles upon a sweet Linus and Lucy jam, before Big Red drops the hammer with some machine-gun riffing.

Other highlights from this “desert island” show include a nasty version of Run Like An Antelope and a tasty Bathtub Gin that both starts and finishes with Manteca. I miss Phish.

What is playing on your iPod these days? Let us know with a comment below….

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