Unofficial 31 Days of Dead – 2012 Edition: Day 22

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December 22

Weather Report Suite > Let It Grow > Spanish Jam
7/19/74 Selland Arena, Fresno, CA

I first heard this version of Weather Report Suite on the Grateful Dead Hour radio program sometime in the late 1980’s.  It was not a show that circulated at the time so it was very exciting to hear a pristine soundboard of something “new” from the great year of 1974.  I recorded it on a Maxell XL-IIS cassette and it quickly became the go-to tape that I played for everybody.

The composed portion of the song is performed superbly.  It’s not at the same level as 6/18/74 which is the high water mark in my opinion (See Road Trips, Vol. 2, No. 3; Wall of Sound) but it is still exceptional.  The sprightly Let It Grow that follows feels like warm sunshine.  However, towards the end of the jam the tone of the music quickly takes a wicked left turn becoming more dark and menacing.

 The tempo slows and things get very heavy as the impending doom approaches.  On the descent to hell, Phil’s bass is nothing short of cataclysmic. His bass must have set off seismographs in other counties, it’s so bombastic. Playing like that is simply not of this world.
Keith adds a watery tone on his keyboard as Jerry trills the final notes creating a whirlpool of chaos that sucks everything down into a massive dark abyss. Suddenly it becomes clear that this is the end of the universe as we know it.
Following this meltdown there is an eerie silence leaving us in a spooky realm of uncertainty. A three-way duel of musical weirdness emerges between Phil, Jerry and Keith that sounds as if aliens have landed.
Finally, Phil begins to pluck away at the Spanish Jam. Apparently aliens speak Spanish. Needless to say, this Spanish Jam is one of the absolute finest ever played (2/11/70, 3/24/73, 6/23/74 and 6/26/74 round out the top five for me). Phil lays out for a moment to allow Jerry a chance to crank up both the volume and the distortion. Bobby enters with the trademark Spanish chords, Phil re-enters with a bubbly intro and Billy lays down a precise, crisp military drum roll on his snare drum. After a while Jerry switches to a wah-wah effect and the music becomes dreamy and surreal before dropping into the opening chords of Eyes of the World.
This is a fine example of the kind of amazing musical journey the band was capable of taking every night during their peak years.

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3 thoughts on “Unofficial 31 Days of Dead – 2012 Edition: Day 22

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    passages such as these………

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