Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby FretWilkes » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:02 am

jeffm725 wrote:I was at some shows (spring 84 east coast comes to mind as one) where Phil actually sat down on the edge of the drum riser in total disinterest.


Hi Jeff,

I saw Phil do a similar thing at the Boston Garden in 83 or 84. There was OBVIOUS tension on the stage and Phil just stopped playing completely, walked back to his bass stack and stared into it with his hands by his side. :shock:

This did not go down well with me at all. Seeing the Grateful Dead self distruct in front of my eyes was not something I was remotely interested in and I swore off Dead shows until Sullivan Stadium in '87 with Jerry's "resurrection". Sullivan '87 was a great Dead set and got me back intersted in seeing the Dead live again. I'd just as soon forget the "ugly years".

Thank heaven for the rebirth in '87 although I found the Vince years rather forgetable. I saw them once in that configuration and my thoughts were: "the vibe has left the building".
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:24 am

astroman99 wrote:
Tennessee Jedi wrote:I have heard guys bitch about the year Phil went from a 4 string to a 5 string .....
'81 ?
:D

I thought that was 1982- fall tour last of the 4 string? :shock:


Hmmm. That's a good question.

I have it pinpointed between May of 1982 and March of 1983, best evidence I can find at the moment is this: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl= ... N%26um%3D1

December 26, 1982 on Wolfgang's Vault looks like it's defnitely the 6 string, looks like the same early Modulus prototype headstock from the 1983 shot above.
Image

He went straight from wooden-necked 4 strings to graphite necked 6 strings according to the interviews and all pictures that I've ever seen. I haven't really sat down and tried to pinpoint the change by ear... I think it'd be tough because he used a lot of different basses both before and after, all at 34" scale as opposed to the 32" of Mission Control and 30.5" of the Godfather (unless they lengthened it, which I still believe is a decent possibility since Alembic gave it a new fretboard and headstock) that allowed him to bend notes more easily.
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby bodiddley » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:11 pm

I don't know about "OFF" but not all his bass solo's make sense to me. Some of the early "Eyes" outtro bass jams sound a little awkward to my ears...don't get me wrong, most of them were pretty killer. Just once in a while he'd hit a note that didn't seem to flow well with the rest of the solo.
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby ugly rumor » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:17 am

I am adding my 2cents here. I learned 97% of my bass aproach from 3 people. Ernie Williams (ErnieWilliams.com) taught me to feel. Phil Lesh taught me to think. And John Cage taught me to control. Therefore, although I approach each song the same way, I don't necessarily play the same riffs, or chord at the same time, or play with the same approach to timing. The point being, that there is no "off" night, because the night is a reflection of your feel, thoughts, and manner of controling the song. Sometimes you feel like a Morning Dew with gentle notes, sometimes with agressive chording. Neither is wrong, although you may get a lot more people who don't understand it one way or the other. Also, other musicians may have trouble understanding your approach, and pay more attention to you than to their own part. That is why the most important thing to playing out creatively is trust.

Point being, there is no off night. There can't be an off night anymore than there can be an off day. If you wake up, it is going to be good, but with different adventures, for sure!

John Cage, by the way, played piano.
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby astroman99 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:03 pm

Yes..yes I almost remeber the 80's, to add I can only say that Phils playing or enthusiasm(or lack of), actually kept me coming back, because in the course of a tour or a show if you actually heard Phil get motivated, and you heard that beast roar if only for a second( and the hair on the back of my neck would stand up)you had to come back for more...
and I did
and now, he is unbelievable, I am so sorry ole jer isn't around to knock "it" around somemore with this obvious master.
I mean really who plays bass like this guy..
no one!!! :hail: :hail: :hail:
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby bodiddley » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:37 pm

I disagree that one cannot have an "off" night, anyone is capable of making mistakes and playing sour/wrong notes from time to time, or just not being "there" mentally to pull off a decent performance (like Jerry on some nights).
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby Tennessee Jedi » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:17 pm

Phils bad nights .... didn't Jerry push Phil down the steps for a sucky night ..... and didn't that sucky night turn out to be Anthem of the Sun ??????
:smile:
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby bodiddley » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:27 pm

I believe Phil was dosed and froze up for a few seconds. I can't even begin to imagine trying to play on acid. I hate the very thought of tripping (except maybe a mellow 'shroom buzz).
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby ugly rumor » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:38 pm

bodiddley wrote:I disagree that one cannot have an "off" night, anyone is capable of making mistakes and playing sour/wrong notes from time to time, or just not being "there" mentally to pull off a decent performance (like Jerry on some nights).


My point is that the playing reflected the mood, ambience, whatever, of the evening, and just like looking in a mirror, sometimes you may have hair out of place, but the reflection is accurate. So there cannot be an "off" night, only a reflection of what that performance is. That is not true of note-for-note, monkey see monkey do covers. Then you can have an off night. You can miss notes, timing, cues, etc. But for the Dead, that was not the case. The music was interpretive, i.e., reflective, and so does not have the quality of "offness". The musicianship was never off.
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby frankielee » Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:09 pm

Anytime he opened his mouth and attempted to sing he was off for that partiular frame of time. Not necessarily the whole night. As far as 12/6/73 Dark Star there are alot of fans of this snoozefest. I find it boring and uninspired. There is an endless list of far superior ones. my two pennies
"Don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road."
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby bodiddley » Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:21 pm

I disagree. A sour note is as our note, a missed cue is a missed cue, and a lame solo is a lame solo. Doesn't matter if it's the Dead or any other band. I don't abide by the "they never played a wrong note" philosophy whatsoever. They did.
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby ugly rumor » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:15 pm

bodiddley wrote:I disagree. A sour note is as our note, a missed cue is a missed cue, and a lame solo is a lame solo. Doesn't matter if it's the Dead or any other band. I don't abide by the "they never played a wrong note" philosophy whatsoever. They did.



You could just as legitimately argue that all of their notes were wrong, and that would be just as accurate. Listen to John Cage's recording of "Four Walls" for a better understanding of this musical concept. I think that many people who love the Grateful Dead still don't fully understand the concept of their approach. I have seen many GD cover bands who play note for note each song the same way. If that is your concept of playing, then you have boxed yourself in and made the song have the potential for "bad" notes, etc., because you have made a right way to play the song; therefore, a wrong way also. Take "Morning Dew". Sometimes Phil plays notes all the way through. Sometimes he liberally uses bombs and double stops. Neither is wrong or right. They are interpretations of the song that he is feeling at that moment. And the dynamic of the Dead is that all of the musicians are operating in that same approach. That is why the current incarnations, and DSO, are just faint copies of the Grateful Dead. Probably a good substitute if you never saw the GD or understood their musical approach. Kapiche?
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby bodiddley » Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:25 am

Then you could argue there is no good or bad in the world either...only stuff that happens because it's supposed to. And I would say that's a crock of new age, mumbo jumbo also. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I know a bad show, song, solo, or note when I hear one.
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby willmusic » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:59 am

bodiddley wrote:Then you could argue there is no good or bad in the world either...only stuff that happens because it's supposed to. And I would say that's a crock of new age, mumbo jumbo also. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I know a bad show, song, solo, or note when I hear one.



I see both sides on this, and I respect everyone's views, but I have to agree w/ bodiddley on this one. I used to follow the "there are no mistakes" philosophy in regards to both life and music, then I stopped eating acid 8 times a month. I just can't go w/ crapping through the speakers and leaving it open to interpretation. Why should we even bother learning to play proficiently if we can just sound like "Bleh!" and explain it away w/ philosophy? Hope I'm not outta line by saying this, just my 2 pennies. Peace!
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Re: Any recordings where Phil ever had an off night?

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:19 am

I have to side with everyone else... I think we can all agree that some Dead shows and eras were better than others. It wasn't just about playing the "right" notes or chords or scales, it's much more complicated than that.

What got me thinking the day that I started this thread was a show where Jerry was really falling on his face, really relying on his stock licks and stumbling over them... his fingers just wouldn't do what he was asking, phrases were hacked off in the middle because he couldn't get the notes out cleanly, etc. I wanted to hear what Phil sounds like when he's relying solely on muscle memory. I want my muscle memory to match his... but so far haven't found it.

I believe that you have to take musical chances to play the Dead right. Sometimes it turns out amazing, sometimes terrible, but that's why they call it "taking chances" - because some times the music is better than others.
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