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When it doesn't fit anywhere else
 #102117  by rkubik
 Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:02 am
For me I believe the "Keith tone" was a better player but what I love about Brett is his interaction with Jerry. The song example that stands out for me is Row Jimmy. The way they play off each other especially at the end is just awesome. I just don't get the same feeling when I listen to Keith. To me though it is like comparing two blow jobs. One you may have liked a little better but they were both damn good.
 #107583  by ForgottenSpace
 Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:25 am
Right--very percussive elec piano/marimba layer---I simply thought that was from the EMU and, I will assume I'm wrong about that...in any event, some people don't or didn't like his electric piano sounds over the years, but it always appealled a lot to me---I try to replicate it by using and Ensoniq KS-32, mixing a straight concert grand piano with a very nice pad-sounding electric called Encore (mixed across the whole keyboard at "100" and "80"--vol. levels) with a player-piano from middle C up (vol at 60) with no sustain on the player piano. I haven't achieved it perfectly but I think it's pretty close to the kind of sound he had on say Alabama from 85.

I also was intrigued at how he seemed to be able to take a given sound (elec piano say) and change it on the fly in an evolving kind of way where it would kind of add another timbre or layer without any noteable start point--just a gradual "blend"-----was listening to 10-14-89 last night and it's fairly noticeable on Chima Doll---which BTW we'll be playing for the first time at our next gig. What a great tune.

BTW----I read that there were only 100 GS-1s ever made---apparently they are very difficult to come by at this point.


I'm not sure how he was transitioning sounds in this way, but I have noticed it before. One of my favorite examples is from a Peggy-O, 12-27-87. Brent comes in with a softer, Rhodes-ish, to start, and "sharpens" the sound on each verse until, midway into the 3rd verse, he goes to the full piano tone. It's a nice transition I try to imitate. It's subtle and underpins the song nicely. Also, note how Phil comes in on a cool counterpoint line around 0:30.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1987-1 ... sbeok.shnf
 #107833  by zambiland
 Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:16 pm
OK, I know a lot of people are going to come down on me like a ton of bricks, but I hated Brent's sounds. His B3 playing was great (and of course, the B3 sounds great), but his keyboard tones render the 80s pretty much unlistenable for me. I know I'm probably just too old, but the GD had a very organic vibe about their sound and listening to FM synths which sounded like nasty generic presets sucked all the organic vibe out of the sound. Add in Brent's penchant for severely overplaying in a way that did not add to the groove but played over and against it, and you get a sound that just has no appeal to me. Had he stuck with B3, I would be a huge fan. His noodling sounding listening to some intelligent people trying to have a conversation while there's someone who keeps popping up and saying "hey, listen to me! Listen to me!" Again, his B3 playing was not nearly as much like this, but when I hear someone who plays a phrase that they make stick out, I want it to exist in the context of what other people are playing or have a half life of longer than 4 bars. It needs to weave into the music as whole in the moment (the genius of Keith and Bob and Phil and Jerry) if not at least into a longer story that it itself tells. It begs the question, why am I listening to this phrase? In Brent's case, a lot of times it was because it's there. That's not enough.

His vocals also grated. He sounded like someone trying to cross Gregg Allman with Michael McDonald and while I loved the first few shows I saw with him (Billerica and UMass '79 especially, hey the vocals were in tune! It's a revelation!), after a short while he turned me off to the point that I quit going. He had tons of energy, which was invigorating at first, but he had no creative spark that comes with listening on the intuitive level. There's a 1970 or so Dark Star I remember hearing which devolves down to silence, where you can hear a pin drop, for probably a minute or more, and you can still feel music and an intense groove in the silence. There's no way he would have let the music get even close to that level of listening over playing. He was an OK bar band player but he was no intergalactic ambassador to the supreme weird. Jerry was dedicated to making every note have its own personality and Brent just sounded like he was throwing a lot of stuff out there without thinking. Pig was as grounded as they come, but he knew when to lay out when it went out of his jurisdiction.

Pluses in his favor: he got Jerry motivated, he sang in tune, we didn't have to wait for a long time for them to find a replacement for Keith.
Other minuses: his version of the blues sounded merely petulant and whiny rather than world weary and soul searching. The blues is music of redemption and I just don't hear it with Brent. His swearing on stage just seemed juvenile. I don't want to pay money to go to shows to get yelled at. If I wanted that, I would have been following Henry Rollins or any number of rappers who can do it much better.

Flame away!
 #107834  by Tennessee Jedi
 Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:30 pm
I like Brent - great vocals and great playing - IMHO
Never heard him ripped for cursing before - thats a new one.
Jerry had some cursing lines, too - dont hold that against him !
:smile:
 #107835  by dleonard
 Fri Jan 13, 2012 2:44 pm
Fisher Price makes a good Brent tone product
 #107839  by zambiland
 Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:02 pm
OK, I have to undercut my own argument right away. The September 1980 download show (9/6?) from Springfield has a great Stranger where Brent plays some great funky synth lead stuff. Jerry lays back enough to give him some room to really get into it. It's still not the weird stuff, but it is very cool. Probably my favorite Stranger (although I really like the first one I saw, Boston Garden 5/80).
 #107840  by zambiland
 Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:04 pm
Tennessee Jedi wrote:I like Brent - great vocals and great playing - IMHO
Never heard him ripped for cursing before - thats a new one.
Jerry had some cursing lines, too - dont hold that against him !
:smile:
Yeah, it's not the fact of the curse word, it's how it's used. As a rap fan, I couldn't really say that I'm categorically against cursing, but when it is gratuitous, it doesn't work for me. YMMV, LOL, OMG, ROYGBV, BOIODTL, IIAHSWYGII, etc.
 #107893  by Cmnaround
 Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:20 am
Read this post yesterday and was thinking about it all night - before I read the Blair Jackson blog. From my perspective, Brent's tone was integral to the sound that was The Dead throughout the 80's. The B3 stands alone and it seems most are in agreement w that - and it's a whole specific thread to build on. But the piano tone, which is nicely described in previous posts on this thread as layers of piano with bells and marimba and whatever else gives it that unique bell like piano tone - mixed w a lot of reverb and Jerr's thick reverb, yields the unique Dead sound of that era. Brent's percussive playing style with that unique tone was a huge contribution to the overall sound. Maybe it's just cause I saw the majority of my shows w Brent, but I really always liked his piano tone a lot.
 #107899  by Rusty the Scoob
 Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:17 am
Cmnaround wrote: From my perspective, Brent's tone was integral to the sound that was The Dead throughout the 80's.
Yes, this is very true. However I really just can't get into the 80's GD, therefore I'm not really a Brent fan. To me, his originals really show where his head was at, and.... ugh.

I guess he brought energy, at a time when the band really needed it. So there's that.
 #107964  by Cmnaround
 Mon Jan 16, 2012 7:41 pm
Phil Lesh101 wrote:80's and early 90 were the better shows in my opinion.
Right on - seems like it was all balls out rock and roll and that morphed a bit when Brent died and things shifted to the synths and bruce's piano, with more spread out midi-driven expansive jams.

I see a gradual transition where they were bringing in the midi and adding a lot of new layers, but there were still monitors on stage and leslies spinning. Rock and roll at its finest - then with loss of Brent,and moving to a quieter stage set up, the jams seemed to have taken on a new direction - totally fresh - but driven a lot by the shift in all these cool new super crisp clean tones - like wow - what would it be like if I had a time machine and could travel to the future - what would the dead sound like - and that's the mid 90s sound - Jerry direct into the board w lots of midi.

I'm off topic a bit - but trying to put the comments around Brent's tone into context - which is that amazing rockin 80s-90s shows - well gotta include fall 79 for sure!