Day 122: Uncle John’s Band, 10/19/74

Whenever I see Uncle John’s Band on the track list for a Grateful Dead CD release I get really pumped. This was the song that got me into the Dead and it remains one of my all-time favorite songs by any artist.

I don’t remember what the impetus was to listen to the Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack was, but I did so recently. I don’t know how common it is it listen to Grateful Dead music when one works out, but I certainly do. I remember being at the gym when this came on and it just blew my mind, and that was with inferior earbuds. I had one of those “a-ha!” moments and knew that I had to write a post about this version.

A close runner up was the UJB from the new Dave’s Picks, Vol. 10, and that may still make it on the blog yet, as that’s a really interesting version as well. Only time will tell when that happens though. This is the second UJB for this project, the first one was all the way back on Day 11.

You can hear Bobby playing some very deliberate, percussion stuff in the beginning of this version. It’s really quite cool and I wish he would have kept it going for a bit longer. The vocals are a bit out of sync here, but it sounds like everyone is having a good time so I give them a pass. The drums sound great here as does Jerry’s guitar tone. I know there was some studio wizardy done to enhance the sound of this album and I don’t know if the boomy-ness and reverb are from Winterland itself, added in, or a combination of the two, but regardless I think it sounds great.

The jam is sublime. Jerry is out in front with Keith running through a wide variety of figures. Phil and Billy navigate the changes deftly. Clearly the crowd loves it too as they can be heard clapping along vigorously during the breakdown section. A quick run through the change to the minor key at the end and this gem comes to a close.

Complete Setlist 10/19/74

[AMAZONPRODUCTS asin=”B00772M2Y6″ features=”0″ locale=”com” listprice=”0″]

Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Ah, synchronicity is a fine thing. I listened to much of this release on my commute today. FYI, the big reverb is surely studio-induced, and I love that Jeff Norman tried to (and succeeded in) making the Soundtrack sonically resemble a wall-of-sound-era Grateful Dead show in a big hockey rink. Well done, I say. Others disagree, and I can understand that if they were raised on dry soundboard tapes. We like what we know. For my money, this is one of the top few official releases. Here’s what I wrote back in the day:

    Jerry’s gentle strumming of the four-chord pattern lights the flame, then he plays some melodic figures while Weir does a silly calypso scrub. The singing comes in tight, and so far this is shaping up to be a goodie. Some minor lyrical confusion precedes the “God damn” line, but when have these guys ever gotten it all right? The song seems to lurch and rush a bit next, but it still sounds sweet, especially since it goes off on an extended solo that Phil adds cool dynamics to. Coming back into the next verse things are half a beat awry, but Billy fixes that. The “silver mine” verse is sung with incredible presence by Garcia, as if he had never sung it before but was feeling it just that moment for the first time. Weird (but good) notes are struck on bass in the next passage, then the driving jam begins. It is solid and searching, by turns. Phil rides on that one note in his signal to let the thing climb to the popping point. Rather than that, it mutates to the three-chord wallop that we all know and love, touching down at the “How does the song go” reprise. From here, all is beautiful. If you are looking for a fine, live version of this, look no further. Once again, see the DVD for the visuals.

  2. Steven and Lunchbox,
    Nice reviews on this one. Like you Steven, this release is a great sounding one from my view. Of all the Dead I own this is one of the fullest sounding. Could care less that it needed doctoring as some releases have had just the opposite effect on me with the sound quality being so weak that I find myself losing interest quickly. As you mention, this might be the closest thing to a full Wall of Sound impression. Listened to DP 12 just yesterday, which is a great one and will bring this to work today for a comparison. Of course staring with Uncle Johns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *