Day 294: Iko Iko, 9/2/80

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 21 album cover artwork

As you may have noticed, loyal reader, the month of November is a trek through the Dick’s Picks series. For today’s selection I was looking for something from Volume 21, but none of the 1985 songs jumped out at me. Then I remembered that I had heard the 9/2/80 show featured on the Grateful Dead Sirius XM channel a couple of months ago.

To be honest, I’m generally pretty good about keeping track of the years of the Dick’s Picks releases, but when it comes to any filler or bonus material on these releases I’m bad. I assumed that the filler on disc three was from the 1985 tour, but was pleasantly reminded it was from 1980 when I looked it up. That, then, called to mind the “This Day in Grateful Dead History” program I had heard recently featuring the the bonus material included on DP21. That program had a longer stretch of space preceding this Iko Iko and I think that space vibe is why this version is so laid back. The other factor may simply be that at this point the band hadn’t played Iko Iko very much. They would end up playing it 185 times between 1977 and the end, but this was only the 14th attempt to date. If you’ve heard the first version, the 5/15/77 one from the May 1977 box set, it’s got a much different feel from what the song would become in the 80s and 90s. This version is much closer to the original, tenuous experimental version that the rollicking, party song it would become.

It sounds like the band is stuck in the bayou here. Iko plods along, the drum beat fairly straight forward and the accents making most of the difference. Jerry’s first solo is contemplative and brief. The singing isn’t in sync very well, but Brent sounds good with his backing a vocals. Jerry’s second solo is still laid back but has a bit more bite. He cedes the floor to Brent who makes several runs up and down the keys with that plinky piano sound. By this time you can hear Phil’s bouncing bass line and the way he sets up the changes in this simple two chord dirty. It’s worth noting that Bobby rhythm work is solid throughout, if not a bit languid, but then again everyone is here. Solo break three is the most interesting one thus far for me. They can’t seem to decide how they want to finish the song, and somewhat abruptly end it in lieu of Morning Dew.

Complete Setlist 9/2/80

Previous Iko Iko DFAY Selections

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  1. The embedded player is not linked to 9/2/80. Jerry playing midi horns, Carlos, plus Gary Duncan (at first I thought Cippolina, but he had already passed) = 10-27-91. Great Jam!!!

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