Back from hiatus, the Weather Report Suite was no more, never to be resuscitated by the Grateful Dead, however, Let It Grow remained a first set staple for the next twenty years.
Here you can tell the band is still finding it’s way around the singular and isolated Let It Grow. The jam doesn’t soar like it does in the later years, and actually my favorite part of this song receives short shrift. Nevertheless, this is one of the things that makes it a really interesting version.
One thing I have learned from this project over the past year is that Let It Grow remains one of my favorite Weir compositions, and for very good reason. Although, looking through my past selections I’m surprised I didn’t find a latter day one to include along the way. I’ve always loved the one from Without A Net. This has been a project of discovery for me, so just sticking to the tried and true versions of my favorites can only get you so far.
Still new in it’s divorced state from the full Suite, the intro vamps for a while before the song get its feet under it. Jerry plays a unique little run around the 1:20 mark – a nice descending, chord-based figure. Donna joins Bobby on vocals, naturally, and sounds very nice, even if they aren’t always in perfect synchronization. The first solo section has Jerry traipsing around the melody, and Keith really bangs out the changes with some voracity. A quick vocal stop off in the chorus and it’s more Jerry. This time he eschews the structure of the melody and wanders the field following his own mental compass. Right around the 5:30 point Jerry and Keith enter a musical duel for a few measures- a real treat. Jerry signals the lick in the end jam quite early, but they take a left instead of a right, and another chorus is featured before another instrumental section. Keith starts this one out like a man possessed before ceding the floor to Jerry, Phil nipping at both of the their heels. Keith interjects a few choice runs of his own as they wind along. They bring it down to almost a whisper, the drums and bass leading the way before slowly, slowly starting to build back up. Jerry does a bit of mild fanning into the 10th minute, but the signature riff remains elusive. A minute later the pace is quickened, after a bit Jerry nudges everyone toward the riff section. It takes a while for everyone to pick it up, and it isn’t really played as pointedly as it typically was. No return to the chorus here, instead they just let the song fizzle out, completing the sonic representation of the life cycle in due course.
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