Day 78: Good Lovin’, 5/2/70

Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 8 album cover artwork

Good Lovin’ was a cover of the hit from The Loving Spoonful that the Dead played for much of their tenure as a live act. Depending on who was at the helm, as Jerry, Pigpen, and Bobby all took turns singing lead at various points, the song could be quite difference. I tend to think of Pigpen as the definitive voice on the song and the 1969-1972 versions are some of the best. Once Bobby brought the song back around 1976, the arrangement was a bit different and the feel was a bit more antiseptic than the older Pigpen versions.

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Dick’s Picks, Vol. 8 is frequently listed as one of the “must have” Dick’s Picks and listening to this version of Good Lovin’ is a great indication of why.

Thoughts on this particular cover? This version? Others I should consider? The comments are your forum.

Drums kick this one off until finally the band eases into the original intro riff (they would change up the intro riff in later years). Pig gets some feedback right as he starts to sing, and the background vocals leave something to be desired, but you can tell that the guys are working the crowd into a frenzy. Hoots and hollers are evident on the recording. Jerry’s a bit low in the recording with the percussion and Phil better represented.

After a couple of verses we’re greeted with another percussion break. This goes on for a couple of minutes. The instrumental passage that succeeds sounds like a mix of calypso or some type of Caribbean music and It’s A Man’s World. Listen to the rhythm section here and just be amazed; I certainly am. Jerry whips things into a fury and Bobby plays some heavy chords. Phil’s bass sounds like it’s being played through an empty oil barrel, but it’s not necessarily bad. I think it just adds to the rawness of the recording. Right before minute 9 a new theme gets superimposed on top of the still-driving rhythm section. It sounds kind of familiar, but I can’t place it.

Finally, something that resembles Good Lovin’ starts to re-emerge around the 10 minute mark, but Jerry has more to say and launches into another solo and everyone seems more than willing to follow him. Phil throws out a descending bass line that leads to another theme change. Eventually it’s just Jerry playing with an occasional drum or bass accent. After several measure of this Jerry restates the main Good Lovin’ theme and the rest of the melody instruments play around with the figure for a while. The band finally launches back into Good Lovin’ proper and the crowd roars. Vocals are still iffy, but are more than made up for in energy. The cacophony of singing/howling, and instruments finally ceases as they bring their Good Lovin’ exercise to an end.

Complete Setlist 5/2/70

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  1. A sweet little drum solo startup signals a big guitar entrance to this one. There is some confusion getting into the first verse and even the backing vocals are at first crossed-up but Pigpen is a determined man. He takes control in the second verse and by the time the breakdown to the drum solo happens, things are a bit more promising. Around 2:30, Mickey and Billy take over, at first just grooving on the beat with some timbale action, followed by some happening tom rolls. Percussive wildness prevails soon after as the drum guys get loose. Before 5:30, Jerry jumps in, followed by Phil and Bobby, for an unusual two-chord jam that conjures an entirely different mood. This evolves pretty quickly into a more complex thing that builds power steadily. These are the moments we crave, listening to all this stuff! Definitely dig this! Weir begins in on the major-chord progression back to “Good Lovin’” while the Gar is still hung up in a minor key, but he shifts gears, catches up, then Weir drops it and it is off to an entirely different race. Again the jam works its way around to a mutated version of the song’s structure but it is so bent here that it is really something else altogether. We find ourselves on some kind of hyperspeed Caribbean cruise for just a moment before a big breakdown happens at around 11:00. Jerry just keeps ripping for a bit without the others getting in his way, then the drummers start to construct the song proper from the ashes. Everyone follows suit soon after and they eventually drag the tempo back down to where it belongs. It pops back into joint smoothly, and Pig takes it all home with the song’s two verses repeated. No rap here, mind you. The jam did all the talking.

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