Live/Dead – Grateful Dead (1969)

Live/Dead is the first official live album released by the San Francisco-based rock band Grateful Dead. Recorded over a series of concerts in early 1969 and released later the same year, it was the first live rock album to use 16-track recording. At the time of its release, Robert Christgau wrote that side two of the double album ‘contains the finest rock improvisation ever recorded.’ A landmark live album, that captured the Grateful Dead’s improvisations at their best, AllMusic would write that ‘Few recordings have ever represented the essence of an artist in performance as faithfully as Live/Dead’.  … To assuage debt accrued with their record label from their recent album Aoxomoxoa, as well as fulfill their record contract, the band decided to record a live album. They were also interested in releasing an album more representative of their live performances and actual musicianship, as opposed to the in-studio experimentation of previous albums. Band soundman, Owsley ‘Bear’ Stanley, asked electronics designer Ron Wickersham to invent a microphone splitter that fed both into the PA and the record inputs, with no loss in quality. … Kreutzmann later explained, ‘We got our hands on the latest in recording technology — a sixteen-track recorder (which, of course, is antiquated these days) — and we hauled it up the steps of the Avalon, and later the Fillmore West, and we became the first band ever to make a live sixteen-track recording. We weren’t trying to make history; we were just trying to record a live album. … Studio versions could never do those songs justice, but advances in live recording (some of which were at our own hands) meant that we could bring the live Dead experience to vinyl’.  Unlike in later years, in early 1969 the contents of the Dead’s set lists varied little. They improvised the medley of ‘Dark Star’/’St. Stephen’/’The Eleven’ several times a week, which enabled them to explore widely within the songs’ simple frameworks. The ‘Dark Star/St. Stephen’ pairing was taken from the February 27, 1969 show at the Fillmore West; ‘The Eleven’ and ‘Turn On Your Love Light’ were from the January 26, 1969 show at the Avalon Ballroom; ‘Death Don’t Have No Mercy,’ ‘Feedback,’ and ‘And We Bid You Goodnight’ were recorded March 2, 1969, at the Fillmore West. …”
Rolling Stone: Live/Dead
YouTube: Dark Star (Live/Dead) 1969, The Eleven, St. Stephen, Turn On Your Love Light, Death Don’t Have No Mercy, Feedback, And We Bid You Goodnight

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