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Books and Music



Ramble On Rose
Oct. 21, 1971
Auditorium Theatre

Keith's second show & he's all over this faster paced super fun honky tonk version!
The Weight
June 7, 1991
Deer Creek Music Center

This is really the best one I've heard--everyobody nails their parts/lyrics...great piano fills on the side (yay, Bruce!). Just exactly, etc.
Sept. 9, 1982
Saenger Performing Arts Center

Incredible. Check out Brent's fills during the epic post-lyrics outro. A must-listen top tier Althea w/bounce, power, & panache!
Feb. 23, 1974
Winterland Arena

Apparently no one is aware that a fellow named Keith played in this band or this version would have 50 votes already. Needs to be heard!
Pretty Peggy O
Sept. 4, 1980
Providence Civic Center

Outside of 1977 this may be the best version I've heard. A+ vocals from Jerry, killer mid-solo; slightly faster tempo. Must hear. Gr8 Matrix!


Jack Straw
Aug. 27, 1972
Old Renaissance Faire Grounds

Responding to gwelch3, Glad to hear your perspective on this & before you hear my response to YOUR response I do want to make it clear that I also very much respect your opinion. I do disagree strongly with one thing (which I'll get to in a moment) but I hope you'll take my comments as intended in the spirit of fostering more discussion about this band we both feel passionate about only, and nothing more than that. I also have no intention of trying to change your mind about this being your favorite Jack Straw. This whole thing is subjective, after all, and if this is the one for you, so be it. The only thing I must object to in your previous post is about 1977 being the "cocaine" year. That is just not the case. In fact, 1977 is widely regarded as their most musically disciplined year (even among those who don't "like" it best), as they were fresh off the studio sessions for Terrapin in which they were literally locked in to the studio and made to rehearse like they never had before. That's why so many of the shows played that year sound so pristine and with far fewer flubs and miscues than you'll find in nearly any other year (with 1972 being the possible exception.) If you want to see the results of the cocaine years you can start in 1981 and go right through to Jerry's coma in 1986. Those are the years in which everything sounds speeded-up (check out almost any version of "Eyes" post 1979; they reduce that beautiful number to a rushed along 8 or 9 minutes with barely an intro before Jerry starts croaking out the words as opposed to the long, flowing, jazz inspired intros you'll hear in 1977 and previous (nothing coke-addled about those versions at all); In addition, listen to any Help>Slip>Franklin's from 1983 and you'll hear what coke on stage REALLY sounds like). Jack Straw in 1977 is not rushed, coked-out, or compromised in any way. You still get the great interplay with Jerry and Keith and the rest of the band, but what you also get, as I've pointed out, is a much richer, expansive, exciting, and rewarding jam section that empties out into the final verse to give the song a power and majestic feel that it simply did not have in 1972. It was a different song then. Pretty, country-tinged, wonderful in its own way, but nowhere near as thrilling as it would become in 1977, and those jams were not coke-inspired. They were the result of the band creating new horizons for one of their best-loved songs, and others were given the same treatment to equally better results, i.e. Brown-Eyed Women, which was lovely pre-1977 but became a far more interesting song in 1977 when Jerry expanded the bridge jam between "delilah jones was the mother of twins" and really showed off what he could do. You're perfectly entitled to believe '72 Jack Straws are where it's at, but there's no denying that the song added an extra dimension of color, sound, and jam in 1977 and--because these versions do not suffer from sloppiness in any way-- it had nothing at all to do with cocaine. One final note: I agree that the #1 version on this list--from 1/11/79--should not have that exalted position, and I say that as someone who saw that version at my first show EVER...so even with the sentimentality that could be attached to that version, objectively speaking, I agree with you, that while it's super-charged and kind of crazy in a jump off the cliff and hope you fly kind of way, it's ultimately too out of control to be #1, with the band stepping all over each other at critical moments. My two pennies.
March 31, 1991
Greensboro Coliseum

Nice rendition from a great '91. Wonderful Eyes from this show as well.
The Other One
April 16, 1984
Community War Memorial Auditorium

So. You know how sometimes shows that deserve to get attention don't b/c people are either put off by the year ('84 in this case), or the lack of good board sources? I'm feeling like this version (and this whole show) is unfairly suffering from both. BUT, here's the good news: If you "just poke around" you'll find a sweet Charlie Miller SBD of this show hiding among the (pretty decent but still not quite as good) AUD sources, and ya really oughta give it a listen. This Other One comes out of deep deep space and then rumbles forth like the birth of a new universe. And there's a pretty great Shakedown leading off this show as well as a lengthy He's Gone and many other tasty treats from one of those 1984 shows that is the "exception that proves the rule" for this much-maligned year, There are many unfortunate shows in 1984 year, but those that are good are REALLY good and I'd put this in that category,
Eyes Of The World
Aug. 6, 1974
Roosevelt Stadium

One of the greatest, and the only one with a moral about sharp fences and idiots at the end.
Scarlet Begonias -> Fire On The Mountain
May 8, 1977
Barton Hall - Cornell University

Commenting on this version is approaching obsessive levels on par with listening to the version. And I think it's great. I love that this one particular rendition of the pairing (and the show itself) generates such passionate discussion. My thoughts on the "best or not-ness" of this are already above, but having done some recent listening revisiting lately I need say it must be considered a top tier version. Always and forever. But just as strongly as I believe that I'll also never rank it #1 because, contrary to many of the "perfect" descriptions I've read here, it really is anything but that. Let's not forget..and yeah, it's nitpicky but also true, that Jerry mucks up the words to Fire at one point, something he did more often than not on this tune, but still...it's a flaw, a small one, but just one objective factual one to go with some of the other more subjective ones (i.e. It's a little repetitive). So while I agree there's a reason it's far and away the most popular, there's also good reason for the protests of it being top ranked.