find the best versions of grateful dead songs

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The Other One
Oct. 13, 1972
Small Club in North SF

Previous unheard recording of Phil bombing a small club in SF for around 8 minutes. More than worth a listen!
The Harder They Come
March 1, 1980
Capitol Theatre

Very nice & fast version. Jerry’s solos are like butter
Rubin and Cherise
Nov. 3, 1978
Keystone Palo Alto

Nice funky R&C. Also happens to be the last JGB show w/ Keith & Donna. Love Jer’s vox(especially “I’ve been afraid and I don’t know why I do). Heady!
Bird Song
Jan. 27, 1986
The Ritz

Nice acoustic version with just Jer and John Kahn. Very good jam.
When I Paint My Masterpiece
Jan. 27, 1986
The Ritz

Great version from a rare Garcia/Kahn show. Jer on vocals this time, which is good. From GarciaLive 14


Scarlet Begonias -> Fire On The Mountain
Nov. 30, 1980
Fox Theatre

Kinda been on a Scarlet>Fire kick lately, so it feels right to talk about this version. This is probably one of if not the best Brent version. It’s almost ‘77-like how tight and on the nose this version is. Even Jerry’s vocals have that ‘76-‘78 clarity on this version. Brent’s keys really add to these 80s versions. The jam into Fire peaks unlike many others, and they don’t run out of steam throughout Fire. The solos are wonderful, a mix of beauty and intensity. This is why some consider this show the Cornell of the 80s. It’s just that good. Listen to this and the Playin’>Drums>Space>The Wheel. Some mindbendingly beautiful stuff from this show
Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Nov. 17, 1978
Rambler Room

This version has been on repeat for a while. Though the sources are subpar, the performances shine through! Jerry’s vocals are some of the best I’ve heard maybe ever(it’s a shock especially when you listen to 11/24 just some days later, when it’s shot completely). It’s just so honest and emotional. Bob sounds very good on slide, which during this era was kinda hard to come by. It makes me wish they played this at the Warfield/RCMH run as an acoustic piece. The late 80s versions, while great, don’t do as much for me as this version
Scarlet Begonias -> Fire On The Mountain
May 25, 1977
The Mosque

I’ve seen the word “hypnotic” be used to describe this version here. That’s a perfect way to describe this version. It really does take you somewhere else. The Scarlet is tight and funky. The only downside is that this is one of Donna’s not as fine moments on the vocal jam, and her singing doesn’t bother me as much as some others. But it’s not an issue as the jam is a wild ride. The Fire is the meat though. The solos are wonderful and everyone is going off. There are points where they start to run out of ideas, but for me it adds to the whole vibe of this version. Sure it may not flow like 5/8 does, or get as intense as 11/1/79 or 10/14/94 do, but it has its own vibe that makes this a top version for sure
They Love Each Other
May 25, 1977
The Mosque

This ones got groove! It’s funky and played very tight. Jerry’s vocals seem more contemplative and honest(compare this to 5/8). Jerry’s solo seems a lot more emotional and careful than other versions from this era. It just has that thoughtfulness that other versions don’t display as prominently as this one. This may just be my favorite, but like the tides, it changes often. I suggest 4/13/83, 6/28/76, and pretty much every version from this tour. Good stuff
Jack Straw
Sept. 2, 1983
Boise Pavilion - Boise State University

This show is one of the best to me, especially from the 80s, and this may be the best Jack Straw up until Jerry’s comeback. It’s faster but not too sloppy, and Jerry’s solos really take off. There are some other good ones from ‘83(I’m thinking of 4/13), but this one just stands out to me. Possibly because this show was a catalyst for getting me deep in the Dead, but mostly because this is an incredible version of one of the Dead’s best tunes.