Saturday, June 30, 2007

Trolling the Underground : MSG 4-27-1971

In my most recent Trolling the Underground posting at Under the Bridge I, I illustrated two of the joys of collecting unofficial concert recordings. The first was being able to hear a show that I had no way whatsoever of seeing first hand. The other was hearing, whenever I want to, the pairing of two acts that don't work together normally, and had just a couple live experiences shared between them.

To kick off this new blog with my first Trolling the Underground, I'm going to explore a variation on that second theme. That's being able to explore the inevitable strange pairings that occur on stage from time to time, like the night the Grateful Dead were joined onstage by the Beach Boys.

This was a weird little event that came in the middle of the show, when the Dead were having a pretty good night. When the Beach Boys joined them, the setlist deviated far from the Dead's already chaotic norm. They did two songs together, Searchin' and Riot in Cell Block #9 (before which the virtues of a new instrument - the Moog Synthesizer - were extolled), when the Dead took a break to go do whatever it was they did during breaks. Things sounded pretty normal for the Beach Boys during that break, where they took over and played Good Vibrations and I Get Around. When the Dead returned, things got fun again.They did three more songs together; Help Me Rhonda, Okie from Muskogee, and Johnny B. Goode. Amazingly enough, it's the second of those three songs that gets pulled off the best. Help Me Rhonda is just painful to hear, and Johnny B. Goode illustrates how two bands can each do a particular song well, but can't do it worth shit when they're all trying it together. It was simply too many cooks for that particular broth.

So it's pretty obvious which song I have to share. How can you pass up the Grateful Dead and the Beach Boys together doing Okie from Muskogee??

After the Beach Boys left, the Dead continued, and made a little more Dead history by performing one their most famous renditions of the blues classic Turn On Your Lovelight. It's a classic showstopper filled with jams, but what made it famous was Pigpen's speech in the middle in which he condemns masturbation and helps a guy and girl in the audience hook up. It's a riot to listen to, so I wanted to share it also, but alas it's too large for online storage, coming in at about 20 minutes.

I hope you'll all enjoy this little piece of weird concert history. Let me know what you think!