Jerry Garcia – “Reflections”
Jerry Garcia’s third solo album, Reflections, released in 1976 is a masterpiece. And for its 40th Anniversary (time flies when you’re having flashbacks) it has been re-released on Record Store Day’s Back to Black Friday event in a special commemorative edition of only 3500 copies nationwide. Each copy bears its own individual gold embossed number and as a fitting touch, the record is pressed on “tie-dyed” vinyl (it actually looks more like pink/purple vinyl with smoke wafting over it – maybe even more fitting!)
The album has eight cuts recorded with two distinct bands. “Might As Well”, “They Love Each Other”, “It Must Have Been the Roses”, and “Comes a Time” all of which were to become Grateful Dead concert mainstays, were in fact recorded with the ’76 version of the Grateful Dead (Jerry, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Keith and Donna Godchaux, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart) , though John Kahn, known to most as a bassist, contributes organ on “They Love Each Other.” The second band consisting of Jerry, John Kahn, Nicky Hopkins, Larry Knechtel, and Ron Tutt (with some backing vocals courtesy of Donna Jean and Bob Weir) appear on “Mission in the Rain”, “I’ll Take a Melody”, “Tore Up Over You” and “Catfish John.” With this powerhouse track list consisting of songs all of which were played regularly with the Grateful Dead and/or the Jerry Garcia Band right up until the end, there’s not a clunker to be found here. This album has always been a must-have for tried and true Deadheads and for a younger set wanting to discover the magic of Jerry in studio form, this is perhaps the best place to begin.
Bob Dylan – “The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert”
Bob Dylan’s Royal Albert Hall concert in 1966 has long been the stuff of legend. Most people know it, or think they do, as the concert at which an audience heckler, responding to Bob’s new electric show, screams out “Judas!”, to which Dylan responds “I don’t believe you – you’re a liar!” and then to the band “Play it fucking loud!” Well as it turns out, although that show circulated as a bootleg labeled “Royal Albert Hall” for years, it in fact did not take place at the Royal Albert Hall at all, but at the Manchester Free Trade Hall on May 17, 1966. The “real” 1966 Royal Albert Hall show took place nine days later on May 26th and that is the show that has just been released as a double LP for Record Store Day’s Back to Black Friday event. The show consisted of a Dylan solo acoustic set that appears on the first LP and an electric set that appears on the second. The concert was mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Chris Shaw and its LP presentation has remarkably clear sound. The packaging of the album was also beautifully done with an inner gatefold consisting of still photos taken from movie film shot by DA Pennebaker.
The acoustic set includes a roster of classic Dylan tunes like “She Belongs to Me”, “Visions of Johanna”, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”, “Desolation Row”, and “Mr. Tambourine Man.” For the electric set, Bob is accompanied by The Hawks, the (lower-case) band that was to become (upper-case) “The Band”, albeit with Mickey Jones on drums in place of Levon Helm. A young Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson crank on all cylinders behind Bob for such classics as “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”, “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat”, and “Like A Rolling Stone.” “One Too Many Mornings” is also a stand-out and as is customary of Bob, then as now, he toys with and changes lyrics throughout the show. And if there is no cry of “Judas!” at the REAL Royal Albert Hall show, some almost inaudible heckling is apparent to which Bob replies at one point, “They’re ALL protest songs!” He also peppers the show with irreverent banter, like dedicating a song to the “Taj Mahal”, that make it interesting and fun to listen to for reasons other than just for the music. But the music is ultimately what prevails. Overall, this is a fantastic new release that sees Bob at one of the earliest peaks of his long and illustrious career. And after listening to his blistering electric set backed by The Band, one is left with only one remaining question; what the heck were those audiences complaining about?!