Tag Archives: Johnny Cash

Steal Your Face is a Steal of an LP…

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Steal Your Face is a live LP from the Grateful Dead.  The album was recorded during their 1974 “Farewell Tour”, but it was not released until 1976.  This album is widely regarded as the worst live recording that the Dead ever released.  It was released under duress because the band had to fulfill a contractual obligation with the record company, and the band wasn’t working at the time, so there wasn’t much choice.

As I stated earlier, the LP was recorded in 1974 during a four night stand at the Winterland in San Francisco, CA.  It is a kind of “Greatest Hits” live. This tour was supposed to be the last tour ever.  After all, the band had been on the road since they formed in 1965! It’s hilarious that they continued on as a band for years and years after this tour was completed.  In spite of the overwhelming opinion of “Dead-heads” everywhere that the LP is not up to par, this LP has continued to be highly collectible.  The main reason is the awesome cover art:  the so called “Stealie” or “Steal Your Face” Logo.  This logo is one of the most famous of all Rock-n-Roll art; not to mention some of the most famous Grateful Dead art.  The Grateful Dead have a lot of art that is identified with the band.  This logo was designed by Owsley Stanley and rendered by Bob Thomas.  The skull with a lightning bolt going through it is an overt reference to L.S.D. as well as other drug use by the band and its fans.  Not long after this LP came out you could buy this symbol on everything from T-Shirts to Blotter Paper.  It captures everything about the Grateful Dead experience within its grinning skull!

The album title that also ended up naming the logo is taken from a song called “He’s Gone”.  The lyrics are “Like I told you, what I said, steal your face right off your head”…The song was performed frequently on the tour and every night of the 4 night stand at the Wintergarden, but was not included on the album for some reason.

The main criticism of the album is twofold.  First many fans feel that there are much better live recordings of every song on this record.  Second that there are no “deep cuts” as well as none of the long jam sessions that made the band so famous.  Both points are legitimate, however; I feel that it still does not diminish the performances on this record.  I found the LP highly entertaining and I found several of the songs quite emotionally charged in view of the fact that the band thought they were about to call it quits.  I think that the slower, mellower songs on the LP are especially effective.  I have included the entire two record set for your personal consideration.   I love the album!  But let me know what you think…

Side 1

The Promised Land


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  The LP opens with a straight ahead R&B cover of a Chuck  Berry song.  The band is tight, together and rockin’!  What’s not to like?

Cold Rain & Snow


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This song really features the slow grove jam sound that I associate so strongly with the Grateful Dead.  There would be no “Jam Band’s” if it wasn’t for the Grateful Dead.  They were the father to many children…  This is a traditional folk song that was arranged by the Grateful Dead.

Around and Around

 

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  The Dead cover another Chuck Berry Classic. Admittedly, not the greatest cover ever, but it is still very hard not to tap your foot to the beat; if you know what I mean…

Stella Blue


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  This is the first original song on the album, and it’s a great one.  This song was co-written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia.  Richard and Jerry were the principle song writers of the Grateful Dead.  Richard wrote the lyrics and Jerry wrote the music.  Robert Hunter was often referred to as “the non-performing” member of the Grateful Dead.  In spite of all the songs he wrote with Jerry Garcia and all the concert halls he went to with the band, he never once appeared on stage as a performer.  When the band was inducted into the Rock n Roll hall of fame, Robert was also inducted as a band member.  He is the only “non-performer” ever inducted into the Hall of Fame.  This is a great “trippy” cut that is tinted at the edges in mellow but deep emotion.  This is a beautiful performance.

Side 2

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo


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  This song is also an original written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia.  It has all the characteristics of an old folk song.  Don’t you love the title.  This song just has a happy go lucky feel to it that makes me smile.

Ship Of Fools


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In the previous song Jerry Garcia sings the lyrics “When your ship comes in…” and then the next song is “Ship of Fools”. This is also an original song written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. It’s a great slow blues song. It almost has the feel of a spiritual. “Ship of Fools on a cruel sea.  Ship of fools, sail away from me…”

Beat It On Down The Line


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This song was written by Jesse Fuller. Jesse became famous by performing as a “One Man Band” in the San Francisco bay area.  He is best know for a song called “San Francisco Bay Blues”.  The Dead also covered other songs  by Fuller.  This is just a great straight ahead rock song.

Side 3

Big River


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  So far on the album they have covered Chuck Berry and Jesse Fuller.  Why not cover Johnny Cash?  The Grateful Dead were such an amazing conglomeration of Rock, Jazz, Country, Folk, and Psychedelia!  This is a perfect example of them working their craft.

Black-Throated Wind


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This song was written by Bob Weir and John Barlow.  Bob was, of course, one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead and John Barlow was a poet, essayist, rancher and political activist; who became friends with the Grateful Dead.  Very cool stuff, don’t you think?

U.S. Blues


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This song was written by Hunter and Garcia.  A song written from the viewpoint of Uncle Sam.

El Paso


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Once you’ve covered Johnny Cash you kind of have to cover Marty Robbins, don’t you?  This is a great version of a very well known song.  Enjoy…

Side 4

Sugaree

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 Once again an original song by Hunter and Garcia. I just really love this song. It just has such a nice way of mellowly rocking along. The lyrics are great too.  “Please  forget you know my name, my daring Sugaree…”  Beautiful subtle guitar work from Jerry Garcia too.

It Must Have Been The Roses

 

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 This song was written by Robert Hunter. The lyrics are beautiful. So is the performance. Great music, passionately performed. Again I ask: What’s not to like??

Casey Jones


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 The album closes with one of their best know songs. This was also written by Hunter and Garcia.. Okay, so it’s not the best “live” version of Casey Jones.  So what?  It is the Grateful Dead at their peak.  They are not tired of playing their hits and the perform this song with energy and imagination.  It think it’s a great version of this song.

Well there you have it.  Steal Your Facein its entity.  If you see it buy.  Maybe even steal it!  But don’t pass it over just because you heard it wsn’t that great.  Sure it’s collectible just for the cover, but don’t overlook the contents.  This album can be expensive.  I’ve seen it on the internet from $25 – $85 or more.  If the jacket is in good condition it could cost a pretty penny.  All the more reason to enjoy the contents as well as the cover.  Personally, I think this album is a Steal.  Or should I say Stealie???

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Posted in Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Johnny Cash, Folsom Prision, And The Story Of Glen Sherley


This is a follow up to the blog about the greatest live recordings of all time. I really wanted to share the Johnny Cash recording. So here it is in it’s entirety. Each side will be presented as one track. This will allow you to hear all of the banter between songs In the words of Johnny Cash: “Listen closely to this album and you hear in the background the clanging of the doors, the shrill of the whistle, the shout of the men – even laughter from men who had forgotten how to laugh.”


This record was made on Johnny’s fourth trip to Folsom prison.  It was Johnny’s idea to do a live album from prison.  It took him six years to convince Columbia records to allow him to record the album in Folsom.

Side one begins with the song you would expect:  “Folsom Prison Blues”.  The crowd erupts accordingly.   Other highlights are “Cocaine Blues ” and “The Long Black Veil”.  This last song is covered on Roseanne Cash’s album “The List”.  “The List” is a recording that Roseanne made after her father died.  Before his death he gave her a list of 10 songs that he felt she should record.  Both Johnny’s version and Roseanne’s versions are riveting.  Forgive the long pauses before the music starts.  I forgot to edit the tracks before I uploaded them.

Side 1:


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The tracks are as follows:

Folsom Prison Blues

Dark As The Dungeon, I Still Miss Someone, Cocaine Blues, 25 Minutes To Go, Orange Blossom Special, The Long Black Veil

Side 2:

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The Tracks are as follows:

Send A picture Of Mother, The Wall, Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog, Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart, Jackson (Sung with his wife, June Carter), give My Love To Rose (Also with June Carter), I Got Stripes, Green, Green Grass Of Home, and Greystone Chapel.

The set list is not an escape from a prison life but a confrontation of prison life.  It seems that Johnny Cash wants the concert to be a catharsis of the audiences suppressed emotions.  He forces them to feel what they don’t want to remember: like how much they miss home or their mother, what the crimes were that got them into prison in the first place, the shame and loneliness of prison life.  The performances are raw and emotional.  The song “Greystone Chapel” was written by a prisoner at Folsom named Glen Sherley.  I’ll let Johnny tell you in his own words how this song came to be on the album:

“The night before I was going to record at Folsom prison, I got to the motel and a preacher friend of mine brought me a tape of a song called “Greystone Chapel.” He said a convict had written it about the chapel at Folsom. I listened to it one time and I said, “I’ve got to do this in the show tomorrow.” So I stayed up and learned it, and the next day the preacher had him in the front row. I announced, “This song was written by Glen Sherley.” It was a terrible, terrible thing to point him out among all those cons, but I didn’t think about that then. Everybody just had a fit, screaming and carrying on.”

Johnny Cash helped Glen become a country music star.  Glen had success at first, but had a terrible time trying to cope with stardom.  As his fame faded he ended up homeless, living out of his truck, and helping to feed cattle.  On May 11, 1978 he took his own life by shooting himself in the head.  All this underscores what was at the heart of Johnny Cash doing this album. Johnny Cash had a deep belief that Prison does not rehabilitate people.  Johnny Cash was just like the rest of us.  He was unable to help save a man from himself.  Who really can?  What is great is that Johnny Cash tried so hard to make a difference in the lives of so many men that the rest of the world had already tossed aside like yesterday’s garbage.  God bless Johnny Cash and God bless all of the other Glen Sherley’s of the world…

 

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Posted in Country Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Top Ten Live Albums

Live albums are usually considered to be only for the “hard core” fan of that particular artist. I’m not not sure that I agree with that. Sometimes the live album raises to the level of high art. So what follows is my list of the top live rock albums. I’d love to hear what your list would be. Review the list and make your own.

1.  The Rolling Stones  – “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!”Cover of Get Yer Ya Yas Out -

This album captures the Stones at the height of their powers.  The 1969 American tour is considered to be one of the greatest rock-n-roll tours of all time.  It was the first time a band toured with monitors on stage so they could hear themselves above the crowd noise.  The Stones came back to England and told the Beatles “You need to go tour the U.S. again.  Now you can actually hear yourself on stage.”  The result was that they could do things musically on stage that could not be done before.  A great example it the magnificent version of “Midnight Rambler” .  The new deluxe version of this record contains The original LP on CD and vinyl as well as bonus cuts and the complete opening acts that toured with the Stones that year:  Ike and Tina Turner and B.B. King.

2.  Little Feat “Waiting for Columbus”

Little Feat "Live" – Waiting for Columbus

I get excited the second I hear the band warming up their voices back stage. This band is so good live that you wonder if it’s really a studio recording with a crowd overdub. Consummate musicianship and artistry!

 

 

 

 

3.  The Who – “Live At Leeds”

Album cover of The Who "Live At Leeds"

Album cover of The Who "Live At Leeds"

 

This is another live album that caught a band at the height of their power. Tommy was still a new LP. Roger Daltry was young and had that powerful voice. Keith Moon was still alive and kickin’, and Pete Townsend wasn’t deaf. I love the 18 minute version of “My Generation” that becomes a highly complex medley of several of their best songs.

4.  Jimi Hendrix – “Band of Gypsy’s”

Jimi Hendrix "Band of Gypsys"

What an album this is! It is spooky how good Hendrix was. Here he is only months before he died, with a new band, pushing his music in an entirely new direction. This album was recorded at Filmore East at the height of the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement. Jimi sings “Machine Gun” and dedicates it “to all the cats fighting in Chicago, and New York and, oh yea; all the soldiers fighting in Vietnam”. In many ways this is my favorite Hendrix LP.

5.  Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Live Rust

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Live

This was one of the all time greatest tours of rock history. Neil toured in support of his masterpiece “Rust Never Sleeps”. All the hits are here. You gotta love “Cortez the Killer”, “Like A Hurricane”, and “Hey, Hey, My, my, Rock-n-roll will never die…” Crazy Horse at their sonic, dissonant best!

 

 

6.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Four Way Street”

 

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember the first time I heard this record. It was in Art class in junior high school. This girl I had a crush on brought it in to listen to while the class painted. I loved it the moment I heard it. I loved how it was divided into a “wooden” disc and an “electric” disc. CSN&Y used to start their shows acoustic, take an intermission, then come back and do an electric set to close the show. There are so many great moments on this record. I love all the banter the band members have with the audience. It creates a very intimate atmosphere that is unique in live recordings.

7. The Allman Brothers “Live at Filmore East.”

 

The Allman Brothers Live at Filmore East

This is without a doubt one of the most amazing live albums ever. The musicianship on display here is mind blowing. These guys were great! What a lose to rock-n-roll that Duane Allman died so young. “Whipping Post”, “Statesborro Blues”, and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” are wired into the Psyche of roll-n-roll. This is a “must have” in any collection.

8.  Talking Heads – “Stop Making Sense”

Soundtrack to the Concert film “Stop Making Sense”

If you have never seen this concert film you should. This is a stunning performance by one of America’s best bands of all time. Talking Heads are a force of nature. The concert starts with just David Bryne on stage by himself. With each song another band member comes out to join him until finally the entire band is on stage. What is amazing is that each song retains it’s identity no matter who is on stage performing it. “Once in a Lifetime” is just unbelievable. Every song is great. The drama and musicianship is beyond belief.

9.  U2 -“Live at Red Rocks”  

 

U2 Live at Red Rocks

I think this is one of the best live albums U2 ever did. I like it much more than “Rattle and Hum”. They are still young and full of piss and vinegar. I love “11 O’Clock tick-tock”. All these songs were still new and the power and outrage the band feels at the violence in Ireland is palpable.

 

 

10. Johnny Cash “Live at Folsom Prison”

Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can hear prison guards in the background. You can even hear Prison doors clink and slam shut. A passionate performance from a man who really tried to make a difference in the lives of prisoners. By the way, although Johnny Cash is a country singer, he is one of only two country singers in the Rock-n-Roll Hall Of Fame; so, he belongs on the list. This is a powerful, and moving recording. If you ever get a chance to see the documentary about this concert don’t miss it. It will make you think. God Bless Johnny Cash.

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