Tag Archives: The Grateful Dead

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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What’s the Point of “Zabriskie Point”??

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This record was purchased at Good Records (Check out their link on my Blogroll) in Dallas, Texas by my friend Jim. Jim saw the movie in the theater in 1970 and couldn’t believe he was holding the soundtrack in his hand. The LP is a reissue by 4 Guys With Beards. We bought the LP and I agreed to make him a CD of the music. This is the soundtrack to a movie that was voted one of the “Fifty Worst Movies of all Time.” It was directed by by Michelangelo Antonioni. Antonioni wanted to be a part of the counter culture movement in the United States. He was hired by Carlo Ponti to make three films for MGM that would appeal to the young “hippies” of 1970. This was the only film he ever directed in the United States. Antonioni hired Pink Floyd to do the soundtrack for the movie. Although the movie was a flop, it is now known for it’s amazing cinematography and it’s psychedelic soundtrack. The principles that contributed to the soundtrack, other than Pink Floyd, were Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead, The Kaleidoscope and The Youngbloods. Much of the work that Pink Floyd put into the movie soundtrack never got into the film. Much of it was never released until years later as ‘rarities’ on Pink Floyd compilation CD’s. During my research to write this blog I found some of these out takes and I am including them in this blog. I’d love to read your comments regarding these rare outtakes. The LP itself was new and unopened. It is on really nice quality vinyl and had very quite surfaces as well as great sound quality. So here’s side one of Zabriskie Point…

Side 1

HEART BEAT, PIG MEAT

Written and Performed by Pink Floyd

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This song is more of a sonic collage. All of the Pink Floyd songs were written in Rome in 1969 right after the release of their album Ummagumma. Can you see where Massive Attack might draw some inspiration from Pink Floyd?

Brother Mary

Written and Performed by The Kaleidoscope

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This song was written by the great side man and musician David Lindley. The Kaleidoscope was a favorite band of the LA scene and it was Lindley’s band. They were very respected by other musicians like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, but they could never get a hit record. They made three LP’s with Epic Records and called it quits. Lindley went on to fame with Jackson Browne.

Excerpt from DARK STAR

Written and Performed by The Grateful Dead

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This song really should need no introduction since it is one of the Dead’s most well know songs. I think it sounds awesome and it doesn’t last long enough. (The opposite of when you see the Dead perform it in concert.) Rhino Records has a double CD of the soundtrack that includes another 30 minutes of outtakes of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.

Crumbling Land

Written and Performed by Pink Floyd

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I think a lot of people might not identify this song as being a Pink Floyd song. It has a definite Country twist to it.

Tennessee Waltz

Written by Pee Wee King and Performed by Patti Page

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This song appears in the movie during the heroine’s drive through the desert. She here’s it on the radio.

Sugar Babe

Performed by The Youngbloods

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This song also was heard on the car radio by the Heroine of the movie during her drive across the desert. It’s a little more hedonistic than the Tennessee Waltz…

Side 2

Love Scene

Written and Performed by Jerry Garcia

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This is one of the great surprises of this record! This is a beautiful improvisation of Jerry Garcia. It contains everything that is great about his playing. The love scene is the core of the movie and it occurs out on Zabriskie Point in the desert. There is a lot of full frontal nudity and that may be one of the reasons that this movie has attained a level of cult followers… At any rate the music is sublime! Pink Floyd also wrote two different songs for this scene but both were rejected by Antonioni. I have included those cuts at the end of this blog for your evaluation and enjoyment.

I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again

Traditional folk song performed by Roscoe Holcomb.

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Roscoe Holcomb was an icon of Blue Grass and Folk Music. This is him at his best. Quite a jolt after the Garcia Love music! Loud and proud!!

Mickey’s Tune

Written and performed by The Kaleidoscope

This is another cut by David Lindley & Company. It is a glimpse into the musicianship of this wrongly obscure band.

Dance Of Death

Written and performed by John Fahey

John Fahey is another interesting side story to this LP. He was a pioneer of the rediscovery and promotion of Folk Music. He single handedly rediscovered and revived the music of Skip James. He hated ‘hippies’, Antonioni, Jerry Garcia and anything else that appeared to undermine the United States of America. During the making of the movie he got into an argument with Antonioni and punched him in the face! How any of his music got in the movie, I can’t explain… By the way, it is rumored that he recorded hours and hours of music for the film that ended up on the cutting room floor…

Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up

Written and performed by Pink Floyd

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This song is an early version of Be Careful With That Axe, Eugene… This is the Pink Floyd we all know and love. This music is in the final scene where the Real Estate Developers house in the desert is blown up over and over and over again. The massive wall of guitar fuzz is the perfect accompaniment to total destruction.

Thus ends the soundtrack that is way better than the film it was made for. I am including the outtakes below.

Outtakes

Untitled

Written and performed by Pink Floyd

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Love Scene #1

Written and performed by Pink Floyd

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Love Scene #2

Written and Performed by Pink Floyd

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Untitled (aka Oenone)

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Untitled (aka Fingal’s Cave)

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So Young

Written and Performed by Roy Orbison

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This was the song heard over the closing credits of the movie.

So what IS the point of Zabriskie Point? I don’t know, but there seems to be several lessons. First, not all great music is inspired by great art or beauty. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Second, if we’re not open to new things we could miss a lot of great stuff. But last, I think the biggest lesson I learned can be summed up by the William Hurt character in the great movie “The Big Chill”: “Sometimes you just have to let Art flow over you…”

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Posted in Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments