FIVE GRATEFUL DEAD STUDIO SONGS THAT “LIVE” COULDN’T TOP
The irony is not lost on me when I say the Dead are a “live” band. The “studio” songs are great and of course more “technically” correct, but to many fans they serve as merely a template to the ever-evolving extended jams that would become the preferred live versions, most all of which are documented and available to those who search. But there are rare instances where the live version never measured up to the studio version:
LET ME SING YOUR BLUES AWAY
The Dead didn’t take many cracks at this one. Which makes sense if a song isn’t very good to begin with. That’s not the case here. Too difficult to pull off live, maybe? Too different? Who knows? Not me, but I do know the studio version is cool.
NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE
I don’t claim to have heard every live version but the ones I have heard don’t top the “Workingman’s Dead” version with its funky intro, hand claps and piercing guitar fills.
A good song that apparently died with Pig. But even before his passing there weren’t many live attempts.
BOX OF RAIN
“Box” was always welcome live. ‘Specially after a chorus of “We want Phil” went rippling through the crowd. But let’s face it; Phil wasn’t the most consistent singer. The live version is great ‘cuz Jerry gets a chance to stretch out some beautiful guitar solos, but giving Phil enough vocal takes in the studio to get it right is the better trade off.
The Radio City Music Hall efforts in 1980 would come close, but Grisman’s mandolin and the opportunity afforded by studio to get the vocals “just exactly perfect” make the “American Beauty” version of possibly the best Grateful Dead song unbeatable.