Tag Archives: The Grateful Dead

Rocks In The Attic #823: Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Live At Woodstock’ (1969)

RITA#823One of my favourite moments of 2019 was tuning into an American radio station that was broadcasting the original Woodstock festival in real-time, fifty years to the day. And of course, one of the highlights of that weekend was hearing Creedence’s Saturday night set.

The documentary film Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh, is slightly misleading in its portrayal of the festival. Several key acts are omitted from the film – The Band, The Grateful Dead, Creedence and Blood, Sweat & Tears – and so it’s easy to forget that these bands took part at all.

RITA#823aHearing Creedence’s incendiary 55-minute performance, finally released on vinyl by Fantasy Records in 2019, it’s incredible that the band didn’t appear in the film because John Fogerty thought their performance was sub-par. It’s definitely a no-nonsense set, filled with the highlights of their first three albums, but it’s a blazing performance. Fogerty later claimed that the Grateful Dead, who played immediately before them, sent the audience to sleep. Bloody hippies.

This marks the seventh individual performance in my Woodstock collection. I’m hoping for more releases in 2020, as there are still some big names missing. It can only be a matter of time before CSNY, The Band and The Who, are released, but I’d like to see some of the smaller names get some attention. I have my fingers crossed to get my hands on the sets by Canned Heat, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Joe Cocker.

Hit: Proud Mary

Hidden Gem: Bootleg

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Rocks In The Attic #798: The Grateful Dead – ‘American Beauty’ (1970)

RITA#798One of New Zealand’s better radio stations is The Sound, broadcasting on 93.8FM in Auckland. The station was originally called Solid Gold, catering for ‘60s and 70’s music, until their core audience presumably died off and stopped listening. In 2012, it rebranded as The Sound, concentrating on classic rock (i.e. Dad rock) from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Their tagline is “We’ve got your record collection”, which sounds more like the beginnings of a ransom demand than a reason to tune in.

Earlier this year, I saw a competition posted to their Facebook page: “Here’s your chance to earn the ultimate ‘trainspotting’ title! If you can name all 20 albums correctly in this photo, we’re sending you some epic vinyl to add to your collection.” [I’ve included the photo here you can play along at home!]

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I looked at the image and could identify at least half of them at first glance. Most record collectors can identify the top two inches of an album cover with ease, from years of flicking though the racks of record shops, but trying to identify them from the LEFT two inches of the sleeve was much more difficult.

I spent the train home from work trying to figure out the ones I was missing. By the time I got home, I had all but 3 or 4. I asked a couple of friends for help, as I suspected that the ones I hadn’t got were alien to me. Moo helped me on one of them (#2), but I was stuck on the rest. By the end of the night, I had just two left to get – #6 and #11.

My cunning wife managed to find out #6 – an album more famous in my current corner of the world than anywhere else, and so I was left with #11. At first, I thought this was the Beach Boy’s Endless Summer, one of those great hand-drawn covers of the 1970s. Eventually, I thought of a solo artist famous for having hand-drawn covers, and traced it back to the band he was originally in. Phew, after six or so stressful hours, I submitted my entry and went to sleep.

I didn’t hear anything else about the competition for a number of weeks. Then, one day I spotted a new comment addressed to me on the original Facebook post: “Congratulations! You will be taking home a few of the albums that feature in this competition. Thank you for all of your entries. Watch this space to see if you’ll be the next Acoustic Sunrise Trainspotter.”

Great! I still don’t know whether I was just the first person to get them all correct, or if it was just a random hat-pull of the correct entries. And there was no mention of what I had won. The wording of the competition was quite vague; it didn’t say whether there’d be one winner, or many, or indeed what the winner/s would receive.

When I finally heard from the radio station, they declared me the ‘ultimate vinyl trainspotter’ (their words, not mine) and said I had won a 5 x LP package. They sent the first four in one package: Bob Dylan’s Street Legal and the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty, neither of which I had in my collection, together with Talking Head’s Talking Heads: 77 and Boz Scagg’s Silk Degrees, both of which I did have. All four were brand new sealed reissues. I put the Talking Heads and Boz Scaggs records to one side, to re-gift at a later date.

The fifth and final LP they were to send me was Led Zeppelin’s debut. The radio station then emailed and said there was a delay, and asked would I prefer a copy of Led Zeppelin II instead, as they had that one in stock. I didn’t mind, I have all the studio albums anyway, but I was just hoping that whatever they sent me would be one of the latest reissues with the bonus material. The parcel arrived this morning; it was a copy of Led Zeppelin IV, not II – I guess the people who work at radio stations don’t necessarily need to know anything about the artists they play – but thankfully it was the recent reissue with the bonus disc of alternate mixes. Brilliant!

In terms of the Grateful Dead, I’ve probably eaten more Cherry Garcia ice cream in my life than I have listened to Jerry and his band. I couldn’t even hum one of their songs. I don’t hold anything against them personally, but I think the barrier for me is their fans. I think I may have an allergy to tie-dye, as the very sight of it turns my stomach. When I think of the Grateful Dead, I just think of old, skeletal hippies with long grey hair, grooving on down to some indeterminable sludgy rock;  waves of fans, appearing at baseball stadiums in beat-up old winnebagos to watch the band do their thing above a small fleet of microphones, each recording the concert for bootleg releases that nobody will ever listen to.

Turns out I needn’t be afraid. Listening to American Beauty, their fifth studio album, they sound a lot like Crosby, Stills & Nash crossed with the Band. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t anything this tuneful and melodic. I think I was expecting LSD-fuelled 17-minute guitar solos that go nowhere. Maybe they came later in their careers?

Hit: Truckin’

Hidden Gem: Candyman

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Rocks In The Attic #738: Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Creedence Gold’ (1972)

rita#738Our weekly Wednesday night pub quiz had a great question the other night. There’s a round called The List where you have to, erm, list ten of something. It’s either something boring – the ten longest rivers of the world, or the ten countries with the highest population, for example – or it will be something from popular culture. Ten Tintin books, ten films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and ten Oscar nominations for Meryl Streep have been my favourites so far.

I’m waiting for the day that the question relates to the James Bond films…

The trick is that you only get points for an unbroken run of answers, so if you get your eighth answer wrong, you would only get seven points (even if answers nine and ten are correct). In other words, the strategy is to put down your dead-certs first, with anything you’re unsure about down at the bottom of the list.

Last weeks’ question was to name any ten of the twenty-two bands that played at the original Woodstock festival in 1969. Now, I could name ten artists who played quite easily, but the question clearly stated ‘bands’ and so it was much, much trickier.

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Not only could I not remember some of the more obscure band names, but I also doubted how accurate the answers would be. Would they know, for example, that Hendrix’s band on the day wasn’t the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but the little-known Gypsy Sun & Rainbows? In the end, it turns out the quiz company did know this (they even had Hendrix’s second name when he referred to them as a plain ol’ Band Of Gypsies), but I was so confident that they wouldn’t, that I put it down as my tenth answer.

I got a pitiful six correct:
1. The Who
2. Canned Heat
3. Country Joe & The Fish
4. Jefferson Airplane
5. Santana
6. Ten Years After
7. Crosby, Stills & Nash (INCORRECT)
8. Big Brother & The Holding Company (INCORRECT)
9. The Mamas & The Papas (INCORRECT)
10. Gypsy Sun & Rainbows (CORRECT BUT NOT COUNTED)

rita#738bI did some healthy kicking of myself when the answers were read out. CSN was deemed incorrect because the band had been infiltrated by that Canadian interloper Neil Young by August ’69, Janis Joplin’s backing band at that time was the Kozmic Blues Band (having left Big Brother & The Holding Company the prior year), and the Mamas & the Papas was just plain wrong (I didn’t think they played, but thought that they might have been one of the bands not featured on the film soundtrack due to rights reasons, and more importantly my mother-in-law was adamant).

It’s interesting to look at the full line-up outside of the film and the accompanying soundtrack. It feels almost like bands as big as the Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival have been written out of history because of their absence from the film.

rita#738cI wondered if their sets were even filmed, before old friend (and Woodstock expert) Moo sent me the link to the Creedence set on YouTube. It’s a ripper of a set, opening with a blustering version of Born On The Bayou. After the first song ends, John Fogerty looks at the cameraman and asks “Is that thing on now?” before the video cuts off. Much of the rest of the set is audio-only, with the video creeping back intermittently.

Is there a songwriter more overlooked than John Fogerty? His name should share the same breath as Brian Wilson, Lennon and McCartney and Ray Davies, but apart from the Dude, nobody else seems to care.

Hit: Proud Mary

Hidden Gem: Born On The Bayou