JBG C: Nov. '75 Hopkins
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JBG C: Nov. '75 Hopkins
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The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 2:

Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins

Jerry Garcia Band
November 17 & 18, 1975
Keystone, Berkeley, CA
 
 
 
 
 
Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review

 Let It Rock: The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 2: Jerry Garcia Band, Keystone Berkeley '75

We've been looking forward to a live concert release with Nicky Hopkins. It's here! Let It Rock: The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 2: Jerry Garcia Band, Keystone Berkeley '75. That's a long title. There have been numerous comments that the sound quality of this release is excellent. It sure is! It's really good, taken from 16 track source tape, given plangent processing treatment, and some Jeffrey Norman mastering magic. 

This is the first Garcia solo band under the name Jerry Garcia Band, previously he was in solo projects like Saunders / Garcia, Old in the Way among others. Then in 1975, The Jerry Garcia Band is conceived, a four piece ensemble, the always present John Kahn on bass, Ron Tutt on drums, and Nicky Hopkins on piano. 

Nicky Hopkins is a well known session player who's contributions help make the Rolling Stones albums so good. He's also played on the first two Jeff Beck albums that featured Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, played on portions of Who's Next, to name some of my favorites. Then across the pond in the Bay Area, he played on some  Jefferson Airplane releases, and was a member of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Rocksoff.org has a very good list of Hopkins's credits. http://rocksoff.org/nicky-sessions.htm

Most of the band discussion is about Nicky Hopkins, but I'd like to make a shout out for Ron Tutt. The liner notes make mention of Elvis' TCB (Taking Care of Business) band of which Tutt was an original member of, under the leadership of James Burton. The TCB Band also backed some of my favorite County Rock albums, Gram Parsons two solo albums as well as Emmylou Harris' early albums. From this release, give a listen to the "Let's Spend the Night Together" to hear Ron Tutt at his best.

Ron Tutt played on most of the studio album Compliments of Garcia, as well as the portion of Reflections that Hopkins played on. Tutt stayed on board for the first part of the Garcia Band that featured Keith and Donna. He also played with Saunders and Garcia in the Legion of Mary, Tutt replaced drummer Paul Humphrey.

The music is taken from November 17, and 18, 1975, at the Keystone Berkeley. It is sequenced like two sets. Not all of the music was salvable for release, below we posted the set lists from the two evenings. Plus two Dylan songs, "Tough Mama" and "Positively 4th Street" from these shows were released on Garcia Plays Dylan.   

The music catalog doesn't venture in as many styles as other Garcia electric side bands as they don't indulge into jazz or gospel. Instead, they stick to a rock and blues format. In my opinion, this is the best display of Jerry playing blues music, Hopkins seems to bring this side of his playing out quite nicely. Several of the songs performed by this band were on Garcia's 1974 release Compliments of Garcia, and 1975's Reflections

The first disc starts and ends with straight ahead rock n' roll, delivered up quite impressively, and both songs are true highlights. First up is the title track, "Let it Rock," a Chuck Berry cover. This rendition is sensational and it is easy to see why they titled the release after it. It gives the listener a good indication of the looseness of this line-up where Jerry and Nicky take turns with seemingly endless solos. Garcia gives his strings a real bending on this track. The version of "Tore Up" is on par to expectations, punchy and upbeat, melodic yet fiery, rambling, but interesting. I love the way Garcia takes hold of the end of Hopkins solo to finish off the instrumental. 

The version of "Friend of the Devil," seems to have a tempo a bit too fast for my liking. It is not as quite as quick as the early live versions, but faster than the latter era editions. It starts out with John Kahn's descending bass run and the rest of the band  slowly come on. I would've have thought Jerry would start it out. After a second and third listen, my mind isn't changed. I'll take a Grateful Dead version from the late or 70's early 80's, the folk based studio version from American Beauty, or a Garcia Grisman version ahead of this one.

A version of "It's Too Late" displays some heart felt vocals and emotional blues. Nicky Hopkins adds one of his songs called "Pig's Boogie." It's a basic blues pattern, nothing too exciting. "Sitting Here in Limbo" displays a great sense of melody, weather from Jerry's voice, his guitar phrasing, or Hopkins piano fills. Jerry played this song in different solo bands, the version from Don't Let Go Donna is the lead singer, while his band with Melvin Seals, the background vocalists add to those versions. Come to think of it, it's on some Garcia Saunders line-ups and Garcia Grisman. Amongst them all, I really took a liking to this version. The disc closes with a version of "(I'm A) Road Runner" that is just as impressive as "Let it Rock."
 
A fantastic first disc, can the second disc match it? First up is "Sugaree," and while very well played, it doesn't top the other highlights or match the Grateful Dead versions on either of the last two releases, Winterland Complete: June 1977 or Road Trips Vol. 3 No. 1 from December 28, 1979. The next two songs are excellent, especially "I'll Take a Melody," which while lengthy it is not boring. Hopkins plays a solo number called "Lady Sleeps." Another cover that is perfectly suited to this band and is a great listen is "Ain't No Use," a traditional blues number.

They end with what is this Garcia Band's line-up jam number, "Let's Spend the Night Together" and "Edward, The Mad Shirt Grinder." The former is nearly 20 minutes and offers quite a bit of exploration, while the latter song is a Hopkins instrumental, yielding further exploration.

A few closing thoughts. One of the best aspects of the release is the clarity and strength of Jerry's voice. Sometimes the song structure seems to ramble and is a bit too loose, but that's the nature of this line-up. While this band may not be as tight as the Garcia band with Keith and Donna, and they don't have the sweetness of the female voice, this is some really good, must hear music. As for the sound quality, it is outstanding. I couldn't say it is the absolute best sounding live Garcia Band release, but it probably is. I did play the four releases with Keith recently and this is easily superior to them sonically and some of them sound really good. 

In sum, the cover songs seem to be stronger than the originals (Garcia and Hopkins, both have three).  I'm a big fan of the combination of the pairing of a guitar and piano, and this release is a fine display of two great soloists backed by a great rhythm section. In the end, the following songs are if not definite versions are top shelf. 
Let It Rock
Sitting In Limbo
(I’m A) Road Runner
I’ll Take A Melody
Ain’t No Use
Let’s Spend The Night Together
Edward, The Mad Shirt Grinder

I'm on my fourth listen and it sounds better each time. This release will take awhile before it goes on the shelf. 

by Barry Small©
Grade A+

If you enjoyed this release we highly recommend Compliments of Garcia, and Reflections . Better yet, get the Garcia Band box set, All Good Things so you can enjoy the extra disc included in the box entitled Outtakes, Jams, Alternates.

Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review
     
Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review
Track List

 Top of Page

CD 1

1. LET IT ROCK
2. TORE UP OVER YOU
3. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL*
4. THEY LOVE EACH OTHER
5. IT’S TOO LATE
6. PIG’S BOOGIE>
7. BAND INTRODUCTIONS>
8. SITTING IN LIMBO
9. (I’M A) ROAD RUNNER

CD 2
1. SUGAREE
2. I’LL TAKE A MELODY
3. THAT’S WHAT LOVE WILL MAKE YOU DO*
4. LADY SLEEPS*
5. AIN’T NO USE
6. LET’S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER*
7. EDWARD, THE MAD SHIRT GRINDER


Recorded live at KEYSTONE BERKELEY, 11/18/75 and *11/17/75

 
Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review
Musicians:       

 Top of Page

Jerry Garcia Band personnel

* Jerry Garcia – guitar, vocals
* John Kahn – bass
* Nicky Hopkins – piano
* Ron Tutt – drums, vocals

According to Wikipedia, the line-up with Nicky Hopkins was together from August 5, 1975 – December 31, 1975. Thereafter, there was a short stint with pianist James Booker for two concerts (Jan 9 and 10) and some rehearsals preceding that. Then, the awesome band that includes Keith and Donna Godchaux.

Ron Tutt was a member of the TCB Band that featured the great James Burton

Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review
Notes:

 Top of Page

Released - November 2009
CD booklet essay - David Gans
Mastering - Jeffrey Norman
Source Tape - 16 track
Recorded by Betty Cantor-Jackson
Compilation Producer - Blair Jackson
Tape Correction Processing - Jamie Howarth, Plangent Processes
Photography - Craig Trexler
Design - Steve Vance
Special Thanks - David Gans, David Lemieux, Bob Menke (Tape supplied for the splice in "Sugaree"), Louis Falanga

Setlists from thejerrysite.com

November 17, 1975

Set 1
Sugaree
Catfish John
All By Myself
Russian Lullaby
Pig's Boogie
Waltzing Matilda
They Love Each Other
Teddy Bear's Picnic
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Mystery Train

Set 2
Mission In The Rain
That's What Love Will Make You Do
Positively 4th Street
Lady Sleeps
Friend Of The Devil
How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You
Let's Spend The Night Together 

November 18, 1975
Set 1 
Let It Rock
Tore Up Over You

Friend Of The Devil
It's Too Late
Sugaree
Pig's Boogie
Sitting In Limbo
(I'm A) Road Runner


Set 2 
They Love Each Other
Tough Mama
It's No Use
I'll Take A Melody
Let's Spend The Night Together >
Edward THE MAD SHIRT GRINDER

Bold - on release

Two songs, "Tough Mama" and "Positively 4th Street" from these shows were released on Garcia Plays Dylan

Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review
Some Nicky Hopkins releases below. 

Nicky Hopkins is a well known session player who's contributions help make the Rolling Stones albums so good. He's also played on the first two Jeff Beck albums that featured Rod Stewart and Ron Wood, played on portions of Who's Next, to name some of my favorites. Then across the pond in the Bay Area, he played on some  Jefferson Airplane releases, and was a member of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Rocksoff.org has a very good list of Hopkins's credits. http://rocksoff.org/nicky-sessions.htm

The Tin Man Was a Dreamer  Jamming with Edward! The Revolutionary Piano of Nicky Hopkins 
Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review
From the Grateful Dead website

Jerry and Nicky Let It Rock at Keystone Berkeley!


The latest release to come from the Garcia vault is Let It Rock: Jerry Garcia Band 1975 a 2-CD set recorded November 17 and 18, 1975 at the Keystone Berkeley, featuring the very first version of the Jerry Garcia Band, with the magnificent British pianist Nicky Hopkins, drummer Ron Tutt and ol’ reliable—bassist John Kahn. This marks the first-ever full release of material from the brief but fruitful Garcia-Hopkins union (August through December ’75), and it shows the group at its best, rolling though a broad range of styles, from the churning opener, “Let It Rock,” to Dead favorites like “Sugaree,” “They Love Each Other” and a lively “Friend of the Devil,” to boppin’ R&B—“Tore Up Over You,” “Roadrunner”—a 19-minute workout (!) on the Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” and Nicky’s exceptional instrumental track “Edward.”

The sound on these discs is impeccable: They were mixed from 16-track master tapes by Jeffrey Norman, who has mixed and mastered countless Dead-related projects through the years. The clarity of the vocals and instruments is absolutely stunning—it’s practically like being at the legendary Keystone Berkeley, except without that distinctive smell of beer and popcorn, and the clacking of the foosball table in the back room. The icing on this particular slice of psychedelic cake is a fine essay by David Gans which probes the Jerry-Nicky dynamic and offers some needed historical context. In short, this one is a must for Jerry freaks (and doesn’t that include all of us?)! To order your copy today, click here. —Blair Jackson
Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review
Jerry Garcia with Nicky Hopkins
Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review
Jerry Garcia Band Collection Volume 2 with Nicky Hopkins review

 

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