Pure Jerry - The
Jerry Garcia vault series - the debut
Theatre 1839 review
Theatre 1839, is the debut of a series of live Jerry Garcia
vault releases called Pure Jerry.
Theatre 1839 is a compilation of two performances of the Jerry
Garcia Band at Theatre 1839 in San Francisco, CA from July 29 & 30, 1977.
The complete soundboard recordings are incomplete and what is
released comprises the best of the two evenings.
The selection of a 1977 performance
is surprising since the last Jerry Garcia Band concert release, Don't Let Go,
featured the same personnel. Since this is one of our favorite periods of the Jerry Garcia
Band we have no complaints about the era. However, the sound quality does
not hold up great at high volumes, which is disappointing. Between the
two releases to date featuring Keith and Donna, Don't Let Go
offers better sonic quality, while Theatre
1839 has a better song selection, and both performances are
are two songs that were not released to this point and they are both
highlights. Paul McCartney's
"Let Me Roll It," is very well done. Vocally,
both Jerry and Donna sing together and the instrumental passage is excellent, where Keith
nicely enhances Jerry during his solo, and Jerry returns the favor
during Keith's. This was the second of six performances of this
song. Meanwhile, the rendition of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up" features Donna on
lead vocals, a danceable beat, and excellent soloing. The way
Garcia's guitar runs get behind Donna's singing, and the way Keith follows
Jerry is pure beauty. When incorporated successfully, the
combination of guitar and piano
is a beautiful partnership.
the three discs the first is my favorite. I love the
cover of Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby," and would
consider it the best, or at least the prettiest, track on the release with a bass solo tucked between Jerry
and Keith's melodic passages; what a beautiful song. The two Motown tracks "That's
What Love Will Make You Do," and "The Way You Do The
Things You Do" are winners, though not rare. There are no tracks
to skip over from disc one, none.
The 27 minute version of "Don't
Let Go" is meant to be jamming centerpiece of the release. Sure it has its moments, but
the musical statement made does not warrant that much time, after
all, it's not "Dark Star." During
the main instrumental passage, Jerry's guitar solo after Keith's
turn takes an aggressive attack with a energetic conclusion.
The third disc begins with Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder they Come"
yielding a good feeling with an excellent energetic rhythm ending. Next up is an early undeveloped version of
"Gomorrah," the only true
Jerry Garcia Band song on the disc, which
would appear on the Cats Under the Stars album. Some may argue that "They Love
Each Other" is a JGB song since it appears on the Reflections
album and was played live by the JGB band, though I consider that a
Grateful Dead track as it was on the side of Reflections
featuring the GD and the track had a longer rotation within their
concerts than the JGB. The
song that rocks hardest is, no surprise, "Tore Up Over You."
Garcia takes his time with his soloing, perhaps too much, trying out
different tones, and selecting a frenzied chordal approach to
Theatre 1839 is a recommended addition to a collection of live
Jerry Garcia material, and offers a great selection of diverse
material of primarily cover songs. Though, don't let go of his last live release with this
personnel because of this release, get them both. Barry Small©
Guitar and Piano