#164156  by 8-6-71 for me
 Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:35 am
This has been a fascinating read- thank you to all.

My inspiration for this fun(ny) post were the November 1973 recordings. Like all of them from Winterland thru El Paso have Bobby hard left, Jerry in the middle and Keith hard right.

It is (a) incredibly beautiful to hear and (b) a revelation of the complexity of what Bob was pulling off at this stage. Plus it's 73, so there's that.
 #164157  by 8-6-71 for me
 Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:43 am
czyfingers wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:53 am
Kurt...it's funny that you mentioned him taking a lead once in a while because I've also thought the same thing. But to this day, even when encouraged to do it, he really doesn't ever do it in what most would consider a real "lead" kind of way and he doesn't really look comfortable when he's put in that position. Once or twice through the progression and he's usually done.
It seems like his soloing peaked in 1970-1971. Curiously it's on two Pigpen songs- Easy Wind and Hard to Handle. I feel obligated to point out that the famous 8-6-71 H2H has Bobby soloing from about 2:55-4:20. Extended, legit (albeit) chord based rhythmic solos that go on for minutes happened. And then the whole China Cat sequence that was largely unaltered over the years but SO interesting. See Seth Fleischman at GGL for the step by step breakdown. Solid.
 #164159  by fatztreeboy
 Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:15 pm
bob weir this winter w/ Wolf Bro's did some leads... on utube u can see them. the crowd goes wild but as someone else mentioned here he stops after 7- 8 notes...... it was very endearing to see him all alone up their w/ a strat.... for once i could clearly hear him n know that it is him for sure :) btw, this was a good way to approach this sensitive subject... it is complicated....
 #164174  by strumminsix
 Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:20 am
paulinnc wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:03 pm
I could be crazy but I felt his playing was much better in the 70's. From the 80's on it just sounds like he makes little noises here and there and doesn't really play much. It could also be the guitar tone changing to that awful sound he had in the 80's and 90's. I could be wrong and just totally missing something.

What am I missing?
Continuing on my thought process earlier, his role and goal was accompaniment. Listen to early 70s and he's too often buried and indistinguishable. Getting to 73 and 74 his tone and contribution starts increasing significantly (think Keith influenced his playing in parallel with coming into his own and finding his own voice). By 76 he was on FIRE. Loved what he did in 76 and throughout the late 70s.

By the early 80s Brent gets louder in the mix and he's playing all 88 keys. Sounds great as a single instrument. But sonically, he was into everyone's frequencies and it's apparent that the other 2 big contributors (Bobby and Phil) had to change their styles to work together. Phil started to get into more adventurous territory realizing Brent's left hand was in his space. Bobby shaped his tone differently to cut into the mix and was adding more color than straight rhythm. It didn't always work, but I respect the fuck out of what he was trying to do!!!

* this is also part of the problem in the 90s when Vince joined the band. The band (heard Jerry, but uncertain) said no to the big organ B3 sound and wanted him to sit thinner in the mix. But the rest of the band was used to 10 years of SUPER FAT AND WIDE ORGAN MIDRANGE. That with some gear changes think made many shows sound sterile...
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 #164214  by wisconsindead
 Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:09 pm
paulinnc wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:03 pm
I could be crazy but I felt his playing was much better in the 70's. From the 80's on it just sounds like he makes little noises here and there and doesn't really play much. It could also be the guitar tone changing to that awful sound he had in the 80's and 90's. I could be wrong and just totally missing something.

Here are some examples of what I'm talking about . First Bertha from 1972. Great playing, really solid and a nice full sounding tone.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwwIK3vS3NA
Here is Althea from Alpine 89. To me it just sounds like he is making some squeaks and slides here and there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL2_Mdc_NfI

What am I missing?
I would venture Bob peaked in the second half of the 70's. Maybe the 70's as a whole. However, I really like his playing in the late 80's/early 90's. I actually think his playing at Alpine 89 is incredible, and certainly in part to the fact that he is acting more as a sound effect than a standard guitarist. I wish he would revisit these tones but that is hopeless. His tone hasn't changed all that much in the past 15 years or so. Or at least in comparison to the prior decades.

I think this West LA Fadeaway from the same night is a better example of him playing in that context.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nbwF32hL8Q

I don't think you're really missing anything. Personal preference. But I also don't think his approach to playing changed all that much while using these tones versus more conventional tones. If you get rid of the effects, he's not doing too much different.
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