Monday, September 24, 2012

CD Review: Jerry Garcia And Merl Saunders Are Finally "Complete"

For the first time on CD, we get “The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings” by Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders. This 4-disc box set presents the two shows that were recorded live on July 10 and 11 at the Keystone Club in Berkeley, CA. This new release co-insides with the 70thanniversary of Garcia’s birth and features seven presviously unreleased songs. Some of these recordings have been released twice before as “Live At Keystone” in 1973 and “Live At Keystone, Volume 1 & 2” in 1988. This release features all 25 songs that were recorded during that two-day run of live shows, remastered and put in the order in which the songs were performed.
Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders began doing weekly jam sessions at San Francisco’s Matrix club back in December of 1970. Garcia would introduce Bob Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” and “Positively 4th Street” into their sets, while Merl Saunders would bring in the standard “My Funny Valentine" and the jazzy "Merl's Tune." This just showed how vast their repertoire was and how well they fed off each other’s energy in performing live. Jerry Garcia was quoted as saying that Saunders “taught me music” and Saunders was even by the guitarist’s bedside after his near fatal coma in 1986. This wonderful friendship lasted all the way until Garcia’s death in 1995.
Also included in this box set is a full color 28-page booklet features vintage photos and newly written liner notes by Grateful Dead expert David Gans, a poster, a coaster from the Keystone Club, a button and a “scratchbook” which replicates the design of the original album’s promotional matchbook. This box set will be available on September 25 through Fantasy Records. Fantasy Records will also be releasing a reissue of the original album, “Live At Keystone” on multi-color double vinyl on that same day. For more information on this wonderful release, please visit

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