Grateful Dead

Heartbits

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Depending on which story you believe, the jamming sessions that Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, and others played in the fall of 1968 at the Matrix club in San Francisco were casual performances with no particular purpose or the planned beginning of a new band that would not include Grateful Dead members Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Bob Weir, and Bill Kreutzmann. In any case, nothing came of them, and the Dead carried on. This bootleg presents material recorded at two of the shows, on Oct. 30 and Dec. 16, in both cases by a trio of Garcia, Hart, and Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady, with Elvin Bishop also present on the earlier date and drummers Spencer Dryden and David Getz on the later one. "We're just thrown together by fate," Garcia notes at one point. The music on the first disc is drawn mostly from the Dead's repertoire, including "Dark Star," "The Other One," and "The Eleven," presented as long instrumentals. It doesn't so much come off as something evolving from the Dead as it does Dead music minus a few elements, which is, after all, what it is. Remove Pigpen's vocal from "Turn On Your Lovelight," and you have another rambling Dead jam. The actual jams, all 70-plus minutes of them on the second disc, are actually more interesting, with occasional moments of invention among the noodling.

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