Liner notes

Liner notes for The Allman Brothers at the Fillmore East 11, 13 and 14 Feb 1970.

In the summer of 1969 we played at a "pop" festival in a park in Atlanta, Georgia. We had been hearing about a local band from Macon called The Allman Brothers, and someone brought members of the band over to meet us. As I recall they didn't play at that time, so we didn't hear their music until their first record came out that fall.

So when we were booked into the Fillmore East on a triple bill with the Allman Bros (and a band called Love), I was very pleased, and looked forward to the shows with anticipation, as I had heard their record and liked the band. On seeing their setup, I was surprised to note that they, like the Grateful Dead had two trap sets. You can't tell what sort of a concert set-up a band has from a record, since the art of overdubbing produces all sorts of sound combinations. There is a lot of percussion in the Allman's music, like the Dead, and so the two bands were really close in many ways.

I had no prior experience with mixing their music, so I hope you don't mind the rough edges in my mixes here. There was a wonderful feeling at these concerts that made the shows a lot of fun for us all. Once more (I wrote about this on Dick's Pick's 4, which is, along with Bear's Choice, most of the Dead's sets from this run), I must say that the excellent sound at this show was largely the result of the unique sound board built for the Fillmore East by John Chester. This interesting design used passive attenuators on the input and only one stage of amplification, resulting in a very clean sound, both in the hall and on the tape.

My tapes were running all the time that there was anything going on on stage, a sort of "sound journal" that I was in the habit of making at every show in those days. There was no special mix for the tapedeck, it was the PA feed plus two mics which went directly into the tape deck's mic inputs. These were usually the lead guitar and the bass guitar, generally not needed in the PA system, but requiring a bit of "presence" on the tape to make better listening. As this taping was always secondary to the task of running the house system, I couldn't always give my attention to the details of the (tape) mix, but generally it sounded ok. The demands of the hall frequently led to the tape running out in the middle of songs and stuff like that, but there was little I could do, since I didn't have an assistant.

I suppose that a PA tape will never have that sweet balance that a recording done in a truck out back, with its own split from the stage mics and someone laying down the tracks on a multitrack machine can achieve, but this is pretty much what the audience at the show actually heard.

I had a good time working at this show, and I hope you will have a good time listening to this historic early Allman Bros Band recording.

Liner notes for Dick's Picks v.4:

Friday the 13th and Valentine's Day at the Filmore East, 1970.

The period from June 1968 to February 1970 was a period of experimentation both in the sound equipment and in the music. The Grateful Dead were the principal innovators in the field of sound amplification, and the PA system had reached a point in the industry where it was pretty reliable most of the time. Unhappily the same can not be said of the monitors. Monitors continued to be a vexation until 1978 when John Meyer developed the Ultramonitors at my behest for the Jefferson Starship. The ultimate solution would have to wait until the in-the-ear system that the band adopted in the 90's came forward.

The band was learning to play with a good degree of dynamics by 1970, which I believe was helped along by my practice of taping and playing the tapes back at the hotel after the shows. I too was learning how to make a good mix with their help. Also I felt that the band needed to practice on a regular basis, so that I could continue to work with the equipment we used. Of course I needed to have sound checks as well, at each hall. All this worked to the benefit of the performances as you may well appreciate. Not that the monitors worked very well in spite of all this, but there was no such thing as a dedicated music sound reinforcement system in existence when we started in 1966, so we had come a fair way. The songs were tight and well defined as a result of all that rehearsal, and Workingman's Dead, recorded in the latter part of February 1970 will bear good witness to this. Only two weeks were required to put that classic together in the studio.

The system in the Fillmore East was very good for the front-of-house. The board was unusual for the time, and a few words about it may help those technically inclined to understand why this recording sounds the way it does.

John Chester built the board around the observation that most performers worked the microphones so hard that the levels were near those of a line signal, from 0.5v to as much as 1.0v. He figured that there was no need for the high gain preamp traditionally used in board design, which in practice would require an attenuator to prevent overloading. So the mics were taken directly through a step up transformer to the fader, and then to the summing point of a discrete, low noise transistor amp. The feed to the tape deck was taken directly from the outputs of the summing amps. After the summing amps there was only one stage of line drive amplification for the lines to the stage. The board had 12 mic inputs and two summing amps, permitting me to use our usual 12 in the PA and 2 into the tape deck. Twelve mics were a large number in those days to find available in most venues.

Jerry's guitar and Phil's bass were sufficiently powerful from their on stage amps so as not to require reinforcement through the PA, so I simply added a touch of each to the tape mix for presence. There were 14 mics used in all. I chose mics for their "color", and didn't use any tone controls or equalization to the tape deck. The deck I was using in those days was a Sony 770-2 running at 7.5 ips NAB, since Nagra had not as yet brought out the IV-S stereo version. The tape was Scotch 203.

I only used two mics on each of the drum kits, a practice which didn't endear me to the drummers, but reduced leakage, and permitted a simpler mixing rig. One mic was over head, and the other one on the beater side of the bass drum on the side away from the snare. Later I was to learn that this technique was favored by movie soundman Harry McCune in Hollywood, although not in such a loud setting. I set the mics on the instruments and drums and distributed the results between the two channels by setting switches, rather than panpots, so only the vocals went to both sides. All the rest of the mics were either right channel or left channel. If stereo vocal mics had been available I would have used them, because I don't think mics in the "center" (1 into both) sounds right. I chose the placement by listening to the way the various mics and their leakage added up in my ears. I call this "constructive leakage".

Taping was just something that I always did, and the performance was always more important than getting the tape right. The first few songs usually weren't as well mixed on the tape as those which came after I had the house up and running smoothly. I set the monitors from the sound booth as well, in those days we didn't have a monitor guy on the stage. Our entire crew was myself, Ram Rod, Rex Jackson, and either Sonny Hurd or Johnny Hagen (they took turns).

We were playing the gigs with the Allman Bros. Band, another of the rare bands to have two drummers. They were fantastic at these shows, and were a real inspiration to the boys. Everyone was having a real good time. I hope that they decide to do something with the tapes I made of their sets at some future date.

The songs which were on Bear's Choice are missing from this release due to the consideration that you may already have them. Also the suits have their rules about copyrights and such. I would like to be able to present these shows the way they were, but I guess we must make do with what we have.

Listening to these tapes again after so many years was a real treat for me, remembering what a good time we all had in those early days of youth and hijinks. I hope that all of you are as pleased as I am. Perhaps I miss the rock and roll sound scene after all. Hmmm, wonder if I still could.....

Liner notes for Old and in the Way v.2, That High Lonesome Sound.

Those of you who have the original Old and in the Way album may notice that some of the songs on this album have a different sound. The shows recorded on the first of October were done with only 6 microphones, rather than the 8 used in the show on the eighth. The mics were divided between the channels in the same way, 3 and 3, or 4 and 4. The additional microphones allowed a slightly different spatial arrangement, and produced a different acoustical image. This image, essentially an artifact, which presents to the listener a strong sense of space, is not the same as the sound which was actually experienced by the musicians during the performance. The image was created "on the fly" by carefully listening to the sound in a pair of headphones while recording. There are no microphones shared between channels. The positioning of the microphones, as well as their relative amplitudes, contribute to the effect you will perceive while listening to these albums. There was no equalization of any kind used in the recording chain between the microphones and the Nagra IVs, which was recording at 15 IPS with the Nagramaster curve. As well, no equalization has been used in the production of the masters used to generate the CD. I hope you enjoy listening to this music as much as I enjoyed recording it.

Track list for the Big Brother Carousel Album

(Sunday 23 June 1968)

1 Combination of the Two
2 I Need a Man to Love Me
3 Flower in the Sun
4 Light is Faster Than Sound
5 Summertime
6 Catch Me Daddy
7 It's a Deal
8 Call on Me
9 Madman Blues
10 Piece of My Heart
11 The Cuckoo
12 Ball and Chain
13 Down on Me

14 Call on Me (Bonus track from Saturday 22 June)

Liner notes for DP 26.

These are my original notes. I have not at this point seen the notes as published on the finished album.

1969 was a year of contrasts, including Woodstock and Altamont for example. We were still pretty new at the R&R touring game and we played in all sorts of halls. On tour, we rarely could afford separate hotel rooms for everyone, so we shared, something which seems very odd, looking back, but I think it was one of the nicer things limited money did, because we got to know each other pretty well that way.

The venue in Chicago called the Electric Theatre was one of the odder ones we played in in those days. We had to park on the street and lift our gear into the hall by means of a lift extended out from a large opening in the second floor wall (doors with no stairs) from the sidewalk below. The hall was a cavernous place, nearly square inside and had a series of large speakers hung around the hall in a circle, which were used to provide in-house sound, mostly for disco. The hall was run by Aaron Russo, an imposing, bear-like guy who cut quite a figure around the place. Some years later he turned up, slightly toned down- at one of our shows at Winterland in SF as Bette Midler's manager, with her in tow. We generally did psychedelics on a Saturday, but I do not remember for sure if that was true this night, but chances are it was.

I must confess I don't remember details about the venue in Minneapolis which provides the remainder of this release, but in this case the show will speak for itself. As was the familiar mde for almost the whole career of the band, they start off a but rough around the edges, slowly warm up, and by the second set are flying. Vocals become quite good later in the show, which was not always the case in '69. Technology for monitors had not yet gotten very sophisticated- the great leap in floor monitors was not made until the late '70's, by John Meyer for me when I was with Starship. It was not until the late 80's that headphones (earmonitors) assumed a format acceptable for onstage work.

Liner notes for Rare Cuts and Oddities.


Year of the Fire Horse, a year said by the Chinese to be very unique, full of interesting, even disruptive events.

For me it was very much a unique and strange year. I met Grateful Dead that year and became their soundman. Of all the interesting and wonderful things that I have had an opportunity to do in my life so far, it ranks at the very top of the list. The Dead were young and raw, full of a special kind of energy. They had been a band for only about 6 months and most of their repertoire was covers- but what an eclectic and odd bunch of covers they were. I don't think there has ever been anything quite like them, before or since.

At the time I volunteered to be soundman there was no such thing as a dedicated music PA. Musicians either plugged their mic into their guitar amp, or used whatever was at the venue, usually nothing, but sometimes a church or stadium or small theatre might furnish the venue, and there was something. Most bands did not have soundmen anyway. I decided that we had to build a real system to furnish good sound. I asked a friend, Tim Scully who was heavy into electronics to come aboard and help us, He designed a central preamp and distribution system for all the instruments as well as the vocal channel, and we used McIntosh HiFi amps to power Voice of the Theatre speakers. At first the actual vocal system was my home Hi Fi, which happened to be Voice of the Theatre. At the time there were only really three kinds fo PA systems all primarily used for voice rather than music- there were small systems in churches, and in movie theatres, lastly in large baseball and basketball stadiums. Needless to say, they did no have either the power handling capability or the frequency range needed. The PA became a long term project which would lead over the years to such innovations as the Wall of Sound, and the founding of Meyer Sound Laboratories. The instrument struggles would lead to the creation of Alembic Guitars.

At the time, however the band were playing their instruments through this weird unitized system which was very horn heavy- each speaker setup had a bass cabinet and a small HF horn. The sound was thick and 'horny', which was (and is) like nothing else. Garcia at that time preferred a hollow body Gibson electric and coupled with the speakers it has a sound I have never heard any other guitars make. All this is very apparent on the tracks on this CD. For a while we had a bass augmentation speaker, called a 'Superbass', which we hooked up to Phil. it had an 18" dual voice coil Electrovoice speaker on the bottom pointing down and had passive moving sides made of stiffened styrofoam. We all felt this gadget made a huge effect putting out ultralow frequencies, but it may just have been our imagination- no one saved the box for us to measure later on when we got to the stage we were doing that sort of thing. We may have literally used it up, wore it out, it was intended for the living room Hi Fi..... In the beginning we were hanging on to what seemed like a rocket sled, everything needed work and no-one knew much about what to do. But we were determined to bring R&R music technology into the modern age.

From the very beginning I felt I needed to keep a record of what I was doing as I mixed the PA. I used a stereo reel to reel recorder with the (mono) PA signal in the left channel, principally vocals and drums and a few instruments, with the instruments which were not in the PA- that is, most of them- in the right. The PA was flat out just managing he drums and vocals in those early days. This resembled the Beatles first 'stereo' record, and had a lot of 'space' or 3d effect. I later had to put the vocals into both channels because, as the band started to listen more and more to my tapes, they wanted it to sound more 'conventional'. But panning the vocals destroys most of the space, unfortunately. Floor or ear monitors were still in the future, so the band had trouble keeping the vocals tight and together, and like most young bands, had a distinct habit of rushing the beat, both of which are evident on the tracks. But in my opinion the sound they made in those early days was very special and I am glad my oldest sonic journals have survived this long, so people who have come along recently can hear the sound which captivated my heart and soul close to forty years ago.

Track list for Rare Cuts

1. Walking The Dog - 5:38 (unknown location, early 1966)
2. You See A Broken Heart - 2:50 (unknown location, early 1966)
3. Promised Land - 2:31 (unknown location, early 1966)
4. Good Lovin' - 2:41 (unknown location, early 1966)
5. Standing On The Corner - 2:55 (unknown location, early 1966)
6. Cream Puff War - 3:37 (unknown location, early 1966)
7. Betty and Dupree - 5:35 (unknown location, 3/2/66)
8. Stealin' - 2:53 (unknown location, 3/2/66)
9. Silver Threads and Golden Needles - 3:00 (unknown location, late 1966)
10. Not Fade Away - 3:51 (unknown location, early 1966)
11. Big Railroad Blues - 3:10 (unknown location, Feb/Mar, 1966)
12. Sick and Tired - 3:19 (unknown location, Feb/Mar, 1966)
13. Empty Heart - 6:18 (unknown location, Feb/Mar, 1966)
14. Gangster of Love - 4:35 (Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 7/3/66)
15. Don't Mess Up A Good Thing - 2:56 (Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 7/3/66)
16. Hey Little One - 5:02 (Danish Center, Los Angeles, 3/12/66)
17. I'm A King Bee > - 6:01 (Danish Center, Los Angeles, 3/12/66)
18. Caution - 9:18 (Danish Center, Los Angeles, 3/12/66)


21 Feb 2005

Liner notes for DP 36.


Notes- on sound, my theories and my techniques.

I have never worked in a studio, nor made any multitrack recordings of any sort, live or otherwise. The only reason you are able to listen to this album (and most likely any live two-track of the Dead or other bands) is a result of my early idea that keeping a diary or 'sonic journal' of my work at each show (and many soundchecks and rehearsals as well) would be dead simple- just plug in a tape machine to the output of my FOH mixing desk. I figured the the mix was there, already done, so why waste the opportunity? For some time in the early days, we all (band, crew and I) would listen the tapes after each show, and this benefited both myself in mixing and balancing the music, but also helped the band who could hear the things they were doing (just as the audience heard them) and in addition, they learned to use dynamics, something most electric bands never learn.

I have never used eq in my PA (some was necessary for the monitors/foldback). I feel it damages the integrity of the sound, and if the sound is not 'right', then the source needs attention- by changing to a different type of mic, or moving it around. I also use the leakage most mixers try to eliminate by close mic'ing- I call this 'constructive leakage' and found it adds a great sense of space. The fewer mics used the cleaner and more transparent the sound- this show used only 12 mics onstage and there were 2 added into the tape machine (bass and lead guitar) for presence.

The two drum kits had only two mics each- one overhead and one on kick, on the beater side and near the floor toms. This helps the clarity, tonality and definition of the drums. A drum head vibrates in a complex manner, and the sound is not integrated until it reaches a distance of twice the diameter of the drum head, so the overhead mic should be near the drummer's head to hear what he hears. Kick is one which must be near-mic'ed, so the impulse is in time, I don't like the sound of a kick drum with a hole in the front head, or no head or with padding inside- most of these things will make the drum sound like a big spoon hitting wet cardboard. I put each of the two overheads separately in one channel along with the kick of the other drum kit- this gives a nice stereo sound/space and permits the individual drums to sound clearly without masking each other. Each of the other sources, such as guitars and bass were captured by mics set in places which produced a stereo image of two sources due to leakage. The organ it self had two mics, one on the top of the Leslie, the other on the bottom, each one into different channels. The only thing I was unable to provide iin separate sources in two channels was the vocals, which are centered, and cause a slight deterioration in the clarity of the stereo imaging.

My philosophy in setting speakers is to try to put them as close together as possible, but in those days I was not able to set them this way, so I tried to be sure they pointed front- I feel that it is a mistake to try to make each speaker array cover every seat- sound propagates everywhere and thus all the sounds are heard no matter in which direction they begin. By pointing them front a larger area is free of multiple direct sources with differing arrival times- although it does little or nothing for the chaos of the reflected sounds.

The human ear and brain process sound in a unique manner due to our evolution. We began as hunters working in cooperative groups. It was important for us to be able to hear and understand each other in very noisy, confused circumstances. So the human brain has developed an ability to 'filter' out the noise in the environment if presented with sounds which have only one point of origin, no matter what that sonic environment is like. A single speaker/array in the worst trash-can of an arena will sound pristine-clear so long as it is flat, and has not been eq'ed to 'correct' for the venue's storage modes ('ring frequencies'). I have found that almost no other soundmen seem to understand this principle and thus will make the sound lousy by 'pink noising" the hall and taking energy out of the system at the very frequencies the hall stores energy (the peaks seen on a spectrum analyzer when the room is fed pink noise). This means that as soon as the audience comes in, and the band plays, all add energy to the hall separately from the PA, filling all the storage modes, burying the sound at the ringing frequencies. As a result the PA has less energy at the very point it may need a bit of boost (not a cut). The storage modes, or ringing frequencies of a hall have only a limited capacity to store energy, and so long as the PA is not reduced at those critical frequencies it will override any energy in storage- sometimes a slight boost at the ring frequency is needed- the exact opposite of general practice.

So long as large systems are set with two arrays separated by the width of the stage, usually from 60 to as much as 1200 feet, the system will always be unintelligible in most of the hall due to the arrival times of the two sources of sound- especially where the same mic is panned into both channels. This is simple physics. Sound travels through air at a speed of one foot/millisecond, and human ears are set 1/2 foot apart, giving us a discrimination of 1/2 millisecond max in arrival of a sound in each ear. It is this sense for arrival time (phase/delay)which is used to determine direction. In addition- any delay in a single sound of more than 10 milliseconds will be perceived as 'reverb', turning into 'echo' at about 20 milliseconds. Thus, arrival times of 60- to 100 milliseconds produces a sense of utterly confused sound- muddy and unintelligible. Thus the ideal of any large system is to be set as a single cluster in the room, ideally as a centered cluster, but works equally well on one side or the other of the stage. This way all the sound emanating from the PA is in perfect time, allowing our inbred ability to filter out the extraneous sounds of the hall to function as they naturally can.

To sum up this philosophy- Ideally each musical 'voice' should have a separate and unique source for each channel, the center of stereo PA speaker arrays need to be separated by no more than 10 feet, large system therefore must be in contact, and set so they act as a single multi-channel source. It is not necessary to point each channel towards every seat, they can go off in opposite directions, even. Coherent sound in a space acts something like the vibrations in a gel, and are perceived in their proper relationship, whether as direct or reflected sound- trust me on this, I have tested it many times and find it works that way whether my terms of explanation are technically correct or not.

Is is also best to avoid any kind of eq, in the chain of amplification: With a single exception, Meyer Sound's CP-10, all eq circuits insert phase changes as well as amplitude changes, thus damaging the integrity of the sound. Choosing a mixing desk with as few amplifying stages as possible also will give a clearer, better sound.

I hope all this chatter is of some interest- or better, use- to you, the reader of these notes. I also hope you enjoy this album.

Track list for DP 36

Disc One

1 Promised Land 3:50 (Berry)
2 Bird Song 13:40 (Garcia, Hunter)
3 El Paso 5:06 (Robbins)
4 China Cat Sunflower > 5:28 (Garcia, Hunter)
5 I Know You Rider 6:49 (Trad. Arr. By Grateful Dead)
6 Black-Throated Wind 6:47 (Weir, Barlow)
7 Big Railroad Blues 4:10 (Lewis, Arr. By Grateful Dead)
8 Jack Straw 4:52 (Weir, Hunter)
9 Loser 7:12 (Garcia, Hunter)
10 Big River 4:42 (Cash)

Disc Two

1 Ramble On Rose 6:34 (Garcia, Hunter)
2 Cumberland Blues 7:40 (Garcia, Lesh, Hunter)
3 Playing In The Band 16:47 (Weir, Hart, Hunter)

set 2:

4 He's Gone > 14:18 (Garcia, Hunter)
5 Truckin' 11:51 (Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Hunter)
6 Black Peter 9:39 (Garcia, Hunter)
7 Mexicali Blues 3:26 (Weir, Barlow)

Disc Three

1 Dark Star > 37:08:00 (Garcia, Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, Weir, Hunter)
2 Morning Dew 12:10 (Dobson, Rose)
3 Beat It On Down The Line 3:34 (Fuller)
4 Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo 10:02 (Garcia, Hunter)
5 Sugar Magnolia 8:30 (Weir, Hunter)
6 Friend Of The Devil 3:37 (Garcia, Dawson, Hunter)

Disc Four

1 Not Fade Away > 5:57 (Hardin, Petty)
2 Goin' Down The Road Feeling Band > 7:26 (Trad. Arr. by Grateful Dead)
3 Not Fade Away 3:31 (Hardin, Petty)
4 One More Saturday Night 4:56 (Weir)

Bonus Tracks: 9/3/72 Folsom Field, Boulder, CO

5 He's Gone > 10:30 (Garcia, Hunter)
6 The Other One > 28:57:00 (Weir, Kreutzmann)
7 Wharf Rat 10:16 (Garcia, Hunter)

Bearhome Enameling Enamels Castings Carvings Graphics
Logo Music Essays