Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings

Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings

by Jerry Garcia


$38.63 $49.99 Save 23% Current price is $38.63, Original price is $49.99. You Save 23%.
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, October 25


The recordings that made up the original Live at Keystone albums by Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders, John Kahn, and Bill Vitt took place over two nights in July of 1973. The band had been playing a regular gig at the famed San Francisco venue for some time, but it was here that it gelled. Their program was a wide range of covers from Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" to Motown numbers, Bob Dylan songs, jazz standards, and even a wholly improvised jam. Recorded by the Grateful Dead's sound engineers Betty Cantor and Rex Jackson, the first release was issued in late 1973, compiled from the "best" of both nights. In 1988, two volumes called Keystone Encores were released on three discs. This deluxe four-disc package contains remastered versions of all the material from both those concerts presented in original running order. In restores the three-and-a-half-minute jam "Space" with the full, nearly 14-minute version, now entitled "Merl's Tune." In addition, there are six more previously unreleased selections. All are different takes of songs that were featured on the earlier sets, including "The Harder They Come," "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," "My Funny Valentine," "Merl's Tune," "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)," and "Someday Baby." Taking it all in, it's fascinating to hear how complementary Garcia and Saunders were, and the degree to which they trusted one another in moving a set arrangement in another direction on the spot. Contrast the two versions of "My Funny Valentine." On the latter one, Saunders shifts tonalities from a straight, subdued reading toward a more modal and exploratory one. Garcia responds by extending the tune's entire harmonic reach. The rhythm section, too, is unshakable -- check their astonishing interplay and shifting time signatures on the first version of "Merl's Tune." There are many surprises to be found here, not the least of which is the remastered sound by Paul Blakemore, who retained the atmosphere that made the original recordings so appealing. His attention to detail in dynamics, textures, and presence is noteworthy. This box also includes a poster, a pin, a coaster, and a "scratch book" -- it seems matchbooks are no longer allowed. The definitive presentation of these recordings underscores what a historic -- if low-key -- partnership this was. The music, by any standard, is simply excellent.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/25/2012
Label: Fantasy
UPC: 0888072337961
catalogNumber: 33796
Rank: 9747

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jerry Garcia   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Merl Saunders   Organ,Synthesizer,Piano,Keyboards,Clavinet
David Grisman   Mandolin
John Kahn   Bass
Bill Vitt   Drums

Technical Credits

Blind Lemon Jefferson   Composer
Jimmy Cliff   Composer
Bob Dylan   Composer
Jerry Garcia   Arranger,Producer
Chuck Willis   Composer
Merl Saunders   Arranger,Producer,Photo Courtesy
Richard Rodgers   Composer
Sam Hopkins   Composer
Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup   Composer
Lamont Dozier   Composer
David Gans   Liner Notes
Lorenz Hart   Composer
Eddie Holland   Composer
Brian Holland   Composer
Rex Jackson   Engineer
John Kahn   Arranger,Producer
Junior Parker   Composer
Jesse Stone   Composer
Bill Vitt   Arranger,Producer
Sam Phillips   Composer
Hollinger   Composer
Abbey Anna   Art Direction
Betty Cantor   Engineer
Andrew Pham   Cover Design
Susan Brooks   Artwork
Robert Higgenbotham   Composer
Saunders   Composer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
Jerry Garcia teamed up with jazz organist Merl Saunders in 1973. They formed a short lived quartet with drummer Bill Vitt and bassist John Kahn and recorded the two concerts that make up this little box set. Except for an instrumental by Saunders called Merl's Tune, all the songs were covers of vintage blues, R&B, and Dylan numbers played in sort of a soul-jazz style. Garcia really shines on guitar; he plays straight and doesn't wander off into the ether. Saunders' organ backs him up and weaves in and out of the tunes. The rhythm section supports them nicely,; there's no musical chaos like you hear when the Grateful Dead fell apart live. Garcia was not a great vocalist, but here he did not have to try to harmonize and could just sing. My favorite track is Mystery Train. The band stretched it out for 12 minutes. Whether Elvis heard it and what he thought if he did is unknown. All the concert tunes are also available in three CDs that came out about 20 years ago. Together they are a bit cheaper but you might as well go whole hog and buy the complete set with the alternate takes..I can't quite go 4 stars but I can go a hearty 3 1/2.