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Hard to Handle - Let's settle this

 
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snow_and_rain
Uncle Bobo


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:52 am    Post subject: Hard to Handle - Let's settle this Reply with quote

Most debates about the best version of Hard to Handle quickly focus in on 4/29/71 and 8/6/71, both of which are dynamite renditions. But I would argue that 4/28/71 is better than both of these.

My top three:

1. 4/28/71 -
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2. 8/6/71 -

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3. 4/29/71 -

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So what's your favorite? Are there any others out there?

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I'm geared towards doing things rather than towards thinking about them or talking about them and that's kinda like the tradition that we work in ... it's basically ... get it on. Garcia to Mother Grumble, April 1972.
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fillmoreeast
Playin In The Band


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For my money it's 8/6. I think it is played with more energy and reaches a higher peak before returning to the main theme than the other two you mentioned. It's close but when I wanna hear this tune this version is the first one that comes to mind.
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nickj
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice call! I'm down for a listening project like this. 3/24/71 was a fav of mine, but it's been a while since I've heard it and I freely admit that I may be biased because of how hot the recording sounds, but I offer this for furthur consideration:
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Skobud
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im such a sucker for 8/6, what a great show....But sheesh, vs. 4/28 and 4/29? Im gonna have to go with 4/28. Tough Call but definately 4/28.
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D Bm A E
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In general I think the song is extra lame -but I remember 8/6/71 kickin' my ass.

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light into ashes
Casey Jones


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What, no love for 5/16/69?

Well, I just listened to all four of these candidates in a row. (Also listened to the audience copy of 4/29/71, where you can gauge the audience response better.)

3/24/71 definitely has the best Weir solo - he really stands out in that one. Garcia's climax kind of peters out, though.
I think 4/28 & 4/29 are very close. Have to wonder whether I prefer 4/29 just because I've heard it more times (that can happen...) - but I think the last couple minutes of the climax on 4/29 are better.
8/6, though, leaves a smoking crater of the other versions. It seems tighter to me, and Garcia goes supersonic - though I will say, 4/29 is more of a whole-band climax, whereas on 8/6 Garcia dominates.

Also, on 8/6 Garcia dropped to his knees while playing the solo. You tell me how many times that ever happened! It wins more points just for that - it's probably why the audience is going so crazy.
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lucasmcain
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I go with 8/6. The peak is just tremendous and I like the way they all land on it at the same time. They start the song strong and they stay that way through the whole tune. It's a rocker from the first note on. The audience reaction gives it bonus points. I don't even want to hear the sbd. It's cool to hear everyone getting turned on. It's almost like an instrument.

The groove on 4/29 is definatly there and Phil drops some tasty bombs. And you can hear the crowd react in the background when they hit the peak, but the flow is just a little off if you take the whole song into consideration. By that I mean, is that you can hear Pig trying to get into Pig mode but he doesn't quite get full blown. Bobby starts off good but then kind of melts back. It's almost like he didn't want to solo or the others were giving him a little space. Jerry's solo is great too, but it takes him a few to warm up before hitting turbo.

4/28 just doesn't make the landing so to speak. During Jerry's final solo they kinda miss "it". He's still got the solo going up high when the others come back in. They don't all come in like they do on 8/6 or 4/29.

This is all just splitting hairs here. These are great versions of this song, however since we are comparing, the 8/6 is to me, more complete.
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Bill
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is like splitting hairs. My personal favorite is 4-28. the whole tour seems to have led up to this moment when Garcia hits a wrong note and emphatically squeezes the juice out of it. The climax of the tune that night. Maybe it's because it was one of my first tapes way back when. I love 4-29, - but for other obvious reasons (Alligator). But that incredible frenzied moment in Hard to Handle on 4-28 kills me every time I hear it. The band seems to collectively build up to it too...oh Lord...such prime GD.

By the way. I'm not a "Touch Head". Not hardly.
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nickj
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going with 8/6/71. 4/28-29 are jammier versions with more of an ebb & flow to the music, whereas 8/6 just bulldozes forward. Jerry's solo feels like a solo, not a jam, and his climax on 8/6 is easily the most satisfying to me. From start to finish, they cut such a deep groove and keep such an iron grip on it... and Phil is a total monster on that one, which ultimately may make it as much for me as anything else. So funky!

Personally, I prefer groove to group improv in a tune like H2H: I want a throwdown rather than a roundabout trip, and 4/28-29 both take in the scenery a bit on their way to the top. I'm having a hard time picking between 4/28 and 4/29 as the "better" version: 4/29 is much more smoothly executed and was definitely the right choice for an official release, whereas 4/28 has a couple more bumps and raw notes, but has moments that are a bit more exciting, imho; Jerry's playing is more fiery, but the band doesn't quite get there with him, so it's a toss up.

3/24/71 still remains a personal favorite for me, even though I admit this is a more subjective pick: the sound of the whole thing is irresistible to me; Bob's guitar sounds the best and his solo is the hottest; like 8/6, the groove is almighty and unrelenting; I personally don't think Jerry's solo peters out as much as it climaxes and takes its time finding its way out. Honestly, I'm just as likely to throw on 3/24 as I am either of the Fillmore East versions, but that's just me.

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Bill
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess this topic will never be settled. I suggest a good listen to 8-14 & 8-15. I think they sound like a band that is growing stylistically. The last gasps of this era as Keith would join the band in a month or so. Berkeley 1971 are nothing less than huge, and thus may be the most underrated shows of the year. Hollywood shows sure lit it up the week before. Making me tired just going over it all in my head. Laughing
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light into ashes
Casey Jones


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re-listening again! I really don't think the 4/28 H2H holds up to 4/29...it just sounds more meandering, less purposeful to me, and doesn't get really intense til the last minute or so of the jam.
Also, the climax, though wild, sounds somewhat botched to me - Weir goes back to the main riff while Jerry's still in climax mode, which is fun to hear but a little bumpy. While the 4/29 climax is perfectly done.

And hearing the 8/6 SBD, where Phil is way up in the mix, makes it clear what a driving force he is in that jam, pushing Jerry along.
It's interesting to hear the 8/7 H2H next to it - it really falls flat in comparison. Though so close in style & note choices to 8/6, the jam just chugs along for most its length without much oomph, though Phil tries to nudge it up by slamming down some power chords. They finally start wailing a bit in the climax, and Jerry tries repeating the same ending as the night before, but it comes off a little mangled....
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3/24 is good, but I wouldn't call it unrelenting - if you cut out the last minute of the jam, it would be a REALLY great H2H. The thing is, Jerry & the band play this great hot climax, and then....have no idea how to get back to the riff. Weir starts playing it, but Jerry wants to keep the jam going; then Weir drops out for a while while Jerry keeps soloing on. Finally Jerry rather weakly submits - it's kind of a letdown for me in what should be the key moment of the song!
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snow_and_rain
Uncle Bobo


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill wrote:
It is like splitting hairs. My personal favorite is 4-28. the whole tour seems to have led up to this moment when Garcia hits a wrong note and emphatically squeezes the juice out of it.


This is pretty much why I like 4/28 better. Bends the juice out if it, I would say. I'd go so far to say that he may actually be trying to bend an out of tune string back into tune for the finish. Reminds me of some of those really frenzied versions of Viola Lee Blues from 67. That whole part gives me goosebumps, and neither of the other versions we're talking about here really peaks like that. I also really like the groove Phil gets into that night. I also think Pig sounds much better on 4/28 than on either 4/29 or 8/6. Pig tends to get lost in discussions of HTH, but it matters to me how the actual song is executed.

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I'm geared towards doing things rather than towards thinking about them or talking about them and that's kinda like the tradition that we work in ... it's basically ... get it on. Garcia to Mother Grumble, April 1972.
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snow_and_rain
Uncle Bobo


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just listened to 4/29/71 again. I don't think it's even close. Garcia basically coasts through the jam and plays it safe. I bet I can find five versions better than this one. Can someone please identify the part of 4/29 that is supposed to be so compelling? I don't hear any new ideas here.

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I'm geared towards doing things rather than towards thinking about them or talking about them and that's kinda like the tradition that we work in ... it's basically ... get it on. Garcia to Mother Grumble, April 1972.
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light into ashes
Casey Jones


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just listened to 4/25 again. WOW. It is AMAZING.
It's rare for Hard to Handle to have a jaw-dropping climax, but this is one:

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snow_and_rain
Uncle Bobo


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

light into ashes wrote:
Just listened to 4/25 again. WOW. It is AMAZING.
It's rare for Hard to Handle to have a jaw-dropping climax, but this is one:

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Damn. That one is good. Another I'd put in the "better than 4/29" category. Very hot middle-jam too, after Jerry takes the lead from Bob. Phil forces the climax a little with the power chords, but I do like the way Jerry responds. I like these riskier-sounding versions myself.

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I'm geared towards doing things rather than towards thinking about them or talking about them and that's kinda like the tradition that we work in ... it's basically ... get it on. Garcia to Mother Grumble, April 1972.
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Bill
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

light into ashes wrote:
Just listened to 4/25 again. WOW. It is AMAZING.
It's rare for Hard to Handle to have a jaw-dropping climax, but this is one:

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That's exactly what I'm talking about as far as the growth of this tune during the April tour. They all have moments of greatness that build up to perfecting it at any given time.

Now I've talked myself into listening to all of that run again.
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snow_and_rain
Uncle Bobo


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

light into ashes wrote:
Re-listening again! I really don't think the 4/28 H2H holds up to 4/29...it just sounds more meandering, less purposeful to me, and doesn't get really intense til the last minute or so of the jam.
Also, the climax, though wild, sounds somewhat botched to me - Weir goes back to the main riff while Jerry's still in climax mode, which is fun to hear but a little bumpy. While the 4/29 climax is perfectly done.

And hearing the 8/6 SBD, where Phil is way up in the mix, makes it clear what a driving force he is in that jam, pushing Jerry along.
It's interesting to hear the 8/7 H2H next to it - it really falls flat in comparison. Though so close in style & note choices to 8/6, the jam just chugs along for most its length without much oomph, though Phil tries to nudge it up by slamming down some power chords. They finally start wailing a bit in the climax, and Jerry tries repeating the same ending as the night before, but it comes off a little mangled....
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To me, they sound like they're playing it safe on 4/29. I like it when they take risks.

I actually think that 8/7 has some amazing passages. Those extra licks Garcia throws in at the very end are especially titillating! Phil is so far up in the mix that it's hard to hear the rest of the band sometimes. And there is a pretty fat sloppy part in the middle. They stitch it up nicely for the climax, but it probably does pale in comparison to the night before.

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I'm geared towards doing things rather than towards thinking about them or talking about them and that's kinda like the tradition that we work in ... it's basically ... get it on. Garcia to Mother Grumble, April 1972.
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light into ashes
Casey Jones


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

snow_and_rain wrote:
Just listened to 4/29/71 again. I don't think it's even close. Garcia basically coasts through the jam and plays it safe. I bet I can find five versions better than this one. Can someone please identify the part of 4/29 that is supposed to be so compelling? I don't hear any new ideas here.


Five versions, hmm...

You may be right that the playing on the 4/28 H2H is more exciting than on 4/29 Garcia does sound more charged-up. It may be that I just prefer the smoother execution on 4/29.
These are some of the parts on 4/29 I find compelling: I like the shift to the quiet little melody at 5:00; the little drone passage at 5:50, the way Lesh starts bubbling; the part after 7:00 when Garcia is hanging on a couple notes while Lesh drones, which transitions nicely into the next 4-chord cycle; and the whole climax after 7:40, the way everyone times the ending perfectly (a rare thing with this band).

One version that's very similar to 4/28 is (no surprise) 4/27 -

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Garcia's solo is very exciting, and ends in a similar way - check it out! 4/28 is a great version, no question, but I think I may like the 4/27 H2H even more, at least the second half of the jam.
All five of these Fillmore East H2Hs are very close to each other, the jams structured exactly the same way - the differences are mainly in nuance.
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light into ashes
Casey Jones


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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

snow_and_rain wrote:
I actually think that 8/7 has some amazing passages.


I was probably too harsh on it, actually, hearing it right after 8/6. On its own, it's pretty good.

As far as comparisons go, it's interesting that the internal structure of the jam devolved a bit after the Fillmore East shows - after 3 months with hardly any shows, the H2H jam simplified in that the summer versions don't have the same clockwork changes they'd perfected by the end of April.
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Skobud
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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

snow_and_rain wrote:
Bill wrote:
It is like splitting hairs. My personal favorite is 4-28. the whole tour seems to have led up to this moment when Garcia hits a wrong note and emphatically squeezes the juice out of it.


This is pretty much why I like 4/28 better. Bends the juice out if it, I would say. I'd go so far to say that he may actually be trying to bend an out of tune string back into tune for the finish. Reminds me of some of those really frenzied versions of Viola Lee Blues from 67. That whole part gives me goosebumps, and neither of the other versions we're talking about here really peaks like that. I also really like the groove Phil gets into that night. I also think Pig sounds much better on 4/28 than on either 4/29 or 8/6. Pig tends to get lost in discussions of HTH, but it matters to me how the actual song is executed.



Great observations Snow... I think that 4/28 definately has a primal feel to it. I was thinking Cream Puff War type [CENSORED] is going on during the climax. Furious playing by Jerry and I think the high is higher than 4/29 and 8/6. Again though, we are talking about the cream of the crop from '71 so they are all great.
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