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The Melody Maker Review- Pt 3.
  SATURDAY (cont) 
  Next on are the Flaming Groovies . They've been given a lot of lip service lately and they are very ,very cool to talk about. Americans who just wanna play rock and roll right? 

A Flaming Groovie. 

They were mediocre. 
It was like a few kids and a couple of have -beens playing at pop stars. Really makes your flesh creep and your nose screw up. 

 Its now the early hours of the morning . The Flaming Groovies singer is such a visual copy of Jagger its sad. He camps about and the band play Jumping Jack Flash. Christ . who wants to hear a forth rate version of ėJumping Jack Flash from a bunch of guys trying to look like everything thats already around and has already happened in a far better way ? 

How people like this can be given the bread and the opportunity to appear on stage sums up the mindless , gullible state of aging American 'progressive 'music . They attempt  Sweet Little Rock and Roller. There's a million unpretentious semi-pro outfits doing church halls for 10 pounds a night with twice as much balls. Its so feeble you let one of those pitiful laughs out and smile at your neighbour . 

 It finishes , and there's mild , wet applause. 
Er . yeah, thanks, er we'd like to play , er... poses the singer. 
For gods sake just play anything shouts a rocker from the front. This rocker turns around  and in lower tones says to his mate or nowt at all  . 

The Flaming Groovies, grind on and with applause benefiting a flat , gutless , act , they have the nerve to do an encore .
Appalling, it cut a ragged hole in the sturdiness of Saturday nights music. 

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Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band were on next ,to read their review go here.


      But how  much can  the average enthusiast stand in his search for good music. ? The endurance test trailed into Sunday accompanied  by a few  bleak predictions.

 There was no question about the quality of the performers. , but plenty directed at the weather.  The Neophonic Orchestra had delivered some remarkably apt pieces , reminiscent of that eternal reference point 2001 and Brinsley Schwarz were well into their set when the rain began. The group played on bravely , hard rock and R& B rhythms. Occasionally they stopped to wipe their guitars dry, or at least drier. Another basic heavy riff band . But what else goes down so well with an audience that wants more than anything to forget the puddles and ankle deep mud for the four hours cold sleep they had the night before.

   Rain and Country Joe McDonald have a working relationship. The conditions are that rain will soak everyone in sight and make them feel thoroughly miserable , then Joe will come along and cheer them up again with rousing choruses and satirical couplets  about famous politicians. 

 Country  Joe McDonald. 

      It worked at Woodstock, it worked at Bath and it worked at Bickershaw. He threw in old songs and liberally sprinkled with old associates like ėHere I go again ė and had the multitudes joining in on lines from the famous Fish  cheer to strains of yeah, Yeah  and insistent repetitions of We Love Chairman Mao.

      As for Joe , he was'ķt showing his feelings, except that is, for the cheer , turned especially for the occasion into a fuck Nixon  cheer.  After that it was time for the Fixing To Die Rag and then off the stage .

A time delaying tactic to keep things alive while the Deads equipment was set up. 


            Despite his attempts, there was still a delay before the New Riders of the Purple Sage began playing . A portentous time. 

   While the stage area pulsated with attempts at organisation -heavies throwing organisers and people with or without passes indiscriminately down the steps behind the stage- the Jesus people took over the singing . 

 For a few moments the New Riders stood bemused and bewildered, uncertain how best to gain the initiative. Eventually they jerked into a few jagged guitar chords and finally they gained enough ground top launch into operation without alienating the masses. 


They began with attractive country flavoured numbers, clean instrumentals and Budd Cage effectively damping down the pedal steel and then breaking out with long metallic phrases. Unfortunately there wasn't enough variation in their music. The set became a fog of similar songs, distorted vocals and introspective jams.  Although their opening numbers were refreshing  it was relief when they finally got offstage. 

 With America not being on, it left only one group  left. It was the obvious one. The Grateful Dead's American road crew had virtually  taken over the stage.

For  a full half hour or more the dead lived up to their name . They were Dead, The festival seemed to be about to end on a marathon anti- climax .Changes began to happen around sunset. 

The Grateful Dead slowly took a hold on them selves and their audience responded. They were playing a succession of short sharp numbers , very much the rock side of the group.Garcia picked out the whiplash lead and stared around the stage with owlish blankness. 
Dusk approached and the light show flickered with subtle distortions of a fairground. It switched into scenes of a steam train for Casey Jones.  and the music was getting really strong. 

Just time for a quick half time and the Dead were back into the music. They were hardly recognisable as the same group that opened the show. Somehow their longer numbers like Dark Star and Turn on your Lovelight gave the impression that they were playing in competition with each other, but listen carefully to each instrument in turn. 

 Jerry Garcia &friend.. 

   The deep rumblings of Phil Lesh's bass chords and Bill Kreutzmann's drumming , the cutting guitar rhythms of Bob Weir and most dramatically  of all Garcia's superb lead. The weird little phrases he played, with their bell tone  and uncertain symmetry. The vital flames of feedback , beautifully  controlled.

     The purple spotlights focussed on Garcia as Dark Star  rebounded from  atmospherics into its culminating rhythm , making the recording on the Live Dead album  sound feeble in comparison .

Incredibly , at one point the security web around the dead folded. A figure rushed across the stage , evading roadies. He threw his arms around Kreutzmann, forcing the drummer to stop playing. In the few seconds of struggle he got across to Kreutzmann that he meant to die that night. Kreutzmann nodded and smiles sympathetically and returned to his stool. The frantic saboteur  disappeared behind security. 

 Around midnight the Dead had been playing for about four hours , give or take one or two breaks . Rock returned as they began the final hour. A female friend came on occasionally to reinforce the vocals and Pigpen crept forward from his organ to belt out a few songs. 

Eventually they came to Not fade away and Weir all but threw his voice away on it. An encore and one final fling on Johnny B Goode
It had been a sensational set , a worthy antidote to a weekend of mud. 

Reporters for MELODY MAKER were, Chris Welch, Roy  Hollingsworth and Andrew Means. Pictures by Barrie Wentzell 


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