Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia :: Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan)

I don’t know if it’s the weather, an act of habit or a touch of both but I often find myself returning to Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia’s Live At The Keystone discs this time of year. A truly soulful pairing, I once heard their union described as something akin to “going to church,” and it made sense. The fruits of the jam session that make up the Keystone discs were fleshed out by John Kahn on bass and Bill Vitt on drums. As a whole, the group just effortlessly swings. Recorded at Berkley’s Keystone club in the early ’70s, the atmosphere feels loose and plays eclectic ranging from soul and reggae to blues, jazz and, obviously, rock & roll.

Garcia paid tribute to Dylan via many a cover over the years (many of which were compiled in 2005 on the Garcia Plays Dylan set), but this one, culled from Live Keystone Vol. 1, has long been a favorite—Garcia and Merl Saunders take on the bard’s “Positively 4th Street.”

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12 thoughts on “Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia :: Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan)

  1. This is a phenomenal recording, but I think it may be the second-best Dylan cover from that set. Their rendition of It Takes a Lot to Laugh is just spectacular. Really, all three of the Keystone realeases are fantastic.

  2. You know AD, thanks. I’ve listened to everything JG since I was in highschool, and have always felt, hell – known – that he doesn’t get the widespread respect he earned. These collaborations are amazing, as was his work with JGB. The deep soul that came out of that band was Stax worthy, but always from the four finger man’s point of view. Mad props, AD. No. Make that furious props!

  3. Wow!– Hadn’t heard that one in many years, since my vinyl grew legs, but it’s sounding better than ever. It prompted me to head over to the Rdio site and spin some more of the Keystone material, which is even more solid than I’d recalled. As a young bastard I probably didn’t completely get it, but the unhurried pace and spaciousness are great. Plus the sound on the remasters is terrific. Many thanks!

  4. Dude! As far as I’m concerned, drunkard is now, and always has been the leader of the music blog world. It’s so great to see the Dead family getting represented, we are legion. Only Jerry and the boys can do Dylan better than Dylan himself. Much love from Austin, TX…

  5. Wow, I had just found this in a thrift store and have been spinning it quite a bit as well. Thanks for sharing.

  6. The four Garcia/Saunders/Kahn/Vitt (Bill was Elvis’s drummer!) Fantasy Record’s LP’s I own I keep in regular rotation.. Second That Emotion / Hi-Heel Sneakers – & the Blind Lemon Jefferson re-arrange of See That My Grave Is Kept Clean are essential for anyone who likes “classic” music, in the truest sense.. And damn. that Mystery Train cover just pulls you down the tracks! I’ll alway’s admire Jerry for doing what he did (night after night, playin’ to his fans) & the numerous “Side Trips” along the way.. Jah Bless

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