Sunday, February 29, 2004

Here's an article from Billboard regarding Bobby's new cd...
I'm looking forward to hearing that 'masters of war'

Weir Looks Back On Solo Retrospective

Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Alongside a lengthy tenure with the Grateful Dead, guitarist/singer Bob Weir has consistently embraced opportunities to perform and record as a solo artist and with side projects. That aspect of his career is the basis of "Weir Here: The Best of Bob Weir," a two-disc set due March 23 via the New York-based independent Hybrid Recordings label.

"Virtually everybody in the band has done it from time-to-time. It's good for the Dead for me to do stuff outside," Weir tells "You're gonna learn stuff that you otherwise wouldn't learn, you're gonna find limitations that you need to work on that you otherwise wouldn't find. You're gonna find strengths, you're gonna find all kinds of stuff that you just otherwise wouldn't find if you stay in one context.

"Plus," he adds, "it's rewarding, it's fun."

The first "Weir Here" disc concentrates on studio work, ranging from his 1972 solo debut, "Ace," to 2000's "Evening Moods," both released on Arista. Much of what is included -- such as "One More Saturday Night" or "Lazy Lightning" -- will be familiar to even the most casual Dead fan. Through such groups as Kingfish, Bobby & the Midnites and the currently thriving Ratdog, Weir has often revisited songs that are Dead staples.

"If I'm playing a song that I've been playing with the Dead for a while, the personnel are different and their approach is different," Weir says. "Especially with Ratdog, where a lot of the guys come from a jazz background and they're gonna take a given tune for a different sort of walk in the woods than I'm used to getting from the guys in the Dead or than I would be from getting guys that come from a rock'n'roll background."

"Feel Like a Stranger" from 1980's "Go to Heaven" represents the Grateful Dead on the studio disc. Also included are previously released recordings with Rob Wasserman and Dan Zanes.

Disc two is devoted to live material with all but one cut stemming from Grateful Dead shows, several of which are previously unreleased. Highlights include a version of "Me & Bobby McGee" from the band's extended March 1972 stand at New York's Academy of Music and "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" captured on July 4, 1989 at Buffalo's Rich Stadium.

The set's finale is a version of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" recorded at a Ratdog rehearsal shortly after the United States launched its attack on Iraq. " I was pissed off," Weir says flatly. "In some ways, this is better than a live performance. It was done in a studio, with studio sounds available to us, but at the same time it happened with the spontaneity of a live performance. There was no crowd there, but ... it felt good. It felt right."

On Monday, Ratdog kicked off a 28-date North American tour that plays the House of Blues in Las Vegas tonight (Feb. 25). The band's official Web site lists the full itinerary for the tour, which will close April 3 in Waterville, N.H.

Here is the "Weir Here" track list:

Disc one (studio recordings):

"Cassidy" (from the 1972 album "Ace")
"Mexicali Blues" (from the 1972 album "Ace")
"Looks Like Rain" (from the 1972 album "Ace")
"Playing in the Band" (from the 1972 album "Ace")
"One More Saturday Night" (from the 1972 album "Ace")
"Lazy Lightning" (from the self-titled 1995 Kingfish album)
"Supplication" (from the self-titled 1995 Kingfish album)
"Feel Like a Stranger" (from the 1980 Grateful Dead album "Go To Heaven")
"Easy to Slip" (from 1978's "Heaven Help the Fool")
"Wrong Way Feeling " (from 1978's "Heaven Help the Fool")
"Shade of Grey" (from 1978's "Heaven Help the Fool")
"I Want To (Fly Away)" (from 1981's "Bobby & the Midnites")
"Easy Answers," (from Rob Wasserman's 1994 album "Trios")
"Two Djin" (from 2000's "Evening Moods")
"Ashes and Glass" (from 2000's "Evening Moods")
"Wabash Cannonball" (Dan Zanes' 2003 album "House Party")

Disc two (live recordings):

"Truckin'" (from 2000's "Ladies and Gentleman... The Grateful Dead: Filmore East New York 1971")
"Estimated Prophet" (previously unreleased Grateful Dead recording from Hamilton, Ontario/March 21, 1990)
"Hell in a Bucket" (previously unreleased Grateful Dead recording from New Jersey's Brendan Byrne Arena/Oct. 12, 1989)
"Me & Bobby McGee" (previously unreleased Grateful Dead recording from New York's Academy of Music/March 23, 1972)
"Man Smart, Woman Smarter" (previously unreleased Grateful Dead recording from Buffalo's Rich Stadium/July 4, 1989)
"Jack Straw" (from 2002's "Steppin' Out With the Grateful Dead: England '72")
"Sugar Magnolia" (from 2000's "Ladies and Gentleman... The Grateful Dead: Filmore East New York 1971")
"Throwing Stones" (from 2003's Grateful Dead home video and CD "View From the Vault Vol. 4")
"The Music Never Stopped" (from the 1997 Grateful Dead compilation "Fallout From the Phil Zone")
"Masters of War" (previously unreleased recording from Ratdog rehearsal/March 19, 2003)

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.