In Memory of Elizabeth Reed

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Paul Bacon, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Paul Bacon

    Paul Bacon Member

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    I’ve memorized and have been working to bring up to speed both Dickey and Duane’s solos from this Fillmore East recording for, probably, five months. I have always loved this song. At my playing level Dickey's was do-able. Not so, Duane’s. I did not have the chops.

    Working on Duane’s solo has brought my playing to new heights—big time. I’m 60 years old and have been playing since age 14. The biggest technique improvement has been with my picking speed and accuracy. I didn’t know I had it in me. I sifted through archived TGP posts to find the help I’ve needed to accomplish that. I’ve also learned to do 5 beats over the space of 4 and come out perfectly on the 1 of the next measure. I had to develop both strength and a light touch in my left hand as well—in ’92 my ring and pinky fingers went paralized from a cervical operation. I’ve learned too many things to post here. I can’t believe where I’ve come in the last five months from working on this solo.

    The song clocks in at 111 bpm. I’m just now getting fluid with it at 105 bpm. The big challenge now are those 16th note triplets at the first peak of Duane’s solo. Getting those clean and articulate (like he does) is a bear. A Gear Page post made me aware of the technique of a slight wrist rotation (like turning a doorknob) while picking at that speed has given me a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just a matter of practice at this point. How much?—I have no idea.

    And my question (among so many) is this. Are the solo’s in this song pre-prepared? I can only imagine that they are, but I do know that they were an improvisational band. But some of the solo’s on this record seem just so very carefully crafted. And I just can’t believe that all those varied and different phrases were springing like lightening in a momentary instance! I also read that they prepped for this recording on an island somewhere for a couple of months before the concert. I’ve tried to find other recordings of IMOER that happened in the same time period to compare to this particular recording, but haven’t been able to.

    Would or could anyone shed some light on this for me? Or even any other thoughts on the topic would be very welcome.

    Paul
     
  2. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    There are other live recording of the Bros. playing it. They were improvisers so it was different every time though I bet you'd hear some of the same licks from version to version.
     
  3. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    I've heard several other live versions. The solos are not identical night to night though as guitarjazz says, you can hear repeated licks.
     
  4. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    There's some videos of them playing at the Fillmore floating around. Might be on YouTube.
     
  5. Axis29

    Axis29 Member

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    I know that I am a 'mostly' improvisational player. But it's only because I'm not smart enough to remember everything I did yesterday. Before I unveil anything live, I've practiced it a number of times. I obviously don't mean jam stuff, but band oriented stuff.

    Being as how those boys were so much more talented, musically smarter and overall more talented than I hoep to ever b, I bet they practiced everything a good bit before unveiling it. I doubt the solos were canned, but they were familiar enough with the chord progression and sounds they wanted, as well as what the other players were going to do, that little of it was a true surprise. Sure it was spur of the moment to a point, but as mentioned, I'm sure there were some canned phrases for the song... and we all know we tend to find stock phrases that make appearance sin our playing elsewhere. It's just some of you (and certainly those two!) have a lot more than I've got! LOL
     
  6. Paul Bacon

    Paul Bacon Member

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    I've heard other live versions after the Fillmore concerts, and they are different, yes. I'm more wondering if, that weekend, each show was a different solo.

    I've seen all the YouTube video's of those concerts. I think I read that there's only 18 minutes of video from those concerts. I can find none of Elizabeth Reed.

    All the different album versions of the Fillmore Concerts use the same two show's solo's. I've listened to each album. And the liner notes say so as well.

    You can also hear Duane use many of the same licks in Wipping Post --that 16th note triplet thing stands out among others.

    It amazes me that his musical ideas/phrases come out so fast. He never misses a beat, literally. Although there is one phrase in that solo that ends up being on the off-beat that I'm pretty sure he meant to be on the beat.

    I guess I shouldn't find it so unusual that musicians should be able to make their solo's so coherent. I'm just in awe of that ability.

    Any more or other thoughts would be welcome for sure.

    Paul
     
  7. Paul Bacon

    Paul Bacon Member

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    Yes, there is a place where Berry Oakley playes exactly the same notes along with Duane. It's not possible that this particular spot I'm thinking of was a co-incidence :)
     
  8. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    Not possible? I don't know about that. When you're jamming, especially with people who you know well in a musical sense, it's not at all impossible to end up at the same spot at the same time.

    I'm sure that as much as these guys played these tunes the same riffs would pop up here and there. I'd imagine though that most, MOST of the solos were on the spot. For me, that's the goal and I don't find it all that out of the question to think that guys who played at this level could pull off some amazing music in this setting.

    Along these lines, I've never sat and tried to learn an ABB solo note for note with one exception (that being One Way Out). I think there are phrases that you might want to throw in there from each tune but overall these solos should be improvised. Liz Reed is an amazing tune. If I were to play it live I think the only parts that I'd focus on would be the lead in of each solo and the outro to each. Other than that, it's up to you to make it what you will. If I want to hear Dickey and Duane, I'll throw on Fillmore East. Just my .02
     
  9. Paul Bacon

    Paul Bacon Member

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    I, too, learned that solo (just beautiful.) But I started learning it many years ago, and realized when I started learning the Fillmore version that the old version I started on was identical to the Fillmore except for 1 measure (at least on the first time through the changes--at the time I got no further.) So obviously Dickey knew before hand what he was going to play.

    I can agree that, in the end, I'd rather make my own way through it--it's a lot of fun, but what I have come to as a result of memorizing this solo would not otherwise have been achieved in as short a time.

    I would also, if performing it live, have something pretty well planned out ahead of time so I wasn't just fumbling around in the dark. And I imagine Duane must have too. Learning it note for note made me realize how carefully constructed the solo was.

    I was reading the "memorization" thread and came upon this:
    This makes complete sense. It is even, after all, how an actor practices his craft.

    If it isn't Dickey and Duane (and Greg) then what makes Elizabeth Reed such an amazing song, as you say. Are you saying it's the just the song's structure?

    I know they were an improvisational band, but this was an important recording for them. Their first two albums had not done as well as they'd hoped. I really would love to hear another show's version of all the songs done that weekend.

    Respectfully,
    Paul
     
  10. VigilAndy

    VigilAndy Member

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    If you listen to the studio version you can hear the elements that are strictly constructed. For the most part these are within the live version too. But beyond that they each stretch out the solos more and build on these themes. I would guess that some of this stretching was probably based on things they had stumbled on in previous shows or rehearsals and some was probably off the cuff based on the energy of that moment. I think I remember reading that Duane worked very hard at Muscle Shoals to construct solos when he was a session player. If that's true then he knew how to prepare for "improvisation" and in that sense it was wasn't totally off the cuff. All I can say is I've had 20 years to do my homework on Elizabeth Reed and my chops always suffer in the solo because I can't get Duane out of my head!
     
  11. John Thigpen

    John Thigpen Supporting Member

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    Different song, but there are several alternative versions of Statesboro Blues out on Youtube. Because they're live recordings, they do sound different, but many of Duane's slide licks from the Fillmore version also appear on the other versions. I'm specifically referring to the fills in the first couple of verses.
     
  12. Guitars1

    Guitars1 Supporting Member

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  13. Paul Bacon

    Paul Bacon Member

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    That's very interesting.

    Yup, with all my efforts, that's what I've come to as well.:)

    At the very end of the video, Dickey uses the same basic repeating figure that Duane used to end his solo on the Fillmore recording. Easily recognized by the other band members and maintaining the excitement his solo had built to. A perfect way to segue
     
  14. johns048

    johns048 Supporting Member

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    Greg called it "Hittin' the Note". If some one asked me what my favorite song is, I think I'd say Liz Reed. I know most of it but never bothered to learn it note for note, so cheers to you guys for doing so... But I think Duane would have said "make it your own"

    The Filmore recording is just magical, to think that a band could be that tight "jamming" and they just so happened to capture it just blows my mind. I think it's the best live recording of all time. Then again I'm a big ABB fan.
     
  15. Twitchey

    Twitchey Member

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    Agreed.

    Most of the live AB solos have 'finishing up' licks or 'sign post licks' that indicate a solo is over. Often they appear to played once by the soloist and then all together as part of a bridge to the next section. This is a useful tool within improvisational rock music and easy to identify if you are looking out for it (and likewise very effective for live performance as it can sound and look seamless)
     
  16. johns048

    johns048 Supporting Member

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    Great point, I play whipping post in my band, and for some reason (the time sig i think) it's the most challenging song we've tried as a band. But to your point, I play the second solo, and the high a octave part is the signal to go to the climb up.
     
  17. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    What makes it an amazing song by an amazing band is the fact that they were able to pull it of like this. It's really just a few very basic chord vamps with some hooks that lead in and out of each section. No big deal really on the surface, but a lesser band wouldn't have been able to do this song justice. I wouldn't complain about listening to Liz Reed from the Fillmore album at all, so, yes, Dickey, Duane, Gregg, etc. all contribute to making this an amazing tune. My point was that if you are going to play it, you should have something of your own to say within the context of the song itself, not just play their (amazing) solos.

    I think we often start to learn a song and decide that since we can play it (now) that it's no longer a big deal, but we lose sight of the fact that someone did sit and write this. They did come up with some of these solos in that very moment (which is why I like to go see bands who improvise). This type of song is intended to be a vehicle for each member to be able to make their own statement and say what they will. This is why I don't want to just hear someone play Duane's solo. I'm not saying that I don't want to hear Duane's solo. I'm saying that if I want to hear it, I'll put on the record. If I'm watching your band, I want to hear YOUR solo.

    I think learning someone else's improvised line and regurgitating it is defeating the purpose and taking the interpretation and spirit of the tune out of it. I don't mind transcribing for the sake of analyzing and trying to find out WHY they played it that way (although I don't often do it myself). I just think that you can run into other hurdles by doing this. A few people on here have already said that they can't get the recorded solos out of their head when they are playing it. To me, that's reason enough NOT to learn the solos note for note.

    With any song, you will have phrases that you might want to start a solo with or use as a cue that we're going back to the head, but, IMHO, these sections should really be used to say what you want and express how you feel in that very moment.

    Again, just my .02
     
  18. 9fingers

    9fingers Supporting Member

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    Learning someone else's solo may not be so much for the goal of repeating it live as it is for adding to my own musical vocabulary. Dickey & Duane used bits of pieces of stuff they copied from lots of other players to be able to improvise and compose the way they did. More power to the OP for working hard to learn it. He will grow mightily as his own player as a result.
     
  19. flavaham

    flavaham Member

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    I'm not knocking learning someone's solo. That wasn't my point. You can't always figure out how they look at it without doing this. For me, I don't do it much. I would rather use my ears for fear of regurgitating other people's improvised lines.

    Look at it this way. I'm at the bottom of a hill. There's a path, maybe two (We could call them Dickey and Duane in this case), beaten into the side of the hill that I can take to the top. At the top is an amazing view where you can sit and enjoy the company of the other people who climbed up there with you. It's not wrong to take one of those paths up, but just because someone beat this path into the hill does not mean it's the ONLY way up...
     
  20. johns048

    johns048 Supporting Member

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    ^ In this case, it also might not be the easiest path :)
     

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