Forty-two years ago this month, the newly "retired" Grateful Dead (with re-joined Mickey Hart, but sans Donna Jean Godchaux) rehearsed for what would become the Blues For Allah album and an upcoming SNACK Benefit at Ace's in Mill Valley, CA.
While other tapes from this time period have been in circulation (perhaps even this performance), this particular recording featuring a wordless take on the "Blues For Allah" tune containing an ebullient jam, has not been widely traded in this form until now.
According to notes shared by Alan Bershaw on archive.org:
The reel case only contains the notation "The First Day" and a date of "January." I have a few theories for this notation. It could mean that it was literally the first day of 1975, as in January 1, 1975. I think a more likely theory is that it was simply the first day of 1975 studio sessions sometime in January. Bob Gurman, who I inherited this reel from, thought it was the actual working title of this composition, since it was still an instrumental and prior to Robert Hunter's lyrics being written. I've also speculated that this could have been recorded as a guide reference for the band and additional Kezar musicians prior to those rehearsals. It may also have been recorded for Hunter as a template for writing lyrics. Or some combination of all of these possibilities…
The twenty two minutes contained here are amazing.
Download the jam via archive.org