Customer Reviews: Bill Graham Presents In San Francisco - Fillmore: The Last Days
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4.6 out of 5 stars28
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on January 29, 2004
I bought this years ago on vinyl, and I still have it. The LP came with an authentic poster and ticket, an informative booklet which included some great photos and a listing (by date) of every show that ever played the Fillmore, and a bonus 7" 33-1/3 rpm "Words With Bill Graham" disc. The CD reissue, of course, doesn't give you the poster nor ticket, nor the extensive booklet, but the interview is included. Musically, this album is excellent. Some performances may be marginally better than others, but many are brilliant, and all were chosen by the artists themselves. The recording quality is amazingly good, especially when compared to many other live recordings of the period. What's also cool is that the album presents a number of very talented artists who were somewhat obscure at the time and almost unknown today-- but who deserve not to be forgotten. Alongside of those are great performances by bands and artists who went on to become legends. The incredible version of "Baby's Callin' Me Home" by Boz Scaggs is alone worth the cost of the set. The Dead's cover of "Johnny B. Goode" that appears here is the best I've yet heard-- far superior, to my ears, to the already great version that appears on "Skull & Roses". In addition are great performances by Quicksilver, The Sons, Santana, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Cold Blood, Tower of Power-- the list goes on. The "Final Night Jam" that closes out the set (with Taj Mahal, Boz Scaggs, Elvin Bishop and a host of others not even credited) is way cool. It all ends with "Greensleeves", often played at the end of the night, amid the sounds of the audience leaving the auditorium for the last time. Very poignant, indeed. Some may pan this album for various reasons, including the very inclusion of some of those more obscure artists. But I think they are missing the point. This is a documentation of a moment in time and history. And I for one would not want to be without it.
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on January 13, 2002
When I was in college back in the mid-'70s, my younger sister told me to buy this album. I took her advice. At first, I hated it. I was still musically challenged and into more commercial AM music. (This was not Bread or the Monkees or even the Rolling Stones.) But, I liked a couple of songs. So, I listened to it some more. The more I listened, the more I liked it. I got to like it so much that I have bought four or five copies. The only other albums I have bought that many copies of are Dark Side of the Moon, Abbey Road, the Beatles' "White Album," the Doors' "LA Woman" and ELP's Brain Salad Surgery. So The Last Days is in good company!... It is true that the album contains "hits" from the better known bands who played rather than the best music played that week. For example, The Last Days contains a 9 minute version of Its a Beautiful Day's FM staple "White Bird." They played better music that night including an 18 minute jam on a piece called "Time" and 12 minutes of "Wasted Union Blues." The fact they did not make it to the Last Days Album doesn't mean the more 'commercial' (I found a bootleg copy of the entire IBD performance.) "White Bird" track is any less than excellent or thoroughly enjoyable. (In my opinion, it is the best version of "White Bird" I have heard.) And one could complain the album doesn't contain enough of the Dead (it has two short Dead tunes "Casey Jones" and "Jonny B. Goode"). You can get tons of live Dead, and what is there is still great!

The less 'commercial' cuts include Boz Scaggs' "Baby's calling me home," Cold Blood's performance of "I just want to make love to you," the Taj Majal jam session on side 6 of the vinyl and Tower of Power's "Back on the Streets Again." The Tower's cut is a blaring funk horn track. Very cool. Boz Scaggs work is musical Nirvana, developing from a hopeful, hesitant vocal so quiet it is almost burried in the tape noise and growing to an overwhelming wall of sound, a musical orgasm blasting you into another dimension. (This was not Boz Scaggs the Disco King, but Boz Scaggs the rock/blues musician.) Cold Blood is raw and sensual. Taj Majal's masterful blues work could make an onion cry.

The album provides a glimpse into Rock's most energetic and creative period. I think any shortcommings the album may have are because it is hard to condense an entire week of music into two hours. The Last Days of the Filmore is pure fun and hope from an earlier time. Earth, air, fire and water. Love and peace. This is a great album.
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on September 15, 2000
I was fortunate enough to have seen several of the great performers that make up this incredible box set. Although I never had occassion to visit the Filmore West, as a native New Yorker I attended some great great shows at The Filmore East. Virtually all of the performances here are truely inspired and in many cases blow away the orginal studio recordings.
For starters, I saw Santana in 1969 at The Filmore East. The orginal lineup was capable of performing their entire self titled debut album note-for-note, start to finish. Here they wail through a smoldering version of Incident At Neshabur and turn in a beautiful interpretation of the Miles Davis classic In A Silent Way. The Dead visit familiar ground with a rousing performances of Johnny B. Goode and Casey Jones. The NRPS enliven the crowd with their old smuggler's favorite Henry and Hot Tuna and Papa John blaze through Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burnin'. The real surprise here is the explosive, 12 plus minute version of Baby's Calling Me Home by Boz Scaggs.
My overall feeling on this album is... put it into a time capsule and in one hundred years, when someone wants to learn a thing or two about this thing called pop culture in America during the 60's and 70's, let them listen to Last Days of The Filmore.
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on July 12, 1998
This album is a culmination of the greatest groups that highlighted that colorful era of the early seventies. It serves as a ear-splitting catalyst for re-living those days when concert tickets to the best events were four dollars and the artists were "real".
The recordings are of the best quality, and on a good system, you can feel the depth of the music - a sense of actually being there. Thank you, Bill Graham and everyone at Fillmore. I cherish the memories.
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on March 19, 2003
I was there for two of the last four days of Filmore West and this set carries on the experience that existed. It will bring back memories for anyone attending any of Fillore West shows including the 'apple barrel' and the free posters and poster cards handed out. The record set gives you a cool poster which isn't included with the CD set but it's well worth the cost! I was a Quicksilver, Cold Blood, and Tower of Power fan which certainly was covered on this CD. If you are an old hippie you will enjoy it too!
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on May 6, 2015
I had to pick this one up just for it's historical value. I do have this on dvd, I bought it for the Grateful dead that's featured( along with pigpen! )A real mix of SanFrans best sadly without Jefferson airplane.Yet stellar performances without-especially Quicksilver Msg. service and It's a Beautiful day
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on July 20, 1999
The Fillmore was for its time the best showcase of the most popular bands and music of the era. Billy Graham brought together on stage some of the finest music and performers one could ever wish to to see and hear. This box set reflects that era and the music . My suggestion for anyone who grew up during this time is to sit back and enjoy the memories of Hot Tuna,Lamb,Cold Blood, It's a Beautiful Day, and Quicksilver Messenger Service. For the people to young to remember or not yet born then,listen to this and find out what moved Rock and Roll and a Nation.
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on February 2, 2014
If you want to know what it was like in the late 1960s and early 1970s around San Francisco and the rock scene, this is the CD to listen to. A lot of the SF bands that played at the time both at the Filmore and Winterland. Get the DVD too! The song selection is similar but not exactly the same as the DVD.
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on March 13, 2012
Great live cuts from the last days of Bill Graham's historic Fillmore shows. Santana, Elvin Bishop, It's A Beautiful Day, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Boz Scaggs, Cold Blood (feat. Lydia Pense), Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, Taj Majal, Sons of Champlin, Tower of Power, Stoneground, Malo, Lamb, New Riders of the Purple Sage and a "hello" from John Walker & live intros & goodbye from Graham. Historic & nostalgic for us Babyboomers!
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on December 28, 2011
wooooah what a groovy set of disks. Actually I don't talk like that anymore but listening to those disks while cruising the net was awesome. Brought back some great memories of doing stuff and going some place and stuff. The Fillmore disks are quality recordings and come in a nice package. Well worth the money.
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