Jeffrey Alexander & The Heavy Lidders – “Black Peter”

The upcoming self-titled album by Jeffrey Alexander’s psychedelic supergroup is overflowing with strong highlights. Today, they are sharing what is possibly the total cream of the crop, their version of Grateful Dead’s “Black Peter.” Check it out below:

The Heavy Lidders is Alexander, of whom you may know from Dire Wolves, The Iditarod and Black Forest/Black Sea, on guitars and vocals, Elkhorn’s Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner on bass and guitar respectively, and Kohoutek’s Scott Verrastro on drums (but usually features Sunwatchers’ Jeff Tobias behind the kit). On this record, Alexander also recruited the stellar talents of Marissa Nadler, Rosali Middleman and Pat Gubler of PG Six, Wet Tuna and Garcia Peoples, plus percussionist extraordinaire, Ryan Jewell.

On “Black Peter,” Alexander and company get deep into the song’s earthen grit, and revel in its grim deathbed atmosphere. Gardner paints the deathly scene with his haunted blues licks, while Alexander clearly illustrates the song’s inner pain through his achingly forlorn vocals. Meanwhile, Nadler appears unexpectedly throughout the track, singing ghostly vocalizations and reverb-drenched harmonies, appearing like an ever present specter of death, hanging over the narrator’s head. This might be one of the most profound Dead covers yet.

Nadler’s ethereal voice seems almost tailor made for Alexander’s music, and the two go way back. He said this about their history and collaboration:

“Marissa and I have been friends for about 20 years, back when I was still playing in The Iditarod folk group. We were both living in Providence, RI, at the time. We played some shows together and shared many musical interests. I invited Marissa to be on a Pearls Before Swine tribute compilation for my old record label, Secret Eye, and we recorded her track together in my Olneyville warehouse. Later, I helped Marissa get in touch with Eclipse Records to put out her first full-length. We kept in touch over the years and always spoke of collaborating, meeting up for concerts or a meal when she was in San Francisco, but we were constantly on the move in different zones. Working on this Heavy Lidders album during the pandemics early days finally provided that opportunity. Since I was mixing and overdubbing the session remotely, time and space were simply not concerns when asking guests to contribute. I knew that this cover needed some ghostly, noir, sonically perfect vocal sheen, so of course I called Marissa. Who else?”

There really couldn’t have been a better guest vocalist for this track. With Nadler’s assistance, the Heavy Lidders make the words and phantom-like aura of “Black Peter” hit harder than ever.

Jeffrey Alexander and the Heavy Lidders comes out on Arrowhawk Records August 6th. Preorder your copy today.


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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