The Strand Lyceum - May 26, 1972
May 26, 1972
"Truckin" and "Morning Dew" appear on "Europe '72" - final "Chinatown Shuffle" - final "Mr. Charlie" - final "Next Time" - final "Two Souls"- also: NRPS
Black Throated Wind
Next Time You See Me
Two Souls In Communion
Playing in the Band
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Not Fade Away
Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad
Not Fade Away
The Other One
The Other One
Sing Me Back Home
Me and My Uncle
Ramble On Rose
One More Saturday Night
Attendees of this show
Bunked off from boarding school without a ticket or permission to see this! Got a ticket on the front steps from a tout at cover price (£5) only minutes before the New Riders came on stage.
Took a monster risk going up to London to see the show, but it was one of the greatest nights of my life and one I will never regret for a moment. Oh, and while I mention it ~ what an awesome show, legendary as I think a lot of heads will agree!
Since I really can't afford the complete Europe '72 recordings, I started off buying them individually with this one, and decided to post a review and critique here, since I'm not allowed to post new material on the forums. A few things to keep in mind about this review:
1. I do not consider myself a Deadhead, but do like and listen to the band in spats here and there.
2. I am a degreed, professional musician, and I speak like one.
3. The 1972 lineup of the Grateful Dead, including Pigpen, is as good as I think this band ever got, and in all honesty much of their music after 1974 does not interest me much.
So on to this CD set...
I am very pleased with this set and have found myself having new interest in the Grateful Dead after listening to it for a week. I do think that this particular night could easily be considered one of the best of the Europe '72 tour, and a peak night for the band in general, and that's coming from someone who is pretty picky about what I like and dislike about the Dead.
One major thing that stands out for me on this set is - believe it or not - Pigpen's organ playing. He is up more in the mix than on the original Europe '72 album, and you get to hear every note he plays. Never being called to solo in any song, he plays textural backgrounds which are never intrusive and add spice to every tune; he's practically mixed off the album on the original Europe '72. His playing is very tasteful and essential to the mix on nearly every tune. I think he deserves some long lost posthumous credit for knowing his job in this band and doing it extremely well.
Yes, we all know that many of the vocals on the original Europe '72 album were re-cut in the studio, but this set makes a few things clear that weren't known before:
1. The vocals for "Truckin'" stand as they were recorded, live, and were not redone.
2. Garcia only patched up the first two verses in "Morning Dew" on Europe '72, which contains the version from this show. The rest of the tune keeps his original live vocal. Here, you get to hear the verses he has a few slips and cracks on, and it's easy to hear that instrumentally it was a great version, but he needed to fix the vocal on those first two verses to make a better version.
3. This also has what became the "album" version of "Ramble On Rose," and Garcia's live vocal here is somewhat shaky - he fixed it in the studio.
The first set is pretty standard and pedestrian, just warm-ups, getting loose, until they hit "Playin' in the Band" and embark on a good 15-minute jam where they finally hit the mood for the night - this was going to be an evening of great improvisation and collaboration. After that, the performances seem more relaxed, confident, and adventurous. They sound ready to "play all night."
This show is best known for the 70-minute sequence that runs, without pause, through Truckin'; The Other One; Morning Dew; The Other One; and Sing Me Back Home. This uninterrupted jam, preserved complete on disc 3 (and edited down to two LP sides on the old Europe '72 album), is possibly the best jamming the Dead ever did, in my opinion. It is very interesting to hear how the band interacts here, with Phil Lesh obviously being the one responsible for the way the band drifts through key changes in jams. He does this by "hearing" and staying on dissonant or unresolved notes which somehow force the band to follow his cue; it's not Garcia who leads the band with his upper-register soloing; they all ride a musical wave together, each taking turns at holding the wheel, with Lesh's more advanced ear tending to nudge the band further and further out there. In the jam associated with "Truckin'", the key drifts from E-major, to E-minor (Garcia cueing the band this way), to B-minor, A-Major, and greater moments of pure, inspired music that is not governed by any key signature - it is, in every sense of the word, free, pure music-making. I think Garcia was quoted once as saying Lesh "doesn't play the bass like a bass," which rings very true here; he provides a more classically-inspired counterpoint to Garcia.
I also noticed for the first time how Garcia very wisely resists the urge to strum many low or middle-registered chords, considering that there are three other chordal instruments onstage - piano, organ, and Bob Weir's guitar. Garcia was wise enough to know that three was enough, and he chooses to play single-note lines a lot, sometimes like a horn around someone else's vocal; other times he plays single-note lines down low, as if he's the baritone saxophone in the group. Hearing this makes it obvious that Garcia was no care-free, self-indulgent improviser; he was a thinking musician who worked extremely hard at his craft, knowing what this large ensemble required to cover all its registers. There are moments of pure atonality in the depths of "The Other One" that are very inspired (the parts that ended up being "Epilogue" and "Prelude" on the original album) - it's as if, this being the last night of the tour, the band just did not want to end it and go home. They sound as if they are really enjoying the art of creating music on this night.
"Sing Me Back Home" is a revelation. I've heard plenty of versions of this song played (or attempted) by the Dead, and this is just flat-out the one single night where they nailed it. The tempo is perfect. The harmonies are finally, for once, in-tune, with Donna Godchaux providing a perfect top line that is stunningly beautiful. This track also contains what is probably the sweetest singing I have ever heard from Jerry Garcia; he gets the mood right, and at some points where the band is hushed so quietly, he sings in the sweetest, almost falsetto tone, which I have never heard him do before or since. This track is just pure, heartbreaking, crystalline beauty - the one night where they took a song and put down a version for the ages.
If you are looking for a single purchase from the Europe '72 pile, starting with this concert set is a fine pick. It is, as David Gans says in the liner notes, "a peak night on a peak tour in a peak era."
-Promised: nice sound out of the gate; VG short solo
-Sugaree: real nice short solo in here; the band just sounds ON; one of the better versions from this tour
-Mr. Charlie: VG version
-BT Wind: another high quality version from this tour
-Loser: very solid
-Next Time You See Me: very good, everything has been so far, band is definitely in the groove, but not quite unleashing everything yet
-El Paso: nothing wrong here
-Dire Wolf: nice short solo, excellent tempo
-The Stranger: in general, this song is very strongly played on this tour and a highlight; poignant solo; especially touching considering it is Pig’s last version of this song
-Playing: jam 3:00 – 15:55, very jazzy, not as manic as most versions from the tour, spacier, getting further from the main theme, speed picks up around 9:15 mark, 11:05 start to play around main theme but then move away from it, 12:42 more main theme tinkering, it’s coming, but no, Jerry starts fanning, oh my God, incredible, by far the longest version of this song on the tour, high notes of main theme from Jerry, hot stuff, cue for main theme proper at 15:35 and at 15:55 we are there; 17:41 total
-He’s Gone: 2d verse-“rats in the bedroom?” instead of “cats on a tin roof”; VG short solo
-Cumberland: excellent solo
-Jack Straw: great tempo; VG short 1st solo; short shuffling 2d solo
-Chinatown Shuffle: solo-2 VG runs from Jerry, 2 from Keith
-China Cat: excellent solo; jam 3:34 – 6:16, Jerry takes a pretty & calm run, then Bobby leads, Jerry coming in very strong at the end
-Rider: solo-excellent 2d run, one of those that is hot but oh so cool; Jerry a tad late on the headlight verse; VG jam
-NFA: crowd claps NFA so band has to play it; excellent short 1st solo; smile smile smile on the longer 2d solo, goes on & on, until GDTRFB
-GDTRFB: 1st solo starts mellow but heats up; 2d solo is hot too; so much energy in the “goin down the road feeling bad” at the end; Goodnight jam-beautifully wrapped up at the end by Jerry
-NFA: momentum maintained; Bobby’s vocals and Jerry’s guitar bouncing off each other; great end to the song and to the set
1st set highlights: Stranger, Playing, China Cat > Rider, NFA > GDTRFB > NFA
-Truckin’: harmony sounds great; jam 5:30 - , around 8 min mark the jam switches, almost starts like an Other One jam but quickly veers to a Nobody’s Fault-like jam, or maybe it is the Other One, excellent, really is more like an Other jam, ethereal, joyous, definitely teasing Other at 17:25, quiet, dark bass
-Other: deep bass intro from Phil, emotional notes from Jerry, cool little Jerry led jam, excellent stuff
-Other: 1st verse early on; Jam starts with some runs, then things get pretty quiet, spacey jam, gets a little manic, some great notes around 9:40 mark, slows down, remains spacey, beautiful ending dropping perfectly into Dew
-Morning Dew: hey, we all know this version! Powerful, band playing as one; solo 5:52 - 7:13, chills, elation, why we love this band; outro 9:33 - , don’t say Jerry sold his soul to the devil, that’s clearly the hand of God
-Other: just a great, calm jam; back to the main theme and 2d verse
-Sing Me Back Home: some echo on the vocals; pretty, excellent version
-MM Uncle: VG version
-Ramble: again, VG, but let’s face it, everything after the big jam ending with Sing Me is basically superfluous, and that’s ok!
-Sugar Mag: an extra run of the main riff before the jam, pretty amazing jam
-Casey Jones: very solid
-Saturday Night: Jerry’s fingers have to be missing a couple of layers of skin by now, don’t they? Doesn’t sounds like it.
2d Set Highlights: Truckin > Other > Drums > Other > Dew > Other > Sing Me, Sugar Mag
Overall: A definite ON night for the band, and the highlights are about as good as it gets. Great show, 10/10