Grateful Dead – Europe ’72: 50th Anniversary Edition / Lyseum Theater – May 26, 1972

When the Grateful Dead left California for their first European tour on April Fool’s Day 1972, they did so with an entourage of nearly 50 people. As the tour schedule proudly told us, they were not just a rock’n’roll band, but a whole “community”, rooted in a free-wheeling hippie idealism which, for the band and the fans , was at the heart of the The dead purpose. Yet among the hipsters, flipsters, lovers, and others in attendance, the recording crew under Betty Cantorwhich captured each of the shows in 16-track glory for the live album intended to offset the huge expense of the trip.

The tour found the dead at a pivotal moment. It was the last with The pigstywhose gritty, soulful vocals and R&B leanings balanced the cosmic visions of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Phil Leshand the first with the keyboardist Keith Godchaux and his wife and chorister Donna Jean Godchauxwhose joint addition made the music “warmer and more organic”, as Lesh Put the.

By the end of the year, 17 tracks distilling highlights from shows in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Copenhagen had been released as a triple LP European ’72. But that was just the beginning. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the voyage, Dating The Grateful Dead: England 1972 featured a further 39 tracks from seven of the UK shows. In 2011 came Europe ’72 Volume 2with 20 tracks not included in the first volume, including a legendary hour-long jam around “Black Star” and “The other” of the rain-soaked Bickershaw festival. And came Europe ’72: the complete recordingsa gigantic 73-CD box set containing each of the 22 shows in their entirety.

Now three reissues to mark the 50th anniversary are kept relatively simple, with the original European ’72 remastered as a double CD and triple LP, and the final show of the tour at London’s Lyceum Theater captured in its entirety as a 4-CD set. The overlap, however, is considerable, as nearly half of Europe 72 comes from this Lyceum broadcast. There’s also a limited-edition 24LP box set featuring all four shows from the dead played on consecutive nights at the Lyceum, each with a slightly different setlist and their own vibe.

At the time, the dead were in the midst of a three-year hiatus from the studio, but it was a golden time for new material, with both Garcia and threshold write prolifically. This meant the shows were full of new songs that had never appeared on an album. Consequently, upon its release, the European ’72 album was the first time that someone who was not at the concerts could hear songs such as “Tennessee Jed”, “Brown Eyed Women”, “Ramble On Rose”, “He left”, “Mr Charlie” and “Jack Straw” – songs that loosely brought together the traditions of country, folk and blues with the The dead lively and sparkling improvisations. After some editing, including some vocal overdubs (the tapes showed Garcia had been singing loudly for much of the tour), the takes heard on European ’72 have become landmark iterations of some of the The dead most popular songs.

What didn’t make the 17 titles chosen for European ’72 can be heard throughout the Lyceum, including the swing “Chinatown Shuffle” and “The Stranger”both of which highlighted the disease Pigsty soulful and ragged croon. Additionally, there were songs from solo releases, such as “Sugaree” by Garcia and Weir’s “Black-throated Wind”, the latter went from horn-assisted blues to something more earthy and desperate, as well as covers that hadn’t been recorded before. They included The pigsty singing “It Hurts Me Too” by Elmore James, “You Win Again” by Hank Williams, “The Promised Land” by Chuck Berry and “Sing Me Back Home” by Merle Haggardalthough the word ‘covers’ only begins to describe the The dead their alchemical transmutation.

In the end, there was very little that was familiar. Of The worker is dead and american beauty, European ’72 only features the opening tear “Cumberland Blues”gospel-y “Sugar Magnolia” and 13 minutes “Trucker” plus a similarly extended and beautifully peaceful version “Morning dew”. The Lyceum set adds a few more, including the steamy boogie of “Say Wolf” of The worker is dead and a calm, hypnotic “China Cat Sunflower”first heard in 1969 Aoxomoxoa.

The term was not in use at the time, but both European ’72 and the entire Lyceum today sounds like the epitome of contemporary Americana with a cosmic, counter-cultural twist, as past and future coalesce into a soundtrack for a brave new frontier of the United States. There is country (“You have won again”), Blues (“It hurts me too”), folkloric (“I know you rider”), songs about wanderers (the shuffle of “Tennessee Jed”) and outlaw (the wonderful, Rocks-and walk, “Jack Straw”), melodic rapture, psych-pop (“Sugar Magnolia”) and the The dead unique myth making (“Trucker”), all fueled into some of the most organic, free-flowing rock ‘n’ roll ever made.

To the songs were added the epic lysergic improvisations, including the crystalline “Black Star” was the mothership; other nights, the protean and changing mystery took other forms like by Garcia serpentine guitar drove them into an interstellar overdrive on “Play in the group”‘s jazzy minor-toned excursions.

The result was that European ’72 was a live album like no other. While other bands were locked in a cycle of recordings and tours whose main objective was to promote their current release, for the dead the live performance rather than the studio take was always the definitive statement – ​​although nothing was ever truly definitive, as each night the songs, moods and modes were different, and each show was a new adventure. If you had to choose a point on the The dead long, eerie journey that marked the zenith of their kinetic luminosity, these recordings make a strong claim to being that lightning moment in a bottle.

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