Monday, March 29, 2010

Rainy Monday with The Dead

I know I know...for the 2 people who read this blog, I missed last Monday's Dead Show, oh get what you pay for...Anyway, to make up for that, I am posting a monster of a night in Dead History.

Today's show is from the magical August of 1972, 8-24-1972 to be precise.  You can click that link for the archive, or you can listen right ch'ere:
This is my first post from one of the most amazing years in Dead history 1972.  For those new to the Dead, August 1972 has something special in it...each show seems epic in retrospect.  The band was firing on all cylinders, and today's show from Berkeley is a perfect example of that.  Having just gotten back from Europe (the tour which would be immortalized as the album Europe 1972) found the crew just blending magically.

I noticed a few freak out's with this recording early on but it doesn't take away from the opening trifecta of "Promised Land", "Sugaree", "Jack Straw"; in fact Keith's key's get amped for the Straw and everything starts to come into it's own on this fantastic version. "China>Rider" is tight and a money "Bird Song" (I always forget how much I love this song) and exploratory "Playing in The Band" (around the 12 minute mark it is really catchy, pre-reprise and Donna screams) move the first set forward and sets the stage for some insanity to follow.

OK, lets get right to it...The Dark Star from this show is one of my all time favorites, and I am not sure it gets enough attention due to a little old show that happens only 3 days later (will get to that show soon...what a week it would have been to follow the boys huh?).    Dark Star wanders in beautifully with some independent riffs from Jerry and some melodious bass work from Phil who is a shining example of creativity throughout these 27 minutes.  Around the 5 minute mark, things start getting a bit anxious, with the group ramping up the speed Billy is cymbal dancing all over the map and at 6 minutes Bobby's Jazzy riffs and Phil's bass line seem to be taking the song in a different direction.  At the 7 minute mark the groups still moving higher into the stratosphere, and quicker to boot.  10 minutes in and the tension eases with some mellowing out before the common "Dark Star" song structure starts to take shape and Garcia starts singing 11 minutes in; hell of an Intro.

13 minutes in and all bets are off, once the vocals are out of the way, the boys are free to get freaky.  Soundscapes whiz by, sounding like ethereal ghosts in the speakers, while the low bass lines manage to creepy things up just enough.  The scaling of inner ear canals by the guitars and the weird hoppiness of the drums is off putting yet exciting.  When Keith rolls the ivories around the 17 minute mark it perks up the ears and gives the listener something to focus on before the ominous 18 minute mark comes in and just scares the shit out of those tripping in the audience.  Things become unbearable at 20 minutes with all members wailing away in different directions, Garcia seemingly playing with 8 arms on the fret board, before sonically dripping out into emptiness.   
 Just when madness seems certain, Billy starts a rhythmic beat that everyone can get behind. The group starts a focused march to glory...yeah everyone loves this jam, but wait a second, 25 minutes in and things look like they might get weird that a cello playing?  Is Jerry off on another mind numbing mission???!  Oh Shit it's a mega "Morning Dew"!!!!  Awesomenuciousness.    

This breakdown down in "Dark Star" and then the transition into a climatic version of "Morning Dew" is what makes the Dead something special to me.  The willingness to toss off everything and explore the airwaves...granted it's not for everyone, but it is as close to a free jazz/Rock and Roll combo that is out there and it can yeild some magical results.  The rest of the set is just gravy, but what delicious gravy at that..."Sugar Magnolia" "Sing Me Back Home" encore of "Uncle Johns Band", tasty.  Anyway, give it a gander if you are feeling adventurous, and if not, I am sure you can find something more up your alley elsewhere.      

Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA (8/24/72)

Promised Land
Jack Straw
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Me and My Uncle
Bird Song
Beat it on Down the Line
Tennessee Jed
Playing in the Band
Casey Jones

Mississippi Half-Step
Mexicali Blues
Brown Eyed Women
Dark Star
Morning Dew
Sugar Magnolia
Sing Me Back Home
One More Saturday Night

Uncle John's Band