Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Dead - RTBE Personal Favorites Edition: 5-3-1972 Olympia Theater, Paris, France

So continuing the RTBE Personal Favorites Edition I am going to a post show that I can not get enough of and it is a WHOPPER!  Today's behemoth comes from 5-3-1972 Olympia Theater in Paris France
 Click that link or stream it right c'here:

I have all ready discussed a couple of shows from 1972, and may even discuss some more because it was a magical year for the fellas.  Keith was becoming comfortable, Pig Pen still had legs (more importantly a voice) and Garcia was hitting a career highlight with Robert Hunter when it came to song writing.  Europe 72 is the most memorable tour the group would ever undertake, and while the times were wild the playing may have never been better, today's show is a great example of the majesty that was on display. 
Four cuts from today's show actually make the official release of Europe '72, 3 of them come in the first set.  This show is is broken up to 33 songs here and it covers 4-CD's worth of music, I love slapping my Blue Highlighted Disks into the player and letting the magic unfold, but the stream from this archive feed is just as good.  Prefect recording that does justice to the perfect playing.  There are other versions on the archive, and feel free to pick your own favorite, but just do yourself a favor and devote sometime to this night.  While everyone is working together and on for this evening, I believe the real reason I love this particular show is the crisp, inventive bass playing from Phil, masterfully recorded and presented here on every tune. 
He works his bass into and out of country staples, psychedelic vamps, and blues walks with ease and grit when needed, it is a pleasure to listen to him conduct the group on this night and still manage to drop sonic bass bombs.  That may be getting a bit ahead of myself though.  This show, like so many in 72, offers something for every kind of music fan.  The first set focuses more on the shorter country/blues/rock flavored numbers that casual fans can bop around too, while the section set showcases the jamming which made the groups legends and larger then their parts.

Some highlights of the first set is an engagingly sung "Black Throated Wind" where Garcia rips a major solo in the end to close things up, a fun little "Chinatown Shuffle" sung by Pig Pen and killer versions of "Sing Me Back Home" and "Next Time You See Me" which has pure attitude flowing through the harmonica and fret runs.  There must also be attention brought to the 3 songs from this set that made the cut for Europe 72 and can be actually be heard here on this stream, which is nice.  Granted there seems to be consensus that studio work has been added to enhance these tracks, but I am not complaining.  The solid piano runs and vocals that color "China Cat Sunflower" and weep into "I Know You Rider" are things of beauty.  They are worthy of "best of" consideration and are versions I know many fans cherish.  The "Tennessee Jed" also made the huge album released post tour and rambles along, giving the French a taste of Americana on this night.
I can talk about every track at this hulking mass of a show, but it would take you all day and night to read it, so let's skip to the second set (at least in writing, keep listening all day long). 

It may open with a smoking wah-wah filled version of "Greatest Story Ever Told" but this set will always be known to me (and I hope many others) as "The Other One" set.  Phil is everywhere and doing everything but before the full chaos drops we get a moving version of "Hurt's Me Too" that puts desperate emotion on display with a slicing guitar tone from Jerry and panged vocals from Pig Pen.  A tightly wound and energetic "Truckin" begins the chaos and you can hear Phil is amped (Pretty sure he even yells out some vocals on the first chorus) and the group is hyped and rolling.  About the 5:50 mark the pianos start playing along one would think to a crescendo, but instead we get a wandering jam where the band literally seems to be talking to each other about what to play through their instruments.  Lesh starts moving in the direction of "The Other One" and we are off to the races via some freaky cosmic dancing and the patented space rumbles.
The track explores tons of different locales; the group isn't in a hurry to hit the vocals any time soon.  Jerry runs in one direction, Phil follows behind, looping in the distance and adding weight to his runs as Billy is a whirl on the cymbals and Pig's organ sustains underneath it all.  Bobby joins the party around the 10 minute mark along with Keith's piano and then the band gives way so Billy can take center stage on "Drums".  Sensing they were onto something special though the group dips back into "The Other One" with some jazzy undercurrent once again being led by Lesh; in fact it sounds like it's just him and Billy getting down for a couple of minutes once it starts back up.  The band weaves and bobs around the theme again, finding new nooks and crannies to explore, at times leaking into the unknown or doing choreographed exchanges like around 7:20.  To say the freak out machinations were blowing the minds of the tripping few that night would probably be an understatement, but for them to fall away and leave a bright shiny "Me & Bobby McGee" in it's wake is almost as mind numbing.  This pop gem seemingly oozes out of nowhere and is a glorious ray of light, here's a video of a version of the tune from a few nights before this show:
Pretty cool to see what the boys looked like on this tour, but we can't leave this show as the group thunders out another "Other One" segment with Phil's bombing and a wrap up of the lyrical piece before dipping directly into a ballad, with Jerry's soulful "Wharf Rat".  Fantastic playing which features Garcia's riffs that sound easy and jangling.  The set gets a midpoint energy injection with "Jack Straw" and "Sugar Magnolia" and Straw was the 4th song featured on Europe 72, an all time version while the Sugar is no slouch with killer Phil runs and Garcia wah wah.

The end of the set is a segue/combo that I love; "Not Fade Away>Going Down The Road Feeling Bad>Not Fade Away".  I kept this version of the combo on my hard drive for ever and would drop it onto various Dead shows or CD's I burned and I always love revisiting it, especially after "The Other One" madness from earlier in the set.  This is a nice and tight combo that manages to always put a smile on my face and today's version is no exception with the clear lines Garcia plays.

(I like the version from todays show better, but this is a cool video)
The band ends the huge night of music with "One More Saturday Night" and it is hard to ask for anything more from a Dead show, and they still had another night at the Olympia (which a lot of fans like even more then this show).  Easily one of my personal favorites when it comes to this band, here's hoping you enjoy it.

I also wanted to take a second to mention that the Dead completed their offering of a new Mp3 download for every day in November, and the crew over at Dead Roots were nice enough to compile them all for your downloading enjoyment.  Go here to get them!

I haven't gone through them all but some of my highlights were "New Speedway Boogie", "Sailor/Saint" and "The Music Never Stopped" which is completely killer and I actually discussed before here.  Feel free to check it on out and enjoy all the great music.   

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