on 30 September 2013
Amazing! This is one monster release. Serious Deadheads already know this show and have been requesting it for official release for what seems to be forever. And for good reason. For those that have several of the Europe '72 shows, you know what I am talking about when I say that this sits with the best of them.
From the opening number 'The Promised Land', the band are in tight and unbelievably relaxed form. Weir mentions at different intervals as to the heat of that day in Veneta, Oregon. I can't understand how the band can play so well in such heat (100+ degrees fahrenheit, 37+ degrees celcius).
There is an atmosphere at this show that makes me feel like I am there.
The versions of nearly all of the tracks are quite brilliant. Plenty of 'established' fan's favourites are included in the set. I would imagine that many of the tracks would capture the attention of newcomers as well, based on the variance of the musical styles, and comfort the band explore & deliver within those styles. The jamming at different times is jazzy, calm, frantic - altogether controlled and inspired at the same time as it is improvised. Their chemistry when they are in this form is sublime. They show how switched-on they are at this show. Infectious stuff.
The China > Rider included here are amongst the best that I have heard. Playing In The Band is great. Dark Star - wow! The different moods contained within take you to another world. These tracks contain my favourite jamming on the album.
Thankfully, the clarity of the vocals are a highlight on this - not forced, in key, well-harmonized, and heartfelt where needed. Sing Me Back Home is so good...
This version of Greatest Story Ever Told is my favourite version. It clearly shows that the band are really enjoying themselves.
The cowboy tunes work nicely.
Overall, this album is best heard from head-to-toe in one sitting. Not only because of the musical content - the atmosphere of the show with the announcements etcetera is captured between the tracks as well.
The DVD contains several uncut highlights including the 30+ minutes of Dark Star, the 'very special' rendition of China > Rider...and more. Although it doesn't contain the whole show, what you get is an excellent account of that magic day.
Established fans: you know what you are getting. It's a no-brainer!
Newbies: this very well may introduce you to the (mostly) wonderful world of Grateful Dead live albums.
on 26 December 2013
I've seen some strange recommendations as a "place to start" for those coming new to the Dead. People often suggest "Live Dead", which seems too early to me, from 1969, and "Dead Set", which is already too late, in 1980. One suggestion would be to start in the spring of 1977 by downloading Dick's Picks volume 3, an unbelievable feast of virtuosity - especially in the second set. But this is even better, by virtue not least of the DVD that comes with the three CDs of music. It's strange to think what a rip-off CDs were in their first decade or so and pre-amazon, clocking in at £16.99 for a single CD sometimes, for a new release. Veneta is a genuine bargain, and a perfect introduction to the Grateful Dead at a point when their early rawness was still evident but the mad versatility that sets them apart from other bands was in evidence.
The concert film is a revelation, a slice of history, catching the counterculture undefeated on its own turf - Ken Kesey's ranch in Oregon - on a very hot day. People in the crowd and backstage are freaking out; kids run across in front of band mid-song; men and women take off all their clothes and perform some early five rhythms dancing. The band seem to groove on in their own space, undistracted except by the legendary sound problems that dogged them throughout their long career. The "Dark Star" in particular is wild, scary and constantly threatens to go beyond the limits of endurance and invention, passing through phase after phase and turning into a journey all in itself. It is a piece - not really a song - that can be daunting, I know; it seems easier to stick to the country rock Grateful Dead or the melodic jams such as "Bird Song". But this "Dark Star" teaches you how to listen to "Dark Stars" in toto, bucking and weaving while the sun sets, Garcia tuning his guitar partway in, with its occasional forays into dissonance that recall modern classical composers such as John Adams. But they could do everything, really, the Dead, and certainly between 1972 and 1977 they did everything very well indeed.
As an afterthought, I would point out that they were not like any other band. Of course, it is generally not the idea with music in popular culture to be objective; the whole point is that we care about music because of context, age and generation, the people we knew or the scene we were in when a song came out. With the Dead, this is even truer. I wouldn't call myself a Deadhead, but even I would listen to stuff from the relatively empty years after the departure of Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux - and when I say stuff I mean whole gigs, and when I say years I mean decades. Objectively, they didn't really go much further than they'd already been after 1977 - although, of course, there are moments. But to really appreciate the Dead, you do have to buy into the philosophy to a certain extent. This concert, and the visual element in particular, reveal that philosophy in all its beautiful chaos. You can see it in Garcia's eyes as he plays - a commitment to an exploration that few other musicians would even dream of making.
on 30 October 2013
I had heard the rumours about this show and when I saw that it was due for release I ordered it the same day.
Over the years I must have seen the Dead around a dozen times, starting from the European tour of '72, and heard (and owned) around the same number of live sets - this is, without question, the best yet in terms of the quality of the playing and the recording quality but also the bands 'vibe' having recently recruited Keith & Donna and exploring that new relationship in some very familiar numbers.
This version of 'Dark Star' is simply brilliant - it ebbs and flows but never meanders pointlessly - and numbers like 'Bird Song' show that the band can do the complex as well as the intense and joyous. 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' is monumental and the 'Promised Land' / Sugaree' plays better and better.
The vocals on this release are clear and, mostly, tuneful and Godchaux brings a new element to the music with his piano. I have never heard Phil Lesh's bass recorded so well before and it is suddenly clear just how good a player he is. Having just the one drummer keeps the focus but there are times I do miss the interplay between Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart that followed on later versions of the band.
The DVD that accompanies the 3 CDs (the reason we have had to wait so long for the album) is a delight - very 'hippyish' and sunny but it also gives a good feel for the young farmers and their kids (this was a benefit for Kesey's farm).
If you are new to the Grateful Dead this is actually a fine introduction but if you know the band then this is essential.
I wish there were six stars avail;able!
on 4 October 2013
i have listened to hundreds of GD shows over the years, but this show marks the zenith of their live shows.
Their jamming on tracks like Playin in the band is simply superb, and this show has the best ever version of dark star, which clocks in at 31 mins....
The accompanying dvd film of part of the show is much improved in clarity from the bootleg versions freely available.
All in all, if you only buy one grateful dead cd-dvd..... THIS IS THE ONE to get....
on 18 November 2013
Collecting and listening to Grateful Dead live recordings is a lifetime occupation but well worth it. No other band has ever collated and combined the entire history of north American music like the Dead. This is a brilliant collection of their greatest hits ('cos to be honest, it got patchy after '72) and the playing is just amazing. Special mention must go to Bob Weir (okay, he's a bit of a hero of mine) whose rhythm playing is often lost in the mix, here he is loud and proud and boy can he play. The common perception is that he only kept his place in the Dead because he was the best singer and the 'chick magnet', well on this reckoning we can hear what the band heard in him, a brilliantly inventive guitarist who defied the meaningless' rhythm / lead' divisions. He is simply the bedrock from which Garcia and Lesh could take off in all sorts of exciting directions.
And there's another thing, I've always preferred the Dead when it's just Bill Kreutzman playing drums, no offence to Mickey Hart but Bill powers the band along without ever cluttering up the sound. At heart, the Dead were simply a brilliant, driving, rocking, melodic band of misfits who found a home and this CD / DVD is one of the best testaments to that fact.
on 4 May 2014
I have a lot of GD-all the studio albums (apart from Built to last) 1,2,3 from the vault, live dead, and several of Dick's Picks and The Download series, and Europe 72. There is no such thing as the perfect Dead album or gig-so many factors come into play, but for sheer quality of singing and playing- This is the one. Even songs I don't normally go for like Jack Straw or Bird Song are really well played and especially for Bob, well sung. I am left wondering why, when Jerry and Bob could sing perfectly well, they so often didn't. The playing is superb,together and coherent without ever being forced or tight. (which sort of answers my point about the singing-all too often Bobby pushes too hard and strains his voice-here he sings within his capabilities) Jerry's guitar playing is immaculate. No one so far has even mentioned his superb solo on He's Gone,or even mentioned He's Gone! Possibly the best version from the 70's I've heard. Others have mentioned outstanding China Cat>IKYR, Dark Star, etc. Brilliant early relaxed and loping version of Deal (though I prefer the more driving 80's Deals).....It's all good, so sell your possessions(except for the means to play the album) and BUY :-)
on 6 October 2013
On a record-breaking hot day in Oregon in 1972, the Grateful Dead give one of their very best concerts. I saw the Dead in 1972, on a Friday in April at what was then the Empire Pool, Wembley, and it was, and remains the best concert I've ever been to anywhere. 'Cumberland Blues' from 'Europe 72' was played at that concert. The track list will be familiar to those who saw them around that time, with extended jams on 'Dark Star' 'Playing in the Band' and 'China Cat Sunflower' but there are also short, crystalline gems such as 'Mexicali Blues' and 'Me and my Uncle.' The fourth disc is a movie of part of the concert. It's ok - apparently Garcia commented: why do you want to make a movie of us, we just stand there and play! They all look so young, especially Garcia, resplendent in dark beard and glasses and playing everything with great verve and attack. The director of the (amateur) film seems a little too interested in zooming in on the naked young ladies dancing in the one hundred degree heat! Listen to the music!
What can be said about this extraordinary concert? If you're a Deadhead, you've had a soundboard recording of this on cassette, then in FLAC. Now available in three-CD and one DVD set of the epic 8/27/72 concert in the scorching sun at Veneta, Oregon. Long a staple of tape traders, this concert has great sound, and some of the wonderful footage filmed during the concert – including the complete Dark Star – make this an essential Grateful Dead release.
While the entire concert isn't filmed, it's worth having the DVD just for the Dark Star; this is the only Dark Star from this period on film, and it's one of the best.
on 7 November 2013
I saw the documentary about this concert in the theater before the album was released, and it was both fascinating and a bit frustrating -- it was great to see the band work the numbers that were shown -- especially "Dark Star," at 30+ minutes -- but you realized that we were missing a lot. The Godchauxes, for example, hardly get a look, until we see Donna Jean at the end, and there's a lot of general footage of naked people in the hot sun, which gets a bit tedious, though it is amazing that the band plays so well in tough conditions. On the other hand, the backstory of the concert was well set up, and it was touching to see these old pranksters. This box includes a DVD of the documentary, and the CD's of the concert contextualize the film nicely, and we can hear that the band was in great form throughout. "Dark Star" is a highlight, but the vocal standards are splendid too -- "Bird Song" and "Sing me back home" get lovely workouts, "Promised Land" has great energy, and "Deal" and "El Paso" go over well. The film showed a good bit of Phil Lesh, working hard, and so I listened for his line especially on the CDs and was rewarded. This concert followed closely on their 1972 European Tour. They were good there, and they're good in Veneta, Oregon. Highly recommended.
on 7 October 2013
This is a review of the vinyl edition of this excellent concert, arguably at the peak of their fame and prowess.
First impressions are that it's a superbly presented quad-LP. The construction of the cover is extremely solid - I think this is how LPs may have evolved if CDs had never been invented!
The music is excellent with a couple of reservations. The opening intro track is embarrassing and unnecessary - the faux-humorous tone of the announcer introduces the band is jarring. Times have changed I suppose but I wouldn't have included it - or at least I'd have cut it to 10 seconds rather than over 4 minutes of guff!
The set-list is pretty much as the Europe '72 triple album give or take, not surprising since the band recorded this shortly after returning from their European tour. The main difference is that there's an excellent Dark Star - which brings me on to my other gripe. Of necessity Dark Star has been split over two sides (it's about 10 mins longer than the seminal performance on Live Dead) which I don't have a problem with but the two sides are 6 and 7 which means that you have to change records rather than flip it over. It doesn't sound much of a problem and if truth be told it isn't the end of the world but why do it like that? As an aside (for a bit of history) US double albums invariably had sides 1/4 on one record and 2/3 on the other as opposed to the European standard of 1/2 then 3/4. The US logic being that on an autochanger (or a twin-deck system) you could just flip them over and there would be continuous play. Autochangers went out with the ark so why do they persist with this stupid arrangement? To be fair, I'm not sure this is a mistake as much as they didn't want to take too many liberties with the playing order. But just my 2c nonetheless.
The recording quality is what you'd expect from an early 70's live album - it's clearly been remastered but not to the detriment of the music. I suspect there has been sound-equalisation in some tracks though. One of the features of early LPs is they have quiet bits and loud bits - this recording is pretty much uniform hence my suspicions. As I said, it's not too detrimental - and I'm really no expert so it's probably not fair to criticise. Incidentally given that DVDs cost pennies to produce it's a bit mean of Rhino not to include the video of the concert especially since the CD version has it! I've seen low-res copies on youtube - the hippy thing looks so dated now but it is nonetheless interesting from a historic perspective.
There are a few smudges and marks on my copy and some ticks here and there - a bit of a surprise on a supposedly audiophile product but these are relatively minor so I'll let it pass.
All in all, this is a really nicely made LP, great music and a lovely cover.