our apologies to our pals at doom & gloom as we missed this one last week. hell they are probably thinking where the hell is your submission too??? working on it! anyways europe 72 - enough said!
SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Wembley Empire Pool, London, England, April 8, 1972
After some time in the 1980s, Jacob King takes us back to ‘72. This one was released officially; you can check it on your streaming service of choice. But I’ve included some highlights below so you can dive into Wembley Pool.
This offering from the Dead’s famed Europe ‘72 tour is positively smoking as the band rips through classics, works through newer numbers, and then splits everything wide open in the second set with a massive “Dark Star” > “Sugar Magnolia” > “Caution.”
The first sets for most of the Euro ‘72 tour had a fairly standard set of songs but being that 4/8/72 was only the second night of the tour the band seems fresh and hungry. My money is on opener “Bertha” which blazes into an ascension of spiraling guitar lines and propulsive rhythms from Lesh and Kreutzmann. Another barn-burner comes later in the set with “Cumberland Blues.” Nothing is ever perfect in Dead world but this “Cumberland” comes close to everything one could want from the band in under six minutes. Their ability to mine an old, weird, American sound and turn it inside out on itself is breathtaking. It’s no surprise they put it on the official Europe 72 release. It’s a ripper.
Other first set highlights include a compact 11m “Playing In The Band" that only hints at the direction they would take the number by the end of ‘72. I’ve always dug how the PiTB’s from this tour don’t sprawl as much as they do shimmer. As the band launches into the jam Weir’s chords gently prod the band forward as Jerry’s guitar runs circles. By 6m into the track this thing is really vibrating and a minute later Jerry brings it all to a climax in a cloud of shrilled notes and slight dissonance.
No surprise that it’s the second set where the really jams fly. Hard to say if I have a favorite “Dark Star" but this one is certainly up there. The track opens with nearly 10m of exploratory black hole jamming. By 8m30s Jerry has the guitar screaming and probably freaking out a few heads who took too many tabs. The subsequent comedown is a subterranean groove that gives everyone a chance to exhale, slightly. (To think they haven’t even sung the lyrics of the song yet.) After the band settles down enough to sing the lyrics the group explodes into dissonance (the kind of stuff I like to give to the uninitiated who think the Dead are soft or something) and into a number of melodic and not so melodic jams that Kreutzmann expertly molds. I really admire Kreutzmann’s restraint here; he knows just when to ride the cymbals or when to coming crashing in to help give life to what the rest of the band is mixing together. If this "Dark Star" had ended with what seems like a final squall of noise, I would have said, as the Jews say, "dayenu." Instead, the band bursts into a rollicking "Mind Left Body" jam that holds off the oncoming "Sugar Magnolia" for a few more blissful minutes. That latter is lots of fun, as is the "Caution" that follows it. Bonus that Pigpen throws in some harmonica in the back half of "Caution."
It’s a real treat when everything clicks, even more so when it clicks for nearly an hour of non-stop playing as heard in this “Dark Star” > “Sugar Magnolia” > “Caution.” Dig it. This show seems to now be on Spotify so no excuses for not checking this slab of ‘72 out.
Jake King is a video producer living in Brooklyn, NY. You can find him on twitter @cptblicero tweeting too much of nothing.