Grateful Dead

Rockin' the Rhein with the Grateful Dead

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Although the Grateful Dead's 1972 European excursion has been the subject of several multi-volume packages, Rockin' the Rhein With the Grateful Dead (2004) is the first inclusive and unedited concert taken from their initial full-fledged tour outside North America. According to the liner notes "...some very minor adjustments had to be made to the show's running order, both to keep all of the musical sequences intact and to present you with the complete show, unabridged." Producer Jeffrey Norman commented, "I realize everyone is used to the CD order because that's the order on the [surreptitiously traded] rough mixes, but that's not truly how the sets went down. I found that out when I put on the multi-tracks and listened to the segues between songs, as well as the '...thank you we'll be right back...' after [both] "Casey Jones" and "Sugar Magnolia." If we had kept the original set order, we would have had to break up the long segments. [The approach we chose] seemed a more musically, if not historically, pleasing thing to do." Hence, there were, in fact, three sets played that night. The first is replicated as it happened, while the second boasted the meaty "Dark Star" suite running through "Sugar Magnolia." According to Norman, the third consisted of: "He's Gone," "It Hurts Me Too," "El Paso," "Not Fade Away">"Going Down the Road Feelin' Bad">"Not Fade Away (Reprise)," followed by the "One More Saturday Night" encore. That noteworthy historical caveat aside, casual enthusiasts as well as Deadheads alike have long praised 1972 as a challenging and pivotal era. A rousing "Truckin'" kicks things off, initiating a set that yielded effective run-throughs of primarily newer tunes, such as Bob Weir's (guitar/vocals) Bakersfield-influenced "Black-Throated Wind," Jerry Garcia's (guitar/vocals) "Loser," and the Ron "Pigpen" McKernan-led "Chinatown Shuffle," "Mr. Charlie," and "Next Time You See Me." Things really begin to gel during the "China Cat Sunflower">"I Know You Rider" coupling. Their inspired interaction on the pairing continues for "Playing in the Band," foreshadowing the epic "Dark Star" ahead. Keeping to the track list here, the next set commences with the second-ever live performance of "He's Gone" that suffers a few minor growing pains perhaps not even discernible to the casual listener. The aforementioned "Dark Star">"Me & My Uncle">"Wharf Rat"> "Sugar Magnolia" finds them unleashing their true psychedelic potential as the collective improvisations are nothing short of transportational. While practically anything would pale in comparison, the reading of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" -- split by a refreshing "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad" -- maintains a substantive energy level and boasts some of Garcia's trademark crystalline string work. The bonus tracks feature two McKernan classics from May 24, 1972, at the Lyceum in London. The highlight is an exhilarating "(Turn on Your) Lovelight," which marks the final time the concert staple was driven by Pigpen, as failing health prohibited him from touring again. Accompanying the discs is a nine-panel poster sporting black-and-white photos and a replica of artwork. Parties purchasing Rockin' the Rhein (2004) from the band's own merchandising website can take advantage of a CD premium offering 73 minutes from a series of March 1972 shows for the Academy of Music, New York City March 1972 (2004).

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