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Issue: October 2011

Grateful Dead

Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 4 and Europe '72, Vol. 2 (www.dead.net)

The Dead have released decade-apart concert recordings from 1972 and 1982, which demonstrate the change in their sound and approach. The original Europe '72 was a 3-LP set, reissued later on 2 CDS. The new 2-CD set is drawn from a massive 73-disc set including all the recordings from the tour. Volume 2 wisely presents an entirely different set of songs than those on the original album. The Dead, touring at a relatively relaxed pace to new audiences, sparkle and shine through shorter pieces such as the then-new pieces "Bertha" and Pigpen's "Chinatown Shuffle." Although he was in seriously declining health, Pigpen could still rouse an audience with his patented workouts on "Good Lovin'" and others. The deeply exploratory side of the Dead is represented by the legendary, almost hour-long "Dark Star>Drums>The Other One" from the Bickershaw Festival. As of this writing, complete individual shows from this tour will be available separately. The original deluxe box sold out its 7200 edition within days, and a bare-bones pack was then made available.

A decade later, the Dead had returned to its two-drummer lineup, with Brent Mydland on keyboards and vocals. Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 4 is a 3-CD set of the complete April 6, 1982 Philadelphia concert, with excerpts from the prior night there. During this era, the band's sound was a bit more polished, yet more predictable. The first disc comprises a typical first set for the era. The second set allows more room for jamming, with the funk of "Shakedown Street" leading into "Lost Sailor/Saint of Circumstance," which in turn rolls into the mythic lyricism of "Terrapin Station." The drummers take over with exotic percussion, devolving into the Garcia/Weir/Lesh "Space" noodling. The editing is odd, as the opening strains of "Truckin'" fade, followed by some songs from the prior night, before "Truckin'" resumes on disc 3. In any event, this release is enjoyable, but perhaps essential only for those who were there or whose early shows were in this '80's.

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