Saturday, December 03, 2011

Part 2 or Disc 2 of Steve Seachrist Grateful Dead Review May 3,1972

Disc Two
1. Tennessee Jed
Having played this song dozens of times previously, and many times on this tour already, the Dead finally nail it for posterity here. They had lots of versions to choose from for the album and this one certainly deserved its place in history. And, yup, when
you hear those first riffs it’s pretty obvious that this is the same groove and ambience

Europe ’72. But right there in the first verse, it becomes clear that this is the
 original vocal and not the overdubbed one when Jerry sings, “Listen to the whistle of
passing train.” I’ve never heard him sing that before. Otherwise, the lead vocal and
 the backing vocals in the chorus are pretty close to the final version. Jerry is a bit more
exuberant here, with some raw emotion cutting through from time to time. He muffs
the line about “a few winks” which may have been the deciding factor in overdubbing
it. When the middle instrumental segment arrives, it is the same series of licks and this
was definitely used on the album. No wonder! It is as hot as this ever got. I love it.
Listen especially to what Weir does just under Garcia’s ripping lead. His interjections
are legendary here. The return to the final chorus and ending are utterly perfect, as you
probably already know. One aside: there is very little organ in this mix and absolutely
none in the original album mix.
2. Good Lovin'
Phil rather tentatively begins this and first Jerry, then the others, join in and build it
to a giant platform for Pigpen to ride atop. He sounds fully engaged and the band
plays loud and just edgily enough to keep it very real. The second chorus deflates and
immediately puffs back into a frantic jam led by Garcia playing fantastic, ripping guitar.
It calms suddenly and Pig comes back in with his improv segment. Lesh somehow gets
crossways and plays in a disharmonious key for a few bars, then returns to the planet
the rest of the guys are on. The rap is similar to others in most ways but it certainly
improvised word by word. I get chills as he hollers, “Come on daddy! See about me!”
By 7:00 the band calms and Pigpen decides to come home from his four-day drunk. A
substantial amount of hell breaks loose after this, with the guys veering off into a spacedout rock jam that temporarily quiets our narrator. They get quieter and quieter and Pig must re-enter almost at a whisper. I’ve never heard him this gentle sounding. He needs a little greasin’ and teasin’ and pleasin’, he says. The jam builds as the sex presumably commences, although Pigpen is never totally explicit. He wants to shift on up into overdrive and keep your transmission alive. Soon, Phil and Bobby are playing odd harmony versions of the theme and Jerry finds an even odder harmony to throw into the mix. They shift slowly to the melody and the song reprises. This one is supremely hot, too. Jer even throws in some of the rapidfire licks he would use on much later versions.
3. Sing Me Back Home
Here we have the first version on the tour of what would end up being a long string of
takes. Maybe they were considering it for the album. Pig is back on organ, lending a
funereal tone to this sad death march. Donna chimes in on the chorus, sweetly. The song is a lengthy dirge and if you are in the mood for that, this version is really beautiful. By the third chorus, Donna embellishes the “come alive” line with nice muscle. Then Jerry lights into his solo and just kills it as Phil goes a few unexpected places. It all works perfectly. This makes the next verse sound that much more poignant. By the time the last chorus arrives, I’d have to say I’ve never heard a better version. Sure, it has its little glitches here and there but overall it kills. The ending is enormous. Love it.
4. Casey Jones
And now for something completely different, as Monty Python used to say. It’s time
once again for that tragic train ballad. Oops, Jerry gets confused coming into the verse.
He doesn’t let this stop him from chugging forward with great steam. In fact, this version is just full of all the right electricity. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song and this take in particular was in consideration for the album. The solo section is off the rails. Weir does some spectacular things just after that. The repeat choruses come up and Billy adds speed. Watch it! The song travels perhaps one bit past it as Jerry wants to end but gets carried by the rest of the guys into one more round. Intermission is called and we hear the Parisians calling out for more music.
5. Greatest Story Ever Told
Presumably the crowd stuck around. Bob introduces Donna and Phil introduces Keith.
The band kicks into this with tons of energy. Jerry and Keith especially grind into their
parts hard. Donna sweetens the first chorus and Bob adds that cool little lick to turn it
back toward a verse. Fantastic. Hear Keith just after the second chorus as he rocks the
keys. Then Jer takes over with a furious run on the wah-pedaled guitar. The changes
in the middle are again suggested rather than explicitly played at first, then they slowly
come into focus until the jam boils over into the return chorus. This is not subtle, it’s
great in every way. The wrap is noisy and sublime all at once.
Ramble On Rose
This thing stumbles a few times before righting itself and coasting into the first verse.
The groove is good by then, though. Jerry sings it in his best 1972 voice and the band
nails all of the accents. Pig heats up the first bridge with whistling organ and the other
guys create a mess of more percussive sounds. The little solo after that has a small hole
in it but once fixed it squeaks like the best of them. This version has enough tiny loose
ends that you can hear why it wasn’t selected for the album, but it’s a nice alternative.
The second bridge is perhaps just a bit more mellow than the first but it ends big. That
leads the energy coming into the last verse and the Paris crowd gets a dose of good
rocking here.
6. Hurts Me Too
Jerry very soulfully leads this in with a metallic slide solo. Pig is slightly flat in his
singing, and this was often the case on this tune. The first verses coast by, full of blues.
“Yes it does,” Pigpen intones quietly just before giving us a taste harmonica. He quits
that after one round and Garcia picks up the slide again and wails. His second time
through is pretty insane yet in tune (compare to later Weir slide solos for contrast) and
Godchaux helps land it with a cluster of chords. Back to Pig for a verse. High marks for
playing, kind of low for singing. The ending is trashy fun.

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