There are three seminal, essential live Grateful Dead albums, each a bit different, but each containing all the elements orf improvisation, multiple musical styles, and ensemble tightness that made the Dead so unique. These are Live Dead, Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses) and Europe 72. It is impossible to pick one over the other as *the best* of the officially released live Dead albums, and if I had to, I could live with no Dead albums other than these three, but I could not give up any one of them.
Europe 72 contains both some of the tightest compact versions of several Dead tunes, as well as some of the most ethereal extended jams. For those interested in the magic of what used to happen when everything just jelled exactly right, listen to Weir's unique idiosyncratic rhythm-lead solo between China Cat and I know you rider (yup - That's Bobby playing the lead). There are lots of examples of this jam on other live Dead recordings, but nowhere does the playing of all band members synergize in the segue as well as on this cut. Trucking-Prologue-Epilogue Morning Dew is basically one long piece of music. Epilogue gets really nice and jazzy and stretches things out like only the Dead could. Prologue merges into a Morning Dew that has a Bobby-Keith rhythm guitar/piano section that is so tight that even after listening to it for more than 30 years there are still parts where I can't tell if I am hearing Bobby or Keith. Jerry's vocals and lead are are stronger and more emotional on this than on any other Morning Dew available anywere. Europe 72 also features a wider range of styles from Jerry and the boys than either Live Dead or Skull and Roses, ranging from very countrified on Cumberland Blues to rock on One More Saturday Night to good old trademark Greatful Dead style everything but the kitchen sink on the long jams.
This is a great album. The new tracks are a nice feature, but not one of them is as strong as any of the originals (But Jerry's pedal steel on Looks' Like Rain is a nice touch). Still, this is one (of 3) Dead albums that is an absolute must for DeadHeads of all ages.
on September 17, 2003
I've been faithful fan of the Dead for over 30 years, since high school. "Europe '72", "American Beauty" and "Skull & Roses" (not its real title, but that's what most people call it) were the first GD albums that I bought, and they remain my three favorites to this day. Europe '72 is one of my "desert-island discs"-- one of those albums I never want to be without a copy of. It not only contains several of my favorite Dead songs, but also my favorite versions of those songs. "He's Gone", "Jack Straw", "Brown-Eyed Women", "China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider"... all are outstanding, and even though other excellent performances of these songs have been recorded over the years, to me these are the essential versions. "Truckin'/Epilogue" is one of the best long jams ever set to vinyl (or tape, or CD, or whathaveyou) and absolutely essential for those long drives up the coast. For me, only The Allmans' "Mountain Jam" comes close. The sound quality isn't great by today's standards, but it never was, and the new remaster is the best yet available. But even if it is a little muddy at times, the quality of the music transcends. If you're a dead freak, this album is simply a necessity.
on November 19, 2000
I have this on scratchy vinyl from my college days. Mainly I listen to my CDs now, classical and jazz. But every so often a voice calls to me from a great distance and I reach for an album that has special meaning. This is one of those. There is an emotional and musical depth here that transcends the songs and the lyrics. Something special, not to be missed. Here it is, 2000, and I went back to this well tonight. The difference now is that I can get online and tell all you folks ... enjoy.
on December 3, 2002
Apparently '72 was a mighty good year for the Dead. Not only did they follow the success of 1971's excellent Live album with this compilation of their European tour but they also produced the recent English tour collection. Although there have been accusations of too much cleaning up and editing, these are live recordings and personally I'm not sure what value there is in feedback and misdirection. These musicians usually planned such experiments. Be that as it may, this is among the best of the early Dead. Garcia and company are at the top of their game--a spectacular game it is. There's a lot of music here--blues, breakdowns, ballads. The disc begins with a fabulous rendition of "Cumberland Blues"--a real mountain breakdown with tight interplay between Garcia, Weir, and Lesh. Garcia's solo work is concise and accurate and it shows what he could do when he was focused and functional. "He's Gone" is a stately elegy, with good lyrics and a nice Garcia solo. "One More Saturday Night" the band recalls apprentice gigs at places like the National Guard Armory in Redwood City, California, where they played when they weren't supporting Kesey's Acid Tests. (With cardboard tombstones hand-painted with powdered tempura paints attached to their amplifiers, they played for folks to dance.) Listen to Hunter's lyrics on this song. He learned the narrative lyrical compression from Chuck Berry, and Jerry learned the chording and rock licks from the same place. This is a great song. "Jack Straw," a rambling, gambling, railroad traveling song could be the band's anthem: "We used to play for silver/Now we play for life." Nice Garcia leads driven by Kreutzmann's drums. Hank William's "You Win Again" showcases essential country roots, where Garcia exhibits his mastery of native guitar forms. The "China Cat Sunflower" on this album is among my favorites with fluid improvisational lines and coherent solos that showcase Garcia at his most articulate. "China Cat" segues into "I Know You Rider," a take on "Easy Rider" that extends Garcia's solo into a virtuoso performance of improvisational counterpoint. "Brown Eyed Women" continues Hunter's to the tradition of unfortunate rake songs--"Brown-eyed women and red grenadine/The bottle was dusty, but the liquor was clean." Again, the lead guitar provides lyrical interludes for the narrative of personal and social deterioration. "Hurts Me Too" shows that the Dead could play a real blues. "Ramble on Rose" is a slow shuffle with nice picking and enigmatic lyrics in which Hunter offers infinite possibilities for defining Rose. "Sugar Magnolia/Sunshine Daydream" is more descriptive of a relationship between musician and muse--a Southern belle incarnating southern music. Again Garcia's solos are logical and coherent and the band weaves its magic web of counterpoint. Pigpen follows with his "Mr. Charlie," based on Chicago blues. The theme for the balance of the album is rambling. The disc follows a great version of "Tennessee Jed" with an extended "Truckin'" (the real band anthem). In "Tennessee Jed" Keith Godchaux' piano and Lesh's bass underpin Garcia's lengthy solo to good effect. And this may be the definitive "Truckin'." At thirteen minutes, there's ample time to explore the possibilities of the song. Everything's playing as the long ensemble riffs evolve into a Dead improvisational jam. I suggest that this may be the definitive "Truckin'" because it is coherent, lucid, and harmonically inventive--the Garcia, Lesh, Godchaux, Kreutzmann quartet in particular. There are musical epiphanies here that extend into the track called "Epilogue." The "Prelude" experiments with sonic textures, harmonies, and intervals. The program concludes with a gentle "Morning Dew" a soulful vocal performance incorporating sensitive guitar and bass lines. Garcia's final solo is a fitting conclusion to an outstanding collection of music.
on October 3, 1999
The Grateful Dead were never better live than in this period. I was lucky enough to see them in '72.EUROPE '72 is without question the finest live Dead you will ever here.Jerry's singing and playing is unbelievable and the song's are among there finest. He's Gone,[unfortunatly],China Cat, Walk me out[incredible version],Cumberland,Ramble on Rose,Tennesse Jed, Classic, classic, classic. Europe '72 is a TIMELESS CLASSIC. If you have not heard it, you owe it to yourself to run out and get it . It will be your favorite for years to come.Thank you Jerry!!
on September 28, 2008
This album literally changed my life. I was about sixteen, I think. A friend of mine got me good and high for the first time in my life, then sat me down in a chair, put the headphones on, and left, coming back about half an hour later. By then, I truly believe that my brain chemistry had been permanently altered.
I had no idea music could sound like this. I had never heard ideas spilling out of someone like they came out of Garcia's guitar. Just endlessly inventive, on and on. I also love this album because, compared with some later ones, it's pretty spare. They're not afraid to be quiet. Not a bad moment in this, and an awful lot of transcendent ones.
If you listen to "Jack Straw" you can almost see the two men walking together in Texas, the heat, the tension, the potential for violence that's finally realized, and the realization that the only thing to do is go on.
It's beautiful, and perfectly realized.
on November 27, 2003
I have to say that I agree with absolutely EVERY word in EVERY other review, bad and good. Europe 72 was the end of the beginning. Arguably, it was produced to fulfill the Dead's contract with Warner Bros. Records at a time when the band was launching its own record label. Its proponent revere it for capturing the band at a zenith of its middle "Americana" period. And they're right.
To hear it in context, don't compare E72 to Dick's Picks (some of which *do* indeed offer better performances of the same material). Rather listen to it with the two releases that preceded it and the two that followed it.
Although most discographies show "Skull & Roses" and "American Beauty" coming before, there were two studio LPs released earlier in 1972; they were Bob Weir's "Ace" and Jerry Garcia's "Garcia" (released in Feb). Some of the songs heard here on "Europe 72" (released in Nov) appear on those two LPs.
"Wake of the Flood" and "Mars Hotel" came after.
The two earlier albums updated the Dead's exploration of American Roots music with a then-contemporary treatment with what was to that point the band's most successful studio recordings. The next two albums reveal a startlingly new direction for the band.
Perhaps by releasing Europe 72 as a three-LP set, the band bought the time they needed to move beyond country-rock formulas into new directions with more musical discipline including extended suites (on Wake) and songwriting structure (on Mars). It all came to a head on 1975's Blues for Allah. And then it came to an end.
The late 70s transition from Keith and Donna to Brent marked the next era in the Dead's long strange trip. So, Europe 72 can be seen as a fulfilling end to one Dead era, or as the transitional beginning of another.
on February 25, 2004
Originally a triple vinyl album (!!), Europe 72 was considered a very good album when it was released, late in 1972. Most bands both then and now go into studio, recording their new songs and then go touring to promote them. Grateful Dead did just the opposite thing. They were constantly touring, and usually played their new songs live long before they were to be found on any album. Instead of going into a studio, they recorded their songs LIVE, while touring, and released their new material as LIVE-VERSIONS. Europe 72 is the best example of this. Of the 17 songs from the original release, only five songs had been released on any Grateful Dead album before: Sugar Magnolia and Truckin (American Beauty), Cumberland blues (Workingman's dead), China-cat sunflower (Aoxomoxoa) and Morning dew (Grateful Dead). The rest of the material are new songs presented here for the very first time, in live versions! Well, that's not entirely correct, since Bob Weir's One more Saturday night had been released on his debut studio album Ace in May 1972, while the band was still touring in Europe.
Europe 72 was the document of Grateful Dead's first European tour. Grateful Dead brought their wives, friends, children and the whole crew with them, and the tour was a combination of a vacation and a tour. During two months, they played 22 shows in England, Denmark, West Germany, France, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. All the shows were recorded, and this CD is what came out of it. With this album, Grateful Dead wanted to present the rest of their new material that still hadn't been issued. The Dead were extremely creative between 1970 and 1972: The band released two studio albums in 1970, a double vinyl live album in 1971, plus both Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir had released their debut albums in 1972. Still, there were more songs left, and ready to be released. New songs, written by The Dead, included He's gone, One more Saturday night, Jack straw, Brown-eyed women, Ramble on rose, Mr. Charlie and Tenesse jed. This re-mastered CD also includes another two then-new songs; Looks like rain and the more obscure Pig Pen-number, commonly known as Two souls in communion (aka. The stranger). The song, a soul ballad, is one of the few songs Pig Pen wrote for The Dead, and this was actually the first official version of the song released. This song was only performed 12 times live, and of the three I've heard, this is the best version.
So, to the QUESTION: SHOULD I BUY THIS CD OR NOT?
Whether you're into Grateful Dead or you're not familiar with the band, my answer would be YES! Grateful Dead was, by 1972, on top of their career. They'd never been more popular, and due to an extreme creativity over the last 3-4 years, they had an enormous repertoire of songs to choose from. Musically, they now combined catchy blues, country, folk and rock 'n' roll songs with longer psychedelic and jazz-like jams. This was Pig Pen's last tour with The Dead, and backing singer Donna Godchaux' first. Moreover, the album was to be their last live album until 1981. Go figure!?
Highlights from this CD are definitely the version of the classic combination of China-cat sunflower and I know you rider, the version of Truckin' that leads into the jam (called Epilogue), Sugar Magnolia and Brown-eyed women. This re-mastered edition also gives you a real good version of Pig Pen's Two souls in communion. There are also fine versions of Hurts me too, Cumberland blues, Mr. Charlie, Morning dew and the bonus track, Looks like rain. If Pig Pen wasn't given a respectable place in the original edition, singing only on two numbers, this issue have tried to mend that, by putting almost half an hour of Pig Pen stuff at the end of the second CD, including live favourites like Good lovin' and Caution.
If you're not into Grateful Dead, you should by this CD, plus the new compilation, The Very Best of Grateful Dead. That will assure you a good start into the world of Grateful Dead. More stuff from the Europe 72 tour could be found on Stepping Out, England 72, a 4-CD from the Europe 72 Tour, released in 2002.
on January 4, 2005
beacuse you are either interested in the music and were told that this was a good starting place, or you lost your original copy and forgot how well put together these albums were.
A lot of the officially released Grateful Dead music doens't really do justice to the band (no looooong jams where Jerry tries to find the craziest notes, missing the breaks and the band warming up and rapping with the crowd, etc.).
Europe '72 does a good job though. It's a very clear recording, good song selection, a time where the Dead were playing well and had a lot of energy, etc. It was all working.
This gets a 5 because it's the best officially released album. It's great for a road trip, playing in the back yard, playing in the car, playing on the weekend, drinking a beer to, etc.
Beware though, if you like Europe '72 and want more, collecting Dead shows may be addictive.
on May 18, 2000
Europe 72 is a great Grateful Dead CD. It is not, "without question the finest live Dead you will ever hear." That is a statement actually far from the truth. 1972 was a great year for the band, and the Europe 72 CD is well worth purchasing. They jam songs out quite well, such as China Cat Sunflower and Truckin', while incorporating their own folk tunes such as Jack Straw, Brown Eyed Woman, and Ramble on Rose. This is a great place to start because it shows how versitle the group really is. Introducing someone to this CD is a great compromise between showing them the wildly psychedelic dark star/ feedback stuff from the late 60's and the straight up folk rock from American Beauty. Pick up this CD for some solid Dead, but keep in mind that these are still fairly conservative versions of most of the songs.