8/21/72
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Grateful Dead reviews of 8/21/72

 

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8/21/72

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Grateful Dead reviews of 8/21/72

The Grateful Dead
Berkeley Community Theater - Berkeley, CA
8/21/72 

Set 1: Promised Land, He's Gone, Black Throated Wind, Friend Of The Devil, Jack Straw, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Me & My Uncle, Sugaree, Beat It On Down The Line, Stella Blue, Playing In The Band, Brown Eyed Women, Mexicali Blues, Casey Jones

Set 2: Greatest Story Ever Told, Ramble On Rose, Dark Star > El Paso > Jam > Deal, Sugar Magnolia, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Uncle John's Band > One More Saturday Night

Review 
8-21-72 BCT

Veneta was no anomaly; it was born of a week's worth of top-shelf performances. I mean, just listen to this show -- unlike 8-22's first set, there's no degraded sound; unlike 8-25, we've got the show in its entirety. Stereo separation is perfect for headphone listening, with Bobby's clear lines glistening off to the left against Jerry's salutory declarations to the right. Keith makes overplayed songs a pleasure to hear, as if we're being exposed to them for the first time. Phil occasionally saturates the tape with some heavy volume, but just enough to give it that edge of dangerous authenticity.

Frankly, if it weren't for that, there'd be very little to complain about here. Right from the get-go, we hear a band fired up to play, and even fairly low-key songs get a bit of jazzing up. Notice for example Billy's refusal to play a straight beat in "Jack Straw": defiant, out of step, and yet it works perfectly. Bobby performs the Godchaux introductions before "Playing in the Band", then the band tears into it with a fury rarely seen even later in the year, let alone later in their career.

"Dark Star" deserves a chapter just in itself; it's a full eleven minutes before the verse appears, and the savagery evident in PITB resurfaces here. When Jerry finally takes the exit for "Morning Dew", only Bobby follows -- Phil lays down a slab of refusal that Keith jumps on like he's dancing on an ex-landlord's grave. Jerry keeps signaling for "Dew", but Phil and Keith tear him away in a sonic riot. Only later do things settle down, and then Bobby eases them into a strangely appropriate "El Paso". After all that tension, it comes as a welcome relief! Pretty it ain't, but we have no reason to mind when Veneta's more successful version is so readily available; this is the messier first take, if you will.

- Because, more or less, that's what we've got here: Veneta's dry run. 8-24 shows us how it might have sounded if Jerry'd had his "Dew", but 8-21 shows us how they learned to work it out the way they did. In Berkeley was the form of fabulous Veneta born -- no show more so than this one. Highly recommended for casual and devout listener alike :-)
Ramble On Joe

Review of the Grateful Dead's concert performance on 8/21/72, at the Berkeley Community Theater - Berkeley, CA.
Grateful Dead reviews of 8/21/72

 

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