With so much musical goodness recorded during the Grateful Dead’s 1972 tour of Europe it’s not surprising to find multiple concert documents released from those dates – “Europe ’72,” “Hundred Year Hall,” “Steppin’ Out” and “Rockin’ the Rhein.” A deluxe edition that compiled all 22 shows from that era sold out shortly after its announcement earlier this year. A trimmed-down version, dubbed “All-The-Music” with 72 discs, is now available and should be just as popular.
For the cash-strapped there’s this two-CD set, “Europe ’72 Volume 2,” a worthy successor to the legendary “Europe ‘72” triple vinyl album. It compiles 20 tracks from seven different locales with updated cover art by Stanley Mouse of the Ice Cream Kid. A lively as ever “Bertha” begins the journey, followed by a cowboy romp through “Me and My Uncle,” an elegant swing through “Sugaree” and “Loser,” which has a more fluid pace that was lost in later years when it transformed into a mournful crawl. Much of disc one becomes a tribute to Ron “Pigpen” McKernan with highlights including “Chinatown Shuffle,” “Next Time You See Me,” and “Good Lovin’.” Later, he contributes strong organ work on “Not Fade Away.”
On disc two the musical explorations arrive. Starting off with a trio of numbers from the Bickershaw Festival, a disciplined “Dark Star” segues into “Drums” and then an epic 30-minute “The Other One,” which incorporates a space-laden section as well as a couple of potent jams. A calming “Sing Me Back Home” allows Donna Jean Godchaux to shine and sets up the final dance marathon — “Not Fade Away” bookending “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad.” With the final fade out after “NFA” concludes, this exhausting 135-minute run draws on nearly all elements of the Dead’s range with never a dull moment to be found.
It should also be pointed out that both discs sound amazing! One expects good things from the folks at Grateful Dead Productions but the clarity of these tapes is really a treasure. Even if you were never there, you can still feel as if you’re reliving the moment.