Dick’s Picks Volume Eleven
4 out of 5 stars
Videos by American Songwriter
It may be hard to imagine that anyone other than the most insane Grateful Dead fan would need to hear any more music from the band’s legendary 1972 run. Not only are there two compilations from the group’s storied European tour (Europe ’72 and Europe ’72 Vol. 2, with no duplicated songs) but for those with fat wallets and a LOT of time, every show from that tour was made available in a mammoth limited edition 73 CD box set.
Still, there are good reasons for the re-release of this previously difficult to find Dick’s Picks item, recorded 9/27/72 at Jersey City, N.J.’s Stanley Theater. Although the sound is somewhat thin compared to the official European discs, the show captures the group in terrific form. The lineup featured only Bill Kreutzmann’s drums with vocalist Donna (underutilized and buried in the mix as usual) and Keith Godchaux on keyboards. It displays the diverse nature of the Dead who easily morph from classic rock and rollers (the show closes with a solid version of Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around” and also includes his “Promised Land”) to formidable country revivalists (Johnny Cash’s “Big River,” Marty Robbins’ “El Paso”), drugged out folkies (an opening 12 minute “Morning Dew” gets things off to a psychedelic start) and of course their own jammy selves on a stunning, 30 minute “Dark Star.”
The 25 song, 3 ¼ hour concert also includes material from both Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir’s recently released solo albums, interpreted by the group and further diversifying the already eclectic show. As the Dead closes in on their highly publicized 2015 final performances, it’s a pleasure to hear them when they were arguably at the apex of their powers as they are here.
We leave it to the cult experts to decide where exactly this particular gig falls in the overwhelming catalog of Dead performances already available. But for those who want a warts-and-all taste of a full show that displays all of their talents (with almost no audience interaction), this is a great place to understand what made the Grateful Dead such a legendary phenomenon.