The Grateful Dead - Rockin The Rhein
Have you ever wanted to believe the hype? Especially for those who love challenging, improvisational music, the Grateful Dead look awesome on paper. Four hour sets loaded with jams that approach the mystic, a traveling band of fans who are allowed to bootleg every show. In theory, the Grateful Dead are the anarchic spirit of rock in the flesh. But we all know that no band’s legend can last long on paper, or just by the memories of legions of stoned devotees. Too often the Dead don’t disappoint so much as don’t matter. Their studio recordings, aside from a couple early ones, are tepid folk-rock at best. Most live shows, especially those that document, say, their last twenty years, are self-indulgent, ponderous noodling that has about as much ambition as Phil Collins’ cover of "Tomorrow Never Knows."
Introducing Rockin’ the Rhein, a three disc set of a show in Germany from the band’s 1972 European tour, the one from which other official and bootlegged releases show a band that had something special, at least that night. The key track here is "Dark Star," which appears first in a 25 minute extended version in which there are no wasted ideas or riffs, and Jerry Garcia sounds like the inspired legend he’s been portrayed as by Deadheads. It returns later in a 14 minute reprise that is no less intense. Even the casual fan will know some of the other tracks here, like "Sugar Magnolia, "St. Stephen" but it is the cohesion and improv of the band, especially Garcia and the late Pigpen that make this an amazing release, one that ought to cause one to give these guys one more try.
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