The GRATEFUL DEAD – ” Lyceum 1972: The Complete Recordings “

Posted: July 24, 2022 in MUSIC

Four Complete Shows On Vinyl For The First Time Ever “Lyceum Theatre”, (5/23/72)Lyceum Theatre, (5/24/72)Lyceum Theatre, (5/25/72)Lyceum Theatre, (5/26/72 )New artwork by Brian Blomerth and classic designs from EUROPE ’72: The Complete Recording by Scott McDougall a52-page book featuring an essay by noted Dead scholar Nicholas Meriwether. Sourced from recordings by Betty Cantor, Janet Furman, Bob Matthews, Rosie, and WizardMixed by Jeffrey Norman and Mastered for vinyl by Award winning engineer David Glasser all Individually Numbered, Limited Edition of 4,000

“What fans heard in these four {Lyceum} shows was both a history of the Dead and a survey of their unique vision of American music, from folk to rock, with blues and R&B and country-and-western and Bakersfield all included, all melded together by the improvisational spirit of American jazz in a small-group format that owed much to European classical music.

The repertoire made a statement: this is who we are. And while that honored their roots and surveyed their history and evolution, the overwhelming focus was on the present. At the Lyceum, show goers heard a tapestry of music that knit together the disparate strands of the ’60s psychedelic baroque of “Aoxomoxoa” and “Live/Dead” with the Americana turn epitomized by “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty”, which in many ways both continued and culminated in “Skull and Roses“.

English fans were especially delighted to hear the new songs — for fans accustomed to bands using concerts to promote their records, that kind of generosity was striking. Those songs showed a band that was consolidating and deepening its distinctive approach to American vernacular music while still expanding the range of what that could include. Pigpen’s two originals added a distinctive flourish, but the new tunes also made it clear that Weir had emerged in his own right as a singer and songwriter, as well as showing that the wellsprings that fed Garcia and Hunter’s music were drawing on ever deeper aquifers.”

Imagine, if you will, being amongst the first to witness the merry band of misfits that had taken over the good ol’ U.S. of A. conquer foreign lands. When the Grateful Dead first unleashed their magic on the cautiously optimistic patrons of Wembley on 4/7/72 and 4/8/72, it was with the idea they would have just these two nights to impress a traditionally reserved London crowd. It turned out to be a smashing success, and they set about locking in four dates at one of London’s most storied venues, the Lyceum Theatre, to wrap up what some consider one of the greatest tours in rock history.

On these four nights, we find the band hell-bent on telling ’em “how it’s gonna be,” and boy, did they ever. Powered by what Jerry called “peak optimism,” they delivered a steady dose of “primal Dead,” – sometimes searing, sometimes soulful, sometimes serious, but always unwavering in focus. This willfull determination moved them through transitive takes on “Dark Star,” to majestic heights with “The Other One,” through marathon runs of “Playing,” another minute, another mile. It found Phil, philosophizing on how to “put our music into a place,” Bob and Jerry masterfully duelling as two of the top songwriters of their time, Bill elegantly ferrying songs to new lengths, and new members Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux adding organic warmth. And Pigpen? Well, he dotted his beloved classics – “Good Lovin’,” “Mr. Charlie,” “Lovelight,” “Two Souls In Communion” – through set after set, conjuring up more clarity and charisma than anyone would have expected for his final few shows.

The July 29th, “LYCEUM 1972: The Complete Recordings” marks the Dead’s largest vinyl boxed set of all time, a 24-LP collection featuring these storied final four nights in their entirety on 180-gram vinyl for the first time ever. Limited to just 4,000 copies, the individually-numbered set comes in a colourful slipcase with new artwork by Brian Blomerth. The four shows are organized in individual clamshell boxes, each one featuring the cover art that Scott McDougall created for each concert in “EUROPE ’72: The Complete Recordings“. The accompanying book includes a new in-depth look at the Lyceum shows by noted Dead scholar Nicholas Meriwether. And that all-important question of sound? Jeffrey Norman’s luscious mixes are finally being heard in their full analogue beauty.

“50 years ago, when Europe ‘72 was released, the third LP of the set included some of the finest music the Dead had ever played, and thankfully, recorded. “Truckin’,” “Epilogue,” “Prelude,” and “Morning Dew” knocked everyone’s socks off. Decades later, when tape traders were able to hear the entirety of this final show, not only were they greeted with this spectacular 40+ minutes of music, but what is widely considered one of the best complete shows the Dead ever performed. With “Playing In The Band” clocking in at more than 17 minutes, by far the longest version of this improvisational masterpiece by this point, and ending their first set with the traditional second set closing “Not Fadethe Dead signalled that they wanted to leave everything on the stage.

They clearly weren’t out of gas and wanted this tour to keep rolling. If there is one show that encapsulates the entirety of the excellence of the Europe ’72 tour, it’s this one. Pigpen would sing a few songs, the final show at which he sang, as he left the band a few weeks later.

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