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Grateful Dead - Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72 (2004) Retail CD
Steppin' Out (along with Hundred Year Hall) is probably the greatest example of how powerful the Dead were in 1972. This set contains, in my opinion, the greatest Dead lineup, minus Mickey Hart.
What is actually great about this set is that fans of the early Live/Dead era stuff or fans of the Post-Pigpen years will get the best of both worlds, here. You get Pigpen's B3 organ, Soulful Voice and astounding harp blowing wrapped up with Keith Godcheaux's stinging grand piano (he used the Helpinstill piano pickup system, that's why the piano always had somewhat of an electric feel to it, which youmore… couldn't get with microphones; piano players and/or Helpinstill enthusiasts, take note).
Steppin' Out contains so many definitive Dead moments that were never released. Disc 1 and 2 contain superb performances of the shorter songs, especially "Greatest Story Ever Told", "Deal", "Black-Throated Wind", and "Playing In The Band". Speaking of "Playing In The Band", I really think that this is the best version that the Dead had ever done of the song. I really don't think that any hour-long jams that this song bookended after 1974 really captured the essence of the song, as well as this version does.
Speaking of hour-long jams, the "Truckin'-Drums-The Other One-El Paso-The Other One-Wharf Rat" jam on Disc 3 is the true defining moment of this set. However, "Dark Star-Sugar Magnolia-Caution (Don't Stop On The Tracks)" on disc 4 is just as deserving of the same title. But the only problem I have with it is that Donna Jean Godcheaux doesn't get up and harmonize on the "Sunshine Daydream" section with Bob Weir. She did that so well when you heard it on "Europe '72" (although I read that Donna's part was later added during studio overbuds for "Europe '72", so that answers my question). After mayhem of "Caution", Disc 4 and the entire experience in general, ends with the best closing song ever imaginable, "Brokedown Palace". It just sums up everything that has been experienced throughout the duration of the set.
Getting down to the musicians, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh's lead guitar-bass guitar interplay has never been performed so well, especially in the cerebral modal crosstalk throughout "The Other One" and "Dark Star". Whenever Jerry plays low notes on guitar or Phil plays high notes on bass, they sound so similar, it's almost impossible to tell them apart. Bob Weir's solid rhythm guitar has never sounded so rich and full and hasn't since (during the tune up between "Ramble On Rose" and "Black-Throated Wind", he plays the opening guitar lick from "Weather Report Prelude", which makes you wonder what other things they may have needed these tapes for). Billy Kreutzmann's drumming is just so solid , especially on "Drums" where he rings in "The Other One" in true rhythmic splendor. Along with Kreutzmann, McKernan's random moments of backup percussion (tambourine [audible on "Deal", "Jack Straw", "Wharf Rat", and "Black Throated Wind"] maracas/shakers ["Sugar Magnolia", and "Playing In The Band"], guiro ["Uncle John's Band"]) really does at least make up for parts that were originally played by Mickey Hart in the studio. Still the double drumset crosstalk is sadly absent, and in a way was never the same again after Hart's departure and return, being that both Hart and Kruetzmann changed their drum sounds and styles radically after 1972.
Basically to summarize, any body who even likes the Dead a little bit, should get this set just to here really good live versions of their short songs, but any devoted Dead fanatic who followed the band in it's later years, but couldn't get over to England in time for the recordings of these shows (or you weren't born yet), should get this for the metaphysical/psychological rush of musical mayhem that is the jams, that encapsulate the ends of discs 2, 3, and 4.
The Dead sound very powerful, yet very natural. In later years, they would expand their stage setup with so much percussion equipment and amplifiers that the music seemed to become less original and astounding. This is why, in many respects, this was The Dead at their pinnacle, with Pigpen on his way out and Keith and Donna on their way in. Pretty much the only thing that could've made this better would've been a surprise appearance by Mickey Hart, but unfortunately that was never to be (at least with Pigpen still in the group).
So please, do yourself a favor and buy the album. I promise that a fan of The Dead on any level will love it.
|1||Cold Rain and Snow|
|2||Greatest Story Everr Told|
|6||Big Boss Man|
|9||Big Railroad Blues [Live]|
|10||It Hurts Me Too [Live]|
|11||China Cat Sunflower|
|12||I Know You Rider/Happy Birthday to You|
|13||Playing in the Band|
|2||Ramble on Rose|
|3||Black-Throated Wind [Live]|
|4||Sitting on Top of the World|
|5||Comes a Time|
|6||Turn on Your Love Light|
|7||Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad|
|8||Not Fade Away|
|9||Hey Bo Diddley|
|10||Not Fade Away|
|1||Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu|
|6||Other One [Live]|
|8||Other One [Live]|
|9||Wharf Rat [Live]|
|10||One More Saturday Night [Live]|
|1||Uncle John's Band|
|2||Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)|
|3||Dark Star [Live]|
|4||Sugar Magnolia [Live]|
|5||Caution (Do Not Stop on Tracks) [Live]|
- Grateful Dead - Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72 (2004) Retail CD
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- 21/08/09 by breakaway
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