Though it's taken nearly 40 years, what better way to follow up the hugely successful Europe '72 triple live album from the Grateful Dead than to release a sequel containing songs played on that historic tour of Europe but not included in the original live set? That's exactly what Producer & Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux set out to do here on Europe '72 Volume 2, a 2 CD collection of live material from the 1972 tour, featuring 20 songs that are near and dear to any true 'deadhead', but did not make it to the original album release. The end result is a wonderful companion piece to that classic live album, and it includes many, many standout moments.
Opening up with the rousing "Bertha", recorded in Copenhagen, things kick off in upbeat fashion, as the band are firing on all cylinders, with Jerry Garcia's guitar licks lean & mean, and the rhythm section of bassist Phil Lesh & drummer Bill Kreutzmann laying down some rockin' grooves. You get a classy take on "Me and My Uncle" from London, an emotional, and quite beautiful "Sugaree" from France (with Garcia in fine vocal form), a bluesy "Loser" & "Next Time You See Me" (also from Denmark & France), plus a thoroughly charming take on "Dire Wolf", complete with Garcia's countrified guitar lines. The real highlights on CD1 however are a rambling version of "Greatest Story Ever Told", filled with Keith Godchaux' honky tonk piano and Garcia's fiery wah-wah laced guitar solos, and a torrid 12-minute "Playing In the Band". The band pulls out all the stops on the latter, showing the world exactly how 'jam' started, as this one starts off with addicting grooves and catchy hooks before Garcia & Bob Weir start weaving their guitar magic amidst thunderous bass lines from Lesh. This one goes off into wonderous psychedelic, prog, and fusion territories that will thrill anyone into vast musical explorations, as Garcia really displays his talents as a soloist. Kudos also to backing vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux, who adds a lot to this piece and many other songs in this set. An epic version of "Good Lovin' " from Germany is fun from a musical standpoint, but Weir and Pigpen sound a tad strained vocally and it sadly knocks things down a bit.
Over on CD2, you get a 20 minute "Dark Star", which if course if filled with plenty of psychedelic improvisation from the band, especially between Garcia, Weir, Lesh, and Godchaux. There might be better versions of this tune out there, but this one certainly is a good one, with Garcia's liquid guitar solos soaring to the heavens. If that wasn't enough, there is also a monstrous 30-minute "The Other One" from a show in England, which sees the entire band doing their best 'free-jazz' impression, weaving in and around each other, fusing melody with dissonance, stretching out, then all coming back together as one. Things slow down for the poignant "Sing Me Back Home", also from England, but then the listener has a chance to get up on their feet and dance to a supercharged version of "Not Fade Away" from Wembley.
Europe '72 Volume 2 comes in a white digipack that stays true to the look and feel of the original Europe '72 album, and it includes a nice little booklet with color photos from the 1972 tour. The sound on all the recordings is quite good, and though many fans probably have heard some of these live versions in one format or another, it's no doubt a nice treat to have them all in a charming, official package for the first time. The timing is also perfect, as Weir and Lesh are in the midst of keeping the spirit of the Grateful Dead alive as Further, zigzagging across North America at the time of this writing, making it a great time, as always, to be a fan of this legendary band.
1. Bertha (Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark 4/14/1972) 5:55
2. Me And My Uncle (Wembley Empire Pool, London, England 4/7/72) 3:13
3. Chinatown Shuffle (Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark 4/14/1972) 2:38
4. Sugaree (Olympia Theatre, Paris, France 5/3/72) 6:56
5. Beat It On Down The Line (La Grande Salle Du Grand Theatre De Luxembourg, Luxembourg 5/16/72) 3:11
6. Loser (Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark 4/14/1972) 6:29
7. Next Time You See Me (Olympia Theatre, Paris, France 5/4/72) 4:57
8. Black-Throated Wind (Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark 4/14/1972) 6:00
9. Dire Wolf (Jahnrhundert Halle, Frankfurt, West Germany 4/26/72) 4:46
10. Greatest Story Ever Told (Olympia Theatre, Paris, France 5/3/72) 4:52
11. Deal (Olympia Theatre, Paris, France 5/4/72) 5:05
12. Good Lovin (Jahnrhundert Halle, Frankfurt, West Germany 4/26/72) 12:09
13. Playing In The Band (Lyceum Theatre, London, England 5/24/72) 11:55
1. Dark Star (Bickershaw Festival, Wigan, England 5/7/72) 19:51
2. Drums (Bickershaw Festival, Wigan, England 5/7/72) 2:24
3. The Other One (Bickershaw Festival, Wigan, England 5/7/72) 30:27
4. Sing Me Back Home (Lyceum Theatre, London, England 5/26/72) 10:58
5. Not Fade Away (Wembley Empire Pool, London, England 4/7/72) 4:26
6. Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad (Wembley Empire Pool, London, England 4/7/72) 6:09
7. Not Fade Away (Wembley Empire Pool, London, England 4/7/72) 2:45