Saturday, May 26, 2012

5/26/72 Strand Lyceum: "Saturday Night," Smoked Pork, & Barleywine

Sorry for the late post, but it's been four posts in four days, and it took me a while to finalize this one. I'll be posting a wrap-up in the coming days, so please check back next week. Thanks for reading, everyone, and it's been a lot of fun writing this blog.

When: Friday, May 26, 1972
Where: Lyceum Theatre, London, England
Setlist: (In order of the released CDs, stream the show on here)
  1. Promised Land, Sugaree, Mr. Charlie, Black-Throated Wind, Loser, Next Time You See Me, El Paso, Dire Wolf, The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion), Playing In The Band, He's Gone, Cumberland Blues, Jack Straw, Chinatown Shuffle, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Not Fade Away > Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad > Not Fade Away
  2. Truckin'^> The Other One > Drums > The Other One > Morning Dew^ > The Other One > Sing Me Back Home, Me & My Uncle, Ramble On Rose, Sugar Magnolia, Casey Jones  E: One More Saturday Night
As always, my personal highlights are bolded.
^ Appears on Europe '72

This show is hands-down one of the hottest of the tour (quite possibly the hottest). How fitting that it's the last show of the tour!! To be perfectly honest, much of the following review of the show is colored by my intense desire for the tour to continue!! This era of the Dead is truly a special thing to behold, especially when listening in such close detail to such spotless recordings. As a result, my personal highlights are largely colored by my listening experience over the past eight weeks, and for the first time I've been listening to the show for flaws instead of perfection. And there isn't much along the lines of flaws in this show (or many others, for that matter). I've noted a few times that I've been reticent to highlight entire sets, but I'm breaking the rules on this show. I can't find a flaw in the entire thing, but for a minor vocal flub in "China" > "Rider." Does that mean this show is getting the benefit of the doubt in a way other shows haven't? Absolutely, but it's the last show of one of the greatest tours in GD history, and I find no reason to apologize.*

Sam Cutler, in the liner notes to the first show at the Lyceum, remembers stumbling on the streets of London at 5 am, remembering all the professional promoters that took a leap of faith on an American band they had never seen perform - based solely on the Dead's reputation - to help them pull off one of the most magical tours in their history. No band could have been prepared to pull off a tour of such epic proportions in all the right halls in all the right towns on their own, without the assistance and guidance of the pros that knew the terrain.** Several of these promoters came to London just to see a bit more of the band that brought their unique brand of rock 'n' roll across the pond. It just goes to show how incredible this tour is that so many people who had never been directly involved with the Dead before March, 1972, were invested enough to make special accommodations to see them off at the end of the tour.

The first set is nearly flawless, and as close as we could reasonably expect from any group of mere mortals. Bobby starts out by begging the crowd's patience for waiting for the band to reach "an unequivocal state of readiness," to the point that "Pig is polishing his organ" (but not like that!). The show kicks off with a phenomenally energetic and tight version of "Promised Land" in which the band makes clear that this train is rolling hard out of the station. Hop on if you want a ride because this train cannot be stopped!!

"Sugaree" is exceptional, with a somewhat longer instrumental section that is typical for the year, and Pigpen's organ brings an unusual flavor to the early minutes. The song features a strong finish from Jerry  on vocals and the guitar. "Mr. Charlie" follows with an up-tempo, energetic rendition that would prove to be Pigpens' last. "B-T Wind" is played at a moderate temp and is stellar all round. To me is's flawless and emotional, one of the best on the tour and ever. Next up, "Loser" cranks out the desperation and turmoil, culminating in Pigpen's final version of "Next Time You See Me." The ensuing line, "Things won't be the same," only makes me think he's speaking the truth. Very different next time, my friend. Both "El Paso" and "Dire Wolf" are amazing: the first because of its longevity on tour, and the second for its rarity. Both are death-songs, but with a certain lightness and humor (at least at times). But the highlight of the first set is Pigpen's amazing "The Stranger." It definitely rivals any version we've heard so far, as much for the collective effort as for anyone's individual contribution. To me, this is Pigpen's farewell to his fans, and he's moved that the English crowd is so tuned in.

Thank you, Pigpen, for gracing us with your talent. May your soul find communion with another.....
Scanned from the program provided at the Lyceum, 1972.

The "Playin'" that follows is a remarkable piece of music.*** Longer than most of the many versions played in Europe, this one has plenty of room to explore. And explore it does!! At times it's spacey, and at other times it's slow and introspective. It moves from one to the other - and back and through the theme and lyrics - seamlessly, with passion and purpose. This is a second-set quality jam, folks, and we've still got quite a bit of the first set to go. "He's Gone" is stellar, with Bobby fooling round with the reverb early, and the jam continuing to grow late. It's so fantastic, featuring rumbling Jerry vocals coming out of the jam, it's puzzling to me when the jam ends with a cadence instead of flowing into the next song.

"Cumberland Blues" reminds me of how far we've come from that early post about the song and how far we've all come. WALSTIB, my friends. I can, again, find no argument about the following songs: Jack Straw" is precise, "Chinatown Shuffle" swings, and "China" > "Rider" is phenomenal. The latter (or lattest) is far mellower than most of the renditions on this tour, but they have a feeling of authenticity and introspection that is admirable and unique. Following "Rider," however, we are treated to most synergetic moment of the tour. The audience begins to clap the rhythm of "NFA" quietly at first, but in the end the band is compelled to succumb to the power of the groupmind. What follows is one of the finest versions of "NFA" > "GDTRFB" > "NFA" on the tour and in recorded history. Owing not just the fact that it's played at the end of the first set (not the second),**** this is a remarkable feat by the Dead to pull this off. You tell me, what could I possibly afford not to highlight from this set?

It's the second set that shines above and beyond on this show. From the jump, "Truckin'" is relentless, and it's been called "the standard by which all other... [versions] must be judged."***** I don't need to go into detail, since it graces the final section of the album, but from the beginning through the "Prologue" jam is a spectacular creation. Bravo, gentlemen. It rests a bit differently in the context of the show rather than the (edited) album release, but it leaves nothing to the imagination: with lucidity, touch, and gravity, the band is clearly dominating their final set before returning home. In the words of Jeff Teidrich in the Compendium:
Here's where things get interesting, and where it becomes apparent that we're in fo r some truly spectacular improvisation. Telepathy must have been in high gear on this evening, for every musical idea thrown out by any band member is immediately picked up and built upon. not a single note is wasted and not a single avenue goes unexplored. Complex polyrhythms and tonalities coalesce out of nowhere, live and breathe for half a minute, and then the band will turn, en masse, on a dime and head off in another direction. And it's all gold\. not one sour note, not one uninteresting tangent. This is pure improvisation at its finest.
Phil's solo before "The Other One" drop is a bit unusual, replacing a straight drum solo with Phil-bomb chords that present the main theme. I had always heard "The Other One" was left off the album due to its recent inclusion on the on the Skullfuck album, but in comparison to other (and recent) performances it falls short of the energetically high bar. However, you've never heard the drums feature so prominently in a jam on this theme, and it has the feel of a jazz trio, with bass and guitar merely adding color and light to a jam featuring an all-time drummer. In short, it's notable for its atypical constitution. The jam eventually falls into a fantastic drum solo, in which Billy shows just what he's capable of, blowing minds out onto the Strand. After substantial and fascinating solos, duets, and trios, we're treated to a rare second rolling Phil intro, followed by Bobby belting the first verse of "The Other One.' Keith jumps into the fray for an insane jam that appears on the album as "Epilogue," and I don't need to tell you what an amazing jam that one is!
As heard on Europe '72, the jam falls seamlessly into an over-the-top "Morning Dew" that takes the energy to yet another level. This rendition is one of the Mighty. It's always been immortalized at the end of the album, but listening to it in complete context brings another level of emotion and chaos. In Tiedrich's words, "Just as tension reaches its highest point - as you start to grind your molars into dust - the band releases the latch on the intense feedback and, once again turning on a die, creates some breathing space, a great collective musical exhale. Garcia, mindful of the delicate moment, opens "Morninig Dew" not, as usual, with a power chord, but rather with some gentle fretwork that gradually builds into the song.
Like "Truckin'" before it, this is the benchmark "Morning dew," the version against which all others must be compared. Each band member manages to build a delicate framework around this song, with (here's the collective mind at work again) very little overlapping of musical ideas. As one instrument makes a  tonal point, it recedes into the background and another steps forward.  
This is why we love the Grateful Dead!! The meltdown at the end is complete, and the rebirth rapid. Before you know it, the Dead are back into "The Other One" deep!! I cannot believe that a jam like this could survive the death-song shocker of "Morning Dew," but clearly the band isn't ready to say goodbye. Instead, after a brief break "to give us some time [to] scrape our brains off the ceiling and pour them back between our ears...," they decide to give the death-song a second whirl with an emotionally compelling "Sing Me Back Home." I'm surprised to say it continues to drive the show deeper, considering that I could imagine absolutely no conceivable way the "Morning Dew" could be topped. The clarity, melody, and soul-wrenching precision of this songs, on the most blessed of nights, leaves me tingling! Jerry's voice in the quite moments seem to be following Pigpen's organ (or vise versa), lending added LuSiDity to the entire experience. If you had any doubt to this point, you have to admit it's time to succumb.

Bobby buys time by telling how Billy vetoed this one last time, so it's up to him! "Me & My Uncle" scorches, leaving me wondering how, at this point in to such a phenomenal show, the band can continue to impress with a short freaking cowboy tune!! It's beyond me. I could listen to this "Ramble On Rose" every day and be happy about it. Everything you ever wanted the song to be, and then some. JERRY!!!!

We can't have another show without "Casey Jones" making an appearance, so we get a crazy  double set-closer before a great-as-usual "Saturday Night." I have so much to say about all this, but there are no words left.

Worth mentioning:
  • I discussed every song of this remarkable show in my initial review.
  • Check back in the next couple days for a tour recap and next steps.
  • Beer and pork (and the Grateful Dead) are a blessed combination.

Song of the Day: "One More Saturday Night"

At this point in the blog, I'm emotionally drained and have little to give by way of insight or eloquence. There must have been countless versions of "Saturday Night" when the band felt that way, and so much more. But they managed, throughout the tour, to rock this show-stopper hard, giving their audiences one last chance to dance hard before the end of the show. As you can see from the annotations, the lyric is relatively simple, about partying hard on a Saturday night. A good omen, don't you think?!

Bobby sets the scene of a raging party in a fully stocked armory. It doesn't take long for him to make a call to the audience, singing, "Temperature keeps rising / Everybody getting high." One of my favorite lines has always been, "Turn on Channel 6, President gets on the news / I get no satisfaction, that's why I sing the blues." It's funny to think how many horrible things occurred, in part, because world leaders couldn't get their rocks off. So sad.

The brief instrumental interlude features the rhythm section, particularly Keith's piano pounding out the rhythms. Before long, Bobby's back at it, taking the extremely big-picture view:
God way up in heaven, for whatever it was worth,
Thought he'd have a great big party,
Thought he'd call it planet earth
By the end, the band is in full rock-out mode and the crowd is in a frenzy: guitars screaming, four-on-the floor drums, rockin' piano chords, a start-and-stop rhythmic build towards the peak, Bobby's raging vocals, a return to rhythmic stops for emphasis, a bit of boogie-woogie, and the final push RAGES!! Yes, it just makes you want to shake your bones before the night is through!!

*     *     *     *     *

Final Cookout! Smoking Pig Parts

Just sharing with folks the smokehouse secrets. Come on by the festivities today for a taste and let me know what you think!

BBQ Pulled Pork
I'm starting out with two bone-in pork shoulders, rubbing them down with more than a half-cup of rub with salt. I allow them to rest a room temperature for a half-hour while I prepare the grill for smoking over indirect low heat.

Once the grill hits the target temperature, I put the shoulders on, smoking it for three hours until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. The meat is so soft at that point that the bone slides right out. I continue smoking the shoulders for a total of 8-10 hours over indirect low heat. By the time the meat's done, the meat is falling apart, and it takes a bit of finesse to get it off the grill and into a large roasting pan. I cover it with tinfoil, and let it rest for 30 minutes before pulling it into shreds and serving it on hamburger buns with some of that mustard-vinegar Carolina BBQ sauce. Delicious!!

Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Seeing as today I will be hosting a phenomenal BBQ, I'm going to give some insight into the plan. Part of the menu includes BBQ baby back ribs, in which ribs need not be smoked. They may, of course, but the dish features a sweet and spicy glaze that sets up perfectly over a slow roast. This recipe makes 3 racks of ribs, so adjust as you see fit

First of all, the marinate:

  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • Grated zest of 3 limes
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped ginger
In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients, blending for at least a minute. Set aside 1 cup for basting.

Trim membrane off of back of ribs, and season the meaty sides with salt and brush marinade over those sides. Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, prep grill for indirect cooking over low heat.

Brush grates clean and stack the ribs on top of one another (bone sides down) over indirect, low heat for 45 minutes.
Undo the stack and brush meaty sides with marinate. Re-stack ribs, reversing order. Cook over indirect, low heat for 45 minutes.

Repeat above process, cook for 60-90 minutes over indirect, low heat. Re-position ribs (after basting with marinade when moving them) so faster-cooking ribs are in the center of the stack. 

When the meat is tender and the meat has shrunk back from the bones, cook ribs over indirect, low heat for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally to prevent burning.

Transfer racks to a sheet pan, cover with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes before cutting into individual ribs. Server warm.

Sorry for the short alternate topic, but it's party time!! Thanks to all the friends and family who came from out of town and/or brought contributions that make any party a success!!

- Morning Brewer

PS (Pairing Suggestion): 

The most epic of shows certainly deserves the most epic of brews!! I present to you, the barleywine!! These are the strongest and most potent of beers, featuring heavy doses of hefty malts that mask all alcohol and drown out even the most generous of hop additions. Ranging well above the normal limit of earthly brews, this transcendent ale seemingly combines all others under its breadth. The style grew out of the English old ale, an aged ale with the malt-heft to stand up to the ravages of time in an era devoid of a clear understanding of basic biochemistry. Since they were aged in barrels, it's not uncommon for old ales to exhibit some tart or sour flavors from wild yeasts and bacteria. This isn't a tight, narrow style, and strength will range from 6-9% ABV with a broad range of colors, usually to the darker end of the spectrum. The flavors favor malt, as hops will fade as the beer ages, and these beers are often quite full-bodied and their sweetness may linger. Older versions may exhibit vinous, or even port- or sherry-like characteristics. Many beers calling themselves winter warmers would fall into this category. According to famed international beer writer, the late Michael Jackson, "It should be a warming beer of the type that is best drunk in half pints by a warm fire on a cold winter's night." English examples almost always have "Old" in their names, like the Gale's Prize Old Ale, the Olde Suffolk English Ale, and Winter Warmers from Samuel Smith's and Young's. Wonderful American versions include the Old Stock Ale from North Coast, the Curmudgeon from Founders, and of course Adam from Hair of the Dog in Portland.

The English barleywines that grew from these old ales tend to the darker side, with incredible depth to the malt flavors. The dark color usually comes from a lengthy boil rather than the use of roasted malts, so chocolate and coffee flavors are unusual. While quite strong (8-12% ABV), they shouldn't exhibit the "hot" flavors of alcohol but rather strike a balance between sweetness and strength. Usually these are the strongest beers a brewery produces and a bit hoppier than the old ale. Barleywines age exceptionally well, and many breweries now distribute bottles stamped with the beer's vintage. For authentic English versions, try the Bass No. 1 or Thomas Hardy's Ale (if you can find them, but neither are brewed any longer), the Thomas Sykes Old Ale from Burton-on-Trent (birthplace of the pale ale and the barleywine), of the amazing J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (fortunate enough to try a ten-year-old bottle of this at a recent homebrew meeting). American brewers also make quite respectable English-style barleywines such as the Old Foghorn from Anchor, the Blithering Idiot from Weyerbacher, and the Brooklyn Monster, to name a few. Of course, one of my favorites is my own brew #7 that is closing in on three years in the bottle. It's been interesting to enjoy this beer's development over the years, and I certainly should have been more judicious in saving bottles early in this beer's life.

American barleywines, on the other hand, are quite strong and exceedingly hoppy. There is a fine line between some imperial IPAs and some American barleywines, but it comes down to a matter of emphasis between the hops and the malts. Brews that swing more towards featuring hops will be imperial IPAs and those with dominant malt flavors are more likely to be American barleywines. Since hops are the first flavor to degrade, however, a brew that began its life as an imperial IPA could taste more like an American barleywine five or more years into its bottled life. Citrusy and resinous hop aromas and flavors are the tip of the iceberg, with plenty of bitterness to balance the biggest of malt bills imaginable. These beers are often lighter in color than their English counterparts, but there's plenty of pale and caramel malts to enjoy here! Mirroring the English history of Burton-on-Trent, American pale ales and barleywines both find their roots in Chico, California's Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, this time with the incomparable Bigfoot Ale. Some of my other favorites are the obscene Olde School from Dogfish Head (15% ABV), Hog Heaven from Avery (9.2% ABV), Great Divide's Old Ruffian (10.2% ABV), the Old Horizontal from Victory (11% ABV), last year's winner at Great American Beer Fest the Flying Mouflan (9.3% ABV), and Rogue's Old Crustacean (11.5% ABV). My new favorite is by own brew #50, which I'm calling the Morning Dew, a red-hued banger clocking in at 9.8% ABV. It's very young and quite sweet, but there are plenty of hops to bring balance to the brew. It will age quite well, and based on my lessons learned from #7, this one will be around for quite some time. These beers may be overly bold for many people, but if they taste too sweet at first, give them a good five or ten years to grown into themselves. You won't be disappointed!!

What food goes with a barleywine? Honestly, this is an after-dinner (and after-dessert) beer for me. No pairing necessary, just let your taste buds succumb to the intense flavors as you've let your mind succumb to this epic concert!!


* Not to mention the fact that this is the fourth show in four days, and in case you haven't noticed, my posts are rather involved. I give immense thanks to my supportive and understanding wife for all of her patience. I promise, we're almost done with this project (at least for now!). Future endeavors will be somewhat less ambitious.
** Cutler gives special thanks to the European Promoters Group, in particular John Morris and Tony Smith in England, and Fritz Rau, Knud Thorbjornsen, Norbot Gamson, Berry Visser, and Claude Nobs (haha!) on the mainland. Well done by all, and thanks for your part in making these recordings possible!
*** In the Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Vol. 1, Jeff Tiedrich makes mention that this is "one of the first to break through the 7/4 beat an diffuse into a free-form jam. The Dead had begun, over the previous months, to stretch this song out but had always kept things within the confines of the 7/4 time." Sounds good to me, but I can't count that high right now. I'll take your word for it, Jeff!
**** Tiedrich also notes this is the Dead's only version of "NFA" > "GDTRFB" > "|NFA" to appear in a first set.
***** Again, Tiedrich.


  1. I wish you a great great party this Saturday night and will be listening to 26 May 72 in a few minutes.
    I'll sure miss your great blog which I've been reading regularly since the beginning of the tour and hope that you'll write again in the near future. It's been a a lot of fun.
    Fare thee well!

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  7. My own observation of this show (the only of the complete set I bought) is that there were for me inevitable comparisons with the original Europe '72 LP set. The new remixes of the old 16-track tapes are a vast improvement. The vocals are tucked into the mix at a more realistic level, whereas the original mixes were a shade too vocal-heavy in my opinion. For me, at least, the new mixes for the complete set highlight what a good organist Pigpen was on this last tour. He knows his place in the music with the organ as a primarily textural instrument and not a soloing one. His organ playing is more or less mixed off the original LPs; here, putting him in the mix shows that he knew restraint as well as the function of his instrument in this ensemble. I've also noticed with this 7-piece band, Garcia chooses to take on the role of the baritone saxophonist. Competing with three chordal instruments (organ, piano, and Weir), he chooses to mostly play single note lines in the lower register of the guitar when he's not on a solo proper. Listening to this set shows me that Garcia was as much a thinking musician and a student of music as much as anyone in the band; his decisions are never whimsical and always musical. The sequence running from Truckin' through Sing Me Back Home is probably the best this band ever did, period. I don't think any show can stand as its equal. Incidentally, of all the horrible versions of Sing Me Back Home they played back in the states, this is the only version where they nailed it clean.

  8. Happy Anniversary!!

    Beautifully written... thank you!

  9. Great article - I was at the show; got lucky as a 15 year old who by chance heard the late great English DJ John Peel play Golden Road on his pirate radio show The Perfumed Garden. Late '66. Shot off into Manchester on the morning of St. Patrick's Day the next year to get my pristine Mono copy of the first album?

    Was I the first person to buy the album anywhere?!

    This kicked off a lifelong obsession with the Dead. I couldn't go to the 1970 Hollywood Fest gig, as the next day, I had my Oxford Uni Moderations (first year exams) - and if you failed, you were out with no appeal. So given that I would have got back a couple of hours before the exams started, coming down, I put discretion before valour.

    1972 early June I had my Oxford Finals. I got a 3.3, the lowest grade you can pass with :-). Whilst I could only get to the two Wembley gigs, Bickershaw, and the first and last Lyceum shows, there wasn't much left of me by the time the exams came around. Everything I had hoped to witness at the shows, I had, we consumed heroic servings of LSD, and passed the acid test. If there was one day I would go back to in my life, it would be may 25th 1972.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Just finished my own run thru of Europe '72 right on schedule and hours from Long Strange Trip in San Rafael. Couldn't have come at a better time. Constantly kept my spirits up while I've been recovering from a motorcycle accident. Glad I found your blog about halfway in. Time to track back to the ones I missed. Thanks for adding additional layers of awesome background and commentary to this stellar body of work. Where to now? '77? `90? `68? So happy to be in the Spotify era. These sets are a bit pricey on ebay these days. More left over for shows at TXR! ;D

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