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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

1972 August 24 - Berkeley Community Theatre

Grateful Dead 1972

Thursday, August 24, 1972
Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA
Soundboard Recording

“Good time music by good time people”
Bill Graham introduction, 8/24/72

Once again I find myself overwhelmed by the way the Grateful Dead sounded so completely at the top of their game in 1972. In a year that saw a more subtle evolution than its predecessor, there is no doubt that 1972 demonstrated an amazing metamorphosis bridging 1971 to 1973. When one considers ’71 against ’73 they stand nearly as distinct as day to night. And while it is clear that there were many miles between these two years, 1972 showcases an amazing consistency throughout. End to end it’s a constant roller coaster ride through both the Americana Rock and wild psychedelic adventurism that were both completely the Grateful Dead.

Grateful Dead Newsletter 1972Tucked into the summer of ’72 are the August shows. Historically speaking, August contains one of the most famously heralded shows of all time (08/27/72 Veneta, OR) and what was long one of the most completely missing dates in all collections (08/25/72 Berkeley, CA). Woven into that soap opera are a bunch of other shows that can sometimes bleed into each other. And while the 08/27 show is a classic (someday I’ll review it, I’m sure), when I consider you coming over to my house to explore August 1972, my hand is going to grab the show from 08/24/72 every time.

You don’t need to hang around Grateful Dead tapes very long before you realize very little convincing is needed when it comes to listening to a 1972 show. So, allow me to highlight just a few obviously key elements and then step over to the stereo to turn the volume up too loud for us to talk to each other and hit the play button.

Set 1: Promised Land, Sugaree, Jack Straw, China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Me & My Uncle, Bird Song, Beat It On Down The Line, Tennessee Jed, Playin’ In The Band, Casey Jones
Set 2: Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Mexicali Blues, Brown Eyed Women, Truckin, Dark Star > Morning Dew, Sugar Magnolia, Ramble On Rose, Greatest Story Ever Told, Sing Me Back Home, One More Saturday Night E: Uncle John’s Band

mandelbrot set fractalIn the ever flip-flopping of shows from Dark Star to Other One in these early-mid ‘70’s years, this August 24, 1972 show flops to Dark Star, and also manages to capture a Bird Song, China>Rider, Uncle John’s Band, and the obligatory flip-flop defying Playin’ In The Band. It makes for ideal pastures as far as I’m concerned. And in listening to the more exploratory expanses of this fine show I am continually brought to the state of mind where my eyes can no longer perceive the physical space around me. The vivid imagery which floods my vision while my eyes are closed tight suffuses everything continually. And in that vision where light burns around shadows and perspective swims in a sea of joy, I am repeatedly exposed to a musical journey which seems to travel through a landscape constructed of a Mandelbrot set fractal.

Whether it’s within the Playin’ jam, or the amazing Dark Star, or even the insanely tight weave of the final Uncle John’s Band segment, I am forever feeling things move through either the vast open empty spaces of the fractal pattern, or cascading wildly through the forever repeating and coiling tendrils hidden deep in the details. These extremes are synched to the beautiful dynamics that the band is utilizing – something not always ascribed to 1972. Here on 8/24 the Dead are all at once fully at ease and wickedly electrified at the same time – something that manages to describe their essence through this period very well. And yet this show provides ample breathing room which only heightens the entire musical experience.

Phil Lesh 1972So let this show play for you and enjoy every moment. In particular be mindful of the way this Playin’ works the extremes. Relish the amazing Dark Star as it catches the quintessential 1972 groove, then flies into complete oblivion, only to return to the groove before drifting into a near complete stillness where it’s Phil who ushers in the luscious Morning Dew which follows. And then stick around for the Uncle John’s Band. It’s a stand out fabulous version which is elevated beyond description as Phil rapid-fires notes through the final crescendo section – a jaw dropping finale to another fabulous show from 1972.

Now let’s hit the volume knob and get this started.

08/24/72 SBD etree source info
08/24/72 SBD Stream


  1. Thanks for this. I had never listened to August 24 and 25 before, but the Charlie Miller SBDs on are remarkable. These shows may be the peak of their entire career. Dave Davis, Los Angeles

  2. Somehow I can't recall how I stumbled onto your blog. Regardless, it's now bookmarked. Listened to the 24th last night while doing other things...tonight it's playing again, though now it's just me, the music, and a warm woodstove on a cold October night. Thanks for being out there and sharing.

  3. Ice, Thanks again for another review. I'm pushing 40 years of Dead and I keep discovering this stuff due to your insight and Keep it up. Ron, Chicago.

  4. Another strikingly great '72 show. The boys were still on the bus, with all the attendant youthful spark, but their chops had matured tremendously. The band just crackles with energy. Great work you are doing here. Cheers.

  5. I so agree with you about the amazingness of 1972. I picked a great time to get on the bus!

  6. That you did. And I'd say that Deadheads are awfully glad you got on. Thanks, David.


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