100 Days of The Grateful Dead: 12/31/72 Winterland, San Francisco - soundboard (SBD) 320 kbps mp3 download, setlist
Grateful Dead -- December 31, 1972 / Jan 1, 1973
Winterland, San Francisco
12-31-72 a.k.a. 12/31/72 aka 72-12-31
1st Set: Around And Around, Deal, Mexicali Blues, Brown-Eyed Women,
Box Of Rain, Jack Straw, Don't Ease Me In, Beat It On Down The Line,
Candyman, El Paso, Tennessee Jed, Playing In The Band, Casey Jones
Set 2: The Promised Land, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,
Big River, Sugaree, Truckin-> The Other One-> Drums-> Drums & Bass->
Jam-> Space-> Jam-> The Other One-> Morning Dew, Sugar Magnolia,
Sing Me Back Home, Johnny B. Goode
Set 2: Uncle John's Band, One More Saturday Night
Great show? Yes, a great show.
The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Volume 1:
An In-Depth Guide to the Music of the Grateful Dead
on Tape, 1959-1974 by Michael Getz and John Dwork
[out of print]
The final show of 1972 actually begins with the first second of 1973. After a momentous countdown the band begins perhaps its poorest first set of the season. The set ends on a high note, however, with a fine version of "Playing in the Band." Garcia is barely present during the first-set songs, but during the improvisational "Playing" he is omnipresent. The jam consists of four themes. The first has Garcia playing in a relaxed and cautious state while the band taunts and jeers at him. Ultimately, after much meandering and exploring, Garcia penetrates the jam into a "Playing" frenzy. Garcia and Lesh work this together for a few minutes before Garcia emits a few strange but appropriate sounds. The descent to the reprise is long and well done. Just as the band concedes on the timing, it sounds as though one is looking at a small pond deep inside the north woods as the morning sun breaks.
The second set begins with solid but deep versions of "Promised Land," "Half Step," "Big River," and "Sugaree." The jams, though structured, yearn for an inner level. "Truckin'" provides just the vehicle they desired. The jam out of the song sends the band way into outer space. A structured "Truckin'" strut quickly evaporates into a delirious "Truckin'" light-speed drift with the whole band displaying stellar form. Lesh seems to be controlling the flow as he fights to maintain "Truckin'" and not enter "The Other One." The result is easily the longest "Truckin'" > "Other One" interzone jams of the band's career. A stubborn Garcia attacks Lesh with an array of new and deeper themes, crying out for a "Cryptical" rhythm, but to no avail. Ultimately, the jam and Garcia begins to slow down for what would logically be a drums solo, but Lesh surprises the band with a sudden but calm bass roll into "The Other One." Garcia and the band race after Lesh, but the resulting "Other One" jams are dreamy and relaxed. This transition is quite impressive, allowing the listener to sneak into one of the Dead's more intimate moments. Entering the jam at this point is David Crosby, who for the most part plays a cautious and nonhindering rhythm. Crosby entered the jam at one of its drippiest moments: a daring feat. After a serious of twisted and sedating "Other One" jams, the pace slowly comes to a close and Billy takes over. After an impressive drums solo, Lesh is the first to return and enter another classic '72 bass solo. Instead of a fast pace, he creates a funky upbeat groove that for the most part exits "The Other One." Garcia and the band, still including Crosby, return on top of this Kreutzmann-Lesh creation and enter one of their finest improvisational jams. Garcia really holds the reins here, controlling not only the pace but the direction, too. Jerr enters into an overdrive jam, digging deep into the annals of the Dead. The resulting jam features Garcia improvising at a mind-boggling pace and creating some beautiful sounds in between. The band retains a tight rhythm, but as with some other of that era jams, sometimes they do nothing but listen to Garcia in awe. Garcia appropriately dive-bombs the finale, spiraling down into a "Tiger" space. The drop is slow, however, and it feels like a strongman slowly dropping through the air. Lesh in particular provides some haunting bass bombs and along with Garcia creates yet another demented "Tiger" roar. During its aftermath Jerry enters another fast-paced jam, but the band doesn't catch the bait, and it quickly diminishes into a sensuous Weir solo that leads the band to an uncomfortable silence screaming for Lesh to take over. Lesh does seize the moment, returning the band to the monster that created the current space. An enormous bass roll launches Garcia and the band into a series of nasty "Other One" jams before entering the first "Other One" verse. After the lyrics Jerry wanders away from "The Other One" into a beautiful jam. Indeed this jam, which lasts about five minutes, is probably the most serene of that era. It is almost as if Garcia suddenly realized that the jams set up through their 1972 repertoire could no longer exist in the following years. This jam then, which I'll dub "Enlightment Jam," is the final serenade for what may have been Garcia's finest year. All of the band's various 1972 explorations seemingly led them to this final dance with improvisation. Listened to closely, this theme will give the hearer a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye. Appropriately, this melts into "Morning Dew" and gives Jerry one last chance to moan through lyrics and his guitar. Garcia really puts forth an emotional display. The finale is monstrous: the band has finished its last 1972 quest. Although the following years would allow the band ample exploration, the fall of 1972 featured night in and night out explorative improvisational bliss. This truly was one of the band's peaks, and probably was Garcia's peak as an improvisational guitar player. New Year 1973 is completed with structured rock 'n' roll and in that respect foreshadows the upcoming years.
FLASHBACK: You may not believe this but by the time December 31, 1972, rolled around I was getting pretty down on the boys. As far as I was concerned, it had been downhill since Mickey left, and the first time I'd heard the band with Godchaux I about puked (at the Chicago Auditorium Theatre, October 21, 1971). They did "Dark Star" and "Saint Stephen" in that show--which ought to have been a thrill, right?, since I hadn't seen them do either before, but their performance was so lethargically abysmal, I thought they might as well just hang it up. It just didn't seem to me that the Dead were into making music anymore. My Deadfreak friends and I were pretty agreed that the Skull and Roses album, which came out about the same time, was a downer: good songs but bad renditions and odd selections (couldn't they tell good nights from bad ones anymore?). In short, it was becoming depressingly clear that '69-'70 would never happen again. Anyway, the good news was that I had caught them in Berkeley on August 22, 1972, and enjoyed myself. It seemed like they were getting a new style together, working Keith in a bit and even jamming respectably despite having only one drummer. And so when I found myself on the West Coast again at holiday time, I got tickets for the New Year's show at Winterland. However I was still thinking that I wasn't going to be interested in following the Dead much longer--it just wasn't fun anymore . . .
Winterland is packed: we are about in the middle of the floor . . . As things get close to starting time, these two guys--both wearing corduroy jackets, and one of them with a ponytail that comes down to his ass--are working their way through the crowd. They crouch down right in front of us and open a velour-lined briefcase--more like a large jewelry box--full of little white pills (mind you, it's hard to distinguish colors in that Day-Glo environment). One of them says, "Acid, courtesy of the Grateful Dead." It was eight months since my last trip, and it's tempting, but, no, not tonight, I say to myself . . . Someone next to us takes one, and my companion, Kirk, saying, "Why turn down a free hit?," puts one in his pocket. Eventually, Bill Graham comes out and leads everyone in the countdown to midnight: 3, 2, 1, and the band breaks into "Around and Around." I was turned off from the start, as this song epitomized for me the metamorphosis of Bob Weir into a (pseudo-) rock star egotist ("Johnny B. Goode" usually made me cringe as well). "Deal" gets me dancing--one of my favorite Jerry tunes and he's starting to rock 'n' roll on that one. . . . When Phil gets up and sings "Box of Rain," the crowd loses it--he really sings it pretty nice--and Donna chimes in with some fine harmonies to boot. "Jack Straw" really rocks--I'm getting off on this one. Then they blow me away bringing out "Don't Ease Me In." I knew this from the '70 acoustic sets--but this is rock 'n' roll! At the end of the solo, which really rocked; Jerry's leads were tight, and right on the money--Jer dances from way back by the speakers all the way to the mike just in time to sing "The girl I love! She's sweet and true." I just crack up laughing: If Jerry's having a good time then who am I to sulk at times gone by and paradise lost? "Playing in the Band" starts out as, well, just another song (I've never heard the expanded version before)--but the jam develops into a really cerebral thing ("So this is what happened to the 'Dark Star' energy," I'm thinking to myself) an then, at an uptempto place, they drop this mirrored ball around while they shine the spotlight on it: a new twist back then on the light show idea; people go wild. To me it seems a little cheap, but I am digging the music and so I just close my eyes and go ride the music. . . . This is what I came for.
The second set build up with some nice renditions of "Mississippi Half-Step," "Big River," and "Sugaree." I'm still pining for "the old days" of psychedelic, cosmos-pointing "Dark Star" highs and "Lovelight" rhythms. (Pigpen didn't make this show, and this too indicates to me that things won't ever be the same again--no Pig means no "Alligator," no "Lovelight," no "Hard to Handle," no "Good Lovin'"--no blues, no rappin'.) They come out with "Truckin'," and people are dancing again. . . . They move on into a jam, get lost in space, and suddenly the boys are all around Bill-the-Drummer and they're gettin' down!! Lesh is on the bottom, Jerry's sailing high above, Bobby's filling in the space betwixt and between, and Keith is just everywhere--first they paint wild abstract textures and then, the unexpected, unanticipated, I-though-it-couldn't-happen-again hard-driving jamming; following Kreutzmann's beat they re-create something out of nothing--Void becomes Chaos, becomes Order, My friend Kirk--reacting at the same time as me, as the whole Winterland crowd--utters, "Oh, shiiiiit." It's pure, visceral, timeless awe, and wonder. Like Bill Graham says, "The Grateful Dead are not the best at what they do--they are the only ones who do what they do" In two or three minutes of that "Truckin'" jam, all my assumptions are proven false: they can still maintain intensity through a jam; Keith can support the momentum without dragging it down into the space-quagmire, and, yes, the boys can get it on with just one drummer. I've gotten more than my money's worth ($4.50, as I remember.)
P.S. "Morning Dew" was icing on that cake. After that I was ready to go home--I could do without the "Johnny B. Goode" encore, and "Uncle John's Band" (one of my favorite songs) seemed trite, forced, and formulaic. So be it--that image of Jer, Bobby, and Phil gathered tight in a semi-circle around Billy K. and just smokin' from "Truckin'" all the way into "That's It for the Other One" will forever be etched into my mind as my final of my last Grateful Dead concert, in the wee hours of 1973. (Note: this remained my last show until December 8 and 9, 1994, when I had the privilege of seeing the Dead at Oakland Coliseum.)
by ROBERT A. GOETZ
|Source: PreFM> Master Reel>|
DAT> SHN> Bertha Remaster
|12/31/72 Winterland @ Archive.org:|
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12/31/72 - Part 1 --- Part 2 - 12/31/72
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Grateful Dead - Part 3 - New Year's Eve '72 - Winterland