Shortlist: St. Louis ’72 (October 17-19)

This post reduces The Grateful Dead’s three-night stand at The Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri to the length of a single show. They played Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, October 17-19. 

These were the first three shows of a Midwest-to-Texas tour that ran all the way to the end of November. When they started in St. Louis in mid-October, they were coming off a two-week break, during which they played just one show, a benefit for their roadies at Winterland. They certainly seem to have been in fine form out of the gate. 

Fall 1972 is a great period, full of surprises, and these St. Louis highlights are a representative example. 

By the time of these shows, the band had been without Pigpen for four months and was already a different creature, well on its way to 1973 Dead. Melodic improvisational segments unrelated to specific songs are getting more frequent, and they can happen in a lot of different places. Keith is stepping out regularly, contributing themes, leading in more places. Phil and Billy are playing a bass and drums segment in lots of shows, and other band members are sometimes taking part. In October, Phil's solo ("The Philo Stomp") hits its peak. Keith and Billy even jam together in St. Louis, and the three guitarists played this incredible thing in October as well. 

Unfortunately (but don’t worry), the October soundboards – which we have for most, but not all shows – feature some terrible mixes, in which various instruments are too loud or too quiet, in various combinations, such that seemingly good performances are massively annoying and impossible to get inside or to casually ride.

The three St. Louis soundboards are among the best of the month, with lesser imbalances that don’t prevent certain songs from soaring, and that don’t get in the way of the improvisation at all. The 18th's mix is very Weir heavy, but that lends some songs an exciting, spiky kick. 

Anyway, for a month represented by no official releases and plagued by annoying soundboards, here’s a compilation that will please. 

Three-hour, FLAC-sourced, 320kbps mp3 mix here. Each show’s songs are tagged up as separate albums, by date, in the usual way.

Tuesday October 17 (67 minutes)

  • Cumberland Blues
  • Black Peter
  • China Cat Sunflower
  • Not Fade Away
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Casey Jones

Wednesday October 18 (68 minutes)

  • Don’t Ease Me In
  • Big Railroad Blues
  • Jack Straw
  • Bertha
  • Loser
  • Dark Star (minus space) >
  • Jam > Space > Philo Stomp > Feelin’ Groovy Jam >
  • Morning Dew > Playin’ Reprise (inst. edits)
  • Brokedown Palace
  • One More Saturday Night

Thursday October 19 (57 minutes)

  • Comes a Time
  • Bird Song
  • The Other One >
  • Jam >
  • The Other One > He’s Gone (inst. edit) > The Other One
  • Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down the Road

The only internal edits I have made are:

  • A few pointless minutes interrupting "Dark Star."
  • The sung part of "Morning Dew." (The miraculous transition into "Playin'" is real.)
  • The sung part of the "Playin' Reprise" on the 18th.
  • The sung part of "He's Gone."


8 responses
Hello - great stuff! - I find these comps really educational. I've been listening for maybe twenty years now - I have hard drives full of shows and hard copies of most official releases - still it's a lot of material to come to terms with. "The life too short, the Dead too long to lerne", as Chaucer said (or something very similar). It really helps to have some of the wheat separated from the chaff. Many thanks. Keep up the good work :)
Tony, we're on the same page. LOL at the Chaucer appropriation! It's too much for everyone to individually sift, and The Dead themselves sift it too slowly to keep up with the appetites of serious fans. So, after waiting around for a couple of decades, I've fast-forwarded my own trip, and I'm glad others like you have decided to ride along with me.
For a long time I have wished for the following concept to be introduced into the world... a) Title >>> The transition is seamless and/or very exciting, e.g. 26th April 1972, Lovelight >>> GDTRFB b) Title >> The transition is good, e.g. 29th April 1977, Begonias >> GDTRFB c) Title > The band grind to a halt, twang a note or two, then without pausing begin a new song, e.g. - well we all know what this one sounds like! My original attraction to the Dead had much to do with their ability to jam out a song and move into a new one, and I still think it a key element of their magic - it's like a condensation of their amazing ability to improvise (in a complementary fashion to jazz improvisation). But how many times has an exciting-looking sequence, liberally peppered with the magic arrow, turned out to be a little disappointing simply because the transitions are awkward? Just a thought :)
Tony, that 4/26/72 Lovelight > GDTRFB transition is one of my favorite bits of recorded Dead - one of the all-time great transitions, IMO. I agree with your titling/tagging idea. I used to stare at "Deadbase" setlists and wonder what was actually inside the arrows. I don't consider a full-stop/quick-start situation to deserve an arrow at all. How is that related to a musical connection/transition at all? It equates "jammed for five minutes" with "didn't stop to tune up."
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