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Published: 2013/06/19
by Ron Hart

Grateful Dead
Dick's Picks 23: 9/17/72 Baltimore Civic Center

Talking about the historic aspect of the Dead’s game-changing tour of Europe in the spring of 1972 will add nothing that hasn’t been said already about one of the group’s historic first full-on tour off the North American continent.

But when they came back to the States, the band continued to work upon the momentum they were gaining as a cosmically connected unit of musicians with equally admirable dates on this side of the Atlantic. Case in point being their show at the Baltimore Civic Center on September 17th of that storied year, long available on as part of the fabled Dick’s Picks archives but once again being made tangible for the analog Deadheads courtesy of the Real Gone label.

Recorded by the late Owsley Stanley, Baltimore ’72 was significant not only in it being one of the first shows without the ailing Pigpen at the controls but also for its shift in sound thanks to the addition of Keith Godchaux, who primarily played grand pianos during the band’s tours of late ’72, ’73 and ’74, and his wife Donna Jean Godchaux who sang vocals with them on this particular stretch. And the change-up undoubtedly helped the Dead go in exploratory new directions with their music, appeasing the novices with ace renditions of “Casey Jones” and “Truckin’” but at the same time offering a whole other dimension with a 39-minute “Other One” that many consider to be one of the best versions of the song out there.

Go on and have your fun with that big fat Europe ’72 box set you dropped major coin on a little while back. But don’t forget about some of the great shows the Dead did stateside that year, starting with Dick’s Picks 23.

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