Rockin' The Rhein With The Grateful Dead

The most obsessively documented band in rock history uncorks yet another piece of live testimony from its 1972 European tour, already the subject of the definitive Europe '72 and the tightly edited Hundred Year Hall. A little editing would've helped Rockin' the Rhein, a nearly-four-hour performance from Dusseldorf, Germany, that doesn't merit the every-note-counts treatment. In Dead lore, it's notable primarily for a forty-four-minute "Dark Star" suite, a difficult birth for a show that finally squirms to life riding Jerry Garcia's guitar roller coaster, tumbles from space into a galloping "Me and My Uncle," then melts into one final noodle-down before slinking home with "Wharf Rat." Otherwise the one notable performance is Pigpen McKernan's badass rap on "Good Lovin'," his gruff pleas sounding increasingly desperate as the band spirals away from the song's R&B moorings. It marks a poignant last call for the keyboardist, who would die less than a year later.