Hundred Year Hall
Jahrhundert Halle - Frankfurt, W. Germany
[April 26, 1972]
First Appeared in The Music Box March 1996, Volume 3, #2
Written by John Metzger
Hundred Year Hall continues the slow-to-come "Vault" series by the Grateful Dead, although this should soon be remedied by the aggressive plan of one or two "Vault" releases plus three or four "Dick's Picks" each year. In any event, the band warms up in the Bertha opener as Jerry Garcia rips a killer, electrified '72 solo. The group is in fine form for this show, and Pigpen is heavily represented. Next Time You See Me is Pigpen at his best. The harmonica solo flies out as if it were simple and easy. Garcia follows with a laid-back solo of his own before Pigpen concludes the jam with more harmonica playing. The singing is strong, and the funky rhythm guitar underlying the vocals is exquisite. The China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider hits an excellent groove, but it still doesn't reach the heights achieved by the Europe '72 or any of the '73-'74 versions. Jack Straw is sweet, and the "false" set closing statement Playin' in the Band is phenomenal. (There were several tunes performed after this that don't appear on the CD.) During this period, the song was just beginning to open up, and this version offers a glimpse into the future of the tune as well as what's to come in the latter half of the show.
The second set takes off right from the start, and the first four tunes make up 68 minutes of pure heaven. Robert Hunter provides an excellent description of this masterpiece in the liner notes for the album. Truckin' is a furious, driving performance that just continues to build until exploding into a million notes. A drum beat ensues while Keith Godchaux visits the land of space-y lounge jazz. A full drum solo propels the pieces back together as The Other One becomes a living, fire-breathing dragon. Numerous meltdowns occur as the Grateful Dead explores this beast from all directions. A Spanish Jam is hinted at midway between the verses, and the final meltdown gives way to verse two before yielding a gorgeous Comes a Time. "Gotta make it somehow...on the dreams you still believe." A rockin' and a rollin' Sugar Magnolia closes out the masterpiece. The Lovelight/Goin' Down the Road/Saturday Night — which, by the way, is tacked onto the conclusion of disc one — closes out the show. Pigpen cooks up a smokin' version that drips with electricity as Garcia joyously plays his heart out. Goin' Down the Road hints at Not Fade Away before landing in an early version of One More Saturday Night.
Of Further Interest...
Hundred Year Hall is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1996 The Music Box