Deadheads Rejoice! On Tour in Europe '72
Rolling Stone writer David Fricke reported last week that the official site of the Grateful Dead, Dead.net, is offering an ambitious project recognizing the band's first European tour in 1972 available exclusively from the site. Ambitious is an understatement!
Europe '72: The Complete Recordings is a 60 plus CD box set scheduled for a September 2011 release that captures every note from the band's 22 date European tour that culminated in a triple live album release titled Europe '72. Yes, you read that right -- 60 plus CD's! An entire tour in one package with over 70 hours of music! That's like being a fly on the wall for arguably one of the best live periods of the Grateful Dead. You're treated like a groupie hanging out on the side of the stage every night except without the packing, travel, debauchery, headaches and drama.
The Grateful Dead signed a ten-year deal with Rhino Entertainment in 2006 to have the label manage the band's business interests. This arrangement includes the release of musical recordings, marketing and merchandising. Subsequently, the band's tape vault moved from Northern California to the Warner Bros. Vault in 2006 and this box set is the most adventuresome undertaken by the label to date.
These recordings document a significant point in time of the band at a turning point in its career. Drummer Mickey Hart had left the prior year and Bill Kruetzeman continued behind the drums alone. The 1972 European tour, their first full tour of the continent, marks the end of era for the Grateful Dead as it was the last for founding member, Ronald "Pigpen" McKernan. Suffering from symptoms of cirrosis related to heavy drinking since 1970, McKernan ignored his doctor's pleas not to tour. The European swing put him over the edge and he eventually played his last show with the band in June 1972 and died the following March. Six months before the tour pianist Keith Godchaux began playing with the band, and his wife Donna Godchaux joined in as vocalist during this European tour.
The original Europe '72 release contained 17 songs compiled from various tourstops along the way, but that album featured significant overdubs recorded after the tour specifically to clean up vocal flubs and enhance harmonies. However, those tracks are included in this collection without overdubs, where possible. Fans of the band may also remember that the Hundred Year Hall release from 1995 is a truncated version of the set list from the European tour stop at Jahrhundert Halle, Frankfurt, Germany on April 26, 1972. That release contains 15 songs including a 36 minute plus version of "Cryptical Envelopment", yet the original set played that evening contained 29 songs!
This set goes farther than any Deadhead or record collector could have imagined. The packaging mimics a replica steamer trunk used to carry cargo overseas. The trunk concept contains 22 soft pack CD cases documenting the set for each night of the tour. The press release states:
Along with the music, a vast majority of which is previously unreleased, the travel chest contains tour memorabilia, a coffee-table book with never-before-seen photos, and a comprehensive essay by noted Dead author Blair Jackson. Each performance will also be accompanied by an essay specific to the show written by top Dead scholars including David Gans, Gary Lambert, Nicholas Meriwether, and Steve Silberman.
Not only is the packaging concept superb and the amount of music immense, but the recording quality matches the scope of the concept. The Grateful Dead, always known as sticklers for sound quality in the live setting, recorded the original shows in 16-tracks. Tapped again as the mixer for these archival multi-track recordings, Jeffrey Norman is mixing each show using those original 16-track tapes "while using the high-tech Plangent Processes transfer and restoration tools used to bring the master tapes back to life." Further, David Glasser, a two-time Grammy®-winning engineer is mastering the music to HDCD specs exactly like the Dick's Picks releases for the last 10 years.
The site began taking orders on Wednesday, January 19 and the entire allotment of 7,200 sets sold out in 4 days! However, the website is reporting that a music only edition from the entire tour continues to be available without the steamer trunk packaging for the same $450 price tag. Go to the site and get your copy of the music only edition today!
GRATEFUL DEAD EUROPE 1972 TOUR DATES All shows included in their entirety
April 7 Wembley Empire Pool, Wembley
April 8 Wembley Empire Pool, Wembley
April 11 Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle
April 14 Tivolis Koncertsal, Copenhagen
April 16 Aarhus University, Aarhus
April 17 Tivolis Koncertsal, Copenhagen
April 21 Beat Club, Bremen
April 24 Rheinhalle, Dusseldorf
April 26 Jahrhundert Halle, Frankfurt
April 29 Musikhalle, Hamburg
May 3 Olympia Theatre, Paris
May 4 Olympia Theatre, Paris
May 7 Bickershaw Festival, Wigan
May 10 Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
May 11 Rotterdam Civic Hall, Rotterdam
May 13 Lille Fairgrounds, Lille
May 16 Theatre Hall, Luxembourg
May 18 Kongressaal - Deutsches Museum, Munich
May 23 Strand Lyceum, London
May 24 Strand Lyceum, London
May 25 Strand Lyceum, London
May 26 Strand Lyceum, London