Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: europe ’72 (page 1 of 2)

Kreutzmann Agonistes

60’s Garcia was hep; he was a real beat cat. 80’s Garcia was a mess, and 90’s Garcia was sad.

But 70’s Garcia was a cool motherfucker.

Stranger In A Stranger Land

jerry copenhagen bw

Europe in 1972 was not the Europe that exists today; it was still a bunch of little countries that had been trying to kill each other a generation earlier. There was new money every hundred miles, and new cops and officials to give that money to: Europe was a collection of borders with countries separating them.

It was also farther away, and expensive to reach in any medium. Air mail required a whole different set of tools than regular mail: obscure stamps and special envelopes with red-and-blue wainscoting and see-through paper to save on weight. You could not call Europe. I mean, you could if someone else was paying for it, but if the bill was in your name, you could not call Europe.

In 1972, the Grateful Dead didn’t play any shows in Germany.

Box Set Of Rain

Nothing says big swingin’-dick Rock Star like a box set, and the Dead’s dick swings mightily and meatily in this category.


Shh.  Admittedly, they’re not alone: this is the era of the box set. Jazz musicians used to get the bulk of them: Coltrane must have a dozen; Miles has a box set for pretty much every album, each one filled with four and five alternate takes of each song. Classical music, too, although classical music cheats because sometimes just one piece of classical music equals a box set’s worth of notes. (Looking at you, Wagner. You Nazi fuckhead. Great music, but still: Nazi fuckhead.)

Other bands are more limited on the box set front. You can remaster all the records and slap some new art on it, and that’s about it. Some artists can dig into the vaults for unreleased and live stuff, but most wouldn’t: nobody’s buying the $100 worth of songs that weren’t good enough for Bon Jovi albums.

The box set format fits the Dead for two reasons: they taped everything and, more importantly in this case, they taped everything many years ago. Lots of bands tape everything now, which means all the shows are available–on a single-serving basis–afterwards, in pristine SBD quality. You go to, say, a Phish show and enjoy the boinging, then you can download it the next day. It is a post-scarcity situation.

The Dead’s shows, though, just got stuck in the Vault (or auctioned out of bus lockers) because there was absolutely no apparatus in place to share the recordings, not that the record companies would have allowed such a thing. This gives the Dead (or more precisely Rhino and the Dead as represented by DL) a supply of something people demand, but do not have.

This is how capitalism begins,

There’s been a shitload of box sets, of varying qualities and purposes, and with the July ’78 set getting ready to ship, I wanted to look at the enormous pile of chests, trunks, glossy booklets, scrolls, and eco-friendly CD packaging that constituted the Dead’s boxes.

(The arbitrary line is set at ten CDs, although the Formerly The Warlocks release should probably be included. Also, Wikipedia lists a six-CD package first in the list entitled “Box Sets” in the GD discography. Okay, let’s say that ten is the soft line, and I am free to call any audibles I please.)

Dead Zone: The Grateful Dead CD Colection 1977-1987, 1987 Oh, this sounds like a punishment. The Arista years, ladies and gentlemen. You endured these albums on vinyl, and now they’re back and most likely poorly transferred to the CD. All the big groups put out one of these during the LP/CD changeover years. Six discs, and one of them is Reckoning, so it’s not a total loss.

So Many Roads, 1999 This was the first “big” set after Garcia’s death–at five discs, it looks puny from 2016–and it’s a career-spanning overview with unreleased live stuff from the Vault; it went gold and has a ton of good stuff on it; I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to it. I can’t listen to a Dead song, and then a Dead song, and then a Dead song. Shows or nothing: when it comes to that, I’m a ride-or-die bitch.

Stop that.

Get out of here! I’m evaluating music I haven’t listened to!

Don’t let me stop you.

Thank you.

The Golden Road (1965-1973), 2001 Same thing as the first box set, but with better records. All the Warner Brothers stuff, with lots of live goodies and early early early Dead when they were still a bad surf band. Plus: while all the other records have almost an hour each of added material, they left Live/Dead mostly alone, just appending it with the single edit (!) of Dark Star and a radio promo; I like that. Live/Dead should not be messed with, or prodded at; God help us all if someone tries to improve it.

Beyond Description (1973-1989), 2004 Same thing as the previous box, and the first box, but with the albums from Grateful Dead Records and Arista. As before: Reckoning is on it, plus there’s a whole new disc of Reckoning, and that is a wonderful thing. I had never heard of this before right now, but it was twelve CDs.

The Warner Bros. Studio Albums, 2010 This is a the first five records gussied up and etched into that real high-test vinyl: it is only five records, and I am not considering it a box set, but I don’t want to erase this, so it is.

All The Years Combine: The DVD Collection, 2012 I know people enjoy watching shows; I do, too, but only up to a point. If I’m looking at my TV, I want to see wildebeests being eaten or kung fu or Archer. Do people just watch shows? Without doing anything else? Like, the six or seven unpalatable brutes making the choogly music and forgetting the words are the complete focus of your attention? Not even playing with your phone? Wow.

(On the other hand, among the 14 DVDs are the Grateful Dead Movie and The Closing of Winterland, each with an entire disc of bonus material, plus So Far and Backstage Pass for the first time on DVD.)

Fillmore West 1969: The Complete Recordings, 2005 (Yes, I know we’re out of order now: blame Wikipedia.) Releasing this seems like the easiest decision in the world from 2016, but in 2005 it was a gamble. (Albeit a smallish one: it was limited to 10,000 copies ahead of time.) It was also a trial balloon for future small-number box sets; luckily for Deadhead everywhere, that balloon floated.



Just terrible.

It’s a ten disc collection of 2/27, 2/28, 3/1, and 3/1 and it’s also from the 16-track; it’s one of the best sounds on the planet: if God asked you to pull His finger, this music is what you’d hear. (You would smell cinnamon and pipe tobacco.) It is Baby Dead at its Baby Deadiest and though they only know six or seven songs, they play them with gusto and balls, and loudly.

Winterland ’73: The Complete Recordings, 2008 Overlooked and underrated, this follow-up to the Fillmore box doesn’t get the attention its older sibling does. This is unfair. The Fillmore box is wild and passionate: it’ll take you for a ride on its motorcycle, and then set a library on fire, but the WInterland ’73 is the Plain Jane.

Perhaps, but a Plain Jane who is wearing suggestive undergarments beneath her outergarments, and knows not just weird sex stuff, but foreign sex stuff, and is a regular at several establishments on the outskirts of town that you did not know existed.

Are these the best shows of ’73? No, and that’s just a goddamned dopey question. The best show of ’73 is the one you’re listening to. These three shows are definitely the best Dead shows played at Winterland in November of that year.

Winterland ’77: The Complete Recordings, 2009 I’m starting to see a pattern. Another ten-disc set from Winterland. It’s fine. Spring ’77, a lot of people like that. Lot of people go see Transformers movies, and a lot of people like Spring ’77.


Oh, shut the fuck up.

Yeah, probably.

Move on.

Formerly The Warlocks, 2010 Semi-banned from Hampton Coliseum for being too popular, the Dead did two unadvertised shows at the venue under their former name in 1989. Only two shows over six discs, and it’s late, so Formerly The Warlocks gets nothing written about it.

Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings, 2011 Just like it says on the label: every note from the Continent. 22 shows spread over 72 discs: it came in a steamer trunk large enough to hold a small child, or a large child you had cut into small pieces, or an adult you had pureed. It was ballsy: this sucker was an undertaking and a financial risk, but it sold out in four days: it is Europe ’72, after all.

The only complaint–musically–you could make is an absurd one: the band plays so consistently that the shows are a bit faceless, individually. After making this complaint, though, you should realize that you are the worst kind of picky Deadhead and go volunteer your time at an organization that helps children who have been cut into pieces and put in limited edition box sets

Also: no bonus disc. BUSH LEAGUE.

Spring ’90/Spring ’90 – The Other One, 2012, 2014 Understandably reticent to release another mega box so hot on the heels of Europe, Rhino split the Spring ’90 tour into two big sets: six shows on 18 discs, and eight shows on 23 discs. Depressing amount of Dear Mr. Fantasy>Hey Jude, but proper amount of Branford. (The proper amount of Branford is “at least some, if not all.”)

May 1977, 2014 Five consecutive shows from all around the middle of the country on 14 CDs. Great shows from Spring ’77.





And then there’s  30 Trips, which deserves its own post, and I deserve oatmeal with blueberries in it, and we all deserve what’s coming to us.

Diagnosis: Completism

In a rare display of helpfulness, one of the commentators over at links to this interview with David Lemooooooooooooooooooooooo–



Stop it.

–ooox on the subject of the Europe ’72 box set, which was expensive and audacious and all-encompassing and hand-crafted from obscure wood: it was the perfect Grateful Dead release. It looked like this:

europe 72 box open

The shows are individually packaged up all nice; there are booklets of both the hard and soft covered varieties; the box is a manner old-timey. If the inside of your luggage looked like that, then you were on the winning side of Colonialism. I’m not a collector of anything tangible, but this fucker is cool; I would approve of someone purchasing one.

The interview is worth reading: DL goes into detail about the technical bullshit behind releasing a massive chunk of Dead like this, all the inside-baseball stuff about the 22-show, 73-CD box. But if you don’t have the time, I have collated the salient points for you:

  • Billy kept calling Rhino and demanding the set be titled You’re A-Peein’ Tour.
  • At several points during the interview, DL gets distracted by animals and the weather.
  • The mixing and mastering and whatnot took more than a year, mostly because of all the subliminal messages they had to weave into the music.
  • Due to several obscure treaties concerning the intellectual rights of countries, by purchasing the Europe ’72 set you become an EU citizen; you will have to let some refugees stay in your basement.
  • As usual, information about Bobby’s espionage activities during the tour have been censored by Big Dead.
  • A vinyl release was considered until someone did the math and realized that 22 Dead shows equals a million, billion LPs.
  • There are five golden CDs hidden within the 7200 boxes; the people who find them get to come to The Vault, where they will be murdered ironically by oompa-loompas.
  • Mickey wanted to put raccoons in the collector’s-item cases.
  • “Furious ones,”
  • Mickey said.
  • So David Lemieux said,
  • “What?”
  • “It’ll be funny. When the raccoon leaps out.”
  • “But you won’t be there when the person opens it, Mick.”
  • “We’ll know it happened, though.”
  • “And wouldn’t the raccoon die?”
  • “They’re tough little fuckers.”
  • And so on.
  • The stalwart (and under-appreciated) Jeffrey Norman required eight months to mix and master all three-and-a-half day’s worth of Dead music; throughout the process, David Lemieux would send him notes such as “Are those new trousers? They fit you well,” and “I believe in you, Jeffyballs,” and “You’re the best;” Jeffrey Norman was heartened by DL’s direct and sincere show of friendship and support, but he put an end to the Jeffyballs bullshit immediately.
  • Considered making Keith audible at all times, but finally decided on making Keith audible at some times.
  • Once you open the case and remove the booklets, you need to keep the softcover and hardcover separated; they will mate, and you will have pamphlets on your hands.
  • Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings is gluten-free.
  • During this interview, David Lemieutopiax is asked about whether releasing all of one tour would lead to further “theme” boxes; the questioner brings up a “Complete Cleveland” compilation, and DL does not begin to loudly berate him about how Atlanta would be a much better candidate for a complete collection; that is good manners.
  • On the other hand, are there any enormous themes left for another huge box?
  • Let’s see:
    • The only weapon in the Dead’s sheath as imbued with weight and importance (maaaaaan) is the Wall. You could do a complete ’74, but a bunch of shows have already been released and then there’s the September European tour; at least three of those shows are utter stinkers, not even average or boring: downright bad. But if you’re doing the “complete” thing, then you have to put them on.
    • Every New York City show: 157 shows, which puts you around 460 compact discs. The packaging could be a life-size Checker cab, and the mixing and mastering would take Jeffrey Norman the rest of his life.
    • TC Comes Alive: The Complete Tom Constanten Year-And-A-Half.
    • A random show from ’79, but slowed down so much that it takes up 70 CDs, and it comes in a nice wooden box.
    • 231 shows. 700 discs. $4,000. Every Dark Star show. It comes with Hologram Garcia. (Do not make Hologram Garcia.)
      • Hey, look at what I can do.
      • Stop screwing around.
      • I wonder if it goes any further. Do I dare?
        • AHHHHHHH!
        • Knock it off! Go back to normal.
        • I can’t! I don’t know how!
          • See!
          • Motherfucker, you put us back where we’re supposed to be.
          • OKAY. Wait. I think I can do this.
            • Shit.
            • I hate you.

The Weirs On The Bus Go Round And Round
Sometimes late at night, Bobby drives the bus and he thinks about Europe.

He’s been back since, with the Dead and solo and for vacations, but he thinks about 1972 and the buses and their internecine fights and intramural squabbles, Pig dying quietly in the back in the back while the borders pass by: Lord Byron with a harmonica.

The Road Crew demanded hamburgers and Coca-Colas, and so did Garcia and the Godchauxes. And Billy. Bobby and Phil hit a nice restaurant or two, and Bobby tried to keep an open mind, but he was an American and wanted Chinese or Italian or Mexican.

You could still smell the War in the bricks over there in ’72, and there was a Cold one going on at the time: things were tense. The students were perpetually rioting; in the 70’s, they installed casters on the barricades because they were used so often. Borders were everywhere, and militarized, and occasionally a van would explode for reasons that no American could ever fully understand.

But, hot dam, did they play good. Dead against the world on that trip, it seemed. Never quite like that again. Egypt? Not really.

Some things you only get to do once.

Then, Bobby would realize he had lowered the shade on the bus’ front window and scream, ‘WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE,” and then he would drop the doobie he had going into his crotch and accidentally punch himself in the dick trying to grab it and let’s just say Bobby is not allowed to drive the bus anymore.

Far From The Madding Crowd

jerry 72 bickersham

If he stopped moving at a festival, this would happen. Every time.

“Tell us about politics, Jerry.”

“Hi, Jer!”

“Garcia, I have this screenplay that–”

“Man, I know you;re gonna think I;m crazy, but–”

And he just wants to go hide and get high but Garcia’s polite, you know? So he sits there with soggy balls listening to randos be his best friend at him.

Mirror Shatters

band 72 bobby no mask

Bobby was wearing his mask before the show, but he caught sight of himself in a mirror and started screeching “MY FACE! MY FACE!” and it took an hour and three Hershey bars to get him out of the utility shed.

You’re Up

band europe 72

Damned kids and their instagram. Filters all over everything to make it look cool. 

Also, three songs later, Bobby whipped the scrunchie out and he and Mrs. Donna Jean had a hair-off for 20 minutes until Phil yelled at them.

We’ll Always Have Paris

bobby jerry eiffel tower

Only 30 years before this picture was taken, Hitler had the same view.

Who’ll be there 30 years from now?

St. Johnny B. Goode

bobby jerry new riders st johns jerusalem chapel kent 72

In the Torah, it is written, “Thou shalt celebrate the New Year with somewhat-dim photos of Garcia and Bobby playing acoustic guitar with the New Riders in St. John of Jerusalem Cathedral in Kent England.”

Admittedly, it’s a weird thing to find in a holy book, but let’s face it: it’s ain’t the goofiest statement in that book by a long shot.

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