NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Grateful Dead revisit their historic 1972 tour of Europe with the release this week of “Europe ‘72 Vol.2, “ featuring live versions of more of the band’s classic songs and new material.
Reuters talked with guitarist/vocalist Bob Weir about the album, and how the 1972 tour became such a seminal moment in the band’s long career.
Q: I read that the original multi-tracks (from 1972) were lost, but maybe they weren’t? What’s the story behind those?
A: “They were stacked up in some corner. I don’t think anyone in our organization for a few decades had any notion that there’d be a whole lot of use for them. So they weren’t on anybody’s mind. The record was made as far as we were concerned. It took a lot of work, sorting out what we were going to do, and then polishing it up.”
Q: The original “Europe ‘72” had overdubs done after the tour. Was that your decision, or the label or a combination of the two?
A: “It was a mutual decision, they wanted us to dress it up a bit, so yeah, sure, we can do that.”
Q: Was it rare for a label to send a band to Europe in the early ‘70s and ask to record every single note?
A: “It was a mutually arrived at decision. As I recall, we might have forwarded that idea and they said that the last live recording did well enough. They were aware that the band was pretty hot at that point and so they went for it. It was an expensive proposition, I will say that. There was some risk-taking done there and they’re to be credited for that.”
Q: I can’t say many acts that came out of that time frame had the luxury or desire or the know-how to undertake something like that.
A: “We had had a fair bit of experience with live recording to begin with. As far as I could tell, we were the only band playing a different show every night and had that size of a repertoire that allowed us to do that. Warner Bros. was pretty well aware of that. It was a unique situation and they recognized that.”
Q: For fans, that tour is ultra-special. What do you think was clicking for you guys at that moment?
A: “Well, we were just playing a lot. And when we were home, we were rehearsing. Practice makes perfect and we were up on our game.”
Q: The Americana, country-rock band sound is hot in Europe now. But they’re certainly indebted to a sound that you were doing. How was it received back then?
A: “We were well received. Music Maker, I think, had a banner headline that said ‘The Dead Storm Britain.’”
Q: During this tour, were you acting like typical bands in their 20s? Or was it pretty much a full time job in your minds?
A: “We certainly had limited other options. I cast my line as a musician at the age of 16 and ran off with a band at age 17. It’s not like I was biding my time, waiting to go back to school and work on my law degree. The other guys were in the same boat. And now, we were serious about it. We practiced a lot. We listened a lot and learned everything we could learn.”
A: It seems like you had a lot of focus, even though you were 25 and running around Europe.
Q: “We were learning how to listen to each other. We had spent a lot of time listening to our various inspirational sources together. We knew if one of us was quoting something, we knew immediately where they were going with it and we would be there. We were up to pretty much nothing but music.”
A: What was Jerry (Garcia’s) mood throughout that run?
Q: “Ah, you know, we were having fun. One of the things about that run, we were playing to new faces. That’s both challenging and rewarding. There’s a fun factor involved with that, especially when you’re lighting them up. And we were doing that with pretty good success.”
Editing by Jill Serjeant and Patricia Reaney