Who says people don’t buy CDs anymore? Rhino just pre-sold its entire limited edition pressing of the Grateful Dead’s “Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings” box set, in less than four days. This is an insane collection, with 60+ CDs that comprise the full recordings of all 22 Dead shows on that historic tour. With a $450 price tag and a whole bunch of extras including a coffee table book, this was not a box set for the casual fan.
Which brings us back to the problem that’s been plaguing the record industry for over a decade: It’s run by MBA dickheads at giant corporations who don’t give a shit about music, real music fans, or anything other than money. If these assholes can’t create a celebrity culture around an artist, with an integrated marketing plan that includes movies, books, toys, and other “branded product tie-ins” they don’t want anything to do with it.
Well, fuck them. Do the math here: 60 CDs and 7,200 copies is 432,000 discs sold. Even if Billbaord/Soundscan doesn’t count each individual disc of a box set as a separate sale, when “Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings” ships the Dead will have sold over four times as many CDs as the Decemberists did this past week with their #1 album “The King Is Dead.” And the sales number for this new collection will certainly grow between now and the actual release date in September, as the Dead have announced plans to issue a music-only version of the collection to meet the overwhelming demand.
Original press release below…
Grateful Dead to release ‘Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings’
Grateful Dead slipped the shores of America and crossed the pond for its first-ever major European tour in April 1972. The legendary 22-show run spawned Europe ’72, a live triple album that remains one of the band’s best-selling and most beloved releases.
A tour this momentous deserves a boxed set of historic proportions and Dead.net has stamped your passport to relive every note from the European tour with Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings — an individually numbered, limited edition collection that includes more than 60 discs with over 70 hours of music featuring every show from what is arguably the Grateful Dead’s greatest tour.
The set will be housed in a replica steamer trunk, reminiscent of the ones prevalently used at the time. 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.
Jeffrey Norman, the primary mixer of the Dead’s archival multi-track material for the past 15 years, is mixing each show from the original 16-track recordings, with the high-tech Plangent Processes transfer and restoration tools used to bring the master tapes back to life. Two-time Grammy®-winning engineer David Glasser is mastering the music to HDCD specs. While many of the recordings heard on Europe ’72 were sweetened in the studio after the tour, those tracks will be included in this collection without overdubs, where possible.
Due to ship in September 2011, the boxed set is available exclusively from Dead.net, which has already begun taking orders. The price of the collection is $450, which works out to around $20 for each show, or roughly the cost of a transatlantic flight from New York City to London in 1972 (price of time machine not included).
Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings is truly be a labor of love and might “need a miracle” to happen. Due to the manufacturing costs of this ambitious project, if 3,000 orders are not received by April 1, the collection will unfortunately be cancelled. This isn’t a gun-to-your-head sales pitch but is simply the reality behind making an ambitious release of this magnitude happen.
As a thank you to all the Dead Heads who help make this collection happen, the first 3,000 fans to order will have their copy personalized with a name requested by the purchaser. Once the 3,000 order goal is reached by April 1, Dead.net will continue to take orders through the summer but will limit production of the collection to a maximum of 7,200 pieces, all of which will be individually numbered. Orders will no longer be taken at some date (to be determined) later in the summer.
Once the order window ends, this collection will never be available for sale again and will be manufactured specifically to total orders, up to 7,200 maximum. Additionally, to reward those loyal fans who have to wait until September to get their bounty, Dead.net will periodically provide exclusive content (music, photos, and more) in the coming months to all those who have placed an order.
While its sheer size is formidable, what makes Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings such a landmark set is that it captures a defining moment in Grateful Dead history filled with its share of firsts and lasts.
The tour offers a snapshot of a band at the top of its game, still ascending in the wake of three straight hit albums—Workingman’s Dead, American Beauty, and the live Grateful Dead (“Skull & Roses”). It had been a year since the lineup had gone to its single-drummer configuration, six months since Keith Godchaux had been broken in as the group’s exceptional pianist, and this marked the first tour to feature Donna Godchaux as a member of the touring band.
There was a ton of new, unreleased material that came into the repertoire in the fall of ’71 and during the spring of ’72, including “Tennessee Jed,” “Jack Straw,” “Mexicali Blues,” “Comes A Time,” “Ramble On Rose,” “One More Saturday Night,” “Black-Throated Wind,” “Looks Like Rain” and Pigpen’s “Chinatown Shuffle,” “The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)” and “Mr. Charlie.” (Sadly, this was Pigpen’s final tour.)
All those future classics were interspersed with songs from the aforementioned “hit” albums—such as “Uncle John’s Band,” “Casey Jones,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Bertha,” and “Not Fade Away”—and then were topped off by loads of big jamming numbers—the Europe ’72 tour produced spectacular versions of “Dark Star,” “The Other One,” “Playing in the Band,” “Truckin’,” “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider,” “Good Lovin’,” “Lovelight,” and even the early Pig chestnut “Caution.”
GRATEFUL DEAD EUROPE 1972 TOUR DATES: All shows included in their entirety
April 07 Wembley Empire Pool, Wembley
April 08 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 03 Olympia Theatre, Paris
May 04 Olympia Theatre, Paris
May 07 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