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.
It’s not every band that can afford to give away five hours of free music. But when you have 7,852 recordings listed in the Live Music Archive, well, you’re not every band.
Each day in November, the Grateful Dead released a free, high-bit-rate mp3 for a limited time on its site, Dead.net. Most of them were “unreleased” live tracks, and while I haven’t listened to the whole batch yet, there are some real standouts there, like a 29-plus-minute version of “Playing In The Band.” (MP3)
You had to be signed up as a member to download the songs, which wasn’t a problem for some of us. But they seemed to appear later in the day (Pacific time?) and then disappear by the time I’d go back to download them at night. As it stood, I only managed to snag four of the 30. Until this weekend.
Seems I must not have been the only head wishing he would have been more with it, as the good people running the promotion have made the whole lot of songs available for download now, but only through “the evening of December 8.”
Last summer we embarked on our first jam band journey, driving a mere three hours across Michigan to attend Rothbury. Within hours of our arrival, we were hooked on the camping festival vibe and by the time we left, we had vowed to attend again in 2010. Unfortunately, Rothbury had to take a hiatus this year due to the venue’s bankruptcy sale. Apparently this process dragged on long enough that the promoters were not able to book a high quality lineup, as bands had already committed to other festivals. This was actually a blessing in disguise, as it forced us to find another festival to attend. And we found two: All Good, in Masontown, WV, and Hoxeyville, in Northern Michigan.
Marvin’s Mountaintop, West Virginia, July 10, 2010
The third day of any music festival is when things get really funky. Your feet are caked with dirt and you smell, and two days of trying not to use the Port-A-Johns are beginning to catch up with you. You’ve now spent the better part of two days saturated by music, and the novelty of it all is beginning to wear off. It takes more for a Saturday act to wow you, no matter how much you may or may not have blunted your senses over the past two days.
It’s clear that after 14 years, the people programming the All Good lineup know and understand this. Which is why Saturday’s lineup included such upbeat, dance-your-ass-off-in-the-sun bands like The Macpodz, Rebelution, and Parliament/Funkadelic. That trio rocked the house Saturday, sharing the common vibe of big bass beats and funky grooves that served as a counterpoint to Saturday headliner Widespread Panic.
Furthur picks people up and carries them away, appropriate enough for a band named after a bus. Their four-hour show Friday night — on the 15th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s last show — was transcendent. After an afternoon of heat followed by an evening of rain, it made for a perfect night, the second of this four-day fest.
All Good kicked off with a night of homage to the spirit that infuses every jam band festival, the long departed, fondly remembered, and still crucially important Grateful Dead. Former Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux opened the musical celebration, one of several former Dead members scheduled to take the stage this weekend. While many in the audience are here for Friday’s four-hour scheduled performance by Further, Thursday night was the warmup that may overshadow that headliner.
The All Good Music Festival, which starts a week from today, has finally posted its schedule here. As expected, headliners are Dark Star Orchestra on Thursday, Furthur on Friday, and Widespread Panic on Saturday, with Keller Williams wrapping things up early on Sunday evening.
I have to say, I’m sad to see George Clinton relegated to the blue-plate-special time of 5:45pm on Saturday, especially since he’s only been given a little over an hour. And what’s with local Ann Arbor homies the Macpodz getting a noon set on Saturday? At least I won’t have to fight a big crowd to see them.
The best news as far as I am concerned is that Grace Potter is scheduled early enough Sunday that I can probably stick around to see her set and still be able to drive back in time for work Monday morning (which is looking like a great day to work from home).
Stay tuned for more All Good coverage, including our big Rothbury ’09 vs. All Good ’10 Battle Royale. Oh, and keep your fingers crossed that Mike Vasquez and I make it back alive.
The latest from the Grateful Dead is Crimson, White & Indigo, a three-CD set (plus a bonus DVD) that’s the complete recording of the band’s July 7, 1989, concert at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. For the uninitiated, those of you who might think it odd that a band that called it quits nearly 15 years ago continues to produce elaborately packaged live CDs that it sells at exorbitant prices ($31.68 at Amazon right now), that’s just part of the continued weirdness that is the legacy of the Dead, the most recorded band ever.
But understand that this release is not really for you. Deadheads, well, you are the demographic regardless of your own particular demographics, and you aren’t going to need my advice or guidance on purchasing this anyway. Suffice it to say that if you’re a fan of the late-’80s era, you’ll be pleased, and if you’re not, well, there’s not much here that’s going to change your mind. (For my next prediction, the sun will rise in the East tomorrow morning — though I’m not yet ready to say where it will set.)
Adrian Belew will turn 60 this year. Why should you care about an old guy with such a ridiculous name? Probably because he is one of the most technically capable and imaginative guitar players, far more adept at what he does than any number of people half his age. And able to keep up with people a third his age. Let’s put it another way: Adrian Belew is who the guy playing that self-indulgent solo at Guitar Center thinks he is.
Writing a summary of Rothbury is kind of like explaining the Lord of the Rings trilogy to my 4-year-old daughter. I can give her a broad overview of some of the plot points and make some specific comments about some of the characters, but there’s just no way she’s going to understand without so much extra exposition that it’s pointless to even make the attempt. Not to mention that there’s just some stuff you’re not going to go into regardless.
That said, let’s delve into just a few details that should help set the Rothbury scene:
1. Rothbury is dirty in every way imaginable. (Not to mention literally; showers cost $10.)
2. Everyone is getting fucked up pretty much all the time.
3. I don’t know how you could have more fun at a concert — I never have.
To put that last point in perspective, consider that I am 36 years old and have been to well over 100 big-name touring act shows in the past 23 years since my first (Springsteen). I can’t even begin to estimate how many bar shows I’ve attended in that time. I have seen damn near every classic rock icon, plenty of indie rock, lots of metal shows, and even a handful of legendary jazz artists. So for Rothbury to compare this well to my better-with-age memories of Lollapalooza 2, Clash of the Titans, or some of the old-school Pine Knob shows when nobody cared what you brought in to the show, well, that’s saying something.