May 30, 2022

April 1972: Band Interview & Empire Pool


Maybe one day some writer will get down and write a piece which will capture exactly what the Grateful Dead are all about. God only knows what the results would be - possibly a weird blending of the 'I Ching' and a Zane Grey novelette. It would have to be someone who was both observer and participator in what is in effect a 24-hour-a-day movie; someone who could invest jive terms like 'spiritual outlaws' and 'positive flow' with some real meaning, while at the same time pointing out that this here is one no-bullshit, straight-down-the-line-joyful-noise rock n' roll band and don't you ever forget it. Mark Twain I'm sure could have done it. I've always thought of the Dead as in some ways the musical equivalent of the freewheeling all-American spirit of Twain's finest writing. Hunter's lyrics seem to be obsessed with gamblers ('Doin that Rag'/'Deal'), outlaws ('Sugaree'/'Friend of the Devil'), losers and misfits ('Loser' 'Wharfrat' and 'St. Stephen' who reminds me of an acid-head Huckleberry Finn) - all steeped in American myths and legends. The Grateful Dead's stance has always been firmly constructed in the roots of American mythology and the realisation that the mythology itself is built on the rootlessness of its culture. The Dead were always the pioneers, whether it was back in '66 on the bus with Kesey and Cassidy, opening the doors of perception, or riding that train, high on cocaine, or playing those long wild sets which spiral up and out in the cosmos, or writing numbers like 'Box of Rain' and 'Uncle John's Band' which are simply two of the most beautiful songs ever written. 'You may find direction around some corner where it's been waiting to meet you' they advise in 'Box of Rain' but the Dead have always been sure of this direction; they just keep on keeping on because when it all comes down to basics, there isn't really anywhere else to go. Like when, in the middle of a particularly heady piece of cerebral improvisation based around a Coltrane-like riff, they suddenly flow into a Marty Robbins cowboy tune. Not only did it work, it seemed the most natural thing to do at the time. With the Dead working out, the difference between the cosmic doodlings of, say, 'Dark Star' and their version of the Merle Haggard Seeds-and-stems pastoral 'Sing me back home' are negligible. After all, it's all music and if nothing else, the Dead are a music band, right there at the source point where it all flows free and easy. When the band play their own unique style of country music, they avoid the cracker-barrel philosophizing of, say, Kris Kristofferson and even rise above the hard-arsed stoicism of the Band, and when they get into free-form improvisation, they work on levels which most other bands don't know exist. The Dead have never got caught up in self-indulgent eclecticism - whatever they tackled has worked its way into the pattern a lot of different rhythms and textures but one sure pulse. 

'At the moment, I can't really foretell what's going to happen when we actually play here. It's very strange y'know, I feel like a man from Mars or something.' 
Jerry Garcia gave a self-conscious grin. The Dead had finally made it to England for a spread-out period of time. After one hit-and-run visit to the Hollywood Festival ('a bad gig' Garcia feels now), the band were back and casually holding court at the Kensington Palace Hotel, a thoroughly English establishment comfortably bridging the distance between modest good taste and luxuriousness. 'Casual' seems to be the word to describe the Dead's image now. Remember the first photo of the band to appear on our shores, depicting them as the 1967 epitome of the acid and downers-degenerate rock-a-boogie combo - all matted hair and sweat-stained denims. Well, things have changed. Only the roadies retain any of that image - a jovial bunch of roughhousers led by Ramrod who all look like ex-Hells Angels now into rodeo-riding. Phil Lesh looks almost dapper in suede jerkin and loafers; now with short hair he looks like the spitting image of the actor Donald Sutherland. Bob Weir, fresh-faced and earnest-looking, resembles an all-American boy until you notice that long, long pony-tail of hair running down his back. Keith Godcheaux, small and slightly bewildered by it all, talks with his wife Donna who is now singing with the band, and Pigpen sits by himself, brooding. His face has thinned out to such an extent that he has two enormous hollows in his cheeks. 
Most of the Grateful Dead entourage are lurking around somewhere in the suite. All those names that appear on the back of Dead albums - like Bob Matthews and his old lady, Betty, the band's recording engineers, and Dan Healy, he's somewhere around, and manager John McCintre who looks like he's walked straight off the set of 'Song of Norway'. His feminine features and constant enthusiasm for everything going on around him make him a perfect Yin counterpart for Rock Scully's earth-bound (or as close to the earth as any member of [the] Dead family can get) wild-eyed hustler Yang characteristics. Scully is a pretty amazing cat, having stuck with the band through all the busts and bummers making sure that the whole show reached some measure of togetherness. And, lo and behold, who should be doing all the co-ordinating but Sam Cutler the voice of Altamont. He seems pretty cool about it all and everyone likes him, so God bless him. 
Garcia is stretched out on the sofa eating and rapping to anyone around. The first thing you ought to know about Jerry is that he is an A-1 nice guy. All that 'Garcia the Garce' stuff is nonsense to him. Did he get bothered by people constantly expecting him to produce the answers to the problems of the Universe? 'That only comes from people like Charlie Reich' he grins. 'The thing is that I talk a lot, too much in fact. I just tend to answer questions, that doesn't mean I know what I'm talking about.' But Garcia does know what he's talking about usually. He'll rap about rock n' roll, science fiction, Woodstock and Altamont, Janis, the Manson-Lyman cult thing, in fact almost any topic you'd care to mention. And if his statements on anything tend to appear glib when seen in print, it shouldn't be like that. Jerry Garcia may not be a wise old sage, but when talking to him, one gets the distinct impression that he knows something that you don't. It's all to do with the positivity of the music the Dead play. 
'I believe in taking a positive approach to any situation and that the only way to handle the bummers is to learn from them and leave it at that. We had to go through an Altamont in order to get the importance of something like Woodstock into perspective - it was like two sides of a coin, y'know. I think we learnt far more from Altamont about the new culture, or whatever you want to call it. The Dead work as a unit, as a collective ego. We reached the realisation a long time ago that 'The Grateful Dead' was far greater than the sum of parts - the egos. The band has never really been into playing ego games. I think if you realise that you've got to gain a kind of balance and work with that, then you'll get through.' 
What was the scene like in San Francisco nowadays? 
'There is no 'scene' as such in San Francisco. It's just a case that what was always there - the real creative elements, if you like - has matured. There are a lot of fine movie-makers and cartoonists and musicians.' 
Garcia is still as eager to play with as many different musicians as possible. He feels equally at home involving himself in Kantner's musical sci-fi fantasies or adding pedal steel licks to one of Crosby and Nash's precious little ditties or working the Bay Area bars with his friend Merle Saunders playing to maybe 60 people. The whole co-operative is based on mutual respect amongst musicians. 
About the Grateful Dead as they are now, he had this to say: 
'We've all had a rest and we're just waiting to get up and do it, y'know. Pigpen's well again and with Keith playing with us, we're really tight. We added Donna who originally introduced us to her old man, because she's a fine singer. She used to work down at Muscle Shoals. We're not going to consciously play a set designed for an English audience. We're just going to play what we feel capable of - what our collective mood and the environment dictates.' 
Would it be good old rock 'n roll? 
'Well sure, there'll be some rock 'n roll, but I've never thought of the Dead as just a rock 'n roll band. I think we're something more. Wait and see.' 
The band don't like playing dates in huge auditoriums. Their policy in the States is to find a hall which holds 2-3,00 capacity and book it for 4 or 5 days. The Empire Pool booking was in fact a last resort. 'A bad gig is a bad economic proposition' stated Bob Weir. (Weir used to be called 'the Kid', but now he's 'Bobby Ace' from the off-shoot band he formed back in 1970 called Bobby Ace and the Cards from the Bottom.) If anyone has the wild card up his sleeve in the band at the moment, it's him. It's Weir, not Garcia who is now fronting the Grateful Dead, singing most of the songs and writing most of the material. 'I'm just doing the same old stuff, only I'm more in control now and I can do it better' he shrugs. His solo album 'Ace' should be out soon and promises to be a real hot biscuit. 'One more Saturday Night' the new Grateful Dead single comes from the record as does 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' which has taken over from 'Bertha' as the opening number at a Dead concert. There are four or five Hunter-Weir numbers, a few written with an old friend of Weir's, John Barlow, and even some classical music. 
'I listen to an awful lot of classical music. Phil has been mostly responsible for my picking up on the stuff in the first place, and on the album there are some attempts at my interpretation of what I've heard. I borrowed some changes from Johann Sebastian Bach though it turned out sounding nothing like the original source, or even like Procol Harum which is rock 'n roll classical music. At the moment, I'm interested in different music forms. I wrote the music of 'Playing in the Band' which is an exercise in 10/4 time. You can hear 10/4 time in Greek music and some East Indian music, but otherwise you just don't hear it in Western music. Sometimes the band picks up on a weird time signature just to see if they can make music out of it, like Phil's number 'The Eleven'. It's purely an academic experiment, I guess.' 
Weir wrote most of the words and music for the 'Anthem of the Sun' suite. The words, though often awkward, are interesting in that they tell the real story behind the Acid Tests ('the bus pulled up and I got on/that's when it all began'). Garcia stated that Wolfe's account of the Trips Festival etc. was inaccurate and unbalanced. 
'Tom Wolfe was just an observer writing about something he didn't understand. He never participated in what was going on - he never dropped acid. Also being a writer, he was more interested in concentrating on Kesey who was a novelist, whereas Cassidy was the real dynamo behind the whole thing.' 
Bob Weir, who was a close friend of Neil Cassidy, took up the story. 
'I wrote the lyrics to 'The Other One' in Portland, Oregon, on the night that Cassidy was dying somewhere in Mexico. He was a great friend of ours - it just all happened on the same night. The words are all about him, y'know; it really destroyed me when I found out. Cassidy was like the crazy big brother of the Grateful Dead. He had an infinite capacity for living and taught the band by example a great deal about life-styles and the way to handle a situation. How to come through it all and at the same time have a good time. 
'Cassidy died from over exposure. I don't know exactly how it was - I've heard so many stories about how it was murder, how it was suicide. I think it was a mistake, a mistake he knew that he was going to make. When he left for Mexico, he left the house of some friends of mine, and his last words were 'Don't worry about it'. I guess you could say he burned himself out for the next ninety years, because he was capable of living in that way. He's surely one of the most interesting people who ever lived. He could make you laugh until you were sick and he had these weird, unbelievable powers. He was the unqualified master of telepathy.' 
Cassidy's telepathic powers rubbed off on the Dead - 'After 7 years together, we know exactly how to inflect, exactly what nuances to use when playing, and the result is sometimes inspirational and then sometimes it just doesn't happen which is...y'know a bummer. We've found that we tend to communicate and therefore play better when our heads are closer together in physical proximity.' 
The best recorded example of the Dead's work, Weir reckons, is 'The Other One'. 
'There were some points on 'Dark Star', but that take of 'Dark Star' which ended up on the album was not as good as the one recorded the night before at the Avalon Ballroom. The recorder wasn't set up right or something so the good one got away. With a number like that, there's a beginning, a check-point - a middle, and an end. A stock motif and then a little sequence - the rest of it is built around a combination of circumstances - the environment, our collective mood. There is no basic rhythm; we usually dissolve it in sheets of sound and from there, we explore the possibilities. There have never been two identical performances of 'Dark Star'.' 
Bob Weir and Pigpen present another Yin and Yang paradox, but as we sat together and rapped, it turned out they had a lot in common. 
'Bobby and I don't mess with dope or booze anymore' muttered Pigpen. All the band seem to have moved away from their 'heavy drug' image. Kreutzmann and Lesh drink a lot and Garcia smokes a lot of pot, but the cocaine thing is past. 
'What most people don't understand' said Garcia 'is that 'Casey Jones' is an anti-coke song. It's saying 'listen, watch your speed - that stuff is dangerous.' Then, almost as an after thought, he smiled and said: 
'But y'know, I'm only human - I'll take anything.' 
Not so with Pigpen, though. He's on the wagon. Perhaps the most amusing incident during the time I spent with the band was when booze orders were being taken and Pigpen muttered in complete seriousness 'Hey Frankie, couldya get me a soda?' Only it ain't so funny. Pig was very, very ill - a terrible liver complaint coupled with a crippling bout of hepatitis. He now looks skinny, his skin tight as a drum around his cheek-bones. 
'I used to be very heavily into drinking. I never liked dope too much, whisky only got me off - but I quit. It was getting out of hand and I had to go into hospital. They didn't give me booze in hospital, so... Now my only vices are smokin' cigarettes and pesterin' the wenches.' 
Pigpen's a bluesman, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Big Joe Williams, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker (Pigpen has worked with John Lee a few times), all those cats. Don't give him no jive about 'can a white man sing the blues'. 
'If I like a song, I'll sing it - and I like the blues. I was brought up on the stuff - rock 'n roll, rhythm 'n blues.' His father was the first San Francisco D.J. to play rhythm 'n blues music in that area and was given the dubious title 'Ole Creepy' for his troubles. Pigpen digs a lot of soul music and his choice of Dead numbers usually comes down to a good soul classic, James Brown's epic 'It's a Man's, Man's, Man's, Man's World' (now dropped owing to a backlash from Women's Lib.), Otis Redding's 'Hard to Handle', and the Olympics/Young Rascals classic 'Good Lovin'. About those juiced raps he pulls out when the spirits are willing - 'It's real easy for me to make up that kind of stuff as I go along. A little story, a little anecdote - I got to get a little crazy to do that stuff.' 
The Pig used to hang around bars and night-clubs way back when, working in various soul and boogie combos. Then one day he worked in a band which contained one Jerry Garcia on bass guitar and the occasional appearance of Bill Kreutzmann on drums. From those humble beginnings were born the Warlocks who changed their name to the Grateful Dead. And they're still all together - Garcia, Weir, Lesh, Pigpen, Kreutzmann. Sure, Mickey Hart's doing his own stuff now, living out his crazy, funky existence on some ranch, while Tom Constanten - 'JC' to the boys [sic] - is still heavily into Scientology. 

But otherwise, there they all were backstage at the Empire Pool, Wembley, not quite knowing what to expect but not really getting worried. 'We'll just up and do our stuff and see how it all works out' muttered Pigpen, while Garcia, sharp as a hot Ferrari in black silk shirt and the trousers of his Nudie suit (emblazoned with magnificent skull design (what else?) on the bell-bottom) flashed these gold, cosmic grins from under that hairy tangle of beard and rapped with anyone who wanted to talk to him. Kreutzmann and Lesh boozed away happily and gregariously while the 7,000 people seated themselves. This audience, whether they'd picked up on the Dead through 'Anthem of the Sun' and 'Live Dead' or 'American Beauty' and the new live double-album, were all united in the knowledge that this was their band. Here was a living legend if ever there was - Kerouac and Cassidy were dead, Kesey was, god knows where Kesey was, Owsley was in jail, but the Dead were still high and rising. The magic band had survived it all and were flowing on this plain above all the rest. 
Having seen them at rehearsal doing their new material (everything from a mournful Garcia version of Hank William's 'You Win Again' to an unbelievable workout on 'Bo Diddley' which is even better than 'Not Fade Away'), I had some vague idea of what to expect, but a live Dead concert in front of a massive audience would be something else again. At 7.30 the band casually appeared on stage, plugged in and kicked off. No fuss, no superstar bullshit or prima donna scenes; they just went straight into 'The Greatest Story Ever Told', tight and confident with Bobby Weir and Donna Godcheaux wailing out front while the band worked their way through the jerky, almost clumsy rhythm. From there they went into a couple of numbers from Garcia's solo album - 'Loser' and 'Sugaree' (the latter dragging just a fraction), picking up with two raucous Pigpen rockers. Pig never got out front for any length of time and there were no long inspired raps either. He's still getting back into his stride, though a super-moody 'Big Boss Man' proved that he's still got the goods. The audience remained appreciative and receptive, but there was the distinct feeling that something was missing. A ridiculously fine stomping version of 'Beat it on Down the Line' came near to what we were looking for, but the essential ingredient - the fabled magic of the Grateful Dead - had yet to make its presence felt. The levels of the performance wavered frustratedly until the band introduced 'Playin' in the Band'. From the first notes it seemed right - the near ecstatic pure electric guitar sound the Byrds could pull off in the mid-60s when the planets were all fixed in the correct proportions flowing straight into the churning 'Proud Mary' rhythm with Donna wailing, biting out a third harmony - 'Playing - Playing-in-the-band - Da-aay-break, Day break 'cross the land'. And then the band just floated off onto some weird beautiful plain, Garcia picking notes like bubbles bursting while Lesh was in total control on his side of the cosmos constantly there by the side of his comrades and building platforms for them to transcend. This indeed was space travel - Godcheax exploring every nuance of the music left untouched by his fellow-travellers while Kreutzmann lay back providing the fuel for the space-ship which was now airbourne. Just like magic. Before you could breathe out again, the band powerhoused into 'Casey Jones'. The star-ship had now become a locomotive, a fabulous electric monster pouring out, consuming anything around with substance riding the lines expressway to your senses. The words to the chorus were flashed on the back-drop just in case we'd forgotten them. But by now it was all too late to watch your speed. The Grateful Dead had begun. 
After 'Casey Jones', there was a short break - just time enough to pick yourself off the floor. By now the energy level was unbelievably high, but more amazing was the fact that when the Dead came back on, they not only started at exactly that same intensity, they went straight ahead and got higher and higher. From 'Truckin'' they spun right into 'The Other One'. By this time, all the scribes had discarded their note-books and just stood back, bathing in all the rhythms and textures. It was all literally too much. I seem to recall the band doing 'Sugar Magnolia', 'Wharf-rat', a killer new Garcia-Hunter composition with outrageously fine lyrics (any song which mentions Wolfman Jack, Crazy Otto, Billy the Kid and Jesse James in almost the same breath must have something going for it) which I later found out was called 'Ramblin' Rose'. The band ended the set with the inevitable 'Not Fade Away/Goin' down the road feelin' Bad' medley, doing one encore of 'One More Saturday Night'. 
I really don't want to make some glib statement about what happened being a spiritual experience. But that's all I can really think of. Everyone at the concert had been introduced to the New Music - the Dead had taken people into a new consciousness - all the doors had been opened. 
After the gig, there was the usual party where everyone came to show off their Underground chic. Amid the velvet and satin, members of the Dead sat quietly bewildered and rather out of it all. Pigpen, still brooding, muttered that it had been a pretty mediocre gig, while Garcia was still giving out his raps to those around who had already been mind-blitzed. Outside the building, the last remains of the audience staggered around, hopelessly spaced, wondering where the hell they could go after witnessing all that. If they'd looked up into the sky earlier in the evening they would have noticed a giant rainbow hanging right over the Empire Pool. It was that sort of evening.

(by Nick Kent, from Frendz, May 12, 1972)

Thanks to Simon Phillips. 

More Nick Kent on the Dead:  

May 29, 2022

April 1972: Jerry Garcia Interview


It's been a long time but at last you're over here. Why has it taken so long to get together? Every year you get rumours...

Well, that’s true. I think from our side of it it’s been a matter of holding off until I think we were basically unified about going somewhere. In the past it’s been a question of timing – for example we had a European tour kind of sketched out this time last year, but the timing was poor.
What happened was we’d been out on the road for two months and our plan was to then go to Europe, but we were so exhausted and we were on sort of a downhill...the way things work with our music is that we can only play certain material for so long and then we get bored with what we’re doing.
It’s important to us to be able to take a break for maybe a month or so, come back to it fresh, rehearse, get new material together – then the music has some vitality. But if we try and play the same material too continually it just starts getting lame, you know, and we start getting bored with it and so forth.
That’s like an up and down curve, and the last time we were just on the down end of the curve when it came time for a final decision – "are we going to go, are we not going to go? Oh, let’s not go because we just don’t feel right." It comes down to that we weren’t ready to, I don’t think we were ready to come – not in our own heads.
That may or may not be a good criterion, but that’s the way it works in our scene. If everybody feels like it, it happens, if not it doesn’t, and this year we’re just really ready...totally ready.

And “everybody” with the Dead is quite a lot of people.

Right, right, and all of them are ready too. Because everybody plays an important part, actually, on one level or another, and if any of those levels aren’t quite right for one reason or another, then we can’t really move forward.
It represents energy lost if we try to, you know what I mean, because we’ll have to go back and fix that thing eventually. So we always wait until it’s really time to do it. That’s what this is about.

Have you got a lot of new material that you’ll be doing then?

Well, we have material that’ll be new here, yeah – it’s not new to us, we’ve been playing it for a while, but our material starts to get life after we’ve been playing it for a while, but if we play it too long it loses life.
There’s a sort of a peak optimum, and right now we’re at one of those peaks. We’ve got a lot of brand new material, we have material that’ll be new to...that we’ve never recorded, in fact that’s why we’re recording these tours.

At Bickershaw you’ll be having a whole day, right? I heard you’d be doing a kind of history of the Dead.

Well, actually our show is kind of that, in a way, insofar as we try to start on a kind of easy-to-hear level – it works for several reasons that way.
For one thing it works that we remember how to play, each time, by starting with simple things, moving into more complex things, and then finally after having built a kind of platform, then we sort of jump off it.
But if we were to start the show jumping off it, most of the audience I don’t think would really be able to follow it, unless they were really Grateful Dead freaks.
So now we have this sort of continuum, which is good for us and it’s good for the audience because we have a kind of continuity – from off the street to outer space, so to speak.

And then back again?

Sometimes, but then sometimes we just hang out there. It’s not so organised. When we go on stage we don’t have a set worked out, we don’t know what we’re going to do, so it’s a combination of us being sensitive to the situation and to the audience, and what material might be appropriate to a given moment. We leave ourselves that kind of flexibility.

And obviously having a whole day to do it is an advantage...

Right, that’s why we insist on those long concerts as well, to provide ourselves with enough time to do what we know we can do good.

How does it work within three or four hours?

Four hours is good, four or five hours is usually really good. After that it depends.
Outdoors is a different thing, outdoors there’s just a tremendous amount more energy available, it seems; we’ve sometimes played outdoors for six or seven hours – really ridiculously long times, but there’s a different thing happening there, it’s easier for some reason.

How would you say the Dead have changed since the early days in San Francisco?

We’ve had a couple of major changes. I think our first major change from the early days was when we added a second drummer, and that kinda like represents the middle period so to speak.
You can hear pretty well what the result of that was on "Live Dead", in terms of performance, what that meant to our performance. Then, two drummers got to be a musical refinement for the sake of itself, which didn’t really contribute to the music, ultimately.
It was a good trip, but finally it didn’t really provide enough for two drummers to be doing full time, and be satisfied, so then Mickey went back to doing his Mickey stuff – he’s got a recording studio and things like that – and we went back to a five-man format.
But, we felt that we needed more music, just more music in the band, so in this last year we picked up Keith, who’s our piano player, and his wife Donna is an excellent singer so she’s been singing some with us too. So those are two changes that are brand new, and that’s made our music change again.
But I couldn’t really describe, objectively, what’s different about it because to me it seems like we’re playing the same music that we ever were, we’re just playing it better than we ever were.

Your attitudes, your approach, is the same.

Yeah, that’s right, it’s basically the same. We’ve gone through different directions in terms of material – the kinds of material that we write – but those just have to do with the kind of life that we experience, it’s just the regular changes that one goes through in the course of a lifetime.
I don’t see those as fundamental differences in our approach to music. It’s been pretty steady.

But would you say you’ve kept the same approach as you had maybe in the very early days?

I would say that we’re considerably more sophisticated and adventurous than we were then, although what we were doing then was far out for those times. I think what we do now is much farther out, and has much more potential.
Now, it’s a lot like we finally have an instrument that really works well, and now it’s just a matter of us seeing what it’ll do, see how it works.
Everybody is really on top of it musically – Bob has been writing a lot of good material, Pigpen’s been writing a lot of good songs, and the energy of the piano player and his wife has just been fantastic for us, made it feel really complete.

But you tend to get the impression from reading articles about San Francisco at that time – you know those articles that all had Grateful Dead-Jefferson Airplane in the same breath all the time...


...that there was a very special kind of community thing about the place and the music.

Right, but that community thing is much more together now than it ever was in those days. In those days I think it was a matter of like...I think what made it weird for us was that so much attention was focused in the media on the scene, and it was before that scene really was together. It was while the scene was sort of forming, but so much attention got focused on it at that formative stage that it exploded.
You know, like all kinds of people came to the Haight-Ashbury, and there was a tremendous reaction to that, and the whole thing closed down, and then the political thing came into being, and all these various changes came in, and I think that it was unfortunately misleading that early.

Misleading for who – for you?

For everybody. For you, and for me, yeah, and it just put too much energy into too fragile a situation so that the energy was more than the capacity to absorb it, and it just made it just very strange for everybody, but now with five years of maturity on everybody, five years, six years of experience, the thing is much more fruitful and real than it was back then – in my mind.
It’s less spectacular, and it doesn’t have that fresh – "ah, something new!" – it doesn’t have that early excitement, but it does have something that’s much more...together, that’s the only thing I can think of to describe it.

It’s like all that bit about “Swinging London”.

Yeah, there you go – same stuff. Who needs it? But that’s the double edged sword of Media – it can be like tremendously helpful and tremendously destructive, all completely unconsciously and unwilfully.

Do you think that it was that that was destructive to the San Francisco scene?

I think it was, just because it created more traffic than the scene could possibly cover. See, what we were doing at the time all had to do with having controllable numbers of people, in the sense of you could feed large numbers of people, but you could only feed so many.
You could feed 1,000, but you couldn’t feed 20,000, so as soon as there got to be more than traffic could bear, then it was like an ecological upset. So I think that had a lot to do with it certainly – just the fact that so much attention was focused on it before the thing was really ready to cope. And also because we were unable to convince the officials in San Francisco, for example, of what was going to happen, we were unable to make them believe that..."hey, listen – have you looked at Time magazine?", you know? You remember that summer, that famous summer of love? That spring we were saying that in the summer there would be more people in the city than the city could possibly hold, there’s going to be more freaks, and what we need is these facilities – we need free clinics, we need doctors here, we need food over here, and stuff like that.
But they weren’t hearing it, they weren’t able to see it coming, so we just had to stand there and watch this incredible, this fantastic over-flow occur.
And with more people came that certain percentage of violent types, and all that scene, and pretty soon Haight Street was like an armed camp – at weekends there would be thousands and thousands of people out on the street, and then there would be police at every corner, and finally the riot squad and the National Guard, and all this stuff, just moving in – just because it was mishandled.

By the city?

Yeah, and also by us. I mean had we been more perceptive at that time, when we were too young and foolish to be, we would have just not said anything to the Time magazine. [We should] have said, "oh, nothing’s happening here", and cooled it for a while. But that’s youthful folly, I suppose.
But now, a certain amount of what was really, like I said, what was exciting about the freshness and so forth, that part of it is pretty much over, the age of innocence is over, but now it’s gone past it, and it’s gone past the successive chaos and so forth, and now it’s settled into a really good working community of artists and people. It seems pretty satisfying for those of us who are involved in it.
What was good about the Haight-Ashbury scene was that new consciousness was being investigated, and information was being made known, and I think that’s still going on, but I think it’s generally more now than it was, there’s more substance there, less fantasy.

What was the effect of all that on you – did it make you withdraw?

It made us very clannish, and we had just a pure survival struggle for several years – economical and so forth, trying to keep going, which has been basically what we’ve been geared to doing.
It’s only been in this last year that all of a sudden there’s been more coming to us than we need. So we’ve been able to move energy around a little bit, we’ve been able to solve our own problems. But that was good, because that was what we needed, you know.

Because it made everything grow up, mature a lot faster.


What decided you to do a solo album?

Well, basically it was an economic thing because in Marin County, see – I’ve got an old lady, and kids and all that scene at home – and in Marin County there’s not too many houses, and I’ve gone through about three years of renting a beautiful place, and then somebody buys it and kicks me out, so I’ve been moving like every six months pretty regularly.
Finally, my old lady when she was out looking for places to rent found this really lovely house – on the West Coast in Marin, overlooking the ocean, fantastic place. So at that point we decided, let’s buy a house, rather than rent, and buying a house means coming up with a down payment, and then you pay like rent, but you’re eventually owning the place.
So we decided to do that, and the way to do it, for me, was to borrow 10,000 dollars from Warner Bros. Records.
And because it was my house, I thought it should be my record – I wouldn’t have felt right about if it had been a Grateful Dead record to pay for my house. It was sort of an extra-curricular activity. And also Ramrod, who’s our main equipment guy, and Kreutzman worked with me on the record, so I gave them each a percentage of it so they had the ability to buy their own place, buy some land or something.
It’s a matter of being able to move in and get solid, that’s what the record was about for me, really, to be respectable and so forth, which is laughable but...that’s why it ends with wheel and starts with deal – it’s wheeling and dealing to get a house. Basically that’s the truth of it.
But also there were things that I wanted to do in the recording studio, that I wanted to try, that I didn’t necessarily want to take up space on a Grateful Dead record to do.
It’s a matter of having something in your head and wanting to be able to manifest it, and recording costs are so prohibitive – 90 dollars an hour it's just ridiculous – that you can’t amuse yourself unless you’re really rich.
So again it’s the thing that Warner Brothers would be willing to pay to let me do that. So I was able to accomplish several things by doing that record, but basically I don’t think of it as being "Important" – you know what I mean? I think that it’s idiosyncratic – here’s this one thing – I don’t intend to follow it with a career as a solo performer or anything like that. I might do another one if I feel a need to say something or to experiment in some direction or another.

Can I talk a bit about the organisation of the Grateful Dead, because it seems quite unique among most rock bands. You’ve got what, about 40 people with you on this trip?

Well, we don’t always. This is almost our whole scene, that is to say almost the whole Grateful Dead family, Grateful Dead as a social institution, rather than Grateful Dead as a musical institution. In that world, the band represents the driving motor, so to speak, but the reason that we’re able to play is because everybody does what they can to make it right.
What we’ve been trying to do is liberate the music industry, or at least our little part of it, by gradually withdrawing from booking agents, gradually withdrawing from record companies, gradually withdrawing from that whole scene until finally we have control over the whole range of the things we’re doing.
We have control over our gigs, we have control over our records – all those things. And the way our organisation works is the way I described before – we don’t do anything if somebody doesn’t feel right about it, everybody has to feel right about it, and if somebody doesn’t then we work on another plan.

Are you going to set up your own label?

Well, we’re going to try to set up our own record company, but it’s not going to be a record company in the standard sense in that it’s not going to be designed for profit, it’s going to be designed to sell our records in a way compatible with the way we run our scene.
It would be like families here and there, who would be like distributing our records, selling them.
The records would be considerably cheaper than regular records in regular record stores – they might not ever be sold in record stores, they might be sold in health food stores and head shops.
We’re looking to totally break away from that thing, we’re not interested in competing with the rest of the record world, we’re not interested in playing that game at all.
What we want to do is put out records, control the quality of them so that they’re really good, on good vinyl and so forth, and so that they’re cheap. So our profit margin can be shortened.
All these things here are dreams, they’re not real yet, we’re just talking about them and putting together information, and trying to find out how possible it is and what we’re going to need to do to try it. But it’s a gamble – hopefully the way we would do it would be the way the underground newspapers are in America, and the way the health food industry now is in the United States.
That is entirely a head scene – the farmers are heads, the distributors are heads, the whole thing is incredibly healthy for the whole head economy, which is really a sub-economy in the United States, it doesn’t depend on the rest of the straight, American capitalist system. 
We're interested in lending our support to that, because that is the world we live in, rather than be funnelled through record companies or...people who don't understand what we're doing, that's it, that represents an incredible drag on us. 

So the future for the Dead is to be as completely self contained as possible? 

Right, that's it exactly. Whether we'll get there or not is anybody's guess, but we're trying. And our feedback, you know, when we throw these ideas out to people - it looks like it's possible, it looks like it would be possible to make all that work, but it just has to do with whether the energy is there, whether people will do it. 
It doesn't have to do with profit and all that stuff, traditional business motives, it has to do with something else entirely, and we haven't defined it - it's not that kind of stuff. 

(by Steve Peacock, from Sounds, April 15, 1972)

Thanks to Simon Phillips

May 28, 2022

May 1972: Bob Weir Interview

Grateful Dead's BOB WEIR talks to Steve Bradshaw 

Garcia's solo album was very like a lot of recent Dead material - do you think your album's as closely related to the band's output as a whole? 

I'm told that mine sounds less like the Grateful Dead than his does, though I can't see how that could have happened. Garcia plays all the instruments himself on that album except the drums. Whereas on mine I just play the guitar and use the Grateful Dead ensemble, in some cases augmented by brass and strings to fill the sound out. There are only one or two cuts I don't use the band on. 

Have you been saving material up for some time? 

Well the oldest is probably "Playing in the Band," which I've been doing for about a year now. It was on our last live record. But it's been developed and extended so it's not easily recognisable as the same song. 
I realised that the point it's got to now is really what I wanted in the first place. When we recorded it live it was immature, and now it's matured into a different song which I think really holds together much better. 
Pigpen is the only member of the band whose material is almost entirely his own, words and music. I have little faith in my poetic abilities, so I just leave it to the experts. 
In most cases they were written by a friend of mine called John Barlow, but Robert Hunter, Garcia's lyricist, wrote the words for a couple of songs. I wrote the lyrics for "One More Saturday Night." 

The band seem to be going their own separate ways a lot more now. 

That's always been the case in that when any of us wrote a song we'd try and make it something of our own, and go off in one particular direction as far as possible. There have certainly been divergent directions in the band before, but they've never been brought to the surface by a solo album before. 
What's happened is simply that nowadays Garcia and I have more material than we can put on a Grateful Dead record without crowding each other and everyone else out. Now Pigpen's thinking about it too - and if he gets that together, which we all want to see him do very much - we'll be helping with that. 

Are there any plans for the next Dead album? 

We've been recording the tour throughout Europe and we'll try to put together another live album of the finest takes. We've played some fairly good shows on the tour so there should be some good material. 
The last album worked well enough, though at the time it was simply the quickest and most expedient way to put out a record. But live recording just has that spark of spontaneity you can't recapture in the studio no matter how you try. 
What happens in most of our live performances is that we start out with one general category of songs and then move into another, and at the same time we'll swing round, taking it in turns to sing. 
Then if, during an improvisation, we get to some region within our plunges through inner and outermost space, which has a rhythmic and tonal mode that suggests a particular song, one of us will start playing the comp to it and everyone will fall in behind. 
We've been playing together so long it just happens naturally, we're really just playing from the seat of our pants. The audience may be surprised by how quickly we shift in one particular direction, but really they get to find out what's happening at practically the same time as us. 

What about the actual mechanics of improvisation, how can you tell what each of you are going to be doing next? 

Well when we're playing free and we're drifting from key to key, feeling to feeling, and mode to mode, Garcia and Phil on bass are generally playing simple lines, and any combination of two notes suggests a chord. 
My role and the piano player's role is to intuit what that combination is going to be, and to be there with that chord, or maybe an augmentation of it. And that might suggest staying there and building on what's happening, or going on to a new passage... A new key or a new mode or whatever. It's quite a choice sometimes! 
It usually takes a lot of concentration, though sometimes it just trots out easily. And sometimes that combination of people guessing leads to some inspirational new idea which is really worth living for. 

To recap briefly, the turning point in the Dead's career was Workingman's Dead. What was going on in the band at that time? 

It was a sudden change in direction for the public when that album came out, but a change that had been happening for some time as far as we were concerned. We'd been hanging out with Crosby and Stephen and listening to them sing together, and we began to realise we were neglecting our own vocal presentation for instrumental presentation. 
So we started work on vocal and choral arrangements and naturally that was the way the next record - Workingman's Dead - came out. 
None of us had given it a lot of thought, but it was certainly a marked change from the way we sounded in the past. It was a lot of fun to make. It happened very quickly and there was a spontaneity about that record which is just beautiful. 

The other change is that you're not working in some social context as specifically as you were before, for example when Ralph Gleason wrote about the commune you lived in as a new direction in experimental living. What's going to replace that? 

When we were living in that one house in 1967, it was really out of necessity. It was all we could afford. Our economic situation didn't leave us much leeway, so what we did was what we had to do. It was a lot of fun, and it was fairly uncomfortable too. We moved out first chance we got, because no one really likes living right on top of anyone else like that. 
Nonetheless, there are still a lot of people around us we enjoy and many of them work for us in whatever capacity they can find. We support a lot of people, and in turn they support us. 
So in fact we now have a huge family, a tribal business scene going. And it seems to work fairly well. It's total and utter anarchy, like our music: but for one miraculous reason or another, everything always gets done. 
It's because of that structure that we haven't been able to tour Europe before - we wanted to take everyone with us, and up to this year, we haven't been able to afford it. But I think we've just about broken even. 
The next step is to make enough money to buy our own studios. And we want to look at the way records are marketed. 
Essentially what the band and the family want to do now is to find more efficient ways of letting more people hear better music. 

(by Steve Bradshaw, from Melody Maker, July 22, 1972)

Thanks to Simon Phillips

May 27, 2022

May 25, 1972: Lyceum Theatre, London


There's a lot of enjoyable bands around at the moment and there's a few exceptional bands around too. But there's only a handful of the exceptionally enjoyable - the enjoyably exceptional - in this world today and one of them played four nights at the London Lyceum last week. 
The Grateful Dead, on an extended European tour, jamming exhaustively at Bickershaw and broadcasting from Luxembourg, started with an enthusiastic Tuesday crowd, built through an exciting Wednesday show, an ecstatic Thursday gig (the night I caught), and on to Friday's grand finale. 
They attracted a larger proportion of Americans to the Lyceum than usual and the whole atmosphere must have been similar to that in the West coast ballrooms of the sixties with the uninhibited shouts and whoops of appreciation and encouragement. 
There's no showmanship to the Dead. It's just a case of walking on stage - to great applause - and getting on with the job in hand, which is boogie, as in "Big Boss Man," a good, hard blues opener. 
It's a very interesting stage, musically, that the Dead have reached. A well developed blend of their early rhythm and blues-rock roots with their Workingman/American Beauty country influences producing one of the most complete synthesis of white American music in an individual style. 
Mighty guru Garcia stands smilingly at the back picking out the most relaxed and pointed lines while Bob Weir, to the front, stands with head on one side singing high and true. It's really only in live concert that the full qualities of Lesh and Kreutzmann as a rhythm section become wholly apparent. Added to Weir's rhythm guitar chord patterns, which play closer to Garcia's lead than to the actual rhythm team, Phil and Bill give the Dead's music that loose, rolling and purposefully fragmented feel. 
It's a sensation that often teeters on the brink of anarchy. You suddenly think "This song is coming apart at the seams" and suddenly the whole band is together again tightasthis. 
The insidious infectiousness of the Dead's music is clear. On Thursday there was never any need for the "c'mon everybody clap yo' hands" stuff, but, all the same, the whole Lyceum is suddenly clapping hands. 
Pigpen's almost invisible, hidden at the back and to one side of the stage. But he comes out front for "Good Lovin'," perhaps a little weak to those who remember the Young Rascals' frantic rendition, but there's some nice organ from Keith Godchaux who takes over the keyboards from McKernan. Keith's wife Donna comes on stage for a fantastic "Playing In The Band," a title which reflects what the Dead are all about. Anyone who's ever picked guitar or smote the snare in anger would love to play in such a band. 
A simple string of song titles tends to reduce the stature of the Dead's performance, but some of the notables were "Casey Jones" (which closed the first set), "Big Railroad Blues," "Uncle John's Band," and the smoky, moody "Wharf Rat." 
The highlight, however, is still the epic "Dark Star." It's a marathon stellar piece launched by Lesh and Kreutzmann, fuelled by the consistently interesting interplay between Garcia and Weir with the leader pinging out high precise notes and the whole band building a series of stunningly powerful climaxes. 
So how do you follow such a musical journey? Well, you relax and play what you want to. In this case what they wanted to play was a series of oldies and goldies going right back to an "El Paso" that Marty Robbins just wouldn't have believed. 
All of this tended to eclipse the set played by the New Riders of the Purple Sage earlier in the evening. I enjoyed their first album but found "Powerglide," their second, disappointing. The NRPS set, notwithstanding an enthusiastic reception from U.S. expatriates, was similarly good/bad. "Last Lonely Eagle" (first album track) was fine with good steel guitar; "I Don't Need No Doctor" (second album and latest single) rocked well; "Louisiana Lady," "The Weight" plus "Willie And The Hand Jive" proved highspots in the set. 
But the night was the Dead's, whose extraordinary musical stamina has given us four excellent nights at the Lyceum. Let's hope that other bands of equal stature follow their example. (Is four nights at the same or a similar venue too much to hope for from the Stones?). 

(by Geoff Brown, from Melody Maker, June 3, 1972)

* * * 


The Grateful Dead are an exasperating band. Carve away all the semi-mystical claptrap that surrounds them and they still have an indeniably high presence. 
On-stage at the Lyceum last week they played so quietly, so completely laid-back that, you would imagine, an audience brought up on ear-battering rock and roll would become restive and bored. But as the music floated over in waves from the front of the stage and percolated into the crowded, labyrinthine maze of corridors and iron balustrades, they sat there gripped with wonderment that a band should fill the whole of the hall, not just with its music, but with its very presence. 
The Dead seemed to be at home in the intimate warmth of the old-time Lyceum with its dim, smokey lights and tuned in perfectly to the people, who captured, magnified, and returned to the band that relaxed, magical good-time feeling. But the Dead are still exasperating. 
On the Thursday of their four-day stint last week, their first set was beautiful, and as they ended with a red-hot Casey Jones, the second promised to take off sky-high - but didn't. It turned into a meandering, shambolic feedback jam illuminated with the occasional flash of dazzling, almost telepathic brilliance. 
I picked them up at "Big Boss Man", which they play with great assurance, rolling bass from Phil Lesh and wailing harp, and stayed through until the end of the second set. Song-titles have never struck me as of great interest in the Dead's music: even the song-albums like "American Beauty" just flow through like a continuous set. The continuity is even more overpowering in performance, and breaks seem to come, not so much when the song reaches its conclusion, but when the band decide that they have explored to the full that particular feeling for that particular evening. 
During the first set, what struck me most forcibly was not the role of Garcia as leader and controller, but Bob Weir, the best vocalist and the linkman. While Garcia takes off on his guitar excursions, it is Weir who pins the sound together, lifting the pace with his immaculate timing and full chords, then suddenly taking a stride forwards to the mike to pick up a chorus as Jerry Garcia's towering solos suddenly drop back into the main theme of the song. 
The Dead's improvisation technique is actually quite simple: they take a song out to the end of an instrumental break; then, where others would reach a peak of intensity and fall back into the song, they take it on out from there, building beyond. 
The intensity is not governed by volume, either: there are whole areas of space which are implied rather than hammered out (for which credit to Lesh's bass, whose silences are almost as eloquent as the fastest jumping runs), allowing the top layer of instrumentation (the interplay between Garcia's and Weir's guitars and Keith Godchaux's piano) to develop with almost telepathic understanding. The crowd understand it, too.
Some of the more complex transitions were incredibly achieved, drawing roars of admiration, but it was when they got to "Dark Star" in the second set that the cohesion seemed to be falling apart. Maybe I lost them somewhere down the line, but when drummer Kreutzmann peters out into tricky cymbal work and Lesh's bass loses the raunchy, jumping feel that underlies all the Dead's R and B-based music and leaves a throbbing pulse with no apparent timing implied, I feel that they start to degenerate into self-indulgent rambling. 
Too harsh, maybe; but it is a sign of the Dead's assured status that they can carry it with an audience. From a playing point of view, the Dead have surely confirmed that they are amongst the best around bar none. For total impact there still remains a certain ambiguity - but it was a great evening. 
The New Riders of the Purple Sage earlier proved themselves to be a stronger, raunchier band than their light, delicate country music album would suggest. Spencer Dryden is a powerhouse at the drums and by the end of their set they had the audience up on their feet and clapping. 

(by Martin Hayman, from Sounds, June 3, 1972)

Thanks to Simon Phillips

See also other Lyceum reviews: 

May 26, 2022

May 16, 1972: Radio Luxembourg

A sign of hope

In the past few weeks one has seen Radio Luxembourg progress an aeon in one bound from its tenacious image of the Ovaltiners and Horace Batchelor. 
By encouraging first the Beach Boys and then, a week later, the Grateful Dead to broadcast live throughout Europe, Lux has both conclusively shown that the enterprising future of rock radio lies with the little duchy and drawn the milk-teeth from the flabby gums of BBC's Radio One. 
In fairness to the BBC, it's true to say that under the rules of the Musicians' Union here, American musicians are forbidden to play (though they can sing) directly on British radio. A fact of broadcasting life that dates back to the wholesale Merseyside invasion of the American music markets, when it was felt that some protection was required on both sides of the Atlantic. 
To let it go at that, however, is to condone the meek acquiescence of the mighty media monopoly. It should not be allowed to take credit away from a commercial station which at least appears committed to what it is doing. 
Bear in mind that Luxembourg's broadcastings of whole programmes devoted to Tamla Motown, the Beatles, and Presley have all subsequently, and in a miserably belated fashion, been scavenged by Radio One. 
Thank God for people in the music business with gumption and guts to match. To present a band performing live for three hours, as was the case with the Dead last Tuesday, involves obvious technical difficulties of ensuring no unscheduled breaks in playing time. 
This is difficult enough in the context of festival and concert performances, but to be willing to cope with the unexpected in such circumstances on radio deserves a pat on the back in my opinion. 
Just think, there are people who do believe radio should be exciting, and that its spontaneity is not confined to a telephone call to provincial housewives about their zodiac signs or culinary habits. 
Radio Luxembourg has been bold in more than a technical sense, however. Like all commercial stations, it exists on sponsorship, but the decision on these live shows was to feature no advertising. 
Certainly, in this instance loss of revenue equals increase in prestige with the public, but why not accept their explanation that it was done because "we knew the kids would dig it"? 
The important point to remember is that the success of these two shows creates a foundation for future ventures. 
It's already been suggested that what has begun as a casual experiment may lead to permanent broadcasting of all major American artists who arrive on the shores of Europe and wish to play free for what amounts to virtual publicity before a 40 million-strong audience. 
And not just Americans. There's no reason why The Stones, say, or any British group couldn't play to an audience here that is fed up to the gills with Night Ride. 
It's not that easy, of course. Lux's officials at the British end have yet to overcome entirely the entrenched petit bourgeoisie mentality of a tiny European state, which looks on at the recent parade of long-haired visitors to its radio station in the old castle with a mixture of perplexity and hesitation. 
A neutral country, prominent, like Switzerland, for its banking interests, it doesn't need the hassles that occasionally become associated with rock artists and their followers. 
Regretfully, the programme with the Dead had this unfortunate aspect to an extent. Because of a rather silly announcement on the French service of Luxembourg, several hundred Deadheads travelled from France thinking they would see a free concert with admission to all. 
They found that the station's small theatre, where the recording took place, held only 350. Some were left outside. There were scuffles with the two security men (really, just jobsworths). One guy in the crowd tried to climb in, fell ten foot into the waterless moat, and suffered spinal injuries. 
There was fifty quid's worth of damage to a door. Doubtless, seen through the eyes of many Luxembourg citizens, for whom the major spectacle in their lives has been the signing of the EEC papers there, it appeared like some riot. 
How can they know it was merely a lack of French foresight and a blatant inadequacy of security? How can they be made aware that reaction to the Beach Boys show came in from as far away as San Francisco and L.A.? 
It's a pity these bankers, restaurant owners, and shopkeepers could not have been inside that recording theatre last Tuesday. To see Jerry Garcia smile and smile and smile is something on its own. 
Still, if you were tuned in, you must have got the picture. There's almost a visual element about live radio. You dig?
(by Michael Watts, from Melody Maker, May 27, 1972) 
* * * 
In concert with Radio Luxembourg: 
 Riots at the entrance of the Villa Louvigny 
The "Grateful Dead" concert last Tuesday (midnight to 2am) will be remembered by many as the worst possible organization in the Villa Louvigny auditorium. Something that cannot be said of the concert with the Beach Boys that took place a week ago. How did this mess come about? A few questions arise.
Why was the entrance moved? Why weren't the umpteen people who stayed in front of the wrong entrance until midnight (the start of the concert) and longer, and who all had an invitation card, not informed about this? Why, and this seems to us to be the most important thing, was Radio-Luxembourg's Hangwellen transmitter used for a "concert gratuit", as it was called, and why weren't the listeners made aware that an invitation was required? Why were about 100 French people admitted before those who had been invited were seated in the Villa Louvigny?
Of course, you can't blame a Frenchman who came from Paris in response to the tempting offer of a "Free Concert" - that he really wanted to see the Grateful Dead after he'd already come here. The gentlemen from Radio-Luxembourg would have saved themselves smashed windows if they had kindly informed the French not to force their way in, since they were willing to let them in once everyone who had an invitation had been seated.
The "L W." critic was fortunate to enter through a back door at around 1:15 a.m. and still be able to see the "Dead". Under these circumstances one can hardly expect a detailed assessment of the concert from him.
On a colorful stage and in front of a surprisingly not even fully occupied hall (?), about two dozen community members of the Grateful Dead sat down next to the musicians and their instruments and amplifiers.
The "electric cowboys" from San Francisco, as they are often called in the trade press, had built their entire repertoire very much on the guitars of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir. Garcia often let a very delicate lead guitar be heard, but the sometimes too loud volume of the whole group shouldn't be able to excite us beyond measure. The approximately 60 million listeners (according to the organizer) on the radio were given a far better sound quality than those present in the hall.
If you continue to plan such concerts, which would be very gratifying, you should take into account the mishaps of last Tuesday.
(by Rene Thill, from the Luxemburger Wort, May 19, 1972) 


May 25, 2022

May 23, 1972: Lyceum Theatre, London

The Lyceum, with its warm Regency decor and intimate atmosphere, must have reminded the Grateful Dead of the Californian ballrooms where they first rose to fame six years ago. Returning to London on the last leg of their European tour they chose to work out on some of their new material. 
 Although the first set was somewhat repetitious, the high points were still very high. It was rock music devoid of theatrical effects but glittering with expertise. They confirmed their unique status. Most of the material is written by the group for the group, and they play it through a superb sound system designed to their own specification in San Francisco. 
Their music transcends styles: just as the audience think they are cooling down into a bit of chamber jazz they effortlessly push the tempo back up into a jet-propelled boogie. Stetsoned organist Pigpen sang a couple of saucy R&B numbers, taking a honking Chicago-style harmonica solo after some fine bluesy licks from master guitarist Jerry Garcia. Pianist Keith Godchaux and vocalist-guitarist Bob Weir starred on several powerhouse country-rock numbers, with Keith's wife Donna joining in for some joyous gospel-inflected choruses on "Playing in the Band", always a highlight with its racy, thunderous guitar and piano figures. 
After a half-hour interval they returned, bringing whoops of approval from the balcony as drummer Kreutzmann and bass ace Phil Lesh rumbled into "Dark Star", their intergalactic free-jazz classic. Pigpen rattled the maracas, Kreutzmann peppered his four cymbals, and Garcia sent out bell-like high notes, in clusters, then one by one like tracer bullets into space. Bob Weir crouched by his amp amidst a growling earthquake of feedback. Thunder and lightning. The stage is bathed in emerald and ultra-violet lights as Garcia steps forward to stretch his husky voice: "Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes." After 40 minutes it builds into a colossal squealing, snarling crescendo. 
And then the Dead soar on into their fourth hour with a gorgeous "Sugar Magnolia", accelerating up through the gears, into another boogie, "Not Fade Away". And finally, after many requests, their magic ballad, "Uncle John's Band". Uncle Jerry punches out the sweet liberating lead guitar lines and they take it in three-part harmony. Their voices are almost worn out and a thousand hands join to clap them through it: "Like the morning sun you come, and like the wind you go, Ain't no time to hate, barely time to wait. Oh-ho what I want to know, Where does the time go?" Where indeed, I thought, looking at my watch. It was 1.50 a.m.
(by Myles Palmer, from the London Times, May 25, 1972) 
Thanks to Dave Davis

See also other Lyceum reviews: 

May 20, 2022

May 18, 1972: Kongress-Saal, Deutches Museum, Munich, West Germany


The Congress Hall in Munich's German Museum is long and narrow - it has a stage, tiers, seating and aisles. The group had set up a fairly large system, so there was not much freedom of movement. It was very crowded, the prices were affordable, and the tickets were sold out for a long time. You knew that the group was one of the best live groups, you knew their records that emphasized that they've been together for a very long time. Everyone also knew a little bit about their history: The group was formed around 1966, a community that has grown to 50 people today. So far they seem to have been able to solve the music-maker's well-known problems in their own way - e.g. they are doing the tour as a whole, long in preparation, also through a fund. The managers - they've all been the 'Dead' for a long time. The vibrations were corresponding - clear calm in itself. You knew that, you felt something and you were excited.
These expectations were then subverted for a long time: you hear this music and you're disappointed - just music, rock music, number music, across the entire music garden, more to pass by, music from next door. You already know all that - just not so boring, it seems - so skillfully distanced, so gently demonstrated. And you withdraw first - you don't need that in a concert, where you always counted for little and the performance, the group everything.
You go out, you get mobile - you go to the restaurant, very practical, there is a lot of space in the corridors. You think. You see yourself and feel the others. You relax and have space for yourself. The music is just there, among other things, far away, always familiar, sometimes you come closer again and follow along a bit: That's how you would do it, free guitar and bass lines, melodious, piano, organ and drums, order from personal experience. A rock band plays, of course, musicians like you and me. "We're just a rock'n'roll band" comes to mind from the interview with Jerry Garcia, one of the guitarists. You begin to understand, to hear what you have read. "In the normal world - the world of media etc. - we're just a rock 'n' roll band. But that's not all we are. We are signposts to a new space, a different reality." Their music is a means of doing that, they make it, but they aren't. It's just supposed to get you high, uplift you, "so you forget yourself, and forgetting yourself is seeing everything else, and seeing everything else is becoming an understanding molecule of evolution, a conscious tool of the universe." That's the task of every human being, they say. 
"We're kinda like a sign post" - "we only point the way there."
"It's a cosmic conspiracy." It's like a cosmic conspiracy from which no one is exempt. The differences are only due to the fact that our knowledge about it is different and we consider the corresponding appearance to be real.
A concert on a tour is not a concert - "it's [a] happening, it's not so much telling the people, but doing that thing." The music designates a different event, the cosmic togetherness, which one cannot talk about, which one has to live.
That's why it's so easy to be disappointed by them at first, because you're not used to it. You think music is music is the group. But today it's about "post-revolutionary activities," "living productive lives." We have to put our knowledge into practice, create productive forms that come closer to THE reality. It can be anything, because the outer, physical form ISN'T - it is the inner knowledge, the detachment and inner peace in every possible outer form. Some are musicians. Everyone is something. Jerry Garcia: "Just keep on keeping on." Just keep doing what you're doing.
After the break, the music became freer - more like a session in the rehearsal room, so clear, you have peace, you're not dependent on the local scene, you have your own with you and rest in it. You can be yourself. Four hours as a matter of course, music without problems and stars - 6 people out of 50 make music. Dance music, free sounds, music history...
They know the other reality from their own experience - they helped make it happen: the 1966 acid tests with Ken Kesey. The LSD experiences showed the illusion of the visible, so-called real world and gave an idea of our real function. They were the real revolution - inside. 
"It has already happened. We're living after the fact. It's a post-revolutionary age. The change is over." Today is the time after the big change. 
"The rest of it is a clean-up action. Unfortunately it's very slow. Amazingly slow and amazingly difficult." It remains for us to sort this out practically, to clear away the old rubble. Unfortunately, this is very slow - amazingly slow and amazingly difficult.
There's the name: Grateful Dead. You can hear that now too. It comes from Northern Irish, Scottish mythology. You die but you're not yet done with the world. The soul wanders around disembodied and has its experiences until it is done with them - a grateful dead - now calm, detached from the world, the illusion, Maya, and is reborn, happy, at peace, walking a path in this world and yet is more - it knows that now.
Old souls in young bodies - old wine in new bottles.
This is how the Dead see themselves within all of us: "We are all one organism, we are all the universe, we are all doing the same thing. That's the sort of thing that everybody knows..." - we are all one organism, we are all the universe, we are all doing the same thing. And basically everyone knows that...
Lots of normal applause, clear applause. You have understood. The great event is no more - illusion. You feel like a schoolboy who realizes that your ears are no longer glowing.
Less? - Yes, less appearance, but more truth.
Cosmic Conspiracy. Trust in us. It can be that easy. Just keep on keeping on.
Quotes from Rolling Stone No. 101 from 3.2.72, Interview with Jerry Garcia by Charles Reich and Jann Wenner.

(by Rainer Langhans, unknown paper - quotes in italics were printed in English)
Thanks to Uli Teute. 

* * * 
The original German article: 

Der Kongresssaal im Muenchener Deutschen Museum ist lang und schmal - er hat Buehne, Raenge, Bestuhlung und Gaenge. Die Gruppe hatte eine ziemlich grosse Anlage aufgebaut, so dass ihr nicht viel Bewegungsfreiheit blieb. Es war sehr voll, die Preise waren ertraeglich, die Karten lange ausverkauft. Man wusste von der Gruppe, dass sie eine der besten Livefgruppen ist, kannte ihre Platten, die das betonten - sie sind sehr lange zusammen. Ein jeder wusste auch ein wenig von ihrer Geschichte: Die Gruppe entstand um 1966, eine community, die bis heute auf 50 Leute anwuchs. Sie schien die bekannten Probleme des Musickmachers bisher in ihrem Sinne loesen zu koennen - z.B. macht sie die Tournee als Ganzes, lange vorbereitet, auch durch einen Fonds. Die Manager - alle sind sie die 'Dead', schon lange. Die Schwingungen waren entsprechend - in sich klare Ruhe. Man wusste das, fuehlte etwas und war gespannt.
Diese Erwartungen wurden dann lange und lange unterlaufen: Man hoert diese Musik und ist enttaeuscht - einfach nur Musik, Rockmusik, Nummernmusik, quer durch den ganzen Musikgarten, mehr zum Vorbeigehen, Musik von nebenan. Man kennt das alles schon - nur nicht so langweilig, so scheint es - so distanziert gekonnt, so sanft demonstriert. Und man entzieht sich zuerst - sowas hat man nicht noetig in einem Konzert, wo man selbst immer wenig galt und die performance, die Gruppe alles.
Man geht raus, wird beweglich - man geht ins Restaurant, sehr praktisch, auf den Gaengen ist viel Platz. Man denkt nach. Man sieht sich und fuehlt die Anderen. Man loest sich und hat Raum fuer sich selbst.
Die Musik ist nur da unter Anderem, fern, immer vertraut, manchmal kommt man wieder naeher und geht ein Stueck mit: So wuerde man es auch machen, freie Gitarren- und Basslinien, melodioes, Klavier, Orgel und Schlagzeug, Ordnung aus eigener Erfahrung. Eine Rockband spielt auf, selbstverstaendlich, Musiker wie Du und ich. "We're just a rock'n'roll band" faellt einem wieder ein von den Interviews Jerry Garcias, des einen Gitarristen. Man beginnt zu verstehen, zu hoeren, was man gelesen hatte. "In der normalen Welt - der Welt der Medien usw. - sind wir einfach eine Rock'n'Roll Band. Aber das ist nicht alles, was wir sind. Wir sind Wegweiser zu einem neuen Raum, einer anderen Wirklichkeit."
Ihre Musik ist dazu ein Mittel, sie machen sie, sind sie aber nicht. Sie soll nur high machen, einen erheben, "dass er sich selbst vergisst, und sich selbst vergessen heisst alles Andere sehen, und alles Andere sehen heisst, ein verstehendes Molekuel der Evolution zu werden, ein bewusstes Werkzeug des Universums." Das ist die Aufgabe jedes Menschen, sagen sie.
"We're kinda like a sign post" - "wir weisen nur den Weg dahin."

"It's a cosmic conspiracy." Es ist wie eine kosmische Verschwoerung, von der keiner ausgenommen ist. Die Unterschiede ruehren nur daher, dass unser Wissen darum unterschiedlich ist und wir den estsprechenden Schein fuer wirklich halten.
Ein Konzert auf einer Tournee ist kein Konzert - "it's happening, it's not so much telling the people, but doing that thing." Die Musik bezeichnet ein anderes Geschehen, die kosmische Zusammengehoerigkeit, ueber die man nicht reden kann, die man leben muss.
Man ist deshalb so leicht enttaeuscht zuerst von ihnen, denn man ist das nicht gewohnt. Man denkt Musik ist Musik ist die Gruppe. Heute aber geht es um "post-revolutionary activities," "living productive lifes." Wir muessen unsere Erkenntnisse praktisch umsetzen, produktive Formen schaffen, die DER Wirklichkeit sich naehern. Das kann alles sein, denn nicht die aeussere, grobstoffliche Form IST - es ist das innere Wissen, das Losgeloestsein und Insichruhen in jeder moeglichen aeusseren Form. Manche sind Musiker. Jeder ist etwas. Jerry Garcia: "Just keep on keeping on." Macht einfach weiter, was ihr macht.
Nach der Pause wurde die Musik freier - mehr eine Session im Uebungsraum so klar, man hat die Ruhe, man ist nicht abhaengig von der oertlichen Szene, man hat die eigene mit und ruht in ihr. Man kann ganz man selber sein. Vier Stunden wie selbstverstaendlich, Musik ohne Probleme und Stars - von 50 Leuten machen 6 Musik. Tanzmusik, frei Klaenge, Musikgeschichte...
Die andere Wirklichkeit kennen sie aus eigener Erfahrung - sie haben sie mit gemacht: Die acid tests 1966 mit Ken Kesey. Die LSD-Erfahrungen zeigten die Scheinhaftigkeit der sichtbaren, sogenannten wirklichen Welt und liessen unsere wirkliche Funktion erahnen. Sie waren die eigentliche Revolution - innen.
"It has already happened. We're living after the fact. It's a post-revolutionary age. The change is over." Heute ist die Zeit nach der grossen Veraenderung.
"The rest of it is a clean-up action. Unfortunately it's very slow. Amazingly slow and amazingly difficult." Uns bleibt, all das praktisch zu klaeren, den alten Schutt wegzuraeumen. Das geht leider nur sehr langsam - erstaunlich langsam und ist erstaunlich schwierig.
Da ist der Name: Grateful Dead - Dankbare Tote. Auch das hoert man nun. Er stammt aus der nordirischen, schottischen Mythologie. Man stirbt, aber ist noch nicht fertig mit der Welt. Die Seele irrt koerperlos umher und macht ihre Erfahrungen, bis sie damit fertig ist - a grateful dead - nun ruhig, losgeloest von der Welt, der Taeuschung, Maya und wird wiedergeboren, gluecklich, in sich ruhend, einen Weg gehend in dieser Welt und ist doch mehr - das weiss sie nun.
Alte Seelen in jungen Koerpern - alter Wein in neuen Schlaeuchen.
So sehen sich die Dead innerhalb von uns allen: "We are all one organism, we are all the universe, we are all doing the same thing. That's the sort of thing that everybody knows..." - wir sind alle ein Organismus, wir sind alle das Universum, wir tun alle das Gleiche. Und das weiss im Grunde jeder...
Viel normalez, Beifall, klarer Beifall. Man hat verstanden. Das grosse Ereignis ist nicht mehr - Taeuschung. Man kam sich vor wie ein Schuljunge, der merkt, dass die Ohren nicht mehr gluehen.
Weniger? - Ja, weniger Schein, aber mehr Wahrheit.
Cosmic Conspiracy. Vertrauen in uns. So einfach kann es sein. Just keep on keeping on.

Zitate aus Rolling Stone No. 101 vom 3.2.72, Interview mit Jerry Garcia von Charles Reich und Jann Wenner 

Rainer Langhans 

May 14, 2022

May 5, 1972: Lille, France


The famous American band from the West Coast, "Grateful Dead" is currently on a two-month tour in Europe. This tour takes Jerry Garcia's band to Copenhagen, London, Munich, Amsterdam, Paris and Lille...
Yes, to Lille! Unprecedented event, one of the most endearing, most inventive American groups, will perform on Friday May 5, in the village hall of Faches-Thumesnil, in South Lille.
The Dead's family includes 50 people and 4.5 tons of material. And this time, in addition two mobile recording trucks. Because the group's concerts will be recorded for a "live" album of their European tour.
The Grateful Dead consists of seven musicians and hails from San Francisco. They have a large discography... [line missing] ...a personal music, which is sometimes linked to rock, to blues... We'll go into more detail next week about this group called "Grateful Dead."


May 5 at Faches-Thumesnil

The Grateful Dead have been scheduled to tour Europe for so long that this visit may seem suspicious to all those who have been waiting impatiently for them for several years.
But, it must be said that "the Dead" does not move easily: fifty people, four and a half tons of equipment, recording trucks and the trifle of eighteen million in transport costs to come from San Francisco! Still, they will be at the Faches-Thumesnil village hall on May 5th.
On stage there are seven: Bob Hunter, lyricist and singer; Keith Godchaux, pianist; Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist; Bill Kreutzmann, drums; Ron (Pig Pen) Mc Kernan, organist; Phil Lesh, bassist; and Jerry Garcia, lead guitar.
Grateful Dead is the biggest band in the United States. They're the only ones who can play it all: blues, rock, country western...
Last year, the Grateful Dead's seventh album went gold. This year, the 8th album is barely published that it also becomes a gold record and sells several million copies.
It is this group whose tours have moved hundreds of thousands of people, this group which has more than 200 titles in its repertoire, the best in the world on stage, whose ease and spontaneity are combined with the most swinging music, this group which will be in our region on Friday May 5th. The rental is open at Pop Shop, 4. rue des Ponts-de-comines, in Lille.
(date/paper unknown) 
Thanks to Dave Davis.  

May 13, 2022

April 7, 1972: Empire Pool, Wembley

 A Grateful Dead concert is an extraordinary experience. In recent rock history, one can remember flashes of brilliance and milestone moments, but nothing so gripping as the three hour marathon par excellence at the Empire Pool, Wembley, on Friday. 
Gathering inexorable momentum, the six patently alive musicians, on their first major British showing, carefully paced their output, occasionally rising in rhetorical force, never giving it all away. An essential difference in the basic approach of English and American musicians became pointedly apparent, namely the latter's skill in restraint and timing. Also worthy of note is their way of springing off the beat, and not crashing down stiffly. Simple as they sound, these attributes gave [the] Dead the power to swing at all times, lay back and sock home real excitement, without recourse to bludgeoning violence. 
Apart from the novelty of such a long performance, there were other aspects of the concert which helped to convince that here was one of the great bands, playing at a peak of creativity. Their ability to interpret, convincingly, country music, free improvisation, rock and blues, seemed in retrospect, truly astounding. 
Yet there was no blatant clashing of idioms. As one became absorbed in the complex interplay of "The Other Side," it was hard to recall that half an hour earlier we had been jigging to goodtime "Casey Jones." The styles merged, blended, became one music. 
Arriving late, it was impressive in itself to enter the cavernous gloom of the mighty Pool to find several thousand Dead freaks seated in serried ranks from wall to wall, the band already strumming quietly at the far end. It was like missing the first reel of an epic Biblical movie, and walking among fellow patrons already absorbed in the plot. 
Sound baffles hung like parachute silk from the roof and made a considerable difference to the acoustics. Throughout the concert, the band provided an object lesson in balance and volume level. Powerful without ever becoming painful, nobody missed having their ear drums punctured. 
Behind the band a huge screen displayed Joe's Lights, now sadly homeless following the demise of the Rainbow Theatre. Their inventive visuals proved a great boon when the band sunk from view behind those who insisted on standing up.
Above the diminutive figures on stage, towered a massive gantry supporting lights, speakers, screens, etc., on a mobile proscenium arch. The first half hour was deliberately low-keyed, and unexciting. It helped settle the audience and showed the Dead were going to play it their way. 
Occasional yells and shrieks rent the air between numbers, as per the "live" Dead album. The atmosphere was slowly charging with electricity. Tempos began to shift into higher gear as the country tunes gave way to an easy boogie. All the while, Jerry Garcia, moustached, amiable, brilliant, rocked his lead guitar in harmony with Bob Weir (second guitar), never flashy, but fast as quick silver. 
Around 8.45 pm dancing broke out at the rear of the hall and Pool attendants hustled them back to their seats. Donna Godchaux, wife of the pianist Keith, joined in for a few hot vocal choruses, and there came the first outbreak of cheering. The light show began to soup up, and it all became too much for one of the congregation, who began running at breakneck speed around the blocks of seats. Even plainclothes gents sniffing the air began to tap their feet. 
The Dead drove harder yet, and as the words of "Casey Jones" were flashed on screen, the crowd sang along. After the break at around 9.25 pm the Dead walked again, a quiet riot developing all around as fans stood up, then perched on seats to combat loss of vision. But dancers were left to stand somewhat awkwardly as "The Other Side" developed, a free blow that cleverly built a floating, out-of-time mesh of sound, one of the most interesting sequences during the entire rockathon. 
The drum sound was surprisingly good in view of the size of the place, and the cymbals cut through even as far back as my seat, about five omnibus lengths from the stage. At about 9.45 pm the music was becoming ghostly, tragic, almost macabre, when suddenly - they were back to 4/4 and rockin'. 
At 10.30 pm I saw men jump in the air and hug each other. Still there were more surprises. At 10.36 the Stones' classic "Not Fade Away" paved the way for "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad," and stamping feet kicked up clouds of dust that could not stifle lusty throats cheering Grateful Dead to the echo. An encore? Mals certainment. "One More Saturday Night" was duly supplied - "our next single." There was no need for another encore. We were sated. 
As the hall cleared, a few hundred lucky customers, clutching identifying pieces of paper, fought their way into a party for the group, where the mighty musicians took their ease, seemingly unperturbed by the mayhem around them. 
Said Jerry Garcia, eyeing sandwiches and beer with a benevolent gaze: "We play longer sets than that in the States. It takes us a while to loosen up." 

(by Chris Welch, from Melody Maker, April 15, 1972)


The Dead made it at last! Friday evening at the London Wembley Pool saw the culmination of the hopes of thousands when the Grateful Dead finally took the stage after months of false hopes as to their coming. The concert was to start at 7 p.m. As there is usually a warm up band playing for a couple of hours, many did not turn up until nearer nine. 
By then, the Dead had been onstage for an hour and a half. They did the entire concert themselves, stopping for a 10-minute break at 9 p.m. By the interval, the stadium was full and the atmosphere was at fever pitch. 
The band won their audience song by song. They opened with pianist Keith Godchaux's wife Donna helping with the vocals. Garcia stayed fairly much to the background as Bob Weir carried most of the singing. "Big Boss Man" was the first well-known song they hit with - Pigpen coming out from behind the seclusion of the organ to play harmonica. 
The sound was turned up after a while, although the acoustics were already almost perfect. Huge pillow-slip affairs had been hung from the room to baffle the sound. "Me And My Uncle" - a track for the double Dead album - misfired slightly as there seemed to be some confusion between Garcia and Phil Lesh, but they picked it up again. They really broke the wall when they began "Playing In The Band." 
All of the audience which wasn't actually penned in the sides of the Pool, came forward to the front and crowded the aisles. Those at the back who couldn't see, stood on chairs, and eventually everyone was on their feet. But "Casey Jones" topped the lot, it was easily the most popular song they did, and the words were flashed up on the light show screen behind the band so that everyone could sing along. 
The second half proved to be more of an instrumental show rather than the first, which was a straight run through of about 15 numbers. They intermingled three or four songs, including "Spanish Lady" which had some words, and achieved quite a science fiction sound to their music. 
Everyone who had been clamouring at the front, was awed into silence during this rather doomy set, and when they broke back into rock and roll, the relief was apparent. 
The rock and roll numbers really went down better than their other stuff, and they actually did "Not Fade Away" twice, with another number in the middle. They slipped from song to song often without announcement and certainly without the fuss and tuning up so prevalent among lesser bands. 
Many of the songs came from the double album - "Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad" and others already mentioned - and "The Same Thing" which is an old track just released again on "Historic Dead." 
At the end, there was a long pause while they decided what to do as an encore and the audience was going mad. They'd already been asked to move back from the front of the stage because of the pressure the Pool officials were putting on the band - fire hazards, etc. - and Lesh had announced, "You'd better go back, the cops in the front don't have room to dance!" 
Eventually they came out and played Bob Weir's new "solo" single "One More Saturday Night" which has the Dead and some of the New Riders of the Purple Sage on it. Donna Godchaux came out at the end - she also sings with the New Riders - and finished the last, great, rock and roll set. 

(by Rosalind Russell, from Disc & Music Echo) 

It might have been the place, it might have been that I just wasn't close enough to the stage, or it might just have been the way I was feeling (quite likely a combination of all three), but I didn't come away from the Grateful Dead's first night at the Empire Pool Wembley on Friday with anything like the sense of elation and satisfaction that I'd anticipated. 
Primed by the excellence of their records and their reputation as one of the best, if not THE best live band in America, I was disappointed to find that a lot of what they played sounded a bit scrappy and untogether - almost tired. There were some moments of great beauty, but I found their 3-hour-plus set decidedly patchy and the musicians - with the possible exception of Jerry Garcia, rather erratic. It wasn't what they played, it was the way they played. 
It was strange, but for a lot of the first half, they played like a support band, and when they played the beautiful "Sugar Magnolia" in the second set, it was like a cover version. You knew perfectly well how it could have sounded, but it didn't. 
The yawning cavern of the Empire Pool didn't help at all - it must be incredible difficult to set up any kind of general warmth and atmosphere in a place like that - though I felt that if I'd been right at the front - physically closer to the band - I would have found it a lot easier to feel involved in what was happening. Beyond the first few rows, something was lost. But there were some excellent moments - many from the guitar work of Jerry Garcia, and there was one section, soon after they loosened into the second half, where they got into creating shapes rather than playing lines, in a really effective way. Bill Kreutzman's drumming was pretty solid throughout, and there was a nice surprise in Donna Godchaux's singing. I'm glad I saw the Dead after all this time, but I'm sure I'd enjoy them more in a more relaxed and open environment. Maybe Bickershaw will provide that - then we'll all have more room to breathe. 

(by Steve Peacock, from Sounds)

Thanks to Simon Phillips. 

See also: