More on Europe ’72, Vol. 2: A Few Minutes with David Lemieux
By Blair Jackson
How did this Europe ’72, Vol. 2 come about? Is this sort of the equivalent of the three-CD compilation that came out of the 10-CD Fillmore West ’69 box set?
It is. We had a two-fold philosophy in putting it together. It was meant to draw on some of the best parts of the tour, as any compilation would. But the other part was that we didn’t want to repeat any song titles [from the original Europe ’72 release], and that was a bit of a challenge, because if you look at the set lists, every single version of “Dark Star” went into either “Sugar Magnolia” or “Morning Dew” [both of which appear on Europe ’72] so it really made “Dark Star” a challenge to get on this CD. Likewise, every version of “The Other One” came out of “Truckin’” [also on E72]—except for the Bickershaw concert [5/7/72], and that became our savior, because not only is it an exceptional hour of music, but it doesn’t have repeated songs. It was the only show on the tour that had a “Dark Star” and “The Other One.” The “Dark Star” is about 20 minutes—maybe the shortest of the tour, but they pack a lot of action in it. And “The Other One” is about 31 minutes. And, interestingly, “The Other One” kind of gets into some “Dark Star” territory, too. When you hear it, you’ll notice they go into an almost Live Dead “Dark Star”-type thing; it’s amazing. It almost feels like a continuous hour-long “Dark Star” that has an “Other One” sandwiched in the middle, but it’s still a standalone “Other One.”
I was surprised that there’s so much from England, since I would’ve thought that was picked clean with the earlier, four-disc Steppin’ Out.
Well, we did and we didn’t. If we’d had a fifth CD on Steppin’ Out—and I had sequences worked out for that, if Arista was going to approve a five-CD set—the Bickershaw jam absolutely would have been the centerpiece of that disc. Likewise, the “Playing in the Band” from 5/24 [Lyceum], was the second choice behind the Bickershaw one we used on Steppin’ Out, and it nearly made it onto that.
But in general, the focus on this new album was to put the best music on there, period. It did happen that a heck of a lot of good music was played in England, and also the recordings from England sound so good. What it came down to was finding the songs—we had room for about 20 tracks—that weren’t on the original album and really represented the tour well.
One cool thing is that we ended up including several songs that the band had pulled from the master reels for the original Europe ’72 but which, for whatever reason, didn’t make the cut. That was really the impetus to get this thing rolling—that there was a lot of stuff on the cutting room floor that the band had slated for the original album at some point.
Off the top of my head, I can give you three: “Beat It on Down the Line” from Luxembourg, “Next Time You See Me” from Paris, and “Sing Me Back Home” from 5/26 [Lyceum]. My guess is that when they made the original album, the big ballad was going to be either the “Morning Dew” or this “Sing Me Back Home.” I think they made the right choice with the “Morning Dew,” but the “Sing Me Back Home” is tremendous.
So it was exciting to get those songs they’d felt so strongly about onto this one.
I notice that the “Sing Me Back Home” comes out of the “Other One” from another show. Was that hard to pull off, editing-wise?
No, [mixing engineer] Jeffrey Norman and [mastering engineer] Dave Glasser put that together and are great at that sort of stuff. We did it once before on Steppin’ Out—the big jam that came out of “Lovelight” into the “Goin’ Down the Road” > “Not Fade Away.” That was prefaced by a tape cut on the Bickershaw that we ended up fixing on the box with the alternate version of it from a 2-track reel. I’ve listened to it a dozen times since it came in and it truly is seamless. And of course we’re labeling it very clearly; there’s nothing we’re trying to hide.
Having spent so much time the past year-plus immersed in the totality of the Europe ’72 multitracks, how does the original album sound to you now? I went through a phase where I thought the overdubbed vocals, especially, sounded sort of canned and it kind of spoiled my appreciation for this record that I’d loved so much when it came out. I really prefer the rawer “imperfect” vocals that are not overdubbed.
I totally agree. But I absolutely love the original album, too.
I did a thing where, when the whole box was done, I put together the original sequence of the album, but with the new mixes. Just for kicks. And I listened to it a couple of times straight through as if you were listening to the album. And it certainly was a different experience.
Of course the original had the added parts of “He’s Gone” that were put on later, which I certainly wasn’t aware of at the time.
That’s right. A lot of things sounded quite different. With Jeffrey, we’re always going for that democratic mix philosophy, where you can hear everything clearly all the time. But on the original Europe ’72 there are some things that are screamingly loud and other things are buried in the mix.
You mentioned that the English tapes sound particularly good. How much variation is there on the master multitracks from place to place?
Quite a bit, actually. The tapes from a great hall like in Amsterdam [Concertgebouw] sound so round and warm. I remember when I got the mastered version of that show from Dave Glasser and I commented on it and he said, “That’s what you get from it being one of the top concert halls in the world.” Then you’ve got a show like Lille, which was famously outdoors during the day and very cold, and it sounds a little cold and harsh. Likewise, so does Bickershaw—you’ll notice on this compilation that the songs from there sound a little punchier and rawer, as opposed to that warmer sound you get from a smaller hall.
Then you’ve got a place like the Lyceum, where the venue sounds great, the band was playing really well, and when they settle into four nights of microphones set-up the same way, by the second night it really sounds terrific. That second night of the Lyceum [5/24] is one of the standout shows of the tour for me, and even though I’d always liked it, I’d never spent that much time with it until this box. It has a really great “Truckin’” > “Other One.”
I was not that familiar with Bremen [4/21] so that was a nice surprise for me.
Right. That was in a brightly lit TV studio, and yet they play a really good “Other One” and a couple of excellent versions of “Playing in the Band.” In that controlled environment of a TV studio the sound is really outstanding. Likewise, the Luxembourg show was held in a beautiful little theater that held about 300 or 400 people, and it also sounds really good. When you hear the “Beat It on Down the Line” on this compilation, you really do get the sense it’s in a very small and intimate theater.
What characterizes the “Good Lovin’” on this new set that makes it any better or different than any of the others from the tour?
There are two things I always look for in a “Good Lovin’”, and usually you’re getting one or the other: Terrific Pigpen rapping and creative jamming either behind him or when he steps back…
That’s what I always like best.
Me, too. In this case, you really get it, whether it’s Pigpen stepping back and the band stepping forward to jam, or when Pigpen’s doing his thing, what’s going on under it is really tight, dynamite stuff. I was really happy to get this one out, because it was on the cutting room floor for Hundred Year Hall. The other one that was a candidate for this one was a Paris version [5/3] which is pretty similar, where you do get Pigpen asserting himself vocally, but you get the band doing crazy stuff behind him. Whereas the next night in Paris [5/4] its more about Pig’s raps, and its also very long—about 24 minutes.
There is still a handful of other songs that aren’t on either the original Europe ’72 or this one, isn’t there?
Yes. “Two Souls in Communion” isn’t on either, but it was included on the re-master of Europe ’72 [originally included in The Golden Road box set of Warner Bros.-era albums]. There’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia,” “Sitting on Top of the World,” “Black Peter,” a few others.
Of course those all came out on Steppin’ Out, so they have been represented on a Europe compilation.
That’s right. If you look at the set lists, it’s really toward the end of the tour that they start breaking out some different songs than what they’d been playing for most of the tour. That’s when you see “Rockin’ Pneumonia” and “Sitting on Top of the World.” “Morning Dew” didn’t actually appear on the tour until the fifteenth show of the tour—in Rotterdam—and then they played it four times in the last eight shows. “Dew” hadn’t been played since the August of ’71 shows, so these were Keith’s first versions of “Morning Dew.” “Black Peter” was only played once on the tour, on 5/24.
This was a challenging album to put together because we weren’t going to have a “Dew” on there, or a “Truckin’” or “China Cat,” or all the great songs that were on the original. But once we got the finished mix of the Bickershaw “Dark Star” > “Other One,” we knew we had something really good; that put it over the top. And then the “Not Fade” > “Goin’ Down the Road” > “Not Fade” from the first show of the tour is incredibly tight and rockin’. It’s got Donna sounding great on the “Goin' Down the Road,” it’s got Pig coming back for the “Not Fade Away” reprise, which I always like, and a nice kicking drum intro.
I really love this album a lot. It’s a great overview for people who don’t know which of the 22 shows to borrow from a buddy or buy. And it’s great that we got Stanley Mouse to do some original artwork for it, so it really does feel like a continuation of that first Europe ’72 album.
Learn more about Europe '72: Vol. 2 here.
Just got my copy the other day via Amazon - under ten bucks for a shrink-wrapped copy in excellent condition, including shipping and tax. Simply cannot beat that. Still getting into it, but some initial impressions: the sound quality is marvelous, the Playin' is great - tight and focused with some fantastic Jerry guitar work - but the Dark Star is not in the same league with some of the wonderfully inspired others from the tour, namely the versions on Steppin Out and Rockin'. Billy is a great drummer throughout, his chops more evident since he was the only drummer on the tour. Sometimes with Mickey, his skills tend to get lost in the two-drummer arrangement. Received the final Road Trips today, but don't want to open it and start listening until I have thoroughly vetted E72/2.
I love volume 2. Since I'm terminally broke and couldn't afford the box set it was a great consolation prize, much like three CD Fillmore West '69 offering. One thing that puzzles me about this one is that 3/4 of the packaging is blank and appears to be upside down! I kind of felt like the ice cream kid on the cover, trying to figure out which side of the sleeve was which. A minor inconsequential quibble, as the set was well thought out and the performances are incredible.
the comment lingers on...
but these interviews are a real treat. Thank you both for your time and thoughts. Great conversation.
I need these shows so bad!!!! Gotta have my fix!
Maybe they will get it together and release the individual shows for download. I hope so, becuase I would love to have some of the dates mentioned.