van Matre, Lynn. 1972. The Grateful Dead Haven't Changed Much. Now Sound 1, 4 (January): 4, 14.
Very brief little piece, the text of which I reproduce in full, à la Dead Sources, below the fold.
Here, just a few bullets, I'll also file under "reading notes".
- The interview material with Phil Lesh and Keith Godchaux is from 10/22/71, based on one of Keith's comments.
- Now Sound is new to me, a Chicago area music paper covering just about every genre, with blurbs and chart info. Lynn van Matre also wrote for the Chicago Tribune and reviewed a bunch of Dead and Garcia shows over the years.
- Phil expresses being sick of constantly touring, wishing to get more out of their records.
- Keith speaks!
Keith's background is strictly West Coast club work. About a year ago, he attended a Dead concert at Winterland. 'A very heavy flash,' Keith says. 'I'd never conceived of playing with them. I had my own trip, and couldn't see the two mixing. I met Jerry and talked to him and somehow things just worked out. So, last night was my second concert with them. Touring's great, but I've had a hard time keeping a sense of continuity.' (van Matre 1972, 14)
- Records: Skullfuck has gone gold. They owe WB two more records. "They're eager to do one more studio album. They're also considering recording their upcoming European tour which begins in May." LIA's devastating "Brotherhood vs. Machine" post quotes Hunter, from an interview with Silberman which he helpfully links, calling the planned studio record Rambling Rose, as part of a " Workingman's Dead/American Beauty/Rambling Rose trilogy". I still don't understand why they didn't do that studio album! It would have been great, and instead, indeed, they chewed most of it up on the E72 release. I am sure they had their reasons.
- And, for Corry, note the use of FM broadcasts as a way to have their cake of playing out, sometimes in cool theaters like the Auditorium, selling tickets, but without creating hassles for towns and fans. Of course, selling records is expressly desired, too.
The Grateful Dead call themselves the hardest-working band in America today, and it's easy to buy that. On the road almost steadily, almost all year long, their scene's settled into a routine of five or six weeks worth of one or two-nighters across the country, two weeks back home, then out again.
Home, of course, is in San Francisco, where the group originated in the then good haze of Haight-Ashbury's mid-60's days, playing their fine blues and becoming somewhat of a counterculture institution with their good music and free concerts.
The Workingmen Dead all would like to be able to spend a little more time on home turf, rather than constantly touring.
"It's a bummer having to work so much," bassist Phil Lesh said. "It would be nice if we could sell a few more records instead of touring so much."
The Dead, of course, have never been a promoter's dream, what with their free concerts in Frisco, their no nonsense altitudes and unwillingness to be hyped. But this time, it was the whole scene – Dead T-shirts, stickers, the whole works. It seemed so un-Dead, so-
"Sort of camp?" Lesh smiles. "Well, frankly, yeah. In the past the record companies have been pretty lame, all right. But, we would like to sell a few more records. So, this time, we decided we'd do the fabled promotion tour. It ends in December. Then, we'll see if it's worked."
Something is working. For the first time ever, the group's got a gold record - for "Grateful Dead", their seventh and latest release.
"I'm gonna nail it on a tree, fill it with bullet holes and then, nail it on the wall," Lesh said. "Maybe we'll use it for an album cover some day."
The Dead's contract calls for two more records for Warner Brothers. Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, along with Phil, say they're eager to do one more studio album. They're also considering recording their upcoming European tour which begins in May. Traditionally, the Dead have been a performing band, not a recording one, and their albums reflect it.
"Well, we've had about seven years' experience playing live, and less than three months in the studio. Next time, we'll do better," Lesh explained.
The next album will feature new pianist Keith Godchaux in the Dead line-up. Godchaux, 22, was recently signed on to replace the ulcer-ridden, anemic Pig Pen
(altho someone hastens to mention Pig Pen, also known as Ron McKernan, hasn't left the Dead for good).
Keith's background is strictly West Coast club work. About a year ago, he attended a Dead concert at Winterland. "A very heavy flash," Keith says. "I'd never conceived of playing with them. I had my own trip, and couldn't see the two mixing. I met Jerry and talked to him and somehow things just worked out. So, last night was my second concert with them. Touring's great, but I've had a hard time keeping a sense of continuity."
This tour, many halls were sold out well in advance but in many places, even those fans who were too late in getting tickets and found them all gone ended up hearing the concert because The Grateful Dead have replaced their free concerts with an updated tactic: the free live broadcast.
"It's always been a problem in rock,'' Dead road manager Sam Cutler stated, "how you deal with the people who want to hear, but can't get in. We want to sell out the hall, of course. But then, we want to broadcast the concerts live so the overflow crowd can cruise on home and hear it live on radio. It's never been done before on tours, but this time we're doing it every place we can."
"The Dead haven't changed that much since their early days. The live broadcast is just their·1971 version of the free concert."