The Grateful Dead’s Europe 1972 tour is legend among Deadheads, in no small part because it spawned four prior releases, including Europe 72 and Steppin’ Out. This year, Dead archivist David Lemieux spearheaded a 73-CD box set of the entire tour. All 7,200 sets sold out, and each show has been released individually. A three-person team made it happen.
Jamie Howarth transferred the original 16-track masters, using a bias oscillator to remove wow and flutter. “Plangent Processes transferred at 24/96 using our process to track the original tape machines’ bias oscillator, using the bias as a clock source,” says Howarth. “Bias is applied in the original recording by a precision oscillator that is much more stable than the tape transport. We basically pitch-correct very quickly and remove the wow and flutter of the original machine.” J
effrey Norman at Mockingbird Mastering in Petaluma, Calif., mixed the entire run. Keeping his ears fresh during the process was a challenge. “I had five months to mix a project of about 400 songs,” recalls Norman. “The challenge was how to mix so many songs and do a good job. The basic sound was right from the stage. I didn’t monitor too loudly and I took breaks. I got a basic template that would work for each show. I had to average five or six songs a day so it was a little rougher approach than Steppin’ Out.”
Norman brought in David Glasser at Airshow Mastering in Boulder, Colo., to master. “Before we got started, David Lemieux said to be familiar with the other releases,” says Glasser. “This is its own thing. It’s a lot live-r sound, I think, a less-processed sound. The performances had a lot of consistency in the playing and tones of the instruments through the whole tour.”