Saturday, December 28, 2019

Pink Floyd - 1973 - Performing Art

Pink Floyd
June 17th, 1973
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Saratoga, NY

Eat A Peach EAT 195/96

101. Obscured By Clouds
102. When You're In
103. Tune Up
104. Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun
105. Tune Up
106. Careful With That Axe Eugene
107. Echoes

201. Speak To Me
202. Breathe
203. On the Run
204. Time
205. Breathe (Again)
206. The Great Gig In The Sky
207. Money
208. Us And Them
209. Any Colour You Like
212. Brain Demage
211. Eclipse
212. One Of The These Days

Pink Floyd’s touring commitments in 1973 would be the first to focus largely on the United States. There would be two tours, the first began March 4 in Madison, WI and ended March 24 in Atlanta, GA, the second would start June 17 in Saratoga, NY and end June 29 in Tampa, FL. Aside from four concerts in London and two in Europe, this would comprise the band’s live engagements. Much of the reason for this would be the success of Dark Side Of The Moon, while the Floyd had built a strong following on the live circuit, they were lacking in record sales, something they would no longer have to worry about.

Back to 1973, the second tour of America was originally scheduled to begin June 16 at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ but due to severe weather, the concert was postponed until June 18, so by default the concert in Saratoga was the first night. The set list of the second leg would be the same as the first leg although the band would change the running order of the first set. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or SPAC, is a large outdoor amphitheater that has a 25,000 person capacity and the concert was a sell out. The recording from Saratoga is an audience source, it sounds like the taper had a good yet distant position, from the sound I would guess he was under the pavilion as this does not sound like an open air recording one would get from “the hill”. The recording is clear and atmospheric that falls in the very good range and for being a capacity crowd, it has an intimate sound. There are some drop outs from time to time and a couple tape flips but overall a very nice and enjoyable recording. There has been a previous release, Saratoga Master (Sirene-262).

Since there is only one source for the Saratoga show, the content between the old Sirene title and this new release is the same. After not listening to the Sirene title for years, I was pleasantly surprised, as with many of the labels releases, at how well it sounds. After listening to samples of raw master and 1st Gen of this show, I can surmise that this new version from Eat A Peach more closely captures the sound of the original recording. Sirene mastered theirs by boosting the volume and removing a small amount of hiss and has a thinner sound. This new Peach title is just a hair lower in volume and has a wider range of frequencies, the bottom end is much better but by no means is this a significant improvement over the Sirene, just a better representation of the original recording.

I find the performance of the first set to be standard, by this time the band had been playing this material for well over a year and some of the 1973 concerts sound rather mechanical by this point. I agree with GS’s assessment of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, the middle section is quite sublime. The audience is pretty restrained although there are some shenanigans going on in the form of fireworks, something the band would grow to hate. There are muffled conversations from time to time but overall a respectful audience who has come to listen and enjoy the music. The Dark Side half is much more enjoyable, Gerard states in his review (click on the link) that the Sax player was unknown but in Glenn Povey’s excellent The Complete Pink Floyd book, he lists Dick Parry. Dark Side is well captured, the audience really enjoys On The Run, it is a great version with Richard Wright’s Synthesizers very clear and enjoyable. There is more audience energy in the second half, their reactions to the music and light show make for a more enjoyable atmosphere.

The packaging is typical for Peach, mini LP style cover with a focus on triangles, the yellow hue is warming as if the band was heading for the heart of the sun. The insert has liner notes from the Lazy Goalkeeper and the CDs have pictures on them. Nice to see a show that has not been booted to death get some much needed attention. 

Pink Floyd - 1972 - The French Side Of The Moon

Pink Floyd
December 7, 1972
Palais des Sports

Golden Eggs ‎– Egg 7/8

101. Intro / Speak To Me
102. Breathe
103. On The Run
104. Time
105. Breathe (Reprise)
106. The Great Gig In The Sky
107. Money
108. Us And Them
109. Any Colour You Like
110. Brain Damage
111. Eclipse

201. One Of These Days
202. Careful With That Axe Eugene
203. Echoes

Back in late 2008 a previously unknown Pink Floyd recording began making the rounds and like many unearthed gems, was quickly pressed and offered to the collectors market. The title was Luna Lille and featured a very good recording from Lille, France at the tail end of 1972. The tape was found on a tape list of a gentleman who had torrented a recording of a concert he had made by Gong. Contact was made and the taper of the Gong show also taped the AM broadcast of Pink Floyd’s January 23, 1970 concert at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées. It was through this contact that our Hero saw a Pink Floyd date that caught his eye, the Lille show from December 1972, knowing nothing circulates from this he started the inquiry process and found out the Gong taper only had an mp3 version. Our Hero was persistent and was able to get his hands on a digital transfer of the master tape. The Lille recording was taped by a fellow who went by the name ZEF who recorded the concert using a Telefunken recorder and an external microphone. Work was needed to make the tape a bit more polished, slight tape warble, drop outs, and crackles were all painstakingly fixed and was torrented under the title “Filling a Gap”.

It has been nine years since Sigma released Luna Lille (Sigma 33) and has remained the only silver title of this concert. Lets pull out Luna Lille and see how this new title, The French Side Of The Moon compares. First off Luna Lille sounds really good, I have always thought that Sigma’s mastering has been top notch, sure the complete Hakone and Tokyo sources they put out suffered from heavy handed mastering but since both were from the same taper, I believe it was from the source not the label. This new Golden Eggs title sounds not far off from Sigma as one would expect, there is only one tape source for this concert so everything that circulates is from the same source. Slight mastering has been done to this new title to give a fuller sound, the bottom end is better without distortion, a key element in this recording since Roger’s bass was prominent. The mastering is gentle, the slight hiss level found on the Sigma title is still here, to have removed it would have ruined this recording. This Golden Eggs title just has a warmer and more inviting sound and one can hear the clean sound of the Sigma title gives it a more sterile feel. Golden Eggs has certainly improved upon the older Sigma title nicely and to my ears I find that I prefer this new Golden Eggs to the Sigma title.

When I started collecting Pink Floyd titles many years ago I always went after the 1973 recordings as I wanted the fully realized Dark Side Of The Moon. However, the more 1972 titles that I bought, the more I wanted. First off, when one considers the band tested their audience greatly by playing 50 minutes of completely new material in the first half of the concert, one long piece at that, and from the majority of the recordings, one can surmise that the audiences really enjoyed and listened intently to this new music. To be able to listen to Dark Side evolve over 1972 is one of the greatest joys in Pink Floyd’s unofficial catalog. Again like many, their late 1972 performances are incredible, Dark Side is nearly fleshed out but the use of the mechanical sound synthesizers has not taken over so piano and organ still reign supreme and provide a much more pleasing sound.

This recording from Lille, France is very good near excellent, the taper sounds very close to the action, hence Roger’s bass being a bit high in the mix. The clarity of the recording gives one the ability to fully enjoy what all four members are playing. Nick Mason’s superb drumming, these are the last few years where his early style of playing would be heard, he would soon switch to a more consistent beat versus his looser fills, this departure was certainly due to the bands changing to a more defined musical direction than the loose improvisational styling of years past. For me the shining star is certainly Richard Wright, he playing is incredible. From the piano solo during Great Gig In The Sky is so beautifully subtle then his organ work in Money is down right funky, it is gigs like this that one can really appreciate everything he brought to the band, a wonderful and greatly missed musician.

With Roger’s bass being a bit on the forefront, one can really listen intently to his bass playing. Part of his charm as a bass player is he understands the space between the notes, while sometimes sounding rudimentary, the fact that he hits chord at the right time and lets the sound resonate making for an uncluttered sound. One of my favorite versions of One Of These Days, again due to Roger’s bass being in the forefront of this recording, gives a massive feeling of being overcome by the fury. Dave Gilmour has got to be one of the most consistent guitarists in the history of Rock, his playing is spot, his slide playing during Days is wickedly good, after Nick’s vocal the sound almost swings like a big band. What I would give to be able to have a time machine, to be in a small theater to hear the Floyd live in the early 70’s must have been something.

The packaging for the Golden Eggs releases hearken back to the old Godfather label, tri-fold sleeve beautifully adorned with both color and black and white pictures. I love the shot of the band on the interior center, all four Floyd’s at the front of the stage, barely room to move! There is an insert, a simple list of concerts performed in the calendar year of 1972, and the CD’s have the Golden Eggs logo on them. Great packaging and mastering make for an excellent title, for those who love Luna Lille, here is a nice upgrade and for those who do not have this superb performance and enjoyable recording in your collection, here’s your chance.

Pink Floyd - 1972 - Spring Festival

Pink Floyd
Syria Mosque Theatre
Pittsburgh, PA

Spring Festival / Golden Eggs 93-94

101. Speak To Me
102. Breathe (In The Air)
103. On the Run
104. Time
105. The Mortality Sequence
106. Money
107. Us And Them
108. Any Colour You Like
109. Brain Damage

201. One of These Days
202. Tune Up
203. Careful With That Axe, Eugene
204. Tune Up
205. Echoes

There is reason to get excited when a title comes out featuring a recording you don’t have and has never been released on CD prior, such is the case with Pink Floyd Spring Festival from the Golden Eggs label. Like many collectors I tire of labels constantly releasing the same old shows while there are many good recordings that get no attention and would make fine releases. So when a previously non-booted show comes up, and being from Pink Floyd in 1972, it’s time to celebrate.

The concert featured here comes from the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the famed Syria Mosque, an intimate 3,700 seat theater in the Oakland neighborhood of the city. Like many old buildings built in the early 1900’s, it was sadly torn down and turned into a parking lot. The theater had a rich history of presenting the Arts in the form of plays, Opera, comedy, and music with Classical, Jazz and Rock all being represented. I was lucky enough to have seen a concert at the Syria Mosque, Billy Idol on his Rebel Yell tour in January 1984. If I am not mistaken, the last recorded concert by Duane Allman with the Allman Brothers Band was at this venue in October 1971, just two weeks before his untimely death.

Pink Floyd would play the theater twice, November 19, 1971 and April 21, 1972, after the release and success of Dark Side Of The Moon the band would return to the city yet play the larger Civic Arena in 1973 and massive Three Rivers Stadium in 1975. This new release features the band’s performance in the spring of 1972 when they played as part of the KQV Spring Festival of Rock presented by radio station KQV. There is only one recording from this show and it is incomplete, the taper probably brought only one 90 minute cassette so the Dark Side suite ends 1:30 into Brain Damage eliminating the rest of the song and Eclipse, the second set recording ends 18:15 into Echoes.

The recording is a very good audience source, the taper sounds close to the stage and the sound is clear and detailed, the instruments and vocals are discernible, although the drums are the lowest in the mix and at times lost in the sound. It does have some hiss present and the frequency range is limited to the middle of the spectrum giving it a somewhat flat sound. Like many recordings that circulated in trading circles, different generations have different sound characteristics, the version here is the best of what circulates yet its generation is unknown, the master tape does not circulate.

The first half of the concert is the Dark Side Of The Moon suite, the recording picks up during the heartbeat introduction and “chapter 5 verses 15-33” and some faint crowd anticipation can be heard and they give the band a nice ovation when they take the stage. Breathe is very laid back and a bit tentative, On The Run is more focused as Rick Wright and David Gilmour get into the groove, Rick’s keys are solid in the recording and we can really enjoy what he is playing as well as adding via the soundscapes. The pre recorded effects are in their infancy too, the tick tock of Time sounds almost rudimentary, Nick’s drums are low in the mix at the beginning but thankfully get louder as the song progresses. After the first verse it begins to sound completely disjointed, Rick starts the transition into the Breathe reprise too early causing the whole band to lose their timing and struggle to finish the song!

I love The Mortality Sequence, the biblical readings and rants by Malcolm Muggeridge inserted over Rick’s organ and at times, the sounds of a rooster lends to the vast aural painting the group is creating and must have been almost shocking to some in attendance. Money has the full band back proper and is quite dynamic, even at this early stage the song has a certain swing to it. I often wonder if David was imaging some of the leads would actually be saxophone at some point, as usual his most fiery playing of the first half is during Money. Rick plays a few floating notes that pull the band down to Earth and they begin the transition into Us And Them. The song walks the fine line between the melancholy and the bombastic, the spoken word tape in the middle sounds quite interesting, the sound moves around a bit during this song although I am unsure if it’s the band’s sound system or taper.

Any Colour You Like is led by Dave, it builds in speed and texture much like his previous guitar driven opus Fat Old Sun, he even does some scat vocalization typical for this period. The recording fades out “And if there is no room upon the hill…” and when one puts on disc 2 fades into the windstorm beginning of One Of These Days. The soundscape in the middle bass echo section is prime Gilmour/Wright goodness, incredible how sound can paint a picture in your mind. Dave’s guitar is buried in the fast section and Rick keys are dominant in the mix, quite interesting to hear, then the mix changes again and the keys are gone and guitar is front and center, all thanks to the Azimuth Coordinator.

The audience is quite patient during the minute and half tune up prior to Careful With That Axe, Eugene. As the many times and different versions of this song I have heard, I never tire of it, especially in the 72 versions. The atmosphere the band creates is remarkable, from Roger’s bass and silent screams over Nick’s cymbal works, Dave’s guitar and scat vocals and Rick’s creepy organ, haunting to say the least. At the 4:10 mark Dave does an extended scat line and Roger gets under him with an aggressive bass line all the while the tension builds until we are on the edge then it erupts in a violent lashing of sound and screams. Roger says a quiet thank you as the audience gives the band a loud ovation, the song seems to have woken them as they are a bit more animated during the tune up. When the band is ready Roger says “this is called Echoes”, the crowd applauds then gets deathly quiet for the beginning of the song, quite cultured. There are some brief PA problems about 4 minutes into the song and while it is not complete, Echoes has the best sound of the entire tape, even Nick’s drums are quite audible. A really enjoyable performance in front of a wonderful crowd.

The packaging is the standard tri gatefold sleeve with the art work featuring a take on the Spring Festival pamphlet. The cover also pays homage to the Syria Mosque with photos of both the exterior and interior of the venue. There are liner notes by The Fish Bowl Swimmer and an insert featuring a reproduction of the aforementioned Spring Festival pamphlet. Another superb example of what can be done when the extra effort is put forth, well thought out packaging coupled with excellent subject matter combined to make a superb release.

Pink Floyd - 1972 - Moon Over Ocean

Pink Floyd
April 15, 1972
Hollywood, FL 

Golden Eggs 55/56

101. Speak To Me
102. Breathe
103. Travel Sequence
104. Time
105. Home Again
106. Mortality Sequence
107. Money
108. Us And Them
109. Any Colour You Like
110. Brain Damage
111. Eclipse

201. One Of These Days
202. Tune Up
203. Careful With That Axe Eugene
204. Tune Up
205. Echoes
206. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun

In a review of Pink Floyd’s concert in Atlanta, Georgia on April 18, 1972, local hip underground newspaper The Great Speckled Bird had this to say, “Pink Floyd is one of the few bands, perhaps the only one now, to maintain the integrity of electronic and psychedelic music, primarily because of their inventiveness.” The key word in there is inventiveness. The creation of Dark Side Of The Moon is most certainly the step forward in musicality and songwriting that really took Pink Floyd from cult act to mainstream Rock super-stardom. In my mind that’s why I enjoy the 1972 concert recordings so much. Who else would come out and play 45 minutes of new music that was not yet studio recorded? In fact it was not yet even ready, the band was continuing to flesh the piece out night after night. This year long gestation would allow the band to produce one of the most fluid pieces of music in the history of the medium.

This brings us to the latest release from the Golden Eggs label, a performance in Hollywood, Florida. There are two recordings that circulate for this date, the first and most complete was released some six years back on the Florida 1972 (Budgie 001/002) title. The recording is virtually complete, only missing the final song. The second recording features the tail of Dark Side and the entire second set. This new Golden Eggs title uses both recordings to present the complete concert. The first recording is easily very good, all instruments and vocals can be clearly heard and is very atmospheric. The tape sounds a bit distant and there is a bit of tape hiss present but this only adds to the warmth of an analog recording. The second recording was probably a bit closer to the stage and has more tape hiss with a more muddied sound yet clear enough that all instruments can be heard.

The audience is not settled as the performance begins, you can hear some sort of altercation between two attendees near the taper during Breathe, the band is not settled either. Based upon the liner notes, The Floyd did not like playing the concrete and metal buildings as it made it difficult to achieve the sound they liked. Dave is a bit rusty and flubs a line in Breathe but as they move into The Travel Sequence they hit a groove, the taper makes a mic placement adjustment and one can settle in and properly enjoy the performance. This recording picks up the sound effects nicely, the clocks come through clearly and get a small round of applause. Really like Nick Mason’s drumming in the song, very busy at the beginning and during the solo spot, his drums are captured well in the recording and even get a bit of punch to them at times. The Mortality Sequence is really dense, almost like a sensory overload, one could imagine having partaken in certain substances and hearing this in its quadraphonic glory, the voices, the animals…

The cash register sounds distant and Roger starts the iconic bass riff to Money with zero fan fare, typical for this time in history but boy how things would change (no pun intended). The song is well received, yet the audience seem to be getting restless, as the quiet beginning of Us And Them is playing, conversations are happening and the distant sounds of fireworks can be heard. Brain Damage and Eclipse are very strong and bring an end to the piece, the assorted lunatics in the hall give a nice ovation.

The blowing winds soundscape seems to get the audience moving and inspires them to clap along with One Of These Days as they settle in. The band plays a blistering version of the song, fast and corrosive and quite pleasing. The restless crowd talk and holler during the three minute tune up, Roger intros the piece as “This is an oldie, it’s called Careful With That Axe, Eugene…it’s got a very quiet beginning”. The tuning is our first taste of the second recording, the splice is seamless. Mason’s steady beat is interjected with sporadic fast cymbal work, Wright uses a swishing like soundscape sounding like someone trying to shush Eugene’s inner demons. Great scream, great jam afterwards and another patch from 6:49 to 7:23, as the song quiets back down, Richard plays a nice little flourish on the organ, very subtle. Another quick tune up patch for the tune up, the crowd is again restless at the beginning of Echoes as there was no real applause as the song begins, although once settled they get into it and it receives the biggest ovation of the evening. A twelve and half minute version of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun is the final song, the crowd near the second taper are more well behaved and in tune with the Space Rock.

The packaging is beautiful, Hollywood, Florida is in the southern part of the state and is nestled between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami on the picturesque Eastern shore. The label uses band photos superimposed over a moonlit shore with a blue hue and a full moon, very visually pleasing. The inner jacket folds open to reveal liner notes from the Fish Bowl Swimmer. Golden Eggs has not only done justice to the performance but also the tapes themselves by presenting them in a naturally sounding fashion.