The Early Years (Individual Releases) – Pink Floyd
I am sure many will remember back towards the end of 2016 Pink Floyd released a box set entitled The Early Years 1965 – 1972. I am sure that many will also know that they are a band who have released several box sets, many of which like this particular one come at extravagant prices that the average Joe could never afford and you might just have to sell a kidney or two to be able to shell out for such an item.
I am pretty sure this particular box set sold for around £400 or more upon its release and these days it can sell anywhere between £350 – £650 from other sellers trying to cash in on it. The thing is with expensive box sets like this is that they are generally overpriced and for the majority (including myself) they are beyond what one could really afford to spend their money on. I am fairly sure that this particular box set did not sell as well as expected and it was only 5 months after its release that they decided to put out all but one of the individual volumes and the 7″ vinyl that comes with it, and sell them somewhere between £34 – £40 each.
Personally, I am in favour of this because it gives us poorer folk the chance to get our hands on something we could never afford in the first place. The extra volume in the box set that was not released is really only an added bonus sort of thing like in the Genesis 1970 – 1975 box set I brought brand new a good while back for £65 from Amazon UK. The bonus disc that came in that box set is nothing special and contained the bands earlier recordings from around the time of their first album From Genesis To Revelation. To be perfectly honest I would have prefered if they threw in their 1973 Live album instead.
I have to admit that these individual volume releases completely went off my radar and avoided me. Though to be honest my real interest in Pink Floyd is the output they put out between 1971 – 1977 and the albums Meddle, The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals have always been what I consider to be their finest work and best output. Most of the stuff they churned out before 1971 I can take with a pinch of salt and is either here or there.
There is some good stuff amongst their earlier albums, though I personally don’t think it lives up to the standards of those four albums I mentioned and if I am being perfectly honest even if I had the money to buy the box set the material would not have been that much of an interest to me in the first place to entice me enough to shell out some 400 odd bucks.
It was in May last year that I noticed that Floyd was releasing Live at Knebworth 1990 from their Later Years box set and I stumbled across it for pre-order on Amazon, though I had no interest in getting it. But whilst I was viewing it I stumbled across one of the individual volumes from the Early Years box set and it was volume five entitled Reverber/ation 1971.
The fact that it was also a lot cheaper than some of the other individual box sets drew my attention to it and one of the things that made my eyes pop out of my head was that it contained the original Quad mix of “Echoes“. It was priced at £23.54 at the time and in my eyes having the quad mix of that alone was worth shelling out the bucks. I would love it if they released the whole album Meddle with a 5.1 and Quadrophonic mix.
However, I did not purchase it for another week and decided to look at the other volumes and noticed that one of them was unavailable which was the very first one entitled The Early Years 1965-1967 Cambridge St/ation. I had a look on Discogs to see if it was available to buy on there and had no joy either.
I then looked on Ebay and noticed two of them for sale at £90 each but also noticed one in an auction with only a few hours left to make a bid and only 7 people had bid on it and it was up to £17. So I put it on my watch list and 10 seconds before bidding time was up it was up to £27 so I placed a bid of £37. I honestly thought I had no hope of winning but I did and got it for £34 which may very well have been the original price it sold for back in 2017.
The reason why I did try and get this volume first was because it was hard to come by at the time and buying Reverber/ation 1971 first might have tempted me to try and buy all 6 volumes. Besides if I did not like the first volume I could have easily resold it and made a bit of a profit. After winning the bid and listening to it I decided to try and round up all 6 volumes which I managed to do last year and in this review, we are going to be taking a closer look at them and see whether I wasted my money or not. But before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.
Packaging & Artwork…
Well as you can see in the picture above, each volume comes in a very tidy and neat hardback book just like we have seen with the re-issues of the Jethro Tull back catalogue. The discs are also stored the same way in sturdy plastic trays fitted on the inside and it even has a cardboard slip pocket which is used to store the memorabilia that comes with it.
However, unlike the Tull Mediabooks, there are only a few pages and they contain photos of the band rather than any real informative content. It’s a shame really because they could have done a lot more regarding informative information and the only written content you do get are the usual liner and credit notes plus the time and places of where the photos were taken.
The packaging design was done by a firm called Pentagram and John Whiteley who did the so-called 1960s psychedelic paper design on the front of each package. I cannot say I am impressed at all and this chap must have been sitting in his mother’s bedroom back in the late sixties and no doubt Storm Thorgerson is well missed.
However, I am sure the intent behind the design was to make them look like archives stored in an office as the original box set did also come with an office box (perhaps more like a shoebox) to store the volumes in. Just as much as the book has nothing to say neither does the artwork and it looks like some school kid has been covering his school books with bedroom wallpaper 😊😊😊.
The Early Years 1965 -1972 (Individual Releases) In Review…
Pink Floyd certainly was not hanging around when they decided to release six of the seven volumes from their Early Years box set and all six volumes were released on the same day on the 24th of March 2017. As I mentioned earlier each volume was priced differently according to how many discs were in each package and they retailed between £34 – £40 each which would have meant that you could have picked up all 6 volumes for a lot less price of the box set. They are all still widely available although I have noticed that the price of them appears to have doubled since last year.
With this review, I am not going to go into any great length and depth about the details of the tracks on the discs but rather try and focus on the good and bad points of all six volumes and give you an inclination of just what you are getting for the buck sort of thing. There is quite a bit of content to get through and best start from the beginning.
The Early Years 1965-1967 Cambridge St/ation
The first volume covers the Syd Barrett years from 1965 – 1967 and with this particular volume, you get four discs two of which are CD’s and they are accompanied by a DVD & Blu Ray. It is one of the more expensive volumes and would have retailed at around $54.99 (US) equivalent to £40.30 here in the UK. It can be at times one of the hardest volumes to get hold of though I have seen it recently on Amazon UK priced at around £65.
The question is it is worth forking out the extra bucks or even its retail price? I suppose that really depends on how much of a die-hard fan you are of this early period of the bands career. The other question is does this volume give you enough unreleased material to even warrant its original price tag? Well to find out let’s have a closer inspection of the package and its contents.
The package itself is quality like I mentioned earlier and its only real downfall is that lack of reading content which you would find more in most booklets that come with CD’s and other media e.t.c. This volume does come with 14 pages of which 10 are dedicated to photographs and the remaining 4 to the liner and credit notes. The 14th page is also wrongly numbered 17 in error, although errors were even made with the 2016 box set of The Early Years and there were quite a few cock-ups made with other volumes which I will point out when I get to them.
The only reading content you do get besides the liner and credit notes is for where the pictures were taken as you can see in the picture above. You would have thought they would have included an essay and the fact that they don’t make it much harder for reviewers like myself to have to research things all the time. It’s quite clear to me how much more could have been put into a package like this and that they were trying to make a quick buck and they never gave any consideration to their fans at all.
However, I must withdraw from what I told you in that last paragraph because upon further inspection I did manage to find some informative information stored in the slipcase with all the other Nik-Nak nostalgic replicas of concert tickets, flyers and posters. To be honest I don’t usually bother looking at this stuff as I have no real interest in it.
Upon first glance, I thought that this 12-page leaflet that is stored inside the slip pocket only contained the liner and credit notes and was just replicating what was already printed inside of the book. But upon further inspection, it does contain some very useful informative information that comes in a 3-page essay written by Mark Blake. Each box set comes with its own leaflet and it’s a shame that they never had the hindsight to include this information in the book itself than the willy-nilly way they have gone about things here.
Pink Floyd was formed in 1965 and started out as an experimental underground band in London and was one of the first British psychedelic groups who were renowned and distinguished for their extended compositions and sonic experimentation.
However, I think that description more or less sums up the bands earlier live performances and not so much the studio side of things which in my opinion was a damn sight better and proves that Syd Barrett could actually write GREAT! pop songs when he wanted to. The couple of CD’s that come in this package very much portray both the studio and live output of the Barrett era of the band so let’s now take a closer look at CD content.
The first of the CD’s focuses on the studio side of things and is more my cup of tea. Speaking of tea the first 6 songs on the first disc were recorded as “The Tea Set” around Christmas time back in 1964 and quite a few of the songs on this disc I have never heard before though I expect many have as there are only 3 tracks that are previously unreleased. The disc itself comes with a total of 16 tracks (11 of which are mono recordings) spread over an overall playing time of 52 minutes, 32 seconds.
The first 6 songs are the earliest recordings and although they are marked down as 1965 recordings in the booklet it is believed the songs were recorded around Christmas time back in 1964 when the band were known as The Tea Set. This early incarnation of the band also had another guitarist who was the bands lead guitarist namely Rado Klose. All six songs were released on an EP back in 2015 entitled 1965: Their First Recordings.
1965: Their First Recordings
Listening to these early recordings it’s fairly obvious that Syd Barrett was influenced by other bands and artists around that period in time and perhaps the only song that does have any sort of feel to the songs he later wrote when they were known as Pink Floyd is “Butterfly“.
He did pen four of these early recordings and the other three he wrote here are “Lucy Leave“, “Double O Bo” and “Remember Me” the latter of those songs has a Screaming Lord Sutch influence about it. The other songs including the Slim Harpo cover of “I’m a King Bee” all have quite a Rolling Stones influence about them and “Double O Bo” in particular sounds like a cross between “Hand Jive” and “Not Fade Away“.
“Walk with Me Sydney” was written by Roger Waters to which he also sings the lead vocals and is accompanied by Barrett and Richard Wright’s first wife Juliette Gale. It sort of reminds me of a swinging version of Bernie Bresslaw doing “You Need Feet” for some reason, maybe it’s the lyrics but anyway as fascinating as it is to hear these songs they are far from essential and do not say anything different in relation to what their influences were putting out back then. To be perfectly honest they do not measure up to their standards either.
Listening to the early recordings you would think you were listening to another band in many respects. But then again I could say the same thing about The Moody Blues back in 1965 when they had a hit with “Go Now” in relation to how they sounded when Justin Hayward joined the band.
The rest of the songs on the first disc are recordings from 1966 -1967 and these are the more familiar Barrett songs that even I myself am familiar with and are as follows: “Arnold Layne“, “See Emily Play“, “Apples and Oranges“, “Candy and a Currant Bun“, “Paintbox“.
There is also an alternative version of “Matilda Mother” and “Jugband Blues” which is the last song that Barrett recorded and wound up on their second album A Saucerful of Secrets. The latter two songs are stereo recordings like the remaining three songs we shall look at in a bit, but first, let’s me sidetrack a bit to explain how or what introduced me to these earlier recordings of Barrett’s in the first place.
Dark Side Of The Moon would have been my introduction to Pink Floyd back in the 70’s and as a rule, when I get into most artists I backtrack on their back catalogue and buy them as well. However, for some reason, I only backtracked to their 1969 double album Ummagumma with Floyd and although there is some good stuff on that album, there is also some experimental material that is not to my taste and that is the reason I never went back any further.
As a rule I am also not into compilation albums but it was indeed a compilation album that introduced me to these songs and the short Barrett era of Floyd. I also ended up buying the 1971 compilation album Relics twice. The only reason I picked the album up again was due to the fact that some very skilful artist had coloured the album cover beautifully with many different pastel colours.
In the shop, I brought it from it was right next to a brand new copy which was priced at around £2.25 to which the cover had more of a glossy finish than the Starline release which would have prevented you from colouring it in like some chap had so skillfully done. It only cost me £1 and the record was in mint condition. I brought it from my favourite record store I used to use a lot back in the 70’s.
The Diskery in my home town of Birmingham is still going today and is the oldest record store in Birmingham. I brought hundreds of albums on vinyl back in that decade from this store and it brings back some fond memories. They were also very reasonably priced and the couple of chaps that run it back then were very helpful and had a vast knowledge about the records they sold and the artists upon them.
The final three songs “In the Beechwoods“, “Vegetable Man” and “Scream Thy Last Scream” are the only unreleased material you get on the first disc and like the other 1966/67 recordings were mixed in 2010. These were songs Barrett wrote during the recorded sessions for their debut album Pipers at the Gates Of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets.
The first of these three tracks is an instrumental that is quite THEMATIC! The latter two have typical humorous lyrics and “Scream Thy Last Scream” features Nick Mason on lead vocals and was scheduled to be the band’s next single after “See Emily Play” with “Vegetable Man” has the B-Side. However, it was vetoed by the band’s record company, EMI.
The second disc contains a total of 17 tracks (all of which are previously unreleased) spread over an overall playing time of 78 minutes, 54 seconds. The first 8 tracks capture one of the earliest known recordings of Pink Floyd in concert with its founder member Syd Barrett. It captures them playing at a one-off gig they played at the Gyllene Circelem Jazz Club in Stockholm, Sweden in 1967.
The concert itself lasts for 48 minutes, 28 seconds and the band knock out some of their more known songs such as “See Emily Play“, “Matilda Mother“, “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun“, “Interstellar Overdrive” and even “Scream Thy Last Scream” which the band wanted to release as a single.
They actually kick off the show with an instrumental piece entitled “Reaction in G” which apparently was a regular number they used to kick off all their live shows back in those days. A snippet of the piece was also used as a bumper for news broadcasts back then too. They even recorded it live for the BBC radio show “Top Gear” back in 1966 and it’s thought to be the only live soundboard recording that exists from the Barrett era. Although it’s still not been released.
Another mostly instrumental piece (apart from a few voices) they play here is “Pow R. Toc H.” and the band do tend to drag these particular numbers out like a jamming session. However, the downside really to this concert is that everything sounds like an instrumental piece because the vocals are barely audible.
The remaining nine tracks are all experimental instrumental pieces or improvisations and these are spread over an overall playing time of 30 minutes, 26 seconds. To be honest I am not sure if these are all different takes of them working on the middle section of “Interstellar Overdrive” because all 9 tracks are marked down as versions and they are all part of the John Latham recordings that were recorded at the De Lane Lea studios London, on the 20th October 1967.
All nine tracks have been stitched together to make it sound like one 30 minute piece and it sounds like the cat is out of the bag and playing havoc 😊😊😊.
Upon further research of has to why these recordings were made in the first place, it appears that the band had a stab at making a soundtrack for Latham’s short 11-minute animated film entitled “Speak”. A recording was completed and submitted to Latham but he rejected it. Effectively it’s perhaps interesting and others I dare say will be more into it than myself, all it does for me is send me to sleep 😊😊😊.
DVD & Blu Ray.
The main menus of both the Blu Ray and DVD are pretty much identical apart from the layout of the wording, they also change colours to give it that liquid lather lamp effect and psychedelic appeal. The same menu layout is used for all 6 volumes and in regards to picture quality it is only the menus I am afraid that have that look of quality simply because most of the film footage would have most likely been captured on 8 and 16-millimetre film.
Even though some restoration has been done to some of the old footage it beats the life out of me why anybody would want to put this footage on Blu Ray in the first place. It’s obvious that the only reason they did so was to charge you more money for the package and nothing else. I would also say that, unlike a feature film that comes with a Blu Ray and DVD to which they only charge you a couple of quid more, these jokers are charging you the full price for both discs.
Most, if not all of the film clips you do get have been floating around on Youtube for years and there is nothing here that is unreleased. Most of the footage is licensed from various television sources from many different parts of Europe and it’s a good idea to turn on the subtitles because in most cases where the band members were being interviewed it’s quite often in places like Germany and France.
It always tickles me how in many of these documentaries and interviews how they always refer to the bands name as “The Pink Floyd“. Somehow it just does not ring out and sit that well as it does with “The Beatles” and “The Rolling Stones” for example and sounds totally pathetic. Unlike those other two bands Pink Floyd has never had the word “The” in front of their name so why on earth are these idiots addressing them that way 😊😊😊.
Despite all the negative points I have so far pointed out the good thing is that you have all the film clips here in one place and even though it’s old footage it’s still very much watchable and provides a fascinating and nostalgic look into the bands past. Like The Beatles, Floyd also put film footage to some of their hits and “Arnold Lane“, “Apples & Oranges” and “The Scarecrow” are always good fun to watch.
Altogether you get 13 pieces of film footage capturing Syd Barrett and the band back in 1966/67 spread over a total playing time of 58 minutes. The other good thing is the sound quality and to be honest, even though it comes with a 48Khz/24bit PCM Stereo soundtrack. I was not expecting it to sound that good and was quite taken by surprise by how good it is.
Summary & Conclusion…
Overall, I am quite pleased with the biggest majority of the content you get in this first volume of the early years and even though it does not come with any surround mixes (which would entice me more to buy something like this in the first place) I personally don’t think I wasted my money.
However, the £34 I paid for it is more than what a package like this should cost but being as it’s now quite hard to get your hands on it at a reasonable price I personally think I paid a good price for it. I certainly don’t think it’s worth any more and in reality, a package like this should have retailed for about £25 when it came out and no more.
So in answer to my question “Is it worth forking out the extra bucks or even its original retail price?”. The answer would have to be No! The answer to my other question “Does this volume give you enough unreleased material to even warrant its original price tag? Well, it does however apart from the four unreleased tracks on the first CD it does not give you that much more to write home about I’m afraid.
The downside of this particular volume is really the unreleased material that comes on the second CD and this is where the biggest majority of the unreleased material lies. The live concert in Stockholm is only bootleg quality and the fact that the vocals can hardly be heard makes it nothing more than a Karaoke backing track for you to sing along too 😊😊😊.
As for the John Latham studio recordings, I can see why he rejected the music they made for his short animated film and even though all the tracks have been stitched together to try and make one piece. It’s quite evident they are nothing more than individual takes.
The first CD and the video content are what make this volume worthy of getting and both come with excellent sound quality. However, why on earth they included a Blu Ray with this volume is pointless in my opinion and because of the old film footage it’s not going to give you any better picture and sound quality over the DVD apart from the main menu itself.
The only possible reason why they did include one was to bump the price of the package up and nothing more. My personal highlights are all from the first CD and are as follows: “Arnold Layne“, “See Emily Play” “Apples and Oranges“, “Candy and a Currant Bun” “Paintbox” “Matilda Mother“, “Jugband Blues” and “Scream Thy Last Scream“.
The songs on the first CD in particular are perhaps more of a representation of Barrett’s work than the material that went to make up the compilation album Relics. However, I still feel that the compilation album gives you a better presentation of Floyd’s early years because its made up of the best material from it and it also includes Roger Waters and Richard Wright’s written material and in reality, it will give you the best of the first two volumes of the early year’s box set at a fraction of the price.
But of course, packages like this are really aimed at collectors and those who want everything about the band. I am perhaps more interested in multichannel recordings these days and even though this volume does not contain any I am still quite pleased with my purchase.
The CD Tracklisting is as follows:
CD 1. 1. Lucy Leave. 2:57. 2. Double O Bo. 2:57. 3. Remember Me. 2:46. 4. Walk With Me Sydney. 3:11. 5. Butterfly. 3:00. 6. I’m a King Bee. 3:13. 7. Arnold Layne. 2:57. 8. See Emily Play. 2:55. 9. Apples and Oranges. 3:05. 10. Candy and a Currant Bun. 2:45. 11. Paintbox. 3:48. 12. Matilda Mother (alternate version). 4:01. 13. Jugband Blues. 3:01. 14. In the Beechwoods. 4:43. 15. Vegetable Man. 2:32. 16. Scream Thy Last Scream. 4:43.
CD 2. 1. Introduction. 0:25. 2. Reaction in G’. 7:18. 3. Matilda Mother. 5:34. 4. Pow R. Toc H. 11:56. 5. Scream Thy Last Scream. 4:00. 6. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. 7:17. 7. See Emily Play. 3:16. 8. Interstellar Overdrive. 8:57. 9. John Latham Version 1. 4:32. 10. John Latham Version 2. 5:06. 11. John Latham Version 3. 3:45. 12. John Latham Version 4. 2:59. 13. John Latham Version 5. 2:48. 14. John Latham Version 6. 3:17. 15. John Latham Version 7. 2:36. 16. John Latham Version 8. 2:49. 17. John Latham Version 9. 2:38.
Original Price Point Rating 6/10.
CD Content Rating 6/10.
Video Content Rating 8/10.
Overall Package Rating 7/10.
The Early Years 1968 Germin/ation
The second volume of the early years series continues on from the previous box set and captures the band in 1968. I have to admit that being as it does only capture the one year and at glancing at its contents before I brought it, it did look like it was more or less going over the same old ground with its content and I was in two minds of whether to purchase it. One of the other things that put me off was considering it only came with 3 discs most outlets were wanting £40 and over for it including Amazon UK.
I have to confess that I was in no hurry to complete this 6 part series of Pink Floyd’s early years and bided my time and brought each box set when I saw they had come down to a reasonable enough price.
I kept tabs on the prices each week and they all pretty much fluctuated however this particular box set did not appear to budge. It does pay to bide your time and not rush in so to speak and this was the last but one box set I brought and I managed to pick it up for £25.17 including p&p from a third partie on Amazon known as Momox UK.
Although Momox is based in the UK you do have to wait a couple weeks for the goods to arrive and this is basically because they are getting them themselves from other countries such as America, France and Germany. I got most of these box sets from them and as you can see in this picture below this one looks as if it came from France.
Germin/ation is one of the cheaper volumes due to the fact that it comes with only 3 discs and it originally retailed for $45.99 which is equivalent to £33.69 here in the UK so I did quite well with the price I paid for it and saved myself a few quid. Like the first volume, it also comes with 14-pages of photographs of the band and once again a printing error has been made and they have numbered the 14th page as 13 so you have two 13th pages.
Right at the beginning of 1968 was the time that David Gilmour joined the band and this would have been around the time that Syd Barrett became problematic and impossible to work with due to frying his brain with illicit substances. Both Gilmour and Barrett were childhood friends and grew up in Cambridge, England before joining the band Gilmour was the singer and guitarist for Jokers Wild or Bullitt and Flowers they also went on to call themselves.
Plans had been made for Barrett to give up performing and become the bands behind-the-scenes songwriter. But when that also became problematic the band decided to continue without him. It was also from here onwards that the band sought out new management and it was their booking agents the Bryan Morrison Agency that took on the management role with Steve O’ Rourke representing them at the time. He eventually became the bands, official manager, in the following year and had been so right up until his death in 2003.
With Barrett out of the frame Waters and Wright took up the lion’s share of the writing and at first, they wrote a couple of more single releases. Although they never made an impact or managed to break into the charts so they slowly started to drift away from that idea and work on longer material some of which would end up on their second album A Saucerful of Secrets. However, the band were still gathering in the crowds by performing live at places like Mothers in my own town of Birmingham and at the UFO club in London.
A Saucerful of Secrets
The other notable thing about Pink Floyd’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets is that it was the first of many of their album covers to be designed by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis. Both Thorgerson and Aubrey Powel who put Hipgnosis together were friends of the band and Floyd was the second group to be allowed by EMI to hire outside designers for an album jacket. The first band to do so was The Beatles. Although what we have here is a compilation album that features a lot more that was put on that album so let’s now take a look at the CD.
The CD you get in this package contains 13 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 59 minutes, 7 seconds. Out of the 13 tracks, 9 of them are unreleased although they are mostly songs they did live at the BBC Radio station taken from a couple of sessions they did at the radio station in 1968 with John Peel who always supported the underground breaking bands back then. All tracks were remastered and mixed in 2016.
The one thing it never mentioned in the liner notes unlike in the previous volume is whether these recordings are mono or stereo and to my ears, all 13 tracks are in mono. Not the best recording for surround FREAKS! like myself and to me mono went out with the Dodos many moons ago 😊😊😊.
The first four tracks on the disc feature the A & B sides of a couple of singles they put out to which neither of them managed to make a dent in the charts. Strangely enough, it was only the B’s sides of both of these singles that made it onto their 1971 compilation album Relics. “Point Me at the Sky” become one of the rarest of all officially released Pink Floyd recordings and it was down to the fact that it was only recorded in mono that they never put it on an album. It was however included on the bonus disc that came with the Shine On box set they released in 1992.
The song was penned by Waters and Gilmour and it’s very much along the lines of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by The Beatles with how it flows along. It was released on the 17th of December 1968 in the UK and some other parts of Europe. It was not released in the US though it was released in other international countries such as Japan and Canada and was also the last single that the band put out until “Money” five years later in 1973 though that was released in the US and not in the UK.
Wright’s penned song “It Would Be So Nice” was the first record that was written and recorded after the departure of Barrett. It was also the first studio recording with the band that Gilmour played on and was the bands 4th single release and was released on the 12th of April 1968.
It’s perhaps a bit reminiscent of what the Hollies were doing at the time. It was written at a time when the record company were demanding more singles from the band and because of the BBC’s strict no-advertising policy they refused to play the original recording because it mentioned the newspaper the Evening Standard. So Wright had to record his vocals again and changed the line to “Daily Standard”.
The song was heavily criticised by both Waters and Mason and to be honest when I look at how well Wright wrote the lyrics to this song they are on par with Barrett’s writing and it’s a pretty darn good pop song in my book.
I personally think it’s way better than the B’ side “Julia Dream” which was penned by Waters. Though I will say the band written instrumental track “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” which was the B’ side of “Point Me at the Sky” was more or less the first real change in direction the band were heading in away from the pop scene and is my favourite out of this bunch.
The next two tracks “Song 1” and “Roger’s Boogie” was recorded at the Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, US on the 22nd of August 1968 the first of them is a short instrumental piece credited to the band and I personally think is the better of the two. The second is more of a chanting song that was penned by Waters.
The next four tracks are the first of two live sessions that were recorded at the BBC Studios for the DJ John Peel. This session was recorded on the 25th of June 1968 and is introduced by Peel. The first of them is a shorter version of “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” to which they gave it the title of “Murderotic Woman“.
The next two tracks were included on their second album A Saucerful of Secrets and once again they have done a bit of name changing “The Massed Gadgets of Hercules” is a shorter version of the albums self-titled track. They also play the opening track from that album “Let There Be More Light” and round off the session nicely with “Julia Dream” which I prefer to the single version.
The final three tracks “Point Me at the Sky“, “Embryo” and “Interstellar Overdrive” are once again introduced by Peel and were recorded sessions for the BBC on the 2nd of December 1968. Perhaps the interesting one here is “Embryo” which became a concert staple for the band later during 1970/71 and it does appear on some of the later volumes in this series as well.
Picnic – A Breath of Fresh Air
A studio version did appear in 1970 on a Harvest compilation album along with two other of the bands songs entitled Picnic – A Breath of Fresh Air. It also later appeared on other compilation albums and box sets Floyd later released. So that’s the CD out of the way and let’s now take a look at what video content you get.
DVD & Blu Ray.
As I mentioned in my review of the first volume of the bands early years why they include a Blu Ray in some of these packages, especially considering there is very little surround content on any of them and the video footage is that old it does seem pointless. However, they have worked on quite a lot of the footage and each frame was flat scanned to 2K making it possible to deliver true high-definition in some cases.
Though even so, the upscaling facilities that come with most Blu Ray players can make footage put onto DVD look HD and even as pristine and sharp as a blu ray in some cases. This is why I do feel that it was unnecessary to include a blu ray with the volumes that have no multitrack recordings on them. Not only that being as the film footage only has an aspect ratio of 4:3 and mostly only a mono sound source it’s hardly fitting and even out of place to put it on a blu ray which is supposed to be meant for high-end quality and I would not call the film footage on all 6 volumes that.
As I mentioned I did quite enjoy the video side of things on the first volume however most of the footage on that first volume was in stereo, whereas here it is mostly a mono soundtrack, especially regarding some of the live footage they have included. Although the first seven songs “Astronomy Domine“, “The Scarecrow“, “Corporal Clegg“, “Paintbox“, “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun“, “See Emily Play” and “Bike” were lifted from the Belgian Dutch-language pop music television programme Tienerklanken are all in stereo.
You will also notice that four of those songs were penned by Syd Barrett and the footage associated with these opening tracks is mostly of the remaining four members making a video to the songs. They even redid some of the videos they originally did with Barrett such as “The Scarecrow“.
The other film footage you get contains mostly live material although most of it is not really live at all and if it is the music is out of sequence with the film footage most of the time. You also get a couple of short interviews with Roger Waters and once again these videos are all floating around Youtube. They have even included a restored promo video of “Point Me At The Sky” and the video comes with an overall playing time of 84 minutes, 14 seconds.
Summary & Conclusion…
Overall, I am not that impressed by the second volume in this series of the bands early years and neither do I think it’s worth the price of £25 I paid for it never mind its original price tag of £33. I think the biggest problem is for a surround FREAK! like myself is that most of the material is in mono and even the CD is disappointing down to that fact. Mono recordings can sometimes sound brash or harsh and do not have the air to breathe or the depth that a stereo recording can present to you, and that is the type of quality you are getting on most of the songs on the CD. I was even disappointed that they never included “Bike” on the CD.
As for the video content on the DVD & Blu Ray, I was pleased to hear the first 7 songs had been done in stereo but the rest of the footage was once again only in mono and unlike the sound quality you got on the first volume it never really lived up to it. It was however an interesting watch all the same but this volume never really had enough to excite me. Though I dare say it might be a little treasure to some die-hard Pink Floyd fans.
It does however give you an insight into how the band still managed to be creative and further develop their songwriting skills without their main songwriter, even if they did not quite produce a hit record. But it was at this stage that the band were moving further away from the conventional pop song market and concentrating on the album side of things which gave them more freedom to do their own thing as many other acts did back then.
My personal highlights from this release are “Careful With That Axe, Eugene“, “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “Embryo“. Though perhaps my biggest highlight from this release was seeing Richard Wright perform “Paintbox“.
The CD Tracklisting is as follows:
1. Point Me at the Sky. 3:40. 2. It Would Be So Nice. 3:46. 3. Julia Dream. 2:34. 4. Careful With That Axe, Eugene [Single Version]. 5:46. 5. Song 1. 3:18. 6. Roger’s Boogie. 4:35. 7. Murderotic Woman. 3:38. 8. The Massed Gadgets of Hercules. 7:18. 9. Let There Be More Light. 4:32. 10. Julia Dream. 2:50. 11. Point Me at the Sky. 4:25. 12. Embryo. 3:13. 13. Interstellar Overdrive. 9:37.
Original Price Point Rating 4/10.
CD Content Rating 4/10.
Video Content Rating 5/10.
Overall Package Rating 4/10.
The Early Years 1969 Dramatis/ation
The third volume in the early years series Dramatis/ation comes with 4 discs and was originally retailed at around $49.99 (US) and £36.63 (UK). I managed to pick up a new copy once again from Momox UK via Amazon UK for £23.89 back in June last year which was quite a bargain. Unlike the 14-page booklet on the first two volumes the number of the pages is printed correctly and I quite like the colour photos that come with this edition.
1969 was the year that Pink Floyd started to move away from the Syd Barrett era of the band and it was quite a busy year with them producing two albums that year. The first of them was a soundtrack album for the French art-house movie which is most likely why they titled this box set Dramatis/ation.
The soundtrack album More was released on the 13th of July 1969 and considering it was made for some French art-house movie it did very well and managed to just scrape inside the top ten in the album charts in the UK. It’s an album I never had and as I mentioned earlier when I got into Pink Floyd I went as far back as Ummagumma which was the other album the band released later on in the same year on the 7th of November.
As a matter of a fact, the only two tracks I have ever heard off the album More were “Cirrus Minor” and “The Nile Song” that was put on the compilation album Relics. The latter of those two songs was even released as a single but only in France, Japan and New Zealand.
Unlike volume two of the Early Years, you do get a couple of CD’s along with the usual DVD & Blu Ray. Much of these volumes follow suit in that they contain both studio and live material and quite often you are also getting material from the previous years. So to say they are entirely focusing on the one year it might not be the case apart from the live material being performed a year or two later that is.
Much of the material that found its way onto the albums More and Ummagumma came from two musical suites The Man and The Journey that the band had performed earlier in the same year. It was first performed at London’s Royal Festival Hall in April 1969 under the name of The Massed Gadgets Of Auximines. It was a time that the band were breaking boundaries in relation to the conventional pop concert. The show itself featured electronic instrumentals, taped sound effects with some of the band members drinking cups of tea on stage.
Later on, in June of that year, they took it one step further by performing the same two suites under the name of The Final Lunacy at the Royal Albert Hall in London to which some of the footage of these performances are included on the DVD & Blu Ray. But first, let’s take a look at the CD content.
The first disc comes with a total of 14 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 78 minutes, 46 seconds and they have almost utilised the whole of the disc space and squeezed a double album’s worth of material onto it. All apart from one of the tracks are said to be previously unreleased and thankfully all the tracks are in stereo. 1969 was around the time that they had started to phase out mono recordings in the UK and in the US they had done away with them in the previous year apart from some pressings for radio stations that continued up until 1973.
The first of the four tracks focus on the More soundtrack album and basically, these are tracks that never made it onto the album and alternative versions. They are all instrumental pieces and the non-album tracks are “Hollywood” and “Seabird” to which the first of the two is a very short piece that sort of says “Hi” and fades out and disappears into the sunset.
The latter of the two is really an alternative version of “Quicksilver” and is more interesting, it reminds me of a piece of electronic music they would use for some of the scenes in an old Sci-Fi television series such as UFO for example. To be honest it depicts that scenario more so than any seabird at the sea.
The other thing I find interesting is that they are using gongs, vibes and guitar effects to create the sound and not keyboards as in electronic music. Though I would still describe it as electronic music.
The alternative tracks are “Theme” and “More Blues” to which the first is what they have called a “Beat” version and it’s slightly longer than the original version by about 9 seconds. The latter of the two is really an extended version and is not in any way an alternative to the original track on the album and is extended by 1 minute, 37 seconds.
Up next we have the only track that was not previously unreleased and this is the studio version of “Embryo” that found its way on the 1970 Harvest compilation album Picnic – A Breath of Fresh Air and other compilation albums and box sets Floyd later went on to release.
Tracks 6 – 10 are all part of another live session played at the BBC Studios and you do tend to get a lot of these sessions popping up throughout the volumes of the Early Years and this particular session was recorded on the 12th of May 1969. Here the band play a couple of tracks from both albums More and Ummagumma and they were very much airing the songs out before the albums were released.
To be honest the band do quite an amicable job of “Grantchester Meadows“, “Cymbaline“, “The Narrow Way” and “Green Is the Colour” and I often wonder if there is a bit of jiggery-pokery going on regarding how they sound more like studio tracks than live recordings. They end off the set with “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” which is almost unrecognisable with the way they do this version.
The final four tracks are live recordings and were taken from Live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam to which they played on the 9th of August 1969. Here they play a complete instrumental set which goes on for near enough 40 minutes and features some of their lengthier material and roll out “Interstellar Overdrive“, “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun“, “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” and “A Saucerful of Secrets“. To be honest with what little lyrics had been applied to all of these tracks they were all more or less instrumental pieces in the first place 😊😊😊.
The second disc contains a live concert once again from Amsterdam only this time it was performed at The Royal Concertgebouw on the 17th of September 1969 to which they had been touring the material that made up The Man and The Journey. You get a total of 15 tracks over an overall playing time of 76 minutes, 29 seconds and all the tracks are previously unreleased. The concert was recorded for broadcast by VPRO Radio in the Netherlands and is of excellent quality.
The Concertgebouw was completed in 1886 however it did not open its doors until a couple of years later in 1888 due to certain difficulties surrounding the building such as filling in a small canal, paving the access roads and installing street lights. It actually opened on the 11th of April 1888 with an inaugural concert, in which an orchestra of 120 musicians and a chorus of 500 singers participated, performing works of Wagner, Handel, Bach, and Beethoven.
The Dutch term “Concertgebouw” translates into English as “concert building” and like many town halls, it was built with acoustics in mind. The concert itself is split into two sets and the first part of the suite has been simply titled The Man. Much of the tracklist was also given different titles in relation to what they are which was nothing unusual for the band even later on.
The first part of the set or suite takes up 38 minutes and contains 7 of the tracks and they kick off with a slightly extended version of “Grantchester Meadows” which they have titled “Daybreak“. To be honest this live performance makes me want to take back the jiggery-pokery I thought that might have been going on with BBC Sessions.
It’s time for a cup of tea and some wood sawing next as the band play a bit of theatrics and even the title of “Works” is appropriate for it. The next track titled “Afternoon” is “Biding My Time” and the studio version of this song eventually ended up being released in 1971 on the album Relics as I mentioned earlier.
The following track “Doing It” features some really GREAT! drumming from Nick Mason whilst “Sleeping” and “Nightmare” are alternate names they gave to “Quicksilver” and “Cymbaline“. The first set gets wound up by the sound of a ticking clock and “Labyrinth” is the shortest track on the disc.
The final eight tracks make up the second part of the suite The Journey and this takes up the final 38.5 minutes of the show. The opening couple of tracks of this set “The Beginning” and “Beset by Creatures of the Deep” were often played live together and these are “Green Is the Colour” and “Careful with That Axe, Eugene“.
I should also stress that like the first suite they perform all the tracks continuously with no pauses and they follow these up very well with “The Narrow Way, Part 3” which strangely enough has not been given another title like most of the tracks in this set.
The next couple of tracks “The Pink Jungle” and “The Labyrinths of Auximines” are quite interesting in that the way Roger Waters uses his voice to make certain noises you clearly hear how he may well have gone on to develop “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” that found its way on the Ummagumma album in the same year. Only the first of these tracks has been given another name which is “Pow R. Toc H.” originally from the bands debut album.
The band leave the stage for “Footsteps / Doors” and this might have been the case also with “Work” in the first suite. These are recorded sound effects that were played to the audience and in the case of the one we have here quite often, it was played to them in Quadrophonic.
Quite often multichannel recordings were used in some theatres and in Cinema houses since the 50’s way before a system was developed to be able to hear them in your own home like they did with the introduction of Quadrophonic on Vinyl and 8-Track Cartridge in the early 70’s.
David Gilmour gets to smoothly thrash things out on his guitar on “Behold the Temple of Light” and Richard Wright does a GRAND! job on the Concertgebouw’s pipe organ to finish off the show with “The End of the Beginning” which is “A Saucerful of Secrets (Part IV – Celestial Voices)“
The pipe organ was built in 1890 by the organ builder Michael Maarschalkerweerd who came from Utrecht which is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands. As you can see in the picture above the organ is massive in comparison to Wright’s Farfisa organ that was on the stage with him and what a BEAST! it is. I even think this makes the pipe organ in the Royal Festival Hall that Wright played earlier look puny 😊😊😊 which you do get to see in the film footage. So let’s now delve into that.
DVD & Blu Ray.
The film footage on the DVD & Blu Ray is split into four segments and comes with an overall playing time of 1 hour 35 minutes, 38 seconds. As with all the footage, there is nothing really previously unreleased and you will find it easily on Youtube. It’s not as if Pink Floyd owned the rights to it anyway and they would have had to have got permission to bring what we have here to you on disc.
There is however some restoration done to the film footage although like I have mentioned many times it’s hardly up to the standards that warrant putting it on Blu Ray and this is where they are really milking you regarding the price point of most of these packages.
The first segment of film footage is around 20 minutes and captures the band at the Forum Musiques, Paris, France, on the 22nd of January 1969. Here you get to see them perform “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “A Saucerful of Secrets“. You also get a short interview with David Gilmour in between them. The actual venue is very small and there are about twenty to thirty people there at the most who are most likely students.
The second segment of the footage is roughly around 14 minutes and captures the band rehearsing some of the numbers that make up both suites of The Man and The Journey at the Royal Festival Hall, London on the 14th of April 1969. Here you get to see them partially play bits of “Biding My Time“, “Green Is the Colour“, “Cymbaline” “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” and “A Saucerful of Secrets“.
To be honest it’s perhaps not the sort of footage one would want to put out and show and most people would hold it back for private viewing sort of thing. However, it’s not unusual for many bands to show you any old thing and people like Neal Morse would film literally everything and put it out there.
One of the things I did notice during this rehearsal is how even back then Roger Waters tends to want to control things by saying how many verses they should play and when to take the music up and down sort of thing. The only other thing I thought that was interesting was watching Richard Wright play the ending of “A Saucerful of Secrets” on the pipe organ on his own and a bit on the trombone on “Cymbaline”.
The third segment takes up 20 minutes and captures the band playing “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” and “A Saucerful of Secrets” at the Pop & Blues Festival in Essen Germany on the 11th of October 1969. The final segment sees them role out more of the same numbers at the Festival Actuel in Belgium where they played on the 25th of October in the same year. This concert footage is also in colour unlike the rest of the footage which is very much in black and white it’s also the longest and you get a good 38 minutes of the show.
The interesting thing here is the final number of the set “Interstellar Overdrive” to which they have Frank Zappa playing lead guitar for them. “Green Is the Colour“, “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” are the other numbers they perform at the festival.
Summary & Conclusion…
I very much think the third volume of the Pink Floyd’s early years is a lot better than the previous volume though once again has to if it’s worth the price of the £23.89 I paid for it I would say that is questionable and most likely not. I cannot say I am that intrigued with the video content and that’s most likely down to it having too much of the same material shoved onto it. Granted the live performances are different as to be expected but it’s perhaps on the verge of having a Groundhog Day in some respects.
The winner of this volume is the CD content and the second disc that contains the live concert of The Man and The Journey at The Royal Concertgebouw in the Netherlands is perhaps what makes this volume worthy of getting hold of more than anything and it is my personal highlight of the package. Although as I mentioned even the price I paid is questionable and quite expensive for the CD content alone.
The CD Tracklisting is as follows:
CD 1. 1. Hollywood (non-album track). 1:21. 2. Theme (beat version). 5:38. 3. More Blues (alternative version). 3:49. 4. Seabirds (non-album track). 4:20. 5. Embryo. 4:43. 6. Grantchester Meadows. 3:46. 7. Cymbaline. 3:38. 8. The Narrow Way. 4:48. 9. Green Is the Colour. 3:21. 10. Careful with That Axe, Eugene. 3:26. 11. Interstellar Overdrive. 4:20. 12. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. 12:25. 13. Careful with That Axe, Eugene. 10:09. 14. A Saucerful of Secrets. 13:03.
CD 2. 1. Daybreak (Grantchester Meadows). 8:14. 2. Work. 4:12. 3. Afternoon (Biding My Time). 6:39. 4. Doing It. 3:54. 5. Sleeping. 4:38. 6. Nightmare (Cymbaline). 9:15. 7. Labyrinth. 1:10. 8. The Beginning (Green Is The Colour). 3:25. 9. Beset by Creatures of the Deep (Careful with That Axe, Eugene). 6:27. 10. The Narrow Way, Part 3. 5:11. 11. The Pink Jungle (Pow R. Toc H). 4:56. 12. The Labyrinths of Auximines. 3:20. 13. Footsteps / Doors. 3:12. 14. Behold the Temple of Light. 5:32. 15. The End of the Beginning (A Saucerful of Secrets. 6:31.
Original Price Point Rating 7/10.
CD Content Rating 8/10.
Video Content Rating 5/10.
Overall Package Rating 5/10.
The Early Years 1970 Devi/Ation
The fourth volume Devi/Ation in this series is where things start to pick up, especially for Surround FREAKS! like myself because at least you do get some multichannel content. It’s also the most expensive volume because it comes with 5 Discs and it originally retailed at around $54.99 (US) which is equivalent to £40.30 in the UK. I managed to pick it up a year ago in May 2021 from Amazon UK for £32.87 and these days it’s doubled its price and is around £65.
The title Devi/Ation reflects on the time when the band had started to deviate or move away from the psychedelic era of the 60’s and perhaps focus their attention on the melancholic side of things although they still very much kept the experimental side of things afloat as well and even ventured in the realm of Avante Garde.
Music was changing its direction in the 70’s and even the PROGMATIC! band Yes brought in an orchestra for their new album Time and a Word. It was nothing unusual for bands to experiment and try other ideas and prior to that both The Moody Blues and Deep Purple had done the same thing in the late 60’s.
Pink Floyd on the other hand decided to bring in something more like the Salvation Army with a brass band and choir to work on a new epic lengthy piece of work that they first gave the title of “The Amazing Pudding” and performed twice under that title at a festival in Bath and a party in London’s Hyde Park in July 1970. Though it was nothing unusual for them to air their new material under different titles beforehand it was something they had been doing for years and many years after as well.
Atom Heart Mother
David Gilmour referred to the piece as the “Theme from an Imaginary Western” and I should imagine that it was sometime after they had finished recording their new album at Abbey Road Studios in July that it got the title “Atom Heart Mother” and was the albums self-titled track.
To help out with the orchestral side of things they brought in Ron Geesin who Roger Waters had also collaborated with in the same year during work on the new album and the pair of them came up with a soundtrack album for Roy Battersby’s 1970 documentary film “The Body”.
Music from The Body by Ron Geesin & Roger Waters was released on the 28th of November 1970. The final track on the album “Give Birth to a Smile” featured all four members of Pink Floyd for which they were uncredited. To be honest I actually think this album is better than the album the band were working on and is well worth checking out if you have never heard it.
It was quite a busy year for the band and besides, working on the material for the new album they spent the latter part of 1969 working on material for Michelangelo Antonioni’s culture drama movie Zabriskie Point.
However too much disappointment a lot of it was rejected and only three of their songs were used in the final production of the movie. Music from other artists and bands were brought in such as The Youngbloods, Kaleidoscope, Jerry Garcia, Patti Page, Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, and John Fahey & Roy Orbison wrote and sang the theme song “So Young (Love Theme From “Zabriskie Point)”.
This fourth volume in the early years series focuses on both the material for their new album at the time and the material that never made it and the beauty of it is that the biggest majority of the material you get here is previously unreleased. The package comes with 2 CD’s, 2 DVD’s and a Blu Ray and as you can see in the photo below they had had to make an extension to accommodate them.
To be honest, I am quite surprised they never made an extra cardboard slipcase to accommodate the extra disc but they went with the 4-panel Digipak idea instead. The 14-page booklet contains some very good colour and black and white shots of the band and its members and once again it has printing errors regarding the numbered pages and this one has two page 11’s. So let’s now dive in and take a closer look at its contents starting with the CD’s.
The first disc contains 7 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 78 minutes, 5 seconds and all the material here is previously unreleased. Though it is live content only to which all bar one track was taken from the BBC Radio Sessions it also kicks off with that track and it captures the band performing “Atom Heart Mother” without an orchestra at the Casino de Montreux, Switzerland on the 21st of November 1970.
To be honest without the brass band and Ron Geesin’s arrangement they do a very good job on this band only version. I would even say that much of how the piece was constructed in the first place came from Richard Wright’s Hammond organ and I would say he was the key element (no pun intended) behind the composition.
The band also perform the song with choir, cello & brass ensemble on the live BBC Radio Sessions presented by John Peel that was recorded earlier on the 16th of July 1970 again before the release of the new album. They also perform a couple more songs from the album “Fat Old Sun” and “If” and both of these are my personal favourites from that album. The first of them I personally think is better than the version that ended up on the studio album because David Gilmour uses clean lead lines at the ending rather than using distortion like he did on the studio version.
Also during these sessions, they roll out a good 10-minute version of “Embryo” which is really good and “Green Is the Colour” which is once again followed by “Careful with That Axe, Eugene“. You can really hear how well the band have found their feet in these live sessions and I love the fact that they have included some of their finer melancholic songs.
The second disc comes with 17 tracks of which 16 are the pieces they wrote for the film Zabriskie Point and never got used and have been locked away forever since. Considering the biggest majority of them are really short and just over a minute long, I am surprised it comes with an overall playing time of 67 minutes but it’s the extra unassociated track that makes up the biggest majority of the time. Once again all the material here is previously unreleased.
Some of the material is different takes or versions of themes and the “Love Scene” in particular takes up five of the tracks and a good 19 minutes of the playing time you get here. Four of them are more sombre pieces mainly done on the keyboards. The most interesting and best of them all is Version 7 which is a lovely acoustic guitar piece and for me one of the strongest highlights of all the tracks on the CD.
Another couple of the tracks that come with a couple of different versions is “Auto Scene” one is with acoustic guitars whilst the other is something more along the lines of Brooker T & The MG’s with the Hammond organ. To be honest some of the pieces that are on here you would not think that it was Pink Floyd at all and even the opening track “On The Highway” is more like Crosby, Stills & Nash or Creedence Clearwater Revival.
There is also a couple of versions of “Take Off” and these are quite rocky little numbers and a bit like something the James Gang would have done. “The Riot Scene” is perhaps something that most would be familiar with as this is Richard Wright playing the piano melody to what eventually became “Us & Them” later on. Though I have to confess why they called it “The Riot Scene” in the first place is beyond me and those couple of versions of “Take Off” would have been more fitting to that title methinks.
Both “Aeroplane” and “Explosion” are also rocky numbers and even though the latter of them use parts from “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” it’s only really the screaming side of things and apart from that the music is not really associated with that track at all. “Looking at Map” is more Floyd like and perhaps resembles some of the melancholy material that appeared on Obscured By Clouds.
As for “Unknown Song (Take 1)” it’s very much resemblant to “Love Scene (Part 7)” and it would not surprise me if that “Love Scene” part was really “Unknown Song (Take 2)” with the printing errors that have been made because it’s nothing like the other takes and versions of “Love Scene” at all.
The final piece that they wrote for Michelangelo Antonioni’s film is a song like the opening track and is titled “Crumbling Land (Take 1)“. This is actually the full version of the opening track “On The Highway” and it sounds even more like Crosby, Stills & Nash or Creedence Clearwater Revival 😊😊😊.
The disc is rounded off with an early studio version of “Atom Heart Mother” and once again this is a band version without the orchestra. It’s also 19 minutes and 24 seconds long which explains why this disc is so long. To be honest there is not a lot of difference between this version and the live version they played at Casino de Montreux on the first disc.
DVD & Blu Ray.
The same content that is on the couple of DVD’s that come in the package has been put onto the Blu Ray and it’s only up until this point that I felt that the blu ray had some real purpose to be used in these packages in the first place. Although I must stress it’s only for the audio side of things and not the visual content and even though they have done some restoration to the film footage to make it look like HD. You will not notice a blind bit of difference watching the visual content on the DVD or Blu Ray.
Speaking of the visual content you do get two and a half hours of it however, like the visual content on the previous volume in the series I do rather think we are heading into Groundhog Day territory once again. The film footage is broken up into around four or five segments and the first of the footage captures the band at the KQED Radio station in San Francisco USA on the 30th of April 1970.
From what I can gather during my research of the footage we have here the band was filmed at the radio station and although they played for just over an hour they only broadcast half an hour via simulcast over the airwaves at the time. They also performed “Astronomy Domine” which was broadcasted over the airwaves and is the only song from the setlist they played that is not present in the footage we have here.
Basically, the band were filmed in a room with no audience and they put the performance on TV and simply called it “An Hour with Pink Floyd”. It’s sort of like what the band Genesis did back in 1972 for Belgian TV only that was a lot better than what we have here. Though I will say that what you do get here is more or less the only bit of quality footage you do get as most of the rest of the visual content is hampered and more like bootleg quality.
The band kick off the set with “Atom Heart Mother” which back then would still have had the title of “The Amazing Pudding” and the film footage show you ariel shots of desolate fields and marshes in the San Joaquin Valley for a good 7 minutes before you even get to see one of the band members playing. Most of this track shows you more scenery than the actual band and this is an early version before they called in the Salvation Army to play on it 😊😊😊.
The other numbers they roll out over the hour are “Cymbaline“, “Grantchester Meadows“, “Green Is the Colour“, “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” which are all familiar territory and I am beginning to wonder if the band knew how to play anything else than these same numbers all the time. Though I will say the sound quality is very good and that is what makes this footage by far the best thing out of all the visual content on the disc.
The next segment of the footage captures the band live in St. Tropez, France at the Pop Deux Festival and whoever filmed it decided to put it out in two parts although the whole performance was done in one day on the 8th of August 1970.
Once again the material is familiar ground such as “Cymbaline“, “Atom Heart Mother“, “Embryo“, “Green is the Colour“, “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and I know the band were touring these songs but they were performing almost all of them bar one in the previous year and most the year before that as well. It’s getting to the point where I am almost screaming “FFS put another record on will ya'” 😊😊😊.
The good thing about these live performances is that you get to see how much of a GREAT” drummer Nick Mason was back then and in all honesty, he would even give both Keith Moon and John Bonham a run for their money. Richard Wright is also an integral force of the band and without him, there is no way they could have played most of the material here.
It’s unfortunate that most of the concert footage here is hampered by low volume dropouts and distortion in places and the sound quality is not up to the same quality of the “An Hour with Pink Floyd” footage and is pretty much poor in relation to it. Why on earth anyone would want to put this on Blu Ray is beyond the JOKE! 😊😊😊.
The next few pieces of short film footage once again are from France and here the band are at the Roland Petit Ballet in Paris. Here they play three short improvisations and are perhaps going Avante Garde noodling around with the strings on the grand piano on one of the short pieces. They also play a short version of “Embryo”. Like “An Hour with Pink Floyd” both the picture and sound are very good.
The final segment of visual footage is hardly visible at all and is of the band playing “Atom Heart Mother” at Blackhill’s Garden Party in London’s Hyde Park on the 18th of July 1970. Here they are with the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and John Alldis Choir which was conducted by Aldis. The footage is well worn and looks dreadful and it was included for historic purposes.
The best thing by far that is included on both the DVD and Blu Ray is the original Quadrophonic mix of the whole album Atom Heart Mother that was done by Alan Parsons back in 1973. In all honesty, this is also the only thing that is fit for the purpose of Blu Ray and it comes with 96k 24 bit DTS Master Audio.
Summary & Conclusion…
Overall I would say with what you get with the fourth volume in this early years series is well worthy of the price point of the £32.87 I paid for it and its retail price should have been around the £35 mark. It is, without doubt, the strongest package of them all when you weigh up the amount of good content you are getting for the money and the only real downside is really the visual content on the DVD and Blu Ray.
The two CD’s that come in the package are very good and I am sure the inclusion of the original Quadrophonic mix of the whole of the album Atom Heart Mother will delight Surround FREAKS! I would also say that it is one of the major incentives to get this particular volume of the early years series. Those are also my personal highlights from this package.
To be perfectly honest I have never been fond of the album’s self-titled track and I certainly do not see it as an epic either. Even later on both Roger Waters and David Gilmour were highly critical of the track. Waters described it as “rubbish” whilst Gilmour described it as “absolute crap”. I’ve always described it as “Pink Floyd meets the Salvation Army” and that’s perhaps what BRASSED! me off about it 😊😊😊.
Though I will say hearing it in Quadrophonic even entices me to play it more often without skipping the track as I often did in the past. There are some good tracks on the album and I would even say that “Fat Old Sun” is the classic track on that particular album and never in the reign of “Amazing Pudding” is the album’s self-titled track a classic in my eyes and ears.
The CD Tracklisting is as follows:
CD 1. 1. Atom Heart Mother (Live at the Casino de Montreux, 21 November 1970). 17:58. 2. Embryo. 11:09. 3. Fat Old Sun. 5:52. 4. Green Is the Colour. 3:27. 5. Careful with That Axe, Eugene. 8:25. 6. If. 5:47. 7. Atom Heart Mother (with choir, cello & brass ensemble). 25:30.
CD 2. 1. On the Highway. 1:16. 2. Auto Scene (Version 2). 1:13. 3. Auto Scene (Version 3). 1:31. 4. Aeroplane. 2:18. 5. Explosion (Careful With That Axe, Eugene. 5:47. 6. The Riot Scene. 1:40. 7. Looking at Map. 1:57. 8. Love Scene (Version 7). 5:03. 9. Love Scene (Version 1). 3:26. 10. Take Off. 1:20. 11. Take Off (Version 2). 1:12. 12. Love Scene (Version 2). 1:56. 13. Love Scene (Take 1). 2:16. 14. Unknown Song (Take 1). 5:56. 15. Love Scene (Take 2). 6:40. 16. Crumbling Land (Take 1). 4:09.
Original Price Point Rating 7/10.
CD Content Rating 8/10.
Visual Video Content Rating 3/10.
Quad Mix 8/10
Overall Package Rating 8/10.
The Early Years 1971 Reverber/ation
The fifth volume in the series through the early years of Pink Floyd’s career is where the band really started to find their feet. We had some nice glimpses of melancholy on their previous album Atom Heart Mother with songs like “Fat Old Sun” and “If” and much of that continues on their 1971 album Meddle.
Only we get something more besides an overture that contained enough brass to brass some people off. I am not saying that the self-titled track from their previous album was not that bad but it was a bit like Pink Floyd meets The Salvation Army sort of thing with all its pomp and circumstance.
For those who are into classical or soundtrack music, I dare say it would be their cup of tea more so than mine so to speak. Some might even see it as an epic piece of work, but for me, there is one hell of an epic on the album that followed it that sure as hell floats my boat a lot more and that is the very thing I brought this volume for in the first place.
However, one of the things that are evident with this particular volume that represents the year 1971, is that the band did not write a lot of new material which is why this box set does not come with as many discs and was sold cheaper. It retailed for $45.99 in the US and even though that works out to £33.69 here in the UK you could easily end up paying £45.99 because for some reason the Americans believe the dollar is as strong as the pound. That price also excludes shipping. I got lucky with this one and ended up paying £22.39 including the p&p from Amazon UK.
Much of the music material that has gone into making up this volume does not even fit the bill and there is very little of it from 1971. It also tends to focus more on the material that came out in the previous couple of years in particular on the video footage on the DVD & Blu Ray that comes in the package. Though least the numbers of the pages are printed correctly so they got something right.
The band spent most of the year touring and although they had started work on their next album which was to become Meddle at the beginning of the year in January. It was down to their busy touring schedule that they had to find the time later on in the year to complete it. The album was eventually released in October and it was during that month that the band were busy filming the setlist they played at the Roman amphitheatre in Pompei that was eventually released in the following year under the title of Pink Floyd Live At Pompei.
A couple of the songs from the album they played at that concert are the same two songs that are also featured on the CD that comes in this package though not the same recordings. Let’s now take a look at the contents of the package starting with the CD.
The one CD you get in this package is very good, to be honest, and does showcase more from the 1971 album Meddle even though it only really contains a couple of the tracks that were written for that album in reality. Much of the material is quite lengthy and you get a total of 5 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 67 minutes.
The other good thing about the CD, in particular, is that all 5 tracks are previously unreleased which is a bonus. Although it’s not exactly like you are getting any new material you do however get an early demo of “Echoes” and a short concert of them playing live at the BBC studios presented by John Peel.
The early demo of “Echoes” they have titled “Nothing (Part 14)” and basically this is one of 24 parts of the work in progress they made when putting the song together. It’s the section that comes after the effective comedown section in the middle of the song and I must say the recording is quite spectacular I love how Nick Mason’s drums project over the top of your head when listening to it with headphones.
The 24 parts of “Nothing” eventually became known as “Son of Nothing” and “The Return of The Son of Nothing” whilst the band were airing it at some of their live shows. It was not until a couple of months before the album was released during the bands first visit to Japan that it got the title “Echoes”.
Aphrodite Open Air Festival, Hakone, Japan
The following four tracks came from the BBC Radio Sessions that took place on the 30th of September 1971. The band kick off with a 15-minute version of “Fat Old Sun” and considering it’s only a five-minute song you would most likely think they are dragging it out but to be honest they do a pretty darn good job with the extended musical interlude in between the verse and chorus. Richard Wright gets to flesh things out a bit on the Hammond with his long keyboard solo.
I quite like the way how John Peel introduces each song and tells you a bit about it before the band start to play it and I just have to laugh that even in 1971 he was still calling the band “The Pink Floyd”. The show was broadcast a month prior to the release of their new album Meddle and up next we have one of the tracks from it “One of These Days” which I also see as a classic track from that album. This live version is not too bad though I do think they did it much better as they went on.
“Embryo” is up next and the interesting thing here is how Peel mentions how the song has changed over the years and how the studio version that found its way onto the compilation album Picnic – A Breath of Fresh Air was only a demo and the band were disappointed that it was put on there in the first place.
Personally, I felt the studio version was a lot more than a demo and quite a good version, though you can hear how the band have developed it with all the live versions and it is more rocked up and electrified in relation to the studio version which is slower and perhaps utilises more of the acoustic guitar. The live version we have here is very good but I actually prefer the version they did on the BBC Sessions that was included in the previous volume Devi/ation to which they had a recording of a crying baby in the comedown section in the middle.
The final track the band play is a 26-minute version of the classic epic “Echoes” and this is to die for. I’ve always seen this as the bands most epic track out of everything they ever did. The band have always played this song to perfection even the band David Gilmour had with him on his On an Island Tour did so as well and the version on the Live in Gdańsk DVD even brought tears of joy to my eyes.
DVD & Blu Ray.
The film footage that makes up the DVD & Blu Ray mostly focuses on Atom Heart Mother which came out in the previous year and you will see the band play the album’s self-titled track with and without an orchestra several times throughout the 70 minutes of visual footage you get on the disc. Thankfully all bar one are only snippets and during these clips, you see the members of the band being interviewed in various places such as Germany and Australia.
The be honest the visual material you get here is mostly about interviews and you get an interview with Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell talking about the bands album covers and even an interview with the bands manager Steve O’Rourke talking about bootleg records. I am pretty sure part of this same clip was shown in the film The Song Remains The Same that Led Zeppelin put out later in the 70’s.
Other songs that are included are “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun“, “Cymbaline” and “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” and thankfully once again these are only snippets. The only bit of visual footage that really says anything about 1971 is the animated video of “One of These Days” and even that was done a year later in 1972 by Ian Emes. You do however get to see a very small glimpse of the band playing “Echoes” in the studio.
All the live bits of visual film footage including the band playing a 15-minute version of “Atom Heart Mother” without an orchestra at Hakone Aphrodite Open Air Festival in Hakone, Japan, which was taken from the 6th and 7th of August 1971. The audio that has been put to them is out of sync and they have just used the film footage without the original audio that accompanied the live recording.
What I will say though is that the 15-minute bit of audio they have used is a very impressive audio recording. It’s that good that it even sounds like it is in surround even though it’s only a stereo recording. I even had to check that there was no sound coming out of my rear speakers. Obviously, this is done by certain reflections that some recordings can project and their 1977 album Animals can do the same thing.
This was also the bands first visit to Japan and it was here that they also played “Echoes” and played it under that title for the first time instead of “The Return of the Son of Nothing” that had been given to it at previous shows. Though unfortunately there is no film footage of them playing it.
Though all is not lost because the final thing that has been included on the DVD & Blu Ray is the original Quadrophonic mix of “Echoes” which was my incentive to buy this volume and also enticed me to get the rest to complete the collection. It’s a real shame that they had not included the whole album like they did on the previous volume rather than just give you one track from the album.
They did however intend to give you a new 5.1 mix of the album Meddle and it was originally advertised that one had been included on the DVD & Blu Ray before the 2016 Box Set was released. However, for some reason, it had to be removed, rumours for the reason why tend to be aimed at Roger Waters not being happy with the mix.
Although they only removed the link to access it on both discs and left the 5.1 mix on them. It’s not been left there like an easter egg either and the only way you can get access to it is by ripping it from a DVD or Blu Ray drive on your computer. Please bear in mind that mix only exists on Volume 5 of the 2016 Box Set release and was removed completely from the 2017 Individual release.
I actually managed to get a free download of the 5.1 mix from the blu ray although the person who originally ripped it did it in FLAC instead of WAVE so it is slightly compressed. It is in 96K though and even that would be better quality than the Dolby Digital mix that was put on the DVD. Having listened to it does give you a good enough immersive experience but the EQ is not quite right.
I dare say that at some point in the future it will get officially released and the mix will be rectified. Though I doubt it will be put out in an Immersive Box Set like they did with Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here and will be packaged the same way Animals has been packaged that is due to be released at some point when both Gilmour and Waters can sort out their differences. Unlike those previous two albums, I also cannot see them coming with a Quad mix either.
Unlike Atom Heart Mother the album Meddle was never mixed or released in Quadrophonic although according to rumours it was mixed in quad back in 1971 and they played “Echoes” in Quad at a press release at the Roundhouse back then. It would have been possible to playback a quad recording on a tape back then so this rumour may have been true.
The trouble with the informative information that comes with the Early Years is that it does not even mention who did the original quad mix, and although it was pretty easy to source out the information that Alan Parsons did the quad mix for the Atom Heart Mother album back in 1973 there is no mention of a quad mix for the album Meddle.
According to the original album information, four engineers are credited Peter Bown, John Leckie, Robin Black and Roger Quested. Two studios are also mentioned Abbey Road and Morgan although having done a bit of my own further research I soon discovered that three studios were used and not two. Both Brown and Leckie were engineers at Abbey Road and at that time the latter of those two was only a Tape OP and not a recording engineer.
The album Meddle was first recorded on 8-Track possibly in studio 3 at Abbey Road Studios. The recording was done by Peter Brown. The recording then had to be transferred onto 16-Track which studio 3 at Abbey Road never had the facilities so this had to be done at Abbey Roads Air Studios. At the time Air studios had just been fitted with a new Neve Mixing Console which Brown was not accustomed to and as John Leckie was young and seemed to like plugging things into everything he let Leckie do the final stage of the recording which was recording all the overdubs.
None of the mixing was done at Abbey Road and was done at Morgan Studios where both Robin Black and Roger Quested were the mixing engineers. It was here that the quad mix of “Echoes” would have been done I also think that they only ever did a quad mix of that one track and not the whole album. The quad mix was most likely done by these two engineers or by Black who certainly had more experience and had done more quad mixes out of the two.
The only other quad mix that Quested was involved in was the Cat Stevens 1974 album Buddha And The Chocolate Box which once again both mixing engineers had worked on together. There is also no telling that Quested was involved in any of the quad mixes and he most likely just sat in on them as an overseer sort of thing. Whoever did the mix I suppose in the end we should be thankful that it exists and once again the Blu Ray has been put to some good use with this package as it comes with high quality 96k 24 bit DTS Master Audio.
Summary & Conclusion…
Considering 1971 was the beginning of the band heading towards a new direction and it was the first step to the writing of one of the most prolific albums of all time that followed it a couple of years later. This volume says very little about the year and is very disappointing in that respect. Because of the lack of new material you can also see why no Immersion box set was done for the album Meddle like they did with The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here.
You would have thought with the band being busy on tour they would have had more live material to make something up. But then again it would be of the same material that has constantly plagued the last couple of Volumes of the Early Years which would make it once again feel like Groundhog Day so thankfully they never in that respect.
However, this particular 5th Volume of the series still has plenty to offer especially regarding the CD that comes with it and the original Quadrophonic mix of “Echoes” on the Blu Ray and DVD and those are my personal highlights.
It’s only really the visual content that lets it down and on that score and it does not say a lot about the year 1971. You would have thought that they would have included the “Mademoiselle Nobs” bit of footage that was recorded in December 1971 that they included on the 2002 DVD release of Live At Pompeii to try and balance things up.
At the end of the day, I would say that the fifth volume in the series Reverber/ation was worth the £22.39 I paid for it. These days it can still be had for around the £30 mark which I still feel is worth it but anything more is really paying over the odds.
The CD Tracklisting is as follows:
CD 1. 1. Nothing, Part 14 (“Echoes” work in progress). 7:01. 2. Fat Old Sun. 15:33. 3. One of These Days. 7:19. 4. Embryo. 10:43. 5. Echoes. 26:25.
Original Price Point Rating 7/10.
CD Content Rating 10/10.
Visual Video Content Rating 4/10.
Quad Mix 8/10
Overall Package Rating 8/10.
The Early Years 1972 Obfusc/ation
The final individual Volume in the series Obfusc/ation originally retailed for around $49.99 (US) or £36.63 here in the UK. These days you can pick it up for around £45 though most places it can go for as much as £60. This was actually the final Volume I brought back in July last year to complete the series. It was also the most expensive and I ended up paying £36.71 for it from Momox UK which is about its retail price.
This particular package comes with 2 CD’s plus a DVD & Blu Ray and once again there is a printing error regarding the 14-page booklet to which they have numbered the 14th page with the number 18. Though what I will say is that this is only really a minor error in comparison to the major COCKUP! what they did with this Volume in the actual box set that cost over £400.
Volume 6 Obfusc/ation (2016 Box Set Version)
Volume 6 Obfusc/ation (2017 Individual Release Version)
As you can see in the pictures above the 6th Volume that came with the original 2016 box set is missing one of the CD’s and this was down to a cockup of them putting in the wrong CD in the box set in the first place. The CD they had replaced it with was not intended to be released with the box set and because of the mistake, they included the CD that was supposed to come with the package on its own.
The picture above displays how the 2016 box set arrived after removing the lid off the box and that is not a pretty sight. The 6th Volume of the 2017 Individual release looks way better with having somewhere to store the disc. Personally, I think that all those who purchased the 2016 box set should have been sent out the 2017 Individual release for free especially having shelled out all that money for it.
1972 was the year that the band had started to work on the new material for what was to become the bands most iconic album Dark Side Of The Moon. However, it was during those recording sessions that they were contacted once again by the More director Barbet Schroeder who had commissioned the band to work on the music for a new film he was working on entitled La Vallée which is about a woman who goes on a strange and accidental voyage of self-discovery through the New Guinea bush.
To be honest I’ve never seen any of these films and I am not one for films with subtitles and would rather read a book than try and read a movie 😊😊😊. One film that did interest me though is the one the band were working on in the previous year that was put out in Cinema Houses in 1972 which was Live At Pompeii.
Though I never got to see that till it was shown on the TV later on in the 70’s. I also did get to see it in the Cinema House later on in that decade and brought it a couple of times on DVD including the Director’s Cut that was released in 2002.
This particular Volume does not offer you anything really new at all apart from new mixes that were done in 2016. The other good thing is that it also includes multichannel content that has also been newly mixed. To be honest, what they have done with this volume is more or less along the same lines of what they did with The Later Years box set by giving you new mixes instead of previously unreleased content like they have done on the other volumes of The Early Years. So let’s now dive into the contents and take a closer look at what you get in this package for the money.
The first disc contains the 2016 remix of Pink Floyd’s 1972 album Obscured by Clouds. The new remix was done by Andy Jackson and Damon Iddins and it comes with 10 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 40 minutes, and 22 seconds you do not get anything in the way of extra bonus material here and the only thing that is new about it is the actual mix.
Obscured By Clouds
Obscured by Clouds is one of those albums that tends to get forgotten whenever polls and discussions arise about the band, it’s almost like it never existed. To be perfectly honest even I myself had forgotten just how good this album was and last year was the first time I had heard it in decades. I did buy the album on vinyl back in the 70’s although I am pretty sure I never brought it on CD like many of their other albums.
Listening to this album again after all those years has brought out so many positive things about it and when I look at how strong the written material is the only thing that really separates this from their previous album is the epic long track “Echoes“. One of the things that stand out so well with the material that was written for this particular album is the lyrical content and songs like “Free Four” and the classic ballad “Stay” have a lot more meaning and purpose about them.
I could say the same for many of the songs that were written for this album including my personal favourite track “Wot’s… Uh the Deal?“. Even musically the album holds up well with rockier songs such as “Burning Bridges” and “Childhood’s End“. It even has a GREAT! instrumental track “Mudmen” and “The Gold It’s in the…” is another really GREAT! song.
Like I mentioned earlier I have never seen the film and I am wondering if any of the inspiration for the band to come up with such GREAT! lyrics came from the inspiration of what was going on in the Movie. I shall have to seek out the film and give it a watch.
The album Obscured by Clouds in my personal opinion leaves Atom Heart Mother and the albums that came before it in the dust and I find it a shame how over the years Pink Floyd and Roger Waters have chosen to ignore many of these GREAT! songs at their live shows. I think even they have forgotten the album exists 😊😊😊.
Regarding the new remix, the engineers have not gone overboard here and kept the album pretty much intact to how I remember it from all those years back. I think it sounds a lot better for the new remix as well and brings out more detail and clarity in the recording.
The second disc contains 2016 remixes of the live set that the band played at the ancient Roman amphitheatre in Pompeii, Italy back in 1971. The new remixes were also done by Andy Jackson and Damon Iddins in the same year and here you get a total of 6 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 66 minutes, 59 seconds.
This is the disc that was not supposed to be included in the original 2016 Box Set and was put in by mistake hence the reason why they had not allocated another disc holder for it in the Volume 6 package. It was most likely scheduled for an independent CD release and you can see if you scroll down to Volume 6: 1972: Obfusc/ation of the original 2016 box set that it’s not even listed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Early_Years_1965%E2%80%931972#Volume_6:_1972:_Obfusc/ation
The CD itself contains the five songs that they played for the original film and includes an alternative take of “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” as a bonus track. The other notable difference is you get the whole of “Echoes” in one piece instead of it being split into two parts. The new remix sounds excellent and once again the engineers have done a top job here.
DVD & Blu Ray.
Most of the visual content on the DVD & Blu Ray does not really offer that much though I will say that the biggest majority of the film footage has a lot more quality about it in relation to the other five volumes in this series. It’s most likely down to most of the footage being captured on 35mm film that makes the difference regarding the quality. The other good thing is that at least most of the footage you get here is from 1972 even though it perhaps says more about the previous years.
The first couple of segments of footage is of the band recording the music for Obscured By Clouds at the Château d’Hérouville in France between the 23rd–29th of February 1972. You get around 12 minutes over the two clips and the first is of photos of the band set to the backing music of “Wot’s… Uh the Deal?“. The second bit of footage is actual film footage of them at the same place set to the backing music of “Burning Bridges” and includes an interview with David Gilmour and Roger Waters.
The château was built in 1740 by “Gaudot”, an architect of the school of Rome, from the remains of an earlier 16th-century château. The composer Michel Magne purchased the chateau in 1962 and he converted the building into a residential recording studio in 1969 after a fire devastated its left wing.
Many bands and artists have recorded at the place in the 70’s including Elton John who recorded three albums back then at the studio. The first of them with its title of Honky Château was inspired by the nickname of the château and was also recorded in 1972. The place has a lot of history and the artist Vincent van Gogh is buried close by who also painted the château.
The next bit of footage captures the band live at the Brighton Dome, England on the 29th of June 1972. You get two songs and once again it’s no surprise they are “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” instead of anything from Obscured by Clouds. Although the picture and sound quality are good there is quite a bit of grain in the darker shots which is perhaps to be expected.
It’s back to France next for more news reports and various snippets from the Roland Petit Pink Floyd Ballet. These four clips were taken from Marseille in November 1972 and Paris in January 1973 and most of the footage is not the best quality apart from the last clip from 1973. The whole idea of this goes back to 1970 and they were doing some Instrumental Improvisations on the 4th Volume Devi/ation.
Only here they are playing bits of “Echoes” and “One of These Days” for ballet dancers to dance to. It also includes an interview with David Gilmore with them asking him what he thinks of ballet? To be honest I was quite surprised they did something like this but I suppose if you are being paid for it why not.
Next up you get a short bit of film footage once again from France in 1972 showing the stage gear being set up for a concert and a bit of the band and various people saying how they look forward to the concert. Overall with all the footage just mentioned you get a total playing time of 49 minutes, 36 seconds. It’s perhaps for nostalgic purposes more than anything.
The film footage is not quite over and the best is to come because they have included a re-edited version of The Directors Cut of Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii. The film footage was re-edited by Benny Trickett in 2016 and like the CD that comes in this package “Echoes” is in one part instead of two.
Unlike the original Director’s Cut from 2002 that had black borders, you get the full picture here which makes it even more fitting for Blu Ray. However, not all the footage looks impressive, especially the extra space and CGI footage though the footage of the band itself is very much HD quality.
It also comes with a high-quality 96k 24 bit DTS Master Audio new 5.1 mix that was also done by Andy Jackson and Damon Iddins and it never sounded so good either. The film including its titles runs for 59 minutes and 50 seconds and omits the extra footage such as the “Mademoiselle Nobs” and the audio studio footage that was taken from Dark Side Of The Moon. Though I thought those things were out of context with the film anyway so I don’t really miss the extras at all.
To say that Pink Floyd was actually live at Pompeii is a bit of an understatement, especially as only “Echoes“, “A Saucerful of Secrets“, and “One of These Days” was actually filmed there and even they were filmed in segments and spliced together. The other couple of songs “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” was filmed in the Studio Europasonor in Paris, France.
Regarding the biggest majority of the bands earlier material, they did before 1970. Live At Pompeii is perhaps the only time I don’t mind and can enjoy “A Saucerful of Secrets” and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and that is down to the various bits of other film footage that the film director Adrian Maben had put to them.
Oddly enough neither the director nor the band was happy with the footage but due to a lack of time and money, there was no alternative left but to use it. I personally think that all the scenic footage that was put to the music was the perfect marriage and that is why I love this film so much and can never get tired of watching it.
Summary & Conclusion…
Despite there being nothing really in the way of unreleased material in this 6th Volume of the early years I do think it is yet another one of the strongest volumes and even with the new remixes, it’s well worthy of the price of the £36.71 I paid for it though I personally would not pay any more. Both the CD’s that come in the package are excellent and the 2016 new stereo mixes I do feel bring out better clarity and definition to the music and they sound much better for it.
The same can be said for the 5.1 mix of Live At Pompeii and I shall certainly be keeping an eye on Andy Jackson and Damon Iddins in the future because they have the know-how of how a 5.1 mix should be done and there are very few engineers who can do decent multi surround mixes in this world as it is. They have done a STELLER! job of the stereo and surround mixes that come in this package.
The other visual content I can mostly take with a pinch of salt but it is there for nostalgic and historic purposes and the biggest majority of it is of good picture and sound quality. The only thing I feel that does let this package down is that it’s a shame they never included a 5.1 mix of the album Obscured By Clouds. But hopefully one will surface in the future at some point.
The CD Tracklisting is as follows:
CD 1. 1. Obscured by Clouds. 3:03. 2. When You’re In. 2:31. 3. Burning Bridges. 3:30. 4. The Gold It’s in the… 3:07. 5. Wot’s… Uh, the Deal?. 5:09. 6. Mudmen. 4:18. 7. Childhood’s End. 4:33. 8. Free Four. 4:16. 9. Stay. 4:06. 10. Absolutely Curtains. 5:52.
CD 2. 1. Careful With That Axe, Eugene. 6:44. 2. A Saucerful Of Secrets. 10:35. 3. One Of These Days. 5:50. 4. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun. 12:49. 5. Echoes. 24:56. 6. Careful With That Axe, Eugene [Alternate Version]. 6:05.
Original Price Point Rating 9/10.
CD Content Rating 10/10.
Visual Video Content Rating 8/10.
5.1 Surround Mix 8/10
Overall Package Rating 9/10.
The Final Word…
To sum up and conclude my review of the 6 Individual Volume Releases of Pink Floyd’s Early Years, that was put out in 2017. Personally, I think you would be a fool to buy the 2016 Box Set just for the one Volume that has not been individually released. The box itself is not very sturdy from the reviews I have read and the unboxing videos I have seen of the package on the Tube. Not only that it comes as a box within a box so that box it does come in is not really going to serve any real purpose.
The 2016 Box set also comes with more COCKUPS! as pointed out in my review of the 6th Volume Obfusc/ation. Although looking at how the early years were presented I cannot say the presentation was that good in the first place even with how they did not do anything really different with the Individual releases they put out 5 months later in the following year.
For example, when looking at how the individual releases look stacked on your shelf along with your other media they do not look that good and are more like something one had made themself. To be honest, even though the 2016 box set came with a black box for them to sit in it would still give you the same appearance more or less and it’s not a pretty sight.
Personally, the individual releases would have been better if they would have done something a bit different like they have done with other individual releases that came out of box sets or at least have done something with the spine. There is a lot more they could and should have done with both the box set and the individual releases. But I guess at the end of the day they were more interested in making a quick buck.
Speaking of BUCKS! I saved a good few of them by buying the individual releases and got all 6 of them for £175.69 which is way less than half the price of the 2016 Box Set. So if you think the extra volume and the poxy shoebox it comes in is worth over £200 more fool you for buying it. Plus I never had to fork out the money all in one go and bided my time buying each volume between the months of May – July 2021 to suit my own pocket without having to sell a kidney 😊😊😊.
As with most box sets, they are aimed at collectors who want everything and although the volumes do give you a good bit of unreleased content I do tend to find that a lot of it is the same. I also find that when watching each volume one after the other (especially the visual content) it does without a doubt feel like you are going through a Groundhog Day at times.
Volumes 4, 5 & 6 are for me where my money has been well spent because they contain multichannel content and that is really what enticed me to buy them more than anything else. There is some good content on Volumes 1 & 3 and personally, I did find Volume 2 was a bit of a waste of money. Though that was perhaps down to all the mono content that was on it.
Though of course, not everyone is like myself and some may prefer mono and after all, there are very few Surround FREAKS! who like myself thinks that those recordings went out with the DODOS!😊😊😊.
But for complete surround FREAKS! I do highly recommend the final 3 Volumes that come with the early years. I also recommend the 2017 Individual releases of them and not do a stupid thing and buy the box set just cause it contains a hidden 5.1 mix of Meddle on Volume 5. Honestly, it’s not worth it.
The other thing I would recommend if you are intending to buy any of the individual releases is to bide your time with them like I did because prices do fluctuate from time to time and most of these volumes have doubled in price to what I paid for them a year ago. I personally don’t think they are worth shelling out stupid money for them and the price I paid for them is about right.
2 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #209”
Well I call this a comprehensive review and hats off to you for going through all this material and that you cover all little details of each box-set. In general these kind of box-sets are produced for die-hard fans and personally I am not so interested in Pink Floyd, especially not in historic outtakes and other obscure material. However I fully understand, that you complain about the lack of liner-notes. I think I already told you how disappointed I was, when I purchased a big Box-set of Led Zeppelin’s “Coda” and though I enjoy the alternative song-versions and other goodies it’s a big shame, that they have not added any additional information. If you are a real fan of a band, you are interested in the history of a band, how they recorded, produced, personal life-situations of the band members etc. The band which I still love the most is The Who, and when I became a fan of them at the age of 16 soon I had memorized all song-lyrics and all informations from books, liner-notes etc.
Back to Pink Floyd I highly agree, that they were a different band at the beginning. On the first album they were still more a psychedelic rock band then a progressive rock band and for me they seemed to be a weird mix of classic British Invasion and San Francisco Psychedelic scene. But latest when Syd Barrett were gone they moved to longer and more progressive experiments. I like this early phase as much as later master-pieces and songs like “Astronomy domine”, “Interstellar overdrive”, “Lucifer sam”, “Be careful with the axe,eugene”, “Set the controls for the heart of the sun” are in my opinion as good as their later output. I remember also very well the great live-versions on “Ummagumma”.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Cheers Dirk and no doubt it took some work to get this review done and I originally started on it last year, but with everything else that went on in that year, it took a backseat which is why it took so long to get done. Although the biggest majority of it was written over the last two months and just as well as the price of these things has doubled since last year.
Unlike yourself, I can take the biggest majority of their earlier material with a pinch of salt and much of it is easy to play as well and nothing complicated at all. Though Floyd has never really been what I would call a complex band at all and more easy-going, especially in the terms of progrock. Most of the tracks you mentioned are more or less soundscapes and perhaps why I prefer them with the film footage that was put to them on Live At Pompeii.
Although I have always liked “Careful With The Axe, Eugene” because Water’s screaming on it gives me a visual impression of some mad axeman on loose chopping people up 😊😊😊. I’ve always seen the comedy side in horror films although since watching and listening to that genre of Movies in Multichannel surround some films will literally make you jump out of your seat and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It is only the sound that can do that as well and not the actual picture and without surround sound, I can laugh my bollox off at most horror films.
I also think the live recordings of it and the other tracks you mentioned were very well performed live on the Ummagumma double album. Though I will say listening to these volumes you would think they were the only songs they knew how to play and the fact that you are going to hear them over and over does tend to piss you off a bit and it’s like having a Groundhog day 😊😊😊.
Regarding liner notes, I have always been one that prefers informative content which many box sets don’t give you at all. That is why I praise the way Jethro Tull back catalogue has been reissued in Mediabooks so much. Personally, I don’t think those will ever be beaten because they give you loads of historical content about each album. Those things are cheap as chips as well in relation to this box set and give you way more musical and reading content. Honestly, they put most box sets to shame with the ridiculous price they are asking for them.