I left a plate of pie with no crust out for Santa Floyd last night and was dutifully rewarded. The not-so-jolly Old Pink left a pile of goodies in everyone’s streaming stockings again, in what’s becoming an annual event.
Last year it was a pile of unreleased concerts — now gone — and this year, there are suddenly 18 live performances from 1972 available, plus one short playlist of alternative tracks. That last one was what got me most excited, but it’s mostly bullshit.
So, what’s happening here? Are Roger Waters, Dave Gilmour and Nick Mason pouring some Pimms and deciding to reward their fans with goodies? Not so much. Judging from the generic artwork and repetition, this is nothing more than a move by “Pink Floyd Music” to keep its copyrights alive and out of the grubby hands of other distributors. Get out of here, dear boy, have a cigar. So, enjoy these concerts while they’re available. They’ll be gone by this time next year.
There’s some interesting stuff to be heard, but first let’s examine this so-called Alternative Tracks playlist. It’s just five tracks — two are “trance remixes.” One of Speak To Me/Breathe, which seems haphazard and just doesn’t work. Who the hell even asked for this? The other is “everyone’s least favourite song on Dark Side Of The Moon” — Any Colour You Like, which actually works a bit better but is very, very disco. Let’s be clear, there are probably dozens of really cool ways to remix these songs, but this ain’t one of them.
The track called On The Run (demo version) is not. You’ve heard this before, it’s just a three-minute clip from the film Pink Floyd At Pompeii of Roger dicking around with a VCS3. This is not a demo, it’s a movie clip.
Then you’ve got Time/Breathe (Reprise) — Ultra Rare Alternative Version. I hate to tell you this, but it’s not that different. The regular album version is 6:53, this one is 6:03. The Rototom intro is a little longer in this alt version. There’s less backing vocals, no saxophone solo or guitar solo — just space where they used to be. It is kinda fun to be able to better hear Gilmour’s rhythm guitar flourishes. The reprise fades out before the vocals start.
This runs right into a “rare alternative version” of Us And Them, which is noticeably different. I believe it’s a different bass take. The sax comes in much sooner as well. The album version is 7:49 but this one is just 5:26. There’s no delay on Gilmour’s vocal, much the same as when you could hear this during the studio segments of the Pompeii film. Perhaps this is the version you heard. Probably. The sax solo following the first chorus is gone, but there’s way more sax in the second chorus. There’s also no “short, sharp shock” soundups, before heavy-handedly fading out abruptly.
As for the live stuff, my goodness is One Of These Days ever great. So, so heavy. It’s also cool to hear the band perform Childhood’s End from Obscured By Clouds (La Valee Soundtrack). At well over nine minutes long, it is basically twice the length of the studio version. It’s also in a different key. In the Brussels concert from Dec. 5, 1972 the song serves as the show’s encore.
There’s a performance of Atom Heart Mother from Osaka on March 8, 1972, sans orchestra. It’s one of the last times Floyd played the album-side opus. The last performance of it happened in Amsterdam on May 22, 1972.
Mostly, though, these concerts show the band’s progress and proficiency with the suite of songs which would become their biggest album, Dark Side Of The Moon. In most cases, seeing as these concerts span January to December 1972, and the album didn’t get released until March 1973, some of the songs are still known by their working titles. For example, The Travel Sequence instead of On The Run and The Mortality Sequence instead of The Great Gig In The Sky. For some shows, the band plays every song from Dark Side in order, while at others you just get a handful — and some shows, none of the new songs at all.
There are a few performances of the other album-side opus A Saucerful Of Secrets, which the band must have been sick to death of by now. The last-ever performance of it by Pink Floyd (Mason still does it, and Childhood’s End as well!) happened at San Francisco’s Winterland Auditorium on Sept. 23, 1972. That show isn’t included, but the one from the day before at the Hollywood Bowl is, and they played Saucerful then too. So, you get the penultimate performance of it.
You also get quite a few blues jams, believe it or not, usually just called Blues as the title. This is, after all, how the band got their start — named after blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The blues number performed at London’s Rainbow Theatre on February 19th is more than eight minutes long and comes as a palette cleanser following Saucerful. There are bits of it which sure sound a lot like Shine On You Crazy Diamond.
Finally, for Floyd nerds like me, there is even at least one included bit of “tuning and soundcheck.” I remember being in line for general admission for the Sept. 1987 show at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park and hearing them soundcheck with Shine On. The soundcheck included here, from another Rainbow show on Feb. 17, is nowhere near as exciting or together. It’s mostly just Wright and the wind sound effects. It comes after the entire suite of Dark Side Of The Moon has been performed, presumably just before the second act begins… with One Of These Days. The only time Pink Floyd and “little pieces” are ever mentioned together.
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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.