England - Full Moon 248 - 11/14/16
The Early Years 1967-72 Cre/ation
Pink Floyd Recordings/Legacy Records
At the start of "Free Four" close to the end of this double CD compilation Roger Waters sings: 'The memories of a man in his old age, Are the deeds of the man in his prime.' Maybe not so many deeds here, but I remember vividly when in my prime I discovered Pink Floyd for real. It was in September 1975 when Wish You Were Here was released. The album was an instant favourite and The Dark Side Of The Moon was borrowed and recorded onto cassette soon afterwards. I also borrowed and recorded A Nice Pair some weeks later with the first two Floyd LPs put together as a double album. I found it very strange at first and recorded something else on the tape after a while. Then I gave it a second chance and recorded it anew a few moonths later. I remember the thrills the following year when receiving a package from England that included Meddle and Obscured By Clouds. A friend received Atom Heart Mother in the same package and the three albums kept us busy for a long time. There were later thrills when we found The Best Of Pink Floyd in the local record store, a German compilation LP with most of the early non album singles, Relics with some of the same contents, but also two songs from the soundtrack album More that we hadn't obtained yet and the otherwise unavailable "Biding My Time". I remember the expectations before and satisfaction when Animals was released in early 1977, the overjoy of stumbling over the various artists soundtrack album Zabriskie Point in a great record shop in Bergen the following year with three, to me, new Floyd songs, along with Grateful Dead among others. And then I discovered the two solo albums by Syd Barrett that set the early Floyd recordings in perspective, and was overjoyed when I found a second-hand copy of the double Harvest Records compilation Picnic - A Breath Of Fresh Air with the otherwise unavailable Floyd song "Embryo". That album was the entrance to a lot of interesting Harvest artists in the years to follow. It was party time when an American version of the fifth Floyd single with the unheard A-side "Point Me At The Sky" finally arrived. Of course I remember the release of The Wall in December 1979. We had heard rumours about the recordings for a long time, and suddenly the double album was there. In the winter 1980 I did a some hundred kilometres detour to see Zabriskie Point, the movie by Michelangelo Antonioni, in a film club in Oslo. It wasn't overwhelming, apart from the explosion at the end with no sound apart from Floyd's "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up", a re-recording of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", at full volume. This was the first film to include Harrison Ford btw., as an extra. In the summer of 1980 we made a pilgrimage to London to witness Floyd perform The Wall live. It was a grand show, but not that impressive musically.
There are lots of memories flashing back while listening to the new compilation. In later years I've come to the conclusion that Floyd's most creative and interesting period was the 1967-72 era. So this compilation is really something... Several tracks from the recordings and songs mentioned above are included, and several others, 27 in all. One of the goodies is "Matilda Mother" from the debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. The liner notes says it's a remaster version, but in fact it's a different take, lasting a minute longer than the ordinary album version and with extra lyrics. "In The Beechwoods", also of the Syd Barrett era, is a completely new recording to me. It's a strange instrumental mix of psychedelic influenced beat with swirling organ and swingin' London easy listening. Is it a trumpet in there as well? Anyways, one of a kind! A BBC radio session of "Flaming" from September 1967, the moonth after the debut album had been released, is also interesting. It was strange to listen to "Point Me At The Sky" again for the first time in many years. It documents the post Barrett band of late 1968 struggling to sound like they did with Barrett one and a half years earlier. And they succeeded, in a way, though not commercially. Floyd was a great live band around 1969-70 and a BBC radio session from May 1969 certainly proves that. The versions of "Cymbaline", "Green Is The Colour" and "Embryo" are certainly much better than their studio counterparts that were recorded in a hurry and then later developed a lot further live. The latter includes a screaming seabirds-alike sequence later used to great effect on "Echoes" from Meddle (1972). Here are interesting real live recordings from 1969 of "Interstellar Overdrive", their 1967 psychedelic tour de force, and "Atom Heart Mother", the title track, from 1970, without the brass and choir, as well. Of the five short recordings from Zabriskie Point included here not used in the film, "The Riot Scene" is the most interesting. It's an early mellow piano version of "Us And Them" that surfaced on Dark Side Of The Moon two or three years later. The early work in progress version of the first part of "Echoes", here called "Nothing, Pt. 14" is also a treat. I can do without the remasters of easily available single and album tracks, though.
After having lived with this compilation for three days, I have only one conclusion. I need to listen to - and look at - The Early Years Box Set, the massive 27 disc box with lots and lots of rare and previously unheard Pink Floyd treasures and seldom seen film and video recordings from the vaults. The double CD compilation is just a teaser.
Copyright © 2016 JP Barrett