Tag Archives: Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd-The Early Years Box Set: Price Check on Aisle One!

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Okay, the Early Years box set is the big kahuna, the whole enchilada-the motherlode of early Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett that fans have been waiting for…waiting so long that many have actually forgotten they were waiting for it in reality. But people were fairly ecstatic that a huge and I mean huge amount of Pink Floyd rarities were seeing the light of day finally. But then…people got a look at the proposed price, one of the eye poppingly highest price tags in the history of rock releases. And everyone drew a long breath. Does this thing have nuggets to tempt even the most jaded Pink Floyd aficionado? Hell yes. Does the content (27 discs) come up equal to the price? (pre release list price- $699.00, Amazon pre-order price $571.36 at the time of this writing). Well lets do the math. 571 divided by 27 is twenty one and change per disc. For a single CD, that’s a pretty hefty entrance fee. But multi disc sets usually discount pretty heavily. Most double CDs clock in at around $19.99. Triple CDs average $25. See there is an industry prescribed sliding scale for multi disc sets. But over twenty one dollars per disc for the full run of 27 discs? (actually with the DVD/BluRay duplicating each other, this is only a 19 disc set, at $36 per disc!!) Mighty strange marketing here. Are they kidding? Did they include something worth this literally obscene outlay of dosh?  Let’s look closer:

First, any Floyd head worth his salt  owns 90% of this stuff already. Vinyl and cassette in the early 80’s, CDs in the 90’s-whatever. But the list of famous bootlegs is long, and folks like the author and his close friends have owned this stuff on vinyl bootleg since 1979 ticked into 1980.

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Image result for syd barrett bootleg records Image result for syd barrett bootleg records Image result for syd barrett bootleg records

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You get the idea. There is a lot of good stuff here. Among the 10 cds, 8 blu-rays and 9 dvds are plenty of treasures. But we have already heard much of this. The legendary More Furious Madness from the Massed Gadgets of the Auximenes? Mostly here, yet not called that for some reason. Known as ‘The Man’ and ‘the Journey’, it was a 1969 concert slated to be released as a live album, but shelved for some reason. But something Floyd heads have owned for decades. The Stockholm 1967 soundboard recording with Syd Barrett? For many, this is the treasure of the box, yet it has circulated for a while on bootleg forums. 1965 recordings with original guitarist Bob Klose? Ok, that is pretty cool. The long sought after 1967 John Latham soundtrack recording done by the Syd led Floyd? Now we are getting somewhere. That takes care of CD 1 and CD 2.

1968 BBC sessions that have been heavily circulated comprise CD 3. Studio tracks readily available pad out this disc. Outtakes from More and some heavily bootlegged 1969 BBC and Amsterdam stuff comprise CD 4. The aforementioned Massed Gadgets unreleased live album takes up CD 5. 1970 BBC sessions (again, heavily bootlegged and common) make up CD 6. Zabriskie Point outtakes (these somewhat rare compared to the rest) take up CD 7. CD 8 is Meddle era 1971 with an early version of Echoes, again BBC stuff. CD 9 is a clunker-a 2016 remix of Obscured By Clouds. Why? The original is a favorite of many Floyd heads and was the opening section of the first leg of the 1972 US tour. Unnecessary. The final CD is back to BBC 1967 with Syd Barrett, some 1968 BBC stuff and the famed 1969 session they did for the moon landing.

The DVD and Blu-ray stuff is more enigmatic. First-is this set really a mixture of Blu-ray and DVD? Why? Blu-ray folks will put their noses in the air at DVDs. And DVD people will not be able to play Blu-rays. Puzzling in the extreme. (a closer look reveals that the DVDs and Blu-Ray duplicate each other-so it is really a 19 disc set, which puts this at a gagging price of over $36.00 per disc!) Yet this stuff is where most of the unreleased material resides. A compendium of exactly what is on the set can be found here.

A video of the unboxing with some close ups of the extra memorabilia is here.

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Five original facsimile picture sleeve 45s are included, as well as facsimile memorabilia (a la Who Live at Leeds lp) in a nod to the vinyl collectors (very few of who actually still spin 45s, as they are a royal pain in the ass to change every 3 minutes).

So the main underlying question remains: Is this thing worth it? Could I spend the same amount of money on something else?

So what could a budding rock aficionado get for $699? Let’s put together a comparably priced fantasy space/prog/classic rock new CD essential collection with seven hundred bucks to spend (using Amazon prices for new CDs), and see what we can come up with:

Pink Floyd -Dark Side of the Moon $7  A prism refracting white light into a rainbow on a black background

Pink Floyd – Meddle $7.50  Related image

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother $7.00 Image result for atom heart mother

Pink Floyd -Piper at the Gates of Dawn $8.00 Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn special edition vinyl replica CD

Pink Floyd – Saucerful of Secrets $4.00 Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds $8.00 Obscured by Clouds by Pink Floyd (CD, Mar-1987, Capitol)

Pink Floyd- More $7.oo  Image result for more pink floyd

Pink Floyd – Ummagumma $16 Ummagumma by Pink Floyd (CD, Apr-1994, 2 Discs, Capitol) Remastered w/ Slipcase!

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here $9 PINK FLOYD**WISH YOU WERE HERE**CD

Pink Floyd- Animals $8 Pink Floyd - Animals (Remastered CD 2011) Brand New & Sealed

Pink Floyd -Relics $9 PINK FLOYD**RELICS (GATEFOLD/STEREO)**CD

Hawkwind-the first 8 albums in one box 11 cd  $39

Tangerine Dream- 3 cd 4 lp virgin box $11 The-Virgin-Years-1974-1978-Box-by-Tangerine-Dream-CD-Jan-2011-3-Discs

Ash Ra Tempel – Best of Private Tapes 2 cd $11 Ash Ra Tempel

Klaus Schulze – La Vie Electronique 3 cd  $20 Klaus-Schulze-La-Vie-Electronique-CD-Box-Set-NEW

Faust-Complete 5 cd $39 Product Details

Can-the Lost Tapes 3 cd $30 Can-The-Lost-Tapes-UK-IMPORT-CD-Box-Set-NEW

Ozric Tentacles-Vitamin Enhanced 6 cd $60 Vitamin Enhanced [Box] by Ozric Tentacles

Gong- the Trilogy box 3 cd $49 Gong - Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy [CD New]

Magma – Konzert Zund 12 cd $70 Kohnzert Zund

Grateful Dead-the Golden Road 1965-1973 complete 12 cd $70 The Golden Road (1965 - 1973)

Yes – The Studio Albums 1969-1987 12 cd $40 The Studio Albums 1969-1987

Frank Zappa –  Läther 3 cd $10 Läther

Sensation’s Fix-Music is Painting in the Air 1974-1977 $12 Music Is Painting In The Air (1974 - 1977)

Genesis-Archive 4 cd $57 Genesis Archive, Vol. 1: 1967-1975

King Crimson-21st Century Guide to King Crimson 4 cd $45 21st Century Guide to King Crimson 1: 1969-1974

Okay let’s stop there and figure out what we got with that haul. 16 bands. 25 releases. 95 cds. Roughly six hundred bucks. This would keep anyone pretty busy for….what, a year at least?

In the end, this box isn’t really universally the “unheard” motherlode it appears to be, but is coming from a similar place as Frank Zappa’s Beat the Boots box set, where Frank reissued some of the most important Zappa bootlegs in their original covers. What were they gonna do-sue him? So I hope this last part gives a bit of perspective on where your six hundred dollars could be spent otherwise. If this was at a more reasonable $15 per disc, it would be $285.00 for the box. This begs the larger question: “WHERE DID THE OTHER $400.00 GO? This might be where one could say ‘Can someone charge a record company with fraud?” and actually mean it. A box set that is priced $400 over what it should roll out at is……..friggin’ criminal.

And perhaps, in the spirit of the bootleg origins of most of the material on this Floyd box, and the spirit of the truly ironic, many of us will wait and…you know….see if it will show up somewhere sketchy for download instead? Shhhhhh…

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C’mon, SEVEN HUNDRED bucks for a fucking CD box? Really?

fortes fortuna adiuvat

Update: Warning-Caveat Emptor
Even at $400, this is still overpriced for what you get. On paper, the 10 cd audio content is tantalizing. In reality, the tendency to screw up remixes in sonic quality (which has become a trend lately) hits this package squarely on the nose, and bloodies up the whole thing. Huge clanging treble issues render much of the audio borderline unlistenable. In many songs, cymbals crash with a harshness that cymbals just aren’t supposed to sound like. The Obscured By Clouds disc suffers heavily from a harsh, unnatural and digital sounding mix that makes this particular disc something no one needs. If one is only going to listen to this on mp3 on their computer, perhaps some of the sonic problems would be less noticeable. Can’t say I know of anyone ready to dish out $400-$500 for mp3s though.
More specifically in the complaint department, why some of the BBC stuff I have owned on cassette since the 80’s is superior in sound quality to what shows up here is dumbfounding. It is like the research department spent zero time tracking down better versions that are readily found in the bootleg field.

Pet peeves:
Where is Let’s Roll Another One instead of Candy and a Currant Bun? My friends and I have had this for decades, and they didn’t bother to look for a version of it? Mixing out the chipmunk vocals on Scream Thy Last Scream? To what end I’d ask? The  1967 Advision sessions not included (which had Lets Roll Another One). Remixed Vegetable Man instead of the original mix. Stockholm live 1967. Sigh-vocals from the show are not up in the mix. Nothing to do about that as it was a product of the show at the time, but still, this holy grail bit is slightly underwhelming. In the Beechwoods, something discussed for years as one of the unheard Floyd masterpieces is an intriguing and out of character sounding instrumental, decent quality-is missing the vocal melody, an unfinished eye opener of sorts.
So, 8 of the video discs duplicate each other, the Obscured disc is a listen once throw away, leaving us 18 real discs at a minimum of $400 at this date (12/10/16)—still over twenty dollars per disc. The vinyl 45s suffer from a similar over equalization towards a harsher high end. Throw in defective BluRays that most everybody got and now have to exchange, and you have a product that is nowhere near even a $300 price point.
Some good stuff in there, to be sure, but dodgy sound on more of the live stuff than I expected, overly ‘high end heavy’ equalization yielding harsh treble across so many songs? Peeved. In the end, although this seemed to be the Floyd dream, it’s really not worth a huge financial outlay by a longshot. Fortunately, a friend kicked down to buy one, giving many a chance to hear the great, the good and the disappointing together. Try the $12 two cd condensed version of it first to give it a test run for the sound would be my advice. Separate sets are coming after the New Year to give the subsets of this more manageable release.

 

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Pink Floyd-The Endless River: Outtakes or Best Floyd Album in Forty Years?

PFFull 2014PinkFloyd01PR200514                                                                                      I want to be clear right up front, I had pretty much zero expectations going into this album. Pre-release reviews let the cat out of the bag early: this is predominantly sourced from 1994’s Division Bell sessions. With that in mind, how could this have any chance of being good? While a nice re-creation of the Floyd sound, Division Bell certainly did not light up the sky as a new benchmark in Pink Floyd excellence. Which leads us back to the original problem-if Division Bell was spotty, what would outtakes from those sessions yield twenty years later?

What it has yielded is an album that is the most satisfying Pink Floyd release since Wish You Were Here. I know that is a bold statement, but let’s backtrack a bit. What on paper seemed to be a release akin to Syd Barrett’s 1988 release Opel-expected to be a great lost album but in reality just outtakes not good enough to pass muster-is not what Endless River is at all. And this is important-most reviewers of this album have absolutely missed the point of this release. Many Pink Floyd fans have had a lingering dissatisfied aftertaste with each post 1975 album. Animals was fairly bleak, and began to show a disproportionate influence from Roger Waters. Songs and rants began to edge out the longer instrumental explorations. In 1977, fans hoped this was an aberration and not a signpost of the future. They were wrong. Waters then took full control, delivering the trilogy of angst ridden and bombastic concept albums: The Wall, The Final Cut and Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking. The final album was a Water’s solo album proper, but had originally been proposed as the concept instead of The Wall as the 1979 album, and follows the same general pattern. Histrionically overblown themes outdid themselves in all three albums as the band degenerated into a solo vehicle for the increasingly bitter and alienated Waters’ zeitgeist. The band broke up acrimoniously in 1985, with Waters and Gilmour taking various potshots at each other in the press. The Waters-less reunion in 1987 yielded A Momentary Lapse of Reason, an album that had all of the sounds in place, but little solid songwriting and little heart or substance. Essentially a snapshot of what the general public thought a Floyd album should sound like.

So what comes as a huge surprise is this week’s release, The Endless River. Moody and mostly instrumental, this album has far more in common with Wish You Were Here, Obscured by Clouds and Ummagumma than any of their albums in the last 40 years. Pre release reviews talking points included phrases like “unfinished”, “outtakes” and, gasp! “drum solo”.  Translated for a Floyd aficionado, this actually is: “Moody and atmospheric masterpieces”, “demos that exceed the original” and “drum solo? try full on Ummagumma freakout!” I dropped the needle at a listening party (darkened room with laser projections on the ceiling, ya know authenticity required!), and some comments were: ‘this is the first Floyd album in a long time that I’d listen to a lot” and “You would never guess this came out in 2014, this sounds like 1970’s Floyd”. This album should be viewed as a strong return to form, a return to the pure spacey roots that set the controls long ago.

On vinyl, this is something to behold-crisp silent pressing, pristine packaging and suitably obtuse cover imagery. A sixteen page full size booklet shows photos from the original 1994 recording sessions, heavy on the Rick Wright images. Which is no surprise since this album is indirectly designed to be a tribute to Wright, who passed away in 2008 (and Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis, the creators of all of Floyd’s covers since the early 70’s, who died in 2013). Rough sketches of Wright’s piano form the backbone of more than one song. On vinyl, the whole first side-Things Left Unsaid, It’s What We Do and Ebb and Flow pretty much make up a single song, which is variations on Shine On You Crazy Diamond themes. Flickers of recognizable themes weave into other songs: One of These Days, Us and Them, On the Turning Away all are hinted at in different songs. But pretty much no song in the last 40 years has mined this territory, a huge strength of the Pink Floyd sound from 1969-1975, a strength inexplicably abandoned for far too long. Other highlights are a 1968 Rick Wright organ exercise that has been overdubbed, and all of side four of the album. Side four contains the lone ‘real song’,  Louder than Words, a song that makes one realize the band still has the goods, and in abundance. Allons-y  parts one and two come close to song-dom, like one of the better instrumentals that never made the Wall. Talkin Hawkin is a version of Keep Talking from Division Bell, but more free flowing. Stripped of the Motown backing vocals and heavy overdubs, this song is far more powerful than it was 20 years ago. Sure there is the occasional clunker: one tune evokes faceless 80’s jazz-rock, another piece echoes early 80’s Kitaro (who had some pretty good stuff now and then) Overall though, it’s back to basics, no frills playing that hearkens back to the days of Meddle and Obscured, just four guys playing sounds of the universe, before the studio became the fifth member circa Dark Side of the Moon. This is true of much of this album-ditch the heavy additions of extra instruments and backing vocals that got slathered on like too much frosting trying to fix a dodgy cake-and the power and the beauty inherent in Gilmour, Wright and Mason’s compositions are allowed to shine.

In short, this is the Pink Floyd album many fans have been waiting decade upon decade for: an introspective, lava lamp melting stoner classic. (Floyd had originally referred to this release as ‘The Big Spliff’) Floyd fans have always had the reputation of sitting motionless in a room watching the walls melt. If you fall into that category, your train has finally arrived. So we finally have the last Pink Floyd album ever, and it certainly succeeds as a final statement of purpose like you cannot imagine. All aboard for the cosmic express kiddies, there will be no more stops for this train! From the first shudders and throbbe of the Binson Echorec as Syd Barrett throttled his guitar and gazed into the maelstrom of melting lighting effects in 1966 to forty eight years later as Gilmour and Mason stare into the event horizon looming ahead as they pass 2014, this truly is the final cut. Highly recommended.