Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Sun Is Eclipsed By The Moon...

...and the album is eclipsed by the live early version.

The first proper 'gig' I ever went to was Country Joe And The Fish at the Albert Hall on 22 September 1969. A live album from that tour, released 30 years later, revealed a band long past its peak – but for an impressionable 12 year old it was pretty amazing at the time - and is it any coincidence that I later took up playing bass when the first band I ever saw had Jack Casady on bass?

Anyway, the reason I got to see The Fish was because I'd recently discovered that the father of a friend of mine could get free tickets to a box at the Albert Hall. Whoo hoo! So during 1969/1970 I managed to get tickets to see Ten Years After, John Mayall, Pentangle, Stone The Crows, Blodwyn Pig, Jethro Tull, Family, Steppenwolf, Albert King, Keef Hartley, Deep Purple (Supporting Canned Heat - also Renaissance were on the same bill), Fleetwood Mac, and…

At around about the same time a local school put on a production of 'Dark Of The Moon' and a set piece in the middle featured a bunch of teenagers in weird costumes cavorting about to the most incredible music I'd ever heard. I got a friend to find out what the music was and they told me it was Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun by Pink Floyd. So the next time the Floyd were at the Albert Hall I tried to get tickets - but they were sold out.

The next Floyd album was Ummagumma of course – and what a waste of vinyl *that* was. The second disk is a load of self indulgent noodling – the only decent bit is Waters' section and that pales pretty quickly – and the first disk is insipid versions of tracks that had already appeared elsewhere and that were soon available in far more poky versions (if lower quality) on bootlegs.

By the way – The Dead suffered from the same problem – although Live/Dead and Europe 72 are pretty damn good live albums it's clear that Warners didn't think that Joe Public could cope with the bum notes, fluffed lyrics and incredible tangents of the *real* live Dead as shown on 100 Year Hall and the Dicks Picks from the late 60s and early 70s.

Anyway, back to Pink Floyd. I don't remember for certain the first time I saw them live, but by early '72 I'd seen them a few times at the Empire Pool or Earls Court and so on. I used to hang around the Rainbow Theatre in London's Finsbury Park - some of the bouncers had got to know me a bit and would let me in free sometimes - so one night in 1972 I happened to be in the area and went along to see Pink Floyd on spec. They had a primitive quadrophonic PA system - a couple of bass bins & horns lashed to columns at the back of the old cinema hall - and a gantry of lights either side of the stage with flashing red light on top but the MUSIC... was incredible. The London premiere of Eclipse (later to be renamed Dark Side Of The Moon).

Next day I rang all my mates and said you've got to come and see Pink Floyd at the Rainbow (they were doing 4 nights and I'd turned up at the third, so this was the last night). I think Jon Seckl and Jon Blend came with me, I'm not sure who else. Anyway it was equally amazing.

Some weeks - or months - later I was in Kensington Market and saw an anonymous album called 'Best Of Tour 72' - I asked what it was and the guy selling it told me it was a bootleg of the next Pink Floyd album. So I bought it – it was excellent and I played it non-stop for weeks. Months even. And then the next legit Floyd album came out – but that was Obscured By Clouds and so didn’t really count.

And then – finally – a couple of years later, Dark Side Of The Moon came out and I bought it and… I thought it was crap. Sure, it’s incredibly well produced, but it’s sterile as f*ck in my opinion. I’ve never liked it, and that was the end of my Pink Floyd period. I haven’t liked anything they’ve done since.

I lent my original copy of the bootleg to my then-current girlfriend, split up with her a few weeks later, and haven’t seen it since. Didn't hear the album for 15 years or so until the Web let me track down a copy. This doesn't seem to be as good quality as the original vinyl I had, and is also missing a few bits that I edited in from a different bootleg, but as far as I'm concerned it's the last great Pink Floyd album. It's one long piece, not split into tracks (and neither was the original when they played it).

BTW I'm not sure about whether I should be posting bootlegs here - though it's probably the only one I will.

Apart from the QMS one that I posted a few months ago.

Pink Floyd - Best Of Tour 72



Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a teenager (im a couple of years younger than you and didn't really start going to gigs until 74) my band of choice was Yes, my best mate Steve's band was the floyd. just a few nights ago we were sitting down once more re-assesing the output by both bands and others..after all these years its easier to get a clear perpective of old favourites that was harder at the time. For Yes it was pretty clear...taking the first two pre Howe albums as a different band and still enjoying them in their own right..and at the other end, Topographic, Relayer and half of Going For The One (basically Awaken and Turn Of The Century) as a continuation of the progreesive spirit...but really when it boils down to it we are talking The Yes Album Fragile and Close To The Edge as the true classic Yes. For The Floyd..taking Piper as Syds materpiece and discounting most of Ummagumma as a mess (though im always gonna love Grantchester Meadows) and accepting Darkside and Wish You Were Here as on the way down but okay..then its the Saucerful through to Meddle period that is the classic floyd...except that when we talked about Floyd it wasn't the albums we talked about..but the bootlegs. You see when i was 17 i worked in a tiny little record shop off carnaby street called sounds ahead...and we sold bootlegs, all that trademark of quality, takril stuff...so me and steve had loads of boots in our collections at the time. i remember there was only two Yes bootlegs back then..yes on tour which was a pretty ropey old audience recording from god knows where and Yes in Amsterdam..which was better quality, but the ignorant bootlegger had obscenely hacked whole sections from most of the tracks for god knows what reason..so yes boots were more a novelty than anything worth having. the floyd boots were a different matter entirely..for some reason there music worked perfectly fine even as audience recording and there were plenty to be had. And this was the floyd we always listened two,,,hardly ever played Meddle or Atom Heart Or Darkside,,we played Tour 72 and 73, Hamburg with its muderous version of Axe, Crackers (from the Hollywood Bowl with another full pre-album darkside, echoes, saucerful and an insanely spacey version of One Of These Days> and even after all these years it was the live floyd, not the studio floyd that for us defined the classic floyd period. Cymbaline, Green Is The Colour, Saucerful, Axe, atom heart without orchestra...the killer floyd And ..finally getting to my point...yes i agree with you the live pre album live version is the version hands down..better than the album, better than the live version that followed the albums release.......
a couple of points..the very first pressing of tour 72 is much better than the later pressings..which were taken from dubs of the first pressing and drop down a level, noticably...definately check out the cracker boot if you can find it..that, not tour 72..which came before,is the last great floyd album........
okay while im here i thought to carry on with the game steve and i were playing in terms of band reassetment...
caravan...first three albums..stone cold classics.with the first being the desert island disc..waterloo lilly..great but not really caravan because steve miller isnt dave sinclair.. and richard sinclair's beautiful voice is all but missing..plump as back up ..thats about it.
van der graaf generator...aerosol grey isnt actuall vdgg as such but worthy, least we can do...nearly there...pawnhearts, h to he classic first period band....godbluff..still life..world record..the truely classic era...then the quiet zone..still worthy
both hatfields..first two national healths..all genius
genesis...first album...a curiosity...trespass nearly there.nursery cryme, foxtrot, selling england, the classic period...lamb still worthy..fullstop.
mike nesmith...pretty much everthing up to and including protom wing and back to all the "solo" Monkees stuff that has appeared as bonus tracks over the years. (note one of the biggest crimes of all is nesmiths own "remastering" of The Prison for cd..in which he takes a shimmering acid country materpiece and reduces it to all the production values of a 1980s barcley james harvest album)
barefoot jerry
first three albums..utter genius
forth album great but not as good
keys to the county...pretty damn weak
barefootin. a return to form,great but not as good as the first three....
ok enough of my mumblings...
yes i remember harum..i remember when annie lennox and dave stewart lived above the shop in the tourists days and the square yellow price stickers with harum written in brown
and yes i envy you seeing the floyd at the rainbow and especially yes at the rainbow..the yessongs dvd (from the rainbow shows) is for me the ulimate yes live item...but then i saw jake thackray live about seven times ...so it all evens out...
all the best

3:12 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

talking of crackers..hollywood bowl thingy heres a link..scroll down its under the title bowl de luna

mick again

4:11 am  
Blogger Witchseason said...

What a marvellous comment - sounds like you're a real soulmate.

You hit the nail right on the head about Caravan - and almost everything else you mention. The only things I'd disagree with are that - for me - Foxtrot was the last great Genesis album, and that I think Caravan hit another peak, post-plump, with the Fairfield Halls album. That album proves that Richard Coughlan is one of the great unsung heroes of the drums, the sheer power of his playing knocks me out every time I hear that album. He, along with Guy Evans and Dave Mattacks, is one of the few drummers who really made hugely important contributions to their bands - can you really imagine peak period Caravan, VDGG or Fairport without them?

Re Harum - Dave & Annie actually lived above the *other* record shop in Crouch End (the one that became a hairdresser's shop) and rehearsed in the basement.

Did you really post that comment at 3.12 this morning? Get a life...

Keep well squire


9:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who can deny the genius of dave mattacks,,seeing him play with thompson..two genius musicians for the price of one....and couglan..i got to hang out with caravan a bit in the early nineties through my friendship with richard sinclair...that short period when it was the original line up again and saw them play a few times and couglan was always superb
guy evans again a brilliant drummer, the beating heart of the generator machine....
other great drummers..
robert wyatt...brilliant all over the place but focused
pip pyle..tremendous, exploritory never sitting still
andy ward two parts bruford, two parts moon one part wyatt...camel were always a comparitively weak band but listen to the drumming on that first album....i got to see andy playing loads of times with richard's caravan of dreams and spent many days in various studios when he played on my brothers albums and he is and amazingly powerful and adaptive player, very inventive very melodic
nick mason..the center of the early floyd...not a technically brilliant drummer so he had to invent his own style and was unmistakable for just that..once he learned to play properly he became just another proficient anonimous drummer.....
chris pedersen..camper van beethoven are one of my favourite bands ever and all the members are stunningly talented..but live pedersen was magnetic..couldnt take my eyes off him...
mick the stick....the heart and soul of chas and dave..er hold on...im getting confused here....
finally the king..bill bruford..absolutely deadly, precise to the point of impossibilty...effortless
thats my thoughts anyway..
all the best mick

1:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pps can you delete the ps post when youve read it i dont want my email up..i tried you email in your profile first but it came back undelivered

1:38 am  
Anonymous TheALF said...

I'd like to express my thanks for your excellent work. For the record concerning your comments on the Dead 0 I saw them several times in the filmore east and often the singing was bad and or the drugs didn't kick in at the right time. Weirdd shows - sometimes pathetic and sometimes great all in the same evening. You're correct about Live Dead having been "fixed" to take the best of several shows - but all this not withstanding on a good night those were the most explosive performances I've ever seen- as good as Benny Goodman? perhaps :-) like sex - tight loud and confusing

8:34 am  

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