• Cream of The Crate - Record #34: Pink Floyd

      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      "The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think.
      Oh by the way, which one's Pink?
      " ('Have A Cigar' - Pink Floyd)

      Front of Boxed Set

      This is number thirty four in the series of albums I'm featuring as part of an on-going retrospective of vinyl albums in my personal collection. The series is called, "Cream of The Crate", and they represent vinyl albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because their is something unique about the group or the music.

      Over the past 33 reviews I have featured three boxed sets of LP's - those being Hendrix, the Beatles and Elvis. Now a large navy blue box caught my eye. It didn't need to, because I been considering The Floyd for sometime. The problem was choosing which album to feature, because most of their albums are unique within themselves. So I have taken the smart way out and will look at the boxed set, but so it's not a cop out, I will nominate my favorite album in the set a little later on.

      So, to some details about this boxed set. It is the 1st issue set, I believe there were two subsequent issues, released by EMI (PFB 1): 10 - LP boxed set released 1988. The official description was;
      "Release Information: Original issue limited edition 10-LP box set, with a quadraphonic Atom Heart Mother LP.
      Box Front Cover: Black with prism, and "PINK FLOYD" embossed in silver under the prism.
      Box Back Cover: Black with a large white prism that has colors refracting out of it. Inside the prism are all the albums titles printed in white.

      Now this set was only ever released in Australia, and although there are other boxed sets available, it is pretty unique on at least one level. It has a in fact two albums recorded in (the now defunct) Quadrophonic format, despite the official release saying only one. "Dark Side of the Moon" was also in the quadrophonic format.

      So what about the albums within this fabulous set? In fact much of the work has already been done for me on looking at what albums are in this set, so I'll just reproduce that work.

      1) A Nice Pair
      Catalog Number: SHDW-403 1 /2
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2 / side 3 / side 4)
      1) YAX-3419-1 / YAX-3420-1 / YAX 3633-1 / YAX 3634-2 (all stamped)
      Cover: Multiple pictures.
      Label: Yellow-green Harvest label.

      2) More
      Catalog Number: SCX0-6346
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
      1) YAX 3868-1G / YAX 3869-1G (both stamped)
      Front Cover: Photo from the movie and at the bottom is the text " soundtrack from the film MORE played and composed by the pink floyd. " In the top right corner "STEREO"
      Labels: Orange Columbia labels.
      To the right of the spindle hole is:
      33 1/3 RPM
      SCXO 6346
      YAX 3868
      Side 1
      Text around the top edge of the label starts at 8 o'clock and says:
      The Gramophone Co., Ltd. All rights of the manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved. Unauthorised public performance, broadcasting, and copying of this record prohibited.
      Text around the bottom edge of the label starts at 7 o'clock and says:
      Made in Australia by E.M.I. (Australia) Limited.

      3) Ummagumma
      Catalog Number: SHDW 1 / 2
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2 / side 3 / side 4)
      1) SHDW-1-A-1 / SHDW-1-B-2 / SHDW 2-A-1 / SHDW-2.3 2 (all four stamped)
      Front Cover: Picture of band members in chairs and in pictures. No album is pictured leaning against the wall.
      Labels: Yellow / green Harvest labels. Small Harvest logo in a circle. Made in Australia.
      Text around the top edge of the label starts at 10 o 'clock and says:
      E.M.I. Australia Limited. All rights of the manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved.
      Text around the bottom edge of the label starts at 8 o 'clock and says:
      Made in Australia
      Unauthorised public performance, broadcasting and copying of this record prohibited.

      4) Atom Heart Mother (SQ quadraphonic)
      Catalog Numbers:
      Cover: SHVL-781
      Label: Q4SHVL-781
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
      1) QHVL-781-A-1 / QHVL-781-B-2 (both stamped)
      Front Cover: A cow. Matte. Non-gatefold.
      Labels: Yellow / green Harvest labels with SQ logo.

      5) Relics
      Catalog Numbers:
      Cover: DRUM 8026 / SOELP 9791
      Label: SOELP-9791
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
      1) SRS5071-A / SRS5071-B (both stamped)
      Front Cover: Title with rare coins.
      Labels: Black EMI / HMV labels.

      6) Meddle
      Catalog Number: SHVL-795
      Front Cover: Soundwaves on an ear. Gatefold.
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
      1) SHVL-795-A / SHVL-795-1U (both stamped)
      Labels: Yellow / green Harvest labels.

      7) Obscured by Clouds
      Catalog Number: SHSP-4020
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
      1) SHSP4020-A-2 / SHSP4020-B-2 (both stamped)
      Cover: An out-of-focus picture from the movie of a man in a tree in the rain. EMI / Harvest-logo in the upper left corner.
      Labels: Yellow / green Harvest labels.

      8) Dark Side of the Moon (SQ quadraphonic)
      Catalog Number: Q4-SHVLA-804
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
      1) QHVL804-A-3 / QHVL804-B-3 (both stamped)
      Cover: Black with prism. Title printed in circle on cover in upper right. SQ logo in lower right.
      Insert: Blue pyramid poster.
      Label: Black prism label. SQ logo.

      9) Wish You Were Here
      Catalog Numbers:
      Cover: SBP 234651
      Label: SBP 234651-PC33453
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
      1) MX174743 - SBP234654-5-1 / MX174744-B - SBP234651-2 (both stamped)
      Cover: Burning man. Large round WYWH logo printed in upper left corner.
      Insert: Postcard of a diving man.
      Label: Robot handshake picture label.

      10) Animals
      Catalog Number: SBP-234948
      Matrix Information: (side 1 / side 2)
      1) A-MX178307-B - SBP234948-1 / A-MX178308 - SBP234948-2 (both stamped)
      Cover: Battersea Power Station with a pig above it. Blue Animals sticker in upper right corner.
      Label: Animals picture label.

      What is fantastic is that this set of ten albums represents a great example of the breadth of sound and styles for the Floyd, and the breadth of experience for the listener. Yet it is not without fault, as it did not include the first two albums by The Floyd, “A Piper At the Gate of Dawn” (1967) and, “A Saucerful of Secrets”(1968). The way I got around this was to purchase them separately, as in fact I did for the less desirable latter releases, “A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and “The Division Bell (1994).

      Because it is missing the first two albums, which featured the flawed genius of Syd Barrett, it is not the perfect collection, and that is a shame. There is so much material on the early years of Pink Floyd I could see no purpose in repeating it, with WikipeidiA doing a pretty good job of providing a significant summary of the beginning of Pink Floyd along with the website pinkfloydonline.

      However I couldn’t resist posting one of the few known photographs of all original 5 members.

      Now most people rave about “Dark Side of the Moon”, and why not? It is a seminal album that was released in 1973 and remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. However there is much to like about “Atom Heart Mother”. With the tracks that best ‘grab’ me being, “If” featuring Roger Walters on acoustic guitar, and, Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast. This track is divided into 3-parts and features (uncredited), the voice of ‘Roadie’, Alan Styles. It is not a fantastic musical album, quirky I believe is an apt description, and the fact little if any of the tracks were ever performed live suggests the Floyd may have seen it the same way.

      Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast - Rise and Shine

      The other album that also appealed when released, is the 1971, “Meddle”. This is musically a very good album, with little weakness and it represents the Floyd not only really coming of age as a group, but also musically. It reached #3 on the UK Charts, which was a sign of things to come.

      My favourite tracks are “Fearless” and “San Tropez” Fearless is a slow melodic track, that was fantastic to just lay back and groove with, and concludes with the Chant of the Liverpool Football fans. San Tropez, is also a gentle ballad type track, and is the only track on the album that is not collaborative. Written and sung by Roger Walters, it is Walter’s idea of what the idealic port of San Tropez is like. The small slide guitar part is by Dave Gilmour, and Richard Wright contributes the piano riff toward the end.


      However it is the entire second side of this album that is so fantastic. The entire 23 minutes of “Echoes” is a show in itself and features some fantastic keyboard, guitar and bass playing, with the effects that Floyd became famous for, coming to the forefront. It took 3 months of studio time to do, which at that time was considered quite a feat.

      Finally, not all the material composed for Meddle was used on the album, with one track eventually becoming “Brain Damage”, on the “Dark Side of the Moon”.

      So, to my favourite album of them all! It is in fact the 1969 Live/Studio album, Ummagumma.

      In my mind LP #1 (the Live LP), probably represents the best live sound the Floyd was capable of prior to going fully digital. The degree of on-stage experimentation should not be overlooked. Anyone who has played analogue synths on stage (and I have), knows the enormous issues with them going out of tune due to heat and smoke, and the difficulty of synching the instruments is simply mind blowing, and has been the cause of many a musician going prematurely grey. They did it, and by god they did it well!

      Lp #2 is the studio LP. Each of the four Floyd were responsible for creating their own side, drawing upon their likes, their own skills and imagination, and so we get a fantastic snapshot of where the members had come from, where they were, and thus we can have a better idea of the individual contributions they would make in the future.

      As described in Wikipedia, “The studio album came as a result of Richard Wright wanting to make "real music", where each of the four group members (in order: Wright, Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason)had half an LP side each to create a solo work without involvement from the others. Wright's contribution, "Sysyphus", was named after a character in Greek mythology, usually spelled "Sisyphus”, and contained a combination of various keyboards, including piano and mellotron.

      Although initially enthusiastic about making a solo contribution, Wright later described it as "pretentious". Waters' "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict”, contained a variety of vocal and percussion effects treated at various speeds, both forwards and backwards, and was influenced by Ron Geesin, who would later collaborate with both Waters and Pink Floyd.

      Gilmour has since stated he was apprehensive about creating a solo work, and admits he "went into a studio and started waffling about, tacking bits and pieces together", although part one of "The Narrow Way” had already been performed as "Baby Blue Shuffle in D Major" in a BBC radio session in December 1968. Gilmour said he "just bullshitted" through the piece. He asked Waters to write some lyrics for his compositions, but he refused to do so. Mason's "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party” featured his then wife, Lindy, playing flute and Mason playing a nine minute drum solo.”

      Despite their misgivings, if you play the album today, it stands up well, very well.

      So the tracks that will always stand out in my mind are - “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” and “A Saucerful of Secrets” from the ‘Live’ LP. In regard to the “Studio” LP, one of my favourites is "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict” {Walters] – a most unusual track, even by Floyd standards.

      Several Species of Animals Gathering Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict

      The other is “Sysyphus” [Wright], which opens with a most dramatic refrain before running into some very fluid piano playing, the like of which would not have been out of place in a more ‘Classical’ setting, before deconstructing into a far more ‘electronic’ feel. There is no doubt about it, when miked up well; a piano can take on an amazing range of dynamics sounds. It runs into part 2, where it just gets totally bizarre and it’s hard not to believe that they guys were not having an utter ball! Oh, and the wind cries Meredith!

      Sysyphus - Part 1

      This is definitely not to say the other tracks are not variously entertaining, and at times enthralling. Look, I'm certain that my choice of the 'best' Pink Floyd Album will be different to yours, and that's fine - in many ways so many of their albums stand out for a variety of reasons, although I do believe post "Dark Side of the Moon" things start to move downhill (and rapidly). Like the music industry in general at this time, the Floyd were beginning to suffer from the same malady that the music industry at this time was beginning to suffer from. The industry was moving further away from the musicians and into the hands of the business folk.

      This is so evident with the sarcastic but very telling lines in the track "Have A Cigar" from the "Wish You Were Here" album.
      "Come in here, dear boy, have a cigar.
      You're gonna go far, you're gonna fly high,
      You're never gonna die, you're gonna make it if you try;they're gonna love you.
      Well I've always had a deep respect, and I mean that most sincerely.
      The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think.
      Oh by the way, which one's Pink?

      And did we tell you the name of the game, boy
      we call it Riding the Gravy Train.
      We're just knocked out.
      We heard about the sell out.
      You gotta get an album out,
      You owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.
      Everybody else is just green, have you seen the chart?
      It's a helluva start, it could be made into a monster
      if we all pull together as a team.
      And did we tell you the name of the game, boy
      we call it Riding the Gravy Trail.

      Look, we ARE talking about the group that really broke new ground, and while we need to acknowledge the engineering skills of people such as Alan Parsons (who went on to form his own electronic group – The Alan Parsons Project), the members of Pink Floyd, as individuals and as a group, broke that new ground that many other groups have subsequently built upon.

      I only found one copy of this first Australian released boxed set
      - and it was being sold for $707

      VIDEOS - There are a quite a few videos of Pink Floyd, but these are among the best in regard to the nature of the review I have provided.

      Saucerful of Secrets

      Careful With that Axe, Eugene


      Previous Cream of The Crate Albums

      #1 – Howling Wolf: Real Folk Blues

      #2 – Otis Redding: Otis Blue/ Otis Redding Sings Soul

      #3 – Dr John The Night Tripper: Gris Gris

      #4 – Spectrum: ROYGBIV

      #5 – Son House: The Real Delta Blues

      #6 – Cruisin ‘61

      #7 – Live At The Station Hotel

      #8 – Crosby, Stills Nash & Young: Déjà Vu

      #9 – Moon Mullican: Rock it to the Moon

      #10 – Billy Thorpe: Time Traveller

      #11 – Bobby and Laurie: Cum Sum Ambulant (Hitch Hiker)

      #12 – Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland

      #13 – The Beatles: The Beatles Collection

      #14 – Johnny O’Keefe: 20th Anniversary Album

      #15 – Jimmy Cliff (and others): The harder They Come (The Soundtrack from the movie by the same name)

      #16 – Frank Zappa: Roxy and Elsewhere

      #17 – Junior Walker & The All Stars: Roadrunner

      #18 - The Moonglows, Flamingos & The Orioles: Jump

      #19 - King Federal - Rockabillys: Various Artists

      #20 - Max Merritt and The Meteors: Max Merritt & The Meteors

      #21 - Planet Gong: Camembert Electrique

      # 22 - Earth, Wind & Fire: Head To The Sky

      #23 - Ellen McIlwaine: We The People

      #24 - The Easybeats: Absolute Anthology

      #25 - Rainbow Generator: Dance Of The Spheres

      #26 - Martha and the Vandellas: Greatest Hits

      #27 - Buddy Holly: A Rock and Roll Collection

      #28 - The Who: Quadrophenia

      #29 - Elvis: The legend (1954 - 1961)

      #30 - Col Joye: Let's Rock With

      #31 - The Yardbirds: For Your Love
      #32 - Eddy Cochran: The Singles Album

      #33 - Krozier and The Generator: Tranceformer