Friday, February 10, 2017

Pink Floyd 19: Creation

After grandly expanded versions of three of their biggest albums appeared, diehard Floyd heads wondered whether the same treatment would be given to the rest of the catalog. Wisely, the band knew that the market for a multi-disc version of Saucerful Of Secrets would be limited, they took the possibilities to the extreme. The Early Years 1967-1972 offers eleven CDs of mostly rare material, along with nine DVDs and eight Blu-rays of audio-visual artifacts, all divided into years and uniquely titled along the lines of “/ation”, plus replicas of their first handful of singles and tons of printed materials. (It was supposed to be ten CDs, but a disc of their Pompeii concert was included by mistake, requiring a supplement.)
Naturally, this investment entails $500 the consumer may not have handy; each of the volumes within the set would eventually be available separately eventually, with the exception of the bonus Continu/ation volume, dominated by grainy BBC sessions, a live “Echoes” from 1974, and the movies for which More and Obscured By Clouds were recorded. Of much easier consumption is the two-disc distillation of the music from the set, subtitled Cre/ation. Beginning, as required by law, with “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play”, it moves forward, past early singles and radio performances, through recent remasters of some tracks. An alternate version of “Matilda Mother” with different lyrics pays tribute to both Syd Barrett and Richard Wright, just as “Point Me At The Sky” seems to predict “Learning To Fly”. Then there’s “In The Beechwoods”, a wonderful performance of an unreleased Syd tune, sadly without lyrics.
Once Syd was out of the band, we can hear the other guys develop into their spacey image, with some moments to contrast and compare. “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” appears in both its single version and a shorter one live on the BBC, both of similar length. “Embryo” is also heard as a studio track, and again in a ten-minute BBC rendition. “Atom Heart Mother” is laid out in its entirety, without the orchestra or choir. “Grantchester Meadows”, Roger solo on Ummagumma, is performed for the radio with help from David Gilmour and Rick. Several excerpts from the Zabriskie Point soundtrack provide variety, and a precursor to “Us And Them”, while “Nothing, Pt. 14” is merely seven minutes of jamming that would better develop in the completed “Echoes”. The set ends with a few selections from the remastered Obscured By Clouds, but choosing to close with “Stay” seems more a tribute to Rick Wright than a wise finale.
Cre/ation is very much a teaser for the larger product, as it merely touches on the sheer volume of stuff to be found there. At the same time, it does provide an excellent lead-in to the era that began with Dark Side Of The Moon, giving plenty of exposure to Syd and some of the better moments from the albums, albeit in alternate but still tight versions.

Pink Floyd The Early Years 1967-1972: Cre/ation (2016)—4

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