Pink Floyd – From Abbey Road To Britannia Row (Extraction CD001)
(73:42) Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Welcome To The Machine, Have A Cigar, Sheep (Raving and Drooling), Dogs (You Gotta Be Crazy), Pigs, Message From Sheep
After much hoopla and hours waiting in anticipation comes the title Floyd fans had been waiting for, well not quite as Sigma was able to beat them to the punch and release this material. I was one of the ones who resisted temptation and waited for this release, so let’s take a gander at the first real taste of unreleased studio material from The Pink Floyd. The first three songs are from the Wish You Were Here recording sessions, the songs have the right framework, save Welcome To The Machine, with the band trying all sorts of interesting things in them. The Animals material is much more structured but for me not as interesting. The sound quality through is excellent, there is a bit of hiss but that is to be expected and does not interfere with one’s listening experience.
Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-9 (25:01): Referred to as “Studio version 1975 in one complete piece. Never previously issued in this format”. The recording begins with Richard Wright checking his keyboards and we get a piece of music that sounds much like the Wine Glasses track found on the Wish You Were Here Experience Edition. The music was from the aborted Household Objects project and is quite beautiful sounding and for the first few minutes this “music” will act as a base of sorts as Wright adds some of the reflective and ambient keyboards over the top. The Wine Glasses portion stops abruptly at the 3:07 mark and Gilmour’s simple guitar phrase we all love breaks the loud silence. Some parts sound like some work had been done on overdubs where’s others sound rather sparse. Roger handles the majority of the leads while Dave’s voice is the backing vocals. The song is in its complete form, Parts 6-9 sound a lot like the live versions, the band sound like they are jamming and enjoying the interaction, Wright and Gilmour seem to be playing off each other that is really enjoyable.
Welcome To The Machine (4:45): Listed as Studio Demo 1975 this is certainly the highlight of the set for me, it is simply incredible. It starts with the drone like heartbeat with some heavy keyboard effects over it, Roger’s vocals are very tentative and sounds like Gilmour is using a guitar voice box effect that is very interesting. A voice is heard clearly at the 1:21 “I can’t here the old voice”, perhaps a studio engineer? The whole thing is very cold and mechanical feeling, curious there is some interesting acoustic guitar towards the end.
Have A Cigar (7:32): Listed as Studio Demo 1975, it starts with Gilmour checking his guitar via the opening riff as if he is making sure he is getting the sound he wants. The vocals are Roger and Dave with about an equal balance between the two. At times the song sounds very busy as Gilmour toys with the guitar riff, it’s the same but he adds a lot more notes to it and there is a brief part where some acoustic guitar is thrown in, like they are trying to get a feel on what will work. About 3:25 in during the “riding the gravy train” lyric it sounds as if someone other than Gilmour or Waters is signing, perhaps a bit of Roy Harper?
Sheep (Raving and Drooling) (10:37): Listed as Different Studio version 1976, the song sounds more like the live versions from 1975, it begins with a Nick Mason count in before the familiar bass lines, the lyrics are the Raving And Drooling version and not the ones found on the Animals release. One can wonder if these are were not done during the early Wish You Were Here sessions when this song and You Gotta be Crazy were regular part of the band’s live show. The end part with the aggressive guitar slashing away like a dogs teeth is quite nice.
Dogs (You Gotta Be Crazy) (13:34): Listed as different Studio version 1976, curiously the song order on the rear of the cover is incorrect placing this song last but the inside gets it right. Unlike Sheep, Dogs is much more fleshed out, Roger’s vocal is tentative but lyrically the song is close to being finished, musically it is all there but lacks the aggressive nature of the version that was released on Animals. There is a count in by Dave to start the piece and the guitarist has added some additional guitar leads that make it sound somewhat busy. Dave does the vocals during the “And When You Lose Control” and the song briefly gets a little funky and the song stops at the 8:04 mark before picking back up with the main riff played acoustically and Roger returns on vocals. There are several digital glitches throughout this part of the song, most noticeably at the 9:21, 9:38, 9:46, 10:02 and a bunch from the 12:31 mark to the end of the track.
Pigs (Three Different Ones) (11:36): Listed as different Studio version 1976, this song makes up for the lack of an Animals Experience release, Roger’s vocal is worth the price of admission alone. At times the guitar is sparse and it works very well with the vocals that sound somewhat insane for lack of a better word. Rogers’s vocal are much more pronounced and louder in the second half but Gilmour has yet to incorporate the blistering solo that would really make this song such a masterpiece.
Message From The Sheep (:36): Not listed on the cover, sounds like what is the last track on the Sigma Animals Outtakes and is referred to as a field recording. Sadly the track is a mess of digital errors and froze my CD player.
The packaging is a simple tri gatefold sleeve with a high gloss finish beautifully adorned with official style graphics, the inner sleeve has various memorabilia like the 1975 American Tour itinerary as well as a rooming list from Ramada Inn in Washington. While the material found on this release is incredible and the packaging is nice the digital flaws ruin what could have been a stellar release. Sigma already have two titles of this material out, Animals Outtakes (Sigma 107) and Wish You Were Here Outtakes (Sigma 109), so there is competition for ones hard earned dollar.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)Pink Floyd - From Abbey Road To Britannia Row (Extraction CD001),