22 July 2008, Plomerus @ 8:22 pm
How Time Flies (Rover Records 3/4)
Wembley Empire Pool, London, England – November 15th, 1974
Disc 1: Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Raving And Drooling, You Gotta Be Crazy
Disc 2: Intro, Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse, Echoes
To prevent anyone from getting TOO wound up, I think it’s best to address the issue of How Time Flies originally being announced as the November 14th, 1974 concert at Wembley (this is also the date printed on the cover), for which no recording was known to exist previously. Unfortunately, this is still the case as what we have here is in fact the concert from the following evening, November 15th, 1974.
Now, before anyone sets out to nail Rover Records to the wall, it’s pretty clear that this was nothing more than an honest, albeit tragic mistake and not an attempt to rip anyone off. I don’t have any additional information on what exactly went down at this time, but perhaps we’ll receive some insight from Rover Records soon…
Getting past this admittedly disappointing realization, what DO we have here? The gist of it is this: it appears that this is indeed a previously uncirculated 4th source of the November 15th show with very good sound quality, offering another great perspective of the Wembley concerts, and certainly the best available for this night in particular.
As aforementioned, there are no known recordings for the 1st night, and only a handful of releases of the final show on the 17th (primarily CDRs), while the 16th is one of the most widely distributed Floyd shows from any year, with both audience and professional BBC archival recordings readily available a zillion times over.
That being said, some enthusiasts feel that the performance of the 15th is actually superior to that of it’s infamous successor. Previously, there have been versions of this show that have circulated both incomplete and intact. The first source was used for the majority of past releases including the incomplete Money on Flashback (FB0133), the often copied (and complete) Black Holes In The Sky first from Great Dane (GDR CD 9101) and later speed corrected by Harvested (HRV CDR 022), as well as the surprisingly good We Are From Planet Earth (STTP 184/185) from the often spotty Shout To The Top label.
A second, inferior source was used for Akashic’s Electric Magic (AKA-26) with slightly better versions of this source circulating via trader circles afterwards, and then in 2004 a mysterious, incomplete soundboard recording surfaced of this show offering a third, albeit odd perspective of this show (being that it was primarily drum and bass tracks) represented on silver via disc 2 of Siréne’s Absolutely Years (Siréne-119).
How Time Flies offers a new version of this concert, and should be considered an upgrade over all of the past releases in that it runs at the correct speed, the sound is clear and very good for an audience recording of this time, with minimal distractions and only minor tape hiss during the quiet bits.
There are brief cuts between the songs on Disc 1, but no music or introductions are missing, and the majority of tune-ups are included. “Dark Side Of The Moon” on Disc 2 is seamlessly complete, and while there’s a brief cut/fade before the introduction of “Echoes,” it is also musically intact.
The tape begins midway through Roger Waters’ introduction of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” indicating that it is a new song. What follows is a lengthy solo synth intro from Richard Wright that foreshadows his work on the “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals” albums, coming across as celestial in an almost Kitaro-esque way. This introduction is unique to the shows from this year as it evolved into the shorter, more familiar chord sequence and clear melody by the time of the first shows in April of 1975.
There’s a small amount of mic noise as the taper gets settled, but it is brief and doesn’t affect the enjoyment of this developing epic whatsoever. There’s also a really strange bit about 1:42 in that sounds like some acoustic guitars being strummed randomly and “Pictish” ranting - but is in fact, an excerpt from Syd Barrett’s “Dark Globe!”
The introduction continues at length until the vocals finally enter at the 8:27 mark, and things start sounding more familiar. Although the song was still relatively new, it is probably the most developed of the newer songs, and despite being played as a complete suite (instead of in halves as it would be from 1975 onward), is the closest to it’s final form of the new material. After 1974, the band would never play “Shine On” as a complete piece again, so that contributes to the value of tapes such as this.
Shortly after these concerts some rather harsh criticisms surfaced in the press accusing Floyd of making music “of such low quality that it cast rather anvil-like aspersions on (a) their motivations (b) their overall musicianship (c) the feeling engendered by them in their audiences” – who, contrary to the critics showered the band with “thunderous standing ovations.”
Gilmour later admitted the band were a bit rusty having taken nearly four months off prior to the British winter tour and frustrated by unreliable equipment – a notion reinforced by the conspicuous absence of his guitar for much of the latter half of “Shine On” during this performance. Again, the audience didn’t seem to mind and I can’t find any real fault in this performance either.
Floyd surely recognized the benefits of developing new material in a live setting after the tremendous success of Dark Side Of The Moon, and any musician can understand the value of gauging both audience reaction and the overall flow of new songs onstage, but the band clearly jumped the gun on “Raving And Drooling” and “You Gotta Be Crazy” during the French tour earlier in 1974. These songs started to gel more throughout the winter tour, but are still somewhat embryonic and at times bearing only a passing semblance to the final versions heard in 1977 (especially “You Gotta Be Crazy”).
“Raving And Drooling I Fell On His Neck With A Scream” (as introduced by Waters) begins with a truly bizarre taped recording of Radio 2 DJ Jimmy Young raving and drooling nonsensically! Apart from that, the song itself has evolved to be fairly close to much later version everyone knows from Animals. The bridge section about 10 minutes into the song features some interesting volume swells/feedback unique to this era, and there’s no 23rd psalm recitation. The sound wavers a bit towards the end, but it is only a brief issue.
The audience are apparently a bit impatient as the band tunes up before “You Gotta Be Crazy” and Roger responds by saying “We’re going as fast as we can.” Another member of the audience shouts “1967″ to which Waters retorts “1967? No, you’re wrong this is 1974! And this is another new tune especially for YOU. And it’s called You Gotta Be Crazy”
This song is also more “together” than the French tour, but is still the least complete in relation to it’s finalized version from the Animals era. Vocally it comes across more melodically than on other nights, but the lyrics are delivered in a rapid-fire fashion making it difficult to discern what Gilmour is singing (fortunately the lyrics were printed in the tour programs for the audience to make sense of).
There are some interesting passages after the 2nd verse with Gilmour vocalizing in the style of Atom Heart Mother prior to the 3rd verse, and a rather lengthy instrumental section after it. The band does seem to meander a bit here, but it’s by no means unpleasant…really, it does create more tension leading back to the original tempo around 11:28. The final section does drag on a bit, but it’s fascinating to hear how much of the framework was there this early on. Ultimately, the most tedious aspects of these early perfomances are resolved by the time the Animals is released, and are not so much compositional issues as much as flawed interpretation (primarily tempo related).
The sound quality seems to improve slightly for “Dark Side Of The Moon” and it is a fairly standard post-album release performance. The band sounds more confident and enthusiastic compared to the first set, and the audience erupts with rapturous applause from start to finish – which makes sense being that this is the material they’re familiar with.
As per usual Gilmour delivers fantastic solos in “Money” and “Time,” while “On The Run” has something of a Bladerunner vibe this evening. It should also be noted that backing vocals of The Blackberries sound absolutely fantastic throughout the suite – especially on “The Great Gig In The Sky.” The critics may have bashed the Wembley gigs, but the crowd responds with absolutely thunderous approval at the conclusion of “Eclipse.”
I was relieved to find that the encore “Echoes” is in fact included with this set despite not being listed on the packaging. Surely this is the most vigorous rendition I’ve ever heard, and makes me wonder if the tape runs slightly fast, but it doesn’t sound obviously flawed by any means. In fact, it’s a brilliant, energetic conclusion to a very enjoyable recording.
Rover Records have delivered another fantastic release, further establishing a reputation for releasing very high-quality silver titles. Housed in a gorgeous tri-fold digipak, How Time Flies is certainly the definitive version of the November 15th show, and is highly recommended!
Now, SOMEONE has got to have a recording of the November 14th concert SOMEWHERE….!If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Pink Floyd - How Time Flies (Rover Records 3/4),