6 September 2008, Plomerus @ 10:10 pm
Nassau 1975 Day 1 (Sigma 22)
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Long Island, NY – June 16th, 1975
Disc 1: Raving And Drooling, You Gotta Be Crazy, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part 1-5), Have A Cigar, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part 6-9)
Disc 2: Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, Breathe (Reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse
Disc 3: Echoes
While I was initially not very excited about Sigma 21 Who Gotta Be Crazy (though ultimately pleased), I was absolutely ecstatic about Nassau 1975 Day 1, which was released simultaneously. And with good reason – Sigma 22 is the LONG overdue upgrade of Pink Floyd’s June 16th, 1975 performance at Nassau Coliseum in New York.
The seventh date of Floyd’s second tour of North America in 1975 was previously represented by such releases as Great Dane’s Random Precision (GDR 9418/AB), Flashback’s Pandora’s Box (FB 10.95.0264), and Highland’s Raving Crazy Diamond Moon (HL 252/253) – all released a decade ago or more.
All of these releases utilized the same source however the results were rather varied; Pandora’s Box had the best sound of the three but ran a couple clicks too fast making for a tough listen (unless you like the Chipmunks) plus “Us And Them” was taken from the June 18th Boston Gardens show (and is incomplete as well). Random Precision was more hissy, distorted, and featured a different excerpt from the Boston show for “Us And Them!” Highland’s Raving Crazy Diamond Moon was complete and superior to Random Precision, but not quite as clean as Pandora’s Box (which was later speed corrected on a fan produced release).
Another similarity between all the older releases of this show was the fact they were all 2 disc sets, meaning “Dark Side Of The Moon” was interrupted midway, which is always detrimental to the overall flow. Thankfully, Sigma have once again elected to spread out the material over 3 discs which is preferable in my opinion – it certainly makes for a more fulfilling listening experience leaving the sets intact.
For Nassau 1975 Day 1, Sigma have used the same source as the aforementioned releases, and as far as I’m aware, it’s the only recording known to exist of this performance. Sigma’s version runs at the correct speed and is certainly brighter than the Highland release I’m using for comparison. All of the instruments and vocals are audible, there is less distortion during the louder parts, and overall the mids dominate the frequency range here, so a pinch of EQ on your stereo to bring out the extreme lows and highs will really round this recording out nicely. There is some interesting audience chatter between songs, but apart from a couple comments during the softer passages, the crowd is respectful and not at all a distraction. One other tiny detail that I appreciate about this Sigma version is the fact they faded out the audience noise at the end of discs 1 and 2 as opposed to an abrupt cut. Classy and professional in my opinion, and I wish more labels did this.
The first night of back-to-back concerts at Nassau Coliseum finds Floyd tight and confident, coming after a good show at Roosevelt Stadium in New Jersey the night before (best represented on silver by Sigma 12 Raving Maniacs) – both Nassau performances and the Boston Gardens gig immediately following on the 18th of June are among Floyd’s best of all time and certainly deserve a place in any collection.
The setlist throughout the tour is consistent, with the driving “Raving And Drooling” opening the first half – much more effective in terms of building up energy compared to the 1974 British Winter Tour where “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” was the opener, as it’s slower, more melancholic and not really the best choice to kick off a rock concert!
Both “Raving And Drooling” and “You Gotta Be Crazy” have evolved significantly since the aforementioned winter tour, sounding nearly like their counterparts on the Animals album, apart from some different lyrics, missing sound effects/narrations and the lack of a 2nd guitar harmony (covered here by Richard Wright’s keyboards).
It’s a good night for Roger Waters vocally, and the band as a whole sound far more confident performing these newer songs than during previous attempts. The newer arrangement of “You’ve Gotta Be Crazy” is vastly superior, allowing Gilmour and Waters more room to be expressive vocally, resulting in an intensity that was lacking during the said British Winter Tour performances.
Roger Waters announces “This next one is another new song and it’s about a disappearing act and it’s called Shine On You Crazy Diamond” before the familiar keyboard intro. Performed in two halves bridged by “Have A Cigar,” “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is the most emotional song of the night, and Roger’s vocals contribute to this, simultaneously poignant and desperate. This is one of the better performances of Parts 1-5, and Dick Parry’s inspired sax solo is a highlight that concludes the first half of the piece.
“Have A Cigar” comes across with quite a bit of groove and muscle, tarnished only by the dual vocal approach of Gilmour and Waters implemented throughout the 1975 shows. Surely the idea behind this was for Gilmour to add support beneath Roger’s often poor delivery of this song (having been written beyond his range), but this is perhaps the one time Gilmour’s vocals just don’t work; this song really requires the “Waters bite” and Gilmour’s smooth approach comes across as monotonous or tired. Coupled with the fact that Waters often struggles through “Have A Cigar” any harmonies implied or attempted usually don’t pan out, this vocal approach ruins this great song for me on this tour. The irony is this was a good night for Roger, and it would’ve been a far more successful rendition if he sang it solo, but I suppose given Waters’ spotty track record for this number, they probably didn’t want to take any chances!
Gilmour more than redeems himself with a fantastic, funky guitar solo that comes off as fun and inspired, followed by the later-omitted 3rd chorus which subsequently segues into “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9).”
The band really start to cut loose about 6 minutes into “Parts 6-9″ beginning with an interesting chord progression from Richard Wright, and the song erupts into another grooving, funky jam. Often neglected in these reviews is drummer Nick Mason, who while not the most technical of percussionists, always delivers the goods and he really pulls off some inspired fills in this segment, which is a treat to hear.
The opening heartbeats of “Speak To Me” generate a massive reaction from the crowd, obviously more familiar with the chart-topping “Dark Side Of The Moon” album than any of the material performed during the first set.
The louder portions of the “Dark Side Of The Moon” suite do tend to distort a bit more than anything on Disc 1, but not nearly as much as on the older versions of this recording. There’s a slight change in the sonic character of the recording around “Money,” but everything remains audible – it has more to do with the field of aural perception than a lessening of quality. I’m not sure if this is the result of more compression or the taper’s position, but it’s a slight detail worth noting.
Overall, this is a fine performance of “Dark Side Of The Moon,” with all the usual highlights: a cinematic and spacey “On The Run,” the fabulous vocals of Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams especially on “The Great Gig In The Sky,” the extended solo sections of “Money” and “Any Colour You Like,” along with the big finale of “Eclipse.”
The big question about this recording was how Sigma dealt with the cut after “Money,” before “Us And Them” and I’m happy to report that like the rest of the “Dark Side Of The Moon” suite, this recording is seamlessly complete. Again, I have to applaud Sigma’s decision to make this a 3 disc set considering this performance of “Dark Side Of The Moon” is finally intact from start to finish, free of cuts/fades/disc changes.
The “Echoes” encore on disc 3 begins after a minute of soundchecking and is greeted with much approval from the Long Island audience. The performance is flawless, filled with dynamics and atmosphere – you can really hear the individual vocal ornamentations of Gilmour and Wright on this recording, which is definitely a plus. Dick Parry’s sax solo is tasteful and appropriate - the different timbre of the sax is a welcome colour on this recording (perhaps I’m warming to the idea of a sax in “Echoes” a bit).
Due to the midrange character of this recording, the “seagull section” isn’t as piercing as on some roios, making for a enjoyable transition to the epic triplet section. I absolutely love the double time delays on Gilmour’s guitar during the buildup (roughly 17:50 in), something rarely heard during a performance of “Echoes” – just another one of those minute details that makes these recordings a joy to listen to. Equally exciting is Wright’s keyboard work starting at the 19:46 mark – a little passage that wouldn’t sound at all out of place on any classic Tangerine Dream, Kitaro, or Klaus Schulze recording. A fabulous conclusion to the first of 3 nights in a row where Floyd were absolutely on fire.
While not quite the amazing sound quality of the best versions of the shows from the 17th and 18th, Nassau 1975 Day 1 is no less essential in terms of performance quality and this is the best this recording has ever sounded. Sigma have done another fantastic job in bringing a good recording back to life and with the right EQing at home, this can now be considered a very good recording.
I definitely recommend Sigma 22 to all Floyd collectors casual and obsessed due to Sigma’s subtle mastering, “Dark Side Of The Moon” being complete, and as I’ve intimated, this is a great performance overall. Unless a previously uncirculated additional source surfaces at some point that is of even better quality, Nassau 1975 Day 1 should be considered definitive.
Now given my theories about Sigma, this of course begs the question: should we expect a Nassau 1975 Day 2 release from this camp, since we’ve yet to see a silver pressing from them? It would be welcome if the small digital glitches found on the Godfather Records release Wishes, Echoes And Desires (G.R. 267/268) were eliminated for sure!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 - Nassau 1975 Day 1 (Sigma 22),