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Pink Floyd – Obscured By Father Time (Godfather Records GR340/341)

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Obscured By Father Time (Godfather Records GR340/341)

Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York, USA – March 18th, 1973

Disc 1: Obscured By Clouds, When You’re In, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes

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, One Of These Days

For a good portion of the last decade, virtually all sources of Pink Floyd’s March 18th, 1973 concert were attributed to The Palace Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut due to the fact that it was the venue corresponding to the date on their tour itinerary, however Floyd in actuality performed twice on the 18th; though scheduled for a late show at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on March 17th, the band didn’t actually take the stage until well after 1 a.m. the following morning in front of a massive Saturday night audience.

Early tape traders knew the recordings they had were from Radio City Music Hall, but when additional sources surfaced years later with the March 18th date, determined to be of the same show, you can just imagine the confusion that swept through trader’s circles as people started insisting they were from Waterbury based upon the date alone.

Of course, it’s natural to become excited, ambitious, and overly-enthused at the notion a previously unreleased tape has come to light – unfortunately, sometimes this results in blindness towards logic; let’s just contemplate a few facts here: there are at least 5 known sources from the March 18th, 1973 Floyd concert – now, consider in 2008, the population of Waterbury is roughly 108,000, while New York City’s five boroughs alone boast a number close to 8,275,000 people. Next, rewind almost 26 years and consider the likelihood that there were 5+ tapers in the audience of a small Connecticut city – 20 miles from both Hartford and New Haven on a Sunday night, yet none present at the famous Radio City Music Hall on a Saturday night? I’m afraid that concept is simply preposterous.

Add to all of this the fact that it is widely known amongst Deadheads that the Grateful Dead, who were in New York City performing several nights at Nassau Coliseum the same week, attended Floyd’s concert at Radio City Music Hall to witness the New York debut of Dark Side Of The Moon live in quadraphonic sound, and on one of the sources someone close to the taper is overheard saying “the Dead just left,” subsequently confirming this concert is in fact New York City and not Waterbury.

Finally, a quick surf around the ‘Net to the various Floyd reference sites reveals that even databases that once attributed this performance to Waterbury now indicate there is no known source for the Connecticut show, and that all existing sources are different perspectives of the Radio City Music Hall concert!

What this all boils down to is all of the fan-produced and ProCDR titles from the past – from Pigs On The Wing’s Dark Side Of Radio City to the Siréne Waterbury 3 Source Matrix bonus disc are in actuality from the New York City show, thus Godfather’s aptly titled Obscured By Father Time finally puts an end to all the mystery and confusion with the silver debut of Pink Floyd at Radio City Music Hall, March 18th, 1973!

As usual, Obscured By Father Time is housed in the trademark Godfather tri-fold cardboard sleeve, and I have to say that the label is making great strides graphically with every subsequent release as this one features even bolder use of color, insightful commentary, plus era-appropriate photos. In terms of packaging, there are few other labels coming even remotely close to Godfather, and with more “exclusive” releases/debuts each month, they’re starting to set a standard by which all others will soon be judged.

This would all be for naught if the audio content were shite, however this is seldom the case and more often than not quite the opposite, considering the majority of Godfather releases are sourced from soundboards or low generation copies. The only exceptions appear to be when they have the opportunity to release something extremely rare/valuable to collectors in the form of a silver debut, such as the case in point here.

The audio content can be characterized as clear, favoring the mids, and having a very lively quality. The drums, while audible, tend to be a bit distant compared to the guitars, keyboards, and vocals which are very forward in the mix. Roger Waters’ bass cuts through but again has more of a upper-midrange quality here, so dialing in a bit of extreme lows along with a touch of highs should yield the ideal balance for most listeners. The only negative sonically is the fact that there is a bit of upper end distortion, particularly during the loudest passages, throughout – however, if played at a loud volume through large speakers,  Obscured By Father Time would register few complaints (and even with headphones this minor issue fades into the background as you acclimate to the recording). This is primarily due to the fantastic performance of the band which finds them well-rehearsed and inspired, eleven dates into their first North American tour of 1973.

The droning opening of “Obscured By Clouds” sets the tone for the first set of the evening, which is the more spaced-out of the two due largely to the dominance of Richard Wright’s keyboards, in this case the Mini Moog (model D). Though little more than an intro piece, it is nonetheless effective as a perfect segue into the uncharacteristic bombast of “When You’re In” – certainly one of the heavier and harder rocking songs in the Floyd discography. Floyd would only perform songs from the Obscured By Clouds soundtrack from the end of 1972 through 1973, so documents such as this are extremely valuable and welcome.

An audience member is overheard commenting “It felt like I just took a little trip” after “When You’re In,” and this sums up the first set perfectly; “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” begins with another unique drone that is much deeper and darker than “Obscured By Clouds,” featuring ominous, slowly drifting chords courtesy of Richard Wright before Gilmour enters with the main motif.  It is clear at this point that we’re leaving the terrestrial realm for the remainder of the first half with three lengthy, spacey epics in a row.

One of the highlights of this concert is “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” which is bristling with tense energy from the outset, and replete with a large quantity of Waters’ maniacal vocalizations. The quadraphonics surely had the audience looking over their shoulders and shivering at the sounds of madness captured here! A brief fade follows the last strains of the piece, but no music is lost and the intro of “Echoes” is likewise intact.

It’s difficult to discern whether or not Richard Wright was intentionally developing the intro “pings” a bit or if it’s the simply the results of tweaking the Binson Echorec, but either way this anomaly provides a good identifier for this concert and sounds fantastic. The audience recognize the song instantly and roar with approval from the very first hint. What follows is a fabulous rendition of what many consider to be Floyd’s crowning achievement, and this is one of the last tours before Dick Parry’s saxophone solo was incorporated much to the chagrin of some longtime fans (including myself, though sometimes I don’t mind it). There is a brief “skip” at the 20:05 mark, but literally only a second or two is missing and there is no drop out.

Disc 2 features the “Dark Side Of The Moon” suite in its entirety, and this would be the first post-LP release performance of the massive work in front of a New York audience, who would’ve been largely unfamiliar with it due to the fact that the album had only been released 8 days prior in the USA and differed greatly from the primordial version performed at Carnegie Hall the previous May.

As per usual, the sound seems to improve slightly for the majority of “Dark Side Of The Moon” but there are a couple small issues to address here beginning with another “skip” at the 3:51 mark in “The Great Gig In The Sky” (again, no drop-out, just a couple seconds or less missing). More significant than that is the rather harsh editing in of another source at the 1:10 mark in “Brain Damage”  that carries us through to the end of the song where another edit brings us back to the previous source for “Eclipse” – this is a bit jarring but at least it’s musically complete.

Needless to say, the band perform flawlessly and there are some very cool details that make this version special including Richard Wright’s tweaking of the cutoff filter towards the end of “On The Run” to a succession of rather frenzied bends from Gilmour about 6:45 into “Any Colour You Like.” Overall, the suite sometimes feels a bit “pushed” as if the tape is running a touch fast, but it lends a powerful driving feel to “Money” and prevents any lulls otherwise.

There’s one final fade out and back in before the encore “One Of These Days,” but as with the rest of this collection, most of the tune-up is there and no actual musical content is lost. There is a brief instance of tape deterioration at the 1:14 mark, but it passes swiftly. As with the majority of this concert, it is the minute details that make it special, in this case Wright’s Moog-based experiments at the conclusion of the song set it apart from other renditions. Unfortunately, towards the end of the disc, the upper end distortion grows increasingly audible, however this doesn’t soil this release much due to the quality of the performance.

Thus, while Godfather’s release is a combination of sources, the editing is handled professionally with the sole exception of the “shocking” sonic twist in “Brain Damage,” but it’s likely this is the best they could do with the copy they procured (several fan-produced titles of this performance opted for the matrix method, and I imagine Godfather received a copy of one of these, then remastered it…but without ALL of the original source tapes, it would be difficult to smooth out a previous patching job that was somewhat shoddy).

Nevertheless, Obscured By Father Time is an extremely important and welcome release from Godfather, as this show in particular did indeed contribute directly to the changing fortunes of the band (as mentioned in the liner notes), with so many important people in the audience(and a horde of tapers as well); though Floyd would return to North America for a 2nd leg in June of 1973, the next tour proper (in 1975) would find them performing in venues double or triple this size – not only the result of the unexpected success of “Money” on the radio, but also years of legendary live spectacles such as this.

Obscured By Father Time marks the third silver Floyd debut in a row from Godfather Records, and I say “keep ‘em coming!” Yes, it’s a bit more raw once again (compared to some of the Springsteen, Zeppelin, or U2 releases from the label), but this release in particular is something of a coup in that after all the assumptions, conjecture, and speculation  related to the March 18th, 1973 recordings, Godfather have delivered a resounding statement that eliminates all the past confusion related to these tapes – considering the historical relevance of this concert, it’s about damn time someone pressed it on silver!

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Pink Floyd - Obscured By Father Time (Godfather Records GR340/341), 3.1 out of 5 based on 7 ratings

11 Comments

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  1. schriste says
    April 6, 2012, 11:30 am

    The upper end distortion mentioned in the great review is noticeable and unfortunate. I had this show on the professionally and beautifully packaged cdr by the same people who were house of elrond and it was maybe labeled pigs on the wing or swing, anyway, the packaging was as good if not better than this release and the upper end distortion wasn’t present. However, this title ran way to fast making the vocals sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks, this release runs at the correct speed and is a worthy replacement, it just seems to have been amped up too high when mastered. All will enjoy this release if you can still find it, it’s one of GF’s earliest.

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  2. DLee says
    January 11, 2009, 10:09 pm

    Anyone possibly know how the Siréne bonus 2-pro-CD-R “Waterbury 3 Source Matrix” compares? Is it possibly any better? Thanks to anyone who could let us know.

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  3. DLee says
    January 9, 2009, 7:56 pm

    My originals of it arrived on Wed. Jan. 7th, and after having listened to it at least a few times by now, I’m very pleased with everything, so I’d like to very much thank everyone involved in this excellent project – especially Godfatherecords.

    ——————————-

    The “questionable” patching in of a recording from another source in “Brain Damage” (and actually incl. the first several seconds of “Eclipse” too), doesn’t sound so poor to me. I’ve heard other, similar types of “patchwork” in a few other Floyd RoIO’s that have as much, or at least nearly as much, drastic or dramatic shifts in sound characteristics. In fact, just yesterday I got an out-of-print live CD of another rock artist or performer that has approx. 3 major sudden changes in audio characteristics in one track that are even more noticeable – even being on an officially-released CD, believe it or not! Even if the patched-in source is considerably inferior, I would still tend to prefer it rather than missing music (edits). Whoever did it probably did the best he or she could with just the non-professional equipment & audio-editing software that he had to work with.

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  4. eric99 says
    December 28, 2008, 9:42 pm

    It seems based on the responses and reviews throughout this site that when the real fans of the bands and collectors who want these silvers for the sake of preservation will always appreciate having a new, uncirculated release. How and even why some of the casuals who manage to buy these releases and then complain about them is really mind boggling. Still waiting on mine though!

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  5. gsparaco says
    December 28, 2008, 3:39 pm

    This recording is excellent in capturing the excitement and gravitas of the event. Pink Floyd have always been huge in the New York area and this show really solidified their legend along with the release of Dark Side Of The Moon that very week.

    The sound quality is very good. It has its rough spots yet, for a bootleg, is excellent at capturing the intensity in Radio City Music Hall, offering a vivid aural snapshot of an historically important event.

    Every label has a right to set their own boundaries for what is worthy of release, but I think it is a mistake if less than perfect recordings fail to appear. Collecting these releases are important on many levels and sound quality, while desirable, should be not be top priority.

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  6. Plomerus says
    December 26, 2008, 6:45 pm

    Additionally, I typically point out small details in my reviews so that people are aware of their existence, not to diminish the value of a release. I think it’s important to consider Godfather is taking a chance releasing some items that are a bit more raw compared to the majority of their output, to please the die-hard collectors who want previously unreleased material, regardless of whether or not its “five star” quality or not – and even in the worst case scenario, keep in mind that a release with lesser sound quality on Godfather is still likely to be on par with plenty of Highlands, STTP’s, TSP’s, and even a few Sirene items. I’m bringing this up because it would be a shame for Godfather to abandon ongoing efforts to locate previously unreleased items on account of us being TOO nitpicky. It’s hard to satisfy everyone – sometimes sources are left alone to preserve integrity, others they are “ProTooled to death” – there are merits and drawbacks to both, but again, many details I point out in my reviews are extremely minute, and should not detract from the overall release typically. If something flat out sucks, I’ll certainly point that out – and GR340/341 is overall a very good release, at times bordering on excellent. Just further clarifying here because as a die-hard collector, I do want to see more unreleased items as well as definitive reissues in the future! Cheers!

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  7. Plomerus says
    December 26, 2008, 11:18 am

    Just for the sake of clarity – there are 2 minor skips (1 second or less), but the only edit that is abrupt occurs in “Brain Damage” as mentioned in the review above – this is likely how Godfather received their source, and thus little could be done to remedy this. Well, not without a vast amount of extra effort in a recording or mastering studio. The rest of the cuts are nicely faded (sounding professional), so Sigma would basically have to spend a while in ProTools/Cool Edit/etc. or create their own updated matrix (remember, there WAS the Sirene “Waterbury 3 Source Matrix” bonus disc already)! That being said, I wouldn’t put it past them either – after all, I’m quite sure the intention is to offer a complete set of Floyd live shows ultimately.

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  8. lug_nutz6 says
    December 26, 2008, 7:54 am

    Thank you for the review…I’ve been waiting patiently for it, deciding if this was worth getting. Sound like this will be another keeper. I’m just wondering if Sigma will swoop in and give us a version with the abrupt cuts and edits smoothed out? But like we all know GodFather does a GREAT job with the graphics.

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  9. Plomerus says
    December 24, 2008, 11:22 pm

    You’re probably correct regarding the “Collector’s Edition” set. “Dark Side Of The Moon” was released on March 10th, 1973 in the US, and March 24th in the UK.

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  10. DLee says
    December 24, 2008, 9:34 pm

    Sounds pretty much as I figured it would be. Maybe I might have more to eventually say later after I’ve actually gotten to listen to it myself, but it shouldn’t be too different from the first 2 discs of the “Waterbury 18.3.73 Collector’s’ Edition” 4-CD-R that was produced by a well-known Floyd trader in Europe who runs an excellent Floyd RoIO site that sadly hasn’t been updated the last few months – sure hope nothing tragic has happened to him.

    Was the official studio recording of “Dark Side” actually released on the 10th of 3/73? I thought it was the 24th.

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  11. LedMan says
    December 24, 2008, 7:31 pm

    I was very impressed with this release and listening to it through a decent sound system I found the sound quality above average and quite exciting. I don’t have too many silvers with rarities from “Obscured”and this is a welcome addition to my Floyd collection.

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