12 August 2007, gsparaco @ 8:13 pm
Saratoga Master (Siréne-262)
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY – June 17th, 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 & Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse, One Of These Days
On Saratoga Master, Sirene once again visits Pink Floyd’s short tour of the U.S. in the summer of 1973. The first show on this short, two-week visit was at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey. Saratoga Springs was the second stop and like the first was held outdoors. As the title suggest, this comes from the master cassette which has been circulating. The taper was a fair distance from the stage and the musicians sound somewhat dull and the bass at times is much louder than the rest of the band. There is noticeable echo surrounding the music and the individual instruments sometimes get lost in the spectacle of the event. Despite this limitation, what it lacks in clarity it makes up for in atmosphere. He was in a good position to capture the dynamics of the quadraphonic sound system in the venue and preserves a fascinating document of the event.
Several imperfections on the tape are worth noting, including seven second section where the original magnetic tape flipped over, playing the music from the other side. This occurs from 1:59 to 2:06 during “When You’re In,” where the guitar solo from “Time can be heard in reverse. Later, from 3:28 to 3:35 during the guitar solo in “Time” a piece of “When You’re In” can be heard in reverse. There is a minor cut after “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” on the first disc. On the second disc there is a cut between “On The Run” and “Time,” at 4:04 in “Great Gig In The Sky,” and one before the encore “One Of These Days.”
Several fan-produced titles have been released with this tape including Toga Toke, Saratoga 17.6.73, On Stage, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, New York 17 .6.73, and The Bright Side Of The Earth (which is really the 1972 Hollywood Bowl tape). Saratoga Master is the first silver pressed edition offered to the collector and Sirene didn’t play around with the tape much. “Obscured By Clouds” lasts for five minutes before segueing directly with an almost ten minute workout in “When You’re In.” The latter sounds particularly hostile before Waters leads the band into the chunky rhythm in the middle, punctuated by Gilmour’s flighty guitar solos. “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” is fifteen minutes long and contains the first spoken words from the stage by the band.
The middle “voyage” section is very loud and reaches a point of unbearable intensity and fuzzy aural chaos that seems to envelope the audience. This is one of the more brilliant versions captured on tape. During “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” Waters spits out the words before his blood-curdling scream brings the song to is conclusion. The opening ping of “Echoes” has the audience on their feet. The band gives them a twenty-five minute version of the opus. The tape becomes distorted at the end with the increase in the volume of the bass. At the song’s conclusion Waters announces the band will take a twenty-minute break.
The second half of the show is dedicated to the complete Dark Side Of The Moon, which became a big hit soon after its release and what the audience were waiting for. They are whipped into a frenzy during “Speak To Me” before the band comes crashing in with “Breathe.” “On The Run” sounds potent in this bass heavy recording, crushing the crowd with its mechanized chaos. The saxophonist (the replacement for Dick Parry whose name nobody can remember) throws in interesting trills during the solo in “Money.” On good nights “Any Colour You Like” can reach ten minutes and reaches seven here. The only encore is a blistering version of “One Of These Days.” The song would be dropped from the live repertoire after this tour, never to return again during the Waters years.
The bass heavy audience recording emphasizes well the sonic booms during the middle section. The front cover for Saratoga Master contains a stage shot of the band and the back photo is a close up of the exploding gong. The spring tour is where they cemented their legend off the back of Dark Side, but this summer tour is where Pink Floyd became an arena rock behemoth which they would never relinquish and these tapes are a fascinating study in how they handled their new found fame. Tapes exist for many of these shows and silver releases for them will be most welcome. This release, like most everything released by Sirene, is limited to three hundred copies.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)