The Man In Paris (Sigma 89)
Theatre des Champs-Elysées, ParisFrance January 23, 1970
Disc 1 (59:42) The Man; Daybreak pt. 1 (aka Grantchester Meadows), Work, Tea Time, Afternoon (aka Biding My Time), Doing It (aka The Grand Viziers Garden Party Entertainment), Sleep (aka Quicksilver), Nightmare (Cymbaline), A Saucerful Of Secrets
Disc 2 (70:14) Soundcheck, Astronomy Domine, Green Is The Color, Careful With That Axe Eugene, The Violent Sequence, Main Theme From “More”, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, The Amazing Pudding (aka Atom Heart Mother)
Disc 3 (22:54) Europe 1 Radio 1995 Re Broadcast; Announcer, The Violent Sequence, The Amazing Pudding
Back in late February 2013 a new tape source for a well know concert by The Pink Floyd surfaced, and thankfully was being shared on a well know torrent site. The tape was unearthed and transferred and I think the original liner notes need to be shared; I am a sucker for this kind of information so take a read;
This recording comes from a 40 years old master tape and has never been circulated before. It must have a few glitches from times to times, but it’s a miracle that it was not completely gone after all this time. In particular the song “Cymbaline” has some gaps, but luckily I’ve been able to play it completely after many attempts since the deck was often stopping the tape during that part. Sadly the very end of “The Amazing Pudding” is cut because of another concert that was over taped. Big thanks to Gérard for digging out his tapes collection, and coming home with some of them, and of course for taping this show at the time!
A soundboard recording also exists, as the show was recorded for French radio Europe 1’s Musicorama program. Many recordings based on various FM broadcasts are in circulation, however this is the first time a complete audience tape surfaces and gives us the complete and correct running order of all the songs. Pink Floyd also played the same venue the day after, 24 January, but no recording of this second performance is to be known. The taper did not attend the second show since he attended (and recorded) The Nice at L’Olympia, Paris, that night. Sadly the very beginning of The Nice recording was taped over the very end of “The Amazing Pudding”. Some parts between the songs may also be missing, since the recorder was stopped to save the tape. Because of a low recording level, the original recordings had a terrible amount of hiss. I reduced a big part of it, but there’s still a quite noticeable hiss on the final recording. The right channel has also a lower volume than the left channel. I did some adjustment, but I did not increased too much the right channel since it was increasing its hiss as well.
The original taper also recorded Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin, the latter tape instantly making the rounds and has already been pressed onto at least three silver titles by various companies. Needless to say I was very excited when I saw the new Floyd recording among a new batch of releases by Sigma, the first tape source for this concert was a low fi recording done from a radio broadcast. The tape was sadly incomplete and featured bits of both sets, now we have pretty much the complete show. The audience recording featured here is a very good audience recording; the volume does fluctuate from time to time but is well balanced and clear. There is a small amount of hiss present, something that is not uncommon with tapes of this age and Sigma has increased the volume a little and slowed the tape speed down slightly resulting in slightly longer disc time versus the original torrent by just over a minute. It also sounds like they gave some slight masters to help even the recording out making for an extremely enjoyable listening experience.
The first half of the concert is a performance of “The Man” concept piece, assembled in 1969 it takes some well know songs and with the addition of some instrumental works forms a typical “day”. It begins with “Daybreak” aka “Grantchester Meadows”, the wonderful Waters penned track from Ummagumma performed as an acoustic piece by Waters and Gilmour with some keyboard contributions from Rick Wright towards its conclusion. At the beginning of the song there are quite a few microphone bumps as the taper positions his equipment. The song has a very gentle nature and is in start contrast to “Work”, a bombastic instrumental of percussive instrumentation that was also a visual piece as well, you can clearly hear the audience reacting to the various members of the band and crew would act as if performing various acts like cutting and hammering wood. It is well received and gets a nice ovation from the audience at its conclusion. The Floyd utilize multi media effects for “Tea Time”, a part of their show where the band would take tea onstage, much as one would commonly do in proper British life. “Afternoon” is “Biding My Time”, the most uncharacteristic song in the set has a most enjoyable trombone solo from Rick Wright, the song was at the time unreeled and would finally appear on the Relics record. It is a mundane song that really heats up with a nice Dave Gilmour solo towards the end. What’s a day without getting a little action? “Doing It” is another percussive piece with some excellent contributions from Dave and Rick as well as pre recorded voices and is a variation of Mason’s “Grand Viziers” music again from the Ummagumma record.
After a good lay a man needs a nap, “Sleeping” aka “Quicksilver” from the More record, is a most ethereal piece of music prominently featuring the incredible work of Rick Wright. The song is an early piece that would later be used in “Echoes” during the seabirds section, it is a wondrous soundscape and is nicely captured in this recording. Interestingly is that the latter portion of the song features the footsteps portion of “Cymbaline” and ultimately segues into the song, much to the delight of the audience. The More soundtrack was very successful at the time and the song was a concert staple during the early 70’s, for “The Man” it serves its purpose as “Nightmare”, nicely fitting with the songs lyrics and music bombast, beginning very softly and hitting with a loud frightening chorus. There is a small section of tape warble about 3:22 but is short and not harsh sounding. The song is 10 minutes in length and since it does not contain the footsteps section the band has no trouble fleshing out the song with instrumental improvisation, the tie that binds the early Floyd sound together.” Cymbaline” fades nicely out amid the breathing sounds as if the listening was still sleeping and its climax sounds like an alarm clock, the cumulative ending of “The Man”.
As the band prepares for the final number of the first half the sound of a bird is heard chirping in the hall, one of Wrights many pre recorded effects. “A Saucerful Of Secrets” comes lumbering out of space and sounds very mysterious in this recording, Rogers bass is deep and ominous. The song is one of the bands masterpieces, “Syncopated Pandemonium” is captured very effectively in this recording, picking up all the wondrous detail and intensity of the sounds of the aptly title piece of music. Of course the mournful and morose sounding “Celestial Voices” finishes the piece in a moving and dramatic fashion, my favorite part of the song its progressive intensity builds to a wonderful climax. Sadly there is a small cut at 12:15 but thankfully only seconds are missing and picks up during Dave’s scat style vocals.
The second disc contains the second set of the show and the band presenting a more traditional set of songs, traditional for late 1969 and early 1970 is astounding. The band had two excellent records released in the form of Ummagumma and More not to mention the soundtrack to the film Zabriskie Point, the band were finally finding their own post Syd voice so to speak. “Astronomy Domine” kicks things off with a bang, the Gilmour era versions are almost heavy metal in nature, very strong and aggressive in a spaced rock way. There are some microphone hits at the very beginning, I am sure the taper had his equipment hidden and would get it into position as the lights go down. Space Rock was a term used to describe early 70’s Floyd and certainly this song would be its war cry, together with “Interstellar Overdrive” the only Piper songs to make the transition. The band remain faithful to Syd, his presence is felt during the vocals, small noises they make are total Barrett, the song gets a fine ovation at its conclusion as Roger thanks the crowd.
The taper hits the pause button in an effort to save tape and “Green is the Colour” picks up from the first gentle chords of the song. Soft and melancholy it is linked with one of the most violent pieces of music in the bands repertoire, the transition into “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” is quiet and surreal, there are some conversation picked up but is short and does not ruin the subtle nature of the music. “Eugene” became an incredible song that developed from its earliest version into a haunting epic in nature, its orgasmic scream is bone chilling and gets the hair on the scruff of my neck standing on end. Dave plays some nice guitar during the aftermath, its does have a couple spots of tape fluctuation but do not affect the overall listening experience. The song fades as gently as it begins, amid some atmospheric scat vocals from Dave, flowing into “The Violent Sequence” as it was know then. Originally recorded during the Zabriskie Point sessions, the Richard Wright piano composition is wonderfully melodic and is intact as it would later be used for “Us And Them” some two years later. For a long period in time all that was available was the poor sound from the BirminghamFeb 11, 1970 concert, then the original radio broadcast circulated, again with below average sound. This compete audience source gives us a wonderful complete rendition to enjoy, one that despite being unreleased gets a nice ovation at its conclusion.
The “Main Theme from More” is a wonderful instrumental, featuring a steady beat highlighted by excellent Rick Wright keyboards and slide guitar from Dave G. It gives one the feel of gently floating on a stream or that nature, it does tend to meander along and is not effective as other songs in the set, and thankfully we have a couple excellent versions to enjoy of this short lived concert piece. A song that would remain in the bands live repertoire is “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”, the early Waters epic has, like “Eugene”, expanded and elaborated over the years and is a certain crowd, and listener, favorite. It begins very softly, while written by Roger the live versions are certainly a complete band piece, the Arabic sounding swirling keyboards of Rick Wright is an essential piece to the song, at its peak the band are in complete synchronicity, Masons drums is superb and Gilmour’s guitar is franticly spiraling towards the heart of the sun itself. The aftermath features Wrights keyboards cascading over the audience heads in a gentle fashion, the audience is simply transfixed upon the bands output, as usual a superb rendition.
While the bands next major piece of music would not receive its “official” premiere until June 1970 at the Bath Festival, the band had begun playing the work that would become “Atom Heart Mother” at the beginning of January of that year. This version is sadly incomplete (see notes above) but still clocks in at just over 24 minutes. Roger speaks before the song but after repeated listening I cannot make out what he says. The song begins with the sound of seabirds and then Mason has his drum lead into the theme inspired by the Magnificent Seven. The band settles into a slow section highlighted by Dave’s scat style singing, harmonies with no words. It is the interaction between Dave and Rick that propels this part of the songs, the section is long and tedious as they are still in the early phases of the composition, the intensity builds ever so slowly before Dave and Rick are harmonizing on the vocals and the full band kicks in. Eventually they find the way into the funky section of the song, Rick takes the lead and its results are interesting as he hammers on the piano before Dave breaks in with some leads. Ultimately the band opt to go back into the main theme again, the funky section just never really gets off the ground, the main them return is just a snippet and transitions into a Nick Mason drum solo. At four minutes in length is interesting, I love Nick Masons drumming but never really considered him a “soloist” kind of player. The song again returns to the main theme before it abruptly ends, the recording cuts off the very last bit of music, maybe just 20 seconds or so. An incredible concert and a wonderful discovery for fans of the early 70’s Floyd.
The third disc is comprised of the radio broadcast, well a re broadcast snippet of the show, the quality is excellent stereo, much better than the earlier version but much less incomplete. Makes you think that in some radio vault the possibility of this complete concert sits on a shelf. “The Violent Sequence” is at five minutes and is wonderful to listen to in this stellar sound quality, thankfully this important source is available, it deserves repeated listenings. “The Amazing Pudding” clocks in at 16:45, the seabirds come through nicely and like the previous song deserves multiple listenings, the quality is just so good. The tape has been edited to remove the drum solo but we do get to hear the full ending of the piece and while the disc is short, clocking in at just under 23 minutes the music found on the disc is an excellent but frustratingly short fragment.
This set comes packaged in a fat boy jewel case, adorned with pictures from the actual event, even one showing Rick and his trombone. The cds themselves are a take on the old Harvest LP labels, I also love the artwork lay out and graphics, the old school LP style works perfectly. My copy actually came with the sticker, a nice addition to the set. I do believe that Sigma could have made this more of a definitive release by making it a 4 disc release and included the complete radio broadcast tape. While it is significantly lower quality than the new source it is certainly worth having and would have made this a complete document of this very important show. The early 1970 shows have the band experimenting with the set lists and playing many songs they would never play again. If the folks at Sigma are reading this, we need a release the January 18, 1970 Croydon show, it needs to have its place among Floyd silver releases, as did the Birmingham Feb 11, 1970 that has now seen two recent silver releases. This is a superb new title from Sigma, one that must be heard and is not only highly recommended, but in this reviewers opinion, essential.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)