Echoes In Montreux (Sigma 53)
Pavillion de Montreux, Montreux, Switzerland – September 18, 1971
Disc 1: (62:24) Echoes, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Cymbaline
Disc 2: (49:35) Atom Heart Mother, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Pink Floyd’s September 18, 1971 show in Switzerland has been the focus of many releases in the past due to the excellent quality recording that existed. Most of the older titles on CD were far from perfect and ran too slow, had cuts and other tape speed issues. Plays Montreux released on Highland corrected the overall speed but still suffered from tape warble during “A Saucerful of Secrets”. This was followed by Sigma’s own Labyrinths Of Coral Caves in 2008 in what is to be considered the definitive version of this source by many collectors.
Echoes In Montreux is Sigma’s second release featuring this show and comes from a new audience source. The sound quality is very good with a very clear atmosphere but a bit distant sounding. The vocals are a bit muffled in places but overall the instruments are evenly balanced. Compared to the older source, this is more distant and captures a bigger atmosphere while Labyrinths Of Coral Caves does a better job of picking up a little more detail, especially in the bass and drums.
The tape cuts in during Roger’s intro for “Echoes” offering a few extra seconds before the show. Floyd was coming off a month long break and the track sounds somewhat tentative even lethargic at times. But after the opening track the band seems to settle in and the performance becomes more enjoyable. Sigma used the older source in between songs to either fill gaps or offer a clearer perspective. “Set The Controls” has an instance of piercing feedback at 11:04 and a small cut at 12:10 with some mic handling noise. “Cymbaline” is well received from the start and is very clear during the “Footsteps” section.
“Atom Heart Mother” is definitely one of the highlights from this show and is accompanied by brass and choir lasting about 30 minutes. There is an extra 1:30 of the intro over the older source. Gilmour has some noteworthy playing in “Funky Dung” and the brass and choir add to the dramatic finish marred slightly by an out of tune horn. “A Saucerful Of Secrets” is also an excellent version and to me sounds better in the new recording despite a few coughs around the recorder. The older source has some bumps and speed issues in the “Celestial Voices” section where the new source is more stable. That being said, both Sigma titles sound decent and I honestly think Labyrinths would better suit the casual Floyd collector while the more serious collectors will want to pick up Echoes In Montreux for the extra time.
Pink Floyd’s show in Montreux is a nice collection of lengthy tracks and while Echoes In Montreux may not be an improvement over Labyrinths Of Coral Caves, it does have its good points and is a nice title to have. It is packaged in a double slimline jewel case in the typical Sigma fashion.