City Hall, Sheffield, England – December 22, 1970
Disc 1 (75:30) Introduction, Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast, Tune Up, The Embryo, Tune Up, Fat Old Sun, Careful With That Axe Eugene
Disc 2 (75:16) Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Powerbreak, A Saucerful Of Secrets (finale continued), Atom Heart Mother, Atom Heart Mother (Reprise)
It has been many years since the December 1970 Sheffield gig has been in circulation, collectors know of this tape since it contains the only know live version of Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast. When The Ultimate Breakfast (Devils Breath DB 001) came out in 2007 it was a vast upgrade over all previously circulating versions of the tape, the sound was so much improved over my much beloved Pink’s Psychedelic Last Night (Highland HL 176) that it would be called definitive. With this new release from Eat A Peach I am re thinking that statement.
First let’s go back and take a look at the history of the Sheffield recording, It is excellent and well balanced that features all instruments and vocals well balanced, the crowd noise is minimal and captures the ambiance of the concert very well. The source for many of the releases come from a guy named Pete who went to University in Sheffield in the early 80’s and through a notice board bought two TDK tapes, one C60 and one C120 taken from the seller’s first gen copies of the master cassettes. Since Pete was more of a Clapton and Stones fan, the tapes sat dormant for many years and after doing some online research and downloading found that what he had was much better than what was out there, so he started transferring them to digital format and circulating them to the collecting community.
This transfer is simply the best I have heard, when I received this title and began comparing it to The Ultimate Breakfast I could hear the noise reduction used in that title. At the time I reveled in its clarity yet after listening to this new title many times and comparing them I can hear the effects of noise reduction on the Devils Breath title, something I do not hear in the Eat A Peach title. I am very pleased with the sonic quality. First there is tape hiss, it is very minimal but is what can be expected on tapes of this age but what we get in turn is a broader range of frequencies giving a much warmer sound. It is a bit louder than the Devils Breath that makes the stage theater improvisation of Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast easier to hear and enjoy, I even sat down with Hodges and Priston’s excellent Embryo book as it has a transcript of the Nick Mason “conversations” from the performance.
The performance is excellent, there is a link above to Gerard’s review of The Ultimate Breakfast, complete with information on previous releases and his typically excellent assessment of the title. The band play a relaxed and intimate performance, in Roger’s words the last concert of the year. The rarity, Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast is quite interesting, the band was not done with the music mixed with theater concept they premiered a year earlier during their Man And The Journey performances. From the few accounts I have read the band had a huge cereal box display and a kitchen set up as props for the song, this was the fourth and final performance of the song and it seems like the band are enjoying themselves. The improv during The Embryo is great, Gilmour does some seabird cries while tapes of children playing are played that leads into a jazz interlude by Wright that sounds as if they are in a smoky basement club. This is hands down one of my favorite versions of Careful With That Axe, Eugene. The build-up is soft and slow with Roger’s soft spoken “conversations” just incredible, murderistic drama at its finest.
Roger’s bass and Rick Wright’s keys are slightly in the foreground making for an excellent listen, especially at the start of an epic A Saucerful Of Secrets, the band seems to almost noodle around and the audience applauds them for it! The soundscapes of this song seem to float along like ripples in a pool yet without intensity. This later part of the recording suffers most from tape speed issues, as the batteries began to drain it made for an uneven sound at times, this can be heard during Celestial Voices. The power outage is cool, while they wait for the power Rick plays some piano until the power is restored, the taper also cut some of the power outage out to save battery power. The Atom Heart Mother features full choir and brass ensemble, the speed issues are not near as bad as ASOS, a very nice performance of the song.
The packaging is what we have come to expect from Eat A Peach, mini LP sleeve with cover art featuring the band super imposed over a picture of the City Hall of Sheffield. The label seems to have settled with a format of having the Cd track titles on the corresponding sleeves that are adorned with era pictures. The insert has excellent liner notes written by The Lazy Goalkeeper and the CD’s have pictures on them as well. This is an excellent follow up to The Man and The Journey – Legendary London 1969 Performances and ties in perfectly with the Floyd’s “Rock Theater” concept.