All Roads Lead To Knebworth (Eat A Peach EAT 47/48/49)
Knebworth Festival, Stevenage, Hertforshire, England July 5, 1975
Disc 1 (71:11) Introduction / Tune Up, Raving And Drooling (I Fell On His Neck With A Scream), Tune Up, You Gotta Be Crazy, Soundcheck / Tune Up, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5), Have A Cigar (w/ special guest Roy Harper), Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9
Disc 2 (57:18) Tune Up / Speak To Me, Breathe (In The Air), On The Run, Time, Breathe (Reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse
Disc 3 (65:50) Tune Up, Echoes. Bonus Tracks: “Wish You Were Here” Outtakes. Abbey Road Studios, London, 1975. Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Welcome To The Machine, Have A Cigar
Pink Floyd’s first appearance at the Knebworth Festival is well known amongst fans, what was supposed to be a massive homecoming for the band turned into one of their most famous disasters. Their road crew, tired and jet lagged from the recent American tour that literally ended just days prior had a monumental task of assembling the band’s massive gear, and to make matters worse the power supply was deemed “inadequate”. Typical with many a rock gathering, the fences were torn down and the original crowd of 40,000 swelled to over 100,000, yet perhaps the most serious issue was within the band themselves. Already somewhat unfocused in their newer music they had been honing over the past year, the recent American tour and more specifically the riots that surrounded their Los Angeles dates had given the band a cold view of their current state, one that would resonate on their next three records. Needless to say the band turned in an average performance, wrought with technical difficulties and the blood thirsty press used the opportunity to slam the band with sub par reviews, the band would get a measure of revenge for just a few months later the Wish You Were Here record would be released and go to the top of the charts.
The recordings that have surface from the concert are all culled from the audience, and early bootlegs did little for ones assessment of the gig, the early title Wish Roy Were In Knebworth (Highland HL-309/310/311) used a higher generation tape that made for a difficult listen. Some appreciation was finally able to be garnered with the release of Knebworth Park (Sigma 20) in 2008. With much improved sound and a close to complete version focusing on Recorder 1, it was more than listenable, in fact it was the title that really broke the ice for me as far as getting to know this performance. The label used the best source tapes they could find and the mastering was up to the Sigma labels usual high standards, Plomerus reviewed the title for this site, for anyone who has not done so, follow the link for a passionate and detailed review. Then in 2012, Sigma released Knebworth 1975 New Master (Sigma 074) featuring a newly discovered tape of the second half of the concert with excellent sound quality. For this new title from the Eat A Peach folks, we finally get the complete performance using an amalgamation of the three audience sources coupled with excellent packaging making for an incredible presentation of this material.
When compared to the Knebworth Park (Sigma 20) title, this new Eat A Peach title is a little lower in volume but the label did not use as much noise reduction making for a much warmer sound but this also lends itself to having just a slight more tape hiss. No worries, once the music starts it is not really noticeable. Eat A Peach also uses a fraction of Recorder 2 to patch the cut at the tail end of Have A Cigar 5:01 to the beginning :24 seconds of Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9), something that was a glaring omission of the Sigma title, we now get the complete first set. Marred with equipment problems, the band pushes on and after a couple listening’s of this performance, in my opinion it is unjustly criticized. While not a stellar performance it certainly is not horrible. The guitar and drums being low in the mix for Raving And Drooling lends to its disjointed sound, around 7:20 Roger lets off a Eugene-esque scream that is incredible. The guitar and the drums by now are better in the mix for You Gotta Be Crazy making for a better version of the song. The tune ups between songs are long and tedious, so hampered by Richard’s Hammond organ that Roger explains to the crowd the both David and he both tune to the organ, since it is out of tune it throws everything off. When they finally start Shine On it has a cold metallic sound yet somehow the coldness lends itself to the feeling of isolation that is portrayed in the music. Have A Cigar has a very hard edge to it, Roy Harper’s vocals do not sound anything like the version from Wish You Were Here, it is well know that Roy was pissed earlier in the day and this comes through in his vocal. The tape edit at the end is seamless and very smooth.
The second set fares much better, the band has been playing the Dark Side suite for three years at this point and they have a comfort level with playing it, the heavy breathing just prior to the “I’ve always been mad” is met with much applause. The source from Recorder 3 is excellent and similar to the Sigma 74 release, better balance and very clear with just a minute amount of hiss it is a joy to listen to. The gap during Any Colour You Like is patched with Recorder 1 from 6:29 to 7:09 and is seamless and well handled, yet is a bit jarring, you are lost in the performance with excellent sound and the source change is very noticeable. The band is augmented by backing singers and Dick Perry on sax that lend to the full production of the piece yet the band do sound tired, and one can wonder if they were tired of playing the piece by this time. Another last, the band plays Echoes for the final time with Roger and thanks to The Dark Side Of The Moon elevates the performance, the reviews were crap but the performance is more than passable as judged from the audience response at its conclusion.
The label gives us some very relevant bonus tracks for this release, the outtakes from Wish You Were Here that surfaced last year. Previous releases were The Extraction Tapes: From Abbey Road To Britannia Row (Extraction CD001), Wish You Were Here Outtakes (Sigma 109), and From Abbey Road To Britannia Row The Extraction Tapes (Archive Master Series). The sound quality is on par with at least the Extraction and Archive Master Series versions, I do not own the Sigma title so cannot compare. What I do know is that those versions sounds as if they were source from vinyl as you can hear some very light surface noise on them (not the digital flaws found on the Animals outtakes), the versions found here are extremely clean, so either someone spent time cleaning them up or they are sourced from a tape. Whatever the case they are excellent, and if you have not heard them they are one more reason to invest in this title.
As previously stated the packaging is superb, typical Eat A Peach mini LP style jacket with a cover shot using an aerial view of the event with bicycle parts interspersed throughout and live shots and crowd shots on the back. Each CD sleeve is unique, the first features a road with the bike parts with a rear showing the site maps and track listing. The second sleeve has a blue colored event program cover as well as a different aerial shot and track listings. The third sleeve has a live shot of Roger as well as a ticket stub from the concert, all three CD’s have pictures on them and all three are slightly different and there is an 8 page booklet included with a historical view from the Lazy Goalkeeper as well as many live and back stage shots of the group. This release has it all, sound that is as good as the best previous titles, very relevant bonus tracks giving value for money, and superior packaging and presentation make this an excellent title to own.