Carnegie Hall, New York City, NY, USA – May 2, 1972
(72:19) One Of These Days, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes, A Saucerful Of Secrets
In spring time 1972 Pink Floyd played a 17 date concert tour beginning April 14 in Tampa and ending May 4 in Boston. During the tour the band played two concerts at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall on May 1 and 2, this new release from the Sigma label documents the second set of the second show. The recording was made by Ken Lee who used a Sony TC126 tape recorder, Sony Model f9 microphones, and Ampex 361 C-90 tape. He was in Box 33, an area that is like the center of the first balcony. For years the circulating version of Ken’s recording was in mono and suffered from drop outs due to a flawed transfer. While the master tape does not circulate, this new release features a transfer of a known 1st generation safety copy and is the best in known circulation, it has none of the issues found on other versions and is in stereo. The sound is excellent, clear and detailed, the instrument balance is near perfect, Mason’s drums are just a tad lower in the mix and you can hear very slight traces of top end distortion at times but is really barely noticeable. This is a raucous New York crowd, they do a lot of hollering between songs yet there is no interference near the taper. Being Carnegie Hall you can expect the acoustics to be perfect and the ambience of this recording is just incredible, you feel as though you are in the midst of the hall and the atmosphere truly has been perfectly captured.
The reason that the first set comprised of the Dark Side suite was not recorded is not known, perhaps he arrived between the sets, some of the confusion comes during the beginning of the recording as the taper talks into the microphone, “Its Pink Floyd at Carnegie Hall….May second 1972” as a mic check, perhaps this is where some of the confusion came from. While the band tunes up in the background, you can here the wind tape effects quietly in the background but as soon as Waters starts the thundering bass of One Of These Days a loud cheer comes from the audience. The middle section is really nice, the interaction between Gilmour and Wright is excellent, in fact the clarity and mix of Wrights keyboards is the highlight of this tape, it is the clarity that you can hear sounds you do not normally pick up in most recordings, even Mason’s vocal line is clearly heard. The tune up is a short two minutes during which time the audience just hollers out and at one another until the tranquil sounds of Roger’s bass and Richard’s ethereal keyboards sooths them into silence. The flash pots going off as Roger screams bloody ‘ell distorts the recorder, much to the chagrin of the audience who have a hard time containing themselves during the latter quiet ending of the song.
There is a tape cut at the tail end of Echoes at the 20:33 mark, very little music is missing and the edit is extremely smooth and barely noticeable. Echoes is a simply beautiful version, the middle wind and seabird section is incredible, the clarity of Richard’s soundscapes coupled with Gilmour’s guitar swirling around in the Azimuth Coordinator is simple perfection and at times sounds like an Echo, amazing and one of the best versions I’ve have heard. The encore is a a superb 14:44 minute version of A Saucerful Of Secrets, the Syncopated Pandemonium and Storm Signals section are utterly brilliant and wonderfully captured in this recording, so much that I could easily have applauded with the audience as the storm subsides and the gentle strains of Celestial Voices starts. Wright has a brief issue about 12 minutes in and while it is quickly remedied, it seems to throw them off for a minute but when they get into the scat vocal section the band is in total sync making for a typically dramatic ending that brings the hall down.
The packaging is what we have come to expect from Sigma, a series of live and posed shots adorn the art work and there is a small shot of the handbill for the two concerts as well as the numbered sticker, oh and of course the CD has a picture on it, something that is now a standard for most releases. Bottom line, this is an excellent release that is highly recommended.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)