Celestial Voices (Rover Records RR CD002)
Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – August 9th, 1969
Paris Cinema, Lower Regent Street, London, England – May 12th, 1969
BBC Studios, 201 Piccadilly, London, England – June 25th, 1968
Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – August 9th, 1969: Interstellar Overdrive (part), Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Careful With That Axe Eugene, A Saucerful Of Secrets.
Paris Cinema, Lower Regent Street, London, England – May 12th, 1969: Daybreak (Grantchester Meadows), Nightmare (Cymbaline), The Beginning (Green Is The Colour) / Beset By Creatures Of The Deep (Careful With That Axe, Eugene), The Narrow Way (Narrow Way Part 3)
BBC Studios, 201 Piccadilly, London, England – June 25th, 1968: Top Gear introduction, The Murderotic Women or Careful With That Axe Eugene, The Massed Gadgets Of Hercules (A Saucerful Of Secrets), Let There Be More Light, Julia Dream, Top Gear conclusion
Celestial Voices gathers together three recordings made for radio broadcast in 1968 and 1969 in excellent sound quality. The first four songs come from a recently surfaced soundboard tape of a recording made of Pink Floyd at the Paradiso in Amsterdam on August 9, 1969. The band’s set was professionally recorded with the intention of broadcast on Hilversum 3 Radio.
When this tape first surfaced it was said there was a malfunction with the microphone for the vocals and the band were forced to play the songs as instrumentals. This isn’t exactly accurate because Waters does still sing in “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun,” “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” and in the latter part of “A Saucerful Of Secrets.” The vocals are present but barely audible. Neither the audience nor the band seems to notice this and it leads one to the conclusion that the band’s PA wasn’t malfunctioning but the radio station’s equipment was.
Since the tape was unusable for the radio, Pink Floyd returned to Amsterdam the following month and be recorded by Hilversum 3 again on September 17th at the Concertgebouw, the famous “The Man And The Journey” tape. The sound quality of the tape is very clear and detailed. The guitars are in the right channel, the keyboards in the left, and the rhythm section in the middle. Only the final four and a half minutes of “Interstellar Overdrive” are present on the tape, but the other four songs are complete.
The chief virtue of this recording is being able to pay attention to the intricate detail of the instrumental arrangements of the songs and it is obvious how important keyboardist Richard Wright was for the early Pink Floyd sound. There was talk about this time of him leaving the band and joining Syd Barrett in his solo work, but thankfully he stayed with the band. It is a shame his efforts were eclipsed in future efforts by both Gilmour and Waters.
The second part of this release is the BBC broadcast from May 12th, 1969. This seventeen and a half minute tape was broadcast on Night Ride on May 14th. Some sources claim this session was recorded on April 9th for Radio One Club. Whatever the case, it has been in common circulation dating back to the days of vinyl, appearing on such titles as side four of Live 1967-69 (RSR/International RSR 244) and its copy The Live Biography: Volume 1 – Point Me To The Sky (International Records RSR-244), Survivor (6622967-01-1/2) (“The Narrow Way” and “Green Is The Colour”), 67-69 (27444 A/B) with “Cymbaline,” both Pink Is The Colour (A1-RE/B1-RE) and Pink Is The Colour (PF III) have “The Narrow Way” and “Green Is The Colour,” and both The Great Lost Pink Floyd Album (PINK – ST001A/B) and Barrett’s Revenge (TKRWM 2820-A/D) have material from this performance.
On compact disc “Green Is The Colour” is included on Atom Heart Mother (Alegra CD 9013) released in 1995 with various other tracks from BBC sources and Atom Heart Mother (CD/STILL 003) with both “Green Is The Colour” and “The Narrow Way.” The four songs appear in their newly written “The Man / The Journey” suite which premiered the previous month on April 14 at the Royal Festival Hall in south London. This is an interesting broadcast since it comes at the beginning of their endeavor to present an artistic commentary upon life’s absurdity which has thematic links to every Pink Floyd release up to The Final Cut. These four songs have been contexutalized for the suite and would be released on Ummagumma in essentially the same form. The pairing of “Green Is The Colour” with “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” and “Grantchester Meadows” with “Cymbaline” would remain in the set list for the next year.
The final third of this disc covers the June 25 1968 BBC. Previous releases of this include The Embryo (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-020) has “Let There Be More Light,” “Murderotic Woman” and “Julia “Dream.” Loose Connection (Double DTD 007 ) has “Let There Be More Light” and “Murderotic Woman.” Tracks from this session can also be found on Phenomena (Manic Depression CD 013/14), Cymbaline (Alegra CD 9014), From Underground To Moon (Digital Phono Records Digit 3101), My Uncle Is Sick Because The Highway Is Green (Oil Well) has “Julia Dream,” Rainbows, Clouds And The Moon (Alien Records ALIEN 010) has “Let There Be More Light,” Re-Actor (Big Music BIG 097), Transcendental Medication (Turtle Records TR-223), Ultra Rare Trax Vol. 1 (The Genuine Pig TGP-CD-114), and Ultra Rare Trax Vol. 3 (The Genuine Pig TGP-CD-116).
The latest release is on the second disc of Tarantura’s The Transitional Period box set. Compared to Tarantura, Celestial Voices is much more clear and complete and clearly superior in sound quality. This contains four tracks. Two are from the new album, the new track “The Murderotic Woman” aka “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” and the B-side of the latest single “It Would Be So Nice,” a Roger Waters song “Julia Dream.”
The single was not played since the band hated it so much, but the B-side is pleasant and catchy tune. John Peel sounds very enthusiastic for their set and wishes they were back fromtheir first tour of North America. “Let There Be More Light” is a great song with a fantastic, organ driven riff at the beginning. Celestial Voices is packaged in a single jewel case with the well known publicity photo of the band standing in the park staring up into the sky, perhaps listening to the celestial voices emanating from the heavens.
This is indeed a phenomenal sounding release. However, there is a digital glitch at the beginning of Grantchester Meadows, which is not present on disc 2 of Sigma’s “The Pink Jungle” (both discs are otherwise identical). If you’re a perfectionist, go for the Sigma.
This was a pleasant surprise from a new label and compared to some of the earlier releases, a definite upgrade. I kept this one in the player for several days and sure I’ll be pulling it out again in the near future. Get it and PLAY LOUD!!!
Comment: The Rover’s 1-CD Celestial Voices is quite an outstanding gem. The sound quality is absolutely superb – it can’t possibly get any better. The artwork is pretty cool too. Whatever the reason(s) for the vocals being pretty much non-existent on the Amsterdam show, the fact that each song doesn’t have them makes them rare versions worth having in one’s personal collection. It’s quite unfortunate that “Interstellar Overdrive” isn’t complete and that only approx. 4:18 of it is present, as the segment that’s present is good enough to make us wish that we could have the rest of it, but of course, beggars can’t be choosers and therefore we’re quite fortunate to have any of it at all to begin with in the first place. The BBC sessions have already been previously released on numerous other Floyd recordings, but never before in such outstanding sound quality, which is a pleasing upgrade over the older versions. In fact, “Daybreak”/ “Grantchester Meadows” and “Nightmare”/”Cymbaline”, which I think I previously had only on the 2-CD The Complete Top Gear Sessions 1967/1969 (Great Dane Records GDR CD 9206), are so much better on Celestial Voices than they are on the old GDR release that instead of just being upgraded versions, it seemed as if they were completely new versions being heard for the very first time. Celestial Voices is highly recommended.
Addendum: Regarding the May 12th, 1969 tape: “Those ’sources’ are definitely incorrect. The paperwork corresponding with the BBC 7-1/2 i.p.s. master reels states the programme they were recorded for was Night Ride. Unfortunately there are no recordings of the Radio One Club show from April, but the performance from late 1968 has thankfully survived.”