Cincinnati 1973 1st Gen (Sigma 245)
Armory Fieldhouse, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA – March 8, 1973
Disc 1 (49:06) Echoes, Obscured By Clouds, When You’re In, Childhood’s End, Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Disc 2 (43:37) Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like
The all too familiar trend of bootleg labels releasing and re-releasing a core group of recordings of a particular band gets tiresome so when they release something new it’s a cause for excitement. Cincinnati 1973 1st Gen is one such release that is a cause for excitement. First off this is the first appearance of this concert on silver disc and the recording comes from a low generation copy. While the recording from Cincinnati has circulated for years, the higher generation copies were plagued with a thick layer of hiss, making for a difficult listen, and thus were kept away from bootleggers. Thankfully the Yeeshkul community has unearthed this recording and put it out for all to enjoy, thankfully Sigma took notice.
The recording used for this new release is a good to very good quality mono recording. By the sound of the recording, the taper was fairly close to the stage as the sound is fairly clear and detailed. All instruments and vocals are clearly heard in the mix and the balance is near perfect. There is a bit of audience comments near the taper mostly between songs that, for me, provides a bit of ambiance. The two main issues are hiss, even being a 1st gen tape, the hiss is prominent in the sound, but your ears do adjust to it and I find it does not hamper my enjoyment of the performance. Second is the recording is incomplete, there is a cut in Echoes, the taper paused between songs, and ran out of tape a little over 5 minutes into Any Colour You Like so the remainder of Dark Side and the encore of One Of These Days was not taped.
The recording begins with Echoes, the taper did not capture the pings so the sound begins with the keyboard and guitar noodles before the full band part. Rick sounds like he is adjusting his keyboards a bit and there is quiet conversations heard, certainly the dry ice fog flows over the stage which garners a nice round of applause as Roger and Nick enter and the band break into the piece. This being the fifth stop on the tour, the band sound very good and the audience is enthusiastic yet respectful. The sound is very nice, full of Roger’s bass providing a nice bottom end. There is an unfortunate cut at the 6:50 mark that eliminates 3 to 4 minutes of the song and resumes at the end of the jam prior to the seabirds section. I really like the audience level in this recording, the light chatting is not obtrusive and you hear some great comments that are reactions to what they are seeing and hearing, at the end of Echoes someone responds “Yeah…that was alright”, Pink Floyd playing Echoes in 1973? Damn straight!
The early concerts in 1973 featured a different sequence of the songs, Echoes gets the opening nod and is followed by Obscured By Clouds and When You’re In. Obscured By Clouds begins a bit tentative then evolves into a dynamic and thunderous piece. When You’re In has a bit of nice organ work from Richard while the band lays an almost funky groove underneath. The March 1973 tour of North America was also notable for the inclusion of the Obscured By Clouds deep track, Childhood’s End. Played at the first six dates and would then alternate with Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun. Like most Floyd fans I relish the live versions of this David Gilmour classic, this song and The Narrow Way are two of my favorites. The first set finishes with Careful With That Axe, Eugene, Roger’s scream is sublime and very dramatic as is the audience reaction, all perfectly captured in this recording.
The sound of the Dark Side set is a bit more distant, the taper began his recording just before the voice of “I’ve been mad for f***ing years” is played and features the pre Speak To Me build up, I was expecting a bit more reaction from the audience as they break into Breathe. There is a brief cut nine seconds into the song with very little lost. On The Run is a Richard Wright tour de force, at times it meanders but he seems to play some really interesting parts. Time features the backing singers during the chorus, the harmonizing between the musicians received an unfavorable newspaper review of the concert, “Other numbers, and especially Side Two, fail to be as creative. Pink Floyd’s vocals are, on this album, generally terrible. Much of the time the singers are off-key and sound as if they were battling terminal laryngitis.” Boy that is brutal but there are times where you hear Dave, Rick, and Roger being out of sync, certainly learning the new pacing of the performance.
Great Gig In The Sky also sounds a bit flat, Money is interesting, Dick Parry had not yet joined the band so Richard does a keyboard improv trying to emulate the saxophone, thankfully Dave pulls the song out of mediocrity with a great solo. Us And Them is really nice, Richard takes the lead and is wonderfully augmented by Dave’s swirling leads. The heavy part is powerful, the backing singers add a new dimension to the live versions and at times overloads the recorder. Any Colour You Like is very strong, the band plays a great up tempo version but sadly cuts as you can hear it slowing down for the transition into Brain Damage. A really interesting performance of Pink Floyd just after the release of the iconic Dark Side Of The Moon record getting used to what would be the new normal, syncing up their performance with sound and timed visual effects and they would never be the same.
The packaging is typical for Sigma, the front and rear covers feature live shots of the band with Dark Side Of The Moon inspired graphics imposed over it, the interior is common posed and live shots. We get a numbered sticker and picture discs, all in all the common type of package all house in a slim lined jewel case. Nice to get something new in the collectors market and while a general collector may want to get a higher quality recording, this will certainly appeal to the Pink Floyd enthusiasts out there.