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Pink Floyd – Colmar 1974 (SpeakEzy SPE-019)

Colmar 1974 (SpeakEzy SPE-019)

Parc des Expositions, Colmar, France – June 22, 1974

Disc 1 (62:26) Introduction, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Raving And Drooling, Echoes

Disc 2 (55:17) Speak To Me, Breathe, One The Run, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse

The success of Dark Side Of The Moon awarded Pink Floyd something they had not had for some time, the luxury of time. The band had been working non stop since 1968, releasing seven records coupled with a strong touring schedule gave little time for relaxation. With no solid plans following the last concert dates in November 1973, the band began to work on the Household Project, the premise being the ability to make music using common household items as musical instruments. David Gilmour would spend time working with singer songwriter Kate Bush during this time, and would produce Unicorn’s Blue Pine Trees record as well. Nick Mason would work with Robert Wyatt of Soft Machine fame, making a television appearance with him as well, miming a version of The Monkees’ I’m A Believer. Old habits die hard and the band found themselves working on some proper music much the way they had done Atom Heart Mother and Echoes, by putting pieces of music together with the result being two new songs, one long form suite that would eventually be bookend to their next vinyl opus.

By early 1974 the band had two new pieces fleshed out and in true Floydian fashion, they would schedule a series of dates to test the material in front of a live audience, a short five date tour of France in the summer of 1974 would allow the band to do so far from the British music papers. Scheduling the tour was somewhat of a hassle as the band’s massive sound system and brand new 40 foot high round screen that would serve as movie backdrop required tall ceilings and a huge amount of electricity. There are only two audio documents of this tour, Colmar and Paris, the former is the subject of this new release. For fans of this time frame in the Floyd’s history, these two concerts are essential pieces of the puzzle in hearing the gestation of one of the best, and most beloved, songs in the bands history.

Of the two recordings from this tour, Colmar is the best in terms of sound. The recording is credited to Paul V, who also shot 8mm film of the show that does not circulate. Paul made few copies of his master tape, thankfully one started making the rounds, a transfer he did in the 90’s shortly before his death. The master tape is believed to reside with his widow and no digital transfer has ever been made from it. At best the version used for this title would be a second generation tape. The recording easily falls into the good range, many consider it very good. It is a clear and detailed recording sounding like it was done fairly close to the stage. The audience around him is respectful and the atmosphere is well captured. The main issue with this recording is the tape speed issues with Dark Side, you can begin to hear it slowing down in Time. There has been a great deal of work done to this recording to best fix this issue, certainly the work of fans and not the bootleggers. There has been only one previous release, Shine On Paris (Highland HL559/560) is wrongly attributed to the Paris June 24 show but is indeed Colmar. This new title from SpeakEzy is a major upgrade to the Highland title. Louder, cleaner, and this new title does not have the extremely loud bass frequencies, certainly a much better version of the tape.

The recording begins with some brief tuning and then we are treated to the first known recording of what was then called Shine On. There are shouts of “assis…assis” or sit down, the piece begins quiet and somber with Rick Wright’s organ followed by David’s famous guitar phrase. The song originally was one long 20 minute piece with much of the song revolving around Gilmour and Wright’s improvisation, the drums and bass are just there to embellish the guitar and keyboards. The middle section features some fierce sparring between Gilmour and Wright, one could call it dueling seabirds, this is one of the most interesting and enjoyable playing on the whole song. After the final vocal portion, the latter part of the song is short and the band quietly fades the piece out.

Raving and Drooling is in its infancy, like Shine On, the skeletal structure is there yet it is not fleshed out. They seem to rely on the rhythmic nature of the song and is somewhat slow and pondering. About two thirds of the way through Gilmour gets into a really good solo and the pace quickens culminating into the slashing ending we all know and love. Gilmour and possibly Wright also do some interesting vocalization over the hammering sections that is really interesting as well, it provides an interesting variation to what we have come to know. The rest of the first set is made up of Echoes, typically great 74 version, thankfully the band had not yet employed the saxophone accompaniment.

The second half of the concert is the complete performance of Dark Side Of The Moon, it seems like the taper was not as relaxed. There are numerous small mic bumps, some sporadic drop outs and the speed issues. A great deal of work was done to adjust the tape to its proper pitch and the results are very good, making this portion of the tape listenable. The audience are polite, there is little response to the beginning of Speak To Me, it is only when the band break into Breathe that we hear applause. This is also the first tour to feature the large 40 foot screen with the visual movies that accompanied Dark Side, the need to stay in closer time seems to harness the bands natural improvisation skills. It is interesting to hear the audience reactions to the visuals, Time, Great Gig, Money, and Brain Damage all feature interesting gasps from the crowd. There is a huge ovation at Dark Side’s conclusion and chants for more and a bit of the band returning to the stage before the tape ends. The encore was reportedly Careful With That Axe, Eugene, sadly it was either not taped or does not circulate. This was the last performance of Careful until the May 9, 1977 performance.

The packaging is full color inserts that are packaged in a slim line jewel case. The cover is homage to the old Highland title. The inner tray has a picture of both event poster and ticket stub, the CD’s have pictures on them, pretty much what one would expect. The sound of this title is a major upgrade over the old Highland title, for the Floyd collector, this is an attractive title to own.  

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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One comment

  1. I got this a month ago and haven’t listened to it yet. It was hard to obtain at a decent price and now I’m kinda miffed to find out it’s Shine On Paris upgraded. Oh, well.

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