Pink Floyd – Crystal Echoes (Highland HL662/663)

Crystal Echoes (Highland HL662/663) 

Crystal Palace Garden, London – May 15th, 1971

Disc 1 (46:35):  Introduction, Atom Heart Mother, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Fat Old Sun

Disc 2 (49:37):  Return Of The Sun Of Nothing (Echoes), Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, The Embryo

The Crystal Palace Garden Party were a series of outdoor concerts organized by famous London promoter Harvey Goldsmith.  Pink Floyd headlined the very first such concert that is captured on this recording.  This show is chiefly remembered for the quadraphonic sound system that killed hundreds of fish, the band’s use of light and smoke, and a giant rubber octopus that appeared on the pond in front of the stage during the final number “A Saucerful Of Secrets.” 

The tape Highland used for Crystal Echoes, their first release of the new year, is the same tape source that has circulated before.  Filled with some cuts and dropouts in sound, plus the constant chattering of Roy and his friends as they comment on the performance.

Also it began to rain during the opening number and that is audible on the tape along with the taper’s discussion about moving to a dry area.  Instead they stood their ground and we are blessed with a listenable tape although far from perfect.  Pink Floyd’s performance is very good. 

“Atom Heart Mother” is performed without the orchestra which is much better than having the choir and brass ensemble (in my opinion).  It starts the show off on a low key, mind-expanding trip.  “Careful With That Axe Eugene” and “Fat Old Sun” are pretty standard run throughs. 

“Return Of The Sons Of Nothing” as Roger introduces it, is met with comments of puzzlement and silence.  The structure of the piece is the same as the recorded version, but the guitar sounds much heavier and includes some different lyrics that are unfortunately inaudible. 

This release is recommended for collectors.  The general collector might have a rough go of it.  Previous fan produced ROIOs of this tape utilized a fourth generation copy of the cassette that was plagued with hiss.  I am not sure if Highland obtained the master or did an unbelievable mastering job, but the tape hiss is not too distracting at all.  This is probably the best this show will sound until another source comes along. 

The label also included lots of pictures from the event including the previously mentioned octopus.  It’s a shame “A Saucerful Of Secrets” and the encore “Astronomy Domine” are still missing.  It would have been great to hear the tapers’ reaction to the inflatable beast.

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