Crystal Palace 1971 (Sigma 93)
Garden Party at the Crystal Palace Bowl, London, UK – May 15, 1971
Disc 1 (48:22) Tuning, Atom Heart Mother, Tuning, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Tuning, Fat Old Sun
Disc 2 (50:11) Tuning, The Return Of The Son Of Nothing, Tuning, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Tuning, Embryo
One of the latest batches of Sigma titles contains an updated version of the band’s famous Crystal Palace gig in 1971, and as with most new releases is listed as “Truly Amazing Sound (Huge Upgrade)”. The concert has seen a previous release as Crystal Echoes (Highland HL 662/663); released back in 2005 it was a very nice package in acceptable sound and artwork featuring pictures from the event. The recording used for the Highland release and this new title is attributed to Roy and friends, and while the recording is most certainly not truly amazing sound it is a nice upgrade. The tape certainly has its problems as it was recorded in a somewhat hostile environment as the weather was cool and rainy. The sound is cleaner and warmer than Highland with the hiss being somewhat diminished and the sound levels are higher making for a more enjoyable listening experience. It sounds certainly like Sigma used a lower generation of the tape. The disc times are longer, much on disc 1 is attributed to additional tuning time before “Atom Heart Mother”, you get an additional minute and a half before the Phil LaHanne announcement is made.
As Gerard wrote in his assessment of the Highland title that the Floyd’s performance was very good, I agree to a degree and feel the weather put a damper on the event, the wet conditions made the instruments harder to keep in tune and the gaps between songs are longer. Thankfully the sound clears on the second disc and “Echoes” is a superb version that finds the band utilizing the space lyrics. “Set The Controls” is spellbinding, you can clearly hear Waters bashing the large cymbal as Glamour’s guitar swirls to perfection and the audience is very quiet (save for the tapers brief comments) as Wright gently brings the whole trip back.
The packaging is wonderful, photos from the event are imposed over Meddle graphics and the back cover has a picture of both the event poster and ticket stub, the cd’s are printed to look like a Harvest record, something I like very much. This is certainly a show that deserved an upgrade, Sigma has done a fine job on this release and as it now stands as definitive, hopefully they continue this trend and start to offer something new for the collectors market.