Definitive Brescia 1971 (Sigma 293)
Palazzo Delle Manifestazioni, Brescia, Italy – June 19, 1971
Disc 1 (59:07) Intro, Atom Heart Mother, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Fat Old Sun, The Embryo
Disc 2 (78:35) The Return Of The Son Of Nothing, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Blues
It’s been a year and a half since Sigma released a version of Pink Floyd’s concert in Brescia, Italy on June 19, 1971, that title being Brescia 1971 (Sigma 244). At the time of that review I noted an additional recording from that concert that provided the encore of Blues that was not found on the other recordings. Well since that time an even better and almost complete recording has surfaced, the icing on the cake is its sound quality is excellent, by far the best sound of all known recordings of the Brescia concert.
Where did this new source come from? Here is the information provided with the recordings release in November 2021: “Here for the first time the complete gig from Brescia recorded by Renzo Storti. Renzo Storti is a sound technician that worked for radio, cinema and with the University of Padua. He recorded the concert with a Uher 4400 with Shure microphone; he adjusted the levels during concerts while a friend moved the two microphones that were placed on stands”. This recording comes from a fresh transfer to digital done by Renzo Storti himself directly from his master reels, the transfer is excellent and the sound is as good as it will get.
There are two previous releases of this concert, An Italian Tale (The Godfatherecords G.R. 735/736) features source 1, Brescia 1971 (Sigma 244) uses source 2 as a foundation and fills a few gaps with source 1. This new title from Sigma uses the excellent Storti source 5 and fills gaps with source 2. The sound of the Storti recording is excellent, it sounds like he had a position close to the stage, he picks up a very crisp and detailed capture of the performance. The instruments, vocals, and sound effects are well balanced and has a wonderful full spectrum of sound. There are small cuts between songs and a cut in The Return Of The Son Of Nothing, again filled with source 2. As one would expect the patches are seamless and very well handled, the quality of the other source make the change in sounds minimal. There is virtually no tape hiss to speak of yet there is some very slight distortion during the very loud passages as one would expect.
When listening to this recording and the performance, I did not have cause to re-evalute the concert but found I enjoyed it more than I would expect, there was no sound fatigue or need to focus my thoughts. The sound quality is so good one gets the feeling of a natural experience, no fatigue caused by poor or excessive mastering. I found myself having a better understanding of the subtle nature of the performance, case in point is during the improvised jam during Fat Old Sun, one minute you are engulfed with the power of the full band, the next they quiet down to almost a whisper, one cannot underestimate the sheer enjoyment of the band’s playing. The version of Return Of The Son Of Nothing is wonderful, of course with the early “Planets meeting face to face” lyrics used at this point. The playing shows much more maturity versus the other songs in the set. The construction of the piece and the musical interplay between the musicians makes for a wonderful laid back experience.
My biggest enjoyment of this recording is the middle section of A Saucerful Of Secrets, David’s effects seem to emanate right in front of you, this is one of the clearest and detailed versions of this portion of the song I have ever heard, at times you can here noises, in my head I think it’s David working his guitar and effects but perhaps its my imagination. When Richard quietly begins the Celestial Voices introduction it’s stunning beautiful as is Gilmour’s guitar when it reappears, this time in a different form of sound. Perhaps it comes as no surprise this is my favorite Pink Floyd song, but to hear this version is a special experience as it is captured in incredible detail and enjoyment. The encore of Blues is very laid back and quite mellow, their take on the Blues is always open to their interpretation, on this evening it’s the final reflection of the entirety of the concert. The recording ends with the taper and his cohorts chatting as well as PA announcements, the perfect ending.
The packaging is very nice and is like a companion piece to the Brescia 1971 (Sigma 244) title. The inserts feature pictures from the event as well as a gig poster and newspaper review of the concert, again this is what makes a great release an excellent release. I feel the term definitive is used too much, this title is certainly the exception and I consider this an essential release for the Floyd collector.