Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY, USA – July 2, 1977
Disc 1 (51:51) Sheep, Pigs On The Wing Pt. 1, Dogs, Pigs On The Wing Pt. 2, Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Disc 2 (72:47) Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pts. 1-5, Welcome To The Machine, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pts. 6-9, Money, Us And Them
One of the first Pink Floyd vinyl bootlegs I bought in the late 80’s was Caught In The Crossfire (Pharting Pharoah Records 13153), a double LP that feature three quarters of the bands performance at New York City’s famed Madison Square Gardens. The sound was very good, the performance was sublime and as I had previously done with Crackers, made a copy on cassette so I could listen in the car, at work and the likes. While the record featured about half of the Animals portion of the show, what was there became one of my most beloved shows in my small (back then) bootleg collection. The CD era brought titles like Caught In The Crossfire (Neutral Zone NZCD 89017) and New York 1977 (The Welfare Pig TWP-CD-203). Both were incomplete with only the second half, the Wish You Were Here set. Prog King (Sirene 099) featured the complete show in very good quality but for me the title never really clicked, it sounded, to my ears, dull and lifeless. Sigma would tackle the concert twice, Day Of The Animals (Sigma 77) was an upgrade to Prog King, and the best version of the tape was New York 1977 2nd Night (Sigma 125). The latter title was taken from a torrent posted on the excellent Yeeshkul site, boasting a direct transfer of the master cassettes. This new title from Sigma is merely the second edition of Sigma 125, minus the bonus replica mini tour program.
This recording was made by the prolific team of Bob Menke and Louis Falanga, two tapers who’s primary interest was recording the Grateful Dead, one must remember that in the 1970’s the Dead had not yet adopted their taper friendly stance and tapers had to smuggle their equipment into a venue. Bob Menke preferred quality and used a Sony TC-152 deck and Sony ECM microphones (either 250 or 270). Their recording of Pink Floyd’s second concert at Madison Square Garden is among the most vivid of the tour, and in my humble opinion, the best overall recording from 1977. Sure Paris, Oakland, and Boston are excellent recordings, but the Floyd’s performance in MSG is incredible, their playing is fierce and the atmosphere inside the Garden is electric, when you combine these factors, the equation is simple. First off this title, as well as Sigma 125, is sourced directly from the master cassettes, so the lineage is direct. Work was done to speed correct the second half of Shine On, Money and Us And Them as there batteries were dying, and the second source was used to fill the gaps in Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pts. 6-9 and Us And Them. Lastly the folks at Sigma gently boosted the sounds levels on the Animals set slightly to better mirror the second Wish You Were Here set as the tapers moved up during the intermission. The results of this work provide an incredible aural experience, this recording sounds superb with a nice three dimension sound so vivid you feel like you are in the crowd, and as previously stated (a couple times) the performance is excellent as the Floyd were really hitting their stride during the latter portion of the tour.
In issue 40 of Brain Damage magazine Elliot Tayman gives a reader flashback of the build up to the MSG shows, the only performances the band would give during Roger Waters’ tenure in the band. In February 1977, a publicity stunt featuring a flatbed truck and live Animals were paraded up 6th Avenue to Central Park with the newly released Animals record serving as soundtrack. A couple weeks later WNEW-FM staged an event in the parks Sheep Meadow (now called Strawberry Fields) where priority mail order forms were handed out for the four MSG dates. Elliot states that most of the shows at the venue were handled mail order only, one would assume to avoid shenanigans of fans waiting in lines for box office tickets. Elliot scored tickets for three of the four shows and gives a nice play by play of his experience at the first concert, the music and visuals and overall vibe of the concerts. The two page article also featured a ticket stub, mail order coupon pictures as well as live band shots from the event, being a fan of the Caught In The Crossfire vinyl, it was nice to read a first hand account.
As Gerard tells during both his reviews for Prog King and Day Of The Animals, the summer of 1977 found marijuana being decriminalized in New York, and being so close to the Fourth of July holiday, the atmosphere inside the Garden sounds like a war zone, during the Animals set the amount of fireworks set off is incredible, surprisingly Roger holds his tongue, something he would not do over the next days performances. Full marks must go to the generous folks at Yeeshkull whose hard work is often the source for these Sigma titles. Their diligent effort to circulate the best and lowest generation copies of these Floyd artifacts free of charge, the way it should be. While they do not endorse anything other than free trading of material, the collectors market is certainly a benefactor of their laborious work.
The packaging is typical for Sigma, full color inserts adorned with Animals style graphics, the inner cover features live shots from the MSG run, and there is a picture of the concert poster as well. As with all recent Sigma titles, the CD’s have pictures on them and some copies come with the collectable numbered sticker. For those who already have Sigma 125, no need to spend any of your hard earned money, for those who have older editions of this concert, or those who do not have this concert in their collection, this is an excellent title of an essential concert to own.