Definitive Oakland (Sigma 37)
Alameda Coliseum, Oakland, CA – May 9th, 1977
Disc 1 (52:12): Sheep, Pigs On The Wing (Part 1), Dogs, Pigs On The Wing (Part 2), Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Disc 2 (56:16): Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-5), Welcome To The Machine, Have A Cigar, Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 6-9)
Disc 3 (29:17): Money, Us And Them, Careful With That Axe Eugene
The superb May 9th, 1977 concert in Oakland, California (USA) is already very well-known to nearly all Pink Floyd collectors, and if by any slight chance you’re one of the very few who isn’t familiar with it yet, then Sigma’s 3-CD Definitive Oakland is the one that you’ll most likely want to get, as it’s seriously doubtful that there will be any significant regrets. As for most everyone else who know this show so well, I think you’ll still want to seriously consider obtaining it as well. That’s because, despite the skepticism when this release was first announced here, it could in fact be the ultimate, definitive version that’s just about as outstanding as it could possibly get. What’s considered definitive or just about “perfect” is, of course, subjective, as personal preferences tend to vary a little from one music fan to another, but it would still be surprising if anyone were to be significantly disappointed with Definitive Oakland.
Especially compared to the previously-released 3-CD Oakland (Sigma 2), which was reviewed here and may have been previously thought to be the definitive version, it sounds quite noticeably different – especially at the lower end (bass). It sounds considerably tighter & more crisp, and thus superior in my personal opinion. No noticeable change in speed could be discerned, and in comparison with the older Sigma 2 release, Disc 1 is approx. only 8 seconds shorter, Disc 2 approx. just 13 seconds shorter, and Disc 3 approx. just 15 seconds longer, although that’s probably just a result of the start, or more likely the very end, of the disc being extended with slightly more audience noise, etc. Nevertheless, the newer Sigma 37 title is a significant upgrade to my ears.
In comparison with the 2nd (remastered) Mr. Pig (Highland Prime Masters HPM-001), which was also previously reviewed here, it doesn’t sound as harsh, is probably somewhat better balanced, and its bass is a bit deeper and better. And the HPM version also loses to Definitive Oakland Raiders in terms of both tape flips known to unfortunately exist on earlier releases being so seamlessly & flawlessly corrected as to have become virtually unnoticeable on both Sigma versions. The 1st Mr. Pig by the regular Highland label also loses likewise in this way to both Sigma versions, as do just about all other recordings of this legendary show. Definitive Oakland actually seems to sound a little more similar to the 1st Mr. Pig, and possibly also the first show of the 5-CD Oaklands (Siréne-055), also reviewed here which I haven’t heard, than it does to the 2nd Mr. Pig. It’s considerably unlikely that it sounds discernably any worse than either to most personal preferences – probably, if anything, actually being at least a tiny bit of an improvement, while having the important clear advantage of the tape flips no longer being palpably evident.
The artwork of Definitive Oakland is quite pleasing too, with the front & rear covers especially being preferred, at least by my eyes, over the predominantly colorless ones of its predecessor by Sigma. So everything considered, this newer one is highly recommended to at least be given serious consideration, as anything that might eventually come out in the future endeavoring to beat it, probably by some label other than Sigma themselves, will have a very formidably daunting task on their hands. They might try tweaking this now-best-available recording a bit further to appeal to the preferences of some collectors, but the majority of them will probably judge Definitive Oakland to have the best overall balance, without any detectable flaws, and impressively very fine artwork to top it off.