Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA, USA – September 26, 1970
Disc 1 (58:46) Astronomy Domine, Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Interstellar Overdrive
Disc 2 (43:58) Fat Old Sun, Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Pink Floyd began 1970 by debuting a new composition in their live performances, the piece that was originally referred too as “The Amazing Pudding” would be honed over the bands extensive live schedule. When the composition received its official debut on the BBC Radio One and Hyde Park events it had a name, Atom Heart Mother. During the spring and summer months between live dates the band were also busy at work on the full length LP that would garner the same name, it would be released in early October 1970, just a scant 2 weeks into Pink Floyd’s second North American tour that year. It took me years to actually warm up to the piece, it was not until I really began listening to the small band versions that I gained my first appreciation, now I enjoy those versions as well as the full brass and choral accompaniment, the past months of honing the piece in the live setting made for a cohesive experience. It was this style of working they would use throughout 1972 on a composition that would be Dark Side Of The Moon, but enough of this rambling, lets get to the fall of 1970 and the bands American tour.
The 20 date tour would start in Philadelphia and run just over a month, finishing in Boston with dates on both coasts and Canada. The first date of the tour was played at the famed Electric Factory in Philadelphia and is the source of this new release. From the moment the recording was released to trading circles it was heralded and one of the best, if not THE best audience recording from 1970 and spawned many releases. Electric Factory (Akashic AKA 21-1,2), Electric Factory (Wild Card 9/26/70 A/B), Fat Old Gigs (Columbia 6751-987-CD), On Top Of The World (PFOT PF 269701/02), Fantastic Voyage (FACT-1,2) and Electric Factory (Sirene 241). Surprisingly this new release from Sigma is their first stab at this show and since the Sirene title is now five years old, we can re examine this incredible recording. The recording is an excellent source, the instruments are clear and powerful and vocals are clearly audible, the recording is complete save for the last couple of minutes of Set The Controls, a lesser recording is used to finish the concert. From what I have read on the Internet this comes from a second gen tape, and when comparing the titles, this new release has a cleaner sound, a bit less distorted. That is what Sigma has been doing with these newer releases, getting a warmer analog sound and not so…digital for lack of a better word. While the differences are subtle, this is a really nice version of this tape. The label also puts Interstellar Overdrive on the first disc making for a better balance, having two “space” epics like IO and A Saucerful Of Secrets make for an incredible listening experience. For years collectors have speculated on the recordings completeness, based upon the Echoes The Complete History Of Pink Floyd by Glenn Povey, the book claims the band was a last minute replacement for Chicken Shack and were supporting Savoy Brown. This could explain the absence of Atom Heart Mother and Embryo, although an hour and forty minute set is unlikely as an opening act.
I am in full agreement with Gerard’s assessment of this gig, Cymbaline is very powerful and one of my favorites, it has an aggressive feel to it and the audiences reaction to the footsteps mirrors my own. The two aforementioned space epics on side one, hell throw in Astronomy Domine and the whole first disc is like a journey through space, from the blast of (Astronomy) through the minds exploration (Cymbaline), to encountering a vast storm (ASOS) to the final journey through the final frontier (Interstellar), 60 minutes of 1970 Floyd at their best. Since there are cuts between some songs, I have also wondered if we are dealing with the true running order, by this time the band did have a fairly standard running order. The second disc has a more mellow vibe to it, although is still excellent with Fat Old Sun and Careful With That Axe, Eugene sounding vivid and fresh, though curiously at the 56 second mark of the latter there are a couple of pops not found on the sigma version and am surprised they were not removed. All in all an excellent concert that no Floyd Fanatic, or casual collector should be without.
The packaging is the usual fare for Sigma, inserts adorned with live shots of the band, I thought the cover with the picture of the band over the tree line was a bit drab so I turned it over for the live shot of Dave, the same picture that is on the CD’s also. There is a numbered sticker as well and all is housed in a slim lined jewel case. I can now retire my older versions of this show, I now have one that until the new new transfer comes along, is definitive.