Electric Factory (Siréne-241)
The Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA – September 26th, 1970
Disc 1: Astronomy Domine, Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Disc 2: Interstellar Overdrive, Fat Old Sun, Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
When the tape of Pink Floyd’s September 26th, 1970 show in Philadelphia first surfaced in 2000 it quickly became one of the most popular tapes for bootleg release. Among the very first was on the rare and expensive Electric Factory (Akashic AKA-21-1,2) followed quickly by Electric Factory on Wildcard (WC-9/26/70-A/B).
It appears on discs three and four of the box set Fat Old Gigs (Columbia 6751-987-CD) released in 2002. On Top of the World (PFOT PF 269701, PF 269702) couples this with the Pepperland tape from later in the tour and the most recently Fantastic Voyage on Moonage Daydream (FACT-1, 2) came out last year and has most of the show on the first disc.
On many of these releases the tape is complete except for the end of “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.” Sirene use the tape made by the Harvested people who edit in a lesser quality recording for the final couple minutes of the last track and Roger Waters’ final “thank you” to the audience. This tape was made using a reel-to-reel which produced perhaps the greatest sounding Pink Floyd tape from this formative year for the band.
It contains the tune-ups between songs and catches very soft and muzzled audience conversations. That doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the show by any means and is really good at picking up the workings of the Azimuth Coordinator especially during the taped interlude during “Cymbaline”. This label isn’t known for the heavy handed mastering and the tape sounds as good as the previous releases.
This concert in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (not California, as listed on the artwork) was the first show on their fourth tour of the US and second of the year. The performance is excellent with perhaps the best vocal performance by Gilmour. Some say this is the height of their space rock phase and advancement past the arrangements from Ummagumma due to the prominence of Gilmour’s guitar resulting in a more muscular sound.
There is also a good amount of experimentation in the songs. The set list is shorter than usual for this era since “Atom Heart Mother” and “Embryo”, two regular inclusions, were either dropped or not taped. The tape begins right at the beginning of the keyboard introduction to an eight-minute version of “Astronomy Domine”. This song is rather silly with the bulk of the lyrics listing the moons of the planet Saturn, but is an effective opener. “Cymbaline” sounds much heavier than its studio counterpart and picks up the middle recording section quite well.
This evening’s “A Saucerful Of Secrets” is twenty minutes long and one of the best-recorded live versions available. It captures the dynamic subtleties of the piece perfectly. Disc two begins with a perfect version of “Interstellar Overdrive.” Differing greatly from versions performed with Syd Barrett, this is an epic interpretation lasting almost twenty minutes. It begins with a soft, tense keyboard melody before the driving guitar riff comes in and dominates the first part of the song.
Wright plays a melodic keyboard solo in the middle before the heavy main theme comes back in again at the song’s conclusion. This is followed by a glorious fifteen-minute version of “Fat Old Sun” from the latest album. At 4:32 the right channel becomes weaker for about a minute before become more stable again. Gilmour, at about the nine minute mark, plays a distorted heavy metal solo laden with fuzz and feedback. Roger Waters introduces the next two songs by saying, “these next two things are called ‘Green Is The Colour’ and ‘Careful With That Axe, Eugene'”.
These two songs were played segues together for about a year at this point and work very well together. The former as gentle and pastoral as the latter is dark, foreboding and terrifying. Waters gives a menacing articulation to the words before letting out his blood-curdling scream. Having such a perfect recording helps, but this is one of the best versions from 1970 on tape and a definite highlight. There is a cut and fade after this song and with Pink Floyd’s ever shifting set list it causes speculation if “Atom Heart Mother” was played in this spot but not taped.
It is said they played it the following night in New York with orchestra so there is no obvious reason why it wouldn’t be played. “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” is the final song and ends with Waters thanking the audience before the tape ends. Overall Electric Factory is a great recording and since all versions come from the master reel-to-reel they are all great. Sirene sounds a bit louder than the Akashic and is definitely worth having.