Blackhill Garden Party, Hyde Park, London, UK – July 18, 1970
Atom Heart Mother, Introduction / Embryo, Green Is The Color (Fragment), Careful With That Axe Eugene (Fragment), Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
The Pink Floyd’s performance at Hyde Park in the summer of 1970 is one no fan of the band’s early catalog should be without, audio documents of the performance have been circulating for years and while the sound quality is nothing special the performance marks the official debut of the opus, Atom Heart Mother. It was played just days earlier for John Peel BBC Radio program. Recently a fragmented video documentation surfaced and is the subject of this new DVD release from the No Label folks.
The video itself is a Pro shot but of amateur quality, the camera was mounted above stage right behind Richard Wright so the camera angle is looking down at the performers. The camera man does pan the camera to view the brass ensemble and choir and the audience from time to time. It is black and white and has a clear and detailed picture. There is a running time on the upper portion of the screen, while at first annoying you quickly forget it’s there. The sound quality is mono direct feed from the soundboard and is of excellent quality. The DVD has a simple menu with either individual song selection or play all choices with a clip of the Atom Heart Mother performance.
The recording begins with Atom Heart Mother, there are many shots of the brass ensemble who are seated stage left and it’s interesting to see middle aged and older gentlemen, one dressed in a suit, sharing the stage to perform the opus, which they do with precision. The Choir is situated stage right behind Richard Wright, at time the camera shot is so clear you can see the music sheet from which they follow, the choir members look to be enjoying themselves. The song is cut at about the 20 minute mark, and the Atom Heart Mother is by far the best in terms of video and sound quality. The Embryo, which was actually the opening song of the concert features some tuning and the introduction, once the song starts it suffers from video degradation that effects not only the video quality but also the soundtrack and is frustrating to say the least. The Green Is The Colour and Careful With That Axe, Eugene are just flashes of pictures and sound lasting just a few seconds, the video quality is poor throughout. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun suffers from the same tape issues as The Embryo, the worse part being where Roger is aggressively hitting the gong, almost like a direct response to the violence of the performance, thankfully the video clears slightly for the following segment where the band soars through the reaches of space.
The packaging is simple color inserts with pictures from the event all housed in a clam shell style case, again the highly collectable sticker is included. While the video quality of the latter songs is questionable and not for the casual collector, I enjoyed it but was slightly frustrated as the performance is so good and you want to be able to really take it all in and for me this is not a video I will revisit often. That being said I am glad I have it for my collection as any footage from this era is most welcome by me.