Keep Smiling People (Sigma 59)
Club Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – May 23rd, 1968
Disc 1 (47:26), early show: Let There Be More Light, Interstellar Overdrive, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Disc 2 (53:48), late show: Keep Smiling People, Let There Be More Light, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Flaming, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Keep Smiling People contains the two Pink Floyd concerts on May 23rd, 1968 at Club Paradiso in Amsterdam from first generation tapes. These tapes have been in circulation since at least the seventies, but have scarcely been released due to the sound quality. (One review of the old vinyl release claims, “This thing sounds as if someone has placed his recording equipment in front of one of the 4 (quad!) speakers, and recorded this signal using a pair of tin cans connected with a greasy rope, which in turn was used to play double dutch with.”
Sigma 59 sounds much better. It is clear with good instrument definition and provides a very good aural snapshot of the band in it’s early form after David Gilmour replaced Syd Barrett in the band. These shows occur at the end of their first tour of Europe and are their first live appearance in the capital of the Netherlands. They were scheduled to play in The Netherlands the previous year with a shows at the Patronaatsgebouw, Terneuzen and at the Concertgebouw, Vlissingen, but were cancelled due to Barrett’s erratic behavior and the band’s need for a holiday.
The first disc contains the early show. “Let There Be More Light” and “Interstellar Overdrive” can be found on side two of the vinyl release Live In Amsterdam Fantasio Club (13187 A/B) and on Remember A Day (WIZ OO1) and on the early compact disc release The Live Pink Floyd (BGCD 018 Crocodile).
It starts off with a bit of tuning before Roger Waters says, “This is a song call ‘Set…” This is a song called ‘Let There Be More Light.’ Can you snuff that spot light out.” The up-tempo song sets the mood. It would be the first song on their second album A Saucerful Of Secrets, to be released a month after this show. “Interstellar Overdrive” is played closer to the arrangement from the first album. Richard Wright plays an unsettling organ figure up against David Gimour’s abrasive guiar.
Waters introduces the next song “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun,” and adds “so you can all relax. The set closes with the title track from the upcoming album, played closer to the album arrangement than it would be in coming years. It clocks in at just over eleven minutes.
Disc two contains the evening show which has the same sound quality as the afternoon concert. “Keep Smiling People” and “Flaming” are are side one of the vinyl release Live In Amsterdam Fantasio Club (13187 A/B), and “Let There Be More Light” on Mystery Tracks + 2 (TRACKS A/B) and on the early compact disc release The Live Pink Floyd (BGCD 018 Crocodile). It is clear but a bit distant. For the age, it’s very listenable and enjoyable.
It begins with Waters speaking about the first song, calling it “a sort of clock. A relaxing thing called ‘Keep Smiling People.'” The eleven minute piece was never released in this form, but is the basis for “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” which would be a live staple for the band in the up coming years. A purely instrumental piece, the bass, drum and organ parts bear a resemblance to the well known song, but it is more up tempo and happy sounding.
After “Let There Me More Light” Waters confesses to the audience, “se didn’t really quite manage to relax as we meant to in that first thing.” So the continue with “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” followed by the tune “Flaming” from the first album. Gilmour handles the vocals for the song. It’s one of their more pop-oriented tune and even sounds out-of-date in May 1968.
The set ends with “A Saucerful Of Secrets” which Waters tells the audience is “a bit new, a bit strange, a bit hard to play.” The evening show is a much more effective performance of the piece, sounding much spookier and unsettling until the celestial climax.
Keep Smiling People is a great release by Sigma, documenting and early set of Pink Floyd shows in the best available sound quality. Sigma also include a bonus CDR of the twenty-five minute radio broadcast from Rome. It’s been out before and contains a couple of songs and an interview with Waters.