Meddlee (Shout To The Top STTP-142/143)
Taft Auditorium, Cincinnati, OH – November 20th, 1971
Disc 1 (68:37): The Embryo, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Fat Old Sun, Careful With That Axe Eugene
Disc 2 (66:46): Atom Heart Mother, Cymbaline, Echoes, Blues
Pink Floyd’s show in Cincinnati was rescheduled from October 30th. It is the final show of the US tour, the final show in 1971 and the last show before they began the Dark Side Of The Moon era and as such it holds an important place in their live history. Several tapes are in circulation of the event and there are several silver titles.
The earliest to surface was Obscurity (Sugarcane Records SC 52005/6) which runs from the beginning the show to the middle of “Echoes” when it cuts out. The tape is very good and clear but lacks definable bass in the mix. The guitars and vocals dominate the sound. In early 2005 The Growing Embryo (Siréne-031) came out which sounded good but didn’t edit the two sources together making it very clunky.
Meddlee on Shout To The Top was released in 1998 and is a two source mix. For most of the show it uses the good sounding tape found on Obscurity and the rest of the show, from the middle of “Echoes” and the blues encore, are sourced from a second tape.
The sound for this one is distorted and distant and grows worse towards the end. STTP produced many Pink Floyd titles and, by using high generation tapes with many running at the wrong speed, most were garbage. But Meddlee is one of their finest efforts and still stands as a great document of this show.
One of the main points of interest of this tape is the very first song. “The Embryo” has been moved to the set opener several weeks before. In Cincinnati, they play the track up to the middle but for some reason don’t bother returning to the main theme yet, stretching the song to twenty-six minutes instead of the more normal twelve.
Gilmour takes off soloing with the rest of the band in tow and plays the solos from “Breathe” that will appear on Dark Side the following year. It also features Roger Waters “Eugene” like screeches and screams. The reason for this long improvisation isn’t clear (Wright’s keyboards disappear prompting speculation that was the cause). But since this is the final live version of the song its swan song is spectacular.
“Fat Old Sun” is also given its final live performance by Pink Floyd and they give a very lyrical and pretty reading of the piece. Gilmour adds many little doodles throughout the piece highlighting its pastoral setting.
“Atom Heart Mother” is starts off with very strange sirens blasting in the auditorium before the band kick in with the opening chord. It is followed by the final live version of “Cymbaline” and a twenty-eight minute version of “Echoes.” Before the encore Waters tells the audience, “I’m glad we finished here because it’s been good fun tonight. This encore has got really nothing to do with us…” with the audience laughing. The blues improv lasts for eight minutes before the band leave the stage.
Overall this is one of the best documents from the US fall 1971 tour available and one of the essentials for Pink Floyd collectors. STTP use good variations of the Meddle artwork on the cover and do a good job with the mastering. It is the complete performance although some collectors claim “One Of These Days” also was played, even though there is no evidence.
Meddlee is one of the few STTP titles to still be relevant and this one is worth having.