Montreux 1971 Radio Suisse Romande Open Air Mics Recording (Sigma 113)
Festival de Musique, Pavillon De Montreux, Montreux, Switzerland – September 18, 1971
Disc 1 (62:43) Echoes, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Cymbaline
Disc 2 (51:07) Atom Heart Mother, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Pink Floyd’s performance at the Festival de Musique in Montreux, Switzerland on September 18, 1971 has two recordings available, the first to circulate is actually considered recorder 2 and is an excellent soundboard recording, it has been released many times before on titles Black Wizard (Oil Well RSC 070) and its companion piece White Witch (Oil Well RSC 071), Live In Montreux 1971 (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-071-2), Plays Montreux (Highland HL 476/477) all of which tended to run too slow. The speed issues were fixed on one of Sigma’s earliest effort, Labyrinths Of Coral Caves (Sigma 18) and was considered the best version on silver pressed CD. There is also a very good audience recording commonly referred to as recorder 1 from the famed Victor, and has been released as Echoes In Montreux (Sigma 53), both recordings have their own idiosyncrasies but compliment each other nicely, and please refer to the reviews from Plomerus and GSparaco for the details on these releases.
For this new release Sigma utilizes a new tape source for recorder 2 the soundboard recording, this tape has known lineage being first gen reel to reel > 2nd gen cassettes and is being referred to as Radio Suisse Romande open air mics recording. What does all this mean? Well the recording was actually done using open air mics as that’s what the radio engineers were used to using as they had previously done only classical music, so in a nutshell they professionally recorded the band from the audience. Since we are dealing with the same recording, it does suffer from the same issues as previously brought to light by Plomerus in his excellent breakdown of the recording and performance.
What this new release has to offer is a nice, but not ground breaking, upgrade in sound. Lets get real, it was already an excellent recording, this version expands upon it, it is cleaner with virtually no distortion, little if any hiss and has a generally brighter sound with a bit more punch to it. At times it rivals the BBC recording that would be done just 12 days later. What it comes down to is one has to ask themselves, do I need another version of this concert? Speaking for myself I was on the fence but after doing some online research, much thanks to the Yeeshkul! site, the decision was easy to make. I prefer 1969-71 Floyd and after to repeated listening’s I need to go no farther, until the master surfaces this is the preferred version of the this recording.
The packaging is color inserts featuring pictures from the Montreux gigs (the band played two shows, this date and the following day), the one on the inner jewel case features a close to empty hall in preparations for the concerts, the Floyd equipment is set up on stage, the one on the rear features the band during Atom Heart Mother and is also quite nice, all this is packaged in a slimline jewel case.