Meistersingerhalle, Nuremberg, Germany- March 14, 1970
Disc 1 (47:56) Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Disc 2 (59:46) Soundcheck, The Embryo, Interstellar Overdrive, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Atom Heart Mother
Disc 3 (48:13) Intro / Soundcheck, Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Disc 4 (62:49) Soundcheck, The Embryo, Interstellar Overdrive, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd began 1970 with some very challenging concerts where they played material from their last few records as well as new music still in its embryonic stage, deep tracks from both Ummagumma and More had all too brief appearances, then would not be heard live again. The results were mixed and by the bands March European tour, a set list was made up with a core group of songs that would remain for the following year. For this new title, Sigma explores their performance in Nuremberg on March 14, 1970 and presents the two circulating sources for the concert.
The first two discs are made up of Recorder 1, it is muffled yet the individual instruments and vocals can be heard, there is some hiss and distortion as well and consistent microphone bumps, and as with many tapes from this era there are some tape cuts between songs. The main detractor from this recording is source tape issues, like a warping or warble that makes for a difficult listen. Astronomy Domine is the worst effected song, the sound does straighten out about half was through and is more consistent yet there are occasional times where the issue appears yet much more diminished. A Saucerful of Secrets is incomplete, the label uses the last couple minutes of the second recording to complete the song. The first disc certainly is a source that requires the use of ones bootleg ears, the recording does improve for the second set, in fact it comes close to rivaling the second source, the taper obviously placed his mic in a better place.
The second two discs are made up of Recorder 2, this source is slightly more distant than the first source yet is clear and atmospheric with much better range of frequencies. The tape hiss is minor yet there is some distortion present. The source was used by Godfather records for their The Massed Gadgets Of Hercules 1970-1974 (The Godfather Box G.R. Box 09) Nuremberg 1970 (G.R. Box 09 A/B) set. It is interesting to compare these two releases, to my ears Godfather mastered their set for clarity and boosting the upper frequencies, while this Sigma title sounds warmer and more natural. This recording is much more complete, has more tuning and between song chatter as well. There is a small cut just past the 7 minute mark and the end of Atom Heart Mother drags a bit, overall a really nice source of a very enjoyable performance.
The performance is excellent, in his review of the Godfather title Gerard says that this set is like a hangover from the 60’s, he is partially correct. The only song not from the previous decade is Atom Heart Mother, yet 1970 would be the year where the band would play their 60’s output and take it to new heights of improvisation and imagination. Case in point is a beautiful version of A Saucerful Of Secrets. The beginning is quite eerie and sound like space bending within itself, Richard using the piano during the Syncopated Pandemonium section sound makes it sound cold and harsh, yet the Celestial Voices ending is powerful and moving. The Embryo is gaining momentum, the band have made some improvements in the arraignment over the past few months, certainly do to the powerful lead playing from David Gilmour. Interstellar Overdrive sounds particularly heavy, the group really hammers the main riff and the improv is nice, Richard Wright plays some off worldly sounds early on that will be used in variation Set The Controls and the whole piece sounds new and refreshing. Atom Heart Mother is quickly being whipped into shape and is becoming much more cohesive as a long form piece of music, these small band 1970 live versions is where I started to really gain my appreciation for this song.
The packaging is typical Sigma, the covers are drab looking but the inside has some nice black and white photos of the band. The CDs have pictures on them, all four have the same pic, the first two discs have a slightly different color tone than the last two, and some copies come with a sticker, all housed in a fat boy jewel case. While it is nice to have both recordings, the quality of the first recording does not garner repeated listening’s especially when you have the higher quality second one. I love early 70’s Floyd and am glad I bought this title, yet it may appeal to the dedicated collector, for the more casual Floyd fan, there are better recordings out there.