Pictures Of Pink Floyd Revised Edition (Sigma 274)
Saarlandhalle, Saarbrucken, West Germany – November 28, 1970
(76:45) Fat Old Sun, Atom Heart Mother, The Libest Spacement Monitor, The Embryo, Green Is The Colour, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Pink Floyd’s European tour in November 1970 is one of my absolute favorite segments of their live history. The European audiences would intently listen to the music and their respectful nature would create an environment in which the Pink Floyd could relax and freely stretch the material out and allow for improvisation, a key element to the 1970 Pink Floyd sound. The German fans were avid tapers and thankfully the majority of the concerts were recorded, some concerts even have multiple sources for each and it seems that there was a taping community of Floyd fans who would share these recordings among themselves. This is one of the main reasons some of the recordings are fragmented, and also made dating the performances difficult, yet as the years pass and more recordings surface the pieces begin to fall together.
The recording that is now considered to be from Saarbrucken has circulated for years, it was originally attributed to Gothenburg, Sweden 11/11/1970 on the vinyl double LP Pictures Of Pink Floyd (Topsound Quality Records QR 179101) that featured material that was listed as being from Sweden and Offenbach 2/26/1971. When a mix tape of three different German shows appeared in late 2011 it cause a reevaluation of the recording dates, this was refined even more in 2016 when the real Sweden 11/11/1970 recording appeared. This left the Pictures Of Pink Floyd recording to be unknown, yet several collectors feel that based upon the recording timbre, structure of the numbers, and the inclusion of the improvisation piece known as The Libest Spacement Monitor aka Corrosion, that the concert was most likely from Saarbrucken.
The recording from Saarbrucken is excellent, the balance and mix is perfect with each instrument and vocal being clear and detailed. The frequency range is wide and the recording captures the atmosphere inside the 5,500 seat venue wonderfully, most certainly the taper used very good equipment as the word I use to describe this performance is sublime. The source material for this title by Sigma is taken from a fan produced work entitled Pictures Of Pink Floyd – Revision. The revision took an earlier transfer of the vinyl bootleg, edited the run outs, speed corrected it, did click removal (it’s from an LP so there were occasional pops), did some slight EQ work and re sequenced it based upon known sets lists from dates around this concert. This revised edition was well done and is considered the best circulating version of this material, the project also excludes the Offenbach material that clocks in at just over 9 minutes.
Certainly this source is missing songs, the opener was most certainly Astronomy Domine. Cymbaline, Careful With That Axe Eugene, and Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun are also absent. The Revision project put the songs in their correct order so a fourteen minute version of Fat Old Sun is the first track, the middle jam is really nice, Richard Wright leads the band through a rhythmic instrumental that is heavy yet pastoral. Roger’s introduction states that the song is played as the last song of the first set. “Your Majesty the Queen, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Nicholas Mason” is Roger’s introduction to the improvisational piece referred to as The Libest Spacement Monitor. The piece starts off with some avant garde noises before settling in with a descending bass line and Mr. Mason playing a shuffle that is reminiscent of the More Soundtrack, the band transitions into The Embryo just over nine minutes in. The late 1970 versions of The Embryo are excellent, perhaps the definitive versions, this version is relaxed yet confident and a spirited detailed version again with just a bit of pictish improv in the middle similar to the The Libest Spacement Monitor piece that precedes it. The recording fades quickly right as Green Is The Colour evolves into Careful With That Axe, Eugene. A Saucerful Of Secrets is thankfully compete clocking in at 18 minutes in length, the recording is rich and detailed of a typically great late 1970 version of the song, all four musicians letting the music flow freely from their bodies.
There is little information from the newspaper review, perhaps just a confirmation that Cymbaline was played and the footsteps section being quite memorable:
“To begin the program was a piece that seemed to disconcert the public, whose understanding of “Pink Floyd” apparently extended only to their name, and not their style. After a short time the progressive group “tuned in” to their listeners, who could follow along and join in as quieter, acoustic transitions were reached. In the music of Pink Floyd electronics take first place, and echo effects are a favored means of expression. The high point of the performance was the film music “High Time” [sic], which fully enshrouded the theater by using the electronic medium to deliver an acoustic mystery-play in which the fans were enthusiastically absorbed. Besides the common instruments, the four Englishmen made use of a colossal gong. That the Saarlandhalle wasn’t sold out on this evening — with 2000 spectators, scarcely half was occupied — hardly reflects on the attraction of this English band, but rather to the high ticket prices. Nevertheless a successful evening, in which listeners were rewarded for their appearance with perfect pop music.”
There is certainly more to the story of this recording, based upon the tour dates and what is currently circulating, the date is certainly correct, yet there are some who think this could actually be a composite of two recordings from the same concert. This is based upon the timbre of the individual songs as well as a attendee recollection of seeing two different tape machines set up in the hall, there is hope that one of these tapes will eventually surface.
The packaging is also very nice, while it employs the same basic motif of inserts in a slim lined jewel case, the artwork pays homage to the Pictures Of Pink Floyd bootleg LP artwork as well as the event itself. The cover and interior tray features the LP artwork, the interior cover features pictures from the newspaper review of the show and there is a scan of the concert as well. Let’s also not forget the numbered sticker and picture disc, a beautiful package. This is an excellent title, nice to finally have a silver version of this wonderful performance in my collection. Now it would be nice to get the Amsterdam 1970 November 06 and Arhus 1970 November 13 concerts on disc, although the recordings are average, they are fine performances as well.