Radio City Music Hall 1973 (Sigma 215)
Radio City Music Hall, New York City, NY, USA – March 17, 1973
Disc 1 (68:48) Obscured By Clouds, When You’re In, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes
Disc 2 (55:33) Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse, One Of These Days
Surprisingly it took Sigma years to release their version of the famous Radio City Music Hall gig in March 1973. I was intrigued by this release yet cautious as there were a few posts detailing the mix of tape sources and an obviously glaring cut during the Dark Side Of The Moon piece. Nonetheless, I have taken the plunge. There was great anticipation for this concert and members of The Grateful Dead and Andy Warhol himself were reportedly in attendance for this gig. The British newspaper Sounds was in attendance and had this to report:
“Pink Floyd turned out an exciting set last week with a stage half a block long, and a 6,200 seat theatre on four levels as their basic props. At one thirty in the morning (Sunday March 18) the lights dimmed, the audience stood, clouds of stream shot upwards from vents in the stage, and the Floyd rose into view on one of the elevators; three light towers with a reflecting dish mounted on the center one, created a glowing, hypnotic effect as you looked at the stage. The elevated stage section reached its full height then began to inch forward, and the crowd roared approval. Special mention ought to be made of the Floyd’s lighting and sound crews who seemed never to miss a cue, and the 20 speaker quad system with speakers on all levels of the hall gave a close almost headphone sound. The music started with some of their well known older pieces with ‘Echoes’ ending the first half. The second half was the new album, The Dark Side Of The Moon, with an encore of ‘One of These Days’. The Fifteen foot dish hanging from the center tower glowed and streamed in the lights, and at one point as the red spots caught it, the effect was of red laser beams flashing through the dark hall. Other times when the lights caught it, it looked like one of those mirrored globes they had at 30’s balls. The Floyd were at their best and the stage presentation was one of the best I’ve seen in a hell of a long time.”
On to the show, there are a total of five recordings from this concert, surprising this has led to only two previous releases. The Pro CD-R title Dark Side Of Radio City (Pigs On The Wing PF1010073), a good yet flawed release with the second disc speed running way too fast and ten years ago the Godfather label released Obscured By Father Time (Godfatherecords G.R. 340/341) which was, at the time, the definitive version. I do not have a copy of the Godfather title, blasphemy no doubt, so this made my choice to buy this title a bit easier. Please follow the link to the review of the Godfather title, Plomerus’s reviews are superb, and greatly missed. His passion for live Pink Floyd recordings made reading his reviews as fun as listening to them.
This new Sigma title does use a newer recording for the first portion of the concert. That recording, known as recorder 4 is the best of all known recordings yet is incomplete clocking in about the first 85 minutes of the concert. The remainder of the concert is mostly recorder 2. Recorder 4 has cuts between songs, a cut in When You’re In at 7:23 to 9:09 and another cut at 16:10 to 16:30 in Echoes, the gaps are filled with recorder 2. The beginning 1:48 of Speak To Me is from recorder 2 and recorder 4 ends 3:15 into The Great Gig In The Sky, the splices are excellent, Sigma does an excellent job in this area. For collectors the major issue with this title is during Us And Them, Recorder 2 was cut at the 2:41 mark. Sigma did not fill the gap so, as CMR member Careful Axeman Eugene pointed out, at least 4:53 of the song is missing. This cut in recorder 2 is so smooth as it transitions into Any Colour You Like, it sounds as if there is no cut, nonetheless, if Sigma would have done more research into recorder 2, it is clearly marked.
What does all this mean? Well this is an excellent sounding title, recorder 4 is a crisp and clean recording that is easily in the excellent category, certainly a couple steps above recorder 2, which in itself is a really nice source. Unfortunately there are two other sources for this concert, both of which feature the complete Us And Them, that Sigma did not use to complete the song. For me a missed opportunity, yet I like the mastering done of this title, the patches are clean and well handled and the sound is an upgrade over Godfather mainly due to recorder 4. If Sigma would revisit this title, fix the glaring cut in Us And Them, they could release the definitive version of this incredible performance.
The packaging is typical Sigma, lots of great live shots from 1973 with professional looking graphics inspired by The Dark Side Of The Moon album. Picture CD’s and sticker, all the goodies are hear. This is a title for completists, for those who have the Godfather title, no need to invest unless one wants the recorder 4 source. Let’s hope Sigma takes another stab at this concert, it is a vivid document of a historic performance and deserves a definitive edition.