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Pink Floyd – Rainbow Theatre 1972 Final Night (Sigma 196)

Rainbow Theatre 1972 Final Night (Sigma 196)

Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, England – February 20, 1972

The very first Pink Floyd bootleg I ever got was a cassette copy of the vinyl double LP record Eclipsed (Ruthless Rhymes GLC 404). The first record of the set was a copy of In Celebration of the Comet release of the February 20, 1972 Rainbow show, back then referred to as being from the BBC. The second record was a copy of Floyd’s Of London, again wrongly attributed as being BBC 72, they got the BBC part correct as the recording is the Paris Theatre 1971 broadcast… Ah the good old days of vinyl. A friend of mine from High School was a huge Floyd fan and had ordered it, thankfully she made me a copy and for some time was my only bit of live Floyd. Like many, that old mislabeled “BBC” recording was our first taste of the fourth and final Rainbow concert, what was commonly referred to as a soundboard is actually a superb audience source. Sadly the source tape has never surfaced and what is found on the earliest vinyl and everything else since then is all there is, there are numerous versions of this recording out there on vinyl and compact disc.

Sigma has recently decided to revisit the Rainbow Theatre gigs, first was earlier this year with Best of Tour 72 (Sigma 180), a release with another version of the “BBC” tape. The next was Rainbow Theatre First Night 1st Gen (Sigma 181), curiously they skipped the second night and went straight to the third with Rainbow Theatre Third Night (Sigma 195), a great release that presented two complete sources separate. Now we have the final concert and like the previous night, the label has decided to present the two alternate recordings separate from one another.

The John Baxter Tape

Disc 1 (50:43) Speak To Me, Breathe, Travel Sequence, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Mortality Sequence, Money, Us And Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse

Disc 2 (61:46) One Of These Days, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes, A Saucerful Of Secrets

The John Baxter tape is the most complete of the three recordings from this night. It is a very good audience recording, this is culled from a 1st gen source and is very clear, detailed with all instruments and vocals coming through nicely. It is a bit distant with some noticeable tape hiss and sadly not complete, there are a few tape pauses between songs and the recording ends at 8:15 into A Saucerful Of Secrets just prior to Celestial Voices. This recording was first released years back on the excellent Best Of Tour 72 (Sirene-135) for the Dark Side set and later used to fill the gaps on the suite for The Complete Rainbow Tapes (The Godfather Box G.R. Box 02).

Sigma has done an excellent job with their mastering, instead of trying to make it sound better, they leave the integrity of the original recording, and thus the performance, intact. I pulled out my old Sirene title for comparison, it is obvious that the title gently used noise reduction, the tape hiss is lower but so are the upper frequencies and this new Sigma title sounds clearer with a better range of frequencies. The Baxter recording is an excellent document of this concert if just for the first set, he recording the missing parts of the famous “BBC” tape and when combined, one can get a complete representation of the historical performance.

The Steve B’s Tape

Disc 3 (44:03) One Of These Days, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Echoes

Disc 4 (37:11) A Saucerful Of Secrets, Blues, Set The Controls for The Heart Of The Sun

The Steve B tape captures the second set, he was closer to the stage than John Baxter and his recording is clear and very powerful sounding, easily in the very good range and at times, excellent. Powerful means some distortion in the loud portions and a very small amount hiss, more noticeable during the quiet passages and at times the drums are in the background but still can be heard. The recording has been used on Best Of Tour 72 (Sirene-135) and The Complete Rainbow Tapes (The Godfather Box G.R. Box 02). The sound compared to the old Sirene is a nice upgrade in sound, clearer and less distorted with a much better range of frequencies all around. I also prefer this version of the tape over Godfather, their tape sounds thin and a bit harsh, you can here the effects of noise reduction they used as well.

The second set is really great, overall the fourth night was the best of the Rainbow 1972 gigs. One Of These Days finds the band totally in the groove after Nick’s vocal introduction, hitting the note so to speak. Roger gives a speech about a petition of anti midnight assembly gatherings and asked for people to sign it right before Careful With That Axe, Eugene. The version here is incredible, the audience is dead silent in eager anticipation, the clarity in the recording is excellent, especially in the first part. The soundscapes, quiet scat singing by David and the creepy inner voice breathing by Roger just builds and builds until the ultimate violence sequence. The ending is nice, the audience remain silent until the very end and then a huge ovation.

There are tape cuts before and after Echoes, stellar version as well, just really well played as it seems like the band are tight yet relaxed during the middle jamming section, and judging from the ovation their playing is appreciated by the respectful audience. A Saucerful Of Secrets is very clear and detailed, Nick works his cymbals at the beginning and sounds as if you are in the audience listening attentively. Roger introduces Blues as “something different”, like these versions, Dave really hits the blues leads well and Richard plays some tasty organ as well. Roger does a little North London accent parody, “I can’t hear ya” just prior to a wonderful version of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun. Great recording and even greater performance, the Pink Floyd proved once again they were the absolute Leaders of the Underground.

The packaging is the same as the two previous Rainbow sets, this time Roger is the cover boy for the insert as well as CD’s. The art work uses the Dark Side Of The Moon black with rainbow across the front, visually appealing and let’s not forget the numbered sticker, all housed in a fat boy jewel case. Like some I find these collections appealing, they capture two separate tape sources that would otherwise only be partially used and when done for a concert as important as this, essential to the Floyd completist. 

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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