Richard, Are You Ready? (Sigma 15)
Audimax Der Technische University, West Berlin, West Germany – March 13th, 1970
Disc 1: Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Cymbaline, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Disc 2: The Embryo, Interstellar Overdrive, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, “Richard, are you ready?”, Amazing Pudding, Blues
Richard, Are You Ready? contains a good to very good audience recording of the March 13th Berlin show. All of the music is clear enough but it tends to favor the lower frequencies producing a massive bass sound throughout the show. This is a cleaned up version of the same tape source used for the older release The Injustice Of A Kaleidoscope Of Sound (Hypedup HY1002-A/B).
There are several small cuts between songs eliminating some of the tunings, and a cut at 5:02 in “Interstellar Overdrive” eliminating about a minute of music. There are some points of tape wobble at 5:49 in “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” lasting for about a minute and a smaller one at 9:50 in “A Saucerful Of Secrets,” right at the beginning of the “Celestial Voices” section of the track. This is a recording that sounds better playing over the speakers at high volume than under the headphones.
The tape begins with a short introduction by Waters and the mc in German before “Astronomy Domine,” the normal set opener that spring. “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” is introduced as “off of our last LP Ummagumma.” One some dates in late 1969 this was segued with “Green Is The Colour,” but that was dropped for the UK and German dates in early 1970.
The band would resume that the following month on their tour of America. The tape deterioration occurs right about the scream but it does not detract from the power of the piece. Wright’s Egyptian tones are perfectly captured in this recording and are a perfect contrast to the plodding bass. “Cymbaline” is introduced as a song “for a French film called More.” The footsteps that would be featured in the middle section are absent and is replaced by a soft jam.
After “A Saucerful Of Secrets” Waters introduces “another new song. And it’s about an embryo.” At this point in the song’s development there is no cooing baby but rather a Roger Waters lead bass interlude. The cut in “Interstellar Overdrive” goes from the main theme to the “clock section” and is most unfortunate. “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” is full of dread and decay and is followed by a long tuning section where Wright seems to have some problems tuning his organ. Waters repeatedly ask him if he’s ready and the audience laugh along, thinking it is hilarious.
The final song of the set is another new epic, “The Amazing Pudding” later to be renamed “Atom Heart Mother.” The bass and drum tracks for the studio version were recorded at Abbey Road Studio the previous week, and this version is important since it is the earliest reference without the drum solo. There is a cut in the tape at the beginning of the encore blues jam.
This is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with a photo on the front cover of Wright tuning Waters’ bass guitar, something he used to do regularly in the early days. Sigma have released several shows from 1970 this year and they all have a similar black and white cover design. It is a good title to have from the early Atom Heart Mother era and is worth having.
While the cuts and glitches are downers (especially the one in IO, which is a fantastic version otherwise), there is a very creepy atmosphere that permeates this show – especially the latter half, and there are some great instrumental passages/improvs unique to this performance. The “Richard, are you ready?” segment IS hilarious, and perhaps even more so because Sigma have given it a separate track ID number! I haven’t broken out “The Injustice Of A Kaleidoscope Of Sound” yet for comparative purposes, but I have to say I did very much enjoy this updated version, and look forward to the next release from Sigma!