Santa Monica 1970 (Sigma 70)
Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA – May 1st, 1970
Disc 1 (51:20): Grantchester Meadows, Astronomy Domine, Cymbaline, The Amazing Pudding (Atom Heart Mother)
Disc 2 (79:08): Intro., The Embryo, Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Interstellar Overdrive, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Pink Floyd’s Santa Monica show on May 1st, 1970 was one of the more requested tapes for silver release. It finally came out in 2008 on Heavy Hung (Sigma 27) from a first generation tape. Full of imperfections, nevertheless Plomerus wrote that “Despite the fact that almost all of “Grantchester Meadows” is missing and taking into account the tape deterioration/mild low-end distortion factors, as well as the handful of brief edits, on the whole Heavy Hung makes for an excellent listening experience and is an extremely welcome silver debut. Avid Floyd collectors everywhere should not hesitate in procuring this release, as the sound quality is great for a 1970 audience recording, and barring the aforementioned issues, the set is otherwise presented in its entirety.”
Earlier this year a new version of this show surfaced online called Since We Were Teenagers on Magna Qualitas Records. All of the imperfections in the tape have been carefully addressed utilizing other sources. According to the notes, “Originally ‘Grantchester Meadows’ only ran about 30 seconds. Apparently that is where the taper started recording. We have patched the majority of the song in from the previous show in San Francisco on April 29, but since the very beginning of that fades in we decided to restore that as well from the KQED tape.
“We wanted the birds before the song to be there. The 30 seconds of the song that existed on the tape for this show are all there, but now the whole song exists in a form that is nearly impossible to tell its from more than one show. from 0 to 0:34 April 30 – KQED. From 0:34 to 7:13 April 29 – Fillmore East. From 7:13 to 7:37 (end) May 1 – Santa Monica
“‘Astronomy Domine’ had a small part missing due to a damaged portion of the tape. This was patched with a piece from slightly earlier in the song. The buildup was a bit over saturated and was all at one continuous loud volume, so this was readjusted to better reflect the gradually increasing intensity of the song.
“The original little patch from Santa Monica 1970-10-23 is still in place in ‘Cymbaline.’ It was done so well I can’t even tell where it is, so why mess with perfection?
“A dull spot in the tape at about 14 minutes into ‘The Amazing Pudding’ was repaired.
“The missing part of ‘Careful’ was spliced in from Port Talbot 1969-12-06, curiously this concert was during the Sessions for Zabriskie Point. We searched long and hard through dozens of shows to find a tape where the performance was similar enough to the one at Santa Monica (and with similar sound quality) to fill the missing section. Quite a lot was missing, so it had to be done. The patch exists from 2:33 to 3:48.
“Drop-outs and other anomalies were cleaned up or otherwise repaired. The volume of the whole thing was adjusted in various places to make the dynamics more pleasant, and because the tape sounds like the taper was adjusting the gain on the fly as the show went on in order to compensate for very quiet passages. A lot of the between song banter and tuneups and the tape effects during ‘Cymbaline’ were very quiet, so they were brought up a bit. The distorted sections of the show were carefully restored to avoid a lot of the over saturation they originally contained.
“Several spots where the high end dulled down a bit, likely from deterioration of the master, were EQd separately and patched in in order to compensate for the tonal changes. Noise Reduction was carefully applied in three stages, and the whole thing now appears for the first time in stereo due to the usage of a very sophisticated and well sounding (although freely available) stereo processing plugin. The tape flips were all patched by relocating audience from different parts of the show so the whole thing is now a continuous piece for each set.
“This release is certainly not perfect. Many wrinkles and crumples were present in the master tape, and although we did our best, there’s not a lot that can be done to fix them. It is, however, probably the best it has ever sounded since we were teenagers, maybe even as it ever will…”
The concert itself is described in depth in the Heavy Hung review. This is an enjoyable recording if you keep in mind that it’s edited from various sources for artistic and aesthetic reasons. It’s not 100% accurate in recording the show from that night, but it is a potent reminder of how good Pink Floyd really were as a band on stage in 1970.
Sigma 70 is a worthy re-release, to me – the sound is much better, irrespective of the patches. An upgrade that is clearly such.
I do not mind the ‘Frankenstein’-work on this album; fully enjoying this great release. It’s so good sounding that I agree on the comment that ‘It’s a potent reminder of how good Pink Floyd really were as a band on stage in 1970’! That’s how it was…and thanks to this release, still is!