Santa Monica 1971 (Sigma 50)
Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA – October 16th, 1971
Disc 1 (73:53): Careful With That Axe Eugene, Fat Old Sun, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Atom Heart Mother, The Embryo
Disc 2 (69:00): tuning, Cymbaline, Echoes, A Saucerful Of Secrets, blues
Pink Floyd’s Santa Monica 1971 has been one of the most requested for silver release and Sigma oblige. This contains a good to very good audience recording from the second night of their fifth US tour, scheduled about the same time Meddle was released. The music is slightly distant and there are slight instances of distortion but otherwise is very listenable for a tape almost forty years old. A thirty second clip of “Cymbaline” from the soundboard is also available but the entire show from this source has yet to surface.
This tour for Floyd occurs at a point of serious transition in their ethic. The days of playing psychedelic rock were fast coming to an end as well as the whole “space rock” idea. Material on Meddle was more melodic than previous efforts and as a result the music was more accessible. Of course the only song regularly included in the setlist was “Echoes” with “One Of These Days” making the occasional appearance. It’s a mystery why such songs like “San Tropez,” “Fearless” and “Pillow Of Winds” never were never given a live interpretation.
The six week tour to end 1971 is notable for the very slow interpretations of well known songs in their repertoire. So much so that a review of the October 19th show in Eugene, Oregon (three nights after Santa Monica) pointed out that “Floyd was slow, cluttered, mechanical.” All good music dating back to the introduction of the sonata form is based upon movement. Movement between chords, between phrases and ideas resulting in resolution and cadence.
Pink Floyd appear to eschew all that for what sounds like a monolith of sounds, but in reality they take their time to make a point. And thes same review from the Eugene show points that out, claiming Pink Floyd “put together their collective energies to create the magical ethereal substance of music.” (The Augur)
The show begins with “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” The first couple of nights open with this song but would be moved back in the set. Compared to the somber mood created by “Eugene,” “Fat Old Sun” produces a nice idyllic atmosphere.
Their first tours of the year used “Atom Heart Mother” as the showcase and they even included full band and choir versions in live performance in Europe. But by the fall they were emphasizing the new material and Santa Monica is a good recording of the quick sixteen minute rendition of the epic they soon abandoned.
In the latter half of the show they play two massive epic pieces back-to-back. “Echoes,” the new epic, routinely reached a half hour in these performances with very long Gilmour guitar solos. The section before the seagull part is the point where he takes off into an improvisation before the band return for the finale.
The last song of the set is a twenty minute version of “A Saucerful Of Secrets.” A five minute blues is the encore which begins with Gilmour soloing before Wright takes over the tune on organ. Overall it’s a very enjoyable recording and show from this very important tour in Pink Floyd’s history and Sigma did a good job in mastering and presenting the tape on silver disc.
“Cosmos” Radio Show (limited bonus CDR)
KPPC FM Radio Interviews: Interview with Nick Mason & Richard Wright at KPPC-FM Pasadena on 16th October 1971
The limited edition CDR accompanying Santa Monica 1971 is a recording of an interview Nick Mason and Richard Wright did that day in Pasadena. It is taped off of KPPC-FM with DJ Ted Alvy. They speak about their sound system, Meddle, and why “Interstellar Overdrive” was left off of Ummagumma. The entire transcript of the interview can be found on Brain Damage. Including interviews and radio shows like this offers good historical perspective on the event.