State University Of New York 1970 (Sigma 252)
SUNY Gymnasium, State University of New York, Stony Brook, Long Island, NY, USA – April 11, 1970
Disc 1 (41:46) Tuning, Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Cymbaline
Disc 2 (42:37) Tuning, Atom Heart Mother, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Pink Floyd’s tour of North America in the spring of 1970 was originally scheduled as a 20 date trek across the country, however the band was forced to cancel the last three dates after their equipment was stolen after a performance in New Orleans. The earliest known recording from the tour is culled from the third date of the tour and featured the bands performance at the Pritchard Gymnasium on the campus of SUNY in Stony Brook. The band played a truncated set for this concert for some unknown reason, a shame as this is a really nice recording and this tour featured a great setlist usually consisting of two sets of music with a short break in the middle.
The taper had decent recording equipment and sounds relatively close to the stage, all the instruments are clear and detailed and there is a small amount of distortion as one would expect but overall a very good recording with a unique atmosphere. Unique in the fact that the taper and his dates have casual conversation during the tuning and occasionally during the music. One would think, bummer, but if one takes the time to listen to it, it’s actually quite amusing. There is only one known recording yet this new version is made up of two different versions of the tape. The first is what is referred to as Trademark Moo based upon the silver title from the Highland label Trademark Moo (Highland HL630). While that title had a bit of noise reduction done on it, it has the best sound of what circulates. It clocks in at 73 minutes long and has cuts between the songs so it is not known if this is the entire performance or not. There is a cut in Cymbaline and A Saucerful Of Secrets cuts out at 9:19 mark, some have suggested Interstellar Overdrive was played as an encore. The second version of the tape is of unknown generation and is ten minutes longer in length with the extra time being all tuning, no additional music. The sound is a notch below Trademark Moo, not as clear and more tape hiss.
This new title by Sigma takes a fan work originated on the Yeeshkul site by the excellent Buffalofloyd and his cohort goldenband, the projects title was “It’s Space Music”, a title taken from the tapers comment. The project uses both the above recordings to present the longest and best version of the concert. Trademark Moo is used for the music and the tuning and additional between song chatter comes from the second version. The transitions between sources are done perfectly providing a seamless listening experience. It’s interesting as the Sigma label is a semi regular topic running through some posts as most certainly the label has used the site for source material. Buffalofloyd has remarked on several occasions positively about how the label uses a cross fading to switch between sources. Based on his work on this project, he has learned very well. Patching the two sources together is not all they did, they fixed the dropouts, did some very slight speed correction and some small tics and other annoying artifacts, the results were worth it as this is the best and most complete version of the tape. When compare to Trademark Moo the main thing you notice is the bass is just a tad lower on this new title and just a touch less distortion making it a bit easier on the ears.
This is a unique performance from this tour, Grandchester Meadows, Green In The Colour, and The Embryo were certainly all dropped and like I stated previously, it is not known if an encore was played or not. Gerard describes the performance as “An intense performance dominated by the long psychedelic instrumentals with no respite for the audience”. This was Pink Floyd’s first tour of the US in nearly two years and had grown considerably, the songs are fully developed pieces played confidently and the band’s sound equipment complete with Azimuth Coordinator was fully employed.
Astronomy Domine is the electric opening song for this concert, Richard Wright’s keyboards are well defined in this recording and his almost flutter notes gives one the feeling of shimmering stars flying by, 1970 versions are quite powerful. The freak out of Careful With That Axe, Eugene is ear splitting in this recording, Roger’s screams pierce the atmosphere, Nick Mason is playing double time as he hammers his kit mercilessly, just an incredible version of the song. The middle section of Cymbaline is interesting, the deep breathing, Rick’s ethereal keys and David’s space bird’s echoing engrosses the listener. You get a feel of the atmosphere inside the Gym during the footsteps section that is captured incredibly in this recording, as are the tapers comments on how the effects are done.
Roger tells the audience they are recording the next song for their new record and it will take up one side, Atom Heart Mother. The audience is dead quiet hearing the as of yet unreleased song. A typically beautiful version of Set The Controls seems to continue the mind expanding, again Nick’s drumming is really good, almost aggressive in the middle jamming section, song never fails to deliver. As Gerard stated in his review, the venue acoustics bring out a spookiness during A Saucerful Of Secrets, sadly the tape runs out during Syncopated Pandemonium, the band sounds locked in ending a very enjoyable concert.
The packaging is typical for Sigma, it uses a concert advertisement for the cover, a stock posed photo for the rear and live shots for the interior. Picture CDs and numbered sticker, it’s all here packaged in a slim lined jewel case. Trademark Moo has been out of print for a very long time, this new title is an excellent way for those who do not have this concert to get it, and for those of us who do have it, is a nice upgrade to a more complete version. Again full marks go to Mr. Buffalofloyd and the entire Yeeshkul community for their tireless efforts to provide some of the best sources for Pink Floyd’s unofficial catalog. All we need now is for Sigma to put out the Saarbrucken 11/28/1970 concert, it’s a glaring omission from the fall 1970 releases.