The Great Gig In The Sky (Silent Sea Productions SSR 41925)
An alternate take on The Dark Side Of The Moon – Demos & outtakes 1972
Speak To Me (2:48), Breathe (2:46), On The Run (6:09), Time/Breathe Reprise (6:48), The Great Gig In The Sky (4:22), Money (7:13), Us And Them (7:46), Any Colour You Like (3:23), Brain Damage (3:46), Eclipse (2:50), Money (1:41), Us And Them (5:28), Brain Damage/Eclipse (3:26), Brain Damage Part 1 (1:26), Brain Damage Part 2 (2:20)
The Great Gig In The Sky is an interesting release which offers the listener a glimpse, using many and various sources, that the earliest incarnation of Dark Side Of The Moon sounded like. I don’t think anything can summarize this release better than the actual liner notes printed on the back panel of the digipak, so here they are in their entirety: “The Dark Side Of The Moon, like most of Pink Floyd’s 70s works, underwent a lot of transformations from its initial inception as a concept album early in 1972. After initially laying down demos for their future masterwork the band set out for their first British tour of 72 in January and February. Fans were treated to the first unveiling of Dark Side with the opening night at Brighton Dome on January 20 heralding the debut performance of the album. Dark Side in those days was much more of a bluesy concept than the lush, layered career defining work that it became and as the tour progressed solos changed and the piece began to be knocked into shape. The press were invited down to the first of four consecutive nights at the Rainbow on February 17 and a world buzz began that the Floyd were working on an epic.
“The band continued to tour in Spring playing dates in Japan, Australia, America, and Europe before going back into the studio in the summer to record the bulk of the album with the final recording being completed in January 73. What we have assembled on the disc your are now holding is a hybrid of the album in its embryonic state, from the earliest demos to the legendary and until now never circulated One Side Of The Moontape which has only ever been heard by a handful of Floyd devotees. Legend has it that when the album was remastered in the 90s the engineers broke for lunch leaving with the tape on. He had only 30 minutes but ran off a copy of side 2 with all the faders pushed to the max to leave an unedited version complete with instrumental passages, second guitars and sax solos that had been removed from the final version.
“It is startlingly different in places and one can only surmise what the first side would have sounded like before being edited. We had demos for most of the songs on side one with the exception of “Breathe” and “The Great Gig In The Sky.” To fill in the gaps we used a version of “Breathe” from one of the Rainbow concerts in February 72 and from the same gig “The Great Gig In The Sky’s” predecessor “The Mortality Sequence.” There are gaps between the songs but I’m sure fans will accept this stunning new version for its rarity value. We’ve completed the discs with some more Dark Side demos. Now turn down the lights, light up a big one and enjoy.” (attributed to “Mike B.”)
The first five tracks date from a performance of Eclipse, as it was called at that point, from the Rainbow Theatre in London on February 20th, 1972. “On The Run” at this early stage was a free free form jazzy piece which builds into a tense crescendo leading into “Time” in which both Gilmour and Wright share the vocals in an arrangement that lacks the dramatic bombast of the studio counterpart. A combination of the very good audience recording and excellent sounding soundboard tape are used.
The next five tracks come from the One Side Of The Moon tape mentioned in Mike B’s comments and have never been circulated and are available to the general public for the first time. The sound quality on all of them is simply outstanding and the tracks feature interesting variations on the well known songs. “Money” features a different vocal line, has more use of the cash register and two additional overdubbed guitars in the solo. “Us And Them” features two saxophones playing a duet which are pushed to the back of the mix in favor of piano and backing vocals by the end of the piece. “Any Colour You Like” contains slight differences in the mix and balance of instruments as do “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse.” The finale, which on the studio version fades out with a heartbeat and “there is no dark side of the moon really. As a matter of fact it is all dark” continues with “The only thing that makes it look light is the sun” and additional quotes repeated several times.
The balance of the disc contains several demos that have been in circulation including the acoustic demo of “Money” with Waters on vocal and the band working on “Brain Damage.” Again, the sound quality on all these tracks are the best sounding and are definitive. The Great Gig In The Sky features a photo of the late Richard Wright on the front cover as an homage to the man who played a much more important role in the Pink Floyd sound than many give him credit for. The new demos tend to bring out how interesting and creative the keyboard lines are in the final mix and are a fitting tribute. The only slight negative about this release is that tracks three and four, “On The Run” and “Time/Breathe Reprise” are attributed as demos from Abbey Road instead of being live from the Rainbow Theatre. It is a very minor quibble but it could lead to confusion. Otherwise this is a very important Pink Floyd title and is absolutely essential.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)