Theory Of Ruin Value (Sigma 46)
Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA – April 27th, 1975
Disc 1 (57:09): Raving And Drooling, You Gotta Be Crazy, Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-5, Have A Cigar, Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 6-9
Disc 2 (55:58): Speak To Me, Breathe, On The Run, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Great Gig In The Sky, Money, Us & Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse
Disc 3 (25:32): audience, Echoes
Theory Of Ruin Value is a three disc set with the April 27th, 1975 Los Angeles show, the final US show of the spring tour. A previous release, Hog’s In Smog on Shout To The Top, claimed to be from this date but is in reality the April 26th show with “Money” from the June Boston concert. There was a concern on this site that Sigma may have unknowingly copied this one with the false date, but the label are much smarter than that. This is the legitimate complete April 27th show.
The sound quality is very good to almost excellent. It isn’t as detailed or powerful as the Mike Millard tape from the previous night (The Late Great Millard Tapes Highland HL644/645/646). There is muffled conversations and comments around the recorder, but not nearly enough to interfere with the enjoyment of the show and in fact even enhances it giving it atmosphere and character. There is a cut in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-5” between 9:48 to 10:10. An alternate tape is used to fill the gap with a seamless edit.
The four shows Pink Floyd played at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles are famous for the brutality on display by the Los Angeles Police force. Even before the event the commissioner of police Ed Davis called this an illegal pot festival and vowed to increase security. As it turned out, 511 arrests were made over the four days (and was re-enacted and grossly exaggerated in the opening scenes in the film The Wall). Inside the arena the crowd were well behaved and there were no incidences.
Roger Waters was obviously aware and was not happy with the situation. The first words out of his mouth, while introducing “Raving And Drooling” are, “I’d like to dedicate this first tune to your Mr Davis, chief of police of this pretty city.” The great quality of the recording emphasizes the weight of the tune as it chugs along in front of the audience. “Raving And Drooling” is introduced as “another new number.” The more common way to listen to these two tracks now, after thirty years, is to compare them to “Sheep” and “Dogs” on Animals. But it is much more interesting to analyse the songs on their own merit in the form they had at this time.
“Raving And Drooling” has very few words, enigmatic lyrics. Waters sings: “Raving and drooling I fell on his neck with a scream / He had a whole lotta terminal shock in his eyes / That’s what you get for pretending the rest are not real.
“Babbling and snapping at far away flies / he will zig zag his way back through memories of boredom and pain.
And as a final verse: “Raving and drooling I fell on his neck with a scream / it was caught in the middle between the illusion of safety in numbers and the fist in your face.”
It is almost impossible to understand exactly what Waters is singing about. He uses the first person singular pronoun in the first line and repeated twice in the song, so he is the subject, he is doing the action. The subject of the third person singular pronoun “he,” mentioned at various times throughout the song, is never identified. We never know who Waters is singing about. Furthermore the actual action he is performing isn’t clear. How is Waters falling on his neck with a scream? Why is there a look of terminal shock, and what was “he” pretending was not real? At various times Waters describes the song as a aimless shout of anger and is a departure from the themes of alienation and insanity with imbued their previous work. Rather than being the recipient of the pressures of contemporary culture, this emphasizes a destructive acting out in rage.
There is a significant musical departure from Dark Side as well. The tunes that made up their most successful album were different in Pink Floyd’s overall work for being much more melodic and even catchy. “Raving And Drooling” is very good at setting a mood but is far from being catchy and enjoyable. The atmosphere it creates sounds very dark, opaque and monolithic and has much in common with the soon-to-be-written “Welcome To The Machine” than with anything else.
“You Gotta Be Crazy” is much more musically developed than “Raving And Drooling.” Since it is a David Gilmour song there is much more emphasis on the guitar carrying the melody and there are several openings for guitar improvisation. The lyrics take the form of another rant, but are more focused than the other new song. It is very passive aggressive, listing the requirements for attaining fame as a pop star (“you gotta be crazy / you gotta have a real need.”) But also are the consequences for making such decisions (“And when you loose control / You’ll reap the harvest you have sown / And as the fear grows / The bad blood slows and turns to stone.”) It comes off much better as a piece of work overall than “Raving And Drooling” and it’s easy to understand why Gilmour was upset when it wasn’t included on Wish You Were Here recorded later that summer.
The second half of the first set is even more developed than the first. Waters introduces “Shine On” as being “about someone some of you may know, Syd Barrett who used to be in the band.” The significant differences are in the lack of saxophone solos and the high pitched, tense and creepy keyboards in “Have A Cigar.”
The second half of the show, where they play the entire Dark Side Of The Moon is much more warmly received by the audience for obvious reasons. It had already hit number one, become their biggest hit, and the audience were much more familiar with the piece than the first half. It is interesting to note how the band put much effort and improvisation into the connecting tunes of the piece such as “On The Run” and “Any Colour You Like,” both of which are expanded into what passes for jam sessions for Pink Floyd. But also “Money” takes that form too as one of the most accessible songs in the entire set.
The show concludes with “Echoes,” the only song performed as an encore. In the live setting at this point the band put more of their energy into the funky sections rather than the meditative part of the piece. Dick Parry plays a cabaret style saxophone solo (something that would fit very well in a Rolling Stones concert at that time) before they hit upon a catchy rhythm over which Gilmour plays his solos. The epic’s development over the five years it was regularly played is itself another fascinating topic. Theory Of Ruin Value is packaged in a fatboy jewel case to house the three discs. This is another strong Sigma effort in their attempt to standardize the Pink Floyd unofficial tape archives.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)