Toledo 1971 (Sigma 234)
Fieldhouse, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA – October 31, 1971
Disc 1 (48:22) Introduction, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, Atom Heart Mother, One Of These Days, Careful With That Axe Eugene
Disc 2 (36:07) Cymbaline, Echoes, Blues
The early 1970’s period of Pink Floyd has always fascinated me, their studio recordings and live output, most times experimental and musically diverse, featured the band beginning to develop a direction and sound that would make them one of the most successful Rock bands in music history. For me it’s a cause for celebration when I see a recording from this period, not previously released in the collectors market, finally get some attention, the Toledo 1971 recording falls into this category.
The recording from Toledo has circulated in trading circles for years, it falls in the very good category. The sound is full and was certainly recorded close to the stage, it is a clear and detailed recording but the main issue with the tape is the recording device could not handle the volume and the tape suffers from distortion during the loud sections. The recording is also incomplete, the first two songs, The Embryo and Fat Old Sun were not recorded and the taper paused between songs so there is no real stage banter other than a “thank you”, the footstep section of Cymbaline is also cut. There is a bit of tape hiss as one would expect from a tape this age but overall this is a very listenable and enjoyable recording. There was a vinyl release years back entitled The Heart Of Toledo Vol 1 (MERK 18) and The Heart Of Toledo Vol 2 (MERK 19), and finally on CD-R as University of Toledo (No Label), this new Sigma title is the first silver disc set of this material.
The recording begins with a bit of tuning then right into a typical Fall ‘71 version of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun. You can feel the soundscape begin to encompass you then over a minute in they begin the familiar chord sequence. The tempo builds until you are in the Sun, even though there is some overloading, you can hear instruments in the controlled chaos. The waterfall or cascading soundscape played by Richard gives the feeling of floating then Roger’s vocals allow the listeners to drift away, a person close to the tape can only say “Amazing”. Atom Heart Mother sounds quite epic and is a standard late ‘71 version, by this time the band had been playing more compact versions of the piece that I actually prefer over the versions played the previous year, less presumptuous more focused. Richard Wright shines, he plays some really nice runs.
As one would expect, One Of These Days suffers the most in the recording. The recording device is no match for the bombast that follows, yet thankfully the sound is more muffled than heavily distorted. We actually get Roger’s simple introduction, “this is called One Of These Days” to no fanfare although there is some hooligan hollering about. Cymbaline is not complete cutting at the 7:15 mark during the footsteps section, just as the girl starts laughing. Echoes is great, the band nail it (as usual), the middle funky section is a joy with the band locking into the groove with some cool interaction between Gilmour and Wright just prior to the seabirds section. A standard Blues closes the show, a bit over five minutes in length followed by audience cheers and a simple “goodnight” from Roger.
The packaging is typical for Sigma, live shots of the band superimposed over the front cover of Meddle, picture discs, numbered sticker, it’s all here. There is a really cool gig poster for this show that is sadly not on the artwork, but no worries. Again, we get an unexpected release from Sigma giving collectors something new and hope they keep them coming. Sigma has done a nice job over the years upgrading most of the really good recordings from this year, so it’s nice to see Chicago and Toledo finally get a release. There is a couple more from this tour, Ann Arbor and Quebec that need to be released and upgraded as well. This is a typically great fall 1971 performance and is an excellent release by Sigma.