Too Early For A Gig (no label)
Altes Casino, Montreux, Switzerland – November 22nd, 1970
Disc 1 (71:47): Astronomy Domine, Fat Old Sun, Cymbaline, Atom Heart Mother, Embryo
Disc 2 (67:18): Soundcheck, Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, A Saucerful Of Secrets, Interstellar Overdrive
Pink Floyd played two shows in Montreux in November 1970. Both concerts were recorded by EMI and selections of the two were released on promotion acetates. The professional recording has been released several times before, most recently on Atom Hearted Montreux (Tarantura TCDPF-001-1,2) and Swiss Made (Siréne-198).
But several years ago the Victor audience recordings surfaced, redefining our understanding of the setlists and sequences of each of these shows. The first Montreux show on November 21st was pressed last year on Too Late For Mind Expanding (no label).
Too Early For A Gig is the second of the two concerts at the Super Pop ’70 VII, Casino de Montreux. This second performance, hastily added at 2:30pm, is the best sounding and most accurate release. It is essentially a silver pressing of the Harvested release Too Early For A Gig (HRV CDR 037) remastered by Harvested Records founder RonToon.
Thus, “Astronomy Domine” through to “Adam Heart Mother” is the Smoking Blues 1995 recording. Then, “The Embryo” through to “A Saucerful Of Secrets” is Reeling On Pink Floyd Tape 24, and finally “Interstellar Overdrive” is Victor’s own 2009 transfer. The sound is generally an outstanding stereo, picking up all the details in the performance.
The show starts with Roger Waters’ curt “good morning, this is ‘Astronomy Domine.'” Richard Wright’s keyboard introduction sounds meatier than in other versions, before the drums kick in to set up the chaotic rhythm. It is a goofy song, but Waters lends an air of needed gravitas to the lyrics and the others create an effective opening.
“Fat Old Sun” is the first new song from Atom Heart Mother to be played, followed a not-yet-truly-scary “Cymbaline.” Both are very nice, but the band sound tired, as if they’re still warming up.
They follow with the title track from the new album. Lasting over seventeen minutes, it’s a very good rendition of the band-only arrangement. The final track on the first disc is a schizophrenic version of “The Embryo.” The middle is played as a free-form jazz improvisation reminiscent of “The Mortality Sequence” from the early Dark Side performances. The piece would remain in the set, and be expanded, for the next year until its famous twenty-eight minute performance in Cincinnati almost a year to the day later.
The second disc opens with Roger saying “we’re gonna do two things together now, one is another song of the soundtrack to the film More which is called ‘Green is the Colour’ and second thing is an instrumental off Ummagumma and it’s called ‘Careful with that Axe, Eugene.'”
It is perhaps one of the better segues in their live repertoire. The calm and pastoral “Green Is The Colour” offset by the menacing, threatening bass-line of “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” The latter is quick paced and relatively short, but Waters manages to interject many non-sequitur vocals before his blood-curdling shriek.
“Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” is superlative. Wright is given control of the track in the middle improvisation, and he offers very rough and abrasive melodies. They follow with a nice twenty-minute run-through of “A Saucerful Of Secrets” which is rote perfect.
“Interstellar Overdrive” closes the show, played as a rare encore. Waters plays a disjointed bass solo in the middle along with Wright’s tense atmospheric keyboards. It doesn’t really take the song anywhere, but the improve picks up steam when some drums and guitars come in.
They chose not to perform their blues number as they did the previous night.
Pink Floyd’s two Montreux shows in November 1971 are important in their live history. They’ve been subject to much confusion, but these new audience tapes shed a tremendous amount of light. This, along with Too Late For Mind Expanding with the first show, are both tremendously important releases essential to the collection.
Astronomy Domine is fucking great on this.
Excellent, that’s my rating – minimal hiss, even through headphones (and certainly not intrusive), and a terrific balance of instruments. I always find ‘Cymbaline’ an excellent track for assessing the SQ, and there’s no distortion on the chorus: if the needle hit red, it suddenly didn’t saturate. In short, well worth the getting.
What is the sound quality of this release GS?