Zirkus Krone ’70 (Sigma 6)
Zirkus Krone, Munich, Germany – November 29th, 1970
Disc 1: Astronomy Domine, Fat Old Sun, Cymbaline, Atom Heart Mother
Disc 2: Embryo, Green Is The Colour, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun, A Saucerful Of Secrets
Right after the release of Atom Heart Mother, Pink Floyd played a short, two week tour of Europe which ended on November 29th in Munich. This audience recording surfaced about ten years ago. The first silver release was on Zirkus Krone (Shout To The Top STTP 210/211), which is one of the better releases on a generally inconsistent label. They used at best a fourth generation tape that was clear but rather thin sounding.
Sigma on Zirkus Krone ’70 is a major upgrade of the STTP. There is a much broader spectrum of frequencies available, producing a much more interesting live sound for the show. It still qualifies as a good recording, but there is much more detail audible on the tape and is on the whole much more enjoyable and a major upgrade over the previous silver release.
Although many of the shows in this period were recorded, not many are currently available on silver disc editions. The most common are Reemergence (Highland HL 204/205) with the November 7th Rotterdam show, Montreux Casino (The Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-257-2) of the November 11th Montreux, and Mounting Pressure(Highland HL 196/197) of the November 25 Ludwigshafen tape.
The members of the band have been dismissive of their efforts on Atom Heart Mother. David Gilmour has gone so far as to call the album “absolute crap” and a “blundering in the dark.” Such invective is strange since one of his best compositions “Fat Old Sun” comes from this album.
In hindsight, compared to the albums Meddle and Dark Side Of The Moon that will follow, it isn’t a classic. However at the time it received favorable reviews in the press who were proclaiming Pink Floyd the most progressive band in progressive rock (before that label became anathema). The tape begins with brief tuning and Roger Waters introducing the opening number “Astronomy Domine.” By this time Waters really made this Syd Barrett penned song his own, and Gilmour adds interesting heavy metal style guitar riffs to the long instrumental middle section.
Waters introduces the next song by saying, “this is a brand new song and it’s called ‘Fat Old Sun.'” One of the first songs written for the new album, this version is more than fourteen minutes long with the extended Wright keyboard solo and the jazzy guitar improvisations by Gilmour.
Before the final song of the first half of the show Waters says, “Thank you very much. What we do intend to do is a song off our most recent album. It’s on, it’s an instrumental, it’s called ‘Atom Heart Mother’. Thank you. I propose to sing all the brass parts myself. You may not hear them, but I shall sing them quietly. When we finish that we’re going to take a break and then come back and do some more.”
What follows is a short, sixteen minute version of the piece that lasted for twenty four minutes on the album and was regularly extended to over a half hour in performance. All of the sections are present and there are no cuts in the tape, but they do shorten the individual movements of the suite. The second half of the show begins on the second disc right at the beginning of “The Embryo.” At twelve minutes long it contains some intense jamming and a very strange “seabird” section in the middle.
“This is a song called ‘Green Is The Colour,’ and following it very closely will be an instrumental called ‘Careful With That Axe, Eugene'” is Waters’ introduction to the heart of the second set including a glorious thirteen and a half minute version of “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun.”
There is a long period of tuning and whistles from the audience before Waters introduces the final song of the evening. “This is our last piece this evening. It’s an instrumental and it’s called ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets.'” The first two movements, “Something Else” and “Syncopated Pandemonium” are present on the recording. The tape cuts out after eleven minutes right before “Storm Signal,” cutting that and “Celestial Voices” out completely. What is present is spectacular and it is a shame the taper ran out of tape.
Zirkus Krone ’70 is another great release on the Sigma label. It is an upgrade in sound quality over the previous silver release of the tape, and is a fascinating document of Pink Floyd right around the time of the release of the new album. The label use dull paper instead of the glossy paper used for their other releases and it is limited to only two hundred copies.
In the past I also received the same problem slimline jewel cases from my Sigma source however with the last 5 or so orders, the Sigmas and other items ordered have arrived in high quality cases therefore I think this issue has finally been resolved.
Concerning the performance and sound quality of the release reviewed above, I was expecting this title to sound distorted and/or very distant and to my delight it sounds great on my system plus I really have enjoyed listening to this over and over and haven’t even had it a week yet. I’m not saying that I think it sounds perfect or even EX- however it’s clear and balanced enough to my ears that IMO, this was a excellent performance. I’ve always enjoyed the AHM album and find myself really concentrating on the live material from this period. I’ve been extremely happy with most of my Sigma purchases and they do a excellent job with how they present these titles in both art and sound quality. They try and accomplish presenting these tape sources in the best quality possible and for that reason whenever I get the urge to add more Floyd to my collection, I seek them out. On another note, I also seek out Godfather for releases that Sigma hasn’t added to their catalog and especially since I’ve really noticed the upgrade in sound.
DLee – I too have had this problem with the retail outlet you write of. Sirene, Trial and Highland being labels this problem is prone to and very annoying it is too.
Thanks for the suggestion. Coincidentally, Memphis’ Sleeve Town just happens to be the store from which I’ve ordered 10 of the jewel cases you described twice (total of 20) since the problem came up on me several months ago. I’ve already used more than the first set of 10 to replace very bad ones holding Floyd/ Roger Waters CD’s that I had ordered.
I always recommend having titles shipped without jewel cases and putting them in cases of your own. I’ve found that to be the best way. The best double slimline jewel cases are available from Sleeve Town in Memphis: http://www.sleevetown.com/
The spine for the inner tray snaps over the lip of the bottom casing and anchors the artwork nicely. The hinges are far way from the artwork so there are no worries about the artwork getting ripped if it is warped. Sleeve Town also has great deals on fatboys, singles, DVD cases, mylar sleeves, and anything else you need for your collection.
As for the slimline 2-CD jewel case / rear insert problem that occurs at the spine – yes, I recognize having experienced the exact same problem, only I didn’t experience it at all with “Zirkus Krone ’70” or any of the other Sigma releases that I’ve bought (I didn’t buy the Copenhagen ’70 show). I experienced this VERY FRUSTRATING, maddening problem with several other Floyd releases that I’ve ordered from an excellent store overseas the last several months – mostly a few Siréne titles, but also a Highland one & a Roger Waters 2-pro-CD-R one released on the Blue Cafe label. Unfortunately, I suffered some slightly damaged rear inserts & quite a bit of maddening frustration, and eventually had to replace the horrible slimline 2-CD jewel cases with (much) better ones.
So I’m not sure that Sigma is the one to blame for such a terrible problem – it could be whoever (retailer, wholesaler, supplier, etc.) is receiving them from Sigma, Sirene, Highland, Blue Cafe, etc., etc. before they reach the eventual buyer/collector. Whatever the case actually is, I highly recommend being very careful opening any release that you just bought or ordered in a slimline 2-CD jewel case – especially as once the rear insert becomes slightly damaged, the problem only gets even worse, making it downright impossible to access the 2nd disc without damaging the rear insert & experiencing a lot of frustration. The only way to get the 2nd disc out is to take apart the case & then replace it with a different, better one.
A quick note about Sigma’s packaging for this great title. As with their recent “Blindness” title from Pink Floyd’s November 12, 1970 show in Copenhagen, “Zirkus Krone” comes in a jewel case whose 2 CDs rest on a tray that will tear, or otherwise damage, the artwork insert when trying to access the second disc. In order to preserve their fine artwork, I’ve transferred both titles to superior 2-CD jewel cases that do not move by the case’s spine. To a collector like me, this is important. If anyone at Sigma reads these reviews, please consider upgrading your jewel cases to avoid harming your artwork inserts.
This is a great release. The “Atom Heart Mother” on it is one of Floyd’s best ever of the small-band-only version. Now if only “A Saucerful of Secrets” were complete…..