Historic Floyd, Mac and Doors

By Tom Von Malder | Apr 12, 2017
Photo by: Pink Floyd Records In this 1967 photo, Pink Floyd are, from left, Richard Wright, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Syd Barrett.

Owls Head — Pink Floyd: The Early Years 1965-1967 Cambridge St/ation (Pink Floyd, 2 CDs, 2:11:39, + Blu-ray, DVD, 60+ min.). Last year, Pink Floyd, via Legacy Recordings, issued a massive -- and pricey -- 27-disc box set of material covering TV recordings, more than 20 unreleased songs, BBC sessions, outtakes, demos and more than seven hours of rare concert footage. In all, there were some 130 tracks (12 hours 33 min.) and more than 15 hours of video. Now the set, "The Early Years 1965-1972," has been broken up, with six of the seven volumes within being released separately. An exclusive bonus volume, "Continu/ation," containing a CD, 2 DVDs and 2 Blu-ray discs, remains only available in the overall box set.

"Cambridge St/ation" is the first of the chronological volumes, containing 2 CDs with 33 tracks and a Blu-ray and standard DVD with the same content of 13 rare videos. This volume is devoted solely to work when songwriter/guitarist/singer Syd Barrett was still with the band. The other members were bassist/songwriter/singer Roger Waters, keyboardist Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason. The audio portion includes early 1965 recordings, the highlights of which are "Lucy Leave" and Barrett's Bo Diddley homage, "Double O Bo," done in the Diddley early rock style. While Barrett wrote the bulk of the band's early material -- much of it psychedelic whimsy -- Waters contributed "Walk With Me Sydney." There also is some rare Pink Floyd Blues in a cover of Slim Harpo's "I'm a King Bee" and the band original, "Butterfly." The first disc also contains the band's five early singles, the best of which are "Arnold Layne," "See Emily Play" and "Apple and Oranges." The latter is very Beatlesque in spots. Also good is a 2010 mix of "Matilda Mother," which first appeared on the 40th anniversary edition of "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" album.

Two long-awaited official releases are the instrumental, "In the Beechwoods," and the bit chaotic song, "Vegetable Man." Also of note is "Scream Thy Last Scream." Disc two is a strong 1967 concert from Stockholm, Sweden. However, the vocals are so poorly recorded that is more of an instrumental concert. The music is wonderful though, covering "Reaction in G," "Matilda Mother," "Pow R. Toc H.," "Scream Thy Last Scream," "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun," "See Emily Play" and "Interstellar Overdrive." The second disc concludes with nine pieces of more space-sounding music, recorded at a soundtrack session for an abstract film by John Latham. Pink Floyd never finished the soundtrack and this material is released for the first time.

On the Blu-ray/DVD, the films include "Chapter 24," showing Barrett in the Gog Magog Hills in 1966 and the band in the EMI Studios, London in 1967. An interesting piece contains Mason drumming "Nick's Boogie" at the UFO Club, London and then the band recording "Interstellar Overdrive." The latter also is performed at the UFO Club during the mini-documentary that follows. There are promo videos of "Arnold Lange" (made at Wittering Beach), "The Scarecrow" (folk/pop, filmed outside) and "Jugband Blues." A BBC "Look of the Week" segment has a sort-of antagonistic Hans Keller interviewing Waters and Barrett after a performance of "Astronomy Domine." (Keller says their music is too loud and too repetitive.) There also is an "American Bandstand" performance of "Apples and Oranges," followed by a rather lame interview bit with host Dave Clark. From BBC's "Tomorrow's World" comes an instrumental improvisation. The final four video tracks are of lesser quality but are included for their historic value. They include an instrumental from a German program, "Die Jungen Nachtwandler" (the young night wanderer), outtakes from filming "The Scarecrow" video, a fine performance of "See Emily Play" from BBC's "Top of the Pops" (some of the images are distorted) and a performance of "Interstellar Overdrive" with some brief German narration.

As with each of the six boxes, this comes with some replica memorabilia from the period, including a Disc and Music Echo clipping, the music sheet for "Arnold Layne," five concert posters or ads, a ticket stub and a 12-page booklet, including three pages of Mark Blake writing about the band's early years, with 1967 ending with many erratic performances by Barrett, who soon would be kicked out of the band and replaced with David Gilmour. There also are 14 pages -- most filled with vintage photos -- bound in the center of the hardcover volume. Grade: A

The other five book-style packages include "1968 Germin/ation" (CD, Blu-ray, DVD), which covers the time immediately after Barrett's departure, when the band was still  writing singles, while developing its own unique, more instrumental style. The tracks include non-album single releases, a recently discovered session at Capitol Records studios in Los Angeles and more BBC sessions. The video portion includes a restored promo video of "Point Me at the Sky" and TV performances, including some international ones. "1969 Dramatis/ation" (2 CDs, Blu-ray, DVD) includes the band's two-part conceptual live production of "The Man" and "The Journey," covering a 24-hour period of dreaming, waking and other activities. While never released as a whole, some of the songs were used on the "More" soundtrack and the "Ummagumma" album. This volume includes live performances in Amsterdam and for the BBC in London, as well as bonus tracks that were used in the film "More," but never were released on record. The video material includes 20 minutes of "The Man"/"The Journey" rehearsal at the Royal Festival Hall, plus other live material from 1969.

"1970 Devi/ation" (2 CDs, Blu-ray, 2 DVDs) contains remixed and updated versions of the songs and music created for Michelangelo Antonioni's film, "Zabriskie Point," plus material from the "Atom Heart Mother" album, their first album to top the British charts. The audio includes the first performance for the BBC, featuring an orchestra and choir, while the DVD contains the original Quad mix of the album. There is an hour of Pink Floyd performing live on San Francisco cable TV station KQED. "1971 Reverber/ation" (CD, Blu-ray, DVD) covers the making of the "Meddle" album, with its side-long track, "Echoes." This volume includes the original Quad mix of "Echoes," BBC session recording and original demos. Included in the video are songs performed with Roland Petit and his Marseille ballet company. "1972 Obfusc/ation" (2 CDs, Blu-ray, DVD) covers the period when, during two weeks in France, Pink Floyd recorded the "Obscured By Clouds" album (here in a 2016 remix) and the soundtrack for Barbet Schroder's "La Vallee." The band also performed without an audience in the historic Roman amphitheatre of Pompeii and those performances, edited to a new 5.1 audio mix, are included in the video material, along with material from French TV, performances from Brighton Dome and more performances with the Roland Petit ballet company.

Pink Floyd: The Early Years 1967-1972 Cre/ation" (2 CDs, 112 min.). In addition, last November saw the release of this 2-CD highlights set with 27 tracks from the box set, centering on the box set's rarer material (19 previously unreleased). For example, the second disc has five of the "Zabriskie Point" remixes.

Fleetwood Mac: Tango in the Night: Deluxe Edition (1987, Warner Bros., 3 CDs, 2:58:33 + DVD, 62 min. + vinyl, 44:29). Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the second-best selling record of the band's career comes this deluxe set -- in many ways similar to the earlier release of "Mirage" -- that presents the album in180-gram vinyl, CD and high-resolution DVD. "Tango in the Night" was the 14th studio album by the band, and the fifth -- and last so far -- with the band's most celebrated lineup of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. Produced by Buckingham and Richard Dashut, the album started as a solo project for Buckingham. It came five years after the band's previous album, "Mirage."

The album, which has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, yielded four Billboard Top 20 hits in "Little Lies" (No. 4), "Big Love" (5), "Everywhere" (14) and "Seven Wonders" (19). Of the other songs, "Caroline" is more percussive, "Tango in the Night" starts softer  and then almost has a marching band like beat/percussion (recalling "Tusk") and the closing "You and I, Part II" delights. In the deluxe edition, the DVD contains a high-resolution, 24/96 version of the remastered album that brings out the sophisticated arrangements. The surround sound is particularly effective on "Caroline." The DVD also has five promotional videos: "Big Love" is dominated by Buckingham and runs in quick reverse at the end; Nicks sings the fine "Seven Wonders" and Christine McVie sings the fine "Little Lies," which is given a farm setting and has good surround sound; "Family Man" features some Spanish guitar by Buckingham and old images of families; and "Everywhere," the only video that tells a story, also has good surround sound.

The remastered album is available as a single CD. However, both the deluxe and expanded editions (2 CDs) include a second CD (54:19) with 13 rare recordings, 10 of which were previously unreleased. These include four alternate versions, including "Mystified," with and without vocals, and an alternate mix of "Isn't It Midnight." There are two solid B-sides in "Down Endless Street" and "Ricky," as well as the instrumental "Book of Miracles." Demos and earl versions include "Seven Wonders," "Tango in the Night," "Ooh My Love" (non-LP) and "Where We Belong" (non-LP).

The deluxe edition includes a third disc (79:45) with 14 12-inch remixes, including four versions of "Big Love." Both the "House on the Hill Dub" and "Remix/Edit" are appealing. Also good is the extended and dub versions of "Seven Wonders," and there are similar dual approaches to "Little Lies" and "Everywhere." "Family Man" gets three mixes and an alternate beats version. There also is a vinyl-sized 12-page booklet with an essay about the album's making and printed lyrics. Grade: deluxe version A+

Stevie Nicks: Bella Donna (1981, Modern/Rhino, 3 CDs, 2:51:15). In November, Rhino issued an expanded version of Nicks' first solo album, which followed Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" album and tour. The creative Nicks always came up with more material than the band, which had three very good songwriters, could accommodate. One of the delights of this expanded set is the candid booklet notes by Craig McLean, which includes new interviews with Nicks and producer Jimmy Iovine, the future co-founder of Interscope Records and co-creator of Apple Music. Nicks said the album is "really all about the love story of a songwriter and a producer," as Nicks and Iovine where co-habiting at the time.

Iovine, then 27, was important to the album's sound, having already engineered John Lennon's "Walls and Bridges," Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell," Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" and Patti Smith's "Easter." Iovine was just finishing up work on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' fourth album, "Hard Promises," a connection that proved important as, when Nicks had finished recording, Iovine told her the album lacked a single and Petty had offered his song, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." Despite her initial reluctance to release a cover song as the first single, Nicks recorded the song with the Heartbreakers and Petty sang co-lead. The other hit duet on the album was "Leather and Lace" with the Eagles' Don Henley. Also hits were the iconic "Edge of Seventeen" and "After the Glitter Fades," which featured pedal steel guitar. The song "Think About It" was aimed at fellow Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie, who had considered quitting the band (something she eventually did anyway).

The bulk of the album was recorded live in the studio, with all-star musicians. They included pianist Roy Bittan from Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band; organist Benmont Tench, drummer Stan Lynch and guitarist Mike Campbell from the Heartbreakers; Henley and guitarist Don Felder from the Eagles; guitarist Waddy Wachtel and drummer Russ Kunkel from Linda Ronstadt's band; acoustic guitarist Davey Johnstone from Elton John's band; and pianist Billy Payne from Little Feat. Also on the album is Stax session bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn of Booker T. & the MGs. The album, which topped the Billboard album chart in September 1981, remained on the Billboard 200 chart for three years.

Disc two (50:58) contains nine previously unreleased early takes ("Edge of Seventeen"), alternate  versions or demos (a pretty "Bella Donna"), plus two soundtrack songs: "Blue Lamp" from the "Heavy Metal" soundtrack and the better "Sleeping Angel" from the "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" soundtrack. The unreleased versions of the non-LP songs "Gold and Braid" and "The Dealer" are good, with the third being "If You Were My Love." The third disc (78:12) are 11 live performances from her brief 1982 concert tour (only two weeks long due to her having to travel to France to work on Fleetwood Mac's "Mirage" album). Four of the 11 are previously unreleased. The "White Wind Dove" tour show was recorded in Los Angeles and originally shown on HBO in 1982 and later issued as "In Concert" on LaserDisc and VHS. The live disc includes the Fleetwood Mac songs, "Gold Dust Woman" and "Rhiannon." The booklet is 24 pages and includes lyrics. Grade: A

Stevie Nicks: The Wild Heart (1983, Modern/Rhino, 2 CDs, 1:31:38). Also released in November was this expanded edition of Nicks' second solo album, also produced by Iovine, although he and Nicks were no longer a couple. Again, Craig McLean's notes and interview with Nicks are quite candid, as Nicks found and lost a husband during the record-making process. The recording began shortly after the death of Nicks' best friend, Robin Anderson, and continued a growing collaboration with musician friend Sandy Stewart, who wrote the music to three of Nicks' songs. Stewart also played synthesizer. In four years, she would write "Seven Wonders" for Fleetwood Mac.

Again, many noted musicians can be heard on the album, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers making a return on "I Will Run to You," which reached No. 35 on the Billboard Top Tracks list. Drummer Mick Fleetwood plays on "Sable on Blonde," written by Nicks about herself and Iovine. Toto's Steve Lukather plays hot guitar on the giant hit, "Stand Back," which also features an uncredited Prince. Prince's contribution is detailed in the booklet notes, however. The album's opening title track was based on the film "Wuthering Heights," while the closing track, "Beauty and the Beast," was based on Jean Cocteau's 1946 film. The latter features a 60-piece orchestra, conducted by Paul Buckmaster (Elton John, The Rolling Stones). The album's singles were "Stand Back" (No. 5), the wonderful "If Anyone Falls" (14) and the lovely "Nightbird" (33), with videos of the first two in heavy rotation on MTV.

Disc two (46:24) includes seven unreleased tracks, "Violet and Blue" from the "Against All Odds" soundtrack and the B-side, "Garbo." There are unreleased versions of non-LP songs "I Sing for the Things," "All the Beautiful Worlds," "Sorcerer" and "Dial the Number." Grade: A

Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie: The two Fleetwood Mac band members have announced they will release their first self-named duo album  on Atlantic Records June 9. The collaboration began three years ago when McVie rejoined Fleetwood Mac for the "On With the Show" tour. The pair went into the studio to record new material prior to rehearsals for the tour. The pair were joined in the studio by fellow bandmates Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, who provided the rhythm section. The announced song titles are "Around the Corner," "Feel About You," "In My World," "Red Sun," "Love is Here to Stay," "Too Far Gone," "Lay Down for Free," "Game of Pretend," "On With the Show" and "Carnival Begin." The duo also will be touring, with a June 28 appearance at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston, the closest to Maine. Tickets begin going on sale April 21.

The Doors: The Doors Deluxe Edition (1967, Elektra/Rhino, 3 CDs, 2:15:46 +vinyl, 44:29). The Doors' first album, here released in a 50th anniversary edition, was one of the most influential debut albums in rock history. Packaged in a 12 x 12 hardcover book, the set includes a remastered version of the album's original stereo mix, available on CD for the first time in a decade and remastered for the first time in nearly 30 years. The album's original mono mix also has been remastered and makes its CD debut here, as well as appearing on the vinyl LP. The third disc features a live performance at The Matrix in San Francisco, recorded just weeks after the album was released. The 12-page, vinyl-sized booklet includes detailed liner notes by music journalist David Fricke (a lot about whether Jim Morrison really did throw a TV at a window during the recording sessions) and rare and previously unseen photographs.

The Doors, from Venice, Calif., were poet/songwriter/singer Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek (his organ work is particularly striking), guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. At the time, Morrison could not read music nor play an instrument.; however, he once explained that he "heard in my head a whole concert situation, with a band and singing and an audience." The album was recorded in five days, live to four-track tape with minimal overdubs and editing, with producer Paul A. Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick.

Nearly every song on the album is a classic, with the exception of the three that come right before "The End," the album's closer. Probably not coincidentally, they are the same three songs not performed at The Matrix, while the rest of the album is. The album's first side consists of "Break on Through (To the Other Side" (with Densmore using a bossa nova drum groove), "Soul Kitchen," "The Crystal Ship" (a wonderful change of pace), "Twentieth Century Fox," a cover of Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill's "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" (with a bouncy beat; David Bowie would cover the song in 1980) and their breakout single, "Light My Fire" (clocking in at just over seven minutes, as the album version includes the song's solos). The second side opened with "Back Door Man" (Willie Dixon's Chicago blues number), followed by the less memorable songs ("I Looked at You," "End of the Night," "Take It as It Comes") and concluded with the lengthy "The End" (11:50), which includes an Oedipal spoken-word section.

For this release, the stereo version of "Light My Fire" has been speed-corrected for the first time. The speed discrepancy (about 3.5 percent slow) was caught by a professor, who noted that all the video and audio live performances of The Doors performing the song, the sheet music and the statements of band members all show the song in a key almost a half step higher than the stereo LP release. Until the remasters, only the original 45 RPM singles of "Light My Fire" and "Break On Through" were produced at the correct speed.

The live Matrix material is an actual find, as the recordings of the March 7,1967 show heard in this deluxe edition were sourced from the recently discovered, original tapes, previously thought to be lost. When the Matrix recordings were released in 2008, they were from a third-generation source, with lesser sound quality. The joy of the Matrix recordings is the impulsive digressions. As Fricke points out, Morrison adds force to the word "insane" in "Crystal Ship'; Manzarek's organ solo in "Back Door Man" differs;  and Morrison made lyric changes. In "Back Door Man," "I've got the right to love you" becomes "I've got the right to misuse you"; and in "Alabama Song," he reverts to the original lyric of "Show me the way to the next little boy." Morrison also adds a new, improvised mid-section to "The End": "Can you stand by and watch the pictures burn?" Grade: A

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