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Hear Pink Floyd’s ‘Point Me at the Sky’: Their (non) hit single that Roger Waters called a ‘failure’
02:00 pm


Pink Floyd

Although apparently seen by some members of the group as one of their most embarrassing moments, 1968’s “Point Me at the Sky,” the fifth single from Pink Floyd is hardly cringeworthy. The song was recorded on November 4, after Syd Barrett’s departure from the group that Spring. It was written by David Gilmour and Roger Waters under duress from the record label to continue producing the sort of catchy psychedelic whimsy their original leader was famous for.

The lyrics describe a fellow named Henry McClean calling up his friend Eugene with an offer of flight…

Hey, Eugene,
This is Henry McClean
And I’ve finished my beautiful flying machine
And I’m ringing to say
That I’m leaving and maybe
You’d like to fly with me
And hide with me, baby

Isn’t it strange
How little we change
Isn’t it sad we’re insane
Playing the games that we know and in tears
The games we’ve been playing for thousands and thousands and ....

Pointing to the cosmic glider
“Pull this plastic glider higher
Light the fuse and stand right back”
He cried “This is my last good-bye.”

Point me at the sky and tell it fly
Point me at the sky and tell it fly
Point me at the sky and tell it fly

And if you survive till two thousand and five
I hope you’re exceedingly thin
For if you are stout you will have to breathe out
While the people around you breathe in

People pressing on might say
It’s something that I hate to say
I’m slipping down to eat the ground
A little refuge on my brain

Point me at the sky and tell it fly
Point me at the sky and tell it fly
Point me at the sky and tell it fly

And all we’ve got to say to you is good-bye
It’s time to go, better run and get your bags, it’s good-bye
Nobody cry, it’s good-bye
Crash, crash, crash, crash, good-bye…


The song was a flop, its B-side, “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” (I wonder if it’s the same Eugene as the A-side?) becoming the better known number. “Point Me at the Sky” is perhaps the most obscure of all the band’s singles, having never appeared on a Pink Floyd album until the 1992 Shine On box’s The Early Singles disc. At that, The Early Singles was still only available to fans who purchased that expensive box set. (In the US, it was never released as a single at all, and available only as a cut on a 1978 Harvest Records sampler that was only sold via mail order.)

The group made a short promotional film for the song, taking flight in a 1920s vintage Tiger Moth aeroplane. The plane flies around the Biggin Hill aerodrome in Southeast London—where the photo of all the group’s equipment was shot for Ummagumma‘s back cover—and there are shots of the trains pulling in and out of Paddington Station.

I can’t imagine why they thought “Point Me to the Sky” was so bad—Roger Waters called it a “notable failure”—I’m in love with this song. They’ve recorded way worse.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ comic book tour program
10:24 am


Pink Floyd

This incredible comic book program, designed by Hipgnosis for Pink Floyd’s 1975 tour supporting The Dark Side of the Moon, is full of wonders. It has an appealing lack of polish that puts it somewhere halfway between “professional promotional item” and “schoolboy’s notebook scribbling.” The bubble letters on page 2, where the credits are, are particularly striking. The “programme” is credited to Hipgnosis, Nick Mason, Gerald Scarfe, Paul Stubbs, Joe Petagno, Colin Elgie, Richard Evans, and Dave Gale. Scarfe, of course, would create the imagery for Floyd’s 1980 album The Wall.

The comic book features a short comic about “Rog Waters,” who is identified as the “ace scorer” of the football squad called the “Grantchester Rovers,” contending with a nefarious waiter who has “doped” him, but he fights back and leads his team to (apparently) ... a rousing tie. There’s also a comic about “Captain Mason,” of the Royal Navy in World War II. There’s plenty more, but I’ll leave you to find out the rest on your own.

Most interesting is the mention of a “film” directed by Peter Medak, who at the time had The Ruling Class and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg among his directorial credits, and since then also helmed Romeo is Bleeding, The Krays, and Zorro, The Gay Blade. In Echoes: The Complete History of Pink Floyd Glenn Povey describes the film as “an interpretation of Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon,” which sounds pretty tasty to me—what happened to that movie?

This is quite the collector’s item—on eBay it’s currently available for $149.99.

(click on any image to see a larger image)





The rest of the comic book is after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The artist formerly known as Dean Ween spearheads epic 37-minute cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’
06:27 am


Pink Floyd
Dean Ween

Photo credit: Beta Klein
The great and inventive band Ween broke up in 2012, but both parts of the group have remained musically active. Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) put out Marvelous Clouds, an impressively catchy album of Rod McKuen covers as well as an album called FREEMAN. For his part, Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) has been touring to support his side project Moistboyz’ fifth album, appropriately titled 5. (In that band, which also features Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age, Melchiondo goes by the name Mickey Moist.)

On February 21 of this year, Melchiondo “fulfilled a long-held wish,” according to Ultimate Classic Rock, when he took the stage at John and Peter’s in New Hope, Pennsylvania (long Ween’s base of operations) and cranked out a monster 37-minute version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes,” which occupies side 2 of their 1971 album Meddle. That version lasted a paltry 23 minutes, so judging from that metric alone, Melchiondo’s version is obviously 61% better. On Live at Pompeii, the song is broken up into “Echoes, Part 1” and “Echoes, Part 2,” and the two tracks together clock in at about 25 minutes.

Photo credit: Beta Klein
Joining Melchiondo for the performance are Guy Heller (vocals), Bill Fowler (guitar and vocals), Ray Kubian (drums), Sean Faust (keyboards), and Chris Williams (bass). If you have any doubts about Melchiondo’s ability to write and execute a lengthy hard-rock guitar piece, I urge you to listen to “Woman and Man,” an epic 11-minute slab of ass-kicking rock that constitutes the penultimate track of Ween’s 2007 album La Cucaracha

As Melchiondo explained, “We grew up watching Live at Pompeii all the time and finally got to execute this song properly.” I’m no Pink Floyd authority, but I listened to the Pompeii version and the Deaner version back to back, and I think the 2014 version holds up pretty well.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Madcap’s Last Laugh: Syd Barrett tribute concert w/ Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, Chrissie Hynde

Here’s a real treat: On the 10th of May, 2007 at London’s Barbican Centre, a diverse group of great musicians got together to honor the memory of the late Roger “Syd” Barrett, the founding member of Pink Floyd. The co-musical director for the show was one of my best friends, Adam Peters (you’ve heard his cello in Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Killing Moon,” “Life in a Northern Town” by The Dream Academy and on many albums. Adam also did the soundtrack to my Disinformation TV series and now he works on Hollywood films).

Also appearing with Roger Waters, was my former next door neighbor in NYC, Jon Carin. Jon actually has played with both Pink Floyd AND Roger Waters. I think he’s the only person to have had a foot in both camps, which was interesting position to be in, I think you’ll agree. Surely there’s a book in that!

When Adam got back from the concert, full of great stories about the experience, I was eager to hear a CD of the show, but he told me that it had deliberately not been recorded because the idea was that this was a very special event and if you were there, you saw and heard something amazing, but that it would… evaporate. Of course Pink Floyd fans being what they are, at least one enterprising fellow made a pretty good audience recording. Here ‘tis as generously shared by the quite wonderful Brain Damage podcast. The show starts about 7 minutes in. It’s pretty amazing.

This incredible event was a tribute to the late Roger “Syd” Barrett, produced by Nick Laird-Clowes (of Dream Academy) with associate producer Joe Boyd (early Pink Floyd’s producer and founder of legendary UFO club in London). Surprise performances from Roger Waters himself with Jon Carin then the entire current Pink Floyd line-up (David Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason) were absolutely unbelievable!

The numerous other artists performing Syd Barrett’s music included Damon Albarn (Blur/Gorillaz), Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), The Bees, Vashti Bunyan, Captain Sensible, Robyn Hitchcock. The house band included Andy Bell (bass, Oasis), Simon Finley (drums, Echo & The Bunnymen) and Ted Barnes (guitar, Beth Orton).  A remarkably fitting tribute to Roger “Syd” Barrett.  Doctored for supersound!


Set 1
1. Show intro
2. Bike - Sense of Sound Choir
3. Flaming - Captain Sensible & Monty Oxymoron
4. Here I Go - Kevin Ayers
5. Oh, What A Dream - Kevin Ayers
6. Baby Lemonade - Nick Laird-Clowes & Damon Albarn
7. Octopus - The Bees
8. The Gnome - Nick Laird-Clowes & Neulander (Adam Peters/Korinna Knoll)
9. Matilda Mother - Mike Heron
10. Golden Hair - Martha Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle & Lily Lanken
11. See Emily Play - Martha Wainwright, Kate McGarrigle & Lily Lanken
12. Flickering Flame - Roger Waters & Jon Carin

Set 2
13. Video presentation
14. Chapter 24 - Gordon Anderson & Sense of Sound Choir
15. The Scarecrow - Vashti Bunyan, Gareth Dickson & Nick Laird-Clowes
16. Love Song - Vashti Bunyan, Gareth Dickson & Nick Laird-Clowes
17. Ian Barrett - Talking about his uncle Roger “Syd” Barrett
18. The Word Song - Damon Albarn, Kate St. John & David Coulter
19. Astronomy Domine - Captain Sensible & Jon Carin
20. Terrapin - Robyn Hitchcock
21. Gigolo Aunt - Robyn Hitchcock, John Paul Jones & Ruby Wright
22. Dark Globe - Chrissie Hynde & Adam Seymour
23. Late Night - Chrissie Hynde & Adam Seymour
24. Joe Boyd - Talking about Roger “Syd” Barrett and organising the show
25. Arnold Layne - David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright
26. Jugband Blues from video presentation
27. Bike - Jam Session with all musicians (except for Roger Waters)

Below, what would be the final performance by Pink Floyd. David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nick Mason play “Arnold Layne” with Jon Carin (keyboards, vocals) and Andy Bell from Oasis (bass guitar).

Roger Waters and Captain Sensible videos after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Superstars In Concert’: Jimi, Cream, Rolling Stones, Ike & Tina Turner & more in obscure classic

When the question of “What’s the best/great rockumentary of all?” is asked, the answers can range quite widely obviously, from something like Don’t Look Back or Let It Be to The Last Waltz or Stop Making Sense (which both seem to make almost everyone’s lists) to something totally out of left field and life-affirming like Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King. I really loved the new Pulp: a Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets... and wouldn’t “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” be in the running for all-time best rockumentary? Of course it would be!

It’s an impossible question to answer, but sidestepping it somewhat, if I had to pick the best overall “time capsule” of the rock era to preserve for future generations, it would probably be Peter Clifton’s Superstars In Concert.  Also known as Rock City in a different edit, the film was directed and produced by Clifton (The Song Remains the Same, Popcorn, The London Rock and Roll Show) and is a hodge-podge compiling (mostly) his promotional short films and snippets of concert performances shot between 1964 and 1973 by the likes of Peter Whitehead (Wholly Communion, Charlie Is My Darling, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London), Michael Cooper (who shot Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising), Ernest Vincze (the cinematographer responsible for the 2005 Doctor Who reboot) and Ivan Strasburg (Treme).

Featured in the film are The Rolling Stones (several times), Eric Burdon and The Animals, a typically demure appearance of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Otis Redding bringing the house down, Cream, Steve Winwood, Blind Faith, Cat Stevens (a stark Kubrickian promo film for his “Father and Son” single) , The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Donovan, Joe Cocker, a segment with The Ike and Tina Turner Revue that will bring a smile to your face, Pink Floyd and Rod Stewart and the Faces. Pete Townshend is seen getting in his digs at the Stones for promoting pot use, managing to make himself look like a blue-nosed twat in the process, while Mick and the boys are seen doing “Jumpin Jack Flash” in the (decidedly more evil) warpaint version of that promo film (there were two, this is the one that was NOT shown on The Ed Sullivan Show for obvious reasons) and in their promo film for “We Love You” which features Keef in a judge’s wig, Marianne Faithfull as a barrister and Mick nude wrapped up in a fur rug (a sly joke that if you don’t get, then google “Rolling Stones,” “Redlands,” drug bust, her name and “Hershey Bar.”)

Superstars In Concert came out in Japan on the laserdisc format and that’s how I first saw it, in the late 80s. Since then, other than the various clips showing up cut from the film on YouTube, it’s remained an obscurity. Apparently there was a Malaysian bootleg and then in 2003 a Brazilian magazine called DVD Total gave away the film for free with one of their issues. So far fewer than 200 people have viewed the video.

DO NOT miss what’s perhaps the most intense version of Pink Floyd’s “Careful with That Axe Eugene” ever captured on film. This entire film is absolutely amazing from start to finish, but it jumps off the scale during that part (Otis Redding is no slouch, either!) I highly recommend letting it load first before you hit play, otherwise it’s kind of flickery. If you wait a while, it doesn’t hang up and looks and sounds great.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Lose your mind and play’ Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd ‘live’ on TOTP, 1967

I type this as someone who has (perhaps obsessively) gone out of his way—for decades now—acquiring Pink Floyd bootlegs. I couldn’t get enough of them, always trading up in quality if possible. There was always an endless supply of them, with “new” ones popping up constantly. It was a disease like stamp collecting. I even paid a hundred bucks for one that I just had to have…

Since YouTube launched in 2005, of course, there’s been so much additional Pink Floyd goodness making its way to the public—an avalanche really—which is the only way to explain how THIS ONE got past me in the Floydian deluge… I’d read a few years ago that the British Film Institute had located tapes of two of Pink Floyd’s three Top of the Pops appearances in the summer of 1967 and that the quality was a little ropey. I promptly forget about it, but that footage turned up on YouTube about a year ago, even if I just saw it myself this morning.

True the quality isn’t great—only one of the tapes was watchable apparently—but who’s going to complain about catching a rare glimpse of a still functional Syd Barrett fronting Pink Floyd on TOTP in 1967??? Before this video was located, practically the only documentation of the group’s trio of appearances on the program was the color shot used on the Syd Barrett bootleg “Unforgotten Hero” as seen above.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Free Four’: The first Pink Floyd song to get significant FM radio airplay in America, 1972
12:13 pm


Pink Floyd

Although I would imagine that memories of this tend to be hazy... for many—most—Americans aged 50 and older, it’s fairly likely that the first time they heard Pink Floyd (unless they were serious musos with subscriptions to Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone and Creem) was via the 1972 single “Free Four” (as in “One, Two, FREE FOUR!”) their first song to garner significant FM radio airplay, making it into the top 50.

“Free Four” comes from the group’s Obscured by Clouds soundtrack produced for Barbet Schroeder’s La Vallée (“The Valley”) film. It’s the second song the Floyd would record (after A Saucerful of Secrets’ “Corporal Clegg” in 1968) about Roger Waters’ father, who died in WWII. Now largely forgotten,“Free Four” is a jaunty little number, apparently, until you pay attention to the lyrics, which are as biting and as bitter as anything Waters has ever written:

The memories of a man in his old age
Are the deeds of a man in his prime.
You shuffle in gloom in the sickroom
And talk to yourself till you die.
Life is a short, warm moment
And death is a long cold rest.
You get your chance to try
In the twinkling of an eye:
Eighty years, with luck, or even less.
So all aboard for the American tour,
And maybe you’ll make it to the top.
And mind how you go.
I can tell you, because I know.
You may find it hard to get off.
You are the angel of death
And I am the dead man’s son.
And he died like a mole in a fox hole.
And everyone is still in the run.
And who is the master of foxhounds?
And who says the hunt has begun?
And who calls the tune in the courtroom?
And who beats the funeral drum?

And who would have thought that about a year later, the purveyors of this depressing ditty would unleash one of the top selling albums of all time? You’ll note that “Free Four” sounds like Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” played by The Kinks with Marc Bolan on second guitar and sung by Paul McCartney.

“Free Four” picture sleeves are among the most collectible of all Pink Floyd records.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Careful with that Pirouette, Eugene: The Pink Floyd Ballet
10:06 am


Pink Floyd
Roland Petit

The great French choreographer Roland Petit’s “Pink Floyd Ballet” saw the group performing live onstage in 1972 and 1973 with the dancers of Le Ballet de Marseille, Petit’s company. Oddly, the original idea for the ballet was to do a version of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past!

Nick Mason: “But nobody read anything. David did worst, he only read the first 18 pages.” [Miles]

Roger Waters: “I read the second volume of Swann’s Way and when I got to the end of it I thought, ‘Fuck this, I’m not reading anymore. I can’t handle it.’ It just went too slowly for me.” [Miles]

Later Petit wanted to do A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

Nick Mason: “Proust has been knocked on the head.” [Miles]“Originally he was going to do a complete program: a piece by Zinakist, a piece by us, and a new production of Carmen. I think he has now decided to do just two pieces — Zinakist’s and ours — which has meant doubling the length of the thing we are going to do.” [Miles]

Nick Mason [February 1972]: “We haven’t started work on it yet. We’ve had innumerable discussions, a number of lunches, a number of dinners, very high powered meetings; and I think we’ve got the sort of storyline for it. The idea is Roland Petit’s and I think he is settled on the ideas he wants to use for the thing so I think we’re going to get started. Ballet is a little like film actually. The more information you have to start with, the easier it becomes to write. The difficulty about doing albums is that you are so totally open. It’s very difficult to get started.” [Miles]

Roger Water and Nick Mason discussed the experience in retrospect in 1973:

Roger Waters: “The ballet never happened. First of all it was Proust then it was “Aladdin,” then it was something else. We had this great lunch one day [4 December 1970]: me, Nick and Steve [O’Rourke]. We went to have lunch with [Rudolph] Nureyev, Roman Polanski, Roland Petit and some film producer or other. What a laugh! It was to talk about the projected idea of us doing the music, and Roland choreographing it, and Rudy being the star and Roman Polanski directing the film and making this fantastic ballet film. It was all a complete joke because nobody had any idea of what they wanted to do.”

Interviewer: “Didn’t you smell a rat?

Roger: “I smelt a few poofs! Nobody had any idea — it was incredible.”

Nick Mason: “It went on for two years, this idea of doing a ballet, with no one coming up with any ideas. Us not setting aside any time because there was nothing specific, until in a desperate moment Roland devised a ballet to some existing music which I think was a good idea. [Referring to the winter ‘72-‘73 performances] It’s looked upon a bit sourly now.”

Roger Waters [still on about the 4 Dec lunch]: “We sat around this table until someone thumped the table and said, ‘What’s the idea then?’ and everyone just sat there drinking this wine and getting more and more pissed, with more and more poovery going on ‘round the table, until someone suggested Frankenstein and Nureyev started getting a bit worried, didn’t he? They talked about Frankenstein for a bit — I was just sitting there enjoying the meat and the vibes, saying nothing, keeping well schtuck.”

Nick: “Yes, with Roland’s hand upon your knee!”

Roger: “And when Polanski was drunk enough he started to suggest that we make the blue movie to end all blue movies and then it all petered out into cognac and coffee and then we jumped into our cars and split. God knows what happened after we left, Nick.” [Miles]

Dave Gilmour: “In fact we did that ballet for a whole week in France. Roland Petit choreographed to some of our older material . . . but it’s too restricting for us. I mean, I can’t play and count bars at the same time. We had to have someone sitting on stage with us with a piece of paper telling us what bar we were playing…” [Miles]

“The Pink Floyd Ballet” has been performed all over the world since its debut. Aside from the Pink Floyd, Petit also worked with Serge Gainsbourg, Yves Saint-Laurent, David Hockney, Jean Cocteau, Rudolf Nureyev and artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Roland Petit died in 2011 at the age of 87.

Filmed during the dress rehearsals in Marseille on November 21, 1972:

November 26th, the final night in Marseille:

During rehearsals in Paris, at le Palais des Sports de la Porte de Versailles, on January 12, 1973. Dig how fluent David Gilmour is, seen suavely speaking French here with a reasonably passable accent:

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Household Objects’: Pink Floyd decides to make an album with no musical instruments, 1973
09:36 am


Pink Floyd

In late 1973, the members of Pink Floyd, probably somewhat perplexed themselves at the massive, massive worldwide sales of The Dark Side of the Moon, not to mention creatively intimidated to have to come up with a sequel to that monster, went back into the studio with the notion of recording something entirely avant garde for the album’s follow-up.

What the decided upon was to record an album of musique concrète using only sounds produced by common household items. The “Household Objects” sessions were known to yield just two, and perhaps three, recordings, before the band decided it would be easier to just use, say, a bass, instead of rubber bands attached to two tables, to get a bass guitar sound.

From “A Rambling Conversation with Roger Waters Concerning All This and That,” an Interview by Nick Sedgewick

Nick Sedgewick: I remember I went to E.M.I. studios in the winter of ‘74, and the band were recording stuff with bottles and rubber bands… the period I’m talking about is the before your French tour in June ‘74. [Not according to the Pink Floyd Encyclopedia, the recording dates were all between October and early December of 1973]

Roger Waters:  Ah! Right, yeah. Answer starts here… (great intake of breath)... Well, Nick… there was an abortive attempt to make an album not using any musical instruments. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it didn’t come together. Probably because we needed to stop for a bit.

Nick Sedgewick: Why?

Roger Waters:  Oh, just tired and bored…

Nick Sedgewick: Go on… to get off the road? ... have some breathing space?

Roger Waters: Yeah. But I don’t think it was as conscious as that really. I think it was that when Dark Side of the Moon was so successful, it was the end. It was the end of the road. We’d reached the point we’d all been aiming for ever since we were teenagers and there was really nothing more to do in terms of rock’n roll.

Nick Sedgewick: A matter of money?

Roger Waters:  Yes. Money and adulation… well, those kinds of sales are every rock’n roll band’s dream. Some bands pretend they’re not, of course. Recently I was reading an article, or an interview, by one of the guys who’s in Genesis, now that Peter Gabriel’s left, and he mentioned Pink Floyd. in it. There was a whole bunch of stuff about how if you’re listening to a Genesis album you really have to sit down and LISTEN, its not just wallpaper, not just high class Muzak like Pink Floyd or Tubular Bells, and I thought, yeah, I remember all that years ago when nobody was buying what we were doing. We were all heavily into the notion that it was good music, good with a capital G, and of course people weren’t buying it because people don’t buy good music. I may be quite wrong but my theory is that if Genesis ever start selling large quantities of albums now that Peter Gabriel, their Syd Barrett, if you like, has left, the young man who gave this interview will realize he’s reached some kind of end in terms of whatever he was striving for and all that stuff about good music is a load of fucking bollocks. That’s my feeling anyway. And Wish You Were Here came about by us going on in spite of the fact we’d finished.

Oi, talk about being brutally honest, there, Roger!

In his book, Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, Nick Mason wrote:

“Almost everything we’ve ever recorded in a studio has been extracted by someone at some point and subsequently bootlegged. However, no such recordings exist of the ‘Household Objects’ tapes for the simple reason that we never managed to produce any actual music. All the time we devoted to the project was spent exploring the non-musical sounds, and the most we ever achieved was a small number of tentative rhythm tracks.”

These tapes, two of them at least, were released on The Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here “Immersion” box sets.

“The Hard Way” sounds much more realized to me than just a mere rhythm track:

The “singing bowl” sound of “Wine Glasses” was used two years after it was recorded for the opening of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” One would have assumed that the shimmering, ethereal sound that starts that number was a keyboard, but no it was a manipulated recording of a gently rubbed wine glass!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Listen to some lesser-known Pink Floyd gems from their soundtrack to ‘More’
07:52 am


Pink Floyd
Barbet Schroeder

For one of the top-selling rock groups of all time, there are several albums by Pink Floyd that are virtually unknown to the vast majority of people who would call themselves “big” Pink Floyd fans (but who only actually own The Wall and The Dark Side Of The Moon).

One such album is their 1969 soundtrack album for French/Swiss director Barbet Schroeder’s More, an English language film about heroin addicts in Ibiza modeled on the Icarus myth. I think it’s one of the very best Pink Floyd albums, or at least it has a handful of some of their very best songs.

As Roger Waters said of the working on More:

“His [Barbet Schroeder’s] feeling about music for movies was, in those days, that he didn’t want a soundtrack to go behind the movie. All he wanted was, literally, if the radio was switched on in the car, for example, he wanted something to come out of the car. Or someone goes and switches the TV on, or whatever it is. He wanted the soundtrack to relate exactly to what was happening in the movie, rather than a film score backing the visuals.”

Speaking of visuals, More was shot by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Nestor Almendros (Days of Heaven).

It might be hard to imagine “The Nile Song,” which is undoubtedly the heaviest song in the entire Pink Floyd discography, taking a backseat to what’s going on onscreen (see last clip):

The gorgeous “Cymbaline,” sung by David Gilmour, is only heard in the film on someone’s record player as a couple roll and smoke a joint and predict it will be legal in five years. This slower live performance was filmed in the Abbaye De Royaumont, 18 miles north of Paris, in 1971. This would have been one of the final live performances of this song, as they would soon drop it from their concert repertoire in favor of the material that would become The Dark Side of the Moon.

A performance of “Green is the Colour” from Belgian television:

More from ‘More’ after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
London Underground: Early counterculture doc with Paul McCartney, Allen Ginsberg, Pink Floyd

Granada Television produced this fascinating TV time capsule “It’s So Far Out It’s Straight Down” as a special part of their Scene at 6:30 series. The program focused on the young counterculture / hippie scene in London and features Miles, the Indica Gallery and the editorial board of The International Times underground newspaper. Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti are seen at the International Poetry Incarnation and we are taken to The UFO Club where Syd Barrett and the Pink Floyd are playing a live version of “Interstellar Overdrive” (Also heard on the soundtrack is an early version of their “Matilda Mother,” then called “Percy The Ratcatcher” and “It Can’t Happen Here” by The Mothers of Invention).

Paul McCartney is a talking head interviewee (although not framed as such) in the studio, intelligently discussing the nascent underground scene. Macca was an active part of the London underground, financially supporting the Indica Gallery and bookstore—he even built the bookshelves himself—and IT. McCartney, the Beatle who soaked up cutting-edge culture and avant garde influences long before the rest of them did, is seen in four segments during the show, and as a wealthy, intelligent and well-respected person representing the counterculture to people who might fear it, as you’ll see, he knocks the ball straight out of the park:

If you don’t know anything about it [the counterculture], you can sort of trust that it’s probably gonna be all right and it’s probably not that bad because it’s human beings doing it, and you know vaguely what human beings do. And they’re probably going to think of it nearly the same way you would in that situation.

The straights should welcome the underground because it stands for freedom… It’s not strange it’s just new, it’s not weird, it’s just what’s going on around.

“It’s So Far Out It’s Straight Down” was broadcast in March of 1967, so it’s pre-Summer of Love. The time seems so pregnant with promise. This is the exact moment, historically speaking, when pop culture went from B&W and shades of gray to vivid color. If you put yourself in the mind of a kid from the north of England watching something like this on television during that era, it’s easy to see how this film would have brought tens of thousands of young people into London seeking to find these forward-thinking cultural movers and shakers to become part of “the happening” themselves.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pink Floyd’s earliest post-Syd Barrett TV appearance, 1968
03:15 pm


Pink Floyd

It’s rare to see footage of Pink Floyd performing one of Syd Barrett’s songs without him, but this extended live set taped for French television’s Bouton Rouge program on February 22, 1968 (only a few weeks after the group decided they were better off without him) has David Gilmour—looking somewhat uncomfortable—taking over vocal duties on two: “Astronomy Domine” and “Flaming.”

They also do killer versions of “Set The Controls For the Heart Of The Sun” and “Let There Be Light.”


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘All My Loving’: Stupendous 1968 music doc with The Who, Jimi, Zappa, Cream, Animals and Pink Floyd

Just how good a year for music was 1968? Consider this list of albums from that year:
The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
The Beatles, The White Album
The Kinks, The Village Green Preservation Society
Procol Harum, A Whiter Shade of Pale
The Band, Music From Big Pink
The Zombies, Odessey And Oracle
Janis Joplin, Cheap Thrills
Sly & The Family Stone, Dance to the Music
Cream, Wheels of Fire
Joni Mitchell, Song To a Seagull
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland
Frank Zappa, We’re Only In It For the Money
Jeff Beck, Truth
Pink Floyd, A Saucerful of Secrets
The 13th Floor Elevators, Bull of the Woods
The Monkees, Head
Can, Delay 1968
The Doors, Waiting for the Sun
Jefferson Airplane, Crown of Creation
Eric Burdon and the Animals, The Twain Shall Meet
Harry Nilsson, Aerial Ballet
Iron Butterfly, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
If those titles hold any appeal to you at all, then you are definitely going to enjoy Tony Palmer’s stunning 1968 documentary All My Loving, which purportedly was made as the result of a gauntlet that John Lennon and Paul McCartney threw down to Palmer (whose films before that had—a bit like George Martin—focused on classical music), to make an hour-long movie that captured the state of the music world in 1968. What makes the movie work, quite aside from Palmer’s adventurous editing style, fondness for tight closeups, aural brio, and impressionistic chops, is the palpable sense that something really interesting was happening in society—crucially, before the post-Altamont, post-Manson hangover had set in. It was a perfect moment for a documentary of this kind. The musical personages in the movie, many of them legends, are treated as very interesting pop stars but not much more than that, and that relative impartiality is essential to what makes All My Loving so good.

It’s difficult to overstate how wonderful All My Loving is. Stylistically, it suggests an experimental movie produced by 60 Minutes (or the English equivalent, anyway). In other words, it’s loose in form but stentorian in tone (but never unsympathetic to the youth movement). The amount of astonishing footage that Palmer managed to cram into a mere hour boggles the mind. Palmer appears to have access to just about anyone he wanted, so we get brief statements or conversations with Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan, Eric Burdon, Frank Zappa, Manfred Mann, Pete Townshend, George Martin, and so on. With the possible exception of Zappa, Burdon’s the most articulate of the bunch, pointing out the similarities between taking LSD and doing a stint in Vietnam.

The movie features truly scintillating performances from Cream (“I’m So Glad” and “We’re Going Wrong”), The Who (“Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand”), Pink Floyd (“Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”), Donovan (“The Lullaby of Spring”), Jimi Hendrix (“Wild Thing”), the Animals (“Good Times” and “When I Was Young”). There is some utterly fantastic close-up footage in which The Who destroy their instruments at the end of a gig at, of all places, the Peoria Opera House as well as some similar footage of Jimi Hendrix just shredding the entire concept of rock and roll right in front of your eyes. ALL of the performance footage is remarkable.
There are also some amusing interviews with a “sleazy” music publisher with a pencil mustache who by rights should be named Monty Python (his name is actually Eddie Rogers) and a self-confident “jingle executive” from America named Jim West (motto: “Selling Spoken Here”) who explains how to use advertising techniques to con teens into coming to see the Mona Lisa. There are a handful of other British music industry types who are barely identified and don’t have to be—they’re the local color. They also get some frankly inane comments of the dismissive variety from none other than Anthony Burgess.

Palmer made dozens of documentaries from the 1960s onward, and they cover a fascinating range of personalities, including Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Rory Gallagher, Peter Sellers, Liberace, Hugh Hefner, Leonard Cohen, and on and on. He codirected 200 Motels with Frank Zappa. The governing tone of All My Loving is one of indulgent “concern,” of investigating a “problem” to be “solved”—we hear about the deafening volume of the new music and the possibly shallow values of the kids and so forth. There’s some startling imagery from Vietnam thrown in as well—never forget Vietnam. This movie goes all over the reservation to evoke 1968—and succeeds.

With its big, messy crescendo, the end of All My Loving somewhat resembles 2001: A Space Odyssey and “A Day in the Life,” and, to Palmer’s credit, the ending, which rapidly shows the breathtaking variety of images we’ve seen over the previous hour (scored to “Be-In (Hare Krishna)” from Hair), works marvelously. Set aside some time for All My Loving. You won’t regret it.

via Beatles Video of the Day

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett’s first psychedelic trip, captured on film
06:48 am


Pink Floyd
Syd Barrett

syd barrett's first trip
In 2000, at my favorite outré movie rental shop B-Ware Video, a cheap, bootleg-looking DVD arrived in stock, with a shoddily designed cover announcing its contents to be footage of founding Pink Floyd top dog Syd Barrett’s first psychedelic trip. I never did rent it—though I was keen to see it, I hadn’t partaken of psychedelics or even pot in years by then, so my interest wasn’t so great that there wasn’t always something else I’d have rather rented. So a long succession of “maybe next times” turned into an unequivocal “never” when, to my heartbreak, the store closed. I attended their inventory liquidation, but though I came home with a lot of brilliant stuff, someone seems to have beaten me to snapping up that Syd Barrett DVD; I couldn’t find it, so my curiosity about the formative psychedelic experience of one of the great architects of psychedelic music went unsatisfied.

But time and YouTube heal many of those kinds of wounds, and sure enough, it’s online in all its amateurish 8mm glory. The first half of the film features some dreamy and quite lovely overexposed footage of the young Barrett and some fellow hallucinogenic travelers gamboling through a field and setting a small brush fire - kids, don’t set fires when you’re tripping at home, OK? Then, at about 5:38 of the 11:34 opus, the scene abruptly shifts to the outside of Abbey Road Studios in London, where Pink Floyd are celebrating the signing of their recording contract with EMI. It would only be a few years before Barrett’s gifts were lost to the world due to drug-fueled mental illness, and the band would go on to inconhood without him. The man who shot the footage, Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, contributed this synopsis to the film’s IMDB page:

I am Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon and I shot this film of Syd on a visit from film school in London to my hometown, Cambridge. We were on the Gog Magog hills with a bunch of friends. David Gale is there along with Andrew Rawlinson, Russell Page, Lucy Pryor and my wife, Jenny. She’s the one in the yellow mac talking to the tree. The mushroom images are iconic and will last forever. It is an unselfconscious film. It was not planned. It just happened. The guy on the balcony is me at 101 Cromwell Road, London SW7. This footage was shot by Jenny. When David Gale wrote about 101 in The Independent he recalled: As the 60s began to generate heat, I found myself running with a fast crowd. I had moved into a flat near the Royal College of Art. I shared the flat with some close friends from Cambridge, including Syd Barrett, who was busy becoming a rock star with Pink Floyd. A few hundred yards down the street at 101 Cromwell Road, our preternaturally cool friend Nigel was running the hipster equivalent of an arty salon. Between our place and his, there passed the cream of London alternative society - poets, painters, film-makers, charlatans, activists, bores and self-styled visionaries. It was a good time for name-dropping: how could I forget the time at Nigels when I came across Allen Ginsberg asleep on a divan with a tiny white kitten on his bare chest? And wasn’t that Mick Jagger visible through the fumes? Look, there’s Nigel’s postcard from William Burroughs, who looks forward to meeting him when next he visits London! The other material is of the band outside EMI after their contract signing. It’s raw, unedited footage and stunning even so. It is silent but many people have subsequently put music to it on their youtube an google postings. Good luck to them.

I’ve heard it told that among the party with Barrett that day was the young, soon to be legendary (and sadly, as of April 2013, deceased) graphic artist Storm Thorgerson, who would go on to co-found the design group Hipgnosis, and to personally design some of the most indelible album covers in rock history, including many for Pink Floyd. But as the actual shooter’s synopsis omits that bit of rock lore, I’m becoming inclined to doubt that legend’s veracity.

The accompanying music is spacey and ambient, and though maybe more than a hair too new-agey, it underscores the film’s dreaminess well. But as is noted in the synopsis, it was added later and it’s not Pink Floyd, and so this relic may not be of significant interest to the band’s more casual fans. But as a document of one of rock music’s consummate originals, it can be enjoyable in its own right so long as your expectations for it aren’t unrealistic. Copies are available for purchase in DVD and VHS formats.

Thanks to DM reader Rafael de Alday for shaking this loose from my memory banks.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The Massed Gadgets of Auximenes’: Ultimate Pink Floyd bootleg?
02:26 pm


Pink Floyd

‘The Man’ and ‘The Journey’ are two longform experimental song cycles that were performed by Pink Floyd during several of their 1969 concerts. The suites consisted largely of numbers that would appear on the More soundtrack and Ummagumma (and confusingly some already released songs with different titles) knit together with onstage activities like cannons being fired, pink smoke bombs exploding, a roadie dressed as a gorilla running around in the audience, the band being served tea and making a wooden table from scratch!

When the live show, “More Furious Madness from the Massed Gadgets of Auximenes,” debuted at the Royal Festival Hall on April 14th, the Floyd employed a joystick operated quadraphonic sound system they nicknamed the “Azimuth Coordinator.” The Azimuth Coordinator was a multi-speaker pan pot system—operated by keyboardist Rick Wright from the stage—whereby the sound could be routed 360 degrees around the venue. The original system was stolen after a concert in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, so a second system was built for the Royal Festival Hall performance.

Parts of this show were recorded for a Top Gear radio program a month later. In Amsterdam, on September 17th, a crisp soundboard-recorded performance at the Concertgebouw was broadcast by VPRO radio. There were originally plans to release “The Man” and “The Journey” as a live album, but this was scrapped ultimately. A pre-FM tape of the Amsterdam show slipped into circulation, has been widely bootlegged and is a fan favorite (I have a ridiculous amount of live Pink Floyd bootlegs and I reckon this one is near the very top. It’s deliriously good)

Here is the show on YouTube. High quality versions can easily be found on several bootleg blogs and torrent trackers by searching for “Complete Concertgebouw 1969.” If you’ve never heard this one before, it’ll blow your doors off.

Part I: The Man
1. “Daybreak, Pt. I” (“Grantchester Meadows”)
2. “Work” (Percussion and vibraphone with musical sawing & hammering)
3. “Teatime” (Pink Floyd were served tea on stage at this point)
4. “Afternoon” (“Biding My Time”)
5. “Doing It!” (“The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party (Entertainment)”
6. “Sleep” (“Quicksilver”)
7. “Nightmare” (“Cymbaline”)
8. “Daybreak, Pt. II” (“Grantchester Meadows” instrumental reprise, with alarm clock sound effects)

Part II: The Journey

1. “The Beginning” (“Green Is the Colour”)
2. “Beset By Creatures of the Deep” (“Careful with That Axe, Eugene”)
3. “The Narrow Way” (“The Narrow Way, Part 3”)
4. “The Pink Jungle” (“Pow R. Toc H.”)
5. “The Labyrinths of Auximines” (Part of “Interstellar Overdrive”)
6. “Behold the Temple of Light” (A part of “The Narrow Way, part 3” expanded)
7. “The End of the Beginning” (“A Saucerful of Secrets, Pt. IV - Celestial Voices”)

Rehearsal footage from the Royal Festival Hall date:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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