Corrosion In The Pink Room: Spectacular, little-known Pink Floyd performance, 1970
12.11.2012
12:09 pm

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Music

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Pink Floyd


 
Pink Floyd performing an avant garde instrumental—sometimes bootlegs title the number “Corrosion,” other times it’s called “Corrosion In The Pink Room”—on a sound-stage without an audience. It segues into “Embryo” with snatches of “Heartbeat Pigmeat” and “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict” along the way.

Originally broadcast ORTF1 in France, January 2, 1971 (filmed the month prior) as part of a TV special featuring the work of celebrated dance choreographer, and frequent Pink Floyd collaborator, Roland Petit.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Pink Floyd: Little-known ‘Point Me at the Sky’ video, 1968
12.03.2012
01:58 pm

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Music

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Pink Floyd

image
 
Although seen by some members of the group as their most embarrassing moment, 1968’s “Point Me at the Sky” was the fifth single from Pink Floyd. It’s perhaps the most obscure of all the band’s singles, having never appeared on an album until the 1992 Shine On box set’s The Early Singles. At that, The Early Singles was still only available to fans who purchased that expensive box.

I can’t see why they think “Point Me to the Sky” is so bad, I’m in love with this song. They’ve recorded way worse.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn: Pink Floyd classic now 45 years old
08.05.2012
05:49 pm

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History
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd


 
Pink Floyd’s debut 1967 long player, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, came out 45 years ago this week in the UK. A stereo mix of the album came out a month later and the American version of the album was released in October of that year. The US version had a different track listing that omitted “Flaming,” “Astronomy Domine” and “Bike,” if you can imagine such a travesty, while the “See Emily Play” single was added.

Piper was recorded off and on February through July of 1967 at Abbey Road Studios (while the Beatles recorded “Lovely Rita” in the studio next door) and featured mostly songs written by the group’s founder Syd Barrett. By the time the album came out, however, Barrett’s behavior had become increasingly erratic and David Gilmour was soon after brought in to augment the group. It was the sole Pink Floyd album to be recorded under Barrett’s musical leadership of the band.

Although today Piper is justly considered a classic, indispensable album, it was not a commonly encountered record until after Dark Side of the Moon became such a monster hit, in the US at least, and it was re-released as part of the A Nice Pair two-record set (which included Piper along with the restored tracks and A Saucerful of Secrets).

The startling lead off number on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn is the tremendously tremendous “Astronomy Domine” as seen here in this wild clip from The Look of the Week BBC television series. Includes the hilariously contentious interview with classical music critic Hans Keller, who introduces the group with the faintest of feint praise. In fact he more or less tells the TV audience that what they are about to see is going to suck! Imagine how completely INSANE this would have seemed beamed into your home in 1967. Keller’s bewilderment at their music is a pretty clear indicator of how such a performance would have been regarded back then. Speaking of, notice how far ahead of his time human beat box Barrett is at the start of this clip:
 

 
After the jump, more early Pink Floyd performances and videos with Syd Barrett…
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Pink Floyd: ‘The Story of Wish You Were Here’
07.02.2012
11:28 am

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Heroes
History
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd


 
Last night I watched The Story of Wish You Were Here, the new Blu-ray documentary release from Eagle Rock Entertainment about the creation of Pink Floyd’s landmark 1975 follow-up to their monster-selling Dark Side of the Moon album. I loved it, but then again, I’m one of those Pink Floyd fans who can hear the same damned stories repeated over and over again without ever getting bored of them. In truth, there is not all that much ground covered here that’s not been covered in past Pink Floyd documentaries, but it’s so well done that this is in no way an impediment to enjoying the film. It certainly wasn’t for me.

Wish You Were Here was released in September 1975, and considered by band members Richard Wright and David Gilmour,to be their favorite Pink Floyd album. The recording of the album seemed to be somewhat of a tortured affair for the band—Roger Waters has said several times that he felt like the group was exhausted, creatively drained and perhaps should have just broken up—but slowly a powerful album came together, inspired by the band’s debt to its tragic founder, Syd Barrett and the album’s lead-off cut, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” The story of an unrecognizable Barrett showing up for an impromptu visit at the recording studio as the song was being mixed is a harrowing anecdote indeed. Several present broke down in tears at the sight of their old friend.

Also featured in The Story of Wish You Were Here are sleeve artist Storm Thorgerson of the legendary Hipgnosis design firm, Roy Harper who did the sarcastic vocal for “Have A Cigar” (many people assume this is Roger Waters, it’s not), Hollywood stuntman Ronnie Rondell (the “burning man” of the album jacket), backing vocalist Venetta Fields (The Blackberries) and others, including photographer Jill Furmanovsky who documented some of the sessions. Wish You Were Here recording engineer Brian Humphries also reveals some of the secrets of the master tapes at Abbey Road Studios, illustrating how certain sonic elements were constructed [for instance the shimmering “singing” wine glasses sound that opens the record, was reused from the aborted Household Objects recording sessions.

In the final cut: If you’re a big Pink Floyd fan, The Story of Wish You Were Here is worth getting your hands on.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Shine On You Shitty Diamond: Worst Pink Floyd cover band, ever
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Careful with that pirouette, Eugene: The Pink Floyd Ballet, 1972
05.30.2012
12:52 pm

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Music

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Pink Floyd


 
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!

Quotes taken from various sources about the experience and sourced by the Moicani blog:

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 last year at the age of 87.

The videos below were shot on November 22 and 26,1972 and January 12,1973 at Marseille Salle Valliers, France and Le Palais des Sports de la Porte de Versailles, Paris for various French TV networks. Dig how fluent David Gilmour is, seen suavely speaking French here with a passable accent.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Interstellar Zappadrive: When Frank Zappa jammed with Pink Floyd
05.22.2012
09:22 am

Topics:
Heroes
History
Music

Tags:
Frank Zappa
Pink Floyd


 
“The Actuel Rock Festival,” sponsored by the fashionable Parisian magazine Actuel (along with the BYG record label) was to be the first ever major rock festival in France, and was heralded as Europe’s answer to Woodstock. French authorities, still smarting from the riots of May 1968, forbade it and the festival, which was originally going to take place in or near Paris, was held just a few miles beyond the French border, in Amougies, Belgium.

The festival took place over the course of five freezing cold days in late October (24-27) of 1969. The audience numbered between 15-20,000 people who were treated with performances by Pink Floyd, Ten Years After, Colosseum, Aynsley Dunbar (this is allegedly where Zappa met his future drummer), former Yardbird Keith Relf’s new group Renaissance, blues legend Alexis Korner, Don Cherry, The Nice, Caravan, Blossom Toes, Archie Shepp, Yes, The Pretty Things, Pharoah Sanders, The Soft Machine, Captain Beefheart and many more.

From the notes of the 1969 The Amougies Tapes Zappa bootleg:

Frank Zappa was present at the festival in a twofold capacity. First, as Captain Beefheart’s road manager; secondly, as M.C., assisting Pierre Lattes, a famous radio/TV presenter at the time (and the pop music editor for Actuel magazine). The latter task proved problematic given Zappa’s limited French, the prevailing language among the audience, who themselves didn’t seem to understand much English. Instead, Zappa relinquished his M.C. job for one of occasional guest guitarist. He plays with almost everybody, especially with Pink Floyd, Blossom Toes, Archie Shepp and Aynsley Dunbar, a fabulous drummer he will hire shortly thereafter. He introduces his friend Captain Beefheart and provides a powerful stimulant to all the other musicians. Most legendary, of course, is Frank Zappa’s jam with Pink Floyd on a very extended “Interstellar Overdrive”. The festival was filmed by Jerome Laperrousaz, and the film was to be called MUSIC POWER. Due to objections from various bands (most notably Pink Floyd) whose permission hadn’t been properly secured, the film was never officially released.”

Simpsons creator Matt Groening asked Zappa about the festival in a 1992 interview, but he doesn’t mention Pink Floyd:

Frank Zappa: I was supposed to be MC for the first big rock festival in France, at a time when the French government was very right-wing, and they didn’t want to have large-scale rock and roll in the country. and so at the last minute, this festival was moved from France to Belgium, right across the border, into a turnip field. they constructed a tent, which was held up by these enormous girders. they had 15,000 people in a big circus tent. this was in November, I think. the weather was really not very nice. it’s cold, and it’s damp, and it was in the middle of a turnip field. I mean mondo turnips. and all the acts, and all the people who wished to see these acts, were urged to find this location in the turnip field, and show up for this festival. and they’d hired me to be the MC and also to bring over Captain Beefheart. it was his first appearance over there. and it was a nightmare, because nobody could speak English, and I couldn’t speak fFench, or anything else for that matter. so my function was really rather limited. I felt a little bit like Linda McCartney. I’d stand there and go wave, wave, wave. I sat in with a few of the groups during the three days of the festival. but it was so miserable because all these European hippies had brought their sleeping bags, and they had the bags laid out on the ground in this tent, and they basically froze and slept through the entire festival, which went on 24 hours a day, around the clock. One of the highlights of the event was the Art Ensemble of Chicago, which went on at 5:00 a.m. to an audience of slumbering euro-hippies.

 

 
Although Frank Zappa himself had apparently forgotten that he had once jammed with the Floyd, the photos don’t lie and neither does the recording. Who else could that be on guitar at approx 4:15 in? Clearly it’s not David Gilmour:
 

 
Asked about jamming with Zappa, Nick Mason has this to say in 1973:

Frank Zappa is really one of those rare musicians that can play with us. The little he did in Amougies was terribly correct. But he’s the exception. Our music and the way we behave on stage, makes it very hard to improvise with us.”

The really frustrating thing about all of this is that the visual documentation (as well as superior sound recordings) of this collaboration MUST exist (or at least did at one time). Pink Floyd forbade Jerome Laperrous to use his footage of their performance from the Actuel Festival for his Music Power documentary of the event, but that still hasn’t stopped it from escaping to YouTube (see below), so where is the Zappa footage???

As the audio recording didn’t really show up and circulate until 2006, there is still hope. Another of the groups who Zappa sat in with at the festival were British psych rockers Blossom Toes, who released a CD in 2009, Love Bomb: Live 1967-69, that included Zappa’s participation in their Amougies set.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Dick Clark R.I.P. - Pink Floyd on American Bandstand


 
Shit, another legend bites the dust.

On the surface Dick Clark looked about as hip as Dick Nixon and as a kid I thought Clark was somewhat dubious as a purveyor of youth culture, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate his massive contribution to rock history, particularly when he went out on the limb and booked edgy acts on American bandstand, including Pink Floyd Public Image, Captain Beefheart, Bubble Puppy, Love, and X.

Here’s something I’d never seen before and I think it demonstrates just how on top of the rock scene Clark could be. Pink Floyd on American Bandstand
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
One of the best live Pink Floyd videos you will ever see
04.17.2012
08:49 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd


 
Pink Floyd performing (literally) explosive versions of “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” and “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” onstage at The Dome, Brighton, June 28 or 29th, 1972. Turn your speakers up LOUD, sit back and prepare to be pulverized. This is truly one of the most epic moments of the rock era ever captured on celluloid.

What an insane show this must have been to have attended.

I’ve been an avid Pink Floyd bootleg collector for 20 years and this is one of the best clips of them in concert that I’ve ever seen. It’s fucking mind-boggling. I’ve scoured record stores, flea markets, then eBay and torrent trackers in pursuit of Pink Floyd boots and I’ve got just shitloads of stuff, but this clip is one of the jewels in the crown of the Pink Floyd cannon, capturing the band at the height of their power.

It finally came out as part of the elaborate Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion box set in 2011. Both of these numbers are on the Blu-ray DVD of that set looking even better than they do here.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Corporal Clegg’: Worst Pink Floyd song ever?
04.04.2012
10:28 am

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Music

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Pink Floyd


 
“Corporal Clegg” is widely considered by Pink Floyd fans as one of their worst songs (well at least until the 1980s).

The first of many numbers in his catalog referring to World War II, Roger Waters told MOJO:

“Corporal Clegg is about my father and his sacrifice in World War II. It’s somewhat sarcastic—the idea of the wooden leg being something you won in the war, like a trophy.”

One Internet wag called the song “the anti-‘Yellow Submarine’.” It even features a kazoos and a penny-whistle. Note that it is Nick Mason who sings most of the lead vocals here.

Never performed live, this appearance was shot in February,1968 for Belgium’s RTB TV. The group is miming to a work-in-progress version of the song that has a different ending from the one found on A Saucerful of Secrets (i.e. it’s lacking the marching band).
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
La Vallee: Hippie cinema curio with Pink Floyd soundtrack
03.13.2012
09:46 pm

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd
La Vallee

image
 
Barbet Schroeder’s La Vallee (aka The Valley or The Valley Obscured by Clouds), his second film, is a cinematic curio about a materialistic Frenchwoman who throws her lot in with a group of free-thinking hippies who are searching for a mythical valley of paradise somewhere deep in the bush of Papua New Guinea.

La Vallee is a bit long, but it’s stunning to watch. If you are in the mood to kick back and space out with a trippy film that you can kind of half pay attention to, it’s not a bad choice.

The original soundtrack by Pink Floyd was released as their seventh album, Obscured By Clouds in 1972.
 
Below, a beautifully odd scene from La Vallee with the song “Mudmen” by Pink Floyd accompanying the visuals.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Atom Heart Mother: Pink Floyd live in Saint Tropez, 1970
01.27.2012
01:01 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd


 
1970 Pink Floyd set from French television program, Pop 2. The band was shot live at the “Saint Tropez Festival de Musique” on August 8th, 1970.

Le set list:
Atom Heart Mother
The Embryo
Green is the Colour
Careful with that Axe, Eugene
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Nick Mason is really, really amazing in this set. He’s on fire here.
 

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Crazy Diamond: The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story

syd_barrett_sixties
 
In his essential book of collected rock music essays and profiles, The Dark Stuff, writer Nick Kent recounts how famed psychiatrist, R. D. Laing watched an interview tape of Pink Floyd’s genius and drug-addled leader, Syd Barrett and claimed the singer was incurable. Not long after, Kent saw the evidence for himself:

Less than five years earlier, I’d stood transfixed, watching [Syd] in all his retina scorching, dandified splendor as he’d performed with his group the Pink Floyd, silently praying that one day I might be just like him. Now, as he stood before me with his haunted eyes and fractured countenance, I was having second thoughts. I asked him about his current musical project (a short-lived trio called Stars…) as his eyes burned a hole through one of the four walls surrounding us with a stare so ominous it could strip the paint off the bonnet of a brand new car. ‘I had eggs and bacon for breakfast,’ he then intoned solemnly, as if reciting a distantly remembered mantra. I repeated my original question. ‘I’m sorry! I don’t speak French,’ he finally replied.

Perhaps Barrett just wanted to avoid the dandified Kent. Then again, when Kent “rubbed up against the likes of Syd Barrett” he astutley realized:

...these were people who’d gotten what they actually wanted, only to find out it was the last thing on earth they actually needed…

This isn’t to dismiss Barrett’s immense talent or achievements - for one, he took an average band and turned them into something quite incredible. And his importance was such that when he left, his bandmates went on to make music inspired by his absence.

The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story was originally screened in 2001, as part of the BBC’s Omnibus strand as Syd Barrett - Crazy Diamond. The documentary gives a fascinating portrait of Barrett’s brilliant rise and tragic fall through a drug-induced breakdown. Contributions come from Roger Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmour, artist Duggie Fields (who describes sharing an apartment with the Crazy Diamond), Robyn Hitchcock, and, of course, archive of Syd Barrett - who, incidentally, watched the doc, when it was first broadcast and enjoyed seeing the archive, though found the music “too loud”.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Welcome to the Machine: Incredible animated Pink Floyd film from 1977
11.30.2011
12:25 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd
Gerald Scarfe


 
This amazing animation was originally projected behind Pink Floyd when they promoted the Animals album on their “In the Flesh” tour in 1977. It was directed by Gerald Scarfe who also worked on the album cover, tour, film and theatrical adaptation of The Wall .

Eventually the record label turned it into a music video and it can been seen from time to time on Vh1 Classics. Can you imagine what this was like to see screened back then and with this number being played live and loud by Pink Floyd?

It’s still mind-blowing. I’ve always loved this song, but this film gave me a new appreciation for it. The film is included in the new Wish You Were Here Immersion box set in a 5.1 surround mix.
 

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Household Objects: Previously unheard Pink Floyd rarities
11.28.2011
01:11 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Pink Floyd
Household Objects


 
In late 1973, the members of Pink Floyd, probably somewhat perplexed themselves at the massive, massive worldwide sales of Dark Side of the Moon, not to mention creatively intimidated to have to come up with a sequel, went back into the studio with the notion of recording something entirely avant garde for that 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 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, have now been released for the very first time on the new Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here “Immersion” box sets. “The Hard Way” sounds more realized to me that just a mere rhythm track, whereas the “singing bowl” sound of “Wine Glasses” was used two years after it was recorded for the opening of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”

“The Hard Way”:
 

 
“Wine Glasses”:
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
The ‘lost’ Pink Floyd soundtrack to ‘Zabriskie Point’


 
Film lovers in Los Angeles will have a rare chance to see four of Michelangelo Antonioni’s films projected in pristene 35mm prints tomorrow and Wednesday night at Cinefamily.

In addition to Janus Films’ brand-new 35mm print of Red Desert—Antonioni’s first experiment with a color film in 1964—you can also catch Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point and The Passenger (Get tickets here). I’m hoping that “new 35mm print” = new Blu-ray DVDs of his films, especially Zabriskie Point.

And speaking of Zabriskie Point, I’ve become obsessed with a Pink Floyd bootleg making the rounds lately and chances are that some of you reading this might enjoy it, too.

Apparently the Floyd were at one point to have been the sole composer/musicians for the Zabriskie Point soundtrack. They completed eight numbers for the film, but only three were used. Antonioni added material by The Youngbloods, Roy Orbison, Jerry Garcia, The Kaleidoscope, Patti Page and the Rolling Stones to round out the film’s score. (Oddly, Antonioni visited the Doors in the studio when they were recording the extraordinary “L’America” for L.A. Woman, but the director inexplicably turned the track, which could have worked spectacularly well in the film).

Under the title 370 Roman Yards, you can hear all of the soundtrack music recorded by Pink Floyd for Antonioni that never made it into the film.  370 Roman Yards purports to be the “lost” Pink Floyd soundtrack to Zabriskie Point with all eight of those tracks recorded for the film in the order of the intended album’s run list, plus the known outtakes.

It’s an extremely satisfying listen: Some of it sounds like Atom Heart Mother, some of it like Meddle and some of it is reminiscent of “Grantchester Meadows,” Roger Waters’ dreamy, pastoral composition from Ummagumma. “Heart Beat, Pig Meat” was Pink Floyd’s first time using a human heartbeat as a musical instrument (but would not be the last). It’s one of their most monstrous numbers, truly a mind-blower. Rick Wright contributed a piano number called “The Violent Sequence” which was unused, but later retooled as “Us and Them” on Dark Side of the Moon. Parts of the score remind me of Erik Satie and it has some of the few Floyd numbers that could be described as “blues rock.” Taken as a whole, it does absolutely sound like a “lost” Pink Floyd album recorded at the end of 1969, because that’s exactly what it is…

In the summer of 1969 Michelangelo Antonioni completed the filming of his visionary and prophetic view of America and our society.  All that was left was to complete the movie with a good soundtrack.  Antonioni was interested in everything that was new and trendy among young people.  Don Hall was on the air during his nocturnal DJ program on KPPC FM Pasadena when he was contacted personally by Antonioni at the end of the summer of 1969.  Antonioni really liked Don and invited him to have some screenings of the movie.  After that Don provided a list of songs he felt would work, most coming from his program.  Antonioni asked MGM to hire Don as Music Advisor for the soundtrack and came back to Roma (Don still has a letter from Antonioni, sent from Rome with the list of the songs he’d like to be in the movie, all songs for the radio-desert sequences).

Still they had to find how to score all the main sequences: Beginning, Violent, Take Off, Love and Explosions sequences (and eventually more).  Antonioni wanted original music for those sequences.  Many artists and bands were contacted to write original music for the movie, but none of them was asked to write the whole soundtrack of the movie.

In October ‘69 Don was in Rome with Antonioni trying to find a way to score the whole movie in time for Christmas.  Near the end of the month it happened that Clare Peploe (co-writer of the movie and Antonioni’s girlfriend at the time) brought to Rome a brand new copy of the new Pink Floyd album, Ummagumma, from London.  Antonioni, Don Hall and Clare listened to the new album with a small stereo at Antonioni’s house in Rome.  Antonioni REALLY liked Ummagumma and listened several times to the whole album.  He liked “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” very much and told Don that he’d like a new version for the final sequence of Zabriskie Point. They decided to try and hire Pink Floyd to record all the original music they needed for the movie. MGM contacted Pink Floyd.  After that Steve O’Rourke came to Rome alone during the first days of November ‘69 to check and organize it all.  All was done in few days, and Pink Floyd came on the 15th of November with Pete Watts and Alan Stiles, cancelling some shows planned for their present tour.  Antonioni and Don showed the movie to them several times with some scenes already scored, highlighting those without.  At that point Steve and Roger Waters had a talk and asked Antonioni to try to score the whole movie.  He, being enthusiastic about Ummagumma, agreed.

Pink Floyd produced a large quantity of music, especially for the Love Scene but Antonioni was not satisfied and the sessions ran longer than planned.  In the end Pink Floyd went back to London with some songs to finish.  Out of all the entire production of songs, including themes and variations, Antonioni ended up using only three songs.  He kept on searching for “something better” till the last days before the premiere of the movie.  In London Pink Floyd completed their final versions of eight songs with the intent of them being their eventual album for the Zabriskie Point soundtrack.

You should not have that much of a problem, armed only with Google, of tracking down your own copy of of the amazing “lost” Pink Floyd soundtrack album, 370 Roman Yards...

“Heart Beat, Pig Meat”
 

 
“The Violent Sequence” which later became “Us and Them”:
 

 
The version of “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” (re-titled “Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up” here) that accompanies the big explosion scene at the end of Zabriskie Point is one of the great “primal screams” in all of rock and roll (and cinema) history. With the gorgeous Daria Halprin (briefly Mrs. Dennis Hopper):
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Zabriskie Point Fallout (With Mel Brooks)

Thank you Michael Backes!

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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