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Pink Floyd: Immersion, Experience and Discovery reissues
For all of the accolades throughout the years concerning the greatness of The Dark Side of The Moon —and it is a striking, singular achievement—it’s important to note the lesser-known works in the Pink Floyd catalog. But before I can do that, I have to deal with this, this, this… thing —this truly hilarious and mystical Immersion box that includes six CD/DVD/Blu-Ray configurations of the legendary DSOTM album with trippy concert films along with marbles, coasters, brilliantly odd photographs and what appears to be a scarf. Upon opening the Wish You Were Here box, I’m confronted with more of the same: marbles, coasters and the scarf.
It’s so perfectly Pink Floyd of them. As a fan, I wouldn’t want it any other way. In an age where the average album is now just a click away, it’s refreshing to see a band that still believes in artifacts that don’t have any real utility. These special editions include many fine abstract shots executed by the Hipgnosis team and band photos taken by photographer Jill Furmanovsky, but who—pray tell—will dare rip up their booklets to hang them on the wall? No, I’m keeping these boxes somewhere the cat can’t get them.
Listening is an entirely different trip. Grab your headphones for the stereo mix, fire up the 5.1 Surround System for the 2003 SAC D mix, delve into the world of the original quad mix and do yourself a favor: Listen in front of differentspeakers. Never have the vocals for “Wish You Were Here” sounded so naked or the sound effects to “On The Run” been so detailed. (The mixes are available on DVD and Blu-Ray.) Floyd albums were designed for days like these when the instrumental parts could be spread out over the widest spectrum imaginable. For a band that put the leisure into rock and roll, these recordings slow boil and reveal themselves over decades.
Now, those without a rich aunt to support them may have to settle for the Experience sets where you’ll do without the various mixes, but receive a decent live recording of DSOTM from Wembley in 1974. For WYWH, it’s the Wembley ‘74 performances of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and then “Raving & Drooling” and “You’ve Got To Be Crazy,” which became “Sheep” and “Dogs,” respectively, on Animals. Add alternative versions of “Have A Cigar,” with bizarre harmony vocals, and “Wish You Were Here,” with Stèphane Grappelli on violin and David Gilmour sounding quite lonely in the right channel for the opening verse.
The Discovery editions of the albums feature just the albums with lyric and photo booklets. The good news is that when Pink Floyd remaster their albums, they don’t get involved in the silly ‘loudness wars’ and drive and compress the sound to illogical heights. No, the albums are kept true to their original vision with all their space retained. On the downside, while “See Emily Play” made it to A Foot in the Door: The Best of Pink Floyd, other singles and outtakes—“Arnold Layne,” “Paint Box,” “Julia Dream,” “Biding My Time,” “Embryo”— are still orphaned to previous collections. But have I mentioned how everyone should rediscover the 23-minute epic, “Atom Heart Mother Suite”? Or how The Final Cut, while now considered by many to be a Roger Waters solo album with Gilmour going along for the ride, is a carefully calibrated study in monotones whose flatness reveals great depth. “Southampton Dock,” anyone?
Pink Floyd had a definitive sound, yet they never repeated themselves. Staring at film footage of them working through “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” from Brighton, 1972, one sees the signs of glorious derangement as the web of sound entangles all four members. There are those who prefer the Syd Barrett era. Personally, I’d give the edge to Gilmour and the albums Atom Heart Mother, Meddle through Animals. Gilmour’s musicality works like waves in the ocean. Yet, he needed Waters to steady him, for The Division Bell simply lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. This is why bands exist and why no matter how Amused To Death I might be by the idea of their solo works, nothing ever matches what they achieved together.
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