Friday, March 28, 2008

THE WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WORLD OF...PINK FLOYD BOOTLEGS?

I believe that some of you ancient ones out there might remember this beat group that sprung outta the sixties called Pink Floyd. Nowadays their name means about as much to the general listening populace as Heinrick Olausson's, but back in the day boy were they hot caga! Naturally by the time these ozobs stopped being a "cult" group (with about seven albums to their name) and broke into superstardom with THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, most if not all of their initial magic was long sacrificed in the name of "heavy jams" which is nothing new...I guess that their record label awarded them with hefty promotion just for sticking around long enough and for once it worked! And although a lotta you readers find about as much interest in Pink Floyd as James Dean did with personal hygiene, even a casual observer such as myself occasionally will slip back into the group's less-than-enthralling days just to remind myself of what all the hubbub was about especially during those extremely boring moments in our lives when it seems as if all other outlets for excitement have been exhausted. And for those of you who want to dwell even further into the Floyd mystique there are the bootlegs, and believe-you-me there are plenty of them ranging from brilliant to feh with most of 'em seemingly wallowing somewhere in between, and if you're looking for the proper pooper-scooper to differentiate as to which ones are just right for your own personal launching pad well, you've cum to the rite place!

Strangely enough, in this digital age a whole binfulla new Pink Floyd bootlegs have been appearing on the vinyl front and man do they look pretty spiffy if I do say so myself! I guess that the long-playing and 45 rpm revival must be in full swing if such things as vinyl boots by the likes of the Floyd and Velvet Underground are to even be permitted in today's high tech world, but if you ask me I'm glad these supposedly "archaic" slabs of plastic are allowed to be made long after the fact. After all, I've always found album art and packaging a lot easier on the eyes than Cee-Dee booklets and the like, plus the knowledge that good ol' plastic records exist just like they had when you were a turdler sure makes one feel young, just like knowing that there still was a CBGB (at least until 2006) and that THE BULLWINKLE SHOW was being aired on the same station that ran it in 1963 sorta kept you in touch with a funtime past that still seemed to have ties to your present, most certainly humdrum existence!

Gotta say that the crafty beings behind these things sure did a real nice job of bringing the GA of bootleg vinyl back, not only with those great full-color sleeves that remind me of the mid/late-eighties variety of ware before bootleg Cee-Dees came into being, but with the colored vinyl (tres 1978!) and vastly improved sound sources as well! Each and every one of these platters is given the royal treatment from the use of the freshest source tapes available to the professional covers which even cop the German "GEMA" insignia and EMI logo, plus you can tell that these bootleggers really know their beans given the painstaking liners which detail a lotta heretofore unknown (by me) facts behind the recordings in question.

There were a lot more Floydian booty available than the platters up for discussion today, but rather than write about THE DIVING BELL-era outtakes and other latterday Pinkie prattle I thought I'd confine my bucks to the platters I thought really mattered.

For the aficionado of the Syd Barrett-period Floyd, DOLL'S HOUSE DARKNESS is a fantastic find even if these BBC John Peel/Top Gear sessions have been circulating for ages on end. But you haven't heard them sound as good as they do here! Most of these early Floyd BBC tapes sound like they were recorded off a Nazi-era wire recorder from a bombed-out farmhouse in Belgium but thankfully someone snuck into the BBC vaults and pulled out the masters for this 'un, and the general results are pretty spiff-o. Not only do we get to hear the entire contents of the LOOK OF THE WEEK television program that rendered that great "Astronomy Domine" video, but the "interview" conducted by stodgy music critic Hans Kellar with the band appears as do the very first BBC sessions complete with the John Peel comments that sound just about as fresh as the day they were recorded. Even that clip of "Reaction in G" which ended up on just about every early-Cee-Dee-period Floyd boot pops up, and for once you can make out whaever corny joke that the announcer's saying as well as the music for that matter! I wouldn't toss out my copy of UNFORGOTTEN HERO given its vinyl-era nostalgic appeal, but given DOLL'S HOUSE DARKNESS and other recent Floyd dig ups you would be correct to think that it and many other long-classic boot sides have now hit their shelf life.

DOLL'S HOUSE DARKNESS does overlap a bit with FLOWERS AND VEGETABLES, but then again the once-rare Abdabs-era "Lucy Leave"/"I'm a Kingbee" track re-appear for those of you who missed them the first time as does an alternate take of "Interstellar Overdrive" (not sure whether this is the TONITE LET'S ALL MAKE LOVE IN LONDON version or yet another variation thereof) and the complete Barrett-era BBC sessions just in case you couldn't get enough of them on DOLL'S HOUSE. And, as you can see, it's all wrapped up in a nice vintage-y cover that uses the SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS logo amidst vintage snaps. Nice touch!

As we all know, once you get outside of the Barrett realm these Floyd recordings can become a strictly caveat affair, and further we strain from the psychotic insecurity of PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN to the classic rock comfiness of THE DIVISION TABLE (y'know, I have the sneaking suspicion that more'n a few FM-bred dolts are going to comment about this "obvious" faux pas totally unaware of the sophomoric nature of my rather immature twist on wordz!) the further our interest in Pink Floyd wanes. LIGHT THE FUSE, although being an effort recorded when card carrying communist (according to Mayo Thompson!) David Gilmour was fresh in the ranks, still has more of that late-period Barrett whiz or at least enough of it that even the most rabid Gilmour-haters will probably want to give this platter at least one spin. The '68 Top Gear sessions once again sound like they were taped straight off the radio, and the John Peel dialogue has again been left intact giving you those late-night chills just as if it was still 1968 and you were some ineffectual limey lad listening to this 'stead of the baroque strains your cultured parents were forcing down your throat. If you (like me) were bummed that the early eighties GREAT LOST PINK FLOYD ALBUM boot remained elusive way back when, this should help ease those twenty-plus year pangs!

The various boots of Floyd's '69 Amsterdam show haven't exactly been catching my eye as of late, but I decided to snatch THE MAN AND THE JOURNEY up just outta curiousity. Good thing my inner voice decreed that I do get hold of this 'un, for THE MAN AND THE JOURNEY is halfway-decent Floydian mewl that doesn't offend you like the group eventually would even if most of the jamz have strayed from crazy psychedelic psychosis into a progressive music for fun and profit. Basically this is the group in their MORE/UMMAGUMMA groove, and although the strains of the ever-dying psychedelic movement can still be discerned even those boring tracks like "Cymbaline" are good enough to at least sit through if you're engrossed in some old comic book you just happened to dig up.

While I'm at it, let me recommend this pic-disc LP entitled PINK FLOYD MEETS FRANK ZAPPA which I guess is also supposed to be from the Amsterdam show, but given the less-than-stellar sound quality I doubt it. Perhaps it's from another show at that famed Netherworld city but that won't stop fans of Floyd, Zappa or both for that matter from scarfing up this rarity that reminds me of those pic disc bootlegs that GOLDMINE was selling back in the very-early eighties until Krause Publications took 'em over and kicked out all the dealers of that fine unauthorized gookum for good. Great performance on the a-side (see snap for track listings) and you don't even mind if Mr. Zappa is playing along on the side-long "Interstellar Overdrive" because he does a pretty fine job fitting in with the Floyd who admittedly swiped more than a few ideas from Zappa and his Mothers. INTERESTING ADMISSION: in all my years of buying and collecting records, this is the first 12-inch picture disc to have made it into the sacred stacks o' wax sitting in my basement. And yes, in some strange, perverted way I am proud.

And finally for today comes ONE OF THESE DEMOS, a collection of odds and sods including what purports to be DARK SIDE OF THE MOON outtakes but sound merely like in-studio playbacks, demos from MEDDLE that are probably just remixes, the oft-booted ZABRESKIE POINT tracks and a Barrett rarity called "Late Night" from '68 that was done before Syd had the oppirtunity to add vocal tracks. And if you thought I bought this one for any other reason than the Barrett numbuh then may I suggest you've been reading the wrong blog for way too long a time???

Are you interested enough in latching onto these soon-to-be rarities yourself? If so, give Eclipse Records a go. That's where I got all of these modern-day bootleg wonders...most of the ones reviewed above are still available via their website as are a few consisting of nothing but latterday Floyd arpeggios custom-made for the more toffee-nosed amongst us that I passed on in the name of good taste. But if you go for that stuff it's all here at least for the time being. Unfortunately the live pic disc with Zappa is long-gone, but if you hurry up you'll most likely be able to latch onto at least a few platters that just might look good in the collection thirty years from now when you're retired and have nothing to do all day but re-live record store hijinx of days gone by. Either that or you can sell 'em at a humongous profit via whatever future technology that'll have you trading in such long-lost memories for colostomy-can cash I'm sure'll be much needed for future medical supplies incurred thanks to a life of depravity and self-abuse!

2 comments:

Fred Head said...

The DVD audio bootleg of DSOM is pretty cool. It's basically a Quadraphonic4 mix of the album.

Be nice if they did one for PIPER.

Anonymous said...

The Floyd/Zappa material is from a late '69 Belgian festival (Amougies) that FZ had been asked to compere. Zappa wound up onstage with several of the bands that took part. Just about everything from this festival made it into circulation a few years back.