Three recent Pink Floyd-related releases have come out that represent one of the most active times in the group’s post-breakup period.
Ever since the advent of the CD, record companies have launched ambitious reissue programs of their back catalogs. With Bob Dylan’s Biograph, which was released in 1985, and Eric Clapton’s Crossroads, which was released in 1988, the possibilities of lavish, multi-disc box sets were first realized.
Big jazz and classical box sets were not uncommon, but rock or pop major-box set reissues were rare. The Dylan and Clapton sets proved that expensive, multi-disc sets with outtakes and rarities, improved sound and detailed liner notes could be profitable.
There have been many wonderful reissues that have come out since the 1980s, but the latest box set from Pink Floyd may now set the gold standard for reissues and is likely to never be surpassed. The Early Years 1967-72 is a 38-disc box set that includes 11 CDs, eight Blu-ray discs, nine DVDs, five seven-inch vinyl singles and archival memorabilia including posters, flyers, tour programs, tickets, press advertisements and more.
Two of the four albums included here, which were released in the 60s, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and A Saucerful of Secrets, along with the earliest singles, reflect the Syd Barrett version of Pink Floyd, with the other members of the group at this time, including bass player Roger Waters, keyboard player Richard Wright and drummer Nick Mason. They represent the apex of the group’s Psychedelic London period. With the other two albums, More and Ummagumma, David Gilmour emerges as the primary lead vocalist and lead guitarist of the group and the sound morphs from pure psychedelia to what would become known as progressive rock.
Moving into the 1970’s with Atom Heart Mother, the group solidified its signature progressive sound and scored its first number-one album in the U.K. Meddle in 1971 would be the group’s last proper studio album before Dark Side of the Moon. Obscured by Clouds released in 1972, was for the most part the soundtrack to the French film La Vallée, which was directed by Barbet Schroeder.
There’s great music contained in this box set on CD and vinyl, including a healthy selection of recordings from BBC radio and cameos from folks as diverse as Dick Clark and Frank Zappa, along with the abundance of memorabilia. But the over 14 hours of visual material here, including hours of previously unreleased television and movie-related footage, make this box so superior. Encompassing films for which the group supplied soundtracks, rare live concert performances, television appearances and obscure rarities, it’s the eight Blu-ray discs and nine DVDs that make this a must-have treasure trove for Pink Floyd fans, fans of British 60s psychedelic and progressive music, and those who are interested in the intersection of popular music and film.
While a nearly $500 price tag might be too high for some, there are those who will simply have to have this box. Fortunately, the box is issued in various more affordable individual sets. They do not, however, add up to all that is in the box set. A two-CD sampler option is also available.
This package sets the stage for 2017 to be the year that two of the three remaining living members of Pink Floyd each issued new recordings that also rank among the best solo music either of those two artists has ever released.
Is This The Life We Really Want? is the latest album from Roger Waters and is his first solo album since Amused to Death in 1992. He released the opera Ca Ira in 2005.
The album is a moody, mordant, subdued and unsettling album that pointedly lambasts the corruption and greed of the powerful—particularly as they manifest in Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency. For all of the darkness of the music and the high-pitched political paranoia, the album is surprisingly accessible and proves Waters is still creating music at an extremely high level with not a trace of nostalgia, and not simply rehashing the Pink Floyd sound.
David Gilmour’s latest project is very different from Waters’. Live at Pompeii is a concert performance available on CD, DVD and Bluy-ray. The concerts took place on July 7th and 8th, 2016. The venue was Pompeii Amphitheatre near Mount Vesuvius in Italy. Forty-five years ago, Pink Floyd performed there live, without an audience. That performance was captured in Adrian Maben’s film Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii. The Gilmour shows were the first-ever rock concerts performed for a live audience in the ancient Roman amphitheater, which was built in 90 BC and sat was near the Vesuvius volcano eruption in AD 79.
Gilmour performs a wide cross-section of music from all of Pink Floyd’s tenure and songs from his solo albums. Although not an album of new music, this is still a worthy addition to Gilmour’s solo career.