The folks tending the Pink Floyd vault have provided fans a huge Christmas present, a 16 disc (5 x CDs, 6 x Blu-Rays, 5 x DVDs, 2 x 7″ plus exclusive photo book and memorabilia) collection of remixes, unreleased studio versions and live tracks, and several filmed concerts, in 5.1 sound. For $341.33, it can be yours. If you want a slightly smaller version, there is a single-disc, which I will call a “sampler”. Maybe someday I’ll spurge on the 16 disc collection, but for now, I’ll have to enjoy the single disc, which is chocked full of Floyd favorites, just in slightly different versions. Perfect for a stocking-stuffer gift. I’m sure the timing of the release had nothing to do with it.
If you are expecting to find Roger Waters on this material, you won’t. The material on this set is David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright. Waters left the group after The Final Cut, so this collection picks up in 1987 with Pink Floyd continuing without him. Search my blog for other posts relating to Pink Floyd.
This is what Rolling Stone reported, regarding some of the remixes and additional content: The “updated” A Momentary Lapse of Reason involved restoring additional contributions from late keyboardist Richard Wright plus newly recorded drum tracks courtesy of Nick Mason in order to “restore the creative balance between the three Pink Floyd members.” An additional disc collects unearthed concert recordings from 1987 and 1994 as well as seven unreleased studio recordings from 1994. The Blu-rays feature 5.1 mixes for the three studio albums, the “restored and re-edited” Pulse concert film (available for the first time on Blu-ray), Delicate Sound of Thunder and the Venice and Knebworth concerts.
Let’s look at the single disc.
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5” (live at Knebworth 1990) – The sound on this is really good. The backing musicians include the usual characters from the studio and touring bands for both Pink Floyd and Gilmour.
The Knebworth songs were part of a seven song set Pink Floyd did for the 120,000 people in attendance at the charity event, which included many other big name acts. According to Rolling Stone, Pink Floyd had been off the road for a year but agreed to perform at the event.
“Marooned Jam” (The Division Bell Sessions) Written by Gilmour and Wright, this jam was part of the sessions for the last record that Gilmour, Wright and Mason did together. Hours of tapes from these sessions were used for The Endless River, the last official Pink Floyd studio album, released after Wright’s death.
“One Slip” (2019 Remix) From A Momentary Lapse of Reason album (1988). Written by Gilmour and Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music).
“Lost for Words” (Pulse Tour Rehearsal 1994) Originally released on The Division Bell album (1994) and written by Gilmour and wife Polly Sampson. Taken from the album’s tour, a rehearsal version of the song. With the expansive and skilled band, this version is fairly close to the version released on the album, although just a tad bit longer.
“Us and Them” (Delicate Sound of Thunder 2019 Remix) A concert staple, this version is slightly longer than the version on the live album. Written by Wright/Waters, from Dark Side of the Moon.
“Comfortably Numb” (Live at Knebworth 1990) Written by Gilmour/Waters, from The Wall. The live version is more than a minute longer than the original album version, it is both a regular Floyd but a Gilmour tour selection.
“Sorrow” (2019 Remix) Written by Gilmour from A Momentary Lapse of Reason. On the original recording, Gilmour used a drum machine rather than Mason on real drums, but the live version has both. This is one of the songs that has additional Wright keyboard parts and re-recorded drums by Mason.
“Learning to Fly” (Delicate Sound of Thunder 2019 Remix) This remixed version is slightly shorter than the live version it came from. Originally released on A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Perhaps the best song on that album, and this is a very good version.
“High Hopes” (Early Version, The Division Bell Sessions) A rough version of the song. Interesting but not different enough to garner much discussion.
“On the Turning Way” (2019 Remix) From A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Honestly, I do not notice a great difference, but I do not listen to this album much.
“Wish You Were Here” (Live at Knebworth 1990) Originally from the album of the same name (1975). I wasn’t familiar with the concert soundtrack, so I can only review that version. Pink Floyd found a way to reproduce their studio material quite faithfully to the original recordings. Of course they take the opportunity to emphasize the soloing.
“Run Like Hell” (Delicate Sound of Thunder 2019 Remix) From The Wall. This was one of Gilmour’s few songwriting contributions to that album, and probably the most muscular song. It has always been a great concert song and this version is quite good. Better than one of the other live versions? I will guess that the sound quality is better with the latest technology, but different? You decide.
It is hard to judge the value of this set without looking at the larger collection it comes from, and comparing the individual tracks this single disc with the versions they replace. This single disc will no doubt be a huge seller, the legion of Floyd fans will snap up any product. This is not quite a greatest hits collection, although it is David Gilmour’s version of it. The live songs he picked from the collection are ones either he or Richard Wright co-wrote, but it doesn’t include a few other notable songs from the “earlier period.” My one observation is that A Momentary Lapse of Reason is over represented in comparison to The Division Bell. That’s a personal preference, since I believe the latter album is superior to the former. The Division Bell is a stronger album, but I can understand Gilmour’s intent to bolster the contributions of Wright and Mason.
What’s left in the Pink Floyd vault that is suitable for release? Additional concert recordings? There are probably hardcore fans who have a list of anticipated treasures.