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Why Pink Floyd: A Reissue Revival

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Hello there and welcome to another installment of SMCD. This week’s big missive is…a reissue campaign. I know, I know. How many of these have we seen? Everyone from Queen to David Bowie (or at least their labels) have been on the reissue kick the last year or more, but many of them have missed the mark for various reasons.

One main reason is the concept of ”brickwalling” or, to translate for the layman, turning the volume all the way up on every facet of the recording, rendering all of it one, loud volume and stripping out any sound dynamics that were initially present. Another reason is that prices on deluxe, collector’s, be-all-end-all, triple-cherry special editions are downright ridiculous considering the packages are padded with silly stuff like laminated backstage-pass replicas and other things that no self-respecting collector would be remotely interested in.

Here to save the day and really redefine the reissue is, of all bands, Pink Floyd. Mind you, there have been some Floyd reissues raise your hand if you have a gold disc edition of Dark Side of the Moon but we’re dealing with a different animal altogether now. The fact that Floyd is doing what they’re planning to do is monumental in and of itself. Consider that Floyd has adamantly stood by the fact that all those b-sides and bootlegged, pro-shot shows that make the underground rounds, according to the band, do not exist. Not “officially,” but at all. And that has been their stance since damn near the dawn of time.

Now? Completely different story. Nick Mason recently told Reuters, “There is a slight sense that we are coming to the end of the period where people will buy the physical record with all the packaging and the information and so on. I think it’s really important to try and have a last go at that, because if we do end up just downloading everything from now on it would be a shame if there wasn’t on record all that good artwork and the things that went with it.”

And they’re going all out with it, too. As far as what exactly is in each expanded edition (the 2-disc “Experience”s and 5-7-disc “Immersion”s), we’re not sure yet. The first one, Dark Side of the Moon, doesn’t come out until September 26. However, EMI has released preview tracks for the three announced sets: from Dark Side of the Moon, a faster live version of “Money” and an early mix of “The Great Gig in the Sky” minus Clare Torry’s vocals. From Wish You Were Here (out November 7), an alternate title track with French jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli (which Mason is ecstatic about, because even he thought it no longer existed). And from The Wall (out February 2012), an early version of “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” featuring different lyrics: “We don’t need your adulation, we don’t need your starry gaze.”

And that’s just what’s been made official. Reports are out there that there’s a lot more, particularly with the “Immersion” versions. For example, The Wall, according to these rumors, should include all of the movie versions — all remastered. Wish You Were Here may very well contain the Household Objects recorded between Dark Side of the Moon and that record. All kinds of stuff from the vaults you know, the stuff that “didn’t exist” is also about to be unleashed.

Cooler still is the fact that you won’t have to spend a month or three’s worth of mortgage payments for all this. There’s also the “Discovery” versions, which just contain the album itself. So, you have your choice of how you want to own these things, and Pink Floyd is gracious enough to let that happen. They don’t want to bankrupt you because they think they’re worth more than they are (like so many other artists and labels behave); you can purchase at your own pace and leisure and they won’t mind a bit.

As far as the remastering itself, this one’s easy. All of the albums, extras you-name-it is being handled in painstaking fashion by James Guthrie, co-producer of The Wall, so it’s in good hands. No “brickwalling” allowed here.

All that having been said, you don’t have to take my word for how astonishing all of this is. With a decade’s worth of experience as a musician, not to mention time spent as a pop culture writer with Retro Low Fi as well as a lifelong fixation with Pink Floyd, Marc with a C was happy to go on record to discuss, exclusively for this column, the significance of this reissue campaign.

Marc says, “The reason for this being massively significant is not just that Pink Floyd, in the 1970s, specifically, were putting more butts in seats than almost any other arena rock band. Paul McCartney was capable of it, but he mostly didn’t tour. Led Zeppelin might be about the only rock band that could go head-to-head with them. They were known for their live work that was really their bread and butter. That’s what the legend was really built on. To date, we haven’t seen or heard a scrap of it, ‘officially.’ About ten years ago, they released The Wall live show, Is There Anybody Out There? and that was pretty good. But we know so much more is in the vaults. They professionally filmed that show, and The Wall is such a visual piece and to take away that visual component would be like seeing David Cassidy in 1975 and he keeps his shirt on the whole time.

“This is arguably the last huge rock band that can really move some units and product in major sales numbers that has not absolutely raped and pillaged their catalog. It doesn’t help to dig for the bootleg stuff, either, because almost all of it is in pretty hideous quality. There weren’t easy-to-find camcorders laying around in ‘74 to film the Dark Side tour. So, what we have is maybe 5-10 minutes of Super-8 footage on YouTube. I think they’re also doing it so they can appreciate what people might think of, say, the Household Objects material before the rest of them die and they never get to hear those reactions.”

And there you have it. One of the most influential bands is about to slowly, deliberately unleash their catalog with a lot more that we’ve ever been used to before. And they’re going to do it right.

That’s a great feeling to leave off on this week. Thanks for coming by and we will see you agai

…hold on.

We’re not done yet because one more big piece of related news also happened this week. Something else Nick Mason told Reuters was that the band was getting along better than they had in recent years and that he planned on attending Waters’ tour stop of The Wall “Thursday in London.”

That was May 12. When Mason appeared on stage alongside Roger Waters and David Gilmour, who performed earlier that night on “Comfortably Numb.” No, you read that right. For the first time since Live 8, all three original surviving members of Pink Floyd were on the same stage and the same page.

Waters mentioned at the beginning of the tour that, at some point, somewhere, Gilmour would be joining him to play “Comfortably Numb.” See, Waters had showed at a charity event for Gilmour and played with him there to help raise money for HOPING. Gilmour then owed Waters a favor, and the two agreed that Gilmour would repay it somewhere along The Wall tour.

Well, that somewhere along the tour happened this past Thursday. And Mason, who just happened to drop by, was there as well. Next thing you know, an official Pink Floyd reunion happens as all three play the final cut, “Outside The Wall,” on stage. Together.

I’m sure the rumor mill will start churning out again as to when the lads plan on touring together, but the answer is they’re not; not at this late stage in the game, nor will they ever. It’s a harsh fact of life that we’re gonna have to get realistic about. But, how about another one-off like Live 8?

Mason can answer these questions the best. In fact, he’s already told Rolling Stone, “There are absolutely no plans [to perform together]…But Live 8 was fantastic. We did something for other people, but we also proved that we could all work together again. I’m really pleased that my children saw that. I would have thought that could be regenerated at some time. So I live in hope – but that’s no reason to put it out on Twitter that ‘Nick Says Band to Re-form!'”

Short answer: definitely maybe. Remember, there were “absolutely no plans” for the three of them to show up together in London on May 12 but it happened. And if you really have to know how significant this was and why, well…a picture is worth a thousand words:


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