What does it sound like?:
First up, let me say there’s no bigger fan of Pink Floyd than me, but even I would have to concede that the period covered by this huge box set isn’t really their finest hour. When Roger Waters departed, he took with him not only the grand concepts and ideas but also the lyrics, leaving a massive hole in the band which for me they never managed to fill. I’ve had access only to the cd content of this box, none of the blurays were available, nor the sundry other bits and bobs that you get if you shell out for it. It strikes me as rather odd that The Division Bell, Pulse and The Endless River are all only on the dvds/blurays rather than also being included on cd, and that the content of the five dvds is all duplicated on the blurays. Be that as it may, what you do get on cd is an updated and remixed AMLOR, the two cd Delicate Sound of Thunder live set from the subsequent tour (now including the tracks that were omitted from the original release so you get the full show), the set from the charity concert in which they took part at Knebworth in 1990, and a cd combining live tracks from 1987 and 1994 with some unreleased studio recordings from the Division Bell sessions.
So what does it sound like then….
The updated and remixed AMLOR now features Nick Mason on drums rather than the session players that were used at the time, while some subsequent live performances from Rick Wright’s keyboards have also been added here and there. Overall, it’s not massively different to the original version of what was always a pretty average record, the update being more noticeable on some songs than others (One Slip is a prime example) – I suppose it sounds a bit less 80’s, a bit less cold in the production, and some of the sax has been removed too, which can only be a good thing. Overall, it’s fair to say that it does have a bit more of the traditional Floyd sound about it – Sorrow, On The Turning Away and Learning To Fly are certainly the best pieces here and have lasted well, One Slip is a catchy song but not of the type you’d necessarily associate with Floyd, A New Machine is an interesting experiment, while the rest is rather unmemorable stuff really that tends to just drift by.
DSOT – now reinstates the eight songs that were left off the original double album, but doesn’t sound too different in this remastered guise. A good souvenir of that mega money spinning tour though.
Knebworth 1990 – a fairly standard greatest hits set of an hour, aimed at an audience who weren’t there just to see the Floyd and weren’t necessarily fans – if I recall correctly they were just one of a number of heavyweights on the bill, although they did close the show. It’s fine, but doesn’t add that much to the versions on DSOT to be honest.
Live & unreleased – five live tracks taken from 1988 and 1994 – I believe these appeared originally as single B sides, and all are also available in different guises on DSOT and Pulse. The studio material all comes from the Division Bell era, instrumental jams and snippets of ideas rather than fully formed songs in the main – Marooned jam is worth hearing, as is Nervana, which originally appeared on the bluray included with The Endless River deluxe edition. The real keeper is the only complete song, an early version of High Hopes with a few lyrical differences and a very nice alternate closing guitar solo by Gilmour.
I’m sure there’ll be plenty of avid fans who will happily pay a premium price for the full box and be delighted by it, but really for most people the single highlights cd will probably fit the bill well enough at a fraction of the cost.
What does it all *mean*?
Personally, I’m looking forward to the deluxe reissue of Animals, my favourite Floyd album, which hopefully will be with us in 2020, fingers crossed.
Goes well with…
A large bank balance, obsessive collecting.
Might suit people who like…
Post Waters Floyd, Gilmour’s solo albums.