Pink Floyd / Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Edition / FIRST LISTEN

Pink Floyd / Dark Side of the Moon / Immersions Box Set
We listen to some previously unreleased tracks from the forthcoming Immersion Edition box sets

Superdeluxeedition were treated to an exclusive preview of Pink Floyd’s forthcoming Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall Immersion box sets last week.

We headed down to Astoria, David Gilmour’s amazing boat house studio in South West London, and met with both Andy Jackson (Floyd recording engineer since 1982) and Phil Taylor (Studio Manager and sometime Gilmour guitar tech) to talk about, and most importantly listen to, the newly remastered material, including Shine On You Crazy Diamond in hi-res surround sound, an early version of Another Brick in the Wall, and Money live from 1974.

Astoria is a very impressive 100-year old vessel, built originally by impresario Fred Karno (he discovered Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel) to be “the best houseboat on the Thames”. It has a top deck designed to house a 90 piece orchestra! Gilmour has owned it since 1986 and turned it into a state of the art recording studio, while maintaining all the original features and interior furnishings. Most of A Momentary Lapse of Reason, The Division Bell and his recent solo album On An Island were recorded on the boat. Many artists have recorded at Astoria including Muse, Jeff Beck, Ian Brown and Ringo Starr.

In a fascinating Q&A session with Andy Jackson, we learnt some interesting facts about some of Pink Floyd’s most famous recordings:

• During the Dark Side of the Moon sessions, the band literally ran out of tracks on the 2″ 16-track machine they were working with. The drums had to be copied across and mixed down to a 24-track machine, so all issues of Dark Side of the Moon have had second generation drums until James Guthrie’s 2003 remaster where he laboriously tracked down the original 16-track tapes and sourced the drums from the original tapes.
• When recording the Dark Side of the Moon live concerts, their were various technical problems, including the kick-drum being mic’d up incorrectly, meaning that non of that drum was recorded on tape. However spill from other mics picked it up slightly, and engineers were able to accurately recreate the kick-drum for the remastered live recordings.
• During the research period for the reissues, the original tapes of the famous Dark Side of the Moon “interviews” were found including – amongst many others – Paul and Linda McCartney’s voices and Wings’ Guitarist Henry McCullough, whose “I don’t know; I was really drunk at the time” can be heard at the end of Money. Since the engineers now had access to the original isolated tapes we can apparently look forward to a DVD ‘Easter egg’ which will make use of some of this audio!
• The original working title for Dark Side of the Moon was Eclipse and The Great Gig in the Sky had the working title of  “the religious section”, while On The Run was known as “the travel section”. These fitted in with the ‘big’ themes of the album money, time etc.

After tea and biscuits and our tour of the boat, we settled in our chair behind the massive mixing desk, right in the middle of state of the art 5.1 monitoring speakers. Andy Jackson pressed ‘play’ on the BluRay player and we heard an amazing selection of tracks which will all be released on the forthcoming box sets. Below is a summary of what we heard, where the tracks can be found on the forthcoming releases and a brief description of the audio/video.

Time (5.1 Surround)
Available on Disc 3 and 5 of forthcoming Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Edition

Although previously available on the Dark Side of the Moon SACD this track nonetheless sounded incredible played from a BluRay disc, booming out through the 5.1 control room speakers of Gimour’s studio. Those clocks never fail to get you.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond Screen Film (5.1 Surround)
Available on Disc 4 and 5 of forthcoming Wish You Were Here Immersion Edition

Since the 5.1 Wish You Were Here mix is the stuff of legend, this was always going to be a highlight. The combination of seeing the cleaned up Screen Films and hearing Shine on You Crazy Diamond in Surround Sound was incredible! The 5.1 mix is amazing with full use of rears and centre channels.

The Great Gig in the Sky (Original 1972 Mix)
Available on Disc 6 of forthcoming Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Edition

An early version without any of the familiar vocals. A man’s voice shouting from a megaphone is heard instead and this version is quite heavy on the Hammond Organ. The structure is very much intact.

Wish You Were Here featuring Stephane Grappelli (previously unreleased)
Available on Disc 2 of forthcoming Wish You Were Here Immersion and Experience Editions

An early version of the track with the violinist Stephane Grappelli who was recording in the same studio at the time. The violin comes in after the line “And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage” and plays for a few minutes with a folky twang. An interesting experiment, but ultimately the band chose to go in a different direction, which to these ears was the right choice.

Welcome to the Machine Screen Film (5.1 Surround)
Available on Disc 4 and 5 of forthcoming Wish You Were Here Immersion Edition

This amazing in 5.1. The first acoustic guitar chimes in on the front speakers, the second on the rear right and third on the rear left. It’s a very busy surround mix and works brilliantly with the animated film which looks very clean.

Money (Live at Wembley 1974 – previously unreleased)
Available on Disc 2 of forthcoming Dark Side of the Moon Immersion and Experience Editions

Dark Side of the Moon Live is available as disc 2 on the cheaper Experience Edition as well as on the Immersion Edition. This rendition of Money sounds excellent with lots of clarity and quite accurately recreates the studio version.

Another Brick in the Wall (Part One) “Work in Progress”
Available on Disc 3 or 4 of forthcoming The Wall Immersion Edition

Some lyrical changes in this early version. Fascinating to hear the song in development. Still quite full sounding not really a demo in any way.

Careful with That Axe Eugene (Video) (Live from Brighton Dome 1972)
Available on Disc 4 and 5 of forthcoming Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Edition

Footage is cleaned up incredibly well. Gilmour looks as cool as ever, while Waters looks quite manic.

Comfortably Numb (from Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live)
Available on Disc 6 of forthcoming The Wall Immersion Edition

Released before of course,  but this 2011 remaster sounds better than ever.

We left wanting to hear more, but will have to wait patiently for September when Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are released in all their multitude of configurations. The Wall of course will not be out until February 2012.

Before we left, Andy Jackson suggested a follow-up session to cover any further questions. This is your opportunity. If any Floyd fans out there have any questions around these reissues then please leave as a comment at the end of this post and we will collate them and try to put as many as we can to Andy and issue an update at a later stage.

Order The Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Box by clicking here.

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