October 18, 2011

Album reissues give fans the total Pink Floyd musical experience

By Lara Kinne–

It has been six years since the members of Pink Floyd have performed together on stage, but offstage, another chapter unfolds in their expansive legacy. Within the next several months, the band intends to release a collection of perhaps their last batch of reissue sets, beginning with “Dark Side of the Moon” that dropped on Sept. 26. In light of the overwhelming response to The Beatles reissues of 2009, it seems that there’s still one truth that holds in the world of music: nostalgia sells. But with the capacity of unreleased material, memorabilia and beautiful alternate artwork that becomes available, it becomes hard for avid fans to resist the intense desire of owning every single piece. The outcome is a thorough clean sweep of back catalog treasures arranged in an artistic package.

“I really think that this could be the last chance for really nice packaging – boxes, books, the whole thing,” drummer Nick Mason told Rolling Stone when the reissue project was announced. “Even if we all just download from here on out, they will at least be there as a document of how it used to work. And I do think there will be people who will still be interested and who will want that.”

Fourteen Pink Floyd albums have already been dispersed in a “Discovery” box set and individual sleeves, but only “”Dark Side,” “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall” will be broadened into separate “Experience” and “Immersion” editions. The full “Immersion” sets appeal to complete the artistic experience all neatly packaged in a sturdy square box. Not only do collectors love sturdy boxes, but throw in an over-sized photo book, glossy art prints and multiple discs of unreleased material, and those collectors are sweating. The less pricey “Experience” sets include the original remastered album paired with a disc of bonus material and an expanded CD booklet. Vinyl editions of these albums are also available for those looking to take an alternate route of nostalgia.

“Dark Side of the Moon” spans over six discs in its “Immersion” set. That’s roughly ten different cuts of the album if one counts how many times “Speak to Me” appears on the track list. There is the original 1972 cut and 2011 remaster, but there is also a blu-ray disc containing a 1973 stereo mix, a 4.0 quad mix and a 2003 5.1 surround mix. Visual appeal will come from the DVDs containing footage of early ‘70s performances and imaginative screen films by Storm Thorgerson used on tour. Although most would be content with a clean remaster of the album to toss around their car floorboard, greater possibilities arrive in the multiple accounts of this record. It’d be tasking to pinpoint the technical differences between these versions, but the greater purpose is to sit back and enjoy the music.

In the ‘60s, they emerged from England as the Pink Floyd Sound, at this time fronted by Syd Barrett, before guitarist David Gilmour obtained Barrett’s duties as he became more absent from the band. Rare performances from this era are expected to appear on the reissues as well, including a session recorded in Broadhurst Gardens that the band intended to submit to the Melody Maker beat competition. Mason told Rolling Stone, “It’s extraordinary primarily because of Syd [Barrett], hearing him so crystal clear, the way he was playing and bringing back memories of that first year, when I first met him.”

“Wish You Were Here” will be released on Nov. 7 alongside a single-disc compilation entitled “A Foot in the Door: The Best of Pink Floyd.” Aside from additional art prints, another “best of” probably isn’t the most exciting fraction of this reissue project. Finally on Feb. 27, a seven-disc “Immersion” set of “The Wall” and three-disc “Experience” set will appear to cap off the collection.

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Photo courtesy EMI records

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