Probably one of the first ’75 bootlegs I ever bought of the Floyd was Vancouver April 8th 1975, it was the first CD bootleg I bought I should say because I got in a trade the Ivor Wynne Stadium, Hamilton, Ontario show from June 1975 first. Who’d have thought that they would have played there in ’75 and not Maple Leaf Gardens again? Anyways, back to Vancouver now, the CD only had four songs on it; Raving and Drooling (Sheep), You’ve Gotta Be Crazy (Dogs), Have a Cigar, and Echoes. I knew I was getting my money’s worth just because 1. it’s The Pink Floyd, 2. Their songs are generally long and 3. It’s The Pink Floyd! Did I mention they’re my all time favourite band? Probably if you have read any of my previous posts and seen the references of The Floyd in them a lot! So this CD starts off with “Raving and Drooling” which would later become “Sheep” on 1977’s Animals album. Some of Gilmour’s most poignant guitar work was on that album but sadly has been left in the shadows by the masses of Floyd fans and quasi Floyd fans who don’t know about it. This was the prototype of the future Animals track that they had been perfecting since French tour in June of 1974. The Floyd would take new music to the stage to work out the bugs in the system so-to-speak and also to try it out on the audience to see what they thought of it.
Roger Waters thumping bass line staggers up and starts the track off and gallops away as the “heartbeat” of the tune. It’s a destructive tempo and song to open up a show and I don’t think that the audience was ready for it really. His vocals now strained by the end of the tour made it for all the more dark and sadistic sounding. The band themselves seemed a bit tired by this point as the loss of “steam” was evident but they still got up and performed the show without flaws. The song sets the mood and tone for the rest of the show and the band spare no holding back here. It would be several years before I got the rest of the show in trades and was able to take in the entire experience however it was trashed and ruined during Shine On… when someone who was close to the taper brought a young kid to the show. Obviously unable to find a babysitter and this kid begins to wail and wail and wail, an absolute killjoy as well as one of the parents would occasionally talk to this kid telling them how they should act and behave. Nothing more irritating while listening to a bootleg and some wank close to the taper is talking! Can’t stop people from talking but talk in between songs ok?! There are a couple of different sources out there of the full show which I was able to acquire and enjoy the whole performance later on but for now we’ll just stick to the four song CD I originally bought.
At thirteen and a half minutes long for an opening track, The Floyd never disappoint when it comes to quality and quantity. Rick Wright does a command performance with his swirling keyboard leads, they’re clinical, sterile and the exact opposite at times and raunchy. The bass is the other lead role here which was not really heard of in music even as early back as the seventies but they did have it in the forefront for this song at least. Still lyrically adolescent Roger still looking for the right verses to fill it in before it went to studio production/recording phase in 1976 at Britannia Row Studios in London. For their 1975 tour as well as the “In The Flesh” 1977 tour opening up with “Raving and Drooling/Sheep” was a good crowd go-getter and to wake up anyone who was expecting otherwise. Other tours offered more subtle opening tracks that took longer to get going so with this one being the crack track it was a sign of the tension growing in the Floyd camp it would seem and Roger’s beginning distaste for large stadium venues and crowds that seem to be there for partying and not the music as it was only a couple years earlier. The isolation between the band and the audience had begun and perhaps at this time it didn’t seem to be such a huge issue but other shows such as, Boston Gardens June 18th, saw Roger swearing at both security and audience to simmer down, shut up or fuck off. This animosity grew to more epic proportions by the time the denouement of the ’77 tour had come around at Madison Square Gardens and the final blow at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium that gave Waters the idea to construct, “The Wall“.
“You’ve Gotta Be Crazy“, one of my all time favourite riffs to a Floyd song and never more happy the day I learned how to play it made a lot more changes than any of the other “new” tunes that The Floyd began to premiere during the French 1974 tour onward. Earlier versions David Gilmour described as completely awful to sing and it was if he was almost “rapping” the verses. Earlier versions also included the falsetto vocals from both Gilmour and Wright. Regardless of its incarnation I’ve always loved every version of this song that it’s undertaken. Later to become “Dogs” on the Animals album this piece stands out as the highlight of the record and a very underrated song in Gilmour’s guitar playing. During the ’77 tour it was bookended with “Pigs on the Wing 1 & 2” giving it some kind of stand-out like appearance to the set list in the first half of the shows. This version from Vancouver as is every version on the ’75 tour has music being played throughout the entire song as opposed to the ’77 tour where the tape loops of the barking dogs takes over the middle section so the earlier versions has more meat to them as far as actual music being played. Clocking in at just over fourteen minutes it showcases Gilmour’s guitar work and tone as well as any other version he’s played. Waters’ introducing it as, “another new Choon and it’s called You Gotta Be Crazy” as it didn’t hesitate to get underway. The sound quality aside from the people around talking is quite enjoyable as you can hear every instrument and vocal clearly. This rendition despite the still lyrics in progress has more of the later album version in it as far as; design, speed, timbre and emotion. A somewhat dissonant tone at times to Gilmour’s voice resonates throughout here as well, from what we don’t know but it could be the constant changes and attempts to improve to the song, the tour, the meal before the show, who knows but it’s there. The split vocal leads are still the same but more structured by this time in the tour with Roger governing the final verses with Gilmour and Wright providing backup at the very end till the song’s finale. The guitar work strains the notes out like the wringing of a wet towel for its final bit of water, tight and conformed and well executed. The softened keyboards by Wright are equally complimented by Mason’s drumming which is on point every time, flawless. Gilmour clearly takes control of his instrument here and delivers the goods with the solos almost completely intact to the album version, he knew where he was going with it by this point and now just to hone in on the final outlines of it and there you have it.
That is one thing that can said among many other things that The Floyd never flubbed anything really during live performances. There are the extremely rare cases where things have gone wrong but it didn’t ruin the experience or the performance in any way. But as far as playing the right notes it was always spot on and after listening to literally hundreds of shows you tend to pay close attention to these things after multiple listening of the same shows after a while. With larger audiences it seemed that it almost didn’t matter what the band was playing after a while because when you have mass crowds going it’s hard to keep them all attentive to what’s happening on stage and the preoccupation of partying, smoking & drinking no less must have been the expected reaction that the band had anticipated but I’m sure by then in ’75 they knew it wasn’t going to be like the smaller venues of 1970 now. From having to endure the audiences in bootleg albums you often think to yourself, the band could have been belching in to the mics while they played their music and the audience would have cheered it on so why even go if that’s your attitude at a concert right? I don’t know about you but at the cost of concert tickets these days… I go to listen and watch the band!
This CD brought a real treat, the premiere of “Have a Cigar“, its debut performance where Shine on was split in to two parts finally. This version was not only the debut performance but THE dirtiest version I think out of all the ones thereafter. It makes you think of a tank pulling a train out of the mud that’s covered the tracks and it got stuck. It’s that dirty! Mild fuzz to the guitar gives it that sandpaper feel to it as it scrapes through the PA system and giving it the presence of “grunge” really. Another great Floyd riff that wouldn’t show up until later that year on 1975’s Wish You Were Here album in a much brighter and cleaner tone with Roy Harper at the helm which they let him sing at the Knebworth Festival gig on July 5th. Surprisingly for Gilmour is that guitar solo at the end is only about four notes but for a debut he probably was still getting the feeling for the song as well but it definitely is a heavy version and still one of the best versions to source out should you want to hear Gilmour at his most basic and the band at a heavy point in short form with the song coming in at just over five minutes. Gilmour and Waters duet the vocals here which is about one of the only songs they did this with, other songs were mainly just the chorus they did a duet on like “Young Lust” so the contrast of the vocal ranges and tones is quite interesting to hear.
Finally, “Echoes“, the very first Pink Floyd song I ever heard from the Pompeii video (still THE best version going) way back and by 1975 Echoes had become a more subtly played song and of course crowd pleaser. However by ’75 they had incorporated Dick Parry to come out and do a short saxophone solo in it which gave it a more cocktail lounge feel to it. This first experience of hearing a sax in this 1971 epic masterpiece was a real throw me off my chair moment that I wasn’t expecting at all. I’m still not sure if I like it but have come to terms with it a while ago so I don’t bother analyzing it anymore, it’s there, can’t change it so I’m good with it. This song became the closing song to the tour in’75 and the epitaph to the tour as the final notes fade away at the end of it’s generally 25 minute stint the crowd would roar and the band would leave the stage, show’s over. The original working title of this grand piece was, “Nothing parts 1-36” then “Return of the Son of Nothing” and finally “Echoes” and going through a few lyrical changes along the way but by the time the album came out it was solidified in its wording so everyone could sing along. The Vancouver version sits nicely at just over 22 minutes and as well by this time the main guitar riffs during that ‘funky’ bass swing section, the distortion is now tamed down compared to the Pompeii version from October 1971, Gilmour keeps it close to the album version and it never felt like it really lets loose anymore but stays comfortably within the confines of his fingers. It finishes off the CD nicely and leaves you content at what you’ve just heard for the last 45 minutes or so and not minding that you hit the repeat button on your stereo to listen to it again. Brilliant.