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From REG Issue #21


efore I begin on this litany about the Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii video, it's important that I let the readers know that this article is divided into 2 parts - the personal, and the analytical.

The Personal

It was a few years ago, when the Pink Floyd "Shine On" box set art was released. I was hanging out with my friend Tracy. After looking through the box set book and checking out the album packaging, we made a copy of the "Early Singles" disc. Then Tracy asked, "Have you seen the movie Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii"? "No" I said, "but lets check it out."

We sat down and watched a few minutes of the movie, all the while fast forwarding to the Dark Side of the Moon out-takes. "Oh, wait, Roger Waters burps here!! Oh! Oh! "Look, they are so stoned." Well, after a quick preview (at the time I was less than impressed) Tracy asked if I'd like to borrow the film, if in exchange he could borrow a Pink Floyd book that I had. "Sure:" I said.

A few months later, I was out of town burning the midnight oil in Harrisonburg, Virginia at the home of my friend George. We put the Live in Pompeii film in his video cassette player, after which it quickly became my absolute favorite concert movie of all time.

Since having watched the movie about a dozen times that weekend, I have gone out of my way to enlighten the masses as to the importance of this performance. I now believe Live in Pompeii is one of the most historically relevant Rock concerts of all time. It is definitely on par with the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus or The Beatles' final concert on roof top of the Abbey Road Studio's.

The Analytical

The most interesting aspect of the Floyd show, is how four people despite their differences, can create such outstanding sound and music together. This movie documents Pink Floyd at their Rawest, most creative, and improvisational- an achievement that will never be repeated. It also marked one of the last times that "Saucerful of Secrets" was played, and the only time "Seamus" was performed under the title "Mademoiselle Nobs."

The film opens with "Echoes Part 1," a version of Echoes that blows the vinyl version away. However, you do have to overlook the silly footage of the band running around a wind blown hillside. An idea the band has probably since regretted

Next, the viewer is treated to a six minute version of "Careful with that Axe Eugene" - again a superior performance, nothing like the B-side version that was released in the '60s. The unleashing of emotions during Roger Waters' scream is breathtaking. Also notice how Dave Gilmour uses his voice as a counterpoint.

The version of "Saucerful of Secrets" is fully mind bending. It seems as if Pink Floyd is out to beat John Cage at his own game. This track also contains a blooper - notice how the Floyd are superimposed at the bottom of the screen. Shown here, their hair is not blowing in the wind as is everything in the background. In a past issue of Brain Damage, I saw a picture of the Floyd in front of a blue screen. I suppose that after the initial filming, the director wanted a little something extra.

The film version of "Saucerful of Secrets", in my opinion, is such a great piece because it seems to be done in four parts. The first two parts symbolize discord, the next two parts represent order. The climax of the song occurs when Dave Gilmour releases his melodic throat excursions just before the conclusion of the song. And the melodious backdrop of Rick Wright's organ adds a colorful after thought.

Roger Waters' erie sounding "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is also an important track on the film - especially taking note of the improvisation that occurs in the midsection of the song. I also like the interesting way that Roger's voice is so different from that of Rick Wright and David Gilmour's while harmonizing on "Echoes," or Waters' and Gilmour's vocals on "Careful With That Axe Eugene." They each change their entire vocal sound to compliment the other's vocal harmony.

"Mademoiselle Nobs" is probably the most bizarre track on the film's set list. The Floyd were right when they said, "I guess no one else thought it was as funny as we did." This song guest stars the famous singing dog Mademoiselle Nobs, - hence the title. I guess Seamus's touring schedule conflicted with the shooting of this film. Funny how the song itself is also a dog. (a matter of opinion. Dogs can sing the blues too! Ed.)

A very rollicking version of "One of These Days" highlighting Nick Mason is the last installment before "Echoes Part 2" concludes the movie. This segment shows how under-rated a drummer Mason is. At one point he breaks a drum stick but never misses a beat. My respect for his musicianship increased ten-fold after seeing this production.

Not only does this film allow the viewer to witness a performance of early Pink Floyd at their improvisational peak as one of Rock's most influential groups, but from the out-takes of Dark Side of the Moon, we also get a peek into the recording process of one of Rock's greatest albums.

Sadly, this group lineup only lasted eight more years before their partnership ended. But for me, my opinion of this concert has changed considerably, since first experiencing it in a friends basement some 10 years ago. One can only wonder what fantastic music would have been created if these four members of Pink Floyd could have only gotten along better.




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