ROIO of the Week [Recordings of Indeterminate Origin]

Pink Floyd's Brain Damaged Empire

Pink Floyd's Brain Damaged Empire was the only show recorded officially during the 1974 winter tour and broadcast by the BBC in 1975. In the '70s, Pink Floyd enjoyed surprising fans by previewing new material during their live concerts and 1974 was no exception. They opened each night with the new songs of what would eventually become the Wish You Were Here Album. The second act of the show would be a complete run of the entire Dark Side Of The Moon album and to close the show, they would encore with a long and languid performance of Echoes off the Meddle album. Unfortunately, the BBC broadcast did not include the new songs but only the Dark Side Of The Moon performance. Even then, the Beeb decided to cut at least two minutes off the opening sequence to Speak To Me, the first song of the Dark Side Of The Moon. Roger Waters had taped a man lamenting his life and the phrase "I've been mad for fucking years" was deemed unsuitable for radio.

Through the years, many attempts were made to collect what was thought to be Roger Water's finest hour. The BBC show was just one night, Nov 16, at the Wembley Arena of a three-night stand [from the 15th to the 17th]. Brain Damaged Empire is an almost complete version of the BBC show as it included the snipped opening to Speak To Me but missed the final encore, Echoes. The broadcast sound at the time was in stereo to accommodate stereo tuners.

It is a breathtaking show, with Pink Floyd commanding and authoritative, capable of lengthy suites that were both melodic and experimental. Waters used such devices as sound effects, the chiming of clocks, the sound of a cash register shutting and inserted dialogue to suggest dementia. It was his take on the impersonal nature of capitalism with song titles like Money, Brain Damage, On The Run and the confrontational nature of the system - Us And Them. All of it was reproduced faithfully live but with the added tension of uncertainty giving the live performance an edge missing in the clinical studio version.

One of the highpoints of this concert was singer Clare Torry's soprano singing on the memorable The Great Gig In The Sky, Waters' heavenward look to salvation. It is this human touch that makes Pink Floyd's work more accessible than say their best known current followers, Montreal's Godspeed You! Black Emperor.



Wembley 1974, Pre-FM Master

There are many versions of Pink Floyd's Wembley Arena stand and Brain Damaged Empire [Highland] is one of the best. A complete version with Echoes exists as Wembley 1974, Pre-FM Master [2CD] but this even better sounding version is the censored version with the phrase "I've been mad for fucking years" excised. The stereo here is exceedingly wide and panaromic.



You Gotta Be Crazy At Wembley

Of the performance on November 15, the night before, most collectors would recommend Ayanami's 2CD You've Gotta Be Crazy At Wembley, which includes the Wish You Were Here preview.



Amazing Wembley

As for the last night at Wembley, November 17, the 3CD Amazing Wembley [Ayanami] is the best choice. It also includes the Wish You Were Here segment. Both the shows on Nov 15 and 17 are as far as we know, audience recordings.



Black Holes In The Sky

There is a recording of the complete show on the 16th called Black Holes In The Sky [no label, LP sleeve] that combines an audience recording of the Wish You Were Here segment with the BBC broadcast of the Dark Side Of The Moon. This show should not be mistaken for the similarly titled Great Dane version. The Great Dane version has the show on the 15th. Happy collecting. - Michael Cheah

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