Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DARK SIGHED OF THE MOOB: The case for Floyd boots

Pink Floyd
Water's Gate (aka "The Man" In Paris¸Champs Elyses, Mothered Man, Work in Paris, ad infinitum)
bootleg LP

Years back I was tossed down the Pink Floyd 67-73-era bootleg cavern by a particular member of Wolf Eyes, as I'm sure many of you "innocent" (read: woefully naive) bystanders was, in his Listed article for the oft-respectable Dusted Magazine. In it, many a wacked out behemoth live set was touted, under one of the scores of names pasted on the endless n-th generations thereof, as a primo cabbage shredder. And lo, the man spoke the truth. As a teen finding my way through stacks and crates, my puzzler ached whenever some gray-hair told me the Syd era wasn't the only good bit; that I oughta pick up Atom Heart Mother or Meddle. With the notable exception of Ummagumma, they all seemed somehow more overwrought and pretentious than the King, Court and Aristocracy of Crimson combined. Apparently, something about the recording process cheeseclothed the jagged, sweaty, shrieking combustion engine they were as live act into so many paisley snuggle-ups and well-mannered whispermints. Double shame.

Lots of Floyd headcases call Water's Gate the worst recorded bootleg of the era, but don't listen to them. They eat their morning eggs off Dark Side picture discs still in the shrink. They're after clarity; minor alterations on a tenaciously gripped theme. Combine the forces of the Theatre Comedie des Champs-Elysses acoustics, 1970, the alledged first performance of Atom Heart Mother, a warbling tape and a French radio broadcast, and you get a ping-ponging, nauseating, smudge of a performance. Sometimes the waning frequency adds a much-needed whine here, and sometimes a French broadcaster prattles there. Cooing vocal sections sound more like cardboard sitars and heavily-treated percussion improvs manifest as train yard maintenance calamities. As a listening experience, it's at least as harrowing as (for contempo analogs) Blues Control's Puff, insofar as the blues sits awkwardly but amicably beside righteous blat-n-squirm. Now that I've made an already muddy pit all the more muddy, go dig for the cheapest Pink Floyd boot of the era. Oh wait. Give me a few weeks to secure another copy first. Thanks.

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