Nick Mason: Pink Floyd Ready to Empty the Vaults

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Nick Mason – Photo Courtesy of Nick Mason

Pink Floyd fans are about to shine on like crazy diamonds. The iconic English psyh rock group is about to empty the vaults on rare and live tracks as part of a massive campaign their music company EMI are about to launch. Starting tomorrow, Sept. 27, the company — in a joint move with the band — will release collectors’ box sets, remastered recordings, and unreleased music from the band courtesy of an “anthology” that recalls EMI’s epic 1995 release of Beatles material.

Nick Mason, the band’s drummer since the very beginning, said he and remaining members of the band (Roger Waters and David Gilmour) had been hesitant throughout the years at the very thought of a definitive box set but EMI, quite “instantly,” made them change their minds.

“It sort of happened quickly and seemed worthwhile. It’s rather retro in that the graphics and packaging were very much an integral part of the experience,” Mason explained.

“It also felt, in a lot of ways, like the last chance for us to put out physical records. At the same time, some of the technology has enabled us to clean up old material in a way we couldn’t have done before.”

I spoke to Mason on Sept. 23 and asked him all about the multi-format release which fall under the joint “Why Pink Floyd?” campaign includes CDs, DVDs, vinyl, Blu-ray discs, iPhone Apps and a new ‘Best Of’ collection. The campaign will be released in stages through the end of the year and early 2012. On Tuesday, Sept. 27, expanded deluxe and special edition versions of the legendary The Dark Side Of The Moon will be released as will a six-disc ‘Immersion’ box set and more.

The next wave, or “Phase 2″ as the press notes denote, will arrive Nov. 7 with multi-releases of “Wish You Were Here” including the band’s 1974 tour date from Wembley Stadium. For more information, visit their website (www.pinkfloyd.com). Mason below…

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Photo Courtesy of Hipgnosis / © Pink Floyd Music Ltd.

JC: Did you have to dig down deep through your vaults to find material or has EMI been sitting on this amazing stuff?

NM: In general, it was EMI but not in a benevolent way. Sometimes people think vaults consist of albums or completed master takes. But, every artist has literally hundreds of rolls of tape and you tend to keep multi-tracks and various versions. We musicians also have a tendency not to mark anything. It must’ve been a helll of a job to go through all of this.

JC: Of all the material found what works jump out the most?

NM: One would be the Wembley concert from 1974. It was digitally cleaned up sufficiently for us to justify release, but the jewel in crown is the release of “Wish You Were Here” with Stephane Grappelli
playing violin on it. I thought it was lost forever. I thought I recorded over it. To find that was a real joy. It’s just a fantastic add-on to the piece. Should we play it again, I’d ask someone to play the violin. It carries more poignancy.

JC: Can we expect Pink Floyd to tour ever again?

NM: I don’t think so. Personally, I’m always up for playing live but it’s different for all of us. Roger has been on the road for a year with The Wall show and I think David really discovered where he’s happiest: smaller venues with less full-on show. All of us still enjoy playing but the concept of reviving the dinosaur and taking it on road…I’m up for it, David I think isn’t, and Roger’s got The Wall.

JC: Pink Floyd’s music continues to sell and have mass appeal. If you guys ever did decide to tour it’d never feel like a novelty tour or anything…

NM: The music has lasted. It is interesting that The Wall show Roger is doing is a 30-year piece of music but brought up to date with film.

JC: You still make music — tell me what you’ve been working on independently lately.

NM: I still make music, but my time and energy goes into music politics. So many really good musicians and writers are around and the industry is so complex now. Since the downfall of rock companies, there’s no easy mechanism for people to develop. Artists generally need to be represented. The artist and the industry doesn’t always run in constant synergy. I believe artists need to meet together and get a voice at the table.

JC: I’m just curious – since you mentioned the fall of the music industry, what’s your take on Spotify? Many call it the possible future business model.

NM: I think it’s exactly the kind of thing we need to monitor carefully. Spotify is interesting. It could be one of the ways music is distributed in the future, but the in order to really work, it needs to be enormous — multi-national, in China… that even Chinese would pay.

The problem at the moment is the money given to artists from Spotify is pretty small. Spotify is not a record shop. Having said that, it’s a hell of a lot better than illegal downloading. We haven’t sort of established how things work. As of yet no band seems to have made it entirely on their own without the support of a rock company. Some people can market and distribute themselves from the web – certainly established band do slightly better – but no one’s done it from the ground up.

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Pink Floyd Pig to fly again

The Pink Floyd Pig will float above London’s Battersea Power Station on Monday (26.09.11) to celebrate the launch of ‘Why Pink Floyd…?’.

EMI Music have confirmed they will mark the release the remasters and collectors campaign by recreating the group’s legendary ‘Animals’ sleeve by flying the pig over the iconic landmark – 35 years after it first happened.

The event will mark the first release date of the extensive ‘Why Pink Floyd…?’ campaign featuring brand new remasters, collector’s editions and previously unreleased music.

Differing from the original 1976 floatation, the 2011 event will see the Pig fly at the north end of Battersea Power Station next to the river.

Unfortunately, the remaining members of Pink Floyd – drummer Nick Mason, bassist Roger Waters and guitarist David Gilmour – will not be able to attend the event.

On 26 September, EMI Music release all 14 Pink Floyd studio albums remastered as brand new Discovery Editions on CD and available digitally. All 14 studio albums will also be available as one Discovery Box Set.

The same day will see the release of Immersion and Experience Editions of ‘The Dark Side of The Moon’, extended to feature unreleased music from the Pink Floyd archives.

‘Wish You Were Here’ Experience and Immersion editions and ‘A Foot In The Door – The Best of Pink Floyd’ follow on November 7.

‘The Wall’ Immersion and Experience editions will be released on 27 February 2012.

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Drummer Nick Mason on Pink Floyd?s Tech, Music and Future

Pink Floyd has no plans today for another album, drummer Nick Mason told Wired.com. Tomorrow? Maybe.
Image courtesy EMI

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason is ready and willing to head back to work with his legendary band, as soon as estranged guitarist David Gilmour and bassist Roger Waters mend fences. But until that happens, Mason is happy to share the Floyd’s dense vault with a new century willing to drill deep into the band’s back pages.

SEE ALSO:

Dark Side of the Moon Initiates Pink Floyd Immersion

Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Eclipses Concept Album Classics

“The feeling is rather than wait for the bootleg, it’s far better to do it properly and on our own terms,” Mason told Wired.com, discussing EMI’s exhaustive reboot of Pink Floyd’s masterworks.

EMI’s expansive reissue campaign began in earnest Monday, as Pink Floyd’s indispensable Dark Side of the Moon landed in six-disc Immersion and two-disc Experience editions. (Click the top article in the sidebar at left for Wired.com’s feature on EMI’s reboot campaign, as well as a chance to win a box set signed by Mason.) It respectively rolls onward in November and February, when Wish You Were Here and The Wall get the archival reissue treatment, with more to come.

Wired.com spoke at length with Mason about Pink Floyd’s accepted and underrated masterpieces, the increasingly viral epic “Interstellar Overdrive,” the tricks and traps of technological innovation, Pink Floyd’s new relationship with its old label, and what the coming years may bring for one of rock’s most influential acts.

Wired.com: What do you think about this archival campaign?

Nick Mason: It’s sort of curious, because after years of releasing very specific records, just one version, this complete change-around of doing various versions is very odd. It’s not something I think we would have done 15 years ago. But it seems like an exercise that is worthwhile; there is enough interest to justify doing something like this. And I know we’re not alone: There’s been almost a change of heart in the way that artists provide their history and working notes, so to speak. Particularly with Dark Side of the Moon’s Immersion edition, you can get a picture of how a song started and was taken and developed into a studio song.

Wired.com: The advance of technology has created opportunities for fans to drill deep into and exponentially share the things they love. So it makes sense to take command of what are often bootlegs anyway and make them work for you.

Mason: That’s it. The feeling is rather than wait for the bootleg, it’s far better to do it properly and on our own terms, rather than come across it and release it in rather poor form. But the thing with technology is that there is good and bad. It’s brilliant that you can clean things up, repair them, and so on. But the big problem is that instead of streamlining things and making them move quicker, technology frequently turns almost any exercise into a far longer project. We look back now in wonder at the speed that an album could actually be made in the ’60s, because you had to make decisions as you went along. We never had the opportunity to remix the hi-hat, add more echo or whatever. Everything was locked in on the first backing track.

Wired.com: Right. One of the things that continually boggles my mind, and should give every 21st-century artist pause, is that the musical masterworks of the ’60s were mostly made on four-track consoles.

Mason: Absolutely. But that’s part of it. That speed of working meant that decisions were made very quickly. So many of the effects were really very simple. For example, the phasing and flanging was done manually. George Martin said that when the Beatles were adding those effects to songs on Sgt. Pepper’s, it was with three tape recorders running and someone’s elbow brushing against the tape to get it fractionally out of phase with the rest. Everyone thinks that there were all sorts of wizard gadgets used during that time, which is absolutely not the case.

Wired.com: I often wonder how long it would have taken Pink Floyd to make “Interstellar Overdrive” if you had all the technology that you have today.

Mason: Well, I can tell you I think we’d still be working on it now!

Wired.com: Can you speak specifically about that song, while we’re on it? I’ve always been amazed by how it charted so much territory for the different musical genres that followed it.

Mason: Well, I suppose the oddest thing about it is that it is pure improvisation. The thinking behind it is pure modern jazz really, but played by rather amateur rock musicians. The good thing about it is that every version is different. Nothing is ever quite the same. And again, the curious thing is the way the band found itself playing all these different genres. When you look at an album like Piper at the Gates of Dawn, it has “Interstellar Overdrive,” which is crazed psychedelic improvisation, and then “The Gnome” and “Bike,” which are almost positively ordered folk songs.

Wired.com: How about Dark Side of Moon?

Mason: I’m still very proud of it. I think the band was just about peaking in terms of its operational ability, working together and getting on with it. But it was so much more polished than anything we’d ever done before. It’s like two steps up from Meddle.

Wired.com: It’s utterly cohesive, from the band’s unity to the unity of the album’s thematic, lyrical and musical concerns.

Mason: Yeah, it was right-place-right-time, a bit like Sgt. Pepper’s in that it’s almost seamless. The band was operating really well, but so were all the people on the side. We had a really talented young engineer in Alan Parsons, and Chris Thomas as well. So we actually had six, seven or eight people contributing, depending on who was around at the time, rather than any one person directing or people dismissing other people’s ideas.

Wired.com: How about Wish You Were Here, which EMI rolls out in November?

Mason: It’s a good album. We should have just made life easier on ourselves by not going back to the studio so soon after Dark Side. We actually spent quite a lot of time floundering around. Once we did get it, it came together rather quickly. But there was quite a lot of pain before we managed to establish a way of working on it, and find the beginnings of the songs.

Wired.com: How about The Wall? It came out during a time of personal and professional misunderstanding for the band. Was it difficult to make?

Mason: I wouldn’t call it a misunderstanding, but it’s not as clear-cut as that. A lot of recording for The Wall was actually very … well, I won’t say easy, but there weren’t a lot of particular problems. Those arose rather later on, but the actual recording was fine. When Roger [Waters] originally wrote the demos, we all came in and said that we like The Wall, but felt that The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking was a more personal project. So we started out working together quite well, but the breakdown occurred later in the summer. At least a year into the project, where Roger lost patience with Rick [Wright], at which point everything began to break down. But for a long time, much of The Wall was made quite easily.

Wired.com: How about Animals? It still seems underrated, although its critique of capitalism and in-your-face songs seem more prescient by the day.

Mason: I think the message of the album still holds today. We really enjoyed moving out of EMI to work in our own studio as we wanted. Not that EMI really tried to stop us from doing anything, but we had that sense of independence. But our technology and systems were not as good as Abbey Road’s. The tape recorder was no good. As soon as producer Bob Ezrin and everyone came in to record The Wall, they said, “Well that’s going out. Put that in the skip.” So to that extent, Animals was somewhat of a drop in terms of its recording excellence. We had a good engineer, but the equipment was a bit cruder, which may actually be helping Animals in the end. It is an unusually coarse album for us.

Wired.com: Yeah, it’s weird to think that Animals can sneak up on anyone. After the meditative experiments of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, it’s pretty hardcore.

Mason: People point out that Animals arrived as punk was taking off, so maybe that was an influence. But I don’t think that any of us sat around and said, “Hey, this Johnny Rotten is pretty good. Let’s try and do something like that.” [Laughs] But maybe that was an influence.

Wired.com: You mentioned EMI. How’s the band’s relationship with the label after signing that contract?

Mason: It’s very good. Whatever differences there have been, we have been with EMI for all of our recording lives, particularly in Europe. They led on this project, and I think they’ve done a great job. In this day and age, there is as yet no alternative to record companies. So it’s far better to be with the devil you know than the devil you don’t. That may not sound like a compliment! [Laughs]

Wired.com: But I’ll take it! It’s a great quote. Let’s talk about the future. Have you talked with David about another album or tour?

Mason: No, we have are no plans. I think David probably wants to do another solo album, that may be his next move. And I think that after that, we’ll see how he feels. At the moment, he is not interested. And I think Roger, even if he was interested, has got another nine months or so of touring his version of The Wall. So there’s nothing in the cards. I have to say unfortunately, because I’d be very happy to pack my knife, fork, spoon and drumsticks and head out.

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Pink Floyd Money Machine Leads Elvis, Nirvana, U2 in CD Battle


Enlarge image

“Nevermind”

Geffen via Bloomberg

The cover of the 20th anniversary edition of “Nevermind” by Nirvana. The grunge CD has been remastered and now comes in versions with extra tracks and a live performance.

The cover of the 20th anniversary edition of “Nevermind” by Nirvana. The grunge CD has been remastered and now comes in versions with extra tracks and a live performance. Source: Geffen via Bloomberg


Enlarge image

“Winterland”

Sony Music Entertainment/Legacy via Bloomberg

“Winterland” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The CD, available in a standard or box-set form, expands on the previous “Live at Winterland” release from 1987 and documents San Francisco concerts in October 1968.

“Winterland” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The CD, available in a standard or box-set form, expands on the previous “Live at Winterland” release from 1987 and documents San Francisco concerts in October 1968. Source: Sony Music Entertainment/Legacy via Bloomberg


Enlarge image

“Dark Side of the Moon”

EMI via Bloomberg

The “Immersion” box set of “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. The set, selling for about $110, includes six discs, a book, a scarf, marbles, coasters and art prints.

The “Immersion” box set of “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd. The set, selling for about $110, includes six discs, a book, a scarf, marbles, coasters and art prints. Source: EMI via Bloomberg


Enlarge image

Elvis Presley

RCA Legacy via Bloomberg

Elvis Presley performs on “The Steve Allen Show” in 1956. Presley’s “Young Man With the Big Beat” is a box set of all his material from that year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: NO SALES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

Elvis Presley performs on “The Steve Allen Show” in 1956. Presley’s “Young Man With the Big Beat” is a box set of all his material from that year. Source: RCA Legacy via Bloomberg
EDITOR’S NOTE: NO SALES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.


Enlarge image

“Young Man With the Big Beat”

RCA Legacy via Bloomberg

The contents of the CD box set “Young Man With the Big Beat.” It is a five-disc box containing all of Elvis’s 1956 material, with live shows, interviews, outtakes and singles.

The contents of the CD box set “Young Man With the Big Beat.” It is a five-disc box containing all of Elvis’s 1956 material, with live shows, interviews, outtakes and singles. Source: RCA Legacy via Bloomberg

Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley and
Nirvana will vie again for fans’ favors — and cash — with the
release today of remastered CDs featuring some of the greatest
rock music.

They also give us weary hours of unessential add-ons, bum
notes, rambling interviews and failed outtakes in over-expanded
box sets that will lighten fans’ wallets and sustain record
shops even as downloads kill off disc sales.

Fans buying all of Pink Floyd’s rereleases will spend more
than $500. On the basic “Discovery” CDs, the band’s prog-rock
glory is clearer than ever, especially on “Money,” with its
ringing cash tills. These 14 albums already have sold 200
million copies. They are a good starting point for anyone who
hasn’t sampled them — if there are any such people.

“Dark Side of the Moon,” which has sold 50 million copies
since 1973, also comes in a two-CD “Experience” version adding
an impressive live performance and a six-disc “Immersion” set
that’s way too much. It also includes a scarf, coasters and a
track off the wisely abandoned “Household Objects” project.
(The group tried to make music using wine glasses and elastic
bands.)

The “Wish You Were Here” set sounds better, adding an
unusual recording of the title track with violinist Stephane
Grappelli, who takes the song in an unfamiliar jazz direction.
Rating: ***** for the two-CD sets, *** for the bigger boxes.

“Young Man With the Big Beat” has just about everything
Elvis Presley recorded in 1956, probably his greatest year.

The finest material is on the first two discs: “Blue Suede
Shoes,” “Rip It Up,” “Love Me Tender.” The rockabilly hick
grows into rock’s biggest star. Rating: *****.

The full five-CD set has ragged outtakes, a powerful live
“Heartbreak Hotel” and rediscovered interviews. The 21-year-
old politely fields nasty questions suggesting he has no talent,
and admits he gets lonesome some nights (“yes sir”).

“My pelvis had nothin’ to do with what I do,” he adds.
Rating: ***½.

Nirvana’s grunge “Nevermind” turns 20 with more
remastering. The blistering “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” with
Kurt Cobain’s tortured vocal, starts the attack and there is
also a stripped-down rehearsal version. Rating: *****. The
bigger box is only for the most fervent devotees.

Jimi Hendrix also joins the fray with “Winterland,” a
1968 San Francisco show. The shorter CD is quite enough (rating
****), with the five-disc set adding indulgent guitar freakouts
and a spaced-out Hendrix holding forth about “advancing
history” (rating: ***.)

There’s more: Today we also get a Sting set called “25
Years
.” This month we had five Queen reissues and some vintage
Bob Seger. Rating: *** for all.

We have more giant boxes on the way before Christmas, with
Nov. 1 featuring the first release of the complete “Smile” by
the Beach Boys up against U2’s “Achtung Baby” 20th anniversary
set. For both, the double-disc versions sound like the best buy
and the rest extravagant.

The most extreme is U2’s $600 “Uber Deluxe” limited
edition with 10 discs, 16 art prints and a pair of Bono’s
trademark “The Fly” sunglasses.

The 14 Pink Floyd “Discovery” CDs are on EMI/ Capitol,
priced from $13 each or $179 for the set, with “Dark Side of
the Moon” also available in a two-CD “Experience” version for
about $22 or a six-disc “Immersion” set at $110. On Nov. 7
come two- and five-disc versions of “Wish You Were Here” and a
new greatest hits, “A Foot in the Door.” “The Wall” follows
on Feb. 27, 2012, including a seven-disc set. There are also
vinyl, iPhone and download versions. Information:
http://www.pinkfloyd.com

Presley’s 1956 set is on RCA/Legacy, priced at $91, with
his “Elvis Presley/Elvis” at $15. Information:
http://www.elvis1956.com

Nirvana is on Geffen, priced $12 or $22 with an extra disc.
A five-disc version is about $120. Hendrix, on Legacy, is $11
for the single disc or $35 for the box. Information:
http://interscope.com and http://www.legacyrecordings.com/

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section
of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story:
Mark Beech in London at
mbeech@bloomberg.net or Mark_Beech on http://twitter.com/home.

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Manuela Hoelterhoff at
mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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Pink floyd lost for words lyrics musica

Pink floyd lost for words lyrics musica

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Seamus – 05 – meddle – pink floyd

Seamus - 05 - meddle - pink floyd

Pink Floyd Meddle David Gilmour — guitar, bass, vocals, harmonica Roger Waters — bass, vocals, guitar Richard Wright — Hammond organ, piano, vocals Nick Mason — drums, percussion…

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Pink floyd – young lust (vocal cover)

Pink floyd - young lust (vocal cover)

Amo este tema… Espero que haya quedado algo aceptable :P

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Pink Floyd to reunite? Pigs will fly…

Today’s recreation of Pink Floyd’s Animals album (Photo: Getty)

Pigs are flying over Battersea power station once again. And rumours are flying about the unlikeliest of reunions.

It’s been 35 years since Pink Floyd released Animals, which, in our retro obsessed recycled vintage any-excuse-for-an-anniversary pop culture, is perfect timing to release a large porcine dirigible over the now rather derelict London landmark that gave Pink Floyd the iconic cover for their 1977 album.

I would have to say the cover, by Storm Thorgeson’s company Hipnogsis , is rather more iconic than the album itself. Animals lacks the beautiful symmetry and cohesion of 1975’s Wish You Were Here and is, rather, a tentative step towards the full scale pop operatic madness of The Wall, dominated by the forceful personality, verbose songwriting and frankly terrible singing voice of Roger Waters, and the eventual dissolution of the classic line-up of the band. It’s an interesting if ungainly album, with lots of (what were becoming ) Floyd signatures poking oddly from unwieldy songs linked to a rather sneering dystopian concept inspired by Orwell’s Animal Farm, in which human beings are characterised as pigs, dogs and sheep. It’s not terrible but never becomes more than the sum of its rather disunited parts. But whilst the album may be unloved, the gorgeously absurd image of the flying pig has become synonymous with a band who found a kind of surreal elegance in peculiar juxtapositions and an ego-fuelled sense of excess, and so was deemed an appropriate marketing stunt to promote the re-release of newly mastered digital versions of all 14 Floyd albums.

These days, if you wanted to put a flying animal on your album cover, you’d just do it all on photoshop and nobody would blink an eye. Indeed, even in 1977, Hipgnosis favoured “stripping in” the pig over a photo of the Power Station. The band, however, who never knowingly shied away from excess, insisted the pig had to fly for real. So Hipgnosis built a forty-foot pig shaped zeppelin at great expense and launched it over Battersea.

Actually, they failed to launch it, despite much pig related huffing and puffing, but got some lovely pics of the Power Station in the sunlight. The  11 photographers, eight man film crew and helicopter all duly returned next day. But as the zeppig reached the top of the towers, a sudden gust of wind caused it to twist and break free of its moorings. A marksman had been employed with a telescopic rifle to gun the gas filled dirigible down in case of accident, but, unfortunately, it was quickly realised nobody had asked him for the second day’s filming. As the pig sailed away and disappeared into the clouds, even the helicopter gave up chase after five minutes. The pig came down that evening on a farm in Kent, where the farmer described the descent of a forty foot farm animal as “a bit unusual.” The Hipgnosis crew recovered and repaired the zeppig, and finally got their photo on the third day. However, the band declared they preferred the shots of the sky from day one, so the design team ended up stripping in the pig from day three and retouching the photograph anyway. That story pretty much sums up the money and madness at loose in Seventies rock.

The original pig is no longer airworthy, apparently, and so a new dirigipig had to be constructed for today’s launch. Fine print on the press release also revealed that “unfortunately, the remaining members of Pink Floyd will not be able to attend the event.” This, as we know, is because two are dead, and the rest are barely talking to one another.

Or are they? I heard an odd piece of gossip last week at a music industry bash, when a well connected friend of drummer Nick Mason claimed the band have been in discussions about the possibility of one last tour.

They did manage to previously bury hatchets to reunite, rather movingly, for Live 8 in 2005, and, though they insisted it was a never-to-be-repeated charitable one-off, there has been some indication of rapprochement between the primary combatants. Guitarist David Gilmour and bassist Roger Waters, who usually never have a kind word for the other, made brief guest appearances at each other’s shows last year. As for Mason, the most underemployed drummer in rock has often stated that he would love the band to get together again. Keyboard player Rick Wright, of course, has shuffled off to the great gig in the sky, along with original Floyd maverick Syd Barrett. So will it happen? Well, pigs have flown …

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Pink Floyd’s 14 studio albums rated

1971: Meddle * * * * (GOOD)
The start of the new signature Floyd 70s rock sound really takes shape on the
23 sublime minutes of Echoes, as their experimental instincts begin to
coalesce around songs

1972: Obscured By Clouds * * * (UNDERRATED)
Another soundtrack, its elegant instrumentals point the way to Dark Side,
recorded at the same time.

1973 Dark Side of the Moon * * * * * (ESSENTIAL)
Everything comes together on a gorgeoues, trippy, sonically, lyricall,
melodically, harmonically fluid rock journey into inner space.

1975: Wish You Were Here * * * * * (ESSENTIAL)
The sound of Pink Floyd as a perfect rock machine, repeated musical motifs
glistening in the crazy diamond heart of its tribute to an absent friend,
Syd Barrett.

1977: Animals * * * (GOOD)
Roger Waters assumes control. All the Floyd signatures are in place but
somehow not locked together. The result is darker, patchier, at times
ungainly yet still classic Floyd.

1979: The Wall * * * (FLAWED)
Bold, ambitious, even radical, many consider this ultimate Floyd but Waters
double album concept has too many slight songs overburdened by ego and
undermined by the obvious disharmony of the participants. Waters can’t
really sing but that’s not going to stop him, and his verbose lyrics
dominate proceedings, while the sound is edgier and less burnished than
before. It says it all that the stand out track, Comfortably Numb, is also
the one the other members contributed most to.

1983: The Final Cut * * (DEPRESSING)
Dreary, dark concept album that should have been Waters solo debut. He left
shortly after completing it.

1987: A Momentary Lapse of Reason * (AVOID)
Essentially a David Gilmour solo album made to keep the Floyd brand going.

1994: The Division Bell * * (DULL)
Gilmour, Wright and Mason reconvene to recreate the classic Floyd sound but it
lacks higher purpose or worthwhile songs. Waters called it “a fair forgery.”

On 26 September, EMI Music release all 14 Pink Floyd studio albums
remastered as brand new Discovery Editions on CD and available digitally.
All 14 studio albums will also be available as one Discovery Box Set.

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Excavating Pink Floyd: Nick Mason outlines sprawling catalog reissue

By Alan Light
Special to MSN Music

There’s only one man who has been part of Pink Floyd from the band’s beginning to its probably-but-maybe-not-forever end.

©EMI

Drummer Nick Mason first joined forces with Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and Richard Wright in 1965. Barrett left in 1968, his mental and emotional state deteriorating under heavy drug intake, and was replaced by David Gilmour. In the next decade, Pink Floyd released two of the best-selling albums of all time, with “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) and “The Wall” (1979); in total, the group has sold over 200 million records worldwide.

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Wright left in 1979, and Waters went on his own in 1985, but Mason and Gilmour soldiered on, releasing the final Pink Floyd album, “The Division Bell,” in 1994. And that was that — until all four members took the stage for the first time in almost 25 years at the Live 8 concert in 2005. Syd Barrett died in 2006, and Richard Wright passed away two years later.

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Recently, though, there have been signs of a thaw in the legendary chill surrounding relations between the members of Pink Floyd. Though they turned down offers of hundreds of millions of dollars to tour following the Live 8 appearance, in July of 2010, Waters and Gilmour performed together at a small charity event for the Hoping Foundation, benefiting Palestinian children. Then in May, at London’s O2 Arena, Gilmour joined Waters’ performance of “The Wall” and unleashed his epic solo on “Comfortably Numb.” At the show’s end, Mason joined his surviving bandmates for an acoustic version of “Outside the Wall.”

“What Live 8 showed was that we are capable of doing anything together for the right reasons,” says Mason, “and I’m quite proud of the fact that we didn’t immediately say, ‘Let’s take the money and do the farewell tour, even though we hate each other — we’ll all have separate dressing rooms.’ We should do it because we’d like to do it.”

This week, Pink Floyd begin perhaps the most exhaustive reissue campaign any rock act has ever attempted. Under the label “Why Pink Floyd?,” this onslaught over the next year will include (to quote the press release), “CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, SACD, an array of digital formats, viral marketing, iPhone Apps, and a brand-new single-album ‘Best Of’ collection.” First up comes the digital remastering of the band’s 14 studio albums, and two expanded editions of “The Dark Side of the Moon”: a two-disc “Experience” version and a six-disc “Immersion” box set; all of the albums will eventually receive this treatment. (“Wish You Were Here” is next, in November, followed by “The Wall” next February.)

In conversation at a boutique hotel in downtown Manhattan — as paparazzi in the lobby jockeyed for position to shoot hotel guest Cameron Diaz — Mason, 67, discussed the origins and intentions of the “Why Pink Floyd?” project. He expressed no concern that presenting outtakes, rehearsals, live performances and alternates of the Floyd canon might risk damaging the reputation of these definitive concept albums.

“If someone said, ‘Actually, I prefer that version to the one you put out,’ I’d find that absolutely fascinating,” he says. “They’re entitled to that opinion — and maybe we could have made the record even more successful!”

MSN Music: So I won’t ask “Why Pink Floyd?,” but I will ask, “Why now?” Why was it the time to embark on a reissue project of this scale?

Nick Mason: Really, it’s because we’re running out of time. Particularly in terms of the physical elements of the records, the packaging and all, it’s disappearing. I think perhaps losing Rick has played a little part in it as well, that maybe it would be nice to put all this stuff out.

The original concept was always that we would do our best possible version of what we were doing, and why on Earth would you want to put out all the things that got chopped out? But there is a real interest in how things were made, and I sort of get that. I was just talking to someone about John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, and I’m an absolute sucker for hearing five different versions of “Now’s the Time,” the four bars before they break down and start again. There’s an enormous amount of pleasure in listening to how things can be modified or developed.

What surprised you the most as you went through all this material?

I think the way we sometimes seemed to be casting about a bit wildly, trying something one way and then it would actually end up on the record in an entirely different way. It’s not the music so much as remembering how we worked, how things were actually done. The best examples are something like “On the Run”: There’s a 1972 version where it’s played as a sort of jazzy keyboard piece, whereas it then transformed completely into the VCS3 loop, which changed it, maybe for better, maybe for worse.

But it’s interesting, looking at “Dark Side” now. I listen to it and think that it works as a record, but it wouldn’t have hurt for live performance if we had reordered some of it. Hopefully, the rest of the world disagrees with me, but I listen to it and start to wonder, if we’d known how much we were going to do it live, maybe we should have moved “On the Run” another third of the way into the record. And then soon after that, I remember there’s something better on the television and I go and do that.

There seems to be a unique kind of popularity for Pink Floyd, a different relationship with fans today than there is for the Beatles or the Stones or other bands of the era.

I think there is, but it’s easier for other people to make those judgments than me, because otherwise I’d sit here and say, “Well, ours is particularly good and we’re very clever,” and it begins to sound a bit ghastly after a while. Of course, it was never designed like that — we never sat around saying, “How are we going to do something that in 60 years’ time is going to still have some legs?” You’re simply doing it then and there, at one level, for your own benefit entirely, and at another level, for your peer group, because the recording was sort of based on the people who would come to the shows, your own friends and the people you knew who were the same age.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Pink Floyd?

I suppose it would be the use of the word “psychedelic” — that we were all on drugs from 1967 until the present day. I think there are still a few people who think, “Pink Floyd, they’re the drugs band.” Because the reality was that after Syd, we were all scared off any pharmaceuticals generally. And anyway, the thing was far more technical than that. For all its mysterious wanderings, the music was quite carefully constructed and quite carefully played.

Apart from that, I’m not sure people have that many conceptions of us, because one of the things that worked in our favor, which was really never intended, was the fact that we were not that recognizable, that we were not that newsworthy, in a way. I think when we started, we absolutely wanted to be rock gods! And somewhere along the line, we lost that; something went wrong.

Was the appearance with Roger and David at the O2 show emotional?

It was great. I think maybe it’s that thing of getting over the worry that your fans are going to start dictating what you do. I think there was this fear that that could happen post-Live 8 — that everyone was going to be forced to work together whether they wanted to or not. But instead of that, there was just this fantastic warmth that you do get from your fans and the reminder that they made it happen in the first place.

I was in the audience when David appeared on top of the wall, and it was absolutely amazing, because I’ve never really seen Roger and Dave onstage without me there. The moment when the light hit David, the audience got it like that, and you could feel them realize what was happening. It was really strong, so it was great to go on at the very end and be up there.

Has working on the reissue project affected the band dynamic at all?

Not really. And I think it would take an awful lot more than a happy moment on the O2 stage to make the band do anything properly. I’m trying to be careful with this, because the last thing I need is people going “Nick Thinks Band Planning New Tour,” because I don’t.

But the one thing I could see that would perhaps make something happen would be an equivalent to Live 8 — as in, someone outside the band saying, “You should do this,” for the right reasons. And it would have to be someone fairly heavyweight, someone like Nelson Mandela, where there was a situation that by doing something we could make a real difference.

What do you see as the ultimate ambition for this project?

I feel much better about it now than I did two years ago, when we started talking about it, because I couldn’t imagine that we could find stuff that would be interesting enough. I felt alarmed that perhaps people would feel bamboozled into buying things that they didn’t really want or need once they got home and unpacked it. But I think there’s been a big change, and there really is an interest in this in-depth look at how the music was created. So I think that would be the summary of it — people not saying, “You bastards,” but saying, “Thank you.”

Alan Light is the former editor-in-chief of Vibe and SPIN, and was co-founder and editor-in-chief of Tracks. He is the director of programming for the public television concert series “Live From the Artists Den,” and contributes frequently to The New York Times and Rolling Stone. Alan is a two-time winner of ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music writing.

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