Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pink Floyd - 1970-02-11 - Birmingham

Pink Floyd
February 11, 1970
Town Hall

101. The Embryo
102. Main Theme from More
103. Careful With That Axe, Eugene
104. Sysyphus

201. Project Birmingham, feat. variations of:
    Heart Beat, Pig Meat
    The Violent Sequence (aka Us And Them)
202. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
203. The Amazing Pudding (aka Atom Heart Mother)

Project Birmingham

For those who are interested, here's some of the details of Project Birmingham (which will be our NEXT release ... Ed promises to be weeding in time for X-Mas). I initially started working on this almost 2 years ago. I had three sources to choose from; the vinyl bootleg LP "Violence In Birmingham" (the longest of the 3), "The Violent Pudding" released by JS&TBD and a low gen analogue tape.

I mainly used the old analogue tape as my source and spliced in the additional material from the vinyl release, which gives you a few more minutes of AHM. I then tweaked the Hell outta this one, balancing and boosting channels, patching lost moments and applying a custom EQ to the whole thing. There was still an unacceptable amount of hiss left, and for the 1st time I was willing to go with some major noise reduction and give it a try.

I sent the files I had been working on to Chris Burns in NYC. Chis had some professional audio equipment and volunteered to lend his skills to the project. The NR greatly reduced the hiss, but created an artifact that gave the impression of listening through a long drain pipe. Still, I felt that this was an improvement over all that hiss.

The data CDs were next sent to Marc-Oliver who has a built in radar detector for speed correction. He worked on each track, making sure that the pitch and speed were accurate. The next step was more difficult. Marc had trouble mailing it back to me as customs busted the package (pretty trivial with what's going on in the world today)! Eventually, the CDs got back to Ed via France, no less.

I was glad to be finally done with this one .... until a better source came along!!! As soon as I heard the quality of this new recording, I knew I would have to scrap all the work that was done and start all over again. Which I did ........

There was still hiss on this new source, but not as bad. AND, I was able to hear some subtleties that I hadn't heard before. I also took a new approach to remastering this show as well. I didn't want to use any NR this time as I felt that some EQing would do the trick.

There seemed to be some strange anomolies with the source that I also would like to mention. During some songs, the hiss seems to oscilate in and out like a whirlwind effect. It's really not too terrible and only rears its ugly head in a few places for a short period of time. In other places it just cuts in and out ... almost as if someone was playing with the Dolby button while making the dub (although I was assured that this was not the case). These sudden "bursts" were also very difficult to smooth out and I only had limited success at times.

After re-assembling the entire show, I cross-dissolved different EQ applications over the entire piece. During the quieter parts I brought the high end down, for the louder parts I boosted the bass and midrange a bit. Next, it was back to balancing and boosting levels again and all the general work I had done before. Lastly, I speed corrected the entire thing, using M-O's previous effort as a reference. I'm sure that the speed will be pretty close, although it does vary from time to time.

This performance has an incredible setlist, one of my favourites, and it's mostly instrumental! If you can make it through the opening minute of Embryo (which is totally distorted and over-saturated), you'll be in for a real treat for what follows. You will also find that Sysyphus and AHM (aka The Violent Pudding) are now complete, and the missing bits were NOT sourced from an alternate show. However, Dr FrankenToon did "cheat" to make them complete ; )



>>From Harvested's Ed P.:

Hello Again,

The air is thick with anticipation.

Harvested's next release will be available soon, I promise.

I wanted to take a few moments to discuss Project Birmingham and make a request to the group.

For the benefit of those that are a little less knowledgeable than others, I'll go over a little of the history of this show.

Basically, the February 11 1970 performance in Birmingham has produced the most infamous Pink Floyd RoIOs of all time. Why is that?

It's a combination of two factors - the set list and the sound quality.

After completing the 'Man And The Journey' tour in 1969, and before settling down to the standard setlist that would become the 'Atom Heart Mother' tour, the band was very experimentative with their setlist and even included songs from their most recent project - Zabriskie Point.

The setlist:
The Embryo
The Main Theme from More
Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Heart Beat, Pig Meat
The Violent Sequence
Set the Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
The Amazing Pudding

Of these songs, Embryo, Careful and Set The Controls were quite common numbers in Floyd shows; but the others ...

Variations of Quicksilver and Moonhead had been standard numbers during the Man And The Journey performances. But this was not an M&J performance. These tracks here, in their normal form, are quite rare.

The Main Theme from More, Heart Beat Pig Meat and The Violent Sequence are equally rare tracks without caveat. Variations of these songs did not appear in M&J or other tours.

Although Atom Heart Mother would become standard fair, it's precursor - The Amazing Pudding - is quite rare as well. There are subtle and not so subtle differences between TAP and AHM. Best of all, the Birmingham performance includes a 4 minute long drum solo by Nick Mason!

Last, but not least, is Sysyphus. This track is unique to this show!!! No other RoIO date has it.

Obviously, this one-of-a-kind setlist makes a recording of this show a must have in every RoIO collection. But what makes this show infamous is the sound quality. It sucks!

I bought the 2LP Violence In Birmingham RoIO fifteen years or so ago. Now that was a painful listening experience. The show was very very hissy, saturated and distorted. Add to that, vinyl pops, speed problems and losses from a high gen tape source ... yuck!

Ron Toon to the rescue.

As Ron posted before, Ron acquired a very low gen tape source a couple of years ago, converted it to CD and speed corrected it and was almost ready to release it, when he acquired an even lower (2nd?) gen tape and redid the whole effort.

This is what I've been working with. It's got no clicks, no pops, no speed problems. The sound is full. You can hear subtle things that were lost on later generation tapes. But the original problem remained: HISS.

I've been very carefully dehissing the show. Painstakingly applying just the right amount to preserve the fidelity of the music and not create any noise reduction artifacts.

The weeding will begin very soon. As always, Ron and I enjoy the work we do and are happy to pass it along. But, because of the importance of this show and the effort we've put in to produce it, Ron and I have decided to alter the weed rules on this one slightly.

After you receive this show, you should listen to it before offering up copies to the group. When you make your weed offer post, you should include your comments/thoughts/observations about it as part of the offer post. And not just a one-liner. Put some effort into composing a paragraph (or more). Thanks.

Stay Tuned,

>>From Harvested's Ed P.:

Hello everyone,

I hope everybody's poised for a great 2002. Best wishes to you all.

First, many thanks to everyone that's been posting reviews of our latest release, Project Birmingham. We definitely appreciate it. But, I'd like to remind those continuing this weed that posting a "full review" isn't a requirement. Just a paragraph of your thoughts/comments/observations ... but the more the merrier.

Second, I'd like to bring up the topic of applause and the lack of it in this show.

Has anyone noticed the relationship between when the last note of a song is played and when the audience starts to applaud?

A well behaved audience usually withholds their applause until the song ends. And I would certainly consider the Birmingham audience to be well behaved that night.

On Embryo, the applause starts 2 seconds before the last note. On More, the applause starts 2 seconds after the last note. On Careful, the applause starts at the same time as the last note. On Sysyphus, the applause starts 7 seconds before the last note. On PB, the applause starts 3 seconds after the last note. On Controls, the applause starts 2 seconds after the last note. On AHM, the applause starts 2 seconds before the last note.

Although Ron did a superb job faking the endings to Sysyphus and AHM; in my opinion, the fake applause added to the end of the faked Sysyphus ending comes in too soon. I assume this was intentional, a necessary part of the illusion. If the applause were to come in 2 seconds after the end, like it probably did in reality, the fakery would probably be noticeable.

Another topic concerns the lack of applause in PB. The first three parts of PB all segue into each other nicely. However, between the end of the third part (Moonhead) and the start of the fourth part (TVS), there are 24 seconds of silence (that's right twenty-four). Was The Violent Sequence a separate track? Did the audience not notice the end of Moonhead as the end of the piece and thereby forget to applaud? Or was the band still doing something on stage during this lull (like the pause for the footsteps in Cymbaline) to indicate to the audience that the piece was continuing?


>>From listener Pat B.:

allow me to stir this pot up a bit. disclaimer: i haven't heard PB yet, but i did spend an obscene amount of time fiddling with a different low gen source of this show (which eventually became the JS+TBD release "the violent pudding", thank you again scott j.) and there should not be any "silence" before us&them/the violent sequence. i had to crank the levels to an extreme degree on that particular section to make out what was going on, but there SHOULD be some extremely quiet piano happening there. i suspect there was a spotlight or something on rick to let people know that the piece continued. perhaps this bit was lost to the noise reduction? ... (if you have TVP, refer to the end of track 10 'moonhead' after the tom-tom stops. there IS a bit of piano going on there, buried under that mountain of hiss.)

on a side note, nobody has mentioned this: THE PIANO!!?!? did they really drag a baby grand PIANO around the british midlands in winter for this leg of the tour? or did they only play this tune in halls that had one available? that would be my theory as to why this piece was dropped from the setlist so early after it's introduction only two weeks before ....



>>From listener Ryan D.:

Hello all,

Violence In Birmingham was one of the first ROIOs I ever received. I was still relatively unfamiliar with early Floyd - I did have all of the albums, however I didn't listen to them much. Even after hearing Main Theme on ViB I thought that the label was a misprint - I believed that i was listening to a long jam on the intro to Let There Be More Light. Regardless, Violence In Birmingham quickly became my favourite show to listen to - it was just *so* different, so unique.

When I first heard about JS+tBD's release of ViB as The Violent Pudding I knew that I would want to get my grubby paws on it. My tape of ViB was pretty much useless in this day and age of digital media, and it was an nth generation tape to boot. It sounded like shit. TVP was a godsend. The sound quality was much better (though, as the liner notes state, 'it still sounds terrible') and I began to pick up on nuances that could not be heard on my old cassette.

Now comes Project Birmingham. And after two-plus listenings all I can say is this: WOW!

I read all of the technical jargon that RonToon posted last month about how he had put the show together. Not being an audiophile of any sort I didn't understand half of what Ron said he was doing to the show - but I did know that this release would surely have to surpass TVP in quality (I assume Ron wouldn't release it otherwise). And surpass TVPs quality it surely does.

I took out my copy of TVP and listened to the first minute or so of Embryo. Ignoring the distortion and saturation that plagues this section, I listened to the music. On TVP it seems as if the notes blend together - there is no articulation. It sounds like I am on the other side of a giant wall while Pink Floyd plays toward the opposite direction.

This isn't quite the case on Project Birmingham. Five seconds into the opening of Embryo I knew we had a winner of a show. The notes were separate, for the most part, and now, instead of just being on the other side, I have my ear up against the wall, waiting for someone to call out 'would you touch me' .... erm ... yeah. Anyways, you can play this show LOUD and it will sound good - I look forward to being able to listen to it in my car, where previous versions of the show were difficult on the ear.

The whirling hiss Ron mentioned seems to me to only be noticeable when Nick is playing the cymbals. I do not know what it is about their tone, but they seem to bring that whirling effect out a little bit.

Another thing I want to comment on is how great of job Ed has done getting rid of the little pops and clicks that were prevalent on TVP. I understand that these are different sources (I think) so the task may not have been as daunting, but as of my third listen I have yet to hear any little excess noise - no pops, no clicks, no farts, nothing. This is a clean show.

I'll refrain from commenting on the performance as I think I do a horrible job at reviewing music, but I do want to point out that the rendition of CWTAE on this set reminds me greatly of the Oakland '77 performance, and that's not a bad thing, that's ... a good thing! :^D

Now, Ron, I really want to know what you did to complete Sysyphus and TAP. I had always assumed that these bits were lost forever. You hint at doctoring them a bit in your original posts on the matter, but you state that it's not a Frankenshow (god I love that word) of different dates. So I venture to guess that you copied and pasted completed parts of each tune over the missing sections, but that's a lot of space to fill, especially in TAP, which jumped from 9:42 on TVP to over 25 minutes on PB. What's your secret, dude?!

>>RonToon's response to Ryan D.:


If you don't like to know how magic trick are done, please avoid the rest of this post ;)

To answer Ryans question (and thanks for the great post, dude ;) )

<< Now, Ron, I really want to know what you did to complete Sysyphus and TAP.

Ryan was correct in remembering that I said that this was indeed a Frankenshow and those 2 song were now complete, but not used from alternate sources or shows.

Sysyphus was a no-brainer. It almost kinda works too. The end of the piece basically reprises the main theme that is played during the the 1st section. If you listen carefully, you can hear my segue. From that point on, it'll stick out like a sore thumb.

TAP was trickier. The source was much longer than 9:25 .... in fact, it plays out all the way through Nick's drum solo. I listened to a few other performances of TAP within a week's period to see how they were completing the piece after Nick's drum solo. Again, previous sections were reprised and repeated. Nick's solo ends with a drum roll re-introducting the main theme again. I just segued (I rarely do hard "cuts") together the next few sections that were repeated during the other performances. I think my edit is fairly true to the other complete performances as the ending of TAP on PB is comprised of 4 individual sections.

Now go enjoy the show and don't think of this all to much.

And, as Dr Frankentoon once said .... "IT'S ALIIIVE!"

>>Ryan D's final thoughts:

>Warning: SPOILERS

I'll repeat this-


>Sysyphus was a no-brainer. It almost kinda works too. The end of
>the piece basically reprises the main theme that is played during the
>the 1st section. If you listen carefully, you can hear my segue.
> From that point on, it'll stick out like a sore thumb.

I did notice this in my first listen, but I'll disagree that it sticks out like a sore thumb. It's noticeable, especially with headphones, but it's very well done and I doubt unsuspecting listeners would even notice.

> I think my edit is fairly true to the other
>complete performances as the ending of TAP on PB is comprised
>of 4 individual sections.

Well, Ron, you've done a masterful job at creating something out of nothing. It is definitely rewarding to be able to hear a 'complete' TAP when I listen to this show. The cut on all other versions of the Birmingham show was always a big letdown - it's like there was no reward for having the patience to listen to such a low quality recording. It's like having Echoes cut out just before the big climax prior to the final verse. It was disappointing. But now I can rejoice in knowing that I have a 'complete' recording of the show.

And speaking of 'complete', I fear that with Ron's fine handiwork now out for public consumption that some misguided fellow will get a hold of it, make a few copies, and start marketing it as, 'For the first time ever! Pink Floyd's Legendary show in Birmingham - the COMPLETE recordings!' or somesuch and make a few bucks off of it. Hopefully we'll be able to discover any type of this activity early. Or maybe I'm just a worrywart.

Thanks again, Harvested crew for another fine release.



Zen Archer said...

Greatful Fred said...

Much appreciated Zen