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Published: 2011/10/25
by Ron Hart

Pink Floyd
Discovery Studio Albums Box Set

EMI

For the third time in almost twenty years, the Pink Floyd catalog receives the reissue treatment as part of EMI’s extensive campaign that includes a new greatest hits package and expansive, multi-disc collections of the English psych pioneers’ three most well-known albums— Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. But unlike its predecessors, 1992’s Shine On and 2007’s Oh By The Way, the 14-disc Discovery box set, containing every Floyd LP from 1967’s acid pop masterpiece Piper At The Gates of Dawn to 1994’s middling, borderline MOR swan song The Division Bell, finds these treasured records remastered with a punch and clarity its predecessors never possessed, thanks the meticulous work of longtime group collaborators James Guthrie and Andy Jackson.

However, one should not look to this latest revamp of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most treasured collected works as a better way to experience old favorites like A Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagumma, Meddle and Animals, which if you already hold dear as the apex of the Pink canon you will concur even more so upon listening to these remasters. Discovery should rather be construed as a means to reacquaint yourselves with the Floyd albums you may have overlooked down the line. I’m talking about stuff like 1969’s soundtrack to French cinema auteur Barbet Schroeder’s drug culture drama More, which was the group’s first proper recording without founding member Syd Barrett and also the one which contains the band’s heaviest cut ever, “The Nile Song”. Also of note is 1970’s Atom Heart Mother, bookended by a sweeping, side-long 23-minute orchestral piece conducted by one of the most intriguing members of the extended Pink Floyd family, Ron Geesin, and one of Pink Floyd’s freakiest jams ever, the pastoral sound collage “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast.” Then you have Obscured By Clouds, their hallucinogenically enhanced companion piece to the soundtrack they created for Schroeder’s 1972 adventure film La Vallée, and undoubtedly the most overlooked LP in their entire arsenal. 1983’s The Final Cut is often seen as the underwhelming sequel to The Wall, but a closer listen to this understated, deeply personal beauty of an album that pays homage to Roger Waters’ father, who died a hero in World War II, will give you a good reason to understand why so many fans of the bassist’s solo works keep this one in their Top 5 favorite lists. And don’t neglect A Momentary Lapse of Reason either which, beyond its pair of radio hits in “Learning to Fly” and “On The Turning Away”, is a formidable LP in its own right in spite of Waters’ absence and has definitely grown better with age (or maybe that’s simply my inner eighth grader trying to justify its existence). Here’s hoping a reissue of Lapse’s arguably excellent live companion, 1988’s The Delicate Sound of Thunder, gains status as a late entry into EMI’s current reissue campaign.

Some critics of the Discovery box are crying foul on account of the close proximity in time that has lapsed between its street date and the release of Oh By The Way. And, for all intents and purposes, the nebbishly detailed mini-vinyl reproductions and unique Storm Thorgerson cover collage of 40 images from the group’s storied history that enhanced Discovery’s predecessor definitely makes it a wiser investment for the Floyd fan who might hold the visual aspect of this music in more of a regard than the sound quality. But if you want to hear these 14 records at their most maximal sonic supremacy, your best bet is this otherwise impressive catchall that should easily appeal to anyone who grew up with this incredible music in their stereo.

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