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Published: 2006/09/25
by Randy Ray

Pink Floyd Pulse

or, one million lost brain cells, notwithstanding

R.I.P Syd Barrett 1946-2006

At the end of each summer, I stop listening to jambands for the first weeks of the fall and return to my unholy trinity metal, acid, and prog rock. As the fog from the proceeding months clears, I like to regain some of the touchstones of my youth before I head back into my favorite brand of audio magic improvisatory music, whether one wants to call it jamband, jazz, or wanky self-indulgent bullshit. I happen to write exclusively online for so, evidentially, the Godfathers of the Scene the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, and their bastard child Phish continue to retain a place on my ethereal throne.

This year is no different. Actually, Pink Floyd founding member Syd Barrett’s death has meant that 61 Pinkie bootlegs now occupy a place on my iPod. These songs aren’t the normal ones that have been sewn into your DNA via classic rock radio but are the boots from Barrett’s short-lived period on up to Animals, my favorite Floyd album. I used to wander around my high school campus in between classes and, on a bad day, I would have Roger Waters’s lyrics in my head either you’re a pig, dog or sheep, is that it? What am I? What are the teachers? What about some of my cheesedick classmates? What about all of my buddies? Are they sheep, too? I loved Roger Waters and his wicked honesty and intelligence, although I couldn’t quite relate to The Wall. I found the white monolith to be too much about Barrett and not enough about Waters who didn’t seem to have a wall around him. If anything, he had a barbed wire fence around his powerful base of operations and to the devil if you tried to climb that jagged apparatus.

Like so many of my friends and music journalist colleagues, I managed to escape the toxic world somewhat intact one million lost brain cells, notwithstanding. Mr. Waters also did. However, Mr. Barrett didn’t. Considered to be the first “famous” acid casualty, he also suffered from schizophrenia a condition that may have appeared to block Barrett’s view of reality with or without the hundreds of acid trips. SoI suppose all of this reminiscing about the infamous Waters diatribery and Barrett-brooding isn’t the best critical strobe light to view the Pulse DVD, a product that was released on tape back in the mid-1990s but made its recent debut on the new format with tons of extra goodies.

Indeed, therein lies the rub. This is a filmed performance of Pink Floyd, volume 3 in their final (?) incarnation from Earl’s Court, fall 1994, around the time that Phish was staking claim to the Otherworldly God/Geekhood Throne for the next decade. 1994?! What’s wrong with this axe, Eugene? Barrett: long imprisoned in Cambridge in a hell of his own making coupled with shitty genetics; Waters: in the throes of a semi-successful solo career while writing an opera. Where does that leave the remainder Messrs. Gilmour, Mason, and Wright plus a cast of thousands to fill out the Floyd Fhenom? Photographing a corpse with the best camera money can buy.

Buy this artifact if you must, ye olde completists, but get heavily sedated and trip out to the vacuous visuals because the stage presentation is really where it’s at; this is the rock concert as the ultimate form of kaleidoscopic trippy mind sauce and, for that alone, the footage is incredible well-executed. Plus, being that this is THE PINK FLOYD, the sound is fucking light years beyond state-of-the art; the DVD even has an extra section, which explains how to setup your speakers in true surround sound around your pad. Why listen to the Floyd with two crappy TV speakers when you can conjure up a whole battalion while the funeral march lumbers across the screen celebrating a bygone era?

Nowlast year’s Live 8 gig in front of 200k in Hyde’s Park that was the Floyd Waters, Gilmour, Mason, and Wright playing as if 1973 had never ended. And thank Roger, we have a copy of that to go along with our recently remastered 1967 Floyd performances from the 14-hour Technicolor Dream featuring the other Floyd figurehead, Syd Barrett. Oh, joy back to my iPod as I listen to a boot copy of “Embryo.”

- Randy Ray will gladly milk your Floyd cow. Drop him a line.

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