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Sleeve notes from the CD: 'The Complete Top Gear Sessions', which has old BBC-recordings of Pink Floyd. 

THE COMPLETE TOP GEAR SESSIONS 

by Ron Fleischer 

Late being a popular group in Britain in the sixties, inevitably found the Pink Floyd appearing several times on John Peel's "Top Gear" program. Peel, who was originally a DJ for Radio London, went on to become BBC's "token hippie", regularly featuring the Floyd and other "progressive" bands. Their first appearance was on September 30, 1967 and gave the band, then fronted by Barrett the opportunity to perform some songs from their debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. They also played Apples And Oranges (a single that had yet to be released) which is the only known performance of the pieces. All songs remained true to their original recorded versions. The December 19th session was the last to include Syd, whose once great contribution to the band had become a burden. His songwriting and performing capabilities had become obscure to the point that rendered him incapable of playing with the other members of the Floyd, as his withdrawal into drugs and psychosis were taking its toll. His state of mind at the time was evident, with the unreleased tracks Vegetable Man and Scream Thy Last Scream. These songs had been recorded earlier that year along with Jugband Blues, which later appeared on A Saucerful Of Secrets and were played for the first time. David Gilmour had replaced Syd and performed with the group on "Top Gear's" June 25th show in 1968. This was one of the few times that they played Julia Dream and premiered two tracks from their soon to be released second album. Murderistic Women was the earliest incarnation of Careful With That Axe, Eugene and also it's shortest, omitting Roger's primal scream and most of the tensional build up. The Massed Gadgets Of Hercules was an early abbreviated version of A Saucerful Of Secrets, which was also performed as

the climax to The Journey later on that year. The Floyd's next appearance wasn't until early next year on January 14th. The set started off with Point Me At The Sky, with a slightly altered lyric and extended spacey bridge (this session could be the only time this song was played live). Baby Blue Shuffle In D Major is an early version of Narrow Way/Part One, which became one of Gilmour's acoustic contributions to the Ummagumma LP. This was one of the first pieces to be recorded for the new album along with Embryo, which was dropped when the decision was made to divide Ummagumma's second LP into four solo sections. Since Embryo was performed by the entire group, it was not officially released until the US Works compilation came out in 1983 (and accidently on Picnic, a Harvest sampler from 1970). The session ended with an unusually short version of Interstellar Overdrive, which seemed to start off from the middle of the piece. Their final "Top Gear" performance was on May 12, 1969. This session best represented the Floyd's live repertoire at the time featuring selections from The Man and The Journey, the band's first conceptual pieces. Daybreak (aka Grantchester Meadows), a pleasant acoustic number complete with sound effects, was the first part of The Man suite. Green Is The Colour had been seemlessly joined with Careful With That Axe, Eugene, and were still in their early stages, along with Cymbaline which had yet to be released on the More soundtrack. The set concluded with The Narrow Way/Part Three, the final contribution to Gilmour's portion of Ummagumma which was also featured during The Journey. Although Pink Floyd had also made two classic appearances on John Peel's BBC One Show from the Paris Theatre in 1970 (eventually airing in the US on the "BBC Rock Hour"), these are the complete "Top Gear" performances. From their rise and fall with Syd, to their new beginning with Gilmour, these recordings represent the group throughout its embryonic evolution. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

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