Monday, 24 October 2016
Pink Floyd: Live/Solo/Compilation Albums Part One 1965-1978
(Private Pressing, '1965')
Why Do Fools Fall In Love?/Walk Like A Man/Don't Ask Me (What I Say)//Big Girls Don't Cry/Beautiful Delilah
"I'm gonna walk like a man, as fast as I can"
Though he won't join our story proper for another three years, David Gilmour is the first Floyd member off the mark with his school band Joker's Wild making a single limited edition self-titled EP. Given that this power trio plus friends features Gilmour's first recordings with the same band he re-hired to back him on his hard-rocking 1978 solo LP, fans expected some raunchy rock and roll, with David letting his hard down back in the days he had lots of it and lots of pre-Floyd raw and ragged sounds. Actually, this is a doo-wop album where the biggest influences is not the Four Beatles like almost every other early AAA release but The Four Seasons and The Four Freshman. Gilmour's guitar is barely brought out the case and when he does he strums more like a rhythm player without any of those stinging guitar solos he's so famous for. His vocals too are a surprise, a Frankie Valli/Frankie Lymon falsetto that's only ever been heard on 'Fat Old Sun' in the Floyd pantheon on a series of tracks that already point at his love of harmonies. The end result is a fascinatingly parallel world where David had his own career away from the Floyd, indulging in his favourite groups and styles without being hired to look, sing and sound like his friend Syd Barrett or find his own sound within the context of a band who'd already found theirs.
Surprised by what they find most fans tend to dismiss this EP when and if they ever actually find it - understandably Gilmour has been keen to keep it hidden, although the British Library National Sound Archive has one of only fifty rare copies open to the public for anyone passing in London and unlike most Floyd things on Youtube which get taken down instantly, Gilmour doesn't seem to have fought anyone posting the soundtrack (which fans do from time to time - goodness only knows where they get these near-priceless relics from). However, if you can pout yourselves far back enough in time to a time when singing falsetto love songs was a perfectly respectable thing to be doing and make adjustments for the fact that this is a nervy bunch of teens making their first recording for an album they thought would probably only be bought by their mothers, not pored over by scholars in decades to come, then Joker's Wild is a surprisingly enjoyable album. 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love?' features an impressive mixture of voices (extraordinarily that's Gilmour doing the high pitched lead even higher than the original), 'Walk Like A Man' has a real clapping-enhanced funky beat while the band's 'real' lead singer John Gordon is impressive and full of character (and a lot more confident than Gilmour), Manfredd Mann's 'Don't Ask' adds a burst of R and B with some early Gilmour guitar slashes, while a fast-paced 'Beautiful Delilah' by Chuck Berry has Gilmour already playing a scratchy solo completely at odds with what the rest of the band are doing is at least the equal of the Kinks cover from the year before. Only 'Big Girls Don't Cry' sounds clumsy enough to remind you that this band are just teenage wannabes recording in somebody's living room rather than a 'proper' 60s band. Though it's a long way from being as fully formed as the Floyd's own debut 'Joker's Wild' is more enjoyable than just being a musical time capsule and probably the equal of the even rarer Floyd first recording from the same year, with Syd Barrett sounding far less at home rasping Slim Harpo's blues 'I'm A King Bee'. Better than you might expect and more than deserving of its first CD release.
(See For Miles, Recorded January 1967, Released July 1968)
Interstellar Overdrive*/Michael Caine/Changing Of The Guard/Marquess Of Kensington/Night Time Girl/Dolly Bird/Out Of Time/Edna O'Brien/Interstellar Overdrive (Reprise)*/Abdrew Loog Oldham/Winter Is Blue/Mick Jagger/Julie Christie/Michael Caine Again/Paint It Black/Alan Aldridge/Paint It Black (Reprise)/David Hockney/Here Comes The Nice/Lee Marvin/Interstellar Overdrive (Second Reprise)*/Tonite Let's All Make Love In London/Nick's Boogie*
* = Pink Floyd Recordings
(CD Edition Track Listing)
"There's no real secret to it, it;s just dpoing the best you can and poutting everything you've got into it and hoping people will like it"
Film-maker Pete Whitehead is one of the few documentary makers who actually realised that the mad scene unfolding around him in the build-up to the Summer of Love might be worth capturing on tape. His take on the Swinging London scene of 1966 came hot on the heels of his originally unreleased Rolling Stones film 'Charlie Is My Darling' and is a similar mix of the primitive and the profound. Understandably the film flopped at the time - why bother going to see the film when you could experience the real thing at a cheaper price? - but most of Whitehead's films have been recognised in the decades since as treasure troves of what it was like to be alive back then. As a casual acquaintance of the Floyd, they were an obvious candidate for Whitehead's most contemporary film, even though the band had yet to make a record and that aside from a half-hearted recording in 1965 (still officially unreleased) this would be the first time anyone had captured the Floyd on tape. Better yet it's the only record ever made of the band in their natural habitat at the London club scene, complete with psychedelic lava lamp show if you own the DVD version. Understandably, given how unknown they were at the time, the Floyd are only seen in part, with a seventeen minute version of 'Interstellar Overdrive' that ranks amongst their best cut in two for the film and edited badly, while a second track tapes for the project - a one-off jam titled 'Nick's Boogie' - doesn't seem to have made it into the original film at all. The original soundtrack LP here rather reflects that, with three bursts of 'Interstellar' cut down to a senseless four minutes between them - the last reprise only lasting a mere 54 seconds. Thankfully the CD re-issues of the album as outlined above are much more interesting, including not just the 'Interstellar' extracts but also the full seventeen minute unedited version at the start and the full twelve minute Nick's Boogie at the end as extra-special bonus tracks. As for the rest of the album, you get a cameo from John Lennon dropping into see what all the fuss is about, Michael Caine pretending he knows something about the youth movement, the soundtrack of Chris Farlowe preparing to tape the Stones song 'Out Of Time' for Decca, a posh-sounding Mick Jagger gets deep by claiming not to want to be a generational spokesperson and The Small Faces, here represented by their cheeky 1867 drug-referencing hit 'Here Come The Nice'. All in all, plenty of evidence that London did swing like a pendulum do and the Floyd might have become big even earlier had the full portion of their performance been used instead of bits.