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PINK FLOYD: PULSE

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Davd Gilmour, Richard Wright, Nick Mason
Director:  David Mallet
Video:  Aspect Ratio 4:3
Audio: Dolby 5.1
Studio:  Sony
Extra Features:  See Review
Length:  Concert 145 minutes, 4 hours total content (two discs)
Release date: 
July 11, 2006

“Long you live and high you fly

Smiles you give and tears you cry

And all you touch and all you see

Is all your life will ever be.”

Film ***

Pink Floyd is one of the most difficult bands to categorize or describe.  There is simply no one else like them.  They emerged in the psychedelic era with light shows, using unique sound effects as well, incorporating tasty blues guitar and otherworldly lyrical adventures into their journey through the unknown…but that describes most of the bands of the time.  And most of them were not very good, frankly.  But Pink Floyd just kept soaring and exploring, eventually recording several songs and albums which are unquestionable masterpieces of soaring lyrical darkness that no listener will ever forget.  

For the 1970’s and 80’s, listening to Dark Side of the Moon was one of those “I remember when I did that for the first time” moments.  I remember a friend in school loaning me the LP, warning me that it would be something I would not forget (and she was right), then I bought it and loaned to another friend, and so on.  Even thought it had been released many years before, it touched all of us, and it had to be heard all the way through uninterrupted to be appreciated.  And contrary to popular belief, drugs were completely unnecessary to enjoy it.  The music was enough. 

Though it seems so dark and despondent that I can’t enjoy it very much now, Dark Side did capture the somber darkness every teen experiences, the coldness of the world when we go out into it for the first time as adults, so unprepared for it.   Roger Waters’ lyrics and inventive bass lines combined with David Gilmore’s soaring vocals and edgy but sparse blues leads were well-supported with the underrated keyboard talents of Rick Wright and the solid drumming of Nick Mason through many albums including Wish You Were Here and of course Another Brick in the Wall, which may have outdone Orwell’s 1984 as an homage to the Overworld that seemed so inevitable at the time.  It even managed a funky hit single which is still played on the radio around the clock on some station somewhere. 

“I have become comfortably numb.”

Interestingly when Barrett left the Floyd, his replacement David Gilmour took the group even higher with his wailing guitar and smooth vocals, and while the argument can’t really be made that Floyd soared higher after Roger Waters left, it can’t be said that the band ground to a halt either.  A Momentary Lapse of Reason is an outstanding if not earthshaking album as is The Division Bell. 

This 1994 concert in Earl’s Court, London is tight, well executed, and features the usual laser light show we come to expect from the Floyd.  The audio mix is perfect and we get to finally hear Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.  While they have never been the most photogenic of bands, they look great.

My only big complaint about the set is the low frequency rumble and bell tolls that are constant during the menus.  They may have been meant to be cryptic and forboding but I just found them to be annoying and mundane.  They gave me a headache.  Floyd’s music is enough, we don’t need the pseudo-gothic crap ruining it all. 

“All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”

Song list:  Disc One: Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Concert Version), Learning to Fly, High Hopes, Take it Back, Coming Back to Life, Sorrow, Keep Talkin, Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2), One of these Days.  Disc Two:  Dark Side of the Moon: Speak to Me, Breathe in the Air, On the Run, Time, The Great Gig in the Sky, Money, Us and Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse, Encores: Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb, Run Like Hell.

Audio ***

Although this was an analog recording, it is a fairly clear one, without noise or problems that I can detect.  The bass is nice and thumpy, and the mix is a good one, for example we can clearly hear the separate guitars on Wish You Were Here and Gilmour’s scatting as well.  I usually pay attention to the acoustic guitar high notes, the piano, and the bass to see how good a mix is, and I can hear them all fine.  Seeing as how pioneering the Floyd was in audio, I am shocked—shocked!  I tell you—that this was not a digital recording, since that was not new in 1994, but that’s the way it goes.  Again, don’t let that prevent you from purchasing this excellent concert. 

The rear channels are used sparingly, mostly for audience ambience, some keyboards, and for the occasional special sound effects during Dark Side and other tunes but the overall mix is perfect. 

Merely to hear the band perform all of Dark Side with three outstanding female vocalists wailing on Great Gig in the Sky is reason alone to see this great set.  It is not “everything you could ever hope for and more” due to the lack of 21st century recording technology, but Dark Side itself was made on old equipment and still sounds just fine, thank you, and does not suffer in the live performance of it. 

Video **1/2

The video quality leaves something to be desired, but is not so poor so as to ruin the concert or to prevent me from recommending this concert to viewers.  Now and then it is remarkably poor, with obvious splotchiness during the many dark sequences.  I am not sure but it appears that it was shot on video instead of film.  In a recent interview, David Gilmour explained that it was concerns with the video quality that delayed release of the concert.  But the problems are here and there, the exception rather than the rule. 

Features  ***1/2

Many good features are diluted by many useless ones….

Screen films are included that are shown in concert, including ones for the Dark Side performance, and you can listen to the concert performance and watch the films, which is very cool, almost like you are there.  Newer alternate films are also included, such as the excellent 1994 film for “Time.” 

“Say Goodbye to Life as We Know it” is a rather disjointed behind the scenes look at the tour, but it has its fun moments, and we get to meet many of the hard working souls who work for the Floyd and make it all come together every night.  What could be better than going for pints for Pink? 

There is the obligatory photo gallery and cover art collection, and an interesting collection of bootleg videos called “Bootlegging the Bootleggers” which, frankly, I could not get excited about since we have a real performance on the disc…what was the point of this???  Some of them are tunes not included in the main concert, true, but…

Music Videos for Learning to Fly, my favorite post-Roger Waters track, and Take it Back.  The first is in 5.1 though I heard nothing from the rear channels, and the second is only in stereo, which I found odd.

One of the best features is Billy Corgan performing Wish You Were Here with the gang in 1996.

Summary:

A nice long satisfying concert from the pioneering psychedelic British band is finally available on DVD in a great two disc set.  Not all that it might have been, but still very satisfying and a bargain at any price. 

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