Pink Floyd fans need wait no longer. Capitol has reissued & digitally remastered six classic Pink Floyd albums -- Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, the double-disc Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle & the milestone Dark Side of the Moon. All six have revised booklets, complete with lyrics & new artwork by the band's original art designer, Storm Thurgerson of Hipgnosis. In addition, each CD now has a full color label reflecting elements of the new artwork.

The band's debut album, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, features tracks written mainly by guitarist and founding member Syd Barrett. The album includes such classic songs as "Astronomy Domine" (played extensively on the band's 1994 tour), the instrumental "Interstellar Overdrive", and "Bike". Though Barrett only recorded one more album with the band, his vision & ideas on this album formed the foundation of what the band was to become. The sound on Piper is excellent except for one passage in "Chapter 24" where there is audible distortion.

A Saucerful of Secrets, the band's second album, was the last album for Barrett and the first to include "new" guitarist David Gilmour. It was also the only album the band recorded with two guitarists. Barrett and Gilmour only played together for about seven weeks however when Barrett left the band. With tracks like "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and the title track, the band's music began to grow more experimental. In July of 1968, Pink Floyd recorded the soundtrack to the movie More, & later the score to The Committee. Hopefully, Capitol will make plans to release these, as well as the soundtrack to "La Vallee", better known to Floyd fans as Obscured by Clouds.

In October of 1969, the classic double album Ummagumma was released. With one live album, and a new album of studio material, Ummagumma gave us what many consider the definitive version of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", as well as new songs such as "Grantchester Meadows" & "The Narrow Way". The new packaging includes a 16"x19" poster of the album's cover art. Also for the new CD, each disc comes with its own 16-page booklet, featuring several different variations of the cover art and on one page, a particularly scary picture of drummer Nick Mason.

Atom Heart Mother marked Pink Floyd's first #1 album on the UK charts. Jointly written by the band and Ron Geesin, the title track originally took up a full side of an album. Recorded with a full orchestra and choir, the album attracted vast public attention upon its release. Included in the new packaging is a Traditional Beaudoin Wedding Feast recipe to accompany the 12-minute "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast". The sound here is markedly improved over the original CD release. The orchestra on the title track is breathtakingly clear now. The booklet is one of the best on the series.

The next album, Meddle, was released in 1971 to a lukewarm response from the critics. However with the classic 23-minute track "Echoes" and "One of These Days", it contains some of the band's most popular material to date. Sound quality on Meddle is pristine. Even if you know the album well, you'll hear things you've never heard on the new remaster.

The band's biggest selling album Dark Side of the Moon was released in 1973. It remained on the Billboard charts for a record breaking 700 weeks. The album was previously reissued by EMI in a special 20th anniversary package in 1993. Sonically, and in the packaging, the new remaster is slightly inferior to the anniversary edition. The graphics are slightly different, plus it doesn't include the cards that came with the anniversary edition. The remaster does sound better than its Mobile Fidelity gold equivalent though. The only thing better about the Mobile Fidelity version is that there is a break between "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Money". On the Capitol and the EMI versions, the songs segue into each other.

Overall, all six CDs are noticeably better than the original issues, both in terms of sound quality and packaging -- well worth adding to any fan's collection.

© 1995 Steve Marshall