PINK FLOYD -- P.U.L.S.E (Columbia)

In 1994, the members of Pink Floyd decided it was time to put an end to their 7-year recording hiatus. They went into David Gilmour's houseboat studio on the Thames river & recorded about 50 song ideas, 11 of which would eventually become the tracks on The Division Bell. Kicking off the tour in Miami last March, the band played 110 shows in 77 cities around the world. The tour lasted 7 months, breaking numerous sales records along the way.

Now in 1995, the glory of that tour has been captured in the form of P.U.L.S.E, their new double-live CD. P.U.L.S.E features a new rendition of The Dark Side of the Moon -- performed live, in its entirety, for the first time in more than 20 years. Taken from 20 shows in Europe & the UK, P.U.L.S.E was recorded in analogue sound on the Le Voyageur II Mobile unit. It was mixed at Astoria in Q-Sound. Q-Sound creates a "multi-dimensional listening environment" for the listener. You can hear things coming from all around the room, as opposed to just from the speakers in front of you. This appears to be the most evident on passages where there are voices or sound effects (such as the middle passage in Learning to Fly or on Brain Damage), but can easily be heard throughout. The sound quality on P.U.L.S.E is excellent, as you would expect from the band. The Q-Sound technology is a bonus.

The packaging is truly spectacular for a regular release. The outer packaging is a 5 1/2" x 6 1/4" hard cardboard box with beautiful front cover art by Storm Thorgerson. Inside the outer packaging is a 40-page full color hardcover book (which holds the CDs), containing excellent pictures of the tour. Those lucky enough to get the initial pressings, will get the CDs in a long box with larger cover art. With all the detail in the artwork, it makes for a truly impressive package. The only thing bad about the packaging is that the book has a matte finish that will not stand up to much handling without getting fingerprints all over it. Also, the CDs are bound to become scratched up by repeatedly taking them in and out of the booklet. A word of advice -- buy 2 empty jewel boxes and keep the CDs in them instead. Aside from that, the packaging is gorgeous. But the thing that will undoubtedly catch everyone's eye as far as the packaging is the blinking red LED on the spine of the box. Said to signify the "pulse" of Pink Floyd fans around the world, the LED should last between 6-12 months (depending on whom you ask).

As far as the performances go, since Dave & the band had 20 shows to pick material from, they were able to choose the best version out of twenty for each song. There are no bad performances on P.U.L.S.E. However, the material they decided to put on the CD could be better. I would have preferred to have a live version of Poles Apart or Marooned, instead of another version of Learning to Fly (which really is not that much different from the one on Distant Sound of Thunder). Same goes for Sorrow, Wish You Were Here (this time with a "singalong"). Comfortably Numb sounds great, except for the part Roger should be singing. Guy Pratt turns in a respectable vocal on Hey You. Its too bad Dave won't let him do Roger's part in Comfortably Numb by himself. Another Brick in the Wall Part Two gets a slightly different treatment than it did on "Thunder". The introduction and ending of the song on P.U.L.S.E make it worthy of inclusion here. The performance of Dark Side is nothing short of stellar. The Q-Sound is used to its fullest potential on the piece. All in all, the band gives excellent performances throughout.

The video and laserdisc are supposed to be taken from the October 20th Earls Court show, rather than a combination of 20 shows like the CD. It will differ from the pay-per-view show though. The pay-per-view show was edited and mixed "on the fly", resulting in some edits that the band wasn't quite satisfied with. Since the entire show was filmed on all of the cameras, they're going to go back & edit things the way they intended them to be. The same thing happened with the audio. The audio will be remixed for the commercial video release as well.

To sum things up -- buy this CD. You won't be disappointed.

© 1995 Steve Marshall