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Pink Floyd - Shine On CD and book box set Print E-mail

A limited edition box set, still available in limited quantities from Amazon US/International, UK/Elsewhere, France, or Germany.

Shine On box setEssential Item or Dust Gatherer? A look at the Pink Floyd box set, "Shine On"

All disc length and sound quality comparisons in this article, a version of which was originally published in Brain Damage magazine, are based on the original UK release of the albums on CD - long seen as a benchmark of quality (especially the Japanese pressed, UK releases).


Basically, a matt black, stiff cardboard 14 inch by 11.5 inch by 2 inch box, the base of which is blank, save for the catalogue number/box code sticker. The lid is satisfyingly snug - fitting nicely and not leaping off every time someone walks near it. Embossed in silver colour on the sides are the pervading symbols of the box set - a complex geometric figure with the album titles tightly interwoven. If you look closely, you can make out Nick's preferred title for the collection: "The Big Bong Theory". The front has the band name, the title of the box, and a full colour 9 inch by 7 inch sticker of the too-clever-by-half Storm Thorgerson "three people being sucked out of the water for no apparent reason (apart from flashing their bums)" artwork.


Ease off the lid (a) because of the snug fit, and (b) because of how much it's cost you (look to pay around £140 or so in the UK and elsewhere) and you are met with the sight of a black, hessian covered book, again bearing the box set symbol. The book, 12 inches by 9 inches, is held very snugly indeed in a black frame, making it difficult to extract. Remove this and you come across a piece of thick black cardboard, the size of the box, acting as a spacer. Under this are the reasons why you made your bank manager weep. Again in a black frame are the eight (one double) remastered and repackaged albums. Nestling on top of these are:

  • a set of postcards - depicting different albums but extremely similar in picture and quality to the rash of "unofficial" postcards that seemed to flood the market a couple of years before "Shine On" came out - in a nice black envelope;
  • a strange piece of origami (matt black with box logo) which is supposed to fold into some sort of wallet or shelf or something for your CDs; seen modelled on MTV by David Gilmour who gave up trying to figure it out!
  • and in a gatefold cardboard sleeve, the "Early Singles" CD.


This is on nice, thick, glossy paper - obviously quite thoughtfully conceived buta very disappointing document overall. The book kicks off with a year-by-year look at news events around the world, with Pink Floyd bits dropped in haphazardly; and 1992's entries forget to include Roger's solo album, "Amused To Death". Tut, tut. The book then proceeds to give a breakdown by way of rare (and not so rare) pictures, text concerning the album's music and/or sleeve, and reprints of each album included in the box. Lyrics are also included. Apart from the definite feelings of deja-vu from some of the text, the book had obviously been hurriedly typeset and not proofread particularly well. Apart from factual errors (thankfully few) there are typing and grammatical errors. And most annoyingly of all, the final article ends in mid-sentence! Who knows how much is missing...!


"The Pink Floyd Early Singles" is in a (typical CD single) card gatefold case, plastered with colour and black and white pictures and press cuttings of the early Floyd, with a very soberly presented disc - mainly plain purple with song titles in small cyan print. The albums themselves are pleasingly packaged. The jewel cases are pure black all over with "Pink Floyd Shine On" etched in black on the left hand part of the front. The normally transparent front has a small (2 inch x 2 inch) sticker of the album cover on it (WYWH being the burning man picture). The spines, when assembled in the correct order, have been silk-screened with the prism from one of their poorer-selling albums (the title escapes me... released in 1973 and sunk into obscurity). Open up a disc case and you have a double sided inlay, with the album title and cover on one side, and track and author details on the other. The discs themselves are (surprisingly enough!) predominantly black with song titles spanning the edge of the discs, that box logo, and for each album, a special logo inside a small silver circle. All except the logo is printed in different bright colours. Nicely done. Now, to the discs themselves!


A fairly nice wrap up of the early singles, although the bootleg CD guys have the edge on selection. Why didn't they include "Vegetable Man" or "Scream Thy Last Scream"? Despite not getting released, an obvious pair of rarities to include on a major retrospective box! Sound quality is very nice on the whole - little hiss and very little surface noise crackle in evidence (except for a nasty crackle 3:28 into "Careful..."). Much more clarity and detail - bass became clearer as did the lyrics (although it is still not 100% clear if "Candy..." has the words "Please fuck with me" on this version).


Slightly shorter than the original UK release (by 2 seconds!) this, like all other albums in the set, includes no extra tracks or rearranged order. This title is a major improvement sonically to the original CD release; whilst not perfect, it is much better and as good as I think we're gonna get. Some parts sound rather muddy, then suddenly it swings to staggering clarity and presence. "Corporal Clegg" has come off particularly well - much better than before. There's some uncomfortable headphone listening in places - especially "Jugband Blues".


Again slightly shorter than the original release. And again, this was probably just "dead time" too. Sound quality on the whole is better but not necessarily much more detail. The original was done well, but if anything, the cymbals and other high frequency sounds are better on that one - on "Fearless", for example, or "Echoes". No real major improvements here - just a nice polish-up of the sound quality.


Longer than the original release by one whole second! Again, not a staggeringly huge improvement although it is most noticeable with the cymbals. Smoother sound, less harsh or "bitter" than the original. Naturally, not from the original mastertape - allegedly ditched when they copied it onto another tape, adding Dolby. Sound effects really pack a punch on this new version - another area where this version really scores. And yes, sad sod that I am, I thought I'd listen out for the so-called "Beatles on Eclipse" moment. You can definately hear a stringed, non-Beatles version of "Ticket To Ride" from 1:33 into the track, until the 2:00 point. Back in the 80's, this was a huge discussion point... hopefully fairly dead and buried now!


This time, nine seconds longer than the original release. Sound is cleaner than the original, although I feel sure that it could be a touch better - or is it just me expecting perfection? Maybe it is just that the original always sounded pretty good, anyway... Sound effects, such as the elevator/lift segment at the start of "...Machine", betray a fair amount of hiss and there is even a touch of distortion present... hmm. As a juxtaposition, the clarity at the start of the title track is stunning - you can hear the footsteps/preparation of the strummer, and of course, the throat-clearing, in perfect quality!


Both issues being of equal length, the original CD was frequently berated as an awful sounding release. Often, it was said to be harsh with little definition or control. Have matters improved? Well, yes. It's still sometimes an uncomfortable album to listen to - but that's now just because of the style and subject matter. Sonically, a good job has been done on the remastering. Much improved clarity and dynamics.


Ten seconds longer than the original issue, and a far better sounding disc now. I always found previous releases very disappointing. Whilst better than the vinyl, the original CDs still seemed to lack something - the dynamics in particular always seemed to be slightly muted. Also, tape hiss was quite evident on that original CD - now eradicated on the whole. The sound effects come across really well, and show how well they were recorded in the first place. Indeed, they are so good that you can hear the broken sentence at the outset of the album in staggering clarity - I'm sure I've not heard detailed echo on this before! And the backwards message (complete with "Roger! Carolyn's on the phone...") is clearer than ever.


Seven seconds longer than the original release. Comments as above on this vastly improved sounding couple of discs. Clarity is such that, for example, listening to the delicate guitar work in "Is There Anybody Out There?" you can hear David's breathing (just about)!


No perceptible difference sonically or time-wise with the original release. Its inclusion was presumably to show that the boys could still cut it. A sadly neglected album; hopefully its inclusion will encourage people to lend a fresh pair of ears to it, and give it a chance. After all, the worst thing even Roger could (publically) say about it was that it was "a pretty good forgery"!


With past form, all Floyd realists knew that we would not get extra tracks, live tracks or other rarities. The singles wrap-up CD is nice and the book well intentioned. A good job has been done with the albums and the packaging as a whole is pleasing (apart from the title, which is lacking in some imagination!). The package as a whole is excellent value and a great way to swell your Floyd CD collection if you still haven't got these titles.

In an ideal world, rarities would obviously appear. A surprising omission from the singles CD was the aborted third 7" release - "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream" - and rather than just festering on the Works compilation (and Picnic sampler LP) Embryo could have been included as well. The book could have been better, and how about a rarities video? Would've gone nicely with the other contents, even if it was sold alongside as a companion product. A twenty-odd minute video of rare clips was put together for the 1990 Knebworth concert, and that could've been put onto tape for the fans... Oh well, maybe one day.

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