Pink Floyd RSS News Feed

Statistics

We have 10 guests online
Visitors: 69110579
Pink Floyd The Black Strat book by Phil Taylor
Nick Mason Inside Out signed copy
Brain Damage and A Fleeting Glimpse
Home arrow Reviews arrow Box Sets arrow Pink Floyd - The Later Years 1987-2019 box set
Pink Floyd - The Later Years 1987-2019 box set Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Thursday, 12 December 2019
Pink Floyd - The Later Years 1987-2019 box set

Well, this is one that many have been waiting for. With the release of The Early Years, things looked inevitable and logical for The Later Years to happen, although as with anything, nothing is certain until it happens! Many people have questioned why the Floyd have "missed" The Middle Years, although one could argue that broadly speaking, much of that ground has been covered by the Immersion sets.

There's also a certain inevitability that there was a lot less material that the band could call on - the beginnings of the band saw them appear on countless TV and radio stations, something that dried up as time went on. They were also a band who in the later years would keep working on an idea through to fruition, rather than have endless abandoned ideas and early versions. We've covered the contents elsewhere; suffice it to say, with over 13 hours of unreleased audio and audiovisual material, there's plenty of new stuff to explore, along with material which has been readdressed and given a 2019 polish.

First impressions as you face the box are very strong. A fine job has been done with the presentation of this set - the box and the inner housing reek of quality. Easing the front lid to the side (it is attached, so opens like a very large book) reveals the first of the contents: the three reproduction tour programmes (1987-88, 1989 and 1994) along with a lyric book, all banded together. Under that is the large format, hardback covered photo book which covers the era in question, then there is the memorabilia pouch, which is in something akin to a vinyl album sleeve. In here are repro posters, tickets, passes, and the two 7" vinyl singles - one with Lost For Words (PULSE tour rehearsal edit) and the other, Arnold Layne recorded at the Barrett tribute held at London's Barbican in 2007.

Once these have all been removed, you are down to the final layer - the hardback covered CD/Credits Book which houses the five CDs in the set (numbered 1-5), the six Blu-rays (6-11) and five DVDs (12-16) all housed in individually designed cardboard sleeves. Each of the discs in cardboard sleeves sits in thin plastic sleeves, to protect them from any damage when sliding them in or out of the card. A nice, simple touch but could make a difference in the long term.

Whilst we've mentioned this before, just to clarify, the DVDs are in NTSC format, and do NOT have region coding on them, so should be playable on equipment worldwide. The Blu-rays are also WITHOUT region coding.

For many, one of the principal attractions of The Later Years is the 2019 remix of A Momentary Lapse of Reason, so let's start with that. Seen as sounding very much a product of the latter stages of the 1980s, the album featured a band in transition, heading to its new direction without Roger. The production values in places were quite contemporary, and this has led some to see the album as dated.

It was a few years ago that work began on revisiting the album, with Nick supplying a range of new drum parts to help give it a more timeless, Floydian edge. Gone are the drum machines, in favour of Nick's unique and easily identifiable playing. Also adding into the mix are a number of additional/new keyboard parts from Richard Wright, either unused studio bits and pieces, or taken from live recordings. These, coupled with the new mix of the album, gives a fresh new take on Momentary Lapse, addressing some of the issues of the past which one senses the band - with the benefit of hindsight - grew increasingly uncomfortable with.

For the purposes of this review, I'm listening specifically to the high resolution or surround mixes found on the Blu-ray discs of all the material but don't forget if you are DVD only, you'll have much of the material, albeit in not such high quality. The Surround and Hi-Res Audio Mixes of A Momentary Lapse of Reason, The Division Bell, and the unreleased material, are ONLY available on Blu-ray so the only thing you'll not have if you don't have a Blu-ray player. These high res mixes are available in 5.1 dts Master Audio (96/24), 5.1 PCM (96/24) and also stereo PCM (again, 96/24). After selecting the album from the animated main menu (which features a great instrumental audio loop, worth lurking on the menu for a while just for this!), you get a plain black screen with the current song title on it. A slight disappointment not to have lyrics or images, but I guess without the distraction you can focus more on the key thing - the music.

From the first sounds of Signs of Life, the clarity, depth and quality is clear. This is going to be a fun listen!Learning To Fly has a surprising change in it - during the midpoint of the song, David's vocal is given quite an atmospheric twist, and the song generally has a much keener sense of vocal clarity, hearing harmonising much clearer, with additional keyboard parts giving a more cohesive feel to the song. One Slip's opening drums give a flavour for how this song has been improved with Nick's new drum part. Richard's keyboards are more to the fore as well, and again, there's a much better clarity to everything. Hard to picture how cluttered/buried some aspects were of the original mix, but that's exactly what the new mix seems to imply.

Yet Another Movie gives much more clarity to some acoustic guitar work, which I don't think I'd ever really heard in the original mix, and the surround mix of it adds to the atmosphere of the song. Terminal Frost is another good example of this - with more obvious vocal work in this new version.

Whilst the work on A Momentary Lapse of Reason is just what we needed to bring some welcome changes and improvements to the album, one does wonder how much they felt constrained not to change too much. I think there would have been scope to take this remix, with the additional instrumentation, much further, with a mix that would have sounded markedly different. One can only imagine how that might have sounded if they'd really gone for it. As it stands though, the 2019 remix of AMLOR is a refreshing, and necessary, update to an album which marked the start of a new era for the band.

Following on from AMLOR is, of course, The Division Bell. This is the 2014 remix which featured on the Immersion set, so will be familiar to a number of you. So, let's skip this (excellent sounding) remix and surround mix, and head to the unreleased material on this disc, all taken from The Division Bell sessions. These all had their first proper mix this year, and as with the Momentary Lapse 2019 mix, this has been done by Andy Jackson with David Gilmour, assisted by Damon Iddins.

First up, Blues 1, a pacey and quite jaunty instrumental, with a lovely guitar solo. It reminded of early Gilmour solo material, and wouldn't have been out of place on his first album in particular. Slippery Guitar starts with an almost Us And Them groove, but quickly gives us another, more laid back instrumental. Rick's Theme is a stately, slightly mournful piano led piece which wouldn't have been out of place on The Endless River, and indeed one wonders if it would have appeared on there had space permitted.

David's Blues are quite upbeat and reminiscent of a couple of later things but can't quite put my finger on them. Gilmour does some scat singing in it, potentially prior to developing lyrics for it that maybe never came. Marooned Jam is as you'd expect, being very close to the released version, but a looser take on things. Nervana is an alternate version of what appeared on the deluxe edition of The Endless River, quite a heavy guitar and keyboard led jam.

The disc concludes with an early version of High Hopes, which is a lovely, stripped back version with less instrumentation, which gives it a more mournful/wistful air.

Next up, Delicate Sound of Thunder, which has been re-edited this year from the original 35mm footage shot. Over 300 cans of silent film were discovered, then digitised to 4K and painstakingly identified to work out which bit of the show each bit of footage was from. Some of you will have been at the cinema screenings showing an edit of this new version, suffice it to say that in the home setting, the quality is quite incredible and I love the new edit. It really takes me back to that tour, the first time I managed to see the Floyd live (I just missed out on The Wall, and was a bit too young for Animals etc.) It also strikes me as much more akin to the sort of edit a concert video would have these days, moving away from the rather MTV-friendly version we had before.

The visual softness of the original is long gone, thank goodness, and this is as sharp and detailed as you could ever want, with vibrant colours, really showing off the visual aspect of the presentation. I vividly remember how well everything tied together so well as an overall experience, standing there at various shows back more than 30 years ago now, and this new edit brings that keenly to mind, reminding me why I bought tickets to quite so many shows! For me, I actually preferred the Momentary Lapse staging to the Division Bell staging - the mobile lighting units in particular I thought particularly effective.

The new edit also gives due credit to the various musicians, giving good focus on their contributions - for example, the main guitar work in Learning To Fly was by Tim Renwick and this now makes that abundantly clear. An interesting little tweak is that there's an almost imperceptible boost to the occasional bit of vocal or whatever, if that person is on the screen...it's almost like you are there behind the camera, moving past that musician and hearing them a fraction louder due to your proximity. A clever touch which makes you feel a little more involved with the action.

One side note; for those who had the original PAL version of the video, this new version also gives you Money, which was only included on the NTSC version for some reason.

One thing that does strike you, as you see the wider audience shots, is something missing. Something that seems an intrinsic part of modern concert going. No screens. No mobiles being held aloft, no live streaming, no selfies in front of the stage...it's refreshing not to see it, and it is so rare these days. Sadly, this is virtually impossible to avoid these days, although some artists do manage it (such as Kate Bush when she did her incredible London residency a few years back).

So, a truly worthwhile upgrade, and one of the main reasons to consider buying the box (although you're probably doing that already, I guess!). Time to change discs - next up, PULSE.

Six years, and a couple of months, later, and we now have Pink Floyd at the tail end of the 1994 Division Bell tour, in a recording from their multi-night run at London's Earls Court. Instantly, you get a different feel from PULSE. Shot on videotape, there's little that can be done to dramatically improve things, so in contrast to Delicate Sound, the picture doesn't seem as sharp, and there's a lack of detail, especially on distant shots. However, they have done the best they can, and the colours are nice and vibrant without being overblown or unrealistic. This new version has been restored and re-edited from the original tape masters this year, but personally I feel this has more subtle/harder to spot changes than the DSoT edit - or maybe I've not watched PULSE recently enough!

One thing that does strike you early on is the audience who seem very static, and quiet - again, this could be down to how it was originally recorded, and indeed, during Learning To Fly the strong audience reaction to that song comes across clearly.

For those who weren't fortunate enough to see the band on their final tour, and let's remember, it is now 25 years ago, it's a great way to see the record-breaking production which many fans count amongst their favourite. It sounds really good too...on the Blu-ray it is presented in 5.1 dts MA (96/24) as well as in stereo.

The next disc is home to two shorter, but no less significant, performances. The 90 minute 1989 Venice show was broadcast live, and features shortened versions of some of the songs. Despite being shot by TV cameras the picture quality is surprisingly good, and apart from the hand-held nature of many of the shots, feels akin in quality to the PULSE recording. The stereo mix is very good too; a wide soundstage and plenty of detail, certainly better than the 200,000 gathered where they could in the city itself to watch the show would have heard.

The show was beamed to an estimated audience of around 100 million and was a good representation of the band's live show at this stage of the lengthy Momentary Lapse tour. It's been one of the unexpected highlights for me of the Later Years set - it's something I watched live at the time, and infrequently since. I'll be addressing that with this new version. It comes across really well, and despite the shortened nature of some of the songs, it doesn't feel like it. The band are clearly relaxed and enjoying the experience, and despite the difficult nature of the location, the camerawork is excellent.

The last of the shows on the Momentary Lapse tour, of course, was at Knebworth, the following year. The venue is the grounds of Knebworth House, and for a number of years it had hosted some of the biggest names in music, such as the Stones and Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd played their only 1975 show outside North America at Knebworth, and fifteen years later they made their return as part of an incredible bill for a charity fundraiser for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. The last act that day, which alternated between hot sun, rain and wind, the weather saw them get wet, and perform beneath the surround of Mr Screen, the screen part itself removed as a precaution against the wind.

Sadly there's still no place for the 20 minute or so montage video that was shown to the crowd, but never released or shown elsewhere. This featured clips of various bits of film, that the Floydheads were loving, but that confused the heck out of those who were there for other acts. There was an outside hope that this film might have finally seen the light of day again, with this release, but sadly not.

So, we have the entire set in a new edit by Gavin Elder, with an audio remix. The band for this show had a couple of slight changes - Candy Dulfer, the Dutch saxophonist, took over from Scott Page, and only Durga McBroom from the backing vocalists used in 1987-89 was at this show. Joining her was Sam Brown, Sam's mum Vicki, and Clare Torry, not least so she could give a rendition of her Great Gig In The Sky performance for the crowd. Michael Kamen also joined the band on keyboards.

As the Floyd's set progresses, it is clear just how much first the wind picks up, blowing the smoke away off the stage just as quickly as it is generated (and it was there to try and help boost the lighting, with the screen removed). The rain then gets noticeably heavier, and I remember well how the laser effects looked so much better when the precipitation increased, taking our minds off the soaking that we were getting. The band were getting pretty wet too, and you can spot in the footage some of the stage gear getting covered up to try and protect it from the worst of the elements, and to remain a bit safer.

I was really impressed as to the quality of the footage. We've had the audio sounding excellent for many years (although a bit of 2019 tweaking has taken place) but have never seen the images so clear and vibrant. The earlier part of the set sees the band in semi-darkness but that was the case on the evening - once the necessary adjustments had been done to cater for the lack of film, alternate illumination strategies kicked in.

This particular disc has really taken me by surprise - in a good way. It held material I had assumed wouldn't have been that impressive on Blu-ray, knowing the origins of how it was shot. It's one I'll be going back to at regular intervals!

OK, let's press on. Next up, the Unreleased Live Films, Music Videos and Concert Screen Films, much of which is presented in 96/24 stereo. You get all the music videos in stunning quality - clearly shot on film - and an alternate Learning To Fly. I'm sure I once saw a version of this late one evening on British TV, that was different again, but have never seen it since. Ah well, maybe I imagined it. Take It Back is one of the less engaging videos, featuring computer animation, the odd landscape shot, and an environmental message of sorts. Marooned is the superb, and chilling, 2014 video shot at Pripyat, close to Chernobyl Power Station, and we all know the classic High Hopes promo.

Following those are five bonus tracks from Delicate Sound of Thunder - Yet Another Movie, Round and Around, A New Machine 1, Terminal Frost and New Machine 2. These all look great, and are in the same quality as the main DSoT feature, albeit just in stereo. Slightly lesser quality (as they were shot on videotape) are the 1994 rehearsal pieces, which look to have been shot in an empty Earls Court and presumably were partly for filming rehearsals (there was a live TV broadcast in the UK of this show, prior to the footage being edited for the PULSE release). You get a couple of Great Day For Freedom run throughs, and a nice Lost For Words too. Nice little additions to have on the set.

Another nice to have, but not essential, are the various screen films from 1987 and 1994. I must admit to having a soft spot for the 1994 Money film. I remember many didn't seem to notice it, and the 2003 PF exhibition in Paris had the "alien helmet" on display which seemed to confuse many. It's such a fun, and silly, video though, and good to have it in full here. The One Of These Days clip with Nick answering the doors to a dishevelled Nick is an absolute essential if you've not seen it before! There's nineteen of these screen films in total, all presented in great quality. It's interesting to see the variety of Brain Damage clips, updated from time to time in order to include key public figures, or people more significant for the intended location.

Finally, there's the 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction for the band, with an edited version of Billy Corgan's speech about the band, before David, Richard and Nick take the stage to accept the award from Billy. Following this they (minus Nick) perform a lovely, acoustic Wish You Were Here.

The final Blu-ray/DVD disc now, and with it, we head into the world of Documentaries and Unreleased Material. This kicks off with Arnold Layne at the Barrett tribute held at the Barbican, with a little glimpse backstage before they went on. The footage is quite rough, looking in places like they've used various bits of bootleg footage along with rough pro-shot bits. Great to see this performance again. Later on this disc is footage of the rehearsal earlier that evening, backstage. Wonderful to have this included, and it is fun to see Nick using a spare chair as an impromptu drum kit!

Some great footage is included of the Momentary Lapse cover shoot, not narrated, showing the set up and photographing of this. Later on the disc is a very short interview piece with Storm talking about it, and the ridiculous nature of the endeavour! The cover shoot footage is followed by a photo montage of initial sketching, through planning, to execution of the Division Bell heads, showing just how much work went into them, and (from behind) how basic in construction they were.

One of the most obvious promotional antics the band undertook in early 1994 was the blimp, and there's a nice piece looking at that, with the late Steve O'Rourke (the band's manager) interviewed. Included is rather apt footage of one of the blimps floating past Battersea Power Station. Things then turn to the tour production with the late Mark Fisher, Marc Brickman, and Robbie Williams, all interviewed about the 1994 tour staging. I love this sort of thing (but then I'm a bit of a staging enthusiast!). Phil Taylor and Andy Jackson also get involved as the nitty-gritty of touring, and the stage/equipment set up, gets under discussion. The picture quality isn't brilliant, but this is a fascinating glimpse into the world of setting up a mega-tour, how it travels around, and the problems that need to be faced whilst on the road. Great stuff!

The disc concludes with a brief look at the private launch event for The Endless River, held at London's Porchester Hall, followed by the EPK for the album. This goes nicely as a follow up to the new film that Ian Emes (animator for Time, and One Of These Days, for example) has created for The Endless River, presented in full on this. It proves an atmospheric accompaniment for an equally atmospheric album.

Looking at the five CDs now, these include material elsewhere in the set, but in CD format for those who want this (and there will be many no doubt), and it is worth nothing that one of the CDs includes songs exclusive to that format. The first of the CDs has the 2019 version of A Momentary Lapse of Reason. CDs two and three are home to the 2019 remix of Delicate Sound of Thunder, which now includes songs performed on the tour which were omitted from the original release due to space constraints.

The fourth CD includes some tracks which aren't on the Blu-rays or DVDs - One of These Days (Live in Hanover, 1994), Astronomy Domine (Live in Miami, 1994), The Dogs of War (Live in Atlanta, 1987), On the Turning Away (Live in Atlanta, 1987), and Run Like Hell (Live in Atlanta, 1987). Also on this disc are the unreleased studio recordings from the Division Bell sessions (Blues 1, Slippery Guitar, etc.). Finally, the fifth CD has - for the first time in full - the Floyd's Knebworth 1990 performance.

Inevitably with a box set such as this there are the odd regrets. It's a shame there aren't some of the more interesting television interviews/features from those years, on the band, although that would be prone to finding the original footage AND getting licensing/approval from the copyright holders to include it. There's also the footage shot in Atlanta in 1987, and La Carrera Panamericana, which was broadcast on TV then later released on VHS video. The band weren't at all keen on the Atlanta footage, and presumably the same applied to the Panamericana footage (a record of David and Nick's participation in the motoring event), unless the race itself held the rights over the footage and wouldn't let them use it?

This doesn't detract from a set which contains some serious upgrades to great material. There's also a significant amount of material unreleased elsewhere, apart from the new mixes of some items. At present, we don't know if any of these items will be released separately at a later stage. If you cast your mind back to The Early Years, much of that was released in "breakout" sets, concentrating on each year. It is not inconceivable that a similar tactic happens with The Later Years, but nothing is confirmed as yet.

Oh, and a shout out for the music which accompanies the menus on the Blu-rays/DVDs. Really enjoyable, and I found myself sitting there with the menu for far longer than one would normally, just to enjoy these audio loops. It's a little touch, but makes quite a difference!

Hopefully this overview has been of help to you. We think that this box set will be very popular - it IS a limited edition, so won't be around for long - and IF it is also available as individually themed "breakout" sets (similar to The Early Years) those will prove just as popular.

If this review has ignited your interest in the box set, you can read the track listing of the box set here, and can order the various editions through the following direct links, whilst giving Brain Damage much needed help with running costs without costing you any extra. We really appreciate it too!

PINK FLOYD THE LATER YEARS - deluxe box set:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK  Canada  Germany  France  Italy  Spain 
PINK FLOYD THE LATER YEARS - 2LP vinyl highlights:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK  Canada  Germany  France  Italy  Spain 
PINK FLOYD THE LATER YEARS - 1CD highlights:  Amazon.com  Amazon UK  Canada  Germany  France  Italy  Spain 
 
Next >
Brain Damage on Facebook Follow Brain Damage on Twitter Brain Damage's YouTube channel
Pink Floyd Calendar

Next 30 concerts

Pink Floyd on iTunes
Donate to Brain Damage
Behind The Wall book
Pink Floyd: Backstage book
HeYou Floyd Fanzine - order details
www.Brain-Damage.co.uk - the Pink Floyd, Nick Mason, David Gilmour
and Roger Waters news & info site
All content except where noted otherwise is © Brain Damage/Matt Johns 2020.
Please see 'About Brain Damage' page for legal details and the small print!
Website generously designed and built by 3B Web Design