Pink Floyd 1965 - Their First Recordings reviewed
Written by Matt   
Sunday, 06 December 2015
Pink Floyd 1965 - Their First Recordings

On occasion, Pink Floyd remind us just how they've got the power to surprise us. Over the last ten years, there's been a few examples, such as the Live 8 reunion (pigs clearly having flown in sufficient numbers to get the four of them back together again), the huge Why Pink Floyd campaign which started in 2011, giving us Immersion sets, with bonus material aplenty, and The Endless River, an album of material none of us thought would ever appear.

Just about a week ago, another big surprise happened: the stealth release of 1050 copies of Pink Floyd 1965 - Their First Recordings. Housed on two 7" singles, in a gatefold sleeve with a Po Powell design, these singles - featuring six songs recorded during that year - appeared in selected record stores with no fanfare or pre-notice. Rumour has it that record stores weren't even told who the single was by or what it was called, but just told they could order in a handful of copies of a rarity that would become clear on receipt.

The recordings were made when the band were still a five-piece, with Rado Klose on guitar, alongside Syd, Nick, Roger, and Richard. One of the tracks, Walk With Me Sydney, also includes Juliette Gale (later, Richard's first wife) on vocals. Andy Jackson did the mastering for vinyl of these tracks, and the sound quality is very good across all six tracks.

Having the good fortune to get my hands on a copy (and needless to say, eBay has been a friend to many in their attempts to get one of these!) I've been immersing myself in the music within. For those who are yet to hear the singles, my thoughts are below; the band's official Facebook page did note that "Pink Floyd hope to make them available in some physical form towards the end of next year" which is excellent news, particularly for those who are struggling to track one of these down.

So, let's go into some detail, on a track-by-track basis...

Record 1, Side A: Lucy Leave (Barrett) 2:53
The first of four Syd Barrett penned tracks on the compilation, and one that will be familiar to many fans. The two tracks bookending the set have been bootlegged a number of years ago, and so won't be such a surprise to fans to hear them, albeit in the best quality we've ever heard. At the time, the band were playing a lot of R&B flavoured songs, and this is a good example from the time.

A quite jaunty track, featuring a clear, and imploring Barrett vocal, it does hint a little to some of the material the band were to develop in the following year or so. Musically the band sounded well rehearsed and confident, and there's some nice guitar work. Richard's keyboards seem absent, or buried deep in the mix.

Record 1, Side B: Double O Bo (Barrett) 3:25
Some nice drum work from Nick kicks off this song about Bo Diddley as a private eye (yes, really!) but referring to him as a "double O" - more the secret agent territory of James Bond. Some lovely instrumentation in this, with Roger sounding like he is playing a double bass, and some fun guitar work too. Again no keyboards in evidence here.

Record 1, Side B: Remember Me (Barrett) 2:45
This track has the most un-Sydlike Syd vocal ever. With a throbbing keyboard motif running through the length of the song, Syd sings like an American blues or R&B vocalist, with only the end of lines dropping the accent a little for the real Syd to come through. One of the tracks which is far removed from what the band ended up doing a short while later.

Record 2, Side A: Walk With Me, Sydney (Waters) 3:11
Talking of un-Floyd like tracks, this one, written by Roger, is a perfect example, albeit in a completely different style to Remember Me. Sounding more like it should be in a mid-60s light entertainment show or film (maybe as a television show theme song?), it is an early example of Roger's liking for lists, with a range of ailments given as to why the titular star of the song wasn't able to go for the requested stroll, despite Juliette Gale's pleading (with Roger Waters harmonising with her)... A fun, fairly throwaway track and quite a departure from anything else in the Floyd's back catalogue.

Record 2, Side B: Butterfly (Barrett) 2:59
Quite an unusual track, it seems to be two separate songs in one. A fairly trite verse is married with a very Floyd-like chorus. "Listen all you girlies, even though I haven't met you gonna catch you soon in my butterfly net - you'd better watch out!" is the uninspiring vocal, leading to a short chorus featuring a great harmonisation that is more akin to late sixties Floyd, a nice keyboard solo from Richard and then that great chorus again. The trite verse then reappears, and some keyboard and bass noodling leads to the fade out.

Record 2, Side B: I'm A King Bee (Harpo) 3:07
The second of the two tracks potentially familiar to Floyd fans, is this bass heavy blues track, a cover of the Slim Harpo song. Some nice guitar work and a modicum of harmonica too, but again, Richard seems curiously absent from proceedings (unless he is the harmonica player?).

Pink Floyd 1965 - Their First Recordings single labels

There is a suggestion that, apart from anything else, the songs were released to renew copyright on them. There's apparently a 50-year rule over recorded material so by releasing them, it extends the copyright and stops others releasing it on unauthorised compilations. Some early Beatles recordings have suffered such a fate.

The release of these songs gives a fascinating insight into the early days of the band. They are all the more fascinating when one considers just six years later, the Floyd were working on The Dark Side of the Moon - such a huge contrast! Whilst the music gives few clues as to the future of the band, they are absorbing and intriguing slices of history - and we sincerely hope that they are properly released next year along with plenty more early recordings...Nick has occasionally talked about the prospects of an 'Early Years' box set in various interviews, and let's hope that comes to fruition.

In the meantime, we are sure there's a collective thanks from the Floyd community for the sudden, and definitely welcomed, release of these tracks, albeit on a pair of 7" singles which are proving very difficult to get hold of for many fans.