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Pink Floyd: In London: 1966-67 [Video]

Album Notes

There's no documentation about where the early Pink Floyd clips on this DVD (presumably from 1967-1970, as the title indicates) -- some live, some mimed, some featuring their music on the soundtrack without images of the band -- were originally filmed and broadcast. Would you really expect such a thing of a label called Anonymous Film Archive that doesn't even print a contact address on the box? But if you're a big Pink Floyd fan, there are a lot of cool things here, although substantial drawbacks in much of the presentation make this far inferior to what it could have been. Those drawbacks include not only nonexistent annotation and the utter absence of a menu that would allow the user to select a certain scene, but also poor (sometimes very poor) image quality on some of the clips, some of which are not presented in their entirety. Essentially, this is the kind of piecemeal collection of scraps customarily assembled and sold on bootleg video or DVD compilations. Recognizing those limitations, there's some interesting and occasionally spectacular footage here, including almost an hour of material with the Syd Barrett lineup. The best-quality scenes, of the group doing "Interstellar Overdrive" and the instrumental "Nick's Boogie" in the studio with Barrett (in color), have circulated for a long time elsewhere. But a lot of this stuff isn't so easy to come by, including Barrett-era promo videos of "The Scarecrow" and "Arnold Layne"; Barrett listlessly miming "Apples and Oranges" on TV; and a thrilling, totally live clip of the group doing "Astronomy Domine" on British TV in 1967, with a hilariously condescending introduction and interview (of Barrett and Roger Waters) by an elderly musicologist. That particular bit is one of the most entertaining and exciting snippets of 1960s rock television anywhere; it's just a pity that its quality on this particular DVD is not only far from optimum, but markedly inferior to how it's appeared on some other (unauthorized) video compilations. About half of this DVD has clips from the early David Gilmour era, including some relatively little-traveled early Pink Floyd tracks like "Point Me at the Sky," "Paint Box," "It Would Be So Nice," and "Corporal Clegg." It's disconcerting to see Gilmour in promo clips for Syd Barrett-era recordings like "See Emily Play" (he even mimes Syd's lead vocals at times). But on the other hand, a circa-'68 French TV performance is totally live and finds the Gilmour lineup doing a surprisingly quite good job on the Barrett staples "Flaming" and "Astronomy Domine." The whole shebang concludes with the late-'60s 15-minute short film San Francisco, which doesn't show Pink Floyd on screen, but features a superb, frenetic unreleased 1966 Floyd recording of "Interstellar Overdrive" on the soundtrack. If only this collection benefited from better image and sound quality, more careful assembly, and professional packaging, it would be a major visual document of Pink Floyd's early career. In the absence (as of the early 2000s) of any official release of the sort, however, this flawed DVD is the best such video record of the band's early years available. ~ Richie Unterberger


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