This track is presumed to have been recorded at the Thomson recording studio, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, UK on October 31, 1966.Interstellar Overdrive
Crazy times, man, crazy times. Especially, one would imagine, in the white-hot vortex of the swinging underground that was Hemel Hempstead in 1966. Think of every lurid sex and drug-fuelled happening you can think of, add in some more Hieronymus Bosch-ness and you’d be about halfway there, for an average Tuesday evening.
So here we have Pink Floyd Interstellar Overdrive, a 12″ released for RSD 2017 in an edition of 4000. And for my money I got a one-sided 14:57 minute version of my very favourite Piper At The Gates Of Dawn track, a swish inner sleeve, poster and a glossy postcard.
Recorded before Floyd were signed to EMI, this version of the tune unsurprisingly lacks the compressed focus that allows the LP version to shine so potently. More importantly though that incredible descending guitar spiral is all present and correct bracketing the song, even if not quite the dominant feature it later became.
But enough of similarities with the established version, how is this Interstellar Overdrive different? well, running time aside, this is a definitely a heavier spacier jam – Barrett* really shows his guitar chops off, to great effect. The extended passages also let Richard Wright improv outwards into the cosmos and there is one notable late section which seems to just him and Waters manning the bridge of the HMS Pink Floyd.
The only Floydian who doesn’t add an awful lot to the mix is Nick Mason, who sounds very ordinary and conventional in his playing here. It is interesting to hear just how much his playing progressed between this take and his fluid, intuitive playing of only a few months later.
For those of us with traditionally shorter attention spans I have to report that this version of Interstellar Overdrive really doesn’t overstay its welcome at all. No mean feat, I say and I would heartily recommend this luxurious psychedelic beastie to you.
It isn’t quite true to say that this version of Interstellar Overdrive was previously unheard, it was used to soundtrack Anthony Stern’s experimental film^ San Francisco – as embedded above. This is a different thang to the 16:49 ‘full length’ London ’66-’67; informed folks write proper informative posts about this sort of thing.
Me? nah. I’ll just blast this version another time or two, whilst shaking my head and blinking quickly to simulate far-out strobe lighting.
915 Down (the spiralling vortex of the cosmos, man).
PS: Last time I saw my parents they destroyed a myth that I’d been peddling about them for years – they never did see Floyd at the UFO Club in London (despite going there quite a lot). They saw Floyd with Barrett in London, ‘somewhere else’; the 60’s, I guess the old cliché about if you remember it, you weren’t there must be true!^^
PPS: For mystified non-Englanders Hemel Hempstead is a stolid commuter town in Hertfordshire, all very ordinary, all very respectable and not quite the UK’s answer to Haight Ashbury.
*pre-insane pixies fluttering around his brain era.
^now there are two words to chill my blood.
^^they’ve definitely changed that story on me.