September 27, 2011 (New York, NY) — I can’t believe my luck, standing with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and ?uestlove and Captain Kirk from The Roots last night at the launch of the remastered Pink Floyd catalog, talking about favorite our musicians, among other musicianly things. Inevitably talk turns to this week’s tribute to Pink Floyd on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. (Roger Waters will perform “In The Flesh” with the Foo Fighters on tonight’s show.)
“It’s been such a long time. I’ve gotten so used to the songs the way we recorded them,” Mason confesses. “Occasionally someone will cover one of our songs and really reinterpret it; I just love that. I’m just astonised that people still care. It’s truly gratifying when somebody takes one of the songs and reenergizes it so completely, as the bands this week are doing.” We all nod in agreement.
“But I really don’t like tribute bands. There’s one band, the Australian Pink Floyd… I find it endlessly amusing that they recently had to replace their guitarist. I guess they didn’t realize that the difficulties that effect all bands would effect them too.”
We’re at New York City’s American Musem of Natural History, complete with one of Pink Floyd’s giant inflatable pigs standing watch, to celebrate today’s launch of the remastered Pink Floyd catalog, including the 16-CD “Dsicovery” box set, which includes all of their original recordings in spectacular remastered form, with packaging by longtime Floyd collaborators Hipgnosis as good as you can expect from CDs, and the 6-disc “Immersion” box set of 1973’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” that is truly an achievement, head and shoulders above even the best box sets.
Later the select crowd of only 100 or so will be treated to an “interplanetary playback” of Pink Floyd’s 1974 Wembley performance of The Dark Side of the Moon (included in the Immersion box) in the Hayden Planetarium, complete with the band’s engineer Andy Jackson at the controls.
But first there was a bit of drinks and food and talk to be taken care of.
“This is not just about the past; about us old people,” Roger Faxon, CEO of the EMI Group, the band’s label, tells the crowd. “It was just my pleasure… to see Roger Waters’s presentation of “The Wall”, and it was just riveting because it said something about today.” That is the thing about Pink Floyd, Faxon went on, Pink Floyd’s music resonates today; the messages the band crafted so carefully all those years ago are still relevant to anyone, at any age, just discovering the band today.
“I was a late bloomer,” ?uestlove told me of his fandom. “I was aware of them growing up, but Erykah Badu really introduced us to them. She’s really an expert on all 14 albums; especially the early albums with Syd (Barrett). During the making of “Phrenology” and while we were working with Common on “Electric Circus” we were totally obsessed. We tried the Wizard of Oz trick a hundred times when we were working with D’Angelo. And we tried to figure out what synched up to The Wiz!”
Today Pink Floyd fans have a lot to celebrate. The band are opening their vaults, and the new reissue series is about as good as it gets. “If things go wrong you blame the record company,” Mason said. “When things go right it’s of course your idea. But this was EMI’s idea. Not the band of course, we weren’t their idea, just in case Roger’s listening…” Mason joked. “A lot of people have worked very hard. None of them were me.”
Mason was being modest. But EMI has ensured that Pink Floyd’s legacy — the work they did all those years ago — will ive on properly for a very long time.
This article is copyright 2011 by Jeff Slate. No part may be reprinted or referenced without permission and/or attribution. All rights reserved.