Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Pink Floyd - The Shape of Questions to Heaven (Upgrade)




Pink Floyd – The Shape of Questions to Heaven
(a soniclovenoize re-imagining)

March 2017 UPGRADE

Side A:
1.  Vegetable Man
2.  Apples and Oranges
3.  Remember A Day
4.  a) Golden Hair
     b) Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun
5.  In The Beechwoods

Side B:
6.  John Latham
7.  Paintbox
8.  Scream Thy Last Scream
9.  Jugband Blues


Although I said I wouldn’t, the material spontaneously struck me one day recently and I was motivated to upgrade this original re-imagining from four years ago, which postulates “What if Syd Barrett hadn’t been fired from Pink Floyd?”  The Shape of Questions to Heaven is the theoretical 1968 follow up to 1967’s The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, and culls material from Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets sessions and Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs sessions to create a second album of Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd, an album that most certainly never was.

The updates to this March 2017 edition are:

  • Revised tracklist that focuses more on actual Syd-led Pink Floyd sessions and less reliant on Syd’s solo work without the rest of the band—a true 2nd Pink Floyd album with Syd Barrett
  • “Late Night”, “Lanky Part One” and “Clowns and Jugglers” are dropped from the tracklist and replaced by “In The Beechwoods” and “John Latham” sourced from The Early Years boxset. 
  • More recent (and in my opinion) superior sources are used, including the 2011 remaster of A Saucerful of Secrets and the 2015 remaster of The Madcap Laughs


After a sequence of high-charting singles and the focused attention of the swinging London scene, Pink Floyd looked to broaden their horizon of success.  Their 1967 debut album The Piper at The Gates of Dawn seemed to accentuate the eccentricities of their front man Syd Barrett; it’s marriage of psychedelic pop and experimental space-rock seemed to encapsulate Barrett’s own spaciness.  But all was not well within the Pink Floyd camp…  Just as the album was released in August, Barrett began to show signs of a breakdown, probably due to his escalated use of LSD.  A few shows were canceled that summer due to Barrett’s erratic behavior and attempts to take him to a doctor had failed. 

Struggling through Syd’s antics, the band attempted to record a follow-up single to the newly-released album.  Two new compositions were recorded on August 7th and 8th, 1967 at De Lane Lea Studios: Barrett’s “Scream Thy Last Scream” b/w Roger Waters’ “Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun”; unfortunately they were rejected as a single by EMI.  After starting work on a new album proper at Sound Techniques Studios in September with an instrumental backing track for “In The Beechwoods” and two free-form jams “Reaction In G” and “No Title”, Pink Floyd returned to De Lane Lea in early October to record Barrett’s “Vegetable Man” b/w “Jugband Blues” as a prospected single, as well as adding overdubs to an unfinished outtake from The Piper sessions, Richard Wright’s “Remember A Day”.  With “Vegetable Man” also rejected by the record label, Pink Floyd reconvened in late October at De Lane Lea Studios for a third attempt at a single, Barrett’s “Apples and Oranges” b/w Wright’s “Paintbox”.  Even though this single was finally approved by EMI and released in November, it failed to chart.  Also recorded at this session was a 30-minute improvisational piece for John Latham’s experimental animated film Speak; it too was rejected and it has remained in the vaults for nearly 50 years!

Following a disastrous American taping of “Apples and Oranges” at The Pat Boone Show in which Barrett stood motionless instead of performing (as well as a similar spaced-out interview on American Band Stand) the other members of Pink Floyd decided that they needed a fifth member to backup Barrett’s unpredictability.  Drafting Barrett’s guitarist friend from art school, David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd at the end of 1967 as a second guitarist and the band functioned as an awkward quintet for a month in January.  As a five piece, rehearsals commenced for upcoming gigs and new songs were written, often with Barret not showing interest or not even showing up altogether!  Barrett’s madness climaxed during a rehearsal in which Barrett attempted to teach his bandmates a new song, allegedly entitled “Have You Got It Yet?”; after every run-through of the song, Barrett altered the structure so the band could not possibly follow along and then sung to the band members “Have you got it yet?”  With Gilmour on guitar and without Syd at all, the band entered Abbey Roads Studios on January 24th and 25th to record the newly written songs “See-Saw”, “Corporal Clegg” and “Let There Be More Light”.  The very next day, Waters decided not to pick up Barrett on the way to a gig; Syd was out of Pink Floyd, and the rest was history. 

By February 1968 the band realized that they were now absent a lead songwriter who could write pop hits; Wright contributed “It Would Be So Nice” and Waters offered “Julia Dream”, both an attempt to create a formula Syd Barrett psyche-pop single.  The results were dismal as the single failed and the band has since blacklisted the songs as rubbish.  By spring, Pink Floyd assessed what recorded material could make an album, and found they were quite short; they would have to find a new way to operate, without a Syd Barrett.  The answer was “A Saucerful of Secrets”, a 12-minute instrumental epic concerning the effects of war, composed as if it was an architectural design, which became the title track of the album.  By becoming a more conceptual and jam-based band, Pink Floyd were able to free themselves from the unreachable expectations of the ghost of Syd Barrett.  In the end, of Barrett's songs only “Jugband Blues” was used, as well as “Remember A Day” and “Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun” (the later which also featured overdubs from Gilmour, making it the only Pink Floyd track to feature all five members).  But is there a way to present this album how it could have been, before Pink Floyd lost their crazy diamond? 

Side A of my reconstruction of a second Barrett-led Pink Floyd album begins with “Vegetable Man”.  Here I am using the mix found on the bootleg The Syd Barrett Tapes, as I think the new 2010 remix found on The Early Years sounds anachronistic and too modern, definetly not fitting with the rest of the album!  This is followed by the stereo mix of “Apples and Oranges” from The Piper at The Gates of Dawn remaster and “Remember A Day” from A Saucerful of Secrets.  Next is my original crossfade of take 5 of “Golden Hair” from The Madcap Laughs and “Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun” from A Saucerful; although “Golden Hair” was tracked during the first sessions for Barrett’s first solo album on May 28th 1968, it still fits into the timeline of this reconstruction, but more importantly it sonically fits as Syd’s intro to “Set The Controls”.  Side A concludes with Syd’s (presumably) unfinished song “In The Beechwoods” from The Early Years. 

Side B begins with an abbreviated, nearly-12-minute edit of “John Latham” from The Early Years, effectively taking the place of “Saucerful” on the actual album.  Following is the stereo “Paintbox” from Relics and “Scream Thy Last Scream”, again taken from the bootleg The Barrett Tapes, avoiding the overly-polished 2010 mix from The Early Years.  The album ends just as Saucerful does, with “Jugband Blues”.  

 How does The Shape of Questions To Heaven compare with A Saucerful?  Quite bluntly, we can hear Syd's mind being undone, but at least in a focused and more cohesive manner than on A Madcap Laughs.  What was only suggested on "Jugband Blues" is fully explored on "Vegetable Man" and "Scream Thy Last Scream", songs Barrett wrote directly about his madness.  As for "In The Beechwoods", we can only imagine what the vocal melody and lyric would have been, but here it’s just an instrumental that closes Side A. With an interesting yet meandering improvisational piece to occupy half of side B, it's interesting to note that the other band members were already contributing supplemental material with "Paintbox", "Remember A Day" and "Set The Controls", as if they knew Syd was falling short.  Regardless, it is an enjoyable listen and an interesting alternative to A Saucerful of Secrets, and succeeds in creating an album that demonstrates just what Pink Floyd could have done with their lunatic on the grass.  




320 kps mp3s 
Lossless FLAC (part 1, part 2)


Sources used:
Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets (2011 remaster)
Pink Floyd – The Early Years (2016 box set)
Pink Floyd – The Piper at The Gates of Dawn (2007 Remaster)
Pink Floyd – Relics (1996 reissue)
Pink Floyd – The Syd Barrett Tapes (bootleg, 2008 Needledrop Records)
Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs (2015 Harvest remaster)

 flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included

49 comments:

  1. Hi Sonic. Will you ever be updating those post-1970 Beatles albums you made early on? I still love those, they are my favorite

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    1. Probably not. As I mentioned earlier elsewhere on my blog, I am trying to shy away from posting "re-imaginations" and stick with reconstructions that have at least some semblance of historical basis (i.e. albums that we know were going to exist but didn't and have some sort of proof of). These "What If" albums are fun but not something I want to continue doing.

      This one is an exception, purely because of the Early Years boxset release got my brain thinking about it.

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    2. They don't need updating in my view Sonic. They're my favourites of all your stuff as they stand. Thanks for all the albums- great stuff

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    3. With regards to the post-1970 Beatles albums that you posted back in 2012...would you be able to fix the mp3 download links for "Living in the Material World" and "Band on the Run"? The former isn't on the page anymore and the latter leads to a dead link

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    4. Thank you ! Right. What if Syd had to play all the instruments after all the other band members had to stay in a mental institution (long time before getting old and beeing pictured against their will) ? He should probably have hired the Black Sabbath members after Ozzy departure and created the famous Black Floyd ! Come on, I'm sure you can do something about it, Sonic !!!

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  2. What an extraordinary labour of love again Sonic! Truly wonderful and well written exposition too. A life long Sid fan and David Gilmour too but left the band at 'Piper' and the later realised there was another quite different and separate band who I enjoyed from 'Umma Gumma' to 'Meddle' but 'Dark Side' left me cold. Trite and schoolboy philosophy to the mind numbingly stupid 'The Wall' which I thought was truly dreadful. Different strokes . . . . . .these stroke me tho' :)

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  3. This is your best yet! The boys would be proud!

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  4. Brilliant tracklist! I've came up with a more Gilmour-Saucerful as a sequel to this album!

    Tracklist

    1. Let There Be More Light
    2. It Would Be So Nice
    3. Rogers Boogie (Re-titled Grapevine)
    4. Corporal Clegg
    5. Saucerful of Secrets
    6. See-Saw
    7. Julia Dream

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    1. What about 'Song 1'? Sure it's a tad unfinished, but it showed some promise (sounds like an early work-through for Cymbaline).

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    2. I dunno to be honest, I think it would be a good b-side single to See-Saw if it was polished

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  5. Hello,
    Amazing as always, what you do. many many thanks and congratulations for the work and all the documentation.
    Best regards,
    Robert

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  6. Thanks for this one,much appreciated
    ;-)

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  7. Thanks for your hard work! It is appreciated!

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  8. Pity that the first two songs have a totally different sonic signature to the rest of it.

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  9. I love your work, man - thank you for sharing!

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  10. Very nice. I may have missed it, but where does the album title come from? Is it a lyric in one of the songs?

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    1. Witness the man who raves at the wall
      Making the shape of his questions to Heaven
      Whether the sun will fall in the evening
      Will he remember the lesson of giving?

      Set the controls for the heart of the sun.
      The heart of the sun, the heart of the sun.

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  11. Hi, I love your work and would like to hear this (and the new Homegrown!) but I wonder whether there's a service you could use besides Zippyshare. It tries to force me to download crapware, claiming that I need to update Flash when I already have the latest version for my browser.

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    1. I have the same problem as others do. I just close the new window and try again. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries, and sometimes it can take six or more. Small irritation considering all this is free.

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  12. zippyshare is ok, if annoying a bit. I close the pop up windows as they are opening, and it works out fine. The files download very quickly, which is a nice feature of zippy.

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  13. Just downloaded this.... "Remember A Day" is totally instrumental! Is that intentional??

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    1. That's odd mine downloaded with the vocals.

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  14. Will The Who's Rock is Dead be next?

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  15. Amazing work again Sonic, since their may be a release of the beatles Sgt. Pepper expanded edition with strawberry fields and penny lane in the correct track order, do you think you will ever tackle the what if concept album by them called Liverpool Childhood. I made a track listing a while back, but I would be interested to hear what your thoughts are. Keep up the good work!!

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    1. I tried to make it like a movie with themes revolving around a love story. The basic trackless consists of studio album released music only so with a few of the songs you can pick and choose which versions of the songs you want, but I just edited any unnecessary parts out. I also tried keeping close to the Vinyl time allowance because it's more fun to wittle it down that far. 1. Only a Northern Song 2. Penny Lane 3. A Day in the Life 4. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds 5. Blue Jay Way 6. Nowhere Man 7. She's Leaving Home 8. Hello Goodbye 9. When I'm Sixty-Four 10. The Fool on the Hill 11. Strawberry Fields Forever 12. All You Need Is Love 13. Baby You're A Rich Man 14. Flying I tried making it a love story because to me the Beatles Sgt. Pepper era is a Phsycadelic love story of songs that aren't put together, but with a little imagination and love the Beatles could create a concept album. Now I made it only of songs I thought would fit together, I originally had it as a double album including more songs, but it was mostly the Beatles songs Iiked between 65-68. This is a rough edit of how I think it would go, but I like how the track list is set up. If I had to make any suggestions it would be to mix the intro of A Day in the life from the Anthology version and the studio released one. If anyone has better ideas I would love to hear them.

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  16. How about doing a reconstruction of the extremely rare original version of Bob Dylan's Freewheelin'.

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  17. How about a reconstruction of Fairport Convention - The Manor Album?

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  18. Zippyshare solution: RIGHT CLICK the "download" button, and choose "open in a new tab". This will automatically start the download without the crapware showing up. It will also open a blank new tab (or window) you can close if you want. Right clicking also works for Mac Sierra. Thanks to Lupine Assassin for this easy workaround.

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  19. Some Fairport would be cool. The Manor would be a good project, as would be the follow up to Full House with Richard Thompson . Thanks for all you do !

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  20. Thanks again for another Pink Floyd re-imagining (and for all of the others you do as well). I was wondering if you would re-do this one after the Early Years Box came out! I remember the original you did of this and LOVE the Golden Hair/Set the Controls edit (except for Syd's double -tracked vocal -- I prefer the version of just his lower register voice). I'm looking forward to hearing your edit of John Latham as well.

    I, like others here, did my own version of a 2nd Syd Floyd album, but left off Apples & Oranges and Paintbox, as they were a single and (I feel) they should be left as so. Yes, Scream... and Vegetable Man were supposed to be singles, but they weren't, so I have them on my version as well. I didn't add John Latham for two reasons: 1, the full version is too long (again, I'm looking forward to your edit -- I love the edits you've done on so many of your projects), and 2: it kinda stinks lol. I Loooooove the Syd-lead Floyd but the JL music is (again, IMO) best left as a soundtrack piece and not on an album.

    Something I tried to do, but I'm just not good at yet, is to add Syd's guitar from the live version of Set the Controls... on to the studio version for a more Syd-centric version of the song. The guitar is pretty much quiet throughout the original and having the main riff the way Syd played it live would give it a different feel (certainly louder). On the live version, he starts the song so the riff could be easily isolated for a project like this.

    Anyway, onward -- thanks again for all of your great work!

    Oh, I hate to do this here, but I can't seem to find an email address for you -- how about doing the Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee Part 1? Yes, most of it is part 2 but there are some differences. I can send some info your way if you'd like, if you're interested.

    Cheers -- Adam

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  21. I love this site. You are one driven hard working completist reasearching motherfukka and I do appreciate it. I look forward to every one of your genius inventions. I have a category on my ipod called Albums That Never Were and I love it when one of the tunes pops up. Great stuff. Thank you so much. I check yr site like i'm waiting for the newest album from one of my favorite bands. Yay.

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  22. Any chance of a hypothetical Traveling Wilburys Vol.2 album or EP from 1989 with, for example, tracks from the Full Moon Fever and Mystery Girl sessions like I Won't Back Down and You Got It?

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  23. Nice to see you've revisited this! I'm most pleased!

    You inspired me to do some tinkering of the Floyd's early years (and other bands too) and I thank you for that. "Themes of an Imaginary Western" is still your best work, in my opinion, the first side is just perfect! (Me being a tinkerer, I did tinker with the second, but pay me no mind... heheh)

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  24. Today I've been tinkering with creating Marvin Gaye's aborted "You're the Man" album, and I've come up with a track list I like a lot:

    YOU'RE THE MAN
    Side A - 20:35
    1. Running from Love, Part 1 - 3:06
    2. You're the Man - 7:24
    3. Piece of Clay - 5:12
    4. Checking Out (Double Clutch) - 4:53
    Side B - 21:04
    1. Where are We Going? - 3:56
    2. Woman of the World - 3:30
    3. Running on Love, Part 2 - 5:05
    4. The World is Rated X - 3:52
    5. I'm Going Home - 4:41

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    1. Oh this is a really great idea! I'll look into doing this one!

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  25. That should be "Running from Love, Part 2"

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  26. Hey man, great work again. I just stumbled across an article pertaining to the proposed simon and garfunkel reunion album "think too much" and i was wondering if it was possible to do the tracklisting for that. Keep it up man

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    1. Doesn't look like much of that album has been heard. not possible.

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  27. What a wonderful site, thank you so much for all the hard work - it seems almost wrong to be able to get the results with just a click of a button. I've certainly got a lot of enjoyable listening ahead of me. Many many thanks

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  28. Kink's Four Respected Gentlemen is my request, please.

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  30. What music editing software do you use? I made a pretty enjoyable edit of the Beach Boy's "Heroes and Villains" (made to be a twenty-three-minute suite), but I was using Windows Movie Maker, so it sounded pretty bad when it was all said and done.

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    1. Cakewalk SONAR for mixing, sequencing, etc; GoldWave for simple wav editing

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  31. Hey Sonic; Thanks for all your hard work. Your Floyd creations are like getting a new album, I have downloaded quite a few of your albums (LOTS). Like Andy Swapp;I am more partial to early Floyd. Still remember when my brother brought "Saucer" home. WOW!! Like Andy; "Dark Side" took me 5 years to finally buy. "Meddle" was a pinnacle for me and "Dark Side" sounded like a sell out. Sort of like; we found a formula that works and let's stick to it. But then "Wish You Were Here" won me back over. Though "Animals" I skipped. But I listen to your albums on earbuds and I feel as if I am listening to something I bought in a store except it was free! I also like that you use Zippyshare, works fast and easy. I look forward to your next creation. THANKS AGAIN!!

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