This 3-CD release makes all those grumblers about 'another fan rip-off' look a bit daft. Sure - I've owned this album on vinyl, cassette, CD (twice) and STILL wanted this the day it came out. What sold it to me? The great price, the nice packaging . . . but most of all, another excuse to reappraise the music.
The mono version (designated Disc 1) is the definitive disc for me. It just rings out with greater clarity, clearly emphasising each band member, and has better internal balance. The stereo version is fine too of course - especially for that 'demented duck' noise at the end of 'Bike' (though perhaps the swinging from left to right channels at the end of 'Interstellar Overdrive' has always been a bit corny, if fun).
The singles disc is just over half an hour long, so with two copies of the same album (at 42 mins each), you really have bought the value of a double CD. The alternate versions are fascinating, with the always slightly dense 'Apples and Oranges' benefitting from being opened up by stereo.
The packaging is very generous - I see no 'fan rip-off'! It resembles a well-bound book, and has a decent booklet attached, containing lots of interesting band pics and lyrics. There's no essay (just as well, they are usually badly-written and full of errors!!), and sadly no reference to recording dates. But let's face it - the number of books and websites out there make up for it, and it's the music that counts. Slipped in is a Syd Barrett collage booklet, which does add to the 'confectionary' atmosphere. I'm glad to have this on the shelf next to the treasured Japanese-issue mini-sleeve CDs, and hope that EMI consider using the same format for other Pink Floyd albums. I'd love an enhanced 'Saucerful of Secrets' done exactly the same way, which would wrap up the Barrett legacy properly.
(Actually, an enhanced 'Saucerful' would surely have to include the legendary unreleased songs 'Scream thy last scream' and 'Vegetable man' . . . not only replacing the easily-found poor quality bootlegs every hardcore fan has, but making lots and lots of money. An artistic and financial coup. Come on, EMI, you know it makes sense!)