A well known TV advertisement of late for an insurance company celebrates the virtues of that organisation by showing high definition films of various -potential- disasters occuring in the home, all in slow motion and with a particular attention to clarity and detail.
To those in the know, these ad's are either a tribute or a rip off (depending on how cynical you are of the advertising industry) of the dramatic final scenes in Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point"-check it out if you aren't familiar, its on a well known file sharing website-where-by we witness the destruction of a contemporary house in a series of explosions, all beautifully filmed and with a care for detail and artistic flair that the director of the modern ad's clearly admired.
The soundtrack of the ad even imitates the song which is used to accompany the destruction in the film-Pink Floyd's "Careful With That Axe,Eugene", hidden away here with the alias "Come In No.51, Your Time Is Up"-done, I assume, so people didn't just think this was another Pink Floyd album, anyway...
The film itself was a critical and commercial disaster. It has been said that the most impressive performance in the movie came from Death Valley, which features strongly and is the location of the home that is so memorably destroyed in the films closing moments.
This soundtrack, on the other hand, is a little gem throughout. The first CD includes the actual music taken from the film, and is a beautiful mix of the late 60's sound, featuring performances by the afore mentioned Floyd-"Heart Beat, Pig Meat" being so dark, it sould have been a contender for their "Meddle" album; whilst The Grateful Dead and, in particular, Patti Page give it a time and a definition all of its own. It has to be listened to-don't have it on in the background-but, for a full and rather colourful feel of a musical time that is long lost, this soundtrack has it in spades, and thus, is probably as important as the film itself, as, unlike so many soundtracks, each enhances the other-think "Bladerunner" as another example.
The second CD is almost lazily dismissed as "Outtakes" but this does the music on it a great disservice. The improvisations by Jerry Garcia are beautifully constructed and played, each a little masterpiece on its own, they are, I feel, pieces that, were they by a contemporary artist (and they are timeless) would receive much critical acclaim. Listen to them and (in the case of "Love Improvisations version 3" weep at the sheer guitar playing genius of the man.
Equally, the Floyd tracks. They feel almost casually put together, yet the preciseness of their compositions suggest that the band put rather a lot more effort into them than their ultimate fate suggests. All are collaborations of the entire band, so lack either the dark and depressing sounds of the Waters-led era, or the grand pomp and cirumstance of Gilmour. Indeed, you could say they are a band finding themselves again, following the loss, both musically and personnel-wise, of Syd Barret.
I think this is a magnificent album. It has occasional weaknesses on the actual soundtrack, but, more in terms of how the tracks follow one another, something you wouldn't notice so much during a film. However, the atmosphere, the mood, and, again, for these almost casually dismissed "Outtakes", the opportunity to listen to, what will be to many, fresh and new pieces of work, notably the Garcia tracks, is incomparable and well worth immersing yourself into.