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The pinnacle creatively, now even better,
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This review is from: Wish You Were Here [Experience Edition] (Audio CD)
Wish You Were Here is simply Pink Floyd's greatest album. The dark, angry Kid A to Dark Side's OK Computer, its five tracks are all among the band's greatest work.
The remastering job on these albums is... barely noticeable to anyone except an audiophile, to the surprise of precisely no-one.
However, the money here is from hearing the extra material, which Pink Floyd have in the past been insanely shy about releasing. There must be so many great songs in the EMI vaults that would make for fascinating listening - not least the tail end of Syd Barrett's tenure, much of which is only available on bootlegs.
So what do we get on this bonus disc? One of the more interesting curious is a little ambient piece left over from the failed Household Objects album that later ended up mixed into the intro of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. Interesting for about one listen, that is, as you can see why it was thrown out.
An alternative version of 'Have A Cigar' is... well, pointless, not as good as the original and frankly forgettable. Drummer Nick Mason noted in his autobiography that the violin playing they overdubbed onto the title track was lovely, but just didn't work for some reason, and listening to it it's hard not to agree.
The real attraction here is in the three 1974 live tracks, 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' and then two embryonic versions of songs from their next album, Animals, that wouldn't see the light of day until 1977.
'Gotta Be Crazy,' later to be known as 'Dogs,' is a competently played but clearly unfinished track. The verse melody is notably different, and the closing breakdown is lacking a chord change that would strongly benefit the final version; Gilmour struggles to keep up the pace with the vocal and it ends up sounding rushed. 'Raving And Drooling' is almost identical to 'Sheep,' with some lyrical changes, and is a pleasing listen.
The highlight of this entire set, though, is 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond.' While still not completed, this version strongly resembles those later played live by both Roger Waters solo and the Waters-less Floyd. But shorn of backing musicians and having to pick up the whole of the slack themselves, the band put in a career-best performance, reaching a peak in its closing overs with a jazz-funk instrumental workout.
For just 'Shine On' live, Wish You Were Here is worth buying a second time even if you can't hear the remastering on the first disc.