James Guthrie: the audio

 

Building a compilation album

EMI initiated the process by conducting some market research and then putting together a compilation mock-up that ran chronologically. It was not intended as a definitive collection, but more as a wish list or suggestion of some of the material they would like to see included. They also asked that the album be limited to a two-disc set.

Listening to their discs, it became clear very early on that just presenting the songs in chronological order with gaps of silence in-between was not particularly interesting. As an alternative, I assembled a mock-up with some new additions (and omissions), ran it in non-chronological order cross-fading between songs, and sent it to Roger, David, Nick and Richard for their input. Two more mock-ups followed and eventually, with everyone sticking their oar in (even those who weren't asked!) we arrived at the current running order.

I think there are three distinct eras in Pink Floyd history. The Syd Barrett era, the post Syd Barrett or, Roger Waters/David Gilmour/Nick Mason/Richard Wright era, and the post Roger Waters era. Everyone was keen to represent Syd faithfully, and I would say that about 80% of the song choices for the album were unanimous. The remaining 20% was a bit tricky. (Understandably so, as the transition from "era two" to "era three" was not a happy one.)

It is impossible to make a complete representation of this band in just two discs. There has been such an enormous body of work over a career that now touches multiple generations of fans. Having said that, I think we have put together a very good collection of the three Pink Floyd eras. Some people may miss one of their favourites. A "best-of" album is a very subjective issue after all. Some purists may even argue that there are now pieces of music joined together where they were never originally intended to be, or that song edits, in order to make space for additional material, are inappropriate. All of these points were carefully considered. Compromises are a certainty with a compilation album, but this one contains some of the band's favourite songs, has the flow of an original Pink Floyd album, and most importantly, has their blessing.

The inevitable also-rans

When trying to cram everyone's favourites onto only two discs, many heated discussions follow, and there is much juggling as songs fall by the wayside. This atmospheric music is so much a part of our lives, that everyone has their own reason why a particular song simply must not be omitted.

As a point of interest, here (in no particular order) is a list of some of the songs that were also considered for "Echoes".

1. Brain Damage
2. Eclipse
3. Interstellar Overdrive
4. Careful With That Axe, Eugene
5. Fearless
6. Breathe
7. Paranoid Eyes
8. Mother
9. Your Possible Pasts
10. Fat Old Sun
11. San Tropez
12. An edited version of Atom Heart Mother
13. If
14. Grantchester Meadows
15. Scarecrow
16. Chapter 24
17. Dogs
18. Nobody Home
19. Young Lust
20. The Gunner's Dream

It really seemed that the album should have a proper title and not just be released as "The Best of Pink Floyd" (far too subjective). It occurred to me that "Raving and Drooling" was a good title and I put that on my first mock-up. Needless to say the title didn't make the cut, though it was well received by some. (As hardcore fans will know, "Raving and Drooling" was the original title of the song "Sheep".) "Eclipse" was the title on my second mock-up, but in the end "Echoes" (Roger's title) seemed appropriate and upset fewer people.

Some technicalities

When re-mastering Pink Floyd material, we have always been very careful to try to maintain the highest standards of audio quality.

This means going back to the original analogue master tapes, performing any restoration work that may be necessary, playing them back on high resolution custom tape machines through custom EQ, and preparing them (through high resolution A to D converters) for the digital world. Doug Sax was involved in this process as he has been since "The Wall" album. (Getting that album into the grooves of a vinyl record was quite a feat!) Doug brings his unique abilities and an objective ear to each project.

Another master of the audio world is Tim de Paravicini. We worked with Tim's custom 1/2 inch analogue tape machine and his beautiful valve EQ for this project.

In addition to returning to the original album masters, there were cases where we needed to locate the "pre cross-fade" intro and outro sections of the individual song mixes. As we had decided to join the two halves of "Shine On" together, it would not have been appropriate to hear the intro sound effects of "Welcome to the Machine" starting in the background.

There were one or two exceptions. For instance, hearing the intro hammond of "Us & Them" as "Money" fades gives a nice false sense of location as we soon realize that we are, in fact, in "Keep Talking" which has started with essentially the same chord.

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Storm Thorgerson: the visuals
James Guthrie: the audio
Echoes: the album cover
Echoes: the album credits
Echoes: the video