Pink Floyd and The Incredible String Band.
Apart from the name of the group, this album has one thing in common with the first album “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” [see above]. This is that Track 1 on Side 1 is “Astronomy Domine”. The version here, however, is a live performance, being one of the four such that comprise the music on the first LP of the double album that it is. The back cover tells us that the live tracks were recorded at MOTHERS, Birmingham, and the Manchester College of Commerce in June 1969, but it does not give any details of which tracks were recorded where.
By a huge margin, the most visited post on this blog is a two part thing I did on the Fairport Convention M1 Crash about 5 years or so ago. The reason I mention it here is that it happened the previous month, May 1969, 12 May 1969 to be exact, and the group were on their way back to London on the M1 having done a gig at MOTHERS, Birmingham.
Anyway, the live version of “Astronomy Domine” is indeed a tour de force. From the very first notes it is a spine chilling masterpiece; and it demonstrated that the band did not need Syd Barrett to make it work. It goes on for about 8.30 minutes, with an extended instrumental middle 8, and it really is one of the best things the group ever recorded. Truly classic stuff.
There are only two tracks on each side of the live LP, and the second one on Side 1 is something which at that time had never appeared on any studio record, “Careful With That Axe, Eugene”. It is renowned for featuring Nick Mason’s vocal debut, in that he supplies the blood-curdling scream at the song’s zenith. Prior to that we have a slow, menacing build up, and after that there is a bit of a jam with Dave Gilmour letting rip for all he could.
The back cover of the album is extraordinary, showing the band’s van and all its equipment neatly laid out on a road in a perfect V shape, with the gong on top of the van; it also carries the track listing and all the credits: