Box set review of Pink Floyd’s Discovery career reissues

Pink Floyd
Discovery Career Box Set
EMI
****

By Gillian G. Gaar

There are pluses and minuses about this Pink Floyd box set. The first big plus is the sound quality; it’s excellent. So if you’re looking to upgrade your collection of Floyd’s studio albums in one fell swoop, this is the way to do it (there are no live albums in the box, save for live portion of the two-CD “Ummagumma” album).

Pink Floyd Discovery box setThere are no bonus tracks on any of the albums. So, while the box is definitely more complete than 1992’s “Shine On” box (which didn’t even include all the studio albums available at that point), there are no rarities. “Shine On” did include a CD with non-album singles, which would’ve been useful to have had here. “Shine On” also comes with a better book; the booklet included in this box simply depicts artwork created for the band over the years (album covers, posters, etc.).

But as a straightforward collection of Floyd’s studio work, the “Discovery Box” does the job. The 14 albums span a period of 27 years and show the band going through vast musical changes; the intense psychedelia of 1967’s “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” is worlds away from the laid-back confidence of 1994’s “The Division Bell” (by which time the band had slimmed to a trio).

It’s startling to realize “Dark Side of The Moon” was Floyd’s seventh album, and the first one to make any impression on America. While Floyd’s previous albums all reached the Top 10 in the U.K., the closest the group ever got stateside pre-“Dark Side” was 1972’s “Obscured By Clouds,” which reached No. 46. Would a U.S. company today have had the patience to keep releasing the band’s albums in the hopes that one of them would take off?

It’s fun rediscovering Floyd’s less-heralded works. Most of the attention invariably goes to “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn,” “Dark Side of The Moon,” “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall.” How often do people pull out “Meddle” to listen to, for example? The strangeness of “Atom Heart Mother,” the two atmospheric film soundtracks, “Music From The Film ‘More’” and “Obscured By Clouds”; Roger Waters’ kiss off on “The Final Cut” — Floyd’s members were constantly inventive and determined not to repeat themselves. They crammed their albums with so many ideas, you always hear something new on relistening. Yes, that’s even in the case for “Dark Side of The Moon,” due to the improved sound quality.

Each album in the set is also being released individually; there are also expanded reissues of “Dark Side of The Moon” “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall.”

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