The kind folks at Direct Video Distribution (UK) kindly sent me an advanced copy of the new DVD titled The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story - THE DEFINITIVE EDITION (2 dvd SET) and I must say it is BRILLIANT. Newly mixed 5.1 sound plus seeing full interviews with David and Richard was very exciting.
THE PINK FLOYD AND SYD BARRETT STORY - DEFINITIVE EDITION
Released by DVDisc.co.uk, 6th February 2006
2 disc DVD. Video format: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen.
Audio formats: Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1 and dts Surround Sound
Languages: English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish
Some of you will be wondering what on earth a "definitive" version of the Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story might entail. Some of you will already own a past edition of the release. We've taken a thorough look at the 2-DVD set for you, and here's our thoughts...
The first thing that strikes you is the menu - a real thing of beauty. For those who've seen the previous release of this documentary (2004; through Voiceprint), consider the multicoloured inlay, which is peppered with memorabilia, cuttings, and more, from the Syd Barrett era Floyd.
Now picture that, taking up a huge amount of space, so much so that as you make each selection, you slowly scroll around the whole picture until you reach the particular bit you are after (eg chapter selection, extras, etc.). Very nicely done!
Disc one is devoted to the BBC documentary, originally broadcast in 2001. Most of you will be familiar with this, so we won't retread old ground. Suffice it to say, it is a fascinating, and well crafted, look at the history of the band with a particular focus on the very early days of the band.
Interviews with all significant parties are included; not just the usual suspects, but people such as Bob Klose, who left the band shortly before their rise to fame. Such is the love still felt for Syd, it is an affectionate, touching and very honest tribute to the man.
Sound and picture quality are, to our eyes and ears, pristine; an anamorphic, widescreen picture, and choice of soundtracks, including Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. No complaints there. The navigation is also easy to use - no fancy tricks that tend to frustrate or confuse.
What many will be interested in are the extra features on this new, "definitive" edition. To date, there have been three releases of the documentary. The original, fairly bare bones edition, released in Europe and the US. This included a short, ten minute interview with Roger amongst the few extras.
At the same time, a (little known) Australian edition came out with a different cover, and a 55 minute, chiefly unedited interview with Roger (more on that shortly). Finally, last year (2004) Voiceprint brought out a new edition which included a new cover and slightly upgraded quality.
This new edition is a definite improvement on all of these.
Filling out the remainder of disc one is that same interview with Roger that was on the Australian edition, but in dramatically better quality. The Oz version has the footage in very poor quality - grainy, noisy, and with obvious tape defects. This new version is perfect.
The interview finds Roger, sitting in a studio, refreshingly honest, and at times, forgetful - which comes as a surprise. It provides a fascinating trawl through Roger's memories, looking at his earliest interactions with Syd, through the many experiences and problems, up to the final time he saw Syd.
The questioning elicits some good responses from Roger, with some unusual lines of attack. He even responds in the positive to a searching question basically positing that his empathy with Syd and his decline had elements of "there but for the grace of God, go I". He relates a situation at Abbey Road Studios where he experienced a shocking, almost out-of-body episode, which he equated to a nervous breakdown. At the time he thought he was "going crazy", and it seemed to give him fresh insight into Syd's condition.
Turning to the second disc, here we find the rest of the interviews - with David (lasting 36 minutes), Nick (28 minutes), Richard (26 minutes) and Robyn Hitchcock (20 minutes) - alongside other items which include a timeline, discography and a quiz.
An edit of David's interview appears on the Oz version - here, you get the full thing, in much better quality again. David looks at how he got to know the band, and the whole process of joining them. A lengthy sequence looks at Wish You Were Here, including David working out the main guitar sequence for the song.
Certainly, this interview is pitched more towards the music, and technical details surrounding it, and also focuses on David's feelings, views, and ways of working. There's even a look at his guitars, including the one that started it all - a Spanish acoustic he got at age 14.
Nick's interview looks at the band's history, with particular focus on the early days, and the nature, or "sound", of the songs themselves. Typically honest, and at times looking quite inscrutable, his dry humour shines through. The interviewer (director John Edgington) even treads on what must be painful ground, looking at the band's attitude to Syd whilst he was falling apart, and how they handled the situation.
Any interview with Richard is a rarity indeed, and the one presented here lasts a healthy 26 minutes. It's fascinating to hear Richard's recollections, and he gives a particularly amusing anecdote involving a stoned audience, and a backstage argument between the band members! He decries the notion of the band taking a lot of drugs, particularly before hitting the stage (illustrating this with an example from the early days), and also shares his view that Syd's downfall occurred as a result of one "lost weekend" on acid, rather than attributing it to a gradual buildup.
Robyn Hitchcock fans get almost 20 minutes of him playing Syd songs in a back garden, whilst talking about his feelings towards Syd. Graham Coxon of Blur gives a rendition of Love You, which is certainly an improvement on his rather silly comments about Bike that appear in the documentary.
To fill any remaining space on the second disc, you get a timeline. This is a silent, fairly static exhibit, but it gives a taste of some of the band's activities in the early days. You also get a discography, which again is silent, and covers just the Barrett-related releases.
There's a biography which consists of small text screens - the font size used could render it tricky to read on some screens, especially with the coloured background. It also moves rather quickly for these eyes to keep up with...
Finally, there is an interactive quiz. An interesting selection of questions to test your knowledge of the early days of the band, and like the other extras mentioned, is silent. Get all the questions right, and you get an extended version of the Abbey Road walkabout found on a previous release - this time, you actually get to see a control room and studio properly, rather than just randomly amble round the corridors of the famous facility.
So, a two disc set that is chock full of good stuff. Some of the extras on the second disc won't get too many plays, one would imagine, but the interviews (the real meat of the additional content) are fascinating and essential viewing.
And for those who've not seen the documentary itself, you are in for a real feast of Floyd. Top marks, DVDisc - a nice job, and a worthy update in our opinion.
This REVIEW kindly supplied by MATT JOHNS - www.brain-damage.co.uk