As the Pink Floyd camp prepares for the Feb. 28 release of “The Wall’s” expanded “Immersion” and “Experience” editions — the last scheduled title in the Why Pink Floyd? archival campaign — talk is turning to what else can be culled from the group’s vaults.
“The idea was always to see whether people like these things or not. If they do, of course we could do more,” drummer Nick Mason tells Billboard.com. “I think it’s an exercise that bears repeating… but I think there might be things to be done that would be rather different to what we’ve done so far.”
Mason, in fact, says he’d like to see a package from Pink Floyd’s early years rather than more expanded editions of a particular album. “We wouldn’t do one album like ‘Piper (at the Gates of Dawn)’ on its own,” he explains. “Maybe we’ll take ‘Saucer (Full of Secrets)’ and ‘Piper’ and maybe one other one and do an early years thing — partly because there just isn’t the material in some cases. That might be a more interesting exercise.”
If Pink Floyd does take that route, engineer Andy Jackson — who worked on the expanded versions of “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall” — has one gem that he discovered from “a huge box of assorted tapes” Mason possessed. “There’s quite a bit of very, very early stuff, before they had a deal, with Syd (Barrett) in the band when they were still trying to be an R&B band,” Jackson relates. “It’s not, like, early versions of songs that turned up on their albums or anything. It’s R&B classics, the same as everybody else was playing back them. There’s a lot of recordings that may be brilliant for a future project.”
Fans, meanwhile, have been asking if 1977’s “Animals” is in line for the same expanded treatment as Pink Floyd’s other 70s albums. “The answer is I don’t know,” Mason says. ” ‘Animals’ is the one record Roger (Waters) said he’d like to have a go at remixing. That might be an exercise worth doing. Maybe David (Gilmour) disagreed enough that we could release David’s remix and Roger’s remix and, ideally, my remix as well.” Jackson, meanwhile, notes that, “There’s only a finite amount of stuff in the archives. It’s a question of what there is and can we find it? That will determine what we do in the future.”
Meanwhile, Mason is happy to see “The Wall” getting the deluxe treatment, including Water’s original demos and the band’s demos that track the evolution of material into what became the final 1979 version that’s sold more than 11 million copies in the U.S. Most striking is “The Doctor,” which ultimately became “Comfortably Numb.” The seven-disc “Immersion” set also includes 2000’s “Is There Anybody Out There: The Wall Live 1980-81” remastered by engineer James Guthrie, and a DVD featuring a performance clip from that tour, a “Behind the Wall” documentary and an interview with “The Wall” cover artist Gerald Scarfe.
“What’s great is we have a greater depth of material for (‘The Wall’) than we had for the other albums,” Mason says. “We have Roger’s demos followed by the band demos followed by the final thing, and that makes a big difference. You can really hear how (‘The Wall’) came together.”
For Mason — who joined Waters and Gilmour during the former’s performance of “The Wall” on May 12 at London’s O2 Arena — the tales of great acrimony in the studio while Pink Floyd was making the album are somewhat overstated. “The sort of concept people have is that this was a record hewn out of rock by very angry people, and I think that’s not really the case,” Mason contends. “A lot of the album was pretty civilized in terms of people getting on with it. I think it all felt fairly positive. Things fragmented later on, quite late in the recording. There was a big blowup, particularly between Roger and Rick (Wright, who was kicked out of the band) towards the end of the process. But the majority of that process I remember as being pretty creative and businesslike, really.”