Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason says a “mellowing with old age” brought he and surviving bandmates David Gilmour and Roger Waters around to the idea of a deluxe catalog overhaul that begins in September.
“It is a sea change from our point of view,” Mason tells Billboard.com. “We’d never put much thought into the idea of releasing incomplete or earlier versions of things, but I think the world has changed. One now looks at these things and realizes there really is interest and how things came about and what the early versions were and so on. We thought rather than just leave everything in the vaults, it might be worth bringing everything out and giving people a complete view of what we’ve done.”
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The campaign kicks off Sept. 26 with digitally remastered versions of Pink Floyd’s 14 studio albums as well as “The Dark Side of the Moon” in a two-disc “Experience” and a six-disc “Immersion” treatment, featuring previously unreleased live material, demos and outtakes. Similarly expanded versions of “Wish You Were Here” as well as the compilation “A Foot in the Door — The Best of Pink Floyd” are due Nov. 7, with “The Wall” given the “Experience” and “Immersion” treatments on Feb. 27.
And, Mason says, that won’t be the end of the campaign. “We will do some more sort of in-depth versions of other albums, but I don’t know what we’ve got in the pipeline for that, yet.” he promises. But after all this, Mason adds, the vaults “are pretty bare. Frankly, I’d be embarrassed if we ever come out with another version of ‘Dark Side.’ “
Mason says he, Waters and Gilmour generally left the vault-mining and technical work to longtime engineers James Guthrie and Andy Jackson, who would “do some work and send it to us all at the same time. Initially the package would arrive and I’d think, ‘Oh, God, it’s another version of something’ and leave it for a couple of days. Then, when you do eventually play it, it’s actually quite an eye-opener. You hear things you completely forgot you’ve ever done. In one or two cases you wonder why on Earth you went with the version that ended up on the record rather than this early take.”
The clearest example of that, Mason says, is a recording of “Wish You Were Here” that features a violin part by French great Stephane Grappelli. “When I heard that for the first time, I couldn’t for the life of me understand why we never put that on record in the first place,” Mason says. “I felt like, ‘This is great! Why didn’t we use this?!’ “
Mason says that preparing and promoting the Pink Floyd campaign has becoming something of “a full-time job for him,” though he plans to do some auto racing this summer. On May 12, meanwhile, Mason joined Gilmour as special guests for Waters’ performance of “The Wall” at London’s O2 Arena — which he says was “terrific.” Ever since, of course, he’s being asked about further reunion plans, which he does not necessarily discount.
“There are no plans now,” Mason says. “The long and short of it is, I live in hope. I’d love to actually do something together again. All of us are open to invitations to do things; the only thing that would drive it would be some sense that…there’s some particularly good reason to do it together rather than separately. Perhaps we’re getting a bit older and more appreciative of just how much it can mean to our fanbase to see us together. I think we just have to wait and see.”