05 January, 2012

The Bonus Discs - Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here is generally considered by both band and fans to be the last true Pink Floyd album.  That may seem like an odd thing to say when the group remained a going concern for the next twenty years.  It does make sense though, when you consider that it was the last genuinely collaborative Pink Floyd album before a creative spurt from Roger Waters overwhelmed the others and his subsequent departure left them directionless.  It’s a bold and ambitious album even for Pink Floyd inasmuch as it combines parts that are almost ambient techno with parts that are almost country, yet it’s still accepted into that second most damning* of labels, “classic rock.”

The second audio disc doesn’t contain a complete live performance as with Dark Side of the Moon.  Instead, we have three studio out-takes and three live tracks from Wembley in 1974, before work commenced on the album.  There is a full run-through of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, before it was split into two sections, plus Raving and Drooling and You’ve Got To Be Crazy which eventually became Sheep and Dogs respectively on the Animals album.  Raving and Drooling is clearly unfinished and is of historical interest only.  Most marathon Pink Floyd pieces are careful to stay just the right side of tedium, but this one doesn’t.  By contrast, You’ve Got To Be Crazy is fully formed and was actually edited down somewhat by the time it got to the studio version.  As such, this disc could almost double as a bonus disc for Animals.  Since this disc also comes with the “experience edition,” it makes the 2-disc option more attractive than Dark Side.

Of the studio tracks, Wine Glasses is the beginning of Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part 1, then there is Have a Cigar featuring Roger Waters’ guide vocal.  It’s been said that Waters wasn’t happy with Roy Harper’s guest vocal on the song, but this reveals they definitely made the right decision.  The disc concludes with an alternative version of Wish You Were Here featuring Stephane Grapelli.  It’s a beautiful version, stripped of the radio effects in the album version.

Disc 3, the first DVD, contains the 48kHz stereo mix of the album and two multi-channel mixes; the original quadraphonic mix, and a 5.1 surround mix done in 2009. The quad version is quite different from the stereo version with the most noticable changes being different solos in Wish You Were Here and a rather clumsy execution of the “whoosh” at the end of Have a Cigar.  The 5.1 version follows the stereo arrangement more closely.  It was originally intended for an SACD release in 2009 and is now scheduled for release this month.  Both the surround mixes are available in either 448kbps or 640kbps Dolby streams.

The second DVD features the concert screen films with animation by Gerald Scarfe.  These are much shorter than the Dark Side films since they were only used on the first half of Shine On and Welcome To The Machine.  The darkness of the latter seems like a precursor to The Wall film.  Also included is a short promotional film by Storm Thorgerson from 2000.  It was created as a Flash animation and hasn’t aged well.

As with The Dark Side of the Moon box set, the Blu-ray disc has all the content of the DVDs in 24-bit, 96kHz, high resolution audio.

The box comes filled with the same goodies as the Dark Side box.  Conveniently, card sleeves are supplied for all the discs so that you can store them outside the box if you choose to.  The previous box didn’t include this.  Although the photo books are a bit better, featuring some very interesting unused cover art, the Wish You Were Here Immersion edition is considerably lighter on content than The Dark Side of the Moon Immersion edition.  This can simply be put down to the fact that there isn’t as much in the vault related to Wish You Were Here as there is to Dark Side, although they could have fleshed the set with a full live performance.  The high-resolution option is attractive, however the remixing and remastering engineer for the project, James Guthrie has stated that “The SACD is absolutely the best way to hear the new 5.1 mix,” so you might want to factor that into your decision.

Worth paying extra for?
Yes, but not worth as much as the Dark Side box.

Wish You Were Here - 1985 CD release

Wish You Were Here - from the Shine On box set, 1992

Wish You Were Here - 1994 remaster

Wish You Were Here - 2011 remaster

* The most damning is, of course, “progressive rock,” which Wish You Were Here manages to count as too.


  1. The idea that Wish You Were Here is the last "true" Pink Floyd album is preposterous on multiple levels. The "true" Pink Floyd would be the original lineup with Syd Barrett sans David Gilmour so that alone disqualifies the statement. Furthermore, you admit that over half the Animals albums was already formed before Wish You Were Here was put out (Raving And Drooling and You Gotta Be Crazy were performed live during the Dark Side Of the Moon tour for god's sake and yet you claim that subsequent albums were collaborative? WTF do you call collaborative then? Waters already wrote ALL the lyrics as of Dark Side of the Moon and the band clearly created two of the biggest songs on Animals during Dark Side. Thus Animals is EVERY BIT as collaborative as Wish You Were Here! One could argue that Dark Side was the last truly collaborative album if by that you mean that Richard Wright was allowed to sing (although that was true as well on The Division Bell so there goes that idea) or that Nick Mason actually contributed something for ONCE (i.e. Speak To Me), but that would mean that Dark Side was the ONLY collaborative album. And who did MOST of the work on Piper At The Gates of Dawn? Syd Barrett! He was the only musical guy they had in the beginning and it shows on A Saucerful of Secrets which is mostly NOISE.

    And just because The Wall has Waters name all over it doesn't mean Gilmour didn't do much of the musical work. Waters simply didn't want to share credits. Read a Pink Floyd biography or an interview with David Gilmour. Bob Ezrin probably contributed as much as well and gets one little partial credit for his effort. The Final Cut WAS a Waters solo album performed by Pink Floyd and it even says so on the back of the album cover! You can hear the difference between it and The Wall quite clearly (and I'm not saying it's all bad because I rather like it, but it's very unlike their previous work including The Wall despite some tracks being Wall rejects as it's over-emotional and not very rock-like for the most part).

    Basically, I think your comments are way off base, but then so are those of the Waters and Gilmour fan bases that see everything biased. The sad fact is we aren't going to see any more Floyd music PERIOD. Gilmour lost interest once he got his big fat paycheck from the Division Bell tour (they lost money on the Delicate Sound of Thunder tour) and Waters hasn't put out a rock album since Amused To Death (reminds me of Billy Joel quitting rock music around the same time despite touring his old stuff and a classical music album he didn't even play on).

  2. Wow, why so angry, Anon?

    A couple of things...
    While it's impossible to prove or disprove a subjunctive, if you really think anyone would have heard of Syd Barrett if it hadn't been for Dark Side of the Moon and the albums that followed, then dream on.

    "One could argue that Dark Side was the last truly collaborative album if by that you mean that Richard Wright was allowed to sing"
    ...which I don't, so next!

    "Read a Pink Floyd biography or an interview with David Gilmour."
    I have. That's where the paraphrased opening line came from. If you disagree with the premise, take it up with them.

    Not sure how your last paragraph relates to anything I've written. I'm sorry people aren't "rock" enough for you (whatever that means) but again, you'll have to take it up with them.