FAIRFIELDS HALL, CROYDON – 5th Gen. Rev. A
Date : 18/01/1970
Lieu : Fairfield Hall, Croydon, England
Label : Neonknight remaster
Support : 2 cd
Durée : 126:03 mn
Source : Audience
Qualité sonore : 6/10
Liste des titres :
CD1 – 54:37
1. Careful with that axe, Eugene (11:06)
2. The Embryo (11:28)
3. Main theme from More (13:52)
4. Biding My Time (6:06)
5. Astronomy Domine (9:21)
CD2 – 71:27
1. The Violent Sequence (15:39)
2. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (13:50)
3. The Amazing Pudding (27:25)
4. A Saucerful of Secrets (17:17)
Commentaire : Prétendument la meilleure version de ce concert. Pour être honnête, disons la moins mauvaise, et encore… Personnellement, j’ai un faible pour celle du bootleg « Biding my time in Croydon ». Elle n’est pas réellement meilleures – mais pas pire non plus -, elle est juste un peu moins fatigante à écouter.
Voici les notes de production (en V.O. sans sous-titre) qui accompagnaient cette nouvelle version :
Introduction by Neonknight : When we first shared my tapes back in 2009 my tape deck and soundcard were inferior to the ones I have now. So I attempted a fresh transfer and approached JFE about doing a revised version of the show. My new equipment helped me achieve much improved results. JFE has in turn done a great job with mastering the recording and I think we can now safely say that the versions of the concert presented here will remain second to none until somebody comes up with a set of genuine lower gen tapes.
From my perspective a lower gen recording is a possibility on two fronts. One collector I have corresponded with has a 2nd gen reel to reel copy that was taken from another reel to reel copy off the master. I’m not 100% sure whether the master was also a reel to reel but it was very likely to have been. Another collector has some third gen tapes. He didn’t trade them with the person whom I got my 5th gen tapes from, so I am quite optimistic they will have something to offer if I succeed in making arrangements to borrow them.
Some of the startup sounds, unsurprisingly, really sound like open reel. Portable reels were 5″. That would be 600′, which is 30min at 3.75ips and would explain losing the end of AHM. Our taper, assuming we are correct about his equipment, would be switching reels at least every other song and probably be concerned about conserving tape.
Judging by my cassettes the taper also experimented with the recording volume as it changes regularly; the loudest song being The Embryo. I compensated for the changes by dividing the transfer up and adjusting the Saffire 14 to ensure it peaked well, making good use of the various points where recorder pressed stop.
The master, to the best of my knowledge, was recorded by a guy whom I met last year. Unfortunately when I met him I didn’t know about his association with this recording. I only learnt about that very recently thanks to Grolsch. He explained that the taper used to have a stall in Maida Vale, London, in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s and sold reel to reel copies off his many audience masters. He charged quite a lot for them. Good equipment and blanks were expensive in those days and his copies were on unbranded blanks. Circulating copies are therefore not likely to be what they could be.
The Amazing Pudding was at this point untitled but we have given it the usual name attributed to the piece during this period. It’s a fascinating set throughout. From the quirky ‘beep beep’ in the opening bars of CWTAE, to the extensive slide guitar arrangements in The Embryo. In fact as JFE noted back in 2009, Dave is on the slide at some point in every song but AD this night. Not to be outdone, The Croydon Advertiser noted that Rick Wright played organ, piano, trombone and vibraphone. It was clearly an occasion on which both Rick and Dave felt inspired.
I would like to thank Lord Snooty for his assistance with the order of the opening songs and for sending me the two contemporary concert reviews that are reproduced below.
Lord Snooty’s input seemed to settle things nicely for us in terms of the song order (JFE takes up the discussion below) but shortly before this release a fresh first hand account was given to me by Dime member Meddem. He was at the concert and I have reproduced his email to me in full. You’ll see that Meddem’s recollection is that the band started with Astronomy Domine. He also has a differing account of the start of the second set. I followed up with Meddem to ask him how certain he is about Astronomy Domine. Meddem said: « That’s a difficult one. My gut instinct tells me it was AD and Eugene came a little later, although I wouldn’t swear my life on it – so that’s probably not too helpful I’m afraid. »
If you look at other track lists for concerts in January 1970, a month where there is generally not a great deal of certainty about such things, University of Nottingham on 10 January stands out. That night the order was Astronomy Domine / Set The Controls / Green Is The Colour / Careful With That Axe, Eugene / ASOS.
Anyway, enough from me. I hope you enjoy this recording and if anybody is wondering, yes I have the contact details for the probable owner of the master and plan to follow it up.
There has been debate over the song order for this show and the songs have been ordered differently on various roios in the past. We sequenced the 2009 remaster like the tape (AD 1st) based on the assumptions that easiest thing to do when dubbing a tape is normally to copy it without changing the order and that the lower fidelity of AD -> STC was reflective of the sound being compromised at the start of the show. The recording was paused between every song (presumably to conserve tape for the songs) so there is no direct evidence for the original song order on the tape. Today a few more clues and a more careful look at the tape leads to different conclusion.
The remaining clues we have in front of us today are two newspaper reviews of the show, Neonknight’s tape, and Yeeshkul member Meddem’s memories of the event. Both reviews state CWTAE and TE as the first two songs. While the tape doesn’t have intact audience chatter between songs it still offers a number of clues for track order. The tape startup and pause artifacts and the start and end of songs sound like open reel. This and the missed first notes of some songs strongly suggests the original recording was an open reel and was paused between every song to conserve tape.
Neonknight’s tape (three sides of two 90min cassettes) runs – side A: AD, TVS, STCFTHOTS pt1, STCFTHOTS pt2 – side B: TAP, CWTAE, TE – side C: MTFM pt1, MTFM pt2, BMT, ASOS. If CWTAE was the 1st song, then the songs on this tape have been resequenced. There are some clues as to the likelihood of that as well as the song order beyond the first two. There are two reasons someone would change the order of songs on a tape when copying it. 1. Reordering songs to efficiently fit on sides of tape where leaving the original running order would either cause songs to be split over sides or leave large blank parts at the end of some sides. 2. If the original recording was split over multiple reels it’s possible the order may not have been preserved in the first transfer to longer tapes.
This tape contains further evidence from a past generation. There are two short repeated sections: 8:16 into STCFTHOTS and 8:49 into MTFM. The only way such a thing can happen is if the intact master was stopped, wound back a little and restarted to accommodate a tape flip on the dubbing deck (preserving all the content) in an earlier generation. Either the dubber let the two songs get split because there wasn’t time to go back for a redo, or he preferred to conserve tape over keeping long PF songs intact, or both. This is strong evidence for at least groups of songs on these tapes following order performed (ie. it doesn’t look like there was time to even preserve two intact songs let alone resequence anything). These song fragments also tell us about the tape length used in this dub because we know the 1st part of each song ran out a side of tape. The song order on Neonknight’s tapes would fit on two 60 minute cassettes with side 1 being run out on both. AD, TVS, STCpt1 -> 33:16 STCpt2, TAP -> 30:04 CWTAE, TE, MTFMpt1 -> 31:23 MTFMpt2, BMT, ASOS -> 28:26 The 33 and 31 minute times can be explained by either a little extra length of tape (it’s not uncommon to have a little extra length in manufactured cassettes) or the dubbing deck running a little slow. This is all strong evidence for the grouping on each tape to be accurate but no direct clues for which 60 min tape was first or second.
ASOS was often played as an encore during this period. The reviews and Meddem’s memories all agree that was the case this night. This would put AD as the 1st song. This matches Meddem’s recollection but is at odds with both reviews. Starting with the second 60 min tape would make CWTAE and TE first but would appear to put ASOS in the middle. Either AD is actually the opener or something has been resequenced. When listening to the songs as they run (AD first), the sound and certain anomalies can sound legitimate. The much less defined sound at first (especially in AD) could in part be due to live sound issues at the show. It’s not uncommon for the first song or two to be mixed less than perfect as the engineer gets the sound balanced in a room now filled with people. However there are many other sound anomalies and obvious evidence of mic movement (or people moving in front of the mic) throughout the show so nothing certain can be said of that. However, the fidelity of this one side of tape is so much less that it is more likely that this reflects tape damage or dubbing issues unique to the one side of tape. Causes could range from a defective tape to an out of calibration reverse playback deck. If CWTAE -> BMT was the first set, AD -> TAP the second, and ASOS the encore, putting ASOS on the end of the 1st tape (following BMT) would be the only way to fit everything on two tapes. This song order (noting where the split songs must fall on the tapes) would use five sides of cassette tape otherwise.
The transfer to three sides of 90 minute cassettes would be the next opportunity for reordering the songs. This is the later dub generation when STCFTHOTS & MTFM were rejoined (crudely with the short repeated parts). Since the three 45 minute sides accommodate the song order there would be no apparent need to resequence anything to make it fit.
The strongest clues point to a set of music CWTAE -> BMT, a set of music AD -> TAP, and ASOS for the encore. Two reviews state CWTAE as the opening song for the night. If CWTAE was first, the order on Neonknight’s tape can be explained by moving ASOS to the end of the (earlier generation 60 minute) set one tape and then dubbing the two 60 minute tapes in reverse order to the three 45 minute sides. This is at odds with Meddem’s memories of AD opening the show but the strongest overall evidence is for CWTAE coming first and the lower fidelity of AD -> STC explained as a recording or dubbing anomaly.
**JFE’s mastering notes**
At first glance this tape was very easy to pass up. Earlier lower quality transfers of higher generation copies sounded almost as bad as it gets. But then the uniqueness of the performance and rare songs draw you in. You also start hearing moments of revealing sound quality that, as an engineer make you try focusing things for a better listen. A less than great analog playback into low res digital can make for significant further generation loss and limit possible improvement. Nothing could be done with these.
The 2009 transfer of Neonknight’s tape was a big improvement over those older transfers. The speed was not able to be set on the playback deck and required digital correction. There wasn’t much restoration that could be done beyond this without the sound turning to dust.
Parts of this recording are captured and preserved well enough to show surprising detail of sound but it’s all buried behind wildly varying levels, significant differences in sound quality, dropouts, hiss and little distortion blasts. The original dynamics of the show are wildly altered and vary with the sound quality. The loudest sections are pretty damaged – the original recording equipment is overdriven and the effect gets worse with every tape generation. These tracks come from three sides of cassette tape (with some debate on the original running order). Side A (AD thru STC) has significantly less high end than the rest. Possible causes of this could be different generation for this side, different quality of tape in a earlier generation copy, or a reflection of imperfect sound balance early in the show. There are mic handling noises throughout along with sound changes that come from mic movement and repositioning. The original recording was paused between songs to preserve tape and as a result many intros were slightly truncated from late starts and endings come abruptly as the last note is still ringing out.
This new transfer made it possible to pull a lot more of this show out of this tape without it just turning to dust in the process. The high resolution 24 bit 96KHz transfer, a format normally associated with more audiophile studio recordings, was able to capture the subtle remains of the sound in enough detail to focus in on. This is very far from an audiophile or even good recording but needs to be treated as such because all that is left of the sound is subtle and buried! The goal was to 1) restore the original dynamic range to the performance, 2) maintain a consistent sound quality throughout and 3) remove or reduce any mic noise or tape hiss that was louder than the music. Although aggressive noise reduction was done, multiple generations of tape hiss remain. It wasn’t possible to remove this completely without very audible damage to the content so the decision was to preserve traces of content over conforming to accepted commercial standards for noise.
This was originally a mono recording subsequently dubbed on stereo equipment. The L ch had slightly better high frequency content and dynamics vs. the R. The R channel was consistently poorer throughout the spectrum. There was also a varying small phase discrepancy between channels. Therefore only the L ch was used for this mono remaster. Different elements of the sound varied by different amounts depending on what particular troubles were going on with the recording. I split the track to 5 channels of the mixing board to give me the ability to isolate different elements of the sound field and then rebalance everything throughout. The channels were treated as follows:
raw mids – low cut at 650Hz, high cut at 1680Hz, this band has the most useful mids with the least distortion
nr – tilted at 930Hz (-2db low shelf), -2.5db narrow Q at 374Hz to reduce resonance saturation, reasonable hiss reduction
nr boost – these are just small isolated audio sections to boost the brief areas of extreme level drop, same as NR track but heavy hiss reduction
high boost – low cut at 4400Hz, substantial hiss reduction, used to rebalance the highs (reduced from tape generation loss and varying microphone obscuration during the original recording) without increasing hiss
boost – low cut at 2060Hz, high cut at 6750Hz, this band has the most useful highs between the hiss on top and the distortion below it, used throughout but especially for the loud parts
iZotope Rx2 used for hiss reduction, Waves linear phase mastering eq for band pass and shelving, Universal Audio Precision mastering eq for 374Hz cut and occasional low cut at 30Hz. All eq settings are cuts (no eq boosts).
There were a few dropouts (10-100ms) that were filled in (edited) from nearby similar waveforms. The first 3 sec of BMT and the last 2:54 of TAP have been reconstructed using pieces from other parts of the songs. These songs are incomplete on the source tape. BMT cuts in abruptly in the middle of a measure. This sounds awkward, so a part was recycled (instead of editing out content) to clean up the opening. Since the missing ending from TAP contains the same parts played earlier in the song, the arrangement could be preserved as well as eliminating the distraction of an abrupt cut.
Sound quality is a strong C+ with moments of near B-
This portable edition contains the final mono master reduced to the CD format (16bit 44.1kHz stereo FLAC files – the left and right channels are identical). This is to prevent it from being sent to only the center channel in some home theater systems. Identical L & R channels in this situation do not increase the file size vs a mono FLAC file. The sample rate was reduced with Protools 9 HD (highest quality) and the sample size was reduced to 16 bit with Waves IDR. The level 8 FLAC files are fully tagged including lineage as a comment. This edition is intended for portable devices and casual listening. A master edition is also available that contains the final mono master in 24bit/96KHz and the raw 24/96 digital transfer without any mastering or digital processing.
Neonknight tapes and transfer / Jimfisheye mastering – March 2012
*Assurez-vous que le téléchargement de ces fichiers ne contrevienne pas à la législation en vigueur.