February 2002

Pink Floyd - Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd
Capitol 2 CD CDP 7243 36111 2 5
Released: 2001

by John Crossett

Musical Performance *****
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment *****

[Reviewed on CD]Echoes is a wonderful CD. (It should be out on LP by the time you read this.) Pink Floyd itself was an integral part of the compiling and production processes of this reissue package, so you know the songs are going to be only the very finest. And, when I tell you about the remastering, you may begin to wonder if there is audiophile blood coursing through their veins.

Echoes gathers cuts from almost all the Pink Floyd albums, beginning with A Piper At The Gates of Dawn, recorded in 1967 by EMI, up through 1994’s The Division Bell on Columbia. Even founding member Syd Barrett is given his due here, and it’s highly interesting to hear the differences in guitar styles, as well as musical styles, in Pink Floyd's pre- (more rock-n-roll-ish) and post-Barrett music (more art-rock-ish). There is even a cut by Barrett that hasn’t seen the light of day on CD previously (1967’s "Arnold Layne").

Included here are tracks such as "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Wish You Were Here" from the album Wish You Were Here; "Learning To Fly" from A Momentary Lapse In Reason; "Sheep" from Animals; "Another Brick In The Wall" and "Comfortably Numb" from The Wall; "One Of These Days" from Meddle; as well as almost half of Dark Side of the Moon and many, many other songs -- including many unjustly overlooked gems such as "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" from A Saucer Full of Secrets.

But the real reason any Floyd fan will want this two-CD set is the sound. Many of you probably already own most of this music, perhaps on the original vinyl. And if you’ve been among those who bought the early CD transfers, well, you’re aware of how much of the music you’re missing. The sound here is as good as the music. It’s superb.

The liner notes describe the remastering process: "To compile this album, the original master tapes were played back on custom tape machines built by The Mastering Lab (1/4 inch) and Tim de Paravicini (1/2 inch). Custom valve (tube) EQ was by Esoteric Audio Research. 24-bit analogue-to-digital converters by dB Technologies fed the SADiE workstation. Monitoring DAC’s were by dCS." And guess who did the remastering itself? None other than the immortal Doug Sax, who has one of the better sets of ears in the business. Could it get any better? Well, sure. It could be the complete albums, and it could be on 180-gram premium vinyl. But then, that’s why I rated it only 4 1/2 stars, and not 5. Other than that, it’s about as good as one could hope for.

This set will give Pink Floyd fans a true insight into this stellar music -- perhaps for the very first time. There is a clarity here that will startle, even if played back on less-than-high-end gear. You can finally hear all the instruments (and effects) Pink Floyd used to make their unique music. And you can hear how well it all fits together. You may even hear things you're not familiar with, such as in the beginning to the Floyd classic "Hey You." There is excellent space given to each instrument, along with a wide soundstage and even some depth. Roger Waters’ bass is the standout here. It purrs along deeply, yet with an extraordinary vividness. So too do Barrett’s and Gilmour’s guitars.

I can’t recommend this set highly enough. It’s classic music, presented in sound that will have you crying for joy. We can only wish that other classic rock music could get this kind of attention. A big "thank you" to all concerned!