Song of the Week: Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun - Pink Floyd (Live at Pompeii, 1972)
I’ve noticed lately that there’s generally a division between Pink Floyd fans; those who were with the band from their fruition and inagural album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in 1967, which was one of a few records headed by original song-writer and lead-vocalist, Syd Barrett, experiencing the less than pragmatic influences of Barrett in early albums and others such as A Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, and Meddle. And then there were those who were raked in by the legendary, iconic, not to mention record selling album Dark Side of the Moon, released in 1973 – and beyond: Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, and the David Gilmour, Roger Waters-less era.
For me, it started with Dark Side, and has cullminated into nearly every album they ever released, with the remaining to be heard being Ummagumma, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Roger Waters’ last effort with Pink Floyd, and as close to a solo album as it gets for a band, The Final Cut. Today’s focus, though, is the latest album I’ve acquired and begun listening to: A Saucerful of Secrets, and the song being “Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun”. This song was one that the band used to play live, creating their space-rock name-sake, before including it on an album and one that was one of very few albums that the original lineup contributed in balance and perfect unity; Floyd wouldn’t achieve an all-band derived classic until their biggest hits, Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here.
Listening to the song -- eight-track or CD -- isnt all that captivating. It isnt until one sees or witnesses first-hand a performance, which is something that can be said for most Pink Floyd songs, because you just cant say sitting around listening to it while sipping coffee tops being in a dark arena, surrounded by others while a light show is perplexing your mind, allowing you to fixate your senses on the music and getting lost in the experience. Naturally, that’s just what one person who used to attend Floyd concerts said; I’ve never been to one – I wasn’t born yet!
So, without anymore waiting, here is a performance of the song from their six-song video recorded performance at Pompeii they did in 1972, inbetween the release of Meddle and pre-release of Dark Side of the Moon. Originally 5:27 long, this performance stretches it to over 10-minutes, much like they always had in years past.