Pink Floyd

A Nice Pair

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Why the American version of this compilation of the group's highly esteemed first two LPs merits a relatively rating requires some explanation. The American version of A Nice Pair is a classic example of a good idea gone bad through the ineptitude of the people actually carrying it out. In the wake of the mega-hit status achieved earlier in 1973 by Dark Side of the Moon, executives at Capitol Records, in tandem with their counterparts in other countries, decided to remarket the group's earlier catalog; in America, this meant reissuing their first two LPs, Piper at the Gates of Dawn (originally issued stateside as Pink Floyd, in edited form) and A Saucerful of Secrets, both of which originally appeared on the Capitol subsidiary label Tower and were, by then, out of print. The result was a double LP called A Nice Pair, which was also put out in England -- which was odd, since both original albums were still readily in print on that side of the Atlantic. At least in England they got it right, releasing a straight compilation of the two original albums' contents. In America, however, the geniuses at Capitol had to add tracks in order to make the first platter, containing Piper at the Gates of Dawn, complete -- but instead of adding the original studio version of "Astronomy Domine," they took the very different live version from two years later off of the Ummagumma album and slapped it on, chopping off the applause at the end. The result was ludicrous, as well as frustrating to the most serious members of a vast legion of new American fans acquired in the wake of Dark Side of the Moon, who discovered that they still had to buy an imported LP to fill in their early history of the group or to absorb the way in which the band presented themselves in the opening minutes of their first LP. What made it worse was that it would have been no more expensive to get it right than it was to get it wrong -- they simply needed someone handling the matter (which was hardly rocket science) who knew what he was doing. Otherwise, the most notable element of A Nice Pair was its outer jacket by Hipgnosis, which was made up of 18 different images, one of which was a substitute for a recalcitrant Floyd Patterson, who wanted 5,000 dollars for the use of an image of him tinted pink on the cover; thus, the boxer, in a manner similar to that of Leo Gorcey on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover, aced himself out of a chance at footnote-level immortality in the rock music firmament. The cover was also censored in the U.S.A., a sticker covering a pair of female breasts and other, minor problems entailed with some of the images on various fronts. Otherwise, the American version of the album is just a well-meaning but unnecessarily flawed effort at exploiting the band's history.

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