Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pigs on the wing

"There is no dark side of the moon, as a matter of fact it's all dark", an immortal line from Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon. But for Floyd fans, this week has been bright and exciting with the re-release of all of the bands 14 albums along with some previously unreleased material.

EMI promoted the launch of what it calls "Why Pink Floyd...?" with another relaunch, that of Algie the pig which featured on the band's 1977 album Animals.

This pig had to be specially commissioned at the last minute since the original was found to be leaky and not airworthy some two weeks before the intended publicity event. Due to building work at Battersea Power Station, where the original album cover was shot, the pig had to be raised from the river side. This was a disappointment for some who had hoped to capture an exact recreation of the original photoshoot.

There were added difficulties for those taking pictures of the event as they were shooting directly into the sun. For the crew raising the 10 metre long inflatable pig there were problems too as they encountered fairly strong westerly winds. The pig was lowered several times throughout the day for fears it might break free. The original pig, Algie, had escaped during the 1976 photoshoot, causing air traffic over London to be halted for a time. It eventually landed in a farmers field in Chilham, Kent, some 80 km to the south-east.

The delays during Monday's publicity stunt created only frustration as onlookers waited for the pig to be raised with some gaps of up to 90 minutes. Each time the pig took to the air again there was a flurry of excitement as photographers, fans and passers-by snapped away.

The event was eclipsed only by the Labour party conference, though the Daily Telegraph made use of the iconic image to poke fun at shadow chancellor Ed Balls, depicting him as the pig over an upturned table, with scattered policy documents beneath.

There is perhaps irony here, in that the pig, and indeed the album itself had been inspired by George Orwell's Animal Farm, and where the pigs were depicted as the tyrannical leaders in a hierarchical Stalinist society.

Of course, while many of the underlying themes in Pink Floyd's music are dark, with strong political overtones, most people are drawn to the music. The re-releases promise to enthral fans with not only digitally remastered versions of all 14 albums but also an array of special DVD presentations and unreleased material.

However, the back catalogue of material does come at a price. While some fans may have a disposable income to buy the new releases, a large majority of music lovers may be resigned to listening to their old vinyl or CD releases.

The box set, consisting of all 14 albums, is set to retail at £130 [$200]. In addition there are special releases of some of the albums themselves each containing unreleased DVD recordings as well as early unreleased album mixes. It is not clear if all 14 albums will be released as separate box sets. The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here are already on sale retailing at around £88 [$137] and a 7 disc special edition of The Wall is on pre-order. But there will be few fans that will be so extravagant to buy the entire back catalogue. 

With a double dip recession looming fans will balk on spending such large sums on entertainment. In fact most Floyd fans would likely be thinking to "grab that cash with both hands and make a stash", rather than buy "a new car, caviar, four star daydream" or even Pink Floyd's digitally remastered back catalogue. Of course pigs may fly!

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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