You would have to be a fairly obsessed Roger Waters fan to collect audience-recorded videos of his live concerts. Most of those now in circulation are so many generations removed from the master tape that they're nearly incomprehensible. And many of the masters are shaky and distant to begin with. (Pretty understandable, given that they were recorded illegally and in secrecy.)
Part of the problem is that Rog has never released official videos of his outstanding Pros and Cons and KAOS tours, making bootlegs the only option for collectible-hungry fans. And when you're a Rog fanatic like me, you make do with what you can get. (I consider Roger Waters our greatest living composer -- now that Lennon and Zappa are dead!)
For the uninitiated, concert video bootlegs are commonly found at record-collector fairs and through "live video" catalogue ads in the back of music-collectible publications like Goldmine and DISCoveries. What follows is a summary of my own collection to let you know what's out here. Remember, the dub quality of what I own is irrelevant -- you might find better, or, quite possibly, worse.
These summaries are intended to help you determine the content of video bootlegs you may find for sale at record collector fairs or in music collectible publications. Remember, quality will vary depending on how many generations removed your tape is from the master source. Disappointments are more common than gems (from my experience, anyway). Your best bet is buying/swapping through hardcore Floyd fans; they usually have access to the best tapes.
This is the tour that placed Roger Waters and Eric Clapton on the same stage, as Clapton briefly became a member of Roger's solo band. The first half of each show featured Pink Floyd material from '67 to '83, while the second portion covered "Pros and Cons" all the way through, with a few minor bits of music and song extensions not found on the album.
The Pros and Cons suite worked better live than on LP, thanks to a high-energy performance and the memorable bedroom set and triple-screen films. (Who can forget the cartoon adventures of Reg, Gerald Scarfe's deranged Snoopy mutation?)
Poor sound and very few shots of the screen make this video a big disappointment. Thanks to a zoom lense, we do get close to the stage, with good (but blurred) shots of the band. The camera operator seems to be sitting in the upper right side of the audience. This one's a complete show, including the "Brain Damage/Eclipse" encore. Severe tracking problems wreck the "Pros and Cons" suite's title track.
This view comes from the back of the auditorium, with a zoom to help find the band. What I like about this one is that we get a decent (although partially obstructed) look at the screen activity. The projected images really brought back memories of the show. The kinetic slot-machine effects during "Running Shoes" still pack a visual punch, even on dim VHS.
Overall, the focus is soft and smeared (Roger's white t-shirt looks like a fuzzy sweater), but the sound is pretty good, muffled only at the loudest moments. There's a nice shot of that ridiculous German beer-hall puppet character that pops up during "Arabs with Knives and West German Skies."
The show is complete with encore, although a strange edit during "Brain Damage" seems to merge two different videos of this show.
The existence of this one caught me by surprise. And in a nice color box, too!
The praise ends there, however. My copy is a distant relative of the original, barely watchable with poor sound. Still, I would recommend an early generation copy, if you can find one. You get a good, close view of the band from the right side of the audience. Even though Clapton had left the tour by now, the performance is superb. The crowd is very excitable. (I'll bet Rog loved the firecrackers during the hushed moments of "Gunner's Dream.")
Some unintentional humor arises during the "Pros and Cons" title track, when the spotlight hits sax player Mel Collins lying on his back. He's supposed to be blasting a solo from that position, but tonight the mike doesn't work, leaving the audience to wonder what they're watching.
The camera's too close to get any worthwhile screen shots, which is a big drawback, and the tape ends during the final seconds of the second half, missing the encore. Due to the horrid condition of my copy, I doubt I'll view it again. (Still, it sure beats sitting through Delicate Sound of Thunder!)
Also known to exist: 7/21/84 E. Rutherford, New Jersey; 7/28/84 Toronto; 3/21/85 Buffalo, New York.
In addition to audience recordings of live concerts, several compilation tapes are circulating that include legitimate footage from T.V., promo films, B-roll, and other "pro" sources. Here's what you may find:
Some tasty morsels on this tape:
1. A 1984 French TV interview conducted by the ever-fawning Jim Ladd. This was the premiere of a new show that aimed to be a video version of Ladd's "Innerview" radio program. Throughout the 45-minute interview, Rog is quite relaxed and smiling, although he does find time to rip Ronald Reagan and Wall movie director Alan Parker (a "filthy little swine.")
Interspersed with the interview, we get to see a wide range of clips from Roger's career, including Dark Side of the Moon and "Welcome to the Machine" concert backdrop films, Final Cut and Pros and Cons promos, and The Wall movie. The overall video quality is fairly grainy.
2. A 12-minute CBS promo documentary to hype Roger's 1984 tour. I believe this was shown on MTV in July of that year. It's an excellent overview, with Roger talking about his career and latest effort over loads of clips. Great quality.
3. The 1991 Guitar Legends Live concert from Seville, Spain, taken from a TV broadcast. Roger performs "In the Flesh" and "Comfortably Numb." The band plays in a dramatic, dungeon-like set with flames.
For "In the Flesh," Rog makes a grand entrance and paces a catwalk above the band with the hammers logo projected behind him. At this point in his career, his voice is pretty hoarse -- no doubt from all those performances of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" in the early '70s.
"Comfortably Numb" is delivered Berlin Wall/Van Morrison-style with a short, disappointing guitar solo that begs for David Gilmour to step in.
Quality is excellent. Too bad the other numbers Rog performed at this event -- "What God Wants," "Another Brick..." and "Brain Damage/Eclipse" -- aren't included.
4. Two minutes of Rog and Andy Fairweather Low performing the Beatles' "Across the Universe" against a psychedelic backdrop for a 12/6/85 BBC-TV John Lennon tribute. Quality is fuzzy, and the tune gets cut off in the middle.
5. A 6/21/84 unaired MTV interview with Nina Blackwood, focused on the Pros and Cons tour and conducted prior to an Earl's Court gig. This is the complete, unedited interview and runs a generous 22 minutes. A jittery, crummy-quality dupe, but certainly interesting.
6. An enjoyable, seven-minute Canadian TV interview from 1984 in fair quality with familiar clips.
7. The three Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking promo videos. "Sexual Revolution" is really dull and repetitive, using some of the most uninteresting backdrop film clips from the tour. Quality is hissy and dark, and it's mislabeled "Every Stranger's Eyes."
Then comes the title track in better quality. I had forgotten what a good video this is -- stylish and witty, with clever integration of clips from the movie Shane.
The final video is "Every Stranger's Eyes," humorously mislabeled as "Every Stranger's Eye." Rog sings with the right side of his face erased in shadows. (He must like doing this; in the "Final Cut" promo video, the top half of his face is in the dark.) This promo is in great shape, using footage from the tour backdrop films -- the diner, the trucker, and some nifty aerial camerawork. It's a deeply moving song and a tiny gem of a video, which received little if any MTV play. It'll never be officially released, so catch it on a bootleg!
This compilation comes in a gorgeous color box with a montage of Pros and Cons tour photos and Reg cartoons. The overall quality, however, sucks from being a dub of a dub of a dub, etc. The contents:
1. A brief excerpt from the CBS promo documentary mentioned previously.
2. The tape's highlight: About 35 minutes of pro-shot, 1984 tour rehearsal footage from New York, with some great close-ups of Rog and Clapton. We get most of "Money" and excerpts from the "Pros and Cons" suite, including close-ups of screen activity (the sexy model from the LP cover disrobes!) and Clapton's "Sexual Revolution" guitar solo.
While the sound quality is pretty good, the visuals are often dark and murky, and the performance is bland. A time-code appears throughout.
3. An excerpt from the 1984 Jim Ladd interview (see above) in horrific quality.
4. A six-minute BBC documentary from May '84 featuring interviews with the Pros and Cons tour's production team, including cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. Despite the bad quality, this is interesting stuff, describing the great challenge in pulling off the synchronized film effects. Many portions of this documentary appear in the CBS promo piece.
5. The Nina Blackwood MTV interview (described above) numerous generations removed from clarity.
6. The "Pros and Cons" promo video in bad condition.
7. "Across the Universe" (mentioned above) in fair shape, which again seems to end prematurely.
This is a new one, compiled by true Floyd fans, and probably the best of the bunch. A good selection of clips, most of them in better quality than found elsewhere. Packaged in a nice color box, too. The contents...
1. The three Pros and Cons promo videos (described above) with decent picture quality, although hissy soundtracks.
2. The '84 New York Pros and Cons tour rehearsal footage (described above) in fairly good shape, but dark.
3. "Across the Universe" (mentioned earlier) in decent shape, with the abrupt ending. (Apparently, this is how it was broadcast.)
4. From 8/87 in London: very good quality Radio KAOS tour rehearsal footage. Great pro camerawork of the band rehearsing on a plain indoor stage with no audience. Rog wears dark sunglasses for reasons only he can fathom. The cameraman is crawling all over the stage, getting lots of close-ups of band members for b-roll purposes.
The music: "Sunset Strip," the dreadful "Radio Waves," a portion of "Another Brick," and a tiny piece of "Not Now John."
5. Jim Ladd summarizing the Radio KAOS album for a free-lance interviewer on August 13, 1987, at the Providence, Rhode Island, Civic Center.
6. Close, pro camerawork of the 8/13/87 Radio KAOS dress rehearsal before a small but happy crowd. The clips include Ladd's intro, "Money," "Sunset Strip," and "Another Brick." Very good picture quality -- the best I've seen of this stuff.
7. In excellent condition, the rare "Another Brick in the Wall" (Bleeding Hearts Band version) 1990 promo video, filmed prior to the Berlin Concert. It begins with a helicopter's view of the stage at night, shining spotlights on the wall. Then Rog performs in front of his beloved barbed-wire wall while words appear on it (ROGER WATERS ... DISASTER RELIEF ... HELP ... etc.).
This is interspersed with stock footage of World War 2 fighting and famine victims. The video includes a rolling text plea for contributions to the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief.
8. The 11/17/91 Guitar Legends Show from Seville, Spain. While the quality of the footage isn't as superb as in the "1984-1991" compilation mentioned previously, it's still very, very good, and, more importantly, adds the songs that the other tape doesn't have: "Another Brick," "Brain Damage/Eclipse," and "Monkey Television" (What God Wants).
The latter is the only concert performance ever of material from the best album of the decade. Roger introduces the song as a "work in progress about a monkey watching television. We don't have any props, we don't have a monkey, and we don't have a television set. So you can be the monkey and we'll be the television!"
An excellent, rousing performance follows, and the song ends with a reprise of the tune's ominous intro (unlike the album). "WHAT GOD WANTS GOD GETS" appears in big letters behind the band.
9. The 1992 Sony "Three Wishes" promo video, which never got aired anywhere, to the best of my knowledge. It's not bad, although none of Roger's promo videos come close to matching the skill and complexity of his music. Peter Boyle (of Young Frankenstein fame) plays the genie who visits Rog at a rural diner. But Rog is more interested in the beautiful blonde that drives up in a red convertible. He fantasizes about smooching with her. Then she's gone. Near-excellent dub quality.
This tape contains two rehearsals and two interviews, providing a great souvenir of the KAOS tour. My copy has terrible generation loss.
1. The 8/87 rehearsal material mentioned before, but expanded to include extra takes of "Sunset Strip," "Radio Waves," and "Another Brick," as well as a minute or so of a blues jam.
2. A 19-minute backstage interview with Roger from the same day. Rog is very jovial, often teasing the interviewer and generally avoiding explaining his Radio KAOS concept. ("I cannot explain the record on television. It'll sound crazed.") The interviewer makes the remarkable comment: "The music on this LP seems extremely danceable."
3. A longer (six-minute) version of the 8/13/87 Jim Ladd interview than appears on the "ANTHOLOGY" compilation.
4. The 8/13/87 Providence, R.I. dress rehearsal with more material than the "ANTHOLOGY" compilation, including quick snippets of other songs and some goofy audience shots. Don't miss the ugly, drunken nerd who passionately lip-synchs to "Pigs"! Another treat: really embarrassing intermission prattle between Ladd and local DJs.
No one attending a Radio KAOS show could claim they didn't get their money's worth. In addition to the complete KAOS album, fans were treated to loads of expected and unexpected Pink Floyd material from 1970 to 1983; the original Arnold Lane music video as a tribute to Syd Barrett; two rare KAOS b-side songs; Pros & Cons material; Paul Carrack performing a classic number from his career; three comedy bits ("Fish Report with a Beat," "Bimbo School," "Shredder Alternative"); new and old movie and animation footage; a fan interview session with Roger; an ongoing, interwoven storyline featuring DJ Jim Ladd and spastic whiz-kid Billy; and an electrifying finale simulating nothing less than the world's destruction by nuclear missiles. In short, one hell of a fun show. If the new Floyd only tried half as much.
This wildly erratic tape starts with a view from the back of the main floor with a zoom and good coverage of the full stage and movie screen. However, after "Money" begins, the tape skips to the next song and the camera operator has moved to the upper right balcony (with a badly obstructed view of the screen).The overall sound is harsh, and the camera wiggles way too much (stand still, laddie!). Also, dropouts plague the picture (those little white horizontal lines).
Sometimes we get a nice, close shot of the stage; other times, the picture inexplicably goes blank. At least my dub is fairly clear.
The performance is good, and the crowd enthusiastically sings along to classics like "Mother," "Wish You Were Here," and "Nobody's Home."
The tape ends at the start of "Tide is Turning," the final number before the encore.
The label on this one claims: "Best Video of KAOS Tour," but I don't agree. At least it's complete, including Paul Carrack performing "Tempted."
The camera is way up high in the right balcony and can't zoom close enough to get a good look at the band members. The movie screen is blocked by lighting equipment. The sound is buzzy at times. On my copy, the picture isn't crisp. Even the performances seem lackluster.
The camerawork is consistent and fairly steady (for handheld anyway). But we're never quite close enough or clear enough to become engaged in the show. The encore leaves out "Breathe," which was added later to the set list.
Note: a 120-minute version also exists, minus the Carrack number and ending after "Home." Sound and picture are slightly better.
Prepare to have your patience tested with frequent heads in the way and muffled sound. The camera operator's fairly close, positoned on the right side of the main floor, but glare and generation loss have bleached out much of the stage activity.
There are very few screen shots and you can't read Billy's messages or understand his electronic dialogue. On the plus side, the audience is in a grand mood, and Roger has an extra bounce in his step.
Thanks to the limits of a two hour tape, the show stops after "Four Minutes." So, lost is "Tide is Turning" and the "Breathe/Brain Damage/Eclipse" encore.
This one has good sound, a pretty crisp picture (on my dub anyway) and an excellent zoom that moves intelligently to highlight the appropriate musicians. Occasionally, the sound gets crunchy from microphone problems. Sometimes, the picture gets too dark.
The camera operator is in the upper right balcony (again!!).
The view of the movie screen is entirely blocked by lighting equipment. During "Arnold Layne," the viewer is forced to watch Roger's tea party instead of the Syd video. The loss of screen shots especially hurts the dramatic "I've pressed the button, Jim" finale. On the plus side, you can see and read the electronic message board.
This particular show was broadcast on radio by Westwood One. CD bootlegs exist, but omit more than half the tunes.
Part of "Nobody's Home" is messed up because Roger has to replace his microphone. Also, at this point in the tour, Roger has dumped "Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking" from his set list and replaced it with a Final Cut medley of "Keep Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" and "Southhampton Dock."
This tape is a complete show, including the wonderful encore of Dark Side of the Moon material. Some boneheads throw rolls of toilet paper at the band as they take their bows.
Even if you didn't like the 1990 Wall show, you had to admire Roger's efforts in trying to pull off something on such a massive scale to raise money for charity. And the setting couldn't be more appropriate, timely, and moving, as the real Berlin Wall had just come tumbling down.
That said, the choice of guest artists pissed off most Floyd fans (in Roger's defense, he did try to lure better artists like Eric Clapton and Peter Gabriel), and not everybody could digest the overkill of musicians, actors, orchestras, choirs, marching bands, armies, gargantuan puppets, etc. In truth, the concert is probably best enjoyed on a camp level.
Admit it -- isn't it a hoot when Roger lamely trashes his tiny brick-in-the-wall hotel room? Or when he serenades a giant syringe? Or when he hams it up as a facist dictator, dressed up in uniform and cape, waving his fists and barking orders to prancing skinheads?
If you own the official video and crave more chuckles, you'll be happy to hear that quite a few tapes exist of the many Berlin Wall rehearsals. Here are several good ones I've come across, followed by a boot of the TV broadcast.
Superb quality footage taken by a <+">Newsweek <-">reporter granted access to three days of rehearsals. Close, but wandering camerawork. Quite interesting to watch. Volume One is segmented (with title cards) as follows:
July 18, 1990 (approximately 35 minutes): Daytime rehearsals for the band and backup singers (no guest stars yet). Roger performs one minute of an acoustic "Bravery of Being Out of Range," years before Amused to Death. The nighttime rehearsal focuses on film projection and lighting, with eerie, naked mannequins standing in for the performers. Two of the lighting technicians amusingly describe their duties.
July 19, 1990 (approximately 70 minutes): A nearly complete rehearsal of The Wall, including most of the special guest musicians, but minus the orchestra and choir.
July 20, 1990 (approximately 10 minutes): Some daytime rehearsing, including clips of Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, and James Galway.
The tape ends with footage documenting Wall props and animation cells offered for sale at Christie's Animation Art Auction, Sept. 21, 1990; followed by clips of people breaking chunks off the Berlin Wall.
The complete dress rehearsal from the evening of July 20! Again, terrific quality. Our cameraman is in the audience, giving this a bootleg feel. The lense zooms in and out, and back and forth across the wide stage, finding various effects and set details missed by the official video release. Roger sings delicately for the most part -- even skipping occasional lyrics -- to save his voice. Van Morrison is nowhere to be seen throughout all the rehearsals (too bad he made it to the actual concert).
Overall, a neat counterpart to the sterile, ultra-polished pro video version. Unfortunately, "The Tide is Turning" encore is ruined by tape problems. After the show, the camerman and his journalist buddy enthuse about the show, while grousing about the "assholes" on the stage crew.
This one's a 60-minute mix of clips from the above two tapes, well-chosen and in excellent quality. Among the highlights:
All three of these rehearsal tapes come in nearly identical, color boxes with a Scarfe pig drawing on the front. Good luck sorting it all out!
This is the concert as shown on live German television. My copy is in decent shape and comes in a colorful plastic case.
I'm not going to compare this with the official video shot for shot. It's safe to say that the camera angles are better overall on the official release, where time could be spent sorting out the best edits from the cumulative footage.
On the plus side, in the TV version, you can cringe at all the technical problems that were smoothed over later on. For instance, there's no "Thin Ice" or "Another Brick, part 1." And during "Mother," the microphones go dead. If you listen carefully, you can hear Roger's sorrowful "Oh no." There's a wide shot of the stage and, if you look very carefully on a relative's big-screen TV (like I did), you can see Rog fall to his knees, pray, and shake his fists at the heavens! When "Mother" presumes, The Band botches the lyrics and sings off-key.
For the first 30 minutes or so, the concert is pretty pathetic (and we won't even discuss Cindy Lauper!). However, once Bryan Adams rips into "What Shall We Do Now?", everything picks up considerably. (I've never cared for Adams before, but he really rejuvinates the show here).
One of the biggest annoyances with the TV broadcast is the inclusion of cutaways to stupid, hastily assembled film footage especially created for parts of "Mother," "Goodbye Cruel World," "Don't Leave Me Now," and "Nobody's Home." Smartly, most of it was dumped for the official release.
After the concert, the tape includes various news clips on the event, including a 30-minute ZDF documentary (in German) and short segments from NBC News, CNN, Entertainment Tonight, and MTV. There's also a 5-minute promotional mini-documentary that announces the concert for June 2, 1990!
A few of these segments include tantalizingly brief clips from Pink Floyd's 1980 Wall concerts.
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Last update: 01 May 1998