Huge Pink Floyd Box Set Coming Soon, Details Their Early History

Pink Floyd circa 1967. (Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Hardcore Pink Floyd fans have reason to rejoice. A huge box set (27 discs in total) is coming this fall. Rolling Stone reports Pink Floyd will release The Early Years 1965-1972 box set on November 11. The box set contains six individual volumes, each focusing on a specific period within the 1965-1972 run of the legendary psychedelic rock band, along with a seventh bonus volume of ultra-rare material.

According to a press release put out by Pink Floyd on Thursday, the box set will contain audio and video (on CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray) documenting the band’s history in-depth.

“The box set will contain TV recordings, BBC Sessions, unreleased tracks, outtakes and demos over an incredible 12 hours, 33 minutes of audio (made up of 130 tracks) and over 15 hours of video…The Early Years 1965-1972 will give collectors the opportunity to hear the evolution of the band and witness their part in cultural revolutions from their earliest recordings and studio sessions to the years prior to the release of The Dark Side Of The Moon, one of the biggest selling albums of all time.”

Volume one of the seven-volume box set covers 1965 to 1967, with the next five volumes covering each individual year in detail up through 1972.

Volume seven of the box set contains a variety of rare, unusual, and unreleased material, including BBC radio sessions, a special television concert performance commemorating the 1969 moon landing, and Pink Floyd’s score to the 1968 art film The Committee, a very rare movie that was unavailable on home video for almost 40 years.

There is a slight drawback to all this. Some of the most die-hard Pink Floyd fanatics will be disappointed to note that much of this “unreleased” material has long been available as bootlegs. However, it must be said that this box set will mark the first time all of these recordings have been officially released, some with restored audio quality. It is also the first time fans will have all of this material in one place, along with rare photos and album art reproductions.

Another disappointment for some will be the price tag — the full box set will cost over $500. For more frugal listeners, six of the seven volumes of the box set will be released individually in 2017 (the bonus volume of rarities will remain exclusive to the full box set). For those who are perhaps more casual fans of the group, there will be a standard-priced two-CD sampler set released as well. It features an overview of the material in the six main box set volumes, minus the video content.

A History of Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd can trace its history to as early as 1963 when future bassist Roger Waters and future drummer Nick Mason met at college (they were both majoring in architecture). They were playing music together by the end of that year. They were soon joined by guitarist Rado Klose. Richard Wright, who played keyboards, also joined around the same time. Guitarist Syd Barrett joined in 1964. Recordings featuring Klose, Barrett, Waters, and Mason are in the first volume of the box set. Klose left the band in the summer of 1965, leaving the lineup of Barrett on lead guitar, Wright on keyboards, Waters on bass, and Mason on drums. After rotating through several name ideas, they settled on Pink Floyd in 1966.

Starting out mainly as a blues-oriented group, by the end of 1966, Syd Barrett led Pink Floyd in a more psychedelic direction, extending his guitar solos to song-length pieces in and of themselves. This coincided with the brand-new London underground counterculture movement, of which Pink Floyd became a leading musical proponent.

Pink Floyd in 1967

After recording some demos in 1967, the band signed with EMI Records in March of that year. Their early singles are featured in volume one of the box set — on vinyl — in reproductions of their original picture sleeves. By August of 1967, their first album had been released. However, Syd Barrett’s excessive drug use and increasingly crumbling mental state were putting the band’s future in jeopardy.

A new guitarist, David Gilmour, was added to the lineup in late 1967 in the hopes of keeping pressure off Barrett and allowing him to stay in the group. Barrett’s decline continued, however, and he was officially removed from the group in April 1968. Gilmour took the reigns as lead guitarist, and Roger Waters stepped in to become the primary composer of new material. Their second album, released June of 1968, ultimately only featured one song from Barrett. Instead, the centerpiece would be the title track, “Saucerful of Secrets,” the first major track composed without Barrett. “The Massed Gadgets of Hercules,” a very early, alternative version of the song, is featured in a live BBC radio performance on volume two of the box set.

Now established in the lineup (Gilmour, Waters, Wright, Mason) that would last until the end of the 1970s, the band looked for ways to innovate following the loss of Barrett. They continued long-form instrumental experimentation, composed film soundtracks, and slowly but steadily improved their songwriting and production skills.

Comedian and writer Tom Scharpling comments, “They had ideas and they were steadily figuring out what worked.”

“None of the albums from 1968-72 are perfect. But their imperfection is exactly what makes these albums so great – they’re getting better each time out, to the point where 1972’s Meddle stands as the apex of their pre-Dark Side albums and could very well be their best album overall.”

Meddle and the 1972 film soundtrack Obscured By Clouds is where the sixth volume of the box set leaves off. Over the next year, they would take the slicker production and shorter song concepts developed on those two records and build The Dark Side of the Moon. Released in March 1973, it would go on to be one of the most successful rock records of all time. As they say, the rest is history.

The timeframe of 1965 to 1972 is certainly not one covered as often in the history of Pink Floyd (especially those early few years of 1965 to 1968). This November fans will finally get an official look back at that time period, in grand style.

Pink Floyd at Live 8 in 2005. [Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images]

[Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images]