40 years ago this week…
Pink Floyd had traveled to Naples by plane to record live footage for Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii. Inspired by Adrian Maben, the first version ran for one hour and was released in September 1972. It was directed by Adrian Maben using studio-quality 24-track recorders. (The tonnes of equipment left 4 days early by truck.) Delays at the start of shooting meant less time for footage, so only 3 tracks were recorded there.
The performances of ‘Echoes’, ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’ and ‘One Of These Days’ were filmed from 4th to 7th October 1971. Further songs were filmed in a Paris studio late in ’71 and early ’72, with additional front projection footage for insertion into the Pompeii performances, effects and some back-shots.
Adrian Maben proposed to the band to do an “anti-Woodstock” feature of their music, without people and in more atmospheric scenery. He’d visited Pompeii early in the year with his girlfriend and seeing the old amphitheatre, Maben thought this would be the perfect location – in the ancient Roman amphitheatre in Pompeii. The Floyd’s music bringing alive the dramatic history of the location: violence, sex, bustle.
Accustomed to helping on other film soundtracks, Pink Floyd were to record their own: interestingly without a live audience, which was a true divergence performing without any of their usual stage lights or effects for which they were known.
The movie includes some now iconic shots with very slow zooms and horizontal pans past stacks of speakers. At only an hour in length, director Adrian Maben thought more could be done with it and returned to the movie in 1973 to add inter-song snippets of interviews and pretend studio work. This included the now infamous Dark Side studio recordings of ’72 and ’73. Maben’s questions that Roger answers so uncaringly formed the basis of the Dark Side questions on cards during the Abbey Road recording.
But the live performance in Pompeii remains the only official live footage of the band from this time.