Directed by Peter Whitehead
First, let me make this absolutely clear that this is not an official Pink Floyd release. It’s a DVD containing the work of filmmaker Peter Whitehead, yet his name doesn’t appear on the front of the packaging.
The Pink Floyd, their official name at the time, are involved because Whitehead was friends with Syd Barrett and the band in Cambridge. He wanted them to create some music for a film he was working on called Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London. Whitehead paid for two-day recording sessions in January 1967, the band’s first, at Sound Techniques Studios, and he filmed them.
Two of the instrumental tracks from that session are presented here, coming in at almost 30 minutes. “Interstellar Overdrive” is a 17-minute opus with a fantastic chorus that bookends the piece, but they aimlessly meander for far too long in the middle. It is not the definitive version to me. The other cut is “Nick’s Boogie,” a 12-minute improv that goes nowhere. The band is very raw and are in need of a producer to help give them shape and structure.
The video footage combines the material from the studio sessions with the London psychedelic scene of the time. The Pink Floyd is shown playing in the studio and at the UFO Club during “Interstellar Overdrive.” During “Nick’s Boogie”, the studio footage is intercut with footage of the “14 Hour Technicolor Dream Extravaganza” at the Alexandra Palace where the band played, but they are nowhere to be seen at the event. Instead, we see different people experiencing the scene, including John Lennon. He is wandering about, taking it all in, but the camera spends far too much time focusing on him. Yoko Ono staged a happening where young men were cutting off the clothing of a young woman with a pair of scissors. The event is believed to be the first time John and Yoko met.
The disc has extras that include Whitehead giving an overview of the project as well as interviews with Mick Jagger, Michael Caine and David Hockney. Julie Chrisitie also appears in a segment but her nonsensical ramblings don’t seem to be in response to anything.
Whitehead’s London 1966-1967 is an adequate document of the place and time. I recommend it for fans of the era and for fans that would be interested in what are essentially the demos of The Pink Floyd; however, a rental might be the safer route for all but the most diehard of fans.