There is some terrific music on this box set. Unfortunately, with some of the bizarre choices regarding which Pink Floyd CDs were included and which weren't, along with the rather steep price tag, the average fan will probably pass on this and it's hard to blame them. After all, if you're going to present an accurate picture of Pink Floyd, you have to include founding member Syd Barrett. And while he appears on three of the tracks from A Saucerful of Secrets and six tracks from the Early Singles disc, where is Barrett's masterwork, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn? And is this set improved by the inclusion of the post-Waters album A Momentary Lapse of Reason? A better choice would have been to include the live disc from Ummagumma.
With those criticisms aside, there is some essential music here. Any serious rock library should include Wish You Were Here, The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon. I was also glad to see the inclusion of Meddle, an album I bought on vinyl when it first came out in 1971. Side one features rather short song structures, but side two was reserved for the 23-minute grandiose "Echoes." [Please forgive my LP references to sides one and two, but I still think of recordings as being two-sided.] Perhaps the biggest selling point of this box set is the separate disc that includes many of the band's early singles from 1967 and 1968:
"Arnold Layne" b/w "Candy and a Currant Bun" Both written by Syd Barrett and released in March of 1967. The A-side is more pop oriented, but the B-side features some wonderful psychedelic guitar along with Rick Wright's kinetic keyboard playing.
"See Emily Play" b/w "The Scarecrow" Also both composed by Barrett. The trippy "See Emily Play" from May of 1967 was their first UK top ten hit--and their last, until "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" topped the chart in 1979! The synchopated sound of "The Scarecrow" makes it one of their most endearing songs of the period.
"Apples and Oranges" (Barrett) b/w "Paintbox" (Wright) This is one of the last songs Barrett recorded with the band. Released in November 1967, it failed to chart. By the following May, Barrett was out of the band and David Gilmour becomes a permanent replacement.
"It Would Be So Nice" (Wright) b/w "Julia Dream" (Waters) This is a much more pop-oriented song than their previous singles, but it still fails to chart when released in April of 1968.
"Point Me at the Sky" (Waters, Gilmour) b/w "Careful with That Axe Eugene" (Waters, Wright, Mason, Gilmour) Another failed single from December of 1968. It represents a return to a more psychedelic sound, but Pink Floyd doesn't catch on as a singles band. The B-side becomes a concert favorite. This studio version is a 5:44 trippy instrumental; the live version on Ummagumma runs 8:47.
Another bonus to the box set is the 112-page hardcover book that is included. There is a separate section for each album, including song lyrics, essays and interviews, along with some terrific photos.
Putting together a Pink Floyd box set wasn't going to be an easy task. The bottom line is the cost of this box versus buying the individual albums. That dilemma was solved for me when I got this as a gift. I need to remember to thank them again.