by Scott Frank
| There are an absolutely amazing
number of different versions of the song Interstellar Overdrive.
Each seems to have its own alleged unique source. Several questions
have haunted me since I first started collecting RoIO releases many years
ago. They are: 1) How many versions of this song really exist
? 2) When was each recorded ? and 3) Where can the very best
sound quality copy of each be found ?
Before I go on to attempt to answer these questions, let me preface this by saying a couple of things: 1) If you have direct, absolute knowledge answering any of the above questions for any specific RoIO, you are invited to contact me in confidence. 2) I will only be discussing the RoIO releases that I actually own. If you have a RoIO that I don't and it contains some spurious version of Insterstellar Overdrive, please don't come running to me for help. I really am just winging this thing.... 3) If you have some theories of your own which you'd care to share, please feel free to do so!
Perhaps it would be best to first consider all of the official releases of this song:
Tonite Let's All Make Love In London soundtrack
According to Peter Whitehead, these tracks were recorded on 14 and 15 January 1967 at Sound Techniques studio in London.
The Piper At The Gates of Dawn (remaster)
Consulting Malcolm Jones' brilliant book, we learn that Interstellar Overdrive was either recorded or mixed on each of the following dates: 27/2/67, 1/3/67, 15/3/67 (short version), 16/3/67 (short version), 22/3/67.
Now, things are about to get interesting. Hold on tight. Here are the RoIO releases!
Lucy Leave & Other Rarities
The liner notes say that all 4 tracks were recorded on 31 Oct 1966 at Thompson's Private Recording Company, Hemel Hampstead.
- Track 8, 4.13 (4 May 1967, Look of the Week, BBC2) A Saucerful of Outtakes
- Track 3, 16.46 (Studio session 31 October 1966) Sights And Sounds of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd
- Track 2, 4.16 (UFO Club, London, 20 January 1967)
- Track 3, 3.35 (Interview with an unreleased version playing underneath, February 1967) Stoned Alone
- Track 7, 16.49 (studio recording January 1967)
- Track 8, 5.55 (Interview with an unreleased version playing underneath, Canadian radio 1966)
- Track 9, 14.24 (More of the above interview & song) Last Screams of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd
- Track 1, 5.00 (Sound Technique Studios, Chelsea, London 27 February 1967)
- Track 11, 14.37 (Thompson Private Recording Company, Hemel Hampstead, London, 31 October 1966) Melk Weg
- Track 17, 5.14 (no source listed) Spiral
- Track 1, 16.51 (London 1968) WOW!! That's roughly 23
possibly different versions of the same song! I directly compared those
tracks that were of similar length.
Here's what I found: IO #1 - TLAMLIL #1 = LL&OR #10 = Outtakes #3 = Stoned Alone #7 = Spiral #1 IO #2 - TLAMLIL #8 = LL&OR #7 IO #3 - TLAMLIL #22 = LL&OR #8 IO #4 - LL&OR #9 = Rhamadam #17 = Last Screams #1 = Melk Weg #17 IO #5 - Rhamadam #20 = Last Screams #11 IO #6 - Rhamadam #14 and Sights & Sounds #3 come from the same broadcast as Stoned Alone #8 and #9.
IO #7 - Magnesium Proverbs # 8 = Sights & Sounds # 2 IO #8 - Rhamadam #11 is unique. Now, remove all the songs from the list that are just copies of an official list, and it would appear that there are 5 different RoIO-only versions of the song. On to the challenging part! Which tracks sound the best ? IO #1-#3 Obviously the official release is preferred. IO #4 - As much as I hate to admit it, I think Melk Weg is probably the best. It has a few extra seconds on the end that the others don't & the sound quality is really pretty decent. IO #5 - Rhamadam #20 is vastly better. IO #6 - The Stoned Alone tracks are VASTLY superior in both sound quality and length. IO #7 - Pretty much identical
IO #8 - Not much choice, really.... Where are all of these things from ? When where they recorded? For IO #4 we have the following sources cited: 1) 31 Oct 1966 at Thompson's Private Recording Company, Hemel Hampstead. 2) 10" one-sided Emidisc acetate 3) Sound Technique Studios, Chelsea, London 27 February 1967 27/2/67 is a valid date, according to Malcolm Jones.
He also says that "It also seems that all recordings up to the middle of March may have been made outside Abbey Road." So, it's possible that 3) is correct. Rhamadam's liner notes are generally pretty darn good, so I'm hopeful that both 2) and 3) are correct, since they aren't mutually exclusive. I'm inclined to think that 1) from LL&OR is incorrect, since the rest of the liner notes for LL&OR are so shabby. According to Jon Rosenberg's book a THREE track single was released in France.
The IO on this single was recorded on 27/2/67. For IO #5 we have the following sources cited: 1) Live 2) Thompson Private Recording Company, Hemel Hampstead, London, 31 October 1966 The liner notes I'd trust the most (Rhamadam's) provides the least information. Clearly, the owner of the tape (which is vastly better on Rhamadam) doesn't know where it's from... It's possible that the Last Screams compiler pulled the infamous 31-Oct-66 date and venue out of thin air, hoping nobody would notice (or care). This one is a genuine mystery. Please contact me if you have additional details! For IO #6 we have the following sources cited: 1) July 1967 2) February 1967 3) Canadian radio 1966 The interview is announced (on Stoned Alone, track #8) as being conducted by the CBC (Canadian Broadcast Company).
When, exactly, did this interview take place ? I've no idea. For IO #7 we have the following sources cited: 1) 4 May 1967, Look of the Week, BBC2 2) UFO Club, London, 20 January 1967 1) is total bullocks. IO was not performed for the Look of the Week show. IO was filmed on 20 January 1967 at the UFO club. The music contained on the film is the same as IO #7 For IO #8 we have the following sources cited: 1) Live at the UFO Club, London. From the Granada TV programme 'Underground' 7/2/67 This is a great track. The dialog suggests that it's from a documentary of some sort. I'm guessing that someone with access to a film archive rescued this track for us. Assuming that's true, I'm sure the source information is correct. Conclusions: It would appear that there are 5 versions of Interstellar Overdrive exclusively available on RoIO releases. The best quality copies of these songs are widely scattered, making it difficult (and expensive) to collect them all. On the other hand, would you really want 5 different versions of IO on a single CD ? Welllll... Maybe.
Stay tuned for my next installment - Tracking down all of the different versions of Dolly Rocker!