SHOCKING AT THE "PIPER"!
So the reconstruction starts to take shape: Floyd were indeed at the Piper Club!
In the light of what was said and documented, we can propose two scenarios both of which could be perfectly valid and reliable, even if I personally think the second one is more likely.
The single "It would be I know nice" was released on April 12th, 1968. On April 18th the Pink Floyd arrived in Rome at the Piper Club for one or two concerts, on the back of the single. A television crew from RAI or whatever other TV station wanted to shoot some scenes to be included on a documentary at the May music Festival in Rome. Not yet famous, the Pink Floyd thought the presence of the TV crew would give them a good chance of some promotion. So they take a record player and put on the song whilst filming (it’s highly probable that they carried some copies with them for promotion) thus producing a video of the song. This video is then archived in RAI TV vaults, catalogued as video material pertaining to the May Festival of the Palasport. In 2004 the video is broadcasted as a “Pink Floyd concert at the Palazzetto of the Sport”.
Unfortunately, the short running time of the video does not show enough in order to tell if this is the limited edition shorter version of the single, released as a promotional radio edit. As documented by Luca Ferrari in his book “Pink Floyd” (Arcana, 1985): the promotional version of the single "It Would Be So Nice", only printed on one side, came out in a limited print run. It was slightly shorter than the regular version in order to facilitate it more towards radio transmissions On it, the refrain is sung only three times (rather than six) and three lines of lyrics have been omitted.
The fact that the Floyd were carrying with them a promotional edit of the single (perhaps following orders from their record label) is somewhat indirectly confirmed from Miles ("Pink Floyd", by Armando Gallo Editori):
"April 12. 'It Would Be So Nice'/'Julia Dream' released.
Nick Mason: 'Fucking awful, that record, wasn't it? At that period we had no direction. We were being hussled about to make hit singles. There's so many people saying it's important you start to think it is important. 'It is possible on an LP to do exactly what we want to do. The last single "Apples And
Oranges", we had to hustle a bit. It was commercial but we could only do it in two sessions. We prefer to take a longer time.'
Roger Waters: 'Live bookings seem to depend on whether or not you have a record in the Top Ten. I don't like "It Would Be So Nice." I don't like the song or the way it's sung.' 'Single releases have something to do with our scene but they are not overwhelming essential. On LPs we can produce our best at any given time.'
Nick Mason: 'We were a rock and roll band and if you're a rock and roll band and you've got a record that you want to be number one, you get it played and if they say "take something out" or whatever - you do it. In fact what you do is exactly what was done - you make as much press out of it as possible. You ring up the Evening Standard and say: "Did you know that the BBC won't play our record because it mentions your paper?"." (transcription kindly by Frostbrent)
Mason: “Tremendo quel disco vero? In quel periodo non avevamo direzione.
Tutti ci rompevano le scatole perchè facessimo dei singoli che vendessero bene.
Quando tanta gente dice che una cosa è importante, alla fine cominci a pensarlo
pure tu. Su un LP è possibile fare esattamente quello che vogliamo. Per
l'ultimo singolo, ‘Apples and Oranges’, abbiamo dovuto fare le cose di
fretta. E' un disco commerciale, ma l'abbiamo dovuto registrare solo in due
session. Preferiamo fare le cose con più calma.”
Waters: “Sembra che essere ingaggiati per suonare dal vivo dipenda solo se hai qualche disco in classifica. ‘It Would Be So Nice’ non mi piace nè la canzone, nè come è cantata. I singoli vanno fatti, ma non sono eccessivamente importanti. Sugli LP possiamo dare il meglio di noi in ogni momento.”]
This would seem to confirm that the Floyd were in concert bringing along the tapes or the single as promotional material. "It Would Be So Nice" was performed live only on rare occasions, as on May 11th 1968 at the Brighton Arts Festival.
The Pink Floyd performed at the Palazzo dello Sport on May 6, 1968, but the day after the festival was moved at the Piper Club for technical problems. Before coming back to London, in the morning or in the afternoon of May 7, or perhaps even on the same May 6, the lip-synced performance of the group is taped in the empty hall at the Piper. Therefore the TV cameras recorded them both during the 6 May concert, and for the promotional video.
This would explain why in the video you see that the instruments aren’t their own, that the performance is in playback and that the hall is evidently muddled.
From the beginning of the clip you can easily tell that they are performing in lip-sync as the music starts a little before Mason begins to play as if he was stunned and unprepared.
But it is not even sure that the cameras belonged to the RAI Italian television station!
At that time TV broadcasts were in black and white, which suggests that the images were shot on film first. If the recording had been captured with TV cameras, the cameras couldn’t have been from RAI, since recently various material was found in the RAI archives from the beginning of the Seventies of various groups such as Area, Osanna, PFM and Genesis at the Piper in 1972, and it’s all in black and white.
Since the audio was recorded by Dutch radio, perhaps the television cameras were also Dutch or ...German even? Actually, several sources tell about a recording of the Festival by the ADR German TV station perhaps with the support of the Italian TV, for post production and editing. That video then became "Rome Goes POP"; televised by BBC2 in the UK.
If the video was in the RAI archives (the Eventi POP management usually transmit things found in their archives or which they had bought.), a collaboration between the two TVs could have been possible. But perhaps not! Another hypothesis appears: if the video had been bought by RAI? Unfortunately there are no more precise details of the video "Rome goes POP" (except the tracks of the Floyd and those little frames of the Captain Beefheart), otherwise all would have been easier.
But the other hypothesis about the source of the two videos is more precise.
Giancarlo Tabacchi, an expert and scholar of live performances of the Floyd, and a member of the most famous Italian fanzine "Cymbaline", confirmed that the promo video of "It Would Be So Nice" had been filmed at the Piper Club in via Tagliamento. Watching a RAI video on the history of the Piper, one can clearly see how the inside of the hall coincides with the decoration in the promo-video. This corresponds exactly with the still images after analysis and comparison.
So instead there’s news about the source of the promo video and the other clip of "Interstellar Overdrive" at Palasport EUR.
According to the search of Giancarlo, RAI Tv does not own in its archives any videos about May Festival at the Palasport, neither the promo video of "It Would Be So Nice". In fact, Giancarlo has had the confirmation directly from RAI, in the course of an email exchange that he had in June with the crew of "Events POP" (source: Sig. Michele Bovi, Capostruttura Raidue; Mr.. Marcel Laville, Co-author of Events POP). According to such sources, the video had been acquired by BBC (BBC Worldwide Library Sales) from RAI for the price of 400 pounds, for two transmissions, beyond the 150 pounds for "transfer and courier" (the video runs 1 minute and 50 second including the performance of the “Giganti” in the same period, perhaps the exact same festival).
In the n. 43 of the "Cymbaline" all the June correspondence between Giancarlo and RAI has been published, the text is available for kind concession of Cymbaline (to which go our best compliments). The video comes directly from the BBC2 transmission aired on May 18 1968, the famous "Rome Goes POP", whose running time is 18 minutes and 21 seconds (all is certified).
No other images of Pink Floyd exist in the documentary.
But there is an other important fact: the stage framed from above at the Beginning of the BBC video, before that of the "Giganti" clips begin, does not coincide with the setting of the PINK FLOYD promo clip. So the place is surely different.
But that does not say who has filmed the Floyd at the Piper for this promotional piece.
The source of the video of "Interstellar Overdrive" at the Palasport is instead from German TV ARD. There has always been rumours of the presence of the ADR at the 1968 Festival POP of 1968. This is evidence of this. Giancarlo explains:: "...circa un anno fa ho visto per la prima volta il filmato e l'ho confrontato con il sonoro dei nastri e cd in circolazione: la fonte è la stessa..." ("... approximately a year ago I saw for the first time the video and I compared it with the sounds of the tapes and cd: it’s the same source... ").
Then, we make our considerations: in the exchange of correspondence RAI - BBC, Mrs. Susanna Feder of the BBC has confirmed that the BBC filmed the event of the Festival at the Palasport (but not, it seems, the Floyd at the Palasport). Moreover, the speaker of the original transmission "Rome Goes POP" announces the Floyd "...al Festival Pop..." before the images of the video of "It Would Be So Nice" at the Piper.
From the careful reading of Mr. Bovi’s words, we have certainties, and verisimilar hypotheses:
- the BBC has indeed captured, or acquired from other TV stations v (e.g. the ADR), some performances of the May Festival , just with the aim to produce the documentary. Undoubtedly, they were problems, both logistical, and of copyright, which was confirmed indirectly by the BBC’s Susanna Feder ("...The BBC filmed at this event, but rights for the festival are held by the organiser who also contracted the artists, therefore their permission would be required...");
- the fact that the performance of the Pink Floyd is announced by the narrator as though it had been effectively filmed during Festival POP at Rome, and that the exact same narrator is on the documentary "Rome goes POP" cites that the video was indeed filmed in Rome during Festival POP, confirming our second hypothesis, that the video had been filmed during the May Festival: in particular, between the morning of 6 and 7 May, using the Piper Club (part of the agreements of the organization of the festival, as was suggested in the red poster), still having to prepare for the concerts of the 7, and perhaps being useful for the shooting of promo video for a single released one week before.
To this point, the hypothesis that takes more value is that the BBC filmed the Floyd at the Piper Club for promotional video during the POP May Festival. But now we must only search the the dates of April, the only doubt that has still not been resolved. We will never have the certainty, unless direct testimony, pictures or an audio document of those days are found. Otherwise, we would like to believe that the Floyd really did play live at the Piper on those 2 dates of April!