Pink Floyd's The Later Years: when an 18 disc box set isn't quite enough

Even with remixed albums and live recordings, Pink Floyd's The Later Years box set isn't quite as thorough as it could have been

Pink Floyd: The Later Years
(Image: © PLG UK Catalog)

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"A quite clever forgery,” Roger Waters said of 1987’s A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, the first Pink Floyd album following his 1985 departure. His comment showed a possessive arrogance, Waters believing himself to be the heart, soul and spirit of the band. And certainly, those fans hooked on the oppressive autobiographical dramatics of The Wall and The Final Cut were best advised to follow him into his dark conceptual solo world. 

The Floyd that reconvened without him – David Gilmour, Nick Mason and a returning Richard Wright – were a brighter, more weightless proposition. And although they would produce only two proper albums (Reason and 1994’s The Division Bell) and the ambient reworking of studio offcuts that was 2014’s The Endless River over almost 30 years, their tenure is still respected enough to warrant an 18-disc retrospective box set.

Big it is, comprehensive it ain’t. The Endless River isn’t in it, and fans of The Division Bell might already own the 2014 reissue mix and the Pulse live DVD, slightly tweaked here but still most notable for the full, stadium-sized run through The Dark Side Of The Moon

Mostly, we’re encouraged to revisit Reason, where Gilmour solo material was repurposed to throwback to his wonderfully airy influence on Wish You Were Here and his spectacular riffs on The WallSigns Of Life could be Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part XOne Slip a stumbling sequel to Run Like Hell and The Dogs Of War a more action-packed Welcome To The Machine.

Set alone, and with some drums and keyboards re-recorded for added punch here, Reason makes for an impressive rebalancing of the Floyd canon to honour Gilmour’s contributions, but when its draggier second half is pitted against the deathless classics of Waters’s prime period on the live album Delicate Sound Of Thunder (here in audio and video forms), it comes up noticeably short. The second half of immaculate 70s Floyd has virtually no slack, even when an eight-minute Money drifts off into jazz and reggae segments.

Among the videos, documentaries, memorabilia and live footage from Knebworth and their floating Venice show, of greatest interest to completists will be the seven unreleased tracks from The Division Bell sessions, largely listless and insubstantial prog and blues workouts but involving a charming church-bell flamenco version of High Hopes and a half-written riff rock piece called Nervana with some fiery Gilmour weight behind it. A few more fresh gems like that would’ve pushed this beast of a box towards being essential.

Order Pink Floyd The Later Years

Order Pink Floyd The Later Years
Immerse yourself in hours of audio visual delights, focusing on Pink Floyd's work from 1987 onwards. The set includes loads of rarities and collectibles too, offering loads for fans to explore.

Pink Floyd: The Later Years consists of 5 CDs, 6 Blu-rays and 5 DVDs. Here’s a recap of the details:

CD 1: A Momentary Lapse Of Reason - Updated & Remixed
CD 2: Delicate Sound Of Thunder - Remixed
CD 3: Delicate Sound Of Thunder - Remixed
CD 4: Live Recordings, 1987 & 1994 Unreleased Studio Recordings
CD 5: Knebworth Concert 1990

Blu-ray 1: Surround & Hi-res Audio Mixes
Blu-ray 2: Delicate Sound Of Thunder - Restored & Remixed
Blu-ray 3: Pulse - Restored & Re-edited
Blu-ray 4: Venice Concert 1989 and Knebworth Concert 1990
Blu-ray 5: Unreleased Live Films Music Videos and Concert Screen Films
Blu-ray 6: Documentaries and Unreleased Material

DVD: Five DVDs duplicating the content of Blu-rays 2-6 above, each contained in a gatefold wallet with dedicated cover art, including tracklists and publishing credits.

Two 7-inch vinyl singles in new picture sleeves, featuring Arnold Layne performed live by Pink Floyd at the Syd Barrett Tribute concert in 2007, and Lost For Words from the Pulse tour rehearsals at Earl’s Court.

60-page hardback book of photos designed by Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis and Peter Curzon of StormStudios – includes many previously unseen images.

A newly-created set of reproduction tour programmes – Pink Floyd World Tour 1987/1988, Pink Floyd Live 1989, Pink Floyd European Tour 1994 – plus a new lyric book designed by Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis and Peter Curzon of StormStudios.

A collection of memorabilia including tour passes, stickers and posters, all printed to replicate the originals, and contained in a prestige card envelope.

Order Pink Floyd The Later Years

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.