Pink Floyd’s Relics, which came out in May 1971, was the perfect example of a record company stop-gap release. The band toured extensively in that era (the time of Atom Heart Mother) and when they did eventually make it into the studio, there were worries their rate of creating new music was far from brisk.
A Bizarre Collection Of Antiques And Curios was the subtitle of the LP, and there is something in that, for sure. Core songs are the two Syd Barrett A-sides, “Arnold Layne” (March 1967) and “See Emily Play (June 1967) but the record offers a snapshot of the early days. Early B-sides “Paint Box” and the delightful “Julia Dream” make album appearances while the previously unreleased “Biding My Time” was a hook for budding Floydophiles.
Interestingly, what today would be classed as a “rarities” album was then released as a budget priced LP, encouraging punters to buy rather than ponder too long. The cover, a suitably eccentric Heath-Robinson doodle by drummer Nick Mason was kind of intriguing, too.
When I bought a second-hand copy in around 1974 it was because I was in thrall to Dark Side and Meddle and Atom Heart Mother and hadn’t really heard the Syd-era band at all. The psychedelic whimsy was a little hard to swallow at first. However, the “bizarre” part of the subtitle was clear in the copy I bought from Bentleigh Sewing & Records. It was an Aus pressing, but with the US cover. What a striking image.
Relics was very popular in Australia, becoming a top thirty album; the highest in the english-speaking world. The album developed a life of its own, being re-pressed and re-issued with different covers through the years, some similar to the original, others rather trumpeting the budget nature of the record.
On one of the many occasions when Pink Floyd rejigged their catalogue, Hipgnosis design legend Storm Thorgerson commissioned an actual 3-D version of the contraption, giving it to Mason. That is the CD cover many know, though later versions have reverted to the original.
All I know is that I wish I had kept my four-eyed pink-tongued copy rather than discarding it for an icky CD. I’d love to be able to drop the stylus and hear those antiques and curios the way I heard them the first time, wending my way through the dreams and visions of a band straining towards a paisley sun, culminating in the clockwork mayhem that signals the end of “Bike”.
I’d give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it.