The Making of "The Madcap Laughs"


     E.M.I., "the greatest recording organization in the world", had the most comprehensive and sophisticated studios in London at the time, having been responsible for a massive proportion of British-made pop hits (and classics) of the last thirty years.  I have referred elsewhere to the impressive technical back-up that Abbey Road studios offer to artists recording there and the Fort-Knox like tape library facilities are as impressive.  Tapes and sessions were filed and cross indexed, originally on 'Artists cards', today on microfilm.  Below is a listing of Pink Floyd masters originally held at Abbey Road or at various other locations in and around London.  I stress 'originally' because many of the 4 and 8 track masters have probably been disposed of once acceptable mono and stereo mixes had been completed.  As most of the recordings listed below were made before I joined E.M.I. I cannot specify with any degree of accuracy which tapes are the ones released and which are alternate, unissued takes.  I have given as many guidelines as possible to allow the reader to judge for himself which are the released versions, and comparison with the gig sheets will probably be helpful.
     In 1967 the EMI studios were 4 track.  For the uninitiated, that means that artists were able to record four instruments or groups of instruments completely independently, either together or at separate times, and to combine them in whatever sound balance was desirable at a later date.  Any track, or group of tracks, could be re-recorded while leaving the others intact.  A backing track could be recorded, say on two tracks, while the remaining two could be reserved for several attempts later for lead vocal and, say, guitar solo.  Today, 24 and 32 tracks are more common, although 'Sgt Pepper' was done on 4!!
     If more than 4 tracks were required, then once four had been filled they could be mixed together onto a second machine, either onto one track leaving three empty ones, or in stereo, allowing two more tracks to be completed.  This was known as a "four to four" or 4 - 4, and the Beatles certainly used this for 'Sgt Pepper'.  It was possible to do this a couple of times without any significant loss of tape quality, and it follows that in this process several 4 track masters would accumulate.  The reader should not assume, therefore, that when a title appears several times on 4 track tapes that there are several different versions of the same song.  A later tape is most likely a continuation of the same recording, representing later overdubs onto the same original take.
     I would like to amplify the point made earlier that the majority of 4 track masters will, by now, have been disposed of.  Multi-track masters on inch wide tape are extremely bulky to store, and very costly at that.  Once a stereo mix was done, a period of time was waited and the four track tapes were erased. In some cases, such as the Beatles, they were retained, and maybe some later Floyd tapes were kept also, but it is unlikely.  4 track tapes were originally kept for future quad releases, but in view of the demise of that medium it is unlikely any still exist. Please do not write to EMI asking them to issue titles you see here. They almost certainly no longer exist, and what the Floyd rejected then would still today meet with the same rejection!
     EMI did not work on a 'matrix' or 'master' number system in the studios.  Matrix numbers, as the term implies, were used at the factory level to identify stampers for issued records.  And in view of the huge amounts of approved-for-release 'masters', they were identified, not individually, but by the composite reel on which they appeared. Anyone wishing to locate, say, 'Shaking All Over' by Johnny Kidd would locate the tape reel under 'K' and, when the reel was in their hand, it would be easy to locate the title desired.  In this manner EMI kept the numbering system to a quarter of what it otherwise could have been. If more than one take was retained on this master reel then the approved master was identified.
     On every recording session the tape operator (as opposed to the balance engineer who was his 'superior') would note down, not only on the tape box but also on a 'Recording Sheet' details of each title recorded, which takes were false starts, which takes were completed, which takes were approved and which, eventually, was the agreed 'master'.  It is these sheets which, as producer for Syd, I kept and have used for the section relating to 'The Madcap Laughs'.
     Before each session commenced there would be an ample quantity of recording tape, each with a sticker identifying what was, for the moment, blank tape, with a number.  This 'reel number' was eventually used to identify the tape in the library, and generally those were used in numerical sequence. Occasionally, of course, they would be used a little out of sequence, and it is therefore important that the reader does not assume that any tape with a lower number than another was necessarily recorded first, although in most cases that was true. For example: tape numbers 63934 and 63951 both relate to the session dated 4/11/67.
     4 and 8 track tapes are shown generally as 4T and 8T. Without this a tape can be assumed to be stereo, or rarely, in the Pink Floyd's case, mono.
     Generally speaking, the dates noted are the dates of the actual session. Finished tapes were left for collection by the library staff who generally did this each day. EMI was reluctant, with so much valuable material lying around and so many unknown visitors, to leave masters in studio racks.  When the tape arrived at the library it was logged with the date with a cross check against the session details.  As there was also a session sheet it can be relied on as accurate for 99.9% of the time.  Sometimes a tape, completed at, say, 2 in the morning after the library was locked up for the night, would be left in the studio, especially if it was required for further work on the next day.  But even then, the library would enter into their files the date on either the tape box itself or on the recording sheet.  One exception, for example, is 'Corporal Clegg'.  The 4 track master was filed on 2/7/68 whereas the stereo mix from that tape was dated earlier, on 1/31/68 and 2/1/68.
     Finally, I must emphasize that this is only a listing of tapes filed, and not of sessions.  As the two coincide it may be assumed that for the greater part it is a session listing also.  HOWEVER - when work was done on an existing tape, no new tape would be resultant and therefore the tape library would not list it. I am, 'though, fairly sure that most Floyd sessions resulted in at least one new tape being recorded and therefore logged into the library. With the exception of the odd overdub onto an existing 4 track master I feel fairly sure that all that was handed into the library did, indeed, represent a Pink Floyd studio session. 
     Thanks, Abbey Road, you're the B E S T !!!


     Several early Pink Floyd masters were made, not at EMI, but at Sound Techniques Studios in Chelsea.  Arnold Layne / Candy and A Currant Bun were certainly recorded there, and Rick Wright, in 'Beat Instrumental' of September 1967 stated that 'See Emily Play' was also made there. It also seems that all recordings up to the middle of March may have been made outside Abbey Road.
2/21-22/67 Matildas Mother 63417-4T (note 1)
2/23/67 Matildas Mother 63409 (note 2)
2/27/67 Candy And A Currant Bun (note 3)
Arnold Layne (2 takes) 7XCA 27877 (note 4)
Chapter 24 63428-4T
Interstellar Overdrive 63429-4T
3/1/67 Chapter 24 63424
Interstellar Overdrive
3/15/67 Chapter 24 63667-4T
Interstellar Overdrive (short version)
3/16/67 Interstellar Overdrive (short version) 63669-4T
3/20/67 Take Up Thy Stethoscope 63673-4T
The Gnome
Take Up Thy Stethoscope 63676-4T
The Scarecrow
Power Toc H
3/21/67 Power Toc H 67678-4T
3/22/67 Interstellar Overdrive 63672
3/29/67 The Gnome 63692
Power Toc H
The Scarecrow
Take Up Thy Stethoscope and walk
4/11/67 Astronomy Domine 63934-4T
Astronomy Domine 63935-4T
Percy the Ratcatcher 63951-4T
4/17/67 Astronomy Domine 63952
4/18/67 Astronomy Domine 63953
She Was a Millionaire 63954-4T
Lucifer Sam (originally called Percy the Ratcatcher)
Note (1)     (Back) Titles here are as they appear in the original files, not as they became on release.
Note (2)     (Back) Tape numbers with no 4T suffix are stereo or mono mix downs.
Note (3)     (Back) Not issued.
     There is no tape number in the files. Without definite information it is impossible to state categorically which of the above tapes are different takes of the same title or simply continued progress on the same basic recording. I have refrained from guessing!
4/18/67 Lucifer Sam 63955-4T
Cross fades with Interstellar Overdrive and the Bike Song (Note 5)
5/21/67 The Bike Song 64402-4T
5/23/67 See Emily Play 7XCA 30214 (Note 6)
6/1/67 Lucifer Sam 64571
The Bike Song
6/5/67 Chapter 24 63956
6/7/67 Matilda's Mother 64532-4T
Chapter 24
6/27/67 Flaming 65057-4T
6/29/67 The Bike Song 65094
Matilda Mother (correct title used for first time)
Wondering and Dreaming (most likely Matilda Mother)
Lucifer Sam
7/3/67 The Bike Song 63956 (same reel Interstellar Overdrive as 5/6/67)
7/5/67 Astronomy Domine 64109
Lucifer Sam
7/13/67      The original running order for 'Piper At the Gates of Dawn' is partly indicated by the library notation for the assembled album, done on July 13th.  The library card indicated "Side One - Astronomy Domine etc. - 5 titles (there were 6) Side Two - Take Up Thy Stethoscope etc - 5 titles."  Interstellar Overdrive, not Take up.. was the eventual opener for side two, and another, unspecified title was added to side one to make up six songs.  The library card places the L.P. matrix numbers against the above tape, although the one that follows (7/18/67) is the correct running order, and therefore the true L.P. master. 

(I agree and disagree with this statement, what I believe this was, was the running order for the U.S. release sent to Tower Records, the extra song on side one was See Emily Play - Stephen Schneider)

7/18/67 Interstellar Overdrive, The Gnome, Chapter 24, The Scarecrow, Bike 64925
Astronomy Domine, Lucifer Sam, Matilda's Mother, Power Toc H, Take Up Thy Stethoscope, Flaming. 65106
     Flaming was eventually put as track 4, moving Pow R Toc H and Take Up Thy Stethoscope down one slot each.
Note (5)     (Back) As the titles do not appear together on the album, it can be assumed that these cross fades to join the two were abandoned.  It is interesting, though, to have an idea of the original sequencing of 'Piper'. 
Note (6)     (Back) The lack of a 4 track master for this confirms Rick Wright's contention that this track, unlike others at this time, was made at Sound Techniques on May 21st and delivered to EMI May23rd. 
8/7/67 Scream Thy Last Scream 65464-4T (Note 7)
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
10/24/67 Jugband Blues (see note overleaf for 5/9/68)
Remember A Day (Note 8) (see note overleaf for 5/9/68)
10/30/67 Apples and Oranges 66462-4T
Apples and Oranges 66463-4T
11/1/67 Apples and Oranges (not master) 66464
Paintbox 7XCA 30454
Apples and Oranges 7XCA 30453 (note 9)
Untitled 66409-4T
Untitled 66461-4T
Apples and Oranges
11/2/67 Untitled 66460-4T
Paintbox 66563-4T
11/15/67 Apples and Oranges (stereo) 66771
1/18/68 Let There Be More Light 67242-4T
Rhythm tracks 67243-4T
1/24-25/68 The Most Boring Song I've Ever Heard Bar Two (later re-titled See Saw) 67378-4T
1/31/68 The Most Boring Song I've Ever Heard Bar Two 67449-4T
Corporal Clegg 67450-4T
2/1/68 Corporal Clegg 67451
2/7/68 Corporal Clegg 67509-4T
2/12/68 Corporal Clegg 67371-4T
The Boppin' Sound
It Should Be So Nice
Doreen's Dream (re-titled Julia's Dream)
Richard's Rave Up
Doreen's Dream (re-titled Julia's Dream)
2/13/68 Doreen's Dream (re-titled Julia's Dream)
Corporal Clegg 67375-4T
The Boppin' Sound 67374 (4 track to mono)
It Should be So Nice
Doreen Dream (re-titled Julia's Dream)
2/15/68 Corporal Clegg 67544 (4 track to mono)
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Note (7)     (Back) The version I have heard of this, to my ears, seems not to feature Syd on lead vocal, although he does seem to sing a line some way into the song.
Note (8)     (Back) There is no 4 track tape under this title; it is possible that it is 'Sunshine' (see 6/29/67), left over from the first album. This tape seems to be the projected, but canceled, single, replaced by Apples & Oranges. 
Note (9)     (Back) The issued single
3/5/68 It Would Be So Nice 67818-4T
3/13/68 It Would Be So Nice 68025-4T
3/21/68 It Would Be So Nice 68044-4T
It Would Be So Nice 7XCA 32056
3/23/68 Julia Dream 7XCA 32057
4/5/68 Nick's Boogie 1st, 2nd and 3rd Movt. 68268-4T
4/10/68 Nick's Boogie 1st, 2nd movt. 68241
4/22/68 The Most Boring Song etc (See Saw) 68519


Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun 68286
Let There Be More Light 68399
Nick's Boogie 3rd Movt. (transferred to tape 68552, below)
4/24/68 Nick's Boogie 1st, 2nd and 3rd movts. 68552 (note 10)
4/26/68 Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
See Saw 68562 (stereo)
Let There Be More Light 68563 (stereo)
Corporal Clegg 68569 (stereo)
Nick's Boogie
(see note 10; this must have been intended to replace the mix of 4/24/68)
5/2/68 Let There Be More Light 68574 (stereo) (presumably this stereo mix replaced that of 4/26/68)
Set The Controls
5/3/68 See Saw 68576
5/5/68 In The Beechwoods 68409-4T
No Title
Vegetable Man
Instrumental 68410-4T
In The Beechwoods
5/6/68 Untitled 68411-4T
     The above titles seem to have been recorded at Sound Techniques (i.e. those recorded on June 5th and 6th.)
Note (10)     (Back) This track is noted in the files as having been cut out and inserted into the album master.  As Nick Mason wrote none of the songs (at least, according to the record itself), it is possible that this was excluded from the album or included, under another title, with credit to another member of the group as the true composer.
5/9/68     (Back) The following session possibly took place outside Abbey Road, probably at Sound Techniques. My reasons for this assumption are as follows. The 4 track masters are on 1/2 inch tape, which EMI did not use. Secondly, Jug Band Blues was filed in mono on 10/24/67, although there was no previous record in the files of a 4 track tape. It is likely, therefore, that the mono mix was received at EMI (originally for single release) and that the 4 track followed later on this master reel the following May.  There was similarly no 4 track for 'Remember A Day', although, if this was re-titled from the original title of 'Sunshine', there was a 4 track.
Remember A Day 68412-4T 1/2 inch
Remember A Day 68413 4T 1/2 inch
Jug Band Blues
Vegetable Man
Vegetable Man 68414-4T 1/2 inch
Remember A Day
Jug Band Blues 68415-4T 1/2 inch
John Latham 68416-4T 1/2 inch
Remember A Day (mono re-mix) (not used)
Jug Band Blues (used for mono L.P.) 68417
Remember A Day (reject mono mix) 68418
Remember A Day (mono L.P. mix)
Jug Band Blues (stereo mix)
Remember A Day (stereo L.P. mix)
5/15/68    'A Saucerful Of Secrets' assembled mono L.P. from previous mono mixes.
5/16/68 'A Saucerful Of Secrets' assembled stereo L.P. from previous mixes.
     Syd Barrett does not appear on many of the above titles, although his original contributions may have been replaced.  He certainly appears on Jug Band Blues and Remember A Day.  He has been variously credited with playing on 'Let There Be More Light', 'Corporal Clegg' (both of which seem unlikely), Set The Controls, (recorded originally shortly after the release of 'Piper' and there is no trace in the files of a later multi-track tape to replace the original). This latter track seems most likely, looking at the date of its first recording, to have featured Syd, although aurally it seems unlikely. Rick Sanders also states that Syd is on See Saw, which is, at least, in the style of Syd's early Floyd material. 
     Syd officially left the Floyd in early April, 1968, although relations with the rest of the group had been strained for six months or so. He did not appear on It Would Be So Nice, recorded in early March, and it is fairly safe to assume he did not record with them after that. This would rule out his playing on any tracks commenced after that date;  .................the difficult tracks are those filed with dates of 5/5/68.  Syd certainly sang on Vegetable Man.  As they were probably recorded at Sound Techniques the date of 5/5/68 may simply refer to the date when EMI received them, indicating an earlier recording date. With no more reliable information, the individual listener must use his own aural judgment!