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Relics is a compilation album by Pink Floyd released in 1971. The album was released on 14 May in the UK and 15 July in the United States. A re-mastered CD was released in 1996 with a different album cover; a three-dimensional version of the original sketch drawn by drummer Nick Mason for the initial release. Initially released by Starline, the compilation was reissued by Music for Pleasure in the United Kingdom; Harvest and Capitol distributed the album in the United States.
The release of Relics was sparked by the success of Atom Heart Mother which peaked at #1 on the British charts. The album has been released on numerous occasions, and at times without the proper authority. One such incident involved EMI Australia releasing the album without the band's consent. This led to the LP being withdrawn and the album as a result became a rarity. A reissue of the album in 1996 meant that it could be purchased easily again.
Until the more definitive release of The Early Singles (1992), Relics was most noted for its inclusion of Syd Barrett-era hit singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play", as well as B-sides to three other singles. It is notable that the Relics versions of "Paintbox", "Julia Dream" and "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" are mixed in stereo. Relics has the only CD release of "Paintbox" that has the same length (3:33) that the original single version had; on the albums The Early Singles (1992), 1967: The First Three Singles (1997), and the 40th anniversary edition of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (2007), it fades out about 13 seconds later.
The album also includes a previously unreleased studio recording of a Roger Waters composition, "Biding My Time", which had otherwise only been heard by live audiences as part of "The Man and the Journey" concert sequence.
Songs previously released on albums are identical to their album versions.
At the time of the release of Relics in May 1971, its budget price excluded it from the album chart; however, from August until the end of the year the chart rules were changed to allow budget albums to be included—this allowed the final few weeks of Relics' main sales period to be picked up on; it reached #32 in the UK and #153 in the US. When re-released in the UK on 9 March 1996, the album reached #48.
The album cover was designed by drummer Nick Mason, and according to him is the only concrete product of his years at architecture school in the Regent Street Polytechnic.
In addition to variations on the original design, the album was released in several countries with completely different artwork. The four-eyed face on the original U.S. album cover was actually an antique bottle opener.
When the album was released on CD, former Hipgnosis partner Storm Thorgerson had a real-life version of the contraption on the cover made and presented it to Mason. It still resides in Mason's office. Both Thorgerson and his assistant, Peter Curzon, came up with the idea after viewing the head sculpture which had been constructed by John Robertson and which appeared on the album sleeve of The Division Bell.
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