Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81, 2000


Disc 1
Master of Ceremonies | In The Flesh | The Thin Ice | Another Brick in the Wall-Pt 1 | The Happiest Days of Our Lives | Another Brick in the Wall-Pt 2 | Mother | Goodbye Blue Sky | Empty Spaces | What Shall We Do Now? | Young Lust | One of My Turns | Don't Leave Me Now | Another Brick in the Wall-Pt 3 | The Last Few Bricks | Goodbye Cruel World
Disc 2
Hey You | Is There Anybody Out There? | Nobody Home | Vera | Bring The Boys Back Home | Comfortably Numb | The Show Must Go On | Master of Ceremonies | In The Flesh | Run Like Hell | Waiting For The Worms | Stop | The Trial | Outside The Wall

There were 29 live performances of The Wall from 1980-81. I hope you were one of the lucky ones to experience this, however I was not. The release of this double CD is for all of us Pink Floyd fans who didn't get to see 'The Show'. It will take you as close to being there as possible. If you're a real Pink Floyd fan, and you've seen the movie The Wall, then you've probably seen it a hundred times. The Wall is not just a movie about a rock star gone insane. It is not just about a man who grew up without a father that was killed in the war. The double CD comes with extensive interviews from the band members and other people involved in putting on the "The Show' and recording it for all us unfortunates to experience. The sound is studio quality, the best live recordings you'll ever hear, thanks to famed sound engineer James Guthrie!

As a bonus for you, check out the interviews, and you will see The Wall from a new perspective!

Pulse, 1995


Shine On You Crazy Diamond | Astronomy Domine | What Do You Want From Me | Learning To Fly | Keep Talking | Coming Back To Life | Hey You | A Great Day For Freedom | Sorrow | High Hopes | Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) | Speak To Me | Breathe | On The Run | Time | Breathe (Reprise) | The Great Gig In The Sky | Money | Us And Them | Any Colour You Like | Brain Damage | Eclipse | Wish You Were Here | Comfortably Numb | Run Like Hell (Columbia - 1995)

There's a true sense of leisure in the music of Pink Floyd. Their stage show knows no logistical limit, and their songs unfold at a pace that suggests there's an inordinate amount of time to kill. Pulse, their second all-live album (only seven years and one studio album since the previous with nine selections repeated), continues in the grandiose Floyd tradition.

Known best for the blinking red light set within its spine, this two-CD live set, recorded in Europe and culled from 20 shows, also features The Dark Side of the Moon performed in its entirety. Dark Side's chief accomplishment was its studio perfection, an aural trip into soundscapes previously unearthed. Performed live, its textures disperse into the arena air. The crowd vibrations only translate into loud, annoying applause throughout the tracks. The audience takes over lead vocal chores for "Wish You Were Here" and remains positively raving for the other hits. Through the newer material (five from The Division Bell [1994] and two from Momentary Lapse of Reason [1987]), the audience is slightly more sedate. Only "A Great Day for Freedom," from The Division Bell, improves upon its studio release and only because its anthemic intent is fully realized.

Space rock for lack of a better term is kept alive not just by advanced stage pyrotechnics but also by the constant misadventures of musicians utilizing the more accessible home technology. Further, the third album by the British duo Flying Saucer Attack, comes wrapped in a warm feedback haze, with the proclamation on its sleeve that "home taping is reinventing music." As ambient textures mix with acoustic guitars, eerily overheard vocals and song titles ("For Silence," "She Is the Daylight") suggest the passivity of rural life.

Overall, the effect is very English, reclaiming that juncture in the late '60s-early '70s when Pink Floyd and a host of lesser bands gleefully pushed music to its limits. But FSA are no nostalgia act. The duo Rachel Brook and David Pearce is firmly a part of the '90s low-fi belief that great music can be made on a much less grand scale. The result is music that is often hypnotic and bewildering, humble yet not of this world. (RS 715)

ROB O'CONNOR, Rolling Stone Magazine

The Division Bell, 1994


Cluster One | What Do You Want From Me | Poles Apart | Marooned | A Great Day For Freedom | Wearing The Inside Out | Take It Back | Coming Back To Life | Keep Talking | Lost For Words | High Hopes (Columbia - 1994)

Is this still really Pink Floyd? That seems to be the question, as it has been since Roger Waters left the band in 1985 to dip deeper into the sci-fi soup. Waters has since missed no opportunity to slag his former band mates as incompetent fakes. He would suggest that he was Pink Floyd, although judging from his overwrought, concept burdened solo albums, that notion should be put to rest.

The debate on the current Floyd centers on the band's use of hired guns, songwriting professionals brought in to shore up a sound that otherwise might not be Pink Floyd enough. What makes this criticism superfluous is that much of the great music of rock & roll has been written, or augmented, by outside talents. For every Lennon-McCartney or Prince, there have been 10 examples like Leiber and Stoller, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Holland-Dozier-Holland or Phil Spector. It should concern no one too much that in the absence of Roger Waters, who had been Pink Floyd's chief songwriter, the band sought outside help.

What is of concern is whether the music of the post-Waters Pink Floyd stands up to the band's best work The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall and Meddle. Unfortunately, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and the live Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988) were only sporadically successful at achieving the stunning aural power of Pink Floyd's previous work. Their new album, The Division Bell, ironically enough, seems to cry out for someone with an overriding zeal and passion in short, a nettlesome, overbearing visionary like Roger Waters.

The Division Bell is a quieter, more atmospheric and contemplative Pink Floyd, with lyrics so opaque and inert one cannot hope to plumb their meaning. Of course, no Pink Floyd album would be complete without a concept, and The Division Bell seems to be about that old standby failure to communicate. Even through the vagueness of the lyrics, one gets the feeling the band is firing broadsides at Waters. On "Lost for Words," for example, David Gilmour sings: "So I open my door to my enemies/And I ask could we wipe the slate clean/But they tell me to please go fuck myself/You know you just can't win." And so the war continues.

The album also gives off the uncomfortable whiff of middle-age and graying sensibilities. Gilmour, who has become Pink Floyd's de facto leader, in particular seems bored or dispirited. His guitar solos were once the band's centerpieces, as articulate, melodic and well-defined as any in rock. No longer. He now has settled into rambling, indistinct asides that are as forgettable as they used to be indelible. Only on "What Do You Want From Me" does Gilmour sound like he cares.

Another problem with the album is its length. At more than an hour, it is too long and quickly exhausts its few fresh ideas. The band seems to be padding at every opportunity. Consequently, The Division Bell will satisfy only the most ravenous Pink Floyd fan.

TOM GRAVES, Rolling Stone Magazine

Delicate Sound Of Thunder, 1988


Shine On You Crazy Diamond | Learning To Fly | Yet Another Movie | Round And Around | Sorrow | The Dogs Of War | On The Turning Away | One Of These Days | Run Like Hell | Time | Wish You Were Here | Us And Them | Money | Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) | Comfortably Numb | Run Like Hell (Columbia - 1988)

This live double-LP set documents Pink Floyd's enormously successful 1987-88 world tour. Although it was inevitable, releasing a live record is still a bit strange, since Pink Floyd's concerts have become about as musically exciting as a visit to the dentist's office the show's the thing, and this album is the sonic equivalent of a glossy tour program.

Pink Floyd's previous record, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, had a suspiciously New Age ring to it, and even this, a live record, tends to fade into the background. Whereas the band used to match its special effects with headlong musical forays into the heart of the sun, it's now plying an often vacant slickness. Welcome to the McFloyd.

The band takes great pains to reproduce the studio versions of its classics, despite the departure of mastermind Roger Waters. But even some of the more emotional songs, such as "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Run Like Hell," are delivered by a group of musicians who seem to be just going through the motions; none of lead guitarist Dave Gilmour's solos catch fire.

No mention is made of where the tracks were recorded, although it doesn't make any difference; on this tour, one show was probably pretty much like the next. Pink Floyd is celebrating and cashing in on its past glories, playing all its hits for kids who wish they'd been around when Ummagumma came out.

Delicate Sound of Thunder went up with the first joint French-Soviet space mission, making it the first rock album to be played in space. That's fitting, since, at best, it's a decent record to space out to.

MICHAEL AZERRAD, Rolling Stone Magazine

A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, 1987


Signs Of Life | Learning To Fly | The Dogs Of War | One Slip | On The Turning Away | Yet Another Movie | Round And Around | A New Machine (Part 1) | Terminal Frost | A New Machine (Part 2) | Sorrow (Columbia - 1987)

"Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I ..."

While the 1987 album "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" had the name Pink Floyd on the cover, the inner photos were more telling: There was David Gilmour, and there was Nick Mason, but the rest of the Floyds were not to be found.

After Roger Waters had firmly taken control of the band during 1979's "The Wall" and "The Final Cut" in 1983, it was clear that he and the remainder of the band would part ways. A tour was planned for "The Final Cut," but was soon scrapped, and before too long Waters was involved in a solo project ("The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking"), and Gilmour was putting together his "About Face" album.

By the time Gilmour got back together with bandmate Mason, keyboardist Rick Wright left the group during the making of "The Wall," and wouldn't be called back into the group until later in the "Momentary Lapse" sessions Waters was in the process of releasing his second post-Floyd solo album: "Radio K.A.O.S."

The news that Gilmour and Mason intended to release an album using the Pink Floyd name stoked the flames of discontent between Waters and the remaining band members. The battle became official in the autumn of 1986, when Waters filed suit to end the partnership that was Pink Floyd. In the end, after much legal raggling too complex to analyze here, Gilmour and company won, and the name Pink Floyd would grace their 1987 album. (It turned out that the details of what constituted the original Pink Floyd partnership was never put into writing in the first place. How can you officially dissolve something that never officially existed?)

Most of "Momentary Lapse" was recorded aboard Gilmour's converted houseboat Astoria docked along the Thames in Hampton, 16 miles outside of London. Other work was performed at Britannia Row; A&M in Los Angeles, Calif.; and a handful of other studios. It was the first Floyd album recorded digitally.

The roster of people who played and wrote material for "Momentary Lapse" would be unlike that of any previous Floyd album. The names of nearly 20 musicians and singers were listed on the album, with Gilmour and Bob Ezrin, who had first worked with the group on "The Wall," co-producing the effort. The songwriting was largely handled by Gilmour and a handful of others, such as Tony Moore, whose band Slapp Happy had been managed by Peter Jenner, as had the Floyd once upon a time; Ezrin; Patrick Leonard, who had produced hits for Madonna, of all people; and Phil Manzanera, guitarist for Roxy Music.

Wright was called back to the band to help validate it musically as well as legally. He joined the recording fairly late in the game, so his contributions to the recording were limited. He also was not taken back into the fold as a partner of the group, rather as a salaried player, drawing $11,000 a week, and forgoing a photo on the sleeve.

Storm Thorgerson was called in to do the cover design, assuring the album had that Floydian look. Thorgerson hadn't done a Floyd album cover since 1977's "Animals" LP. By the mid-80s, he was more involved with directing film. The design concept grew out of a line in "Yet Another Movie": visions of an empty bed. But Thorgerson wouldn't stop at a single bed. Instead, he lined up 800 along a beach in Saunton Sands, North Devon, England, for the picture. (Hadn't he ever heard of a matte shot?) The cover included allusions to other songs on the album: i.e. the canines from "The Dogs of War," voted worst song by a 1989 reader poll in the now-defunct Floyd fanzine The Amazing Pudding; and a hang glider from "Learning to Fly," named for Gilmour's preoccupation during the record's making. (That's supposedly a recording of him communicating with the control tower during the song's bridge.)

The album, tentatively titled "Delusions of Maturity," "Of Promises Broken," and "Signs of Life" at one time or another, was released in September 1987, shortly after Waters's "Radio K.A.O.S." "Momentary Lapse" debuted at number 43 in the United States on Sept. 26, and went on to climb as high as number three. The CD version, however, made it to the top of the CD chart in the States on Oct. 10, 1987, and stayed there for a half dozen weeks. In the U.K., the album went as far as number three. "Momentary Lapse" achieved platinum status (a million units sold) on Nov. 28, 1987, in the U.S.

"Learning to Fly"/"Terminal Frost" was the album's only single in America. It reached number 70 on the Billboard chart. "One Slip" was the B-side to the single in the United Kingdom. "On the Turning Away," backed with a live version of "Run Like Hell," originally from "The Wall," was also issued as a 45 in the U.K.

Waters labeled "A Momentary Lapse of Reason," "a pretty fair forgery."

Written by Craig Bailey

The Final Cut, 1983


The Post War Dream | Your Possible Pasts | One Of The Few | The Hero's Return | The Gunner's Dream | Paranoid Eyes | Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert | The Fletcher Memorial Home | Southampton Dock | The Final Cut | Not Now John | Two Suns In The Sunset (Columbia - 1983)

This may be art rock's crowning masterpiece, but it is also something more. With The Final Cut, Pink Floyd caps its career in classic form, and leader Roger Waters for whom the group has long since become little more than a pseudonym finally steps out from behind the "Wall" where last we left him. The result is essentially a Roger Waters solo album, and it's a superlative achievement on several levels. Not since Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" twenty years ago has a popular artist unleashed upon the world political order a moral contempt so corrosively convincing, or a life-loving hatred so bracing and brilliantly sustained. Dismissed in the past as a mere misogynist, a ranting crank, Waters here finds his focus at last, and with it a new humanity. And with the departure of keyboardist Richard Wright and his synthesizers and the advent of a new "holophonic" recording technique the music has taken on deep, mahogany-hued tones, mainly provided by piano, harmonium and real strings. The effect of these internal shifts is all the more exhilarating for being totally unexpected. By comparison, in almost every way, The Wall was only a warm-up.

The Final Cut began as a modest expansion upon the soundtrack of the film version of The Wall, with a few new songs added and its release scheduled for the latter half of 1982. In the interim, however, the movie, a grotesquely misconceived collaboration between Waters and director Alan Parker, was released to a general thud of incomprehension. Around the same time, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, irked by the unseemly antics of an Argentine despot, dispatched British troops halfway around the world to fight and die for the Falkland Islands.

That event, coming in the wake of his failed film statement, apparently stirred Waters to an artistic epiphany. Out of the jumbled obsessions of the original Wall album, he fastened on one primal and unifying obsession: the death of his father in the battle of Anzio in 1944. Thus, on The Final Cut, a child's inability to accept the loss of the father he never knew has become the grown man's refusal to accept the death politics that decimate each succeeding generation and threaten ever more clearly with each passing year to ultimately extinguish us all.

The album is dedicated to the memory of the long-lost Eric Fletcher Waters, and in one of its most memorable moments, his now-middle-aged son bitterly envisions a "Fletcher Memorial Home for incurable tyrants and kings," one and all welcome, be they pompous butchers in comic-opera uniforms or smug statesmen in expensive suits. He presents a ghastly processional: "... please welcome Reagan and Haig/Mr. Begin and friend, Mrs. Thatcher and Paisley/Mr. Brezhnev and party.... And," he coos, "now adding color, a group of anonymous Latin American meat packing glitterati." With these "colonial wasters of life and limb" duly assembled, Waters inquires, with ominous delicacy: "Is everyone in?/Are you having a nice time?/Now the final solution can be applied."

As fantasy, this has a certain primordial appeal. But Waters realizes that all the Neanderthals will never be blown away. What concerns him more is the inexplicable extent of fighting in the world when there seems so little left to defend. In "The Gunners Dream," a dying airman hopes to the end that his death will be in the service of "the postwar dream," for which the album stands as a requiem the hope for a society that offers "a place to stay/enough to eat," where "no one ever disappears ... and maniacs don't blow holes in bandsmen by remote control." But Waters, looking around him more than thirty-five years after the war's end, can only ask: "Is it for this that daddy died?"

In the past, Waters might have dismissed the gunner's dream as an empty illusion from the outset. Instead, though, Waters insists on honoring his sacrifice: "We cannot just write off his final scene/Take heed of his dream/Take heed." Without a commitment to some objective values, he seems to say, we sink into a brutalizing xenophobia an "I'm all right, Jack" condition explored with considerable brilliance in the withering "Not Now John." In that song, the deepest human truths are cast aside in a frenzy "to compete with the wily Japanese": "There's too many home fires burning/And not enough trees/So fuck all that/We've got to get on with these."

With a Sixties-style soul-chick chorus bleating "Fuck all that!" in the background, and guitarist David Gilmour pile-driving power chords throughout, "Not Now John" qualifies as one of the most ferocious performances Pink Floyd has ever put on record. In the context of The Final Cut, it is something of an oddity; for while the music has an innate architectural power that pulls one ever deeper into the album's conceptual design, the performances and production are generally distinguished by their restraint even the fabled Floydian sound effects are reduced to the occasional ticking clock or whooshing bomber. Attention is mostly devoted to the music's human textures: the gorgeous saxophone solos of Raphael Ravenscroft, Ray Cooper's thundering percussion, shimmering string washes, the sometimes gospel-tinged piano of Michael Kamen (who coproduced the album with Waters and James Guthrie) and, on every track, the most passionate and detailed singing that Waters has ever done.

Whether this will be their last album as a group (the official word is no, but Wright is apparently gone for good, and even the faithful Nick Mason relinquishes his drum chair on one cut to session player Andy Newmark) is not as compelling a question as where Waters will go with what appears to be a new-found freedom. He plans to record a solo album for his next project, and one hopes that just the novelty of becoming a full-fledged human will be enough to keep him profitably occupied for many years to come.

KURT LODER, RollingStone Magazine

Works, 1983


One Of These Days | Arnold Layne | Fearless | Brain Damage | Eclipse | Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun | See Emily Play | Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict | Free Four | Embryo (Capitol - 1983)

"Always need a little more room ..."

The release of "Works" in 1983 would have been an entirely insignificant occurrence, if not for the inclusion of one new composition in this collection of otherwise previously released songs.

"Embryo" was actually recorded by Pink Floyd during the sessions for 1969's "Ummagumma" album. However, since the song was recorded by the group, and thus didn't fit into the album's concept of providing time for each band member to do his own thing for a half of an album side, its release was put on hold.

The song would eventually be issued in 1970, as part of "Picnic," a sampler compiled by the Harvest label, even though Roger Waters, the number's author, says that the song was never truly finished. Its inclusion on the "Works" album some 13 years later surely made it available to a wider audience, and boosted sales for the album.

Written by Craig Bailey

A Collection Of Great Dance Songs, 1981


One Of These Days | Money | Sheep | Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Edit) | Wish You Were Here | Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) (Columbia - 1981)

No review available.

The Wall, 1979


In The Flesh? | The Thin Ice | Another Brick In The Wall (Part 1) | The Happiest Days Of Our Lives | Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) | Mother | Goodbye Blue Sky | Empty Spaces | Young Lust | One Of My Turns | Don't Leave Me Now | Another Brick In The Wall (Part 3) | Goodbye Cruel World | Hey You | Is There Anybody Out There? | Nobody Home | Vera | Bring The Boys Back Home | Comfortably Numb | The Show Must Go On | In The Flesh | Run Like Hell | Waiting For The Worms | Stop | The Trial | Outside The Wall (Columbia - 1979)

Though it in no way endangers the meisterwerk musical status of Dark Side of the Moon (still on the charts nearly seven years after its release), Pink Floyd's twelfth album, The Wall, is the most startling rhetorical achievement in the group's singular, thirteen-year career. Stretching his talents over four sides, Floyd bassist Roger Waters, who wrote all the words and a majority of the music here, projects a dark, multilayered vision of post-World War II Western (and especially British) society so unremittingly dismal and acidulous that it makes contemporary gloom-mongers such as Randy Newman or, say, Nico seem like Peter Pan and Tinker Bell.

The Wall is a stunning synthesis of Waters' by now familiar thematic obsessions: the brutal misanthropy of Pink Floyd's last LP, Animals; Dark Side of the Moon's sour, middle-aged tristesse; the surprisingly shrewd perception that the music business is a microcosm of institutional oppression (Wish You Were Here); and the dread of impending psychoses that runs through all these records plus a strongly felt antiwar animus that dates way back to 1968's A Saucerful of Secrets. But where Animals, for instance, suffered from self-centered smugness, the even more abject The Wall leaps to life with a relentless lyrical rage that's clearly genuine and, in its painstaking particularity, ultimately horrifying.

Fashioned as a kind of circular maze (the last words on side four begin a sentence completed by the first words on side one), The Wall offers no exit except madness from a world malevolently bent on crippling its citizens at every level of endeavor. The process for those of Waters' generation, at least begins at birth with the smothering distortions of mother love. Then there are some vaguely remembered upheavals from the wartime Blitz:

Did you ever wonder

Why we had to run for shelter

When the promise of a brave new world

Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?

In government-run schools, children are methodically tormented and humiliated by teachers whose comeuppance occurs when they go home at night and "their fat and/Psychopathic wives would thrash them/Within inches of their lives."

As Roger Waters sees it, even the most glittering success later in life in his case, international rock stardom is a mockery because of mortality. The halfhearted hope of interpersonal salvation that slightly brightened Animals is gone, too: women are viewed as inscrutable sexual punching bags, and men (their immediate oppressors in a grand scheme of oppression) are inevitably left alone to flail about in increasingly unbearable frustration. This wall of conditioning finally forms a prison. And its pitiful inmate, by now practically catatonic, submits to "The Trial", a bizarre musical cataclysm out of Gilbert and Sullivan via Brecht and Weill in which all of his past tormentors converge for the long-awaited kill.

This is very tough stuff, and hardly the hallmark of a hit album. Whether or not The Wall succeeds commercially will probably depend on its musical virtues, of which there are many. Longtime Pink Floyd fans will find the requisite number of bone-crushing riffs and Saturn-bound guitar screams ("In the Flesh"), along with one of the loveliest ballads the band has ever recorded ("Comfortably Numb "). And the singing throughout is at last truly firstrate, clear, impassioned. Listen to the vocals in the frightening "One of My Turns," in which the deranged rock-star narrator, his shattered synapses misfiring like wet firecrackers, screams at his groupie companion: "Would you like to learn to fly?/Would you like to see me try?"

Problems do arise, however. While The Wall's length is certainly justified by the breadth of its thematic concerns, the music is stretched a bit thin. Heavy-metal maestro Bob Ezrin, brought in to coproduce with Roger, Waters and guitarist David Gilmour, adds a certain hard-rock consciousness to a few cuts (especially the nearfunky "Young Lust") but has generally been unable to match the high sonic gloss that engineer Alan Parsons contributed to Dark Side of the Moon. Even Floydstarved devotees may not be sucked into The Wall's relatively flat aural ambiance on first hearing. But when they finally are and then get a good look at that forbidding lyrical landscape they may wonder which way is out real fast.

KURT LODER, RollingStone Magazine

Animals, 1977


Pigs On The Wing (Part 1) | Dogs | Pigs (Three Different Ones) | Sheep | Pigs On The Wing (Part 2) (Columbia - 1977)

For Pink Floyd, space has always been the ultimate escape. It still is, but now definitions have shifted. The romance of outer space has been replaced by the horror of spacing out.

This shift has been coming for a while. There was Dark Side of the Moon and "Brain Damage," Wish You Were Here and the story of founding member Syd Barrett, the "Crazy Diamond." And now there's Animals, a visit to a cacophonous farm where what you have to watch for is pigs on the wing. Animals is a song suite that deals with subjects like loneliness, death and lies. "Have a good drown," they shout dolefully as you drop into the pit that is this album: "Have a good drown as you go down all alone/Dragged down by the stone ... stone ... stone ... stone ... stone ..." Thanks, pals, I'll try.

It's no use. Like all Floyd records, this one absorbs like a sponge, but you can still hear the gooey screams of listeners who put up a fight. What's the problem? For starters, the sax that warmed Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here has been replaced by a succession of David Gilmour guitar solos thin, brittle and a sorry substitute indeed. The singing is more wooden than ever. The sound is more complex, but it lacks real depth; there's nothing to match the incredible intro to Dark Side of the Moon, for example, with its hypnotic chorus of cash registers recalling the mechanical doom that was Fritz Lang's vision in Metropolis. Somehow you get the impression that this band is being metamorphosed into a noodle factory.

Maybe that shouldn't be surprising. Floyd was never really welcomed into the Sixties avant garde: space rock was a little too close to science fiction for that. But the extraordinary success of Dark Side of the Moon (released nearly four years ago, it's still on the charts) culminated almost a decade of ever-expanding cult appeal and gave the band an audience that must have seemed as boundless as space itself. The temptation to follow through with prefab notions of what that audience would like warmed over, spaced out heavy-metal, in this case was apparently too strong to resist.

Even worse, however, is the bleak defeatism that's set in. In 1968 Floyd was chanting lines like: "Why can't we reach the sun? / Why can't we throw the years away?" This kind of stuff may seem silly, but at least it wasn't self-pitying. The 1977 Floyd has turned bitter and morose. They complain about the duplicity of human behavior (and then title their songs after animals, get it?). They sound like they've just discovered this their message has become pointless and tedious.

Floyd has always been best at communicating the cramped psychology that comes from living in a place like England, where the 20th century has been visibly superimposed on the others that preceded it. The tension that powers their music is not simply fright at man's helplessness before technology; it's the conflict between the modern and the ancient, between technology and tradition. Space is Floyd's way of resolving the conflict.

Of course, space doesn't offer any kind of real escape; Pink Floyd knows that. But spacing out is supposed to. (Spacing out has always been the idea behind space rock anyway.) Animals is Floyd's attempt to deal with the realization that spacing out isn't the answer either. There's no exit; you get high, you come down again. That's what Pink Floyd has done, with a thud.

FRANK ROSE, RollingStone Magazine

Wish You Were Here, 1975


Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part 1) | Welcome To The Machine | Have A Cigar | Wish You Were Here | Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part 2) | Welcome to the Machine | Have a Cigar | Wish You Were Here | Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pt. 6 | Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pt. 7 | Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pt. 8 | Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Pt. 9 (Columbia - 1975)

Without Pink Floyd we would not have the European sci-fi multitudes (Hawkwind, Can, Amon Duul II and all their little friends) to kick around. They were the first to explore the upper reaches of the chemical heavens, and their commercial and artistic superiority, if ever it was in doubt, was brutally confirmed by Dark Side of the Moon. That 1973 album has now sold over 6,000,000 units worldwide 3,000,000 in the U.S. alone. Advance orders for their followup (two years in the making) topped 900,000, one of the largest advance figures in Columbia's history.

Talk has it that the waiting period was prolonged by the band's own paranoia. To release anything would commit them to a competition with their own past that they could not hope to win.

If so, their fears have been realized.

By their own admission, Pink Floyd will never bring home any blue ribbons for their instrumental abilities. Their mastery of their tools peaks at competence. The illusion of complexity that caused their drooling legions to make wild claims of high-art accomplishment was actually nothing more than the skillful manipulation of elements so simple the basic three chords everyone else uses that any collection of bar backs could grind out a note-for-note reproduction without difficulty.

One of the things that made DSOTM so striking was that it showed them at full recognition of their limitations as musicians. In the past Pink Floyd has often conceptually outdistanced their minimal technical skills, but everything on that record seemed perfectly calculated never to cross the line. The combination of elementary but flawless playing and correspondingly tasteful studio effects created a kind of spacey mood music that suddenly made sense to people who couldn't have been persuaded to buy one of their previous albums at gunpoint. But most of the music on this album seems determined to picture Pink Floyd as just another conventional rock & roll band, ignoring their strengths of self-analysis in order to gain entry to an arena in which they aren't equipped to do battle.

The cardinal offender is David Gilmour, by most counts the most technically efficient. No championship guitarist, he nonetheless had enough intelligent ideas to maintain the group's ultraimportant link to the bedrock demands of their mass audience. He oversteps his bounds in several places on Wish You Were Here, however, indulging in protracted solos that present him as just another competent guitarist who thinks with his fingers instead of his head.

Gilmour plays a nice acoustic duet (with himself tracked through a radio) as an intro to the title tune, which has vaguely pleasant echoes of Loudon Wainwright in its stark approach. It's the most successful song on the album until the full band makes its grandly faceless entrance, at which point the number immediately nosedives to ho-hum level. After all the time they've devoted to molding their shortcomings into something uniquely workable as a band, Pink Floyd should know better than to turn around and imitate the transparent, traditional rock-band methodology to which they supposedly present an alternative.

Crucial to the process of learning to live with their limitations was the full integration of the studio as an instrument, an option they exercised far more effectively than most of the competition. But here, where they're bent on playing it straight so much of the way, the effects become accentuated to a point where it all sounds overlaid. This doesn't complement the music, it fights it, and the effects sound gimmicky. The overall sound loses the occasionally breathtaking dimensions that made DSOTM such a grabber for people who'd never considered Pink Floyd anything more than random space noise.

"Shine on You Crazy Diamond" is initially credible because it purports to confront the subject of Syd Barrett, the long and probably forever lost guiding light of the original Floyd. But the potential of the idea goes unrealized; they give such a matter-of-fact reading of the goddamn thing that they might as well be singing about Roger Waters's brother-in-law getting a parking ticket. This lackadaisical demeanor forces, among other things, a reevaluation of their relationship to all the space cadet orchestras they unconsciously sired. The one thing those bands have going for them, in their cacophonously inept way, is a sincere passion for their "art." And passion is everything of which Pink Floyd is devoid.

Wish You Were Here is about the machinery of a music industry that made and helped break Syd Barrett. (They even farm out a vocal to Roy Harper, an obscure but respected British singer/songwriter for whom the machinery has never quite worked, to add that authentic measure of defeated cynicism.) Their treatment, though, is so solemn that you have to ask what the point is. If your use of the machinery isn't alive enough to transcend its solemn hum even if that hum is your subject then you're automatically trapped. In offering not so much as a hint of liberation, that's where this album leaves Pink Floyd.

BEN EDMONDS, RollingStone Magazine

The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973


Speak To Me | Breathe | On The Run | Time | Breathe (Reprise) | The Great Gig In The Sky | Money | Us And Them | Any Colour You Like | Brain Damage | Eclipse (Capitol - 1973)

One of Britain's most successful and long lived avant-garde rock bands, Pink Floyd emerged relatively unsullied from the mire of mid-Sixties British psychedelic music as early experimenters with outer space concepts. Although that phase of the band's development was of short duration, Pink Floyd have from that time been the pop scene's preeminent techno-rockers: four musicians with a command of electronic instruments who wield an arsenal of sound effects with authority and finesse. While Pink Floyd's albums were hardly hot tickets in the shops, they began to attract an enormous following through their US tours. They have more recently developed a musical style capable of sustaining their dazzling and potentially overwhelming sonic wizardry.

The Dark Side of the Moon is Pink Floyd's ninth album and is a single extended piece rather than, a collection of songs. It seems to deal primarily with the fleetingness and depravity of human life, hardly the commonplace subject matter of rock. "Time" ("The time is gone the song is over"), "Money" ("Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie"). And "Us And Them" ("Forward he cried from the rear") might be viewed as the keys to understanding the meaning (if indeed there is any definite meaning) of The Dark Side of the Moon.

Even though this is a concept album, a number of the cuts can stand on their own. "Time" is a fine country-tinged rocker with a powerful guitar solo by David Gilmour and "Money" is broadly and satirically played with appropriately raunchy sax playing by Dick Parry, who also contributes a wonderfully-stated, breathy solo to "Us And Them." The non-vocal "On The Run" is a standout with footsteps racing from side to side successfully eluding any number of odd malevolent rumbles and explosions only to be killed off by the clock's ticking that leads into "Time." Throughout the album the band lays down a solid framework which they embellish with synthesizers, sound effects and spoken voice tapes. The sound is lush and multi-layered while remaining clear and well-structured.

There are a few weak spots. David Gilmour's vocals are sometimes weak and lackluster and "The Great Gig in the Sky" (which closes the first side) probably could have been shortened or dispensed with, but these are really minor quibbles. The Dark Side of the Moon is a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement. There is a certain grandeur here that exceeds mere musical melodramatics and is rarely attempted in rock. The Dark Side of the Moon has flash-the true flash that comes from the excellence of a superb performance.

LOYD GROSSMAN, RollingStone Magazine

Obscured By Clouds, 1972


Obscured By Clouds | When You're In | Burning Bridges | The Gold It's In The... | Wots...Uh The Deal | Mudmen | Childhood's End | Free Four | Stay | Absolutely Curtains (Capitol - 1972)

"Childhood's end: Your fantasies merge with harsh realities ..."

"Obscured by Clouds" was the third film soundtrack that Pink Floyd contributed to, after "More" in 1969 and "Zabriskie Point" in 1970. Actually, it was the fourth, if you count Peter Sykes' "The Committee," which was never officially released, nearly guaranteeing that it would become somewhat of a holy grail for Floyd collectors.

Subtitled "Music from The Valley," the album is the soundtrack to the French film "La Vallée," directed by Barbet Schroeder, who also directed 1969's "More."

Nicholas Schaffner wrote in his book "Saucerful of Secrets" that the album was recorded in little more than a week at the Château d'Herouville in France. However, the liner notes on the CD read, "Recorded in England." You be the judge.

"Free Four," the second song Roger Waters wrote making reference to war, a theme he would rely heavily on in 1979's "The Wall" and "The Final Cut" in 1983, was released as a single in the United States, backed with his "Stay." The album peaked at number 46 on the album chart in the States.

Written by Craig Bailey

Meddle, 1971


One Of These Days | A Pillow Of Winds | Fearless | San Tropez | Seamus | Echoes (Capitol - 1971)

Pink Floyd has finally emerged from the Atom Heart Mother phase, a fairly stagnant period in their musical growth, marked by constant creative indecision. They tried to cover for it by putting a particular series of subliminal sound effects on the Atom Heart LP, and by dragging in huge, unwieldy brass orchestra sections to their concerts. Nothing short of disaster on both counts. Their new album. Meddle not only confirms lead guitarist David Gilmour's emergence as a real shaping force with the group, it states forcefully and accurately that the group is well into the growth track again.

The first cut, "One Of These Days (I'm Going To Cut You Into Little Pieces)" sticks to the usual Floyd formula (sound effect-slow organ build-lead guitar surge & climax-resolving sound effect), but each segment of the tune is so well done, and the whole thing coheres so perfectly that it comes across as a positive, high-energy opening. Next, we have a series of ozone ballads like "Pillow Of Winds" and "San Tropez." Pleasant little acoustic numbers hovering over a bizarre back-drop of weird sounds. A clever spoof entitled "Fearless" leads up to a classic crowd rendition of Rodger's & Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone," the perennial victory song for the Wembley Cup Final crowd in England. And, to round off side one, a great pseudo-spoof blues tune with David Gilmour's dog Seamus taking over the lead "howl" duties.

"Echoes," a 23-minute Pink Floyd aural extravaganza that takes up all of side two, recaptures, within a new musical framework, some of the old themes and melody lines from earlier albums. All of this plus a funky organ-bass-drums segment and a stunning Gilmour solo adds up to a fine extended electronic outing. Meddle is killer Floyd from start to finish.

JEAN-CHARLES COSTA, RollingStone Magazine

Relics, 1971


Arnold Layne | Interstellar Overdrive | See Emily Play | Remember A Day | Paint Box | Julia Dream | Careful With That Axe, Eugene | Cirrus Minor | The Nile Song | Biding My Time | Bike (Capitol - 1971)

"Arnold Layne had a strange hobby ..."

"Relics" is composed of several songs that were released as singles by Pink Floyd. Up to the point the album was released in 1971, many of the numbers had only been released as singles, while others had appeared on various Floyd albums.

There have been a few different album covers for "Relics." The original featured a somewhat Rube Goldberg-esque line drawing from drummer Nick Mason. When the LP was released in the United States, it sported strange masks, actually bottle openers with someone sticking his or her tongue through the mouth opening. The Australian version displayed old coins on the cover.

"Relics" reached number 152 on the United States Billboard album chart. Oddly, a CD version of the album was not available, except for a limited New Zealand pressing! until 1995.

Written by Craig Bailey

Atom Heart Mother, 1970


Atom Heart Mother | If | Summer '68 | Fat Old Sun | Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast (Capitol - 1970)

At one time, Pink Floyd was far-out, freaky even. Their work in the electronic capabilities of rock was more advanced than most people recognize. Their use of a third, rear, sound source anticipated quadraphonics. And their music, if it wasn't memorable, reached into the limits of their experimentation. Most other groups, when they thought in terms of electronics, thought only of painful feedback. Pink Floyd used sounds no one else thought of and could make them lyrical besides. Their last album, Ummagumma, while a bit drawn-out, had all their best elements.

Atom Heart Mother is a step headlong into the last century and a dissipation of their collective talents, which are considerable.

Side one is a suite, almost a symphony. It has a lot in it. They use orchestral elements and a choir. The best that can be said for it is that it's craftsman-like and that in spite of its many parts, it's an entity. But that's all.

It turns out to be an Impressionist orchestral sketch of (I think) a morning that includes some rock elements. As Impressionism, it's occasionally effective, but on a very imitative level. The beginning does sound sunrisey. And, there are sounds that draw pictures. But, as a whole it's awful schmaltzy and a little vapid.

Side two is generally worse. "If" is English folk at its deadly worst. It's soft and silly. Ditto "Fat Old Sun."

The only redeeming feature on this side is the last cut, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" and then only partially so. The part is not the music, but the integrated Arising and Breakfast sounds.

I was listening through earphones, and so three-dimensional and realistic were the sounds that I took off the phones to see who was breaking in. I couldn't believe it to be part of the record. Once I got over that, though, it was the same insubstantial melange as the rest of the record.

If Pink Floyd is looking for some new dimensions, they haven't found them here.

Try freaking out again, Pink Floyd.

ALEC DUBRO, RollingStone Magazine

Ummagumma, 1969


Narrow Way, Pt. 3 | Astronomy Domine (Live) | Careful With That Axe, Eugene (Live) | Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Enterance, Pt. 1 | Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Entertainment, Pt. 2 | Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (Live) | A Saucerful Of Secrets (Live) | Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Exit, Pt. 3 | Sysyphus | Grantchester Meadows | Sysyphus [Part 2] | Sysyphus [Part 3] | Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict | The Narrow Way | Sysyphus [Part 4] | The Grand Vizier's Garden Party | Grantchester Meadows | Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave An | Narrow Way, Pt. 1 | Narrow Way, Pt. 2 (Capitol - 1969)

"A river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees ..."

"Ummagumma" marked several firsts for Pink Floyd:

To begin with, it was the group's first double-album. One disc was composed of live material recorded at Mother's Club in Birmingham, England, and at the Manchester College of Commerce. The other platter was a studio work, intended to allow each member of the band to shine in his own light, a result of keyboardist Rick Wright's concern that individual group members were confined by writing and playing in a strict "rock group" format. The live album was produced by the band. For the studio work, Floyd turned to Norman Smith, who had produced the group's first and second albums.

Secondly, the live disc constituted the group's first live album. It would be nearly 20 years before the band would put out its second live album, 1988's "Delicate Sound of Thunder," after Roger Waters' exodus. "Pulse," released in late-spring 1995, was the group's third live work, followed by "Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live" released April 18, 2000.

"Ummagumma" was also the first Floyd album to break the top 100 album chart in the United States. It peaked at number 74.

The album also holds the distinction of containing one of the strangest titled Floyd songs: Roger Waters' "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict." There's been much debate on what, in fact, a pict is. According to the Echoes FAQ, a pict is "a member of a possibly non-Celtic people who once occupied Great Britain, carried on continual border wars with the Romans, and about the 9th century became amalgamated with the Scots." There you go.

The album's title is a euphemism for the sex act that band members picked up from their early days in Cambridge. Its choice for the album's title apparently had no literal significance. Judging from our interview with Floyd designer Storm Thorgerson, Brits seem to pronounce it OOH-ma GOO-ma, while Americans seem to favor UH-ma GUH-ma.

The American version of the album cover, one of many Floyd covers designed by Hipgnosis, differed slightly from the U.K. version. The U.K. edition, shown here, features the soundtrack album to the musical "Gigi" propped up against the wall, beneath the picture frame. Because of a copyright snafu, the "Gigi" design had to be removed from the album cover in the States, leaving a plain, white cover in its place.

Written by Craig Bailey

More, 1969


Cirrus Minor | The Nile Song | Crying Song | Up The Khyber | Green Is The Colour | Cymbaline | Party Sequence | Main Theme | Ibiza Bar | More Blues | Quicksilver | A Spanish Piece | Dramatic Theme (Capitol - 1969)

"Your manager and agent are both busy on the phone ..."

Pink Floyd's third album was a soundtrack to the French film "More," directed by Barbet Schroeder ("Barfly," "Reversal of Fortune"). A movie about heroin use, the film didn't make many waves in the United States, but apparently was wildly successful in France, where it has become analogous to "Easy Rider." The movie's success in France gave the Floyd an early strong foothold in that country.

Soundtrack work wasn't entirely new to Floyd. The second recording session it ever participated in, Oct. 31, 1966, at Thompson Private Recording Co. in Hemel Hempstead, became the soundtrack to a film called "San Francisco."

Two years later, the group contributed material to the infamous Peter Sykes film "The Committee," starring Paul Jones from Manfred Mann. The film was never officially released. The band recorded the music for the movie in May 1968, one of the first sessions that incorporate David Gilmour, but a legitimate version of the soundtrack never existed. The next best thing was a 1985 bootleg, which, unfortunately, was taken straight from the film, and apparently includes dialogue over much of the meager 17-minute recording.

Floyd would go on to participate in two other more significant film soundtracks: "Zabriskie Point" in 1970, and 1972's "Obscured by Clouds," the soundtrack to another Schroeder film, "La Vallee."

The soundtrack to "More" was the first album on which the band acted as producer. It peaked at number 153 in the United States.

"More" was Schroeder's directorial debut. The film resurfaced on video, digitally remastered with the original theatrical trailer, in 2000.

Written by Craig Bailey

A Saucerful Of Secrets, 1968


Let There Be More Light | Remember A Day | Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun | Corporal Clegg | A Saucerful Of Secrets | See-Saw | Jugband Blues (Capitol - 1968)

The Pink Floyd were in the forefront of the self-consiously psychedelic rock movement in Britain as it developed over a year ago; they had to their credit a couple of promising singles ("Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play") and a fairly impressive first album. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Syd Barrett (vocals and lead guitar) displayed a minor talent for writing as well as a not insubstantial ability to prepare special effects and production work. If much the Floyd did was based on gimmicks, Barrett at least had a keen ear that rather successfully structured gimmicks into a sort of pleasant "psychedelic chamber music."

Unfortunately the Pink Floyd's second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, is not as interesting as their first, as a matter of fact, it is rather mediocre. For one thing Barrett seems either to have left the group or to have given up actively participating in it: only one Barrett composition is on the new album ("Jugband Blues"), and it hardly does credit to Barrett's credentials as a composer.

With Barrett gone we are left with the work of bassist Roger Waters and organist Rick Wright. Waters (who wrote a couple of dull tracks on the first album) is an uninteresting writer, vocalist, and bass player. "Let There Be More Light" and "Set the Controls for the Heart of The Sun" are boring melodically, harmonically, and lyrically. The production work is not as glittery as the first album's, and the instrumental work is shoddy and routine; yet both tracks run some five minutes, two examples of unnecessary length in rock.

Waters' "Corporal Clegg" at least has the virtue of brevity, as well as not sounding like it was written in a drugged stupor, but its unoriginal melody is much too Beatley for these post Sgt. Pepper days.

Rick Wright, whose organ playing is generally capable if not inventive, has also contributed a couple of songs to Saucerful. "Remember a Day" itself is inoffensive, but features some rather miserable bottleneck guitar, second rate piano, and empty-sounding acoustic guitar work. Here, as throughout, Nickie Mason's drumming is busy and ineffective. Wright's "See-Saw" is a ballad scored vocally in a style incongruously reminiscent of Ronnie and The Daytonas.

The album's title track is eleven minutes of psychedelic muzak, hardly electronic music, but hardly creative rock either. There's a lot of interesting noise, and at times one almost is tempted to take the whole conglomeration as a significant experimental probe.

But as the chaos settles reassuringly into a banal organ-cum-religious chorus final, one realizes that the Pink Floyd are firmly anchored in the diatonic world with any deviations from that norm a matter of effect rather than musical conviction. Unfortunately a music of effects is a weak base for a rock group to rest its reputation on but this is what the Pink Floyd have done.

JIM MILLER, RollingStone Magazine

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967


Astronomy Domine | Lucifer Sam | Matilda Mother | Flaming | Pow R. Toc H. | Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk | Interstellar Overdrive | The Gnome | Chapter 24 | Scarecrow | Bike (EMI Columbia - 1967)

Like so many English bands in the mid- to late Sixties, Pink Floyd began to move beyond the blues that had initially inspired them - the group's name, in fact, derived from bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. For the Floyd, that move meant a journey into psychedelia, and the group's debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is a masterpiece of the genre. It blends all the hippie obsessions of the time - space travel, magic, nature, Tolkien-esque fantasy, drug reveries - into a suite of swirling, eerily affecting songs.

Piper is also the golden achievement of Syd Barrett, who at the time was the singer, lead guitarist and main songwriter of the group, which also included bassist Roger Waters, keyboardist Rick Wright and drummer Nick Mason. Barrett's two fractured solo albums, both released in 1970, and the devastating breakdown he suffered shortly after completing Piper fuel the romantic myth that surrounds him to this day. But this album is his undeniable claim on history.

On its surface, Piper is filled with strange sounds (the crackling radio transmission at the start of "Astronomy Domine," the odd vocal and percussive effects that open "Pow R. Toc H.") intended for the amusement of the chemically enhanced listener. For that reason alone, the album is a milestone in what would soon be called "head music."

But in songs whose moods continually shift and surprise, Barrett and Company also get at something deeper. "Interstellar Overdrive" - nearly ten minutes of guitar and organ turmoil - and the off-kilter guitar riff of "Lucifer Sam" capture all the simultaneously wondrous and unsettling aspects of psychedelic tripping. Barrett's lyrics, similarly, shred literal meaning in favor of the sensual evocations of cadence, synesthetic imagery and pure sound: "Lime and limpid green the sound surrounds the icy waters underground."

Barrett's emotional problems soon forced him out of Pink Floyd, and David Gilmour was brought on as guitarist. Barrett's only contribution to the group's second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), is the childlike "Jugband Blues," on which he sings, "I'm most obliged to you for making it clear/That I'm not here." He is the subject of Pink Floyd's anguished 1975 album, Wish You Were Here, and its extended eulogy to him, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." On The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, however, Barrett shone brightly indeed - on his own power and in all his many facets.

ANTHONY DeCURTIS, RollingStone Magazine


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