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Pink Floyd

British Progressive Rock Band

Studio Albums

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)

Soundtrack from the Film More (1969)

Ummagumma (1969)

Atom Heart Mother (1970)

Meddle (1971)

Obscured by Clouds (1972)

The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Wish You Were Here (1975)

Animals (1977)

The Wall (1979)

The Final Cut (1983)

A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)

The Division Bell (1994)

 

Linked Artists

 

Syd Barrett

The Madcap Laughs (1970)

Barrett (1970)

 

Roger Waters

The Pros and Cos of Hitch Hiking (1984)

Radio KAOS (1987)

Amused to Death (1992)

 

Dave Gilmour

David Gilmour (1978)

About Face (1984)

On An Island (2006)

 

Richard Wright

Wet Dreams (1978)

Broken China (1996)

 

 

 

Pink Floyd

Piper at the Gates of Dawn - 6

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.

One of the earliest and truest psychedelic records and the only Floyd album to feature Syd Barrett throughout which is probably enough reason to own it anyway. It's a weird trip from an embryonic band with all the rough corners that you might expect from a psychedelic first time out. To start with the title comes from the children's book The Wind in the Willows. Barrett's influences are everywhere. The songs deal with space, scarecrows, gnomes, bikes and any number of other strange things. Barrett either wrote or co-wrote every track apart from "Take Up the Stethoscope and Walk" which is a Roger Water's composition. Tracks like Flaming are quite difficult to understand over 40 years later. They sound as if they could have been written by an eight year old which might explain some of Barrett's subsequent problems. I have never subscribed to the Syd Barrett is a genius ideal, but what he has done with "Piper" is set out the stall of a band that would grow and mature from this rather strange and disorganised start with the music including all kinds of noises and weirdness that trap it firmly in a time warp. Back in 1967 it's the kind of album that would illicit a smile and a "I wonder where this band is going." The fact that Floyd moved from childish ramblings (albeit very interesting ones) into one of the most musically complex bands ever was a credit to all concerned. Sadly Barrett would soon jump ship - which may or may not have been a good thing - we will never know.

 

A Saucerful of Secrets - 6.5

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 

It soon became apparent that Syd Barrett's tenure in the band would be a short one due to his declining mental state. Dave Gilmour was brought in and essentially the band evolved with Barrett finally leaving both for his own good and that of the bands. So is this a transitional record? Well in many ways the answer is yes. Its intent soon becomes evident on Roger Waters' opening track Let There Be More Light which immediately has a more progressive rock feel to it than anything on Piper. Remember a Day was written by Richard Wright and  has a nodding acquaintance with psychedelia but then Waters weighs in with one of the group's most endearing and moody pieces "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. Corporal Clegg sees Waters turning to the military stage - somewhere he would inhabit many times in the future. The title track lasts for almost 12 minutes and gives Gilmour his first co-writing acknowledgement. It's a strange concoction of sounds, almost experimental in nature but with some strongly layered textures and an impressively understated choral ending. The album concludes with another Wright composition "See-Saw" and Barrett's "Jugband Blues" - his final effort for a band that was growing up fast.

 

Soundtrack From More - 6

Cirrus Minor/The Nile Song/Crying Song/Up the Khyber/Green is the Colour/Cymbaline/Main Theme/Ibiza Bar/More Blues/Quicksilver/A Spanish Piece/Dramatic Theme

Syd Barrett was completely adrift from the band by the time they recorded this soundtrack for the Barbet Schroeder directed film which dealt with heroin addiction on the island of Ibiza - a pretty depressing subject of spiralling abuse. This is definitely a Floyd album rather than a soundtrack in the accepted sense of the word. Schroeder wanted music that sounded as if somebody had just turned on the radio in the background. Floyd definitely achieved this with a mish mash of songs, instrumentals and a big variety of material that sets Cirrus Minor and The Nile Song side by side to show the band's developing versatility. Cirrus Minor is quintessential Floyd complete with birdsong and dreamy passages that make it one of my favourite Floyd tracks. The Nile Song is almost post grunge in its feel and could even stand as a precursor to Nirvana. Elsewhere it's a mix of the dreamy visualistic music that the band was beginning to employ, along with the kitchen sink music that seems to include virtually every crash, bang and wallop possible. Many people ignore this album, but there is considerable merit here if you take the time to listen closely.

Ummagumma - 6

Astronomy Domine/Careful with That Axe, Eugene/Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun/A Saucerful of Secrets/ Sysyphus/Grantchester Meadows/Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict/The Narrow Way/The Grand Vizier's Garden Party

As soon as we hear the jangling sounds of Astronomy Domine we know that we are in familiar territory here. Ummagumma remains a rather strange record. The band had cast aside Syd Barrett and produced a much heavier feel, although the opening track was penned by Barrett. This was a band in transition but one happy enough with their early material to produce an LP (yes there was life before the CD) that included a whole disc of live material culled from either their first two albums or, in the case of "Careful with that Axe Eugene", from a single. Recorded at Birmingham and Manchester, the first half of Ummagumma has an almost frightening feel about it. Live the band were even more intense than on record and the grouping together of the first four tracks is almost sinister in feel. So what about disc two which showcases the individual talents of the band sans Syd? It kicks off with Richard Wright's Sysyphus which almost has a tone poem feel about it. Partly classical, partly self indulgent it does at times seem to lose its way. By way of contrast it is followed by Roger Waters' Grantchester Meadows - his back to nature song that does have a great deal in common with previous Syd Barrett compositions. Again its slightly self indulgent in a different way. Waters also contributes "Several Species" one of his most ridiculous compositions - only good for a laugh if enjoying a few beers with friends. It is essentially a series of noises. Dave Gilmour's The Narrow Way is slightly more palatable but once again wanders around and Nick Mason's The Grand Vizier's Garden Party is probably best forgotten, Essentially this is a two part project - the excellent and moody live album and the less than impressive studio effort that does very little to enhance the band's reputation and at times is just too off the wall for comfort. it was almost as if the individual band members were equally out of control with nobody to bring them back together.

Atom Heart Mother - 7.5

Atom Heart Mother/If/Summer '68/Fat Old Sun/Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast

I have always bracketed Atom Heart Mother and Meddle together as Floyd's two "mid term" albums. By that I mean transitional albums between the psychedelic past and the commercial future still to come. Atom Heart Mother (the title comes from a newspaper headline about a woman who had a nuclear pacemaker installed) is a transitional album in every way. The opening track lasts just short of 24 minutes and took an entire side of the original LP. It is a glorious piece, full of beauty and prog rock sensibilities. It varies in style with choral sections, jazz guitar but the piece holds together better than anything the band had previously written.. It almost has a symphonic feel to the earlier passages and prefaces the kind of writing that would come into blistering effect with classics such as "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." If Floyd needed a point of reference here it was. Space psychedelia was all very well but it was never going to allow them to conquer the rock world. Pieces like "Atom Heart Mother" would pave the way for them to do exactly that. There is much more of a melodic structure to this piece. There then follow three more low key numbers. "If" is a Roger Waters song that sounds more mature than his earlier efforts and showed another developing side of the band, "Summer 68" comes from the pen of Richard Wright and is an enjoyable if unspectacular song and Fat Old Sun is Dave Gilmour's contribution. The album ends with another 13 minute piece "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast". Another strange Floyd piece this utilises long instrumental passages around a description of breakfasts from Floyd roadie Alan Stiles. There are actual sounds of him frying breakfast as well. A curio piece that somehow doesn't seem to be out of place at all.

 

Meddle - 7.5

One of these Days/ A Pillow of Winds/ Fearless/ San Tropaz/ Seamus/ Echoes

Sometimes memories can deceive. Whilst people were singing the praises of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here I always viewed Meddle as my favourite Floyd album. That was due as much to the sands of time as the music - in other words I remembered it from an era that held particularly happy memories for me. So how would it sit when I returned to it for the first time in many years? The tone of the album is set by the opening track - one of those that starts so quietly you wonder whether there is something wrong with the computer or the stereo. Then it gives way to one of those rollicking instrumental passages that hurtle along, gathering pace as it goes and giving way to real rock riffs and occasional caveman like grunts. It all gives way to another piece of Dave Gilmour/Roger Water's whimsy in the quietly beautiful A Pillow of Winds - the kind of soothing music that became something of a signature for the band. Fearless is a rather throwaway song that for some strange reason ends with the Anfield football choir singing "You'll Never Walk Alone." San Tropaz sounds as if it could come from the Syd Barrett era and Seamus is a silly blues song complete with dogs howling. Which just leaves us with Echoes - another magnum opus of 23 minutes plus. In true Floyd style it starts quietly and then builds with some lovely melodic vocals. Overall I would describe Meddle as a very low key harmonius album with a distinctive feeling of peace about it - some outstanding music, some more throwaway. Returning to it is like meeting an old friend, although over the years it may have lost some of its power it's still a fair achievement.

 

Obscured by Clouds - 4.5

Obscured by Clouds/When You're In/Burning Bridges/The Gold It's In The ,,,/Wot's...Uh the Deal/Mudmen/Childhood's End/Free Four/Stay/Absolutely Curtains

This was a strange direction for the band to take. Floyd turn their attention to more film work - this time for Barnet Schroeder's French film La Vallée. As such it seems to be a real marking time album between the excellence of Atom Heart Mother and Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon. There are hints of what is to come in songs such as Childhood's End and Mudmen. It's as if the band are taking a break from ultra serious work and almost between albums. So overall it's a disappointing mix of instrumental averageness and simple songs that fail to make a great deal of impact. 

 

Dark Side of the Moon - 9

Speak To Me / Breathe / On The Run / Time / The Great Gig In The Sky / Money / Us And Them / Any Colour You Like / Brain Damage / Eclipse

....And so came the breakthrough that had been threatened for so long. Dark Side of the Moon became not only Floyd's most successful album but one of the most successful albums of all time period. So what is it that sets it apart from many other Floyd album? Well from the start you get the feeling that this is the album the band had been working towards. Previously there had been hints. But here the sounds and the instrumentations are all harnessed towards giving the album meaning. Likewise Roger Waters began to find his voice and songwriting skills. Virtually every track on this album could and has found itself in a Best Of situation. The twin tracks Speak to Me and Breathe set the standard - strong melodies interwoven with sound and texture. On the Run is a swirling package of noise that fits right in and gives way to the famous clock chiming that introduces Time with its strong bass and drum resonances and wonderful life and death struggle lyrics that say so much and can speak to us all individually. Time is one of the great rock poems of the 20th century. The great thing about Dark Side of the Moon is its sparsity. There is nothing extraneous about the material here, it's almost as if its a celebration of life itself. But the great success of the album is the beautiful way it all hangs together and all you have to do is luxuriate in its brilliance and drink in the mood and textures.This is perfectly illustrated by Us and Them where the quietly delivered vocals help the piece to swirl and comfort and then reach a blissful crescendo.  Put simply this album makes you feel good.

 

Wish You Were Here - 8.5

Shine On You Crazy Diamond / Welcome To The Machine / Have A Cigar / Wish You Were Here / Shine On You Crazy Diamond

If Dark Side of the Moon was the height of Floyd's achievement. Wish You Were Here was very close behind. To start with it includes the 25 minute magnum opus to Syd Barrett "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" which is to my mind the best thing the band ever did which is just as well because the other three tracks take up only 18 minutes between them. Thankfully they do not greatly diminish the album but naturally limit its scope a little. Welcome to the Machine is an nihilistic view of the world, Have A Cigar is a Roger Waters' take on the music business and Wish You Were Here deals with alienation. Floyd were by this time becoming very adept at writing very deep lyrics. The album doesn't hang together quite as well as Dark Side but it did complete a superb double for the band. 

 

Animals - 6

Pigs on the Wing/ Dogs/ Pigs (three different ones)/ Sheep/ Pigs on the Wing 2

This is a hugely interesting album if only for the fact that it divided Floyd's fans into two camps - one considers it a masterpiece and the other considers it one of the band's least attractive albums. I have to say I sit somewhere in the middle. It is a change in direction for the band with Roger Waters seeming to take more control but Dave Gilmour wading in with some stomping guitar work. That's probably the biggest plus for the album. The concept shows Waters in angry young man mood and heralded a much more political vent to a concept album that was based loosely on George Orwell's 1984. The first and last tracks are very short, leaving the bulk of the material of over 39 minutes to just three tracks. The iconic front cover itself seems to give an apocalyptic view to things and this continues with the material itself - at times hard to swallow but at times also imbued with a harsh and almost random beauty. In a strange way this feels like an experimental album more than something from a band coming off the back of two of the finest albums in the history of rock music. That means that despite its angst it really treads a rather middle of the road path - veering between the idea of harder new beginnings and an extension of the past.

 

The Wall
The Final Cut - 6

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.

A band in serious break-up mode and you can see why by listening to The Final Cut with its ant-war sentiments, something that was becoming an obsession with Roger Waters who announced his departure from the band after the release of an album that caused further friction between himself and Dave Gilmour. This comes over very much as a Waters' solo album. He wrote the songs and sang them himself with just a small amount of help from Gilmour. It is not really a Floyd album in the pure sense of the word. There are few Floyd style pieces and little of the mesmerising guitar work and originality of albums such as Meddle and Atom Heart Mother. Having said that it certainly isn't a bad album. There is enough of interest to keep it reasonably fresh although by the end it can induce a feeling of slight disenchantment with the band and the message being banged out throughout. Waters had something to say. Whether a vehicle as high profile as Floyd was the right place to say it is another matter. Due to the subject matter of the songs, they tend to blend into one another. As already stated the band was falling apart with Rick Wright already absent. Essentially the lyrics on this are as important as the music but the songs don't work as stand alone pieces but together do have a strange thematic feel. This is not an album to be taken lightly and it certainly isn't background music.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason - 6

Signs of Life/Learning to Fly/The Dogs of War/One Slip/On the Turning Way/Yet Another Movie - Round and Around/A New Machine Part One/Terminal Frost/A New Machine Part 2/Sorrow

Roger Waters was long gone when Dave Gilmour decided to have another throw of the  dice with a more typically Floyd album. Amidst arguments and recriminations and threats about using the Floyd name this is a bona fide PF release simply because Waters was in a minority of one and this album brought together Gilmour and Mason with Richard Wright guesting as a musician due to contractual problems of naming him as part of the band. By this time, however, reviews of the band's music were focusing as much on the politics as the music. My job is to state whether, purely in my opinion, there is musical merit in A Momentary Lapse of Reason. There is certainly a harsh felling about some of the material with Dogs of War sounding like an updated version of Money from Dark Side of the Moon. It does say something for the album, however, that decades later pieces such as  Learning to Fly, On the Turning Away sound like Floyd staple offerings. One Slip is an inventive and complex song that gives the album its title. Overall this is a million miles away from the previous album - The Final Cut and it is very difficult to compare the two - so much had happened off stage in the four years between the releases. The album merges together many of the old Floyd trademarks with limited success.

 

The Division Bell - 7.5

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

The Floyd's final studio album wasn't treated too well by the critics who perhaps were expecting or looking for a return to the glory days. That simply wasn't going to happen post Roger Waters. But the fact is that this is more than a competent album full of Floyd trademarks and far more highs than lows. Indeed it has the feel of a very together album with some beautiful guitar work and some interesting lyrics. What Do You Want From Me? is seemingly about a relationship but could just as easily be a song about Waters and his relationship with individual members of the band. Perhaps it is the wailing guitars on Poles Apart and the instrumental Marooned that is the trademark of the album as a whole. Then there are two of the bands most endearing songs in "Keep Talking" with the Steven Hawking introduction and the final track High Hopes which has always been one of my favourite Floyd tracks. In fact this is more soulful than many Floyd albums. There are no bad tracks and I do rate it highly and certainly on a par with Meddle and Atom Heart Mother.