Hard to imagine that Pink Floyd was once dominated by Syd Barrett and Rick Wright. This album is founding member Syd Barrett’s psychedelic showpiece. Although slightly dated, it is an enjoyable listen free of peace and make love not war groovy vibes. Piper was recorded next door in the Abbey Road studios while the Beatles were working on Pepper (pepper/piper-it must have been a tad confusing at Abbey Road during the LSD drenched period of 1967 when the Beatles and Floyd were in residence) and it benefits from Norman Smith’s production (the Beatles engineer on all their albums up to this point). While Barrett may have played the Brian Jones role in Pink Floyd (ousted founder), his influence on his band exceeded Jones’, at least on this album. Gilmour, who taught Barrett how to play guitar, would take over by the next album.
A groundbreaking 60’s album that doesn’t meander into a Captain Beefheart cacophony of noise or Kinks style English Music Hall tedium. A disappointment as it does not include “See Emily Play” or “Arnold Layne”.
Each song has its own childlike or confused (the same when things get more complicated than ‘I got a bike you can ride it if you like’) quality. Action brings good fortune.
Did you know?: The title Piper at the Gates of Dawn was taken from the title of a chapter from Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic book “The Wind in the Willows”.
Even though Barrett played on two or fewer tracks (Syd’s only vocal appearance is on “Jugband Blues” where he presciently sings “Its awfully considerate for you to think of me here……I am wondering who could be writing this song”), this is still Pink Floyd dominated by Barrett’s sound.
Corporal Clegg sets the mold for Water’s later anti war rantings on The Wall and The Final Cut but itself still written in Barrett’s nursery rhyme style (Mrs. Clegg you must be proud of him, another drop of gin? And accompanying gazoo solo). Gilmour has yet to be a real influence on this album. “Let there be More Light” updates the Pink Floyd sound and hits all the right notes. A fine transition album and one where Barrett doesn’t seem missed which is an achievement given that at the time Barrett leaving Pink Floyd was akin to Jimi Hendrix leaving the Experience or Eric Clapton leaving Cream.
Did you know?: “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” was the only song on A Saucerful of Secrets on which David Gilmour, Pink Floyd’s new guitarist, and Syd Barrett played together.
Produced by Gilmour and Waters, this album reflects the lost sound of Pink Floyd. The album has a unfamiliar and unforced folk sound. It contains poems set to music (“Golden Hair” is a James Joyce poem-I suspect Syd is the only person to have ever claimed to understood Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake”), whimsical tunes (“Love You”) and near grunge sounding numbers (“No Man’s Land”-with its lyric “when I live I die”). It appears that Kevin Ayres of the Soft Machine, a mid 60’s psychedelic troupe, contributed the guitars, rather than Gilmour who would appear on Syd’s self-titled album just a few months later as bassist! (oddly enough, Ayres began his career as a bassist.) “Octopus” contains the “madcap laugh”. “Feel” shows Barrett trying (unsuccessfully) to take control of the recording proceedings. As he is unaccompanied its unclear whether its himself he’s trying to instruct or some other demon controlling his playing.
Produced and performed by Gilmour and Wright, this is more of a Pink Floyd album than its predecessor with Gilmour (bass, guitar, drums & organ-whose solo album is this anyway!?) and Wright (organ and piano) taking over more than is the norm for side men on a solo album as Barrett’s regression into mental illness precipitated the assistance of Gilmour and Wright to fill in the gaps. As a result “Barrett” has a more polished feel.
The live side to this album far surpasses the studio meanderings where each band member takes a portion of the album. The problem with this approach is none of them were that developed as songwriters at this point and Nick Mason never got there. The Waters and Gilmour sides are by far the better of the Ummagumma studio recordings.
Waters and Gilmour both show signs of developing their underappreciated vocal styles. Waters’ scream on “Careful with that Ax, Eugene” is especially bone chilling. The handling of “Astronomy Domine” is exceptional. It interesting that Pink Floyd has always managed to sound like Pink Floyd even where all the band members are not playing together. Witness Pink Floyd’s late 80’s and 90’s tours without Waters and you barely notice he’s gone. Eventually, however Pink Floyd would become Waters solo act with Gilmour and the others used as sidemen.
A Clapton/Gilmour analogy is apt here as Gilmour like E.C. excels when he is relieved of the burden of writing lyrics and leading a band and allowed to concentrate on his searing lead guitar playing (which by this album had not been quite developed). I give the live side a four and the studio a 2.
Atom Heart Mother is at times a muddled meandering mess, but it’s a Pink Floyd mess so there are some decent bits. The twenty three minute title track Atom Heart Mother introduces the theme of the album – some good parts (Gilmour’s guitar, Wright’s organ, some not so good (orchestra and choral arrangements). “If” is worth a listen if only to hear Waters prequel “The Final Cut” Richard Wright’s “Summer 68” could have been tossed into the “Atom Heart Mother” suite and no one would have noticed.
Did you know?: The album cover of Atom Heart Mother did not contain the band’s name and featured a cow in a meadow.
I can’t go any higher than three stars on this one as Echoes is the only song worth listening to. “Echoes” does take up a full side (or about half the CD) and is a fine recording but the other side has too much filler. “One of these days” is good too but the songs in between the first cut and Echoes can be safely omitted from any fairly comprehensive Floyd retrospective. “Seamus” is horrible and features a dog howling throughout. “Echoes” and “One of These Days” give “Meddle” a concept sound where no concept is offered.
Did you know?: The album cover of Meddle features a close up picture of an ear under water.
Obscured By The Clouds was Pink Floyd’s album just before The Dark Side of the Moon was released. Much of OBTC can be viewed as a warm up for DSOTM. Roger Waters’ “Free Four” examines mortality in perhaps a harsher way than DSOTM’s “Time”. Compare Free Four: “You get your chance to try and in a twinkling of an eye, 80 years, with luck or even less”, with “Time” “…and you run and you run to catch up with the sun but its sinking…and shorter of breath and one day closer to death.” Free Four even presages the bands’ self consciousness of success from 1975’s Wish You Were Here’s “Have a Cigar” Free Four: “So all aboard for the American Tour and maybe you’ll make it to the top.” Have a Cigar: “We’re just knocked out, we heard about the sell out.” Listen carefully and you’ll hear what sounds like syncopated beat from “Time” at the beginning of “Childhood’s End“.
The title track is a Gilmour guitar work out that leads into a continuation of the six string theme with “When You’re In”. “Mudmen” rounds out a trio of guitar instrumentals on OBTC. “Wot’s…Uh the Deal” achieves the classic Pink Floyd sound that would permeate their next few albums.
The pieces all come together here. This album is stunningly produced by Alan Parson who later went on to create a whole series of Floyd sounding albums as the Alan Parson’s project. Gilmour comes in to his own as a guitarist with particularly thoughtful leads on “Money” and “Time”. Waters’ lyrics begin to show the maturity that would later characterize his remaining Floyd and solo output.
Clare Tory’s one off $50 vocal contribution on “The Great Gig in the Sky” is priceless. “Brain Damage” with its lunatic is on the grass phrasing and background and foreground giggles harkens back to the best of what Syd never produced.
An overplayed album that never fails to bring the listener into its clutches.
Did you know?:The Dark Side of the Moon album cover features a prism emanating a light band with six colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet but omits indigo.
The Dark Side of the Moon Album Sales: United States (RIAA) 15× Platinum 15,000,000 United Kingdom (BPI) 9× Platinum 4,114,000 France Platinum 2,555,400 Australia 14X 980,000
Another fine outing from Pink Floyd where like “Dark Side”, the band is contributing in near equal parts. Shine On is the album’s centerpiece and a reference to Syd who based on some accounts showed up at the studio during the recordings of this album and particularly during Shine On after having not been seen by the band for over 5 years. No one knows whether Syd had “elastic bands keeping his shoes on” during that appearance but his presence is felt probably for the last time on any Floyd album on Wish You Were Here.
After this album, Barrett appears to have been effectively exorcised from the group and Waters begins to dominate. There are some interesting effects on this album particularly on “Welcome to the Machine” and the segue into “Wish you Were Here”. None of that detracts from the band’s atmospheric and sometimes inspired playing.
Wish You Were Here Album Sales: United States (RIAA) 6× Platinum 6,000,000 United Kingdom (BPI) 2× Platinum 600,000 France (SNEP) Diamond 1,000,000
WELCOME TO THE MACHINE New York 1977
A decent live recording of Pink Floyd playing the entire Wish You Were Here album.
BEST- Shine on You Crazy Diamond 2ND BEST- Wish You Were Here WORST- STARS- 3
The Raving and Drooling album. For a few years before “Animals” Floyd played a live version of “Sheep” which contained the lyric ‘Raving and drooling I fell on his back with a scream”. This was replaced with “bleating and babbling”…. in the version of “Sheep” on Animals.
Consisting of just three proper songs “Dogs”, “Pigs” and “Sheep” sandwiched by “Pigs on the Wing” and “Pigs on the Wing” part two. All songs are given the standard Floyd work out and since this was the peak Pink Floyd period where the band’s sound was in synch, the slightly weaker material does not hurt the albums overall impact.
Did you know?: The inflatable pig soaring over the Battersea Power Station in South London on the cover of Animals, broke free of its moorings and sailed across miles of English countryside before landing in a farm in Kent.
Waters’ concept after realizing that the space between the band and its audience had grown to a vast gulf. Another Brick in the Wall is an interesting recording with the school children (who like Alan Parson and Clare Tory were not paid or underpaid for their efforts) singing “We don’t need NO education” (the grammar indicating that they indeed do) Those kids were not allowed by their school to appear on Top of the Pops to perform the song with Pink Floyd as it was determined that their appearance would send “the wrong message”. The Wall concept works as we follow a paranoid character all the way to his “trial”. The most powerful piece is not, however, the finale but rather one of the few non Waters songs on the album – “Comfortably Numb”.
The Wall Album Sales: United Kingdom 2x Platinum 600,000 United States 23× Platinum 11,500,000 France Diamond 1,340,100 Australia 11× Platinum 770,000
Roger Waters first solo Pink Floyd album-even subtitled-“A Requiem for the Post War Dream” by Roger Water. The album back sleeve shows a military clad man holding a film canister with a knife in his back-a reference to Waters’ dissatisfaction over Alan Parker’s treatment of the film “The Wall”.
This is a fine album and vastly underrated. Gilmour would state (inaccurately) that there were only three good songs on it (two of which where his guitar takes center stage-“Your Possible Pasts” “The Gunner’s Dream” and “The Final Cut” ) This album excels because Waters eloquently and often poignantly rails against every one and everything and the playing is decidedly focused. The album was recorded using holophonic technology which is used to fine effect with the rocket launch which appears to explode overhead at the beginning of “Get Your Filithy Hands off My Desert”.
Nips, Thatcher, Reagan and Hague are all subject to Waters spleen on this brilliant exercise in bitterness. Waters calls for a “Safe European Home” in “The Gunner’s Dream” where we are free from ethnic cleansing dictators (“no one ever disappears”), terrorism (“maniacs don’t blow holes in bandsmen by remote control”- a reference to an early 80’s IRA attack where horses and bandsmen were blown up in a Hyde Park parade) and “where everyone has recourse to the law and no one kills the children anymore”. Lyrically by far the strongest Floyd album or perhaps any in rock.
THE PROS AND CONS OF HITCHHIKING – Roger Waters 1984
BEST- 2ND BEST- WORST- STARS- 2
The project that Waters offered to the band at the same time he showed them the demos to the Wall. Pros was rejected on the grounds that it was too personal-but far less so than the Final Cut! Waters used Eric Clapton to great effect as a sideman substituting slowhand for Gilmour. Clapton’s guitar playing is well used and precise.
MOMENTARY LAPSE OF REASON (1987)
BEST- On the Turning Away 2ND BEST- Learning To Fly WORST- STARS- 2
Released at a time when Waters had all but concluded that Pink Floyd as a band had ceased to exist when he left the band, Lapse is essentially a Gilmour solo effort. The songs are co written with out Floyd members and only Nick Mason and David Gilmour are pictured in the album’s artwork. Rick Wright chose to play on the album as a session per hire musician. There’s not much here to get excited about and one wonder’s why Gilmour struggled so hard to retain the right to the name Pink Floyd. The lucrative three-year tour and two double live albums that followed Lapse provide the reason.
DELICATE SOUND OF THUNDER (1988)
BEST- Confortably Numb 2ND BEST- Us and Them WORST- STARS- 3
A good live recording of many Pink Floyd favorites.
DIVISION BELL (1994)
BEST- ClusterOne 2ND BEST- What Do You Want From Me WORST- STARS- 3
Yet another Gilmour patched together “Floyd” album. Better than Lapse but still lacking the lyrical depth of real Floyd albums. Although Gilmour manages what may be perceived as a stab at Waters on “A Great Day for Freedom and in the last verse in “Lost for Words” Gilmour is no wordsmith and the best music on the album is where his guitar does the talking (“Cluster One” and “Marooned”) “Take it Back” sounds like a U2 track.
BEST- 2ND BEST- WORST- STARS- 3
A nice complete live version of Dark side of the Moon make this album worth listening too. The remainder of the songs are given good treatment and “Astronomy Domine” makes a rare appearance but this album’s set list does not vary significantly from “Delicate” and is for serious collectors only. The original packing had a perpetual flashing red light engrossed in the spine of the CD packaging. As of 2001 mine was still ticking!
Endless River (2014)
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What’s Your Favorite Pink Floyd Album? You can pick two:
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