Pink Floyd

 

Pink Floyd photo 1

Pink Floyd (1967) l to r: Rick Wright (keyboards), Roger Waters (bass), Nick Mason (drums), Syd Barrett (guitar, lead vocals)

 

 

 

 

 

Contributors: David Lewis & Merric Davidson

For some people, Pink Floyd represent the worst of self-indulgent, middle class, spoiled brat bloat-rock. Mega-Albums with long songs, bleating about the hassles of living life as a rock star. They are considered by some to be the cause of punk rock which its founders saw as a return to what rock and roll should be.

For others, though, Pink Floyd is a life-changing experience. Songs that connect in real and vital ways. Floyd has survived the loss of two songwriters and rivalries that make the Smiths’ famous feud seem like a brief family spat.

Syd Barrett introduced a lyrical style that suggested a lineage that can be traced through Lewis Carroll, Kenneth Grahame, Edward Lear and others. Roger Waters introduced lyrics that read like snippets of conversation mixed with the heavy use of metaphor. David Gilmour’s musicality and more journeyman lyrics possibly reflected the growing maturity of the audience. Like Fleetwood Mac or the Yardbirds, Floyd went through several distinct phases in which the band could almost be considered separate entities. Unlike the other two, though, the lineup was very stable, though Rick Wright and Syd Barrett were sacked, and Roger stormed out to the courts.

Pink Floyd is one of a handful of bands whose importance, at least in sales and popularity, cannot be overstated. Formed as a blues band, named after bluesmen Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, the four members, Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright soon morphed into a psychedelic band. Darlings of the in crowd, the Floyd shows, particularly at the UFO Club in Tottenham Court Road, were attended by the Who, Hendrix, the Stones and the Beatles. Pioneers in electronic music, they evolved, after the mental breakdown of Barrett (whose songwriting moved from twee to powerful), into a prog rock band. They outsold nearly everyone, while attracting the ire of punks and some critics.

Merric’s going to weigh up the first 5 years of Pink Floyd’s recording career, up to but not including The Dark Side Of The Moon. I’ll be looking at the next 50 years! He’ll pick 6 tracks. I’ll pick 9 in a Toppermost 15.

David Lewis

 

PART ONE

 

Pink Floyd photo

Pink Floyd at the UFO Club 28th July 1967, poster by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat

 

 

A simple task then. Pick half a dozen Floyd tracks starting out from the summer of love up to, what, 1971.

I could skate over the soundtrack to the 1969 movie More (or could I? I know there at least a couple of numbers on there which could make it into a bigger selection). I could ignore Obscured By Clouds, the 1972 soundtrack to La Vallée (much as I’ve done most of my life). I could also have a fresh listen, mind you, just in case. Which I do – and it’s more fool me! Like so much in popular music, if you don’t catch it just right, at just the right time, it’s often gone forever and you may never make the connection. Try Wot’s…Uh The Deal? and Childhood’s End. I strongly suspect that Pink Floyd superfans keep a treasured memory of these two albums and see them as forerunners of what was to come, particularly in the prototype Floydian instrumental, Mudmen.

Both films, More and La Vallée, were directed by Barbet Schroeder who’s still going strong, even directed an episode of Mad Men. Don’t think I ever saw More. As for La Vallée, safe to say it was of its time.

What does that leave me with? Nothing but a sequence of brilliant albums…

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967), A Saucerful Of Secrets (1968), Atom Heart Mother (1970), Meddle (1971) and the half live/half studio Ummagumma (1969). I used to spend hours staring at the Ummagumma sleeve, flat out on the floor with my head placed equidistantly between the speakers as the record spun round, only getting up to change sides of this double album.

This was beginning to look as if it could be a simple(ish) task after all, and it was only then that I remembered the singles. The standalone, not on studio albums, fabulous singles!

Bearing that in mind, there was another Pink Floyd album in my collection from that period and it’s still there on the racks. Two compilation albums were released in the early 70s but I’m referring to the wonderful 1971 album, Relics: A Bizarre Collection Of Antiques & Curios, released on EMI’s budget label Starline, and this was another album with an eye-catching sleeve, this time courtesy of Nick Mason.

And what a record it was/is. Those two opening tracks from More (the ones I alluded to earlier) were on it, Cirrus Minor and The Nile Song, and some of the single-only releases, particularly the trailblazing Arnold Layne and the classic See Emily Play, but also B-sides such as the five minutes plus Careful With That Axe, Eugene (which was re-recorded for Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point – another essential/forgettable movie of the period), the beautiful Roger Waters’ song Julia Dream and Rick Wright’s often overlooked Paint Box:

 

Already, this picking six tracks malarkey was looking well nigh impossible but I couldn’t put off the evil moment much longer. Parameters. That’s what I needed. Parameters. Terms and conditions. Rules that must not be broken.

I looked at it like this. There were two tracks that couldn’t be ignored. Well, four if you count Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, two contenders for best UK single of the psychedelic era. Anyway, one of the ones that had to go in – side one from Atom Heart Mother – my favourite Pink Floyd ‘track’ then and now. If it would help to have just a bit of it, fair enough, but I need it all: Father’s Shout, Breast Milky, Mother Fore, Funky Dung, Mind Your Throats Please (very Zappa-esque that title), Remergence. All of it please, loud as you like, drink at the ready, phones turned off. I know every note; saw them perform the Atom Heart Mother suite on a warm Saturday afternoon in Hyde Park, 18th July 1970 (also on the bill, Roy Harper, Kevin Ayers, Edgar Broughton Band – click to read their Toppermosts). So, that’s my first choice (with a big nod to Ron Geesin who is a very good bloke). PS: It wasn’t that side two was bad, it just hardly ever got played.

The second essential track that couldn’t be ignored is on the album from the following year, and one often described as the band’s best (not by me!). The lead track on Meddle (1972) is a fantastic instrumental, showing off all four band members’ strengths with a particularly fine driving bass line from Waters. It’s the Floyd’s most collaborative piece according to Gilmour and it became a regular at their gigs. On most other albums, a track like One Of These Days would be the stand-out but on Meddle that accolade goes to the sixth track, the one that takes up the entire side two – Echoes. In hindsight, it’s clear to see that it was this track – an echo of a distant time/ comes willowing across the sand/ and everything is green and submarine – which sowed the seeds for their meisterwerk that was to come along in 1973. I’m listening to Echoes now and it still has the same resonance all these years later. Turn up the bass, pop out for a coffee at around 11 mins and roll back in for the final big teenage ending. I’m only kidding. Fetch me the headphones.

That takes care of the easy bit. Now back to the beginning and, having had time to think about it, I’m going with Pink Floyd’s debut single Arnold Layne over See Emily Play, two records which I always think of as a couple. The only reason I can give is that in the 60s I’d probably have given Emily more points; today Arnold just takes the slot as the second great UK psychedelic single – it was released one month after Strawberry Fields Forever. But it is a tough call. Isn’t it? And it gives me a chance to include this beatles-y promo film, which I would have done anyway …

 

… and as they’re a couple, here’s Emily:

Having squeezed in their first single, it’s time to come to terms with their debut album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn; so much more popular today one suspects than it was in 1967, although it did reach #6 in the UK LP charts back then. Wikipedia has it thus: “Since its release, the album has been hailed as a pivotal psychedelic rock album, with the embryonic elements of what was to become progressive rock.” Written and recorded after Arnold Layne and before See Emily Play, most of the songs stem from the pen of genius, yes genius, songwriter and lead guitarist, the crazy diamond, Syd Barrett.

The first three tracks, Astronomy Domine, Lucifer Sam, Matilda Mother, are all perfect. Then there’s some weird stuff and some neat pianner. Then there’s Interstellar Overdrive (see video clips at the foot of this post). Great riff but never a huge fan of the whole ten minutes. I like The Scarecrow but it’s a little lightweight and can’t compete with the first three. And I know my co-writer would probably have included the last track on the album, the bright and breezy Bike. Maybe if this was a top 20: I know a room of musical tunes, some rhyme, some ching, most of them are clockwork/ Let’s go into the other room and make them work.

In the end, it comes down to a tussle between the first two tracks. I love Lucifer Sam too much to leave it out. Astronomy Domine is going in too. Not the studio take on Piper but the excellent live version on Ummagumma with Waters and Gilmour sharing vocals on the now-departed Syd’s song. Gives me another chance to gaze at the Hipgnosis album sleeve.

There’s a lot on Ummagumma that I’ve enjoyed over the years, like an old comfort blanket. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t like on Ummagumma, just like the band apparently! On the plus side, there’s a live recording of a key track from the second Pink Floyd album, the Barrett-lite A Saucerful Of Secrets.

That key track is track three on side one. Roger Waters’ haunting Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun towers over the album notwithstanding the much more avant garde twelve minute title track. It’s the only song on Saucerful which features all five band members. A swansong for Syd.

A Saucerful Of Secrets is a mighty fine album that has, unfairly, lived in the shadow of The Piper all these years

And hey presto, that’s my six. But … David, bless ˈim, has only picked eight when I thought he was doing nine. So we could put Bike in after all – even though The Nile Song is hot on its wheels – and then there is, always and forever, See Emily Play. I know, let’s put all three on the Spotify playlist along with a few of David’s near-misses and add just one of these to the Toppermost list of 15 at the foot of the post. It’s no contest really.

Merric Davidson

 

 

PART TWO

 

Pink Floyd photo 2

Pink Floyd (1972) l to r: Nick Mason (drums), David Gilmour (guitar), Roger Waters (bass), Rick Wright (keyboards)

 

 

It’s fair to say that the second lineup of Pink Floyd found its stride with The Dark Side Of The Moon in 1973. The LP stayed on the US Billboard charts for something like twelve years – so long I am old enough to remember thinking “it’s never left the Billboard Hot 100”. Its impact is legendary. Probably the album most renowned for audiophiles, at least in the UK and Australia. If you had a good stereo, you listened intently. Preferably in a soundproofed room, sitting in a beanbag, with a relaxant of choice, absorbing every nuance, note and lyric.

Among other things, it’s said the album is a secret soundtrack to The Wizard Of Oz (1939). Certainly all involved deny it, but it’s fun to look at the synchronistic version. Douglas Adams used it as the model for the radio series and album of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, which he wanted to sound like a rock album. The Dark Side Of The Moon is an album of mood. Mason’s heroin addiction slowed his drumming down, hence the moderate tempos. Interestingly enough, Waters has never done drugs, possibly because of Barrett’s experience.

There are no dud tracks. I considered Us And Them, with its cynical and heartfelt lyrics. Time suggested itself, but it’s very well-known. As is Money, a bestselling single in 7/4, but Gilmour’s solo in 4/4 is excellent. In the movie, School Of Rock, Dewey Finn, played by Jack Black, hands out records for his fraudulent school class to listen to as a reference. To his main backing singer, he suggests The Great Gig In The Sky. And he is right to do so. Clare Torry, who eventually won a songwriting credit, was the suggestion of engineer Alan Parsons. She imagined she was a musical instrument and literally wails over Rick Wright’s incredible piano. As always with Floyd, accounts vary as to how many takes, and who was there, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s glorious. Here’s a later live version, minus Torry.

One of the givens that can be questioned – the critical consensus that there were two musicians of a professional standard in Pink Floyd and two who weren’t. I never saw how the division was arrived at though. Certainly Gilmour is a superb musician. But Waters’ bass lines, while not as nimble, say, as John Entwistle’s, are effective and clever. Mason’s drums are exactly right. And Wright’s taste and touch is spot on.

Also from The Dark Side Of The Moon comes Brain Damage. This song, with its very English singing, and somewhat of a throwback to Syd Barrett imagery – the lunatic is on the grass, then the lunatic is in my head. In fact, it was based on Syd’s mental state; an obsession of Waters. Roger Waters’ visions are much darker than the fairy tales of Syd. The chorus is, I think, a beautiful resolution. The guitar figure is based on Dear Prudence and the eventual title of the album is namechecked.

How do you follow up The Dark Side Of The Moon? You do another concept album (in fact, all of the Waters’ driven ones are concepts). Wish You Were Here has stronger songs, including the title track, but is possibly a bit less cohesive. Nonetheless, it’s a great album. Shine On You Crazy Diamond is a powerful song. When the first chorus comes in, it’s a juggernaut. Gilmour shines here. The four notes that open Part Two have been called the greatest four notes ever played on guitar. Perhaps. The lyrics capture that crazy diamond, Syd Barrett, alluding to his personality and his work. Another song shrouded in legend.

The band missed Barrett and hadn’t seen him in years, and there was guilt. The emotional session in which it was recorded was intensified by Barrett turning up, unannounced. Overweight, head shaven and eyebrows missing, Rick Wright recognized him first. As the realization spread, several, including Waters, broke down crying. A fraught set followed and this may explain the intensity of the vocals, which were being recorded that day. Syd walked out, and never returned to a Pink Floyd session. There is a photo of Syd at the session. Glyn Johns, the producer, denied any of it ever happening. Who knows?

The cynicism of Have A Cigar balances nicely the triumphant sadness of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Sung by Roy Harper, it documents the record company’s attitude towards the band – promises are made, backs are slapped, but one of the last lines clinches it: By the way, which one’s Pink? Apparently, that really happened. Angry, prickly, sick of it all, another perfect performance and arrangement. Waters has regretted Harper’s part, not because he dislikes it but Harper was brought in because neither Waters nor Gilmour could sing with enough bitterness and cynicism (!). Waters stated that given another go or two, he’d have got it. Nonetheless, Roy does a great job. Welcome To The Machine is another great example on Wish You Were Here of that distaste of the industry on this album.

The next album, Animals (1977), is loosely based on George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. I suspect that the experience that David Bowie had with the Orwell estate may have tempered any ambition for a straight adaptation. Animals is probably the most overtly political album – people are named and shamed. In Pigs (Three Different Ones), Mary Whitehouse, the “house proud town mouse”, is specifically named and showered with all manner of insults. She was a moral and religious crusader against the so-called permissive society of the time. Waters has confirmed that the verse in question had nothing to do with the US White House! Intense, angry and righteous and worth every note.

Dogs and Pigs On The Wing are also outstanding tracks on Animals.

The Wall is perhaps the best-known album for those with only a passing interest in Pink Floyd. It produced a hit single – Another Brick In The Wall (Part II) – famously, the Christmas No.1 in the UK as the 70s moved into the 80s. The Wall is perhaps the best realised and most explicable of the albums – it is a rock opera.

Like most operas, the plot is a little convoluted (and mirrors Tommy and Joe’s Garage – an orphan whose father is killed in World War II grows up in a dystopian future). At the age of 12 or 13, growing up in rural New South Wales, we were all excited to see the latest Monty Python – The Meaning Of Life. Back then, the cinema would run two films in the matinee. Our 13-year-old selves were thrilled to see the support film was The Odd Angry Shot, a classic Australian film about ASAS soldiers in Vietnam. For some reason, The Odd Angry Shot was replaced by Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I was excited to see it starred Bob Geldof, lead singer of my then favourite group – the Boomtown Rats. Then the film started.

Interval was stunned silence with a few muttering ‘What was that about?’. Pink Floyd’s The Wall is a strange film. Geldof himself talks about it in his memoirs “Is That It?”, but doesn’t really explain why he took the role of Pink. It’s a very good film, though, and the soundtrack is superb. Michael Kamen did the orchestral parts. An older me appreciated the soundtrack more, although I suppose, like many my age (around 29 or so) chanting ‘we don’t need no education’ to teachers at school dances, to great jocularity at the age of 12, was an act of some kind of defiance.

But back to the soundtrack. I’m not sure Roger Waters has written a better lyric than Comfortably Numb. The doctor’s advice and consultation, coupled with the memories and impressions of Pink, are sublime. Metaphors and imagery that nearly fail are highly successful: a distant ship’s smoke on the horizon; you are only coming through in waves; my hands felt just like two balloons. A gorgeous melody and a beautiful arrangement.

Mother and The Show Must Go On are also personal highlights on The Wall.

If you’ve ever wondered where U2’s The Edge may have got his guitar style from, Run Like Hell gives some indication. David Gilmour, many guitarists’ favourite, uses delay effectively to play a riff. The tone is a masterclass in how a Fender Stratocaster should sound. Just superb. And the power of the song is palpable. And I think it’s one of their great vocal performances. That part of The Wall where Pink is imagining he is a fascist ruler; the lyrics are chilling and effective, and have resonance in Britain today.

In 1983, the relationship between Roger Waters and the others broke down, seemingly irreparably, around the release of The Final Cut, seen as the leftovers of Waters’ work. A long and bitter conflict followed, culminating in a hearing at the British High Court. Waters had attempted to keep the name of the band. He failed in this, and the Gilmour led lineup released two albums – A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994). Fans bought them, but they’re generally not regarded as highly as the earlier albums. Learning To Fly from Momentary Lapse was deservedly a big hit and made my ‘just missed out’ list, as did Dogs Of War. From The Division Bell, we’ve put two tracks on the Spotify playlist which would probably have made the cut if we were going top 20: What Do You Want From Me and High Hopes.

Pink Floyd tours continued to be huge. Roger, who resumed touring with his band in the 90s, has noted that Floyd played bigger venues, often the same night or the night before in the same city, playing his songs. He did eventually perform The Wall near the Brandenburg Gate in the 1990 concert commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall; one of the legendary gigs of all time with a whole host of guest artists including Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson of the Band on “Mother” with Sinéad O’Connor, and also Van Morrison, Cyndi Lauper, Joni Mitchell, Bryan Adams etc. You can hear the full concert here.

There are always gems on the Gilmour-led albums and to complete my selection I’ve gone for On The Turning Away. A gorgeous ballad, it’s a political song, making it fairly unique in this version of Pink Floyd. It’s filled with unusual chord changes and time signature changes. It’s lovely, a little uncharacteristic, and demonstrates that even the more recent version of Floyd has great nuggets.

Although the latest album, The Endless River (2014), went to number one in some countries and was, I’m told, Amazon UK’s biggest ever pre-order, the absence of Rick Wright who died in 2008 is keenly felt. It’s a good album, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a place to start with the Floyd.

Pink Floyd is influential in several ways. Prog rock bands use them as a model. Punk bands react against them. Bands like U2 and Radiohead owe them a debt. Any band that has successfully realised an idea beyond standard love songs owes them. Any band that has formed as a reaction to the music owes them. They may be dinosaurs, but they’re not extinct. And I think we’ll be listening to them a long time down the track.

David Lewis

 

TrackSingle / Album
Arnold LayneColumbia DB 8156 / Relics
See Emily PlayColumbia DB 8214 / Relics
Lucifer SamThe Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Set The Controls
For The Heart Of The Sun
A Saucerful Of Secrets
Astronomy DomineUmmagumma
Atom Heart MotherAtom Heart Mother
EchoesMeddle
The Great Gig In The SkyThe Dark Side Of The Moon
Brain DamageThe Dark Side Of The Moon
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts I-V)Wish You Were Here
Have A CigarWish You Were Here
Pigs (Three Different Ones)Animals
Comfortably NumbThe Wall
Run Like HellThe Wall
On The Turning AwayA Momentary Lapse Of Reason

 

spotify-logo-primary-horizontal-dark-background-rgb-sm
Pink Floyd playlist

 

 

Pink Floyd performing Interstellar Overdrive at the UFO Club in London in January 1967 – filmed for the Granada TV programme “Scene – Underground”

 

Pink Floyd perform Interstellar Overdrive for the 1967 Peter Whitehead film “Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London” – full unedited version

 

The musician Hans Keller’s infamous interview with Syd Barrett and Roger Waters of “The Pink Floyd” on Robert Robinson’s “The Look Of The Week” on BBC TV – at the time of their Games For May concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall on 12th May 1967, with rare live footage of Astronomy Domine

 

Pink Floyd with their third UK single Apples And Oranges on “American Bandstand”, November 1967 followed by a brief ludicrous interview with Dick Clark

 

Careful With That Axe, Eugene performed at “Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii”, the 1972 concert documentary

 

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon – 2003 full documentary, interviews by John Aizlewood, directed by Simon Hilton

 

Pink Floyd Reunion, Hyde Park, 2nd July 2005 – full concert

 

Syd Barrett (1946–2006)

Richard Wright (1943–2008)

 

Pink Floyd official website

The Pink Floyd Archives (inc. discography)

Pink Floyd Online – comprehensive fan site

The Pink Floyd Fandom

A Fleeting Glimpse (by the fans – for the fans)

Syd Barrett official website

Roger Waters official website

The Richard Wright Archives

David Gilmour official website

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets

The Pink Floyd Story: Which One’s Pink (2007) – full documentary

The Story of “Wish You Were Here” (2011) dir. John Edginton (in full)

Pink Floyd – The Early Years 1967-72 (full video)

Pink Floyd YouTube Channel

Books on Pink Floyd

Storm Thorgerson and beyond – A-Z of all Hipgnosis record covers

Toppermost #359 Syd Barrett

Pink Floyd biography (iTunes)

David Lewis is a regular contributor to Toppermost. A professional guitarist, mandolinist, banjoist and bassist, he plays everything from funk to country in several bands and duos. He is a professional historian and a public speaker on crime fiction, adventure fiction, philosophy art, history and popular culture. More of his writing can be found at his rarely updated website.

Merric Davidson is a retired publisher who started this site six years ago. He tweets toppermost @AgeingRaver.

TopperPost #800

11 Comments

  1. Jimmy Olsen
    Jun 30, 2019

    some glitches in the matrix.
    Rick Wright actually plays on “the endless river”.
    ‘Louder Than Words’, the new song by Pink Floyd, had its first radio play on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans show (9 October).
    ‘Louder Than Words’ is performed by Pink Floyd. Taken from David Gilmour, Rick Wright and Nick Mason’s 1993 Division Bell sessions it has new lyrics by writer and Division Bell lyricist Polly Samson.
    David Gilmour said: “The music for Louder Than Words is from those final sessions, the three of us playing together on the houseboat Astoria with Rick’s idiosyncratic keyboards reminding me now that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
    The music was recorded before Wright’s passing.

    • Andrew Shields
      Jun 30, 2019

      Merric and David, thanks for this superbly comprehensive piece. Have always been slightly ambivalent about Floyd, although I appreciate their occasional brilliance (especially in the early years and on ‘Dark Side’).
      This great piece gives me the opportunity to reassess the band’s work over their entire career.

    • David Lewis
      Jun 30, 2019

      Thanks for that. Much appreciated.

  2. Peter Viney
    Jun 30, 2019

    That’s a huge one to take on – well done Merric and David! I started with the included singles. I saw them in late 68 or early 69 at university, and compared to the likes of Alan Bown and Simon Dupree, both big on the university circuit and highly polished, they sounded pretty rough and I mainly ignored them through the 70s. In the 80s we took our kids to lots of air shows (a friend of ours exhibited at them), and the micro-lite planes used to do an aerial ballet to Shine On You Crazy Diamond (very loud through the PA) on hot sunny afternoons and that was unbeatable as an experience. I bought Wish You Were Here and it’s my favourite. Then the Victoria & Albert’s Pink Floyd exhibition a year ago was incredible – you stood in a sweaty tunnel like the UFO club to listen to early stuff, and then could lie down and look at huge projections later. The people attending covered the whole age range with lots of young people from Continental Europe, picking up armfuls of Floyd LPs.

    • Rob Millis
      Jun 30, 2019

      Glad to hear The Nile Song was hot on the heels, Merric – I’d put that and Cymbaline up there with the best. Ever noticed that it’s actually Gilmour on that See Emily Play film?

  3. Keith Shackleton
    Jul 1, 2019

    An impossible task well performed, chaps. I’m not going to be critical, but I will say that Fearless has always been one of my favourites, especially so when Low splendidly covered it at John Peel’s house in 2003.
    And also to state the obvious in that Animals is as vicious and cynical as anything else released in The Year That Punk Broke.

  4. Dave Stephens
    Jul 6, 2019

    The first time that I saw the Floyd was at UFO in early ’67 – can’t be more more precise but know it was before the release of “Arnold Layne”. I was overwhelmed. At the time they seemed to be the future of rock. It wasn’t Syd’s quirky songs which were hardly noticeable (and were to be a later treat). It was the sonic onslaught led by the Barrett guitar and Rick Wright organ, aided by a knockout lightshow, experienced for the first time.
    Like most good things, this early impression didn’t last. Syd’s all-too-rapid decomposition left the group without their songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist, or, more importantly the reason for their existence as early as the start of Album #2. I tried to love Floyd Mark 2 but with little success. I bought “Atom Heart” & “Dark Side” but there was no comparison. However I should add that if Syd had stayed in one piece, the group would probably have gone on to be a cult outfit only rather than a global success.
    Sorry you drew the short straw David and I don’t take issue with anything you say. Merric, great stuff but “Bike” and “Emily” have to be in.

    • David Lewis
      Jul 7, 2019

      Thanks Dave. One thing I’ve noticed is how important those Syd live performances were to the fans. It’s partly why I was very happy to have Merric write the Syd part. I’m a big fan of ‘Bike’ which to me is Syd at his most playful and bizarre. Perhaps Syd is the link between I am the Walrus and Monty Python?
      As for the later stuff, it was one of those acts that growing up in where prime minister Paul Keating called the ‘a*** end of the world’, this music becomes vital. I try to give this perspective in many of my Toppermosts. Particularly those in which I was familiar or even fanatic, one of the reasons that I loved these bands was the sense of connection, no matter how deniable the approach is, to the rest of the world. Did I understand half of it? Not really. We had to rely on older siblings or in my case friends’ older siblings to educate us. And when we saw media on our favourites it often raised more questions than they answered.
      For what it’s worth I really enjoyed Merric’s half. It showed up the weaknesses in mine.

      • Dave Stephens
        Jul 8, 2019

        David, you’re being both gracious and perceptive. Something I managed not to say in my Comment was that my initial reaction to both “Arnold Layne” and “Piper” was disappointment which with hindsight I’d put down to the fact that neither seemed to capture all that much of the live sound. I have to add that that in both cases it didn’t take long for that reaction to get replaced by one that was totally positive, indeed “Piper” easily gets into my Top Ten of Brit late sixties albums.
        And I wouldn’t get too hung up on the Oz thing, heck there are compensations!

  5. Peter Viney
    Jul 8, 2019

    Hence the Australian Pink Floyd, with extensive tours. They’re visiting Bournemouth in December and it’s almost sold out at £88 for decent seats. A friend who is heavily into Pink Floyd suggested that as instrumentals are easier for competent musicians to reproduce, and because the Pink Floyd vocals are not really “signature vocals” (that instantly recognizable voice thing that say Levon Helm or Cyndi Lauper had) that they’re as enjoyable as the real thing.

    • David Lewis
      Jul 8, 2019

      Have you heard of Bjorn Again? The Abba tribute, who are celebrating 30 years. Elton Jack is another terrific tribute. With the right contacts and talent and a bit of luck, you can do well in Aus and even get to Europe. I know vaguely some of the guys in the Floyd show. It’s a good show, I’m told.

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