PINK FLOYD – ” Wish You Were Here ” Classic Albums Released 12th September 1975

Posted: September 12, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Wish You Were Here is the ninth studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd. It was first released on 12th September 1975 in the United Kingdom by Harvest Records.

It debuted at No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic, and has been tabbed by both Gilmour and Wright as their favourite Pink Floyd album. Still, ‘Wish You Were Here’ was no ‘Dark Side of the Moon’; it never could be. And that – as much as anything seems to have relegated this 1975 follow-up to a life of perpetual underrated status. It’s a pity. There isn’t a more conceptually concise Pink Floyd album, nor one as musically inviting. Even as Dave Gilmour and, in particular, Richard Wright pushed the work into deeper, more progressive musical themes, they helped fashion the last truly collaborative studio project between Roger Waters and his increasingly disgruntled bandmates.

Inspired by material the group composed while performing in Europe, During 1974, Pink Floyd sketched out three new compositions, “Raving and Drooling”, “You Gotta Be Crazy” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”. These songs were performed during a series of concerts in France and England, the band’s first tour since 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon.

The album was recorded in numerous sessions at Abbey Road Studios in London. Two of its songs criticise the music business, another expresses alienation, and the multi-part composition “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is a tribute to Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett, who had left seven years earlier due to mental health problems. The band used studio effects and synthesizers, and brought in guest singers: Roy Harper, who provided the lead vocals on “Have a Cigar”, and Venetta Fields, who added backing vocals to “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”. After several weeks, Waters began to visualise another concept. The three new compositions from 1974’s tour were at least a starting point for a new album, and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” seemed a reasonable choice as a centrepiece for the new work. Mostly an instrumental twenty-minute-plus piece similar to “Echoes”, the opening four-note guitar phrase reminded Waters of the lingering ghost of former band-member Syd Barrett. Gilmour had composed the phrase entirely by accident, but was encouraged by Waters‘ positive response. Waters wanted to split “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, and sandwich two new songs between its two halves.

The album begins with a long instrumental preamble and segues into the lyrics for “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, a tribute to Syd Barrett, whose mental breakdown had forced him to leave the group seven years earlier. Barrett is fondly recalled with lines such as “Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun” and “You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon”.

Wish You Were Here is also a critique of the music business. “Shine On” crosses seamlessly into “Welcome to the Machine”, a song that begins with an opening door (described by Waters as a symbol of musical discovery and progress betrayed by a music industry more interested in greed and success) and ends with a party, the latter epitomising “the lack of contact and real feelings between people”. Similarly, “Have a Cigar” scorns record industry “fat-cats” with the lyrics repeating a stream of cliches heard by rising new-comers in the industry, and including the question “by the way, which one’s Pink?” asked of the band on at least one occasion. The lyrics of the next song, “Wish You Were Here”, relate both to Barrett’s condition, and to the dichotomy of Waters’ character, with greed and ambition battling with compassion and idealism. The album closes with a reprise of “Shine On” and further instrumental excursions.

Wish You Were Here topped the charts in the United Kingdom and the United States, and Harvest Records‘ parent company EMI was unable to print enough copies to meet demand. Although it initially received mixed reviews from critics, the album went on to receive critical acclaim,

Everyone wanted a piece of Pink Floyd after ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ sold a gazillion copies , especially the shady music-industry types Waters never trusted. ‘Have a Cigar’ is all about those clueless suits. “By the way, which one’s Pink?” sings guest Roy Harper, a British folkie, summing up the era.

‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’ was originally released as a two-song, eight-part, 26-minute suite on the band’s follow-up to the mega-popular ‘The Dark Side of the Moon.’ And like several Floyd projects from the period, the song references former bandmate Syd Barrett’s descent into mental illness. It’s an epic piece, the bookends to one of the group’s most durable LPs.

The members of Pink Floyd were still friendly with Syd Barrett after he left the group in 1968. He even showed up in the studio, somewhat unrecognizable, while they were recording of their ninth album. ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ touched on the mental illness that crippled Barrett, but ‘Wish You Were Here’ was an album-length tribute to both his genius and madness. The title track ties Barrett’s plight to Waters‘ own distancing from society.

The band played much of Wish You Were Here on 5th July 1975 at the Knebworth music festival. Roy Harper, was also performing at the same event, on discovering that his stage costume was missing, proceeded to destroy one of Pink Floyd’s vans, injuring himself in the process. This delayed the normal setup procedure of the band’s sound system. As a pair of World War II Spitfire aircraft had been booked to fly over the crowd during their entrance, the band were not able to delay their set. The result was that a power supply ssue pushed Wright’s keyboards completely out of tune, damaging the band’s performance. At one point he left the stage, but the band were able to continue with a less sensitive keyboard, a piano and a simpler light show. Following a brief intermission, they returned to perform The Dark Side of the Moon, but critics displeased about being denied access backstage savaged the performance

The Wish You Were Here – Immersion Box Set includes the new stereo digital remaster (2011) by James Guthrie on CD, an unreleased 5.1 Surround Mix (2009) by James Guthrie on DVD and Blu-ray, a Quad Mix (which had been released only on vinyl LP and 8-track tape) on DVD, as well as the original stereo mix (1975) on DVD and Blu-ray

Pink Floyd

  • David Gilmour – vocals, guitars, lap steel guitar, EMS Synthi AKS, tape effects, additional bass
  • Roger Waters – vocals, bass guitar, EMS VCS 3, guitar, tape effects
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion, tape effects
  • Richard Wright – Hammond C-3 organ, ARP String Ensemble V, Minimoog, Steinway piano, EMS VCS 3, Hohner Clavinet D6, Wurlitzer EP-200 electric piano, backing vocals

Additional musicians

  • Dick Parry – tenor and baritone saxophone on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
  • Roy Harper – lead vocals on “Have a Cigar”
  • Venetta Fields – backing vocals on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
  • Carlena Williams – backing vocals on “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”
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