Posts Tagged ‘Meddle’

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‘Meddle’ didn’t have a very auspicious start, having evolved out of a series of experiments in music making with everyday objects titled ‘Nothings,’ ‘Son of Nothings’ and then ‘Return of the Son of Nothings.’ Yet, in exploring so far outside of the realm of the every day, they were clearly onto something. ‘One of These Days’ and ‘Echoes’ (both featuring weirdly involving instrumental elements) became signature favorites, while an unused song evolved into ‘Brain Damage’ for ‘The Dark Side of the Moon.’ They were mere steps away from greatness.

Arriving bereft of ideas, Pink Floyd did something that was becoming increasingly rare on Meddle: They collaborated together in the studio.

At first, this didn’t lead to much. The album, before its arrival on October. 31st, 1971, was actually known as Nothing, Parts 1-24. Recorded in a series of locales around London between concert dates, Meddle eventually came together with help – both instrumentally and lyrically – from all four members, a stark contrast to the Roger Waters-dominated albums to come in the ’70s.

“When we started on Meddle, we went into it with a very different working basis to any previous album in so much that we went into the studios with nothing prepared, and did a month of – well, we just called them nothings,” Nick Mason said Ted Alvy of KPPC-FM in 1971. “I mean, they were ideas that were put down extremely roughly. They might have been just a few chords, or they might have been a rhythm idea, or something else – and this was just put down, and then we took a month and examined what we got.”

What emerged was the bridge between their earliest recordings and the career-making triumph of 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Meddle still boasted the wide-open improvisational gumption of transitional albums like 1968’s A Saucerful of Secrets, 1969’s Ummagumma and 1970’s Atom Heart Mother, but their focus started to narrow. In some ways, the LP represents the best of both worlds.

They got there together, swapping musical ideas and – in the case of the album-opening “One of These Days” – even swapping places. David Gilmour took up the bass as the song opens, before being joined by Waters. (You’ll notice the second double-tracked instrument has a flatter sound. “We didn’t have a spare set of strings for the spare bass guitar, so the second bass is very dull sounding,” Gilmour told Guitar World in 1993. “We sent a roadie out to buy some strings, but he wandered off to see his girlfriend instead.”) Mason takes a rare vocal turn on “One of These Days,” as well.

A swirling breeze links that song to the tender “A Pillow of Winds,” which was inspired by time spent by Waters and Mason with their wives in the south of France. Waters’ “San Tropez” – the only song here not co-written with Gilmour – also recalls trips to the French Riviera. Together, Pink Floyd bring an impish humor to songs like “Fearless,” which features a field recording of a Liverpool soccer club singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – forcing Pink Floyd to co-credit Rodgers and Hammerstein – while “Seamus” includes the howling of Small Faces/Humble Pie vocalist Steve Marriott’s dog, whom Gilmour was watching.

Meddle will always be defined, however, by its side two-encompassing closing track, “Echoes.” The song, which stretched to 23 minutes, again grew out of a collaborative moment – this time onstage, when the song was reportedly introduced as “Return of the Son of Nothing.”

Richard Wright wrote the long piano intro and the chord progression, while Waters added lyrics – after coming up with the idea of running Wright’s original “ping” sound through a Leslie rotating speaker. Gilmour achieved the seagull sounds by reversing the inputs on a wah pedal.

“Things like ‘Echoes’ would be all of us in a rehearsal room, just sitting there thinking, playing – working out ideas to see if they went anywhere,” Wright told Rolling Stone in 1987. “It’s a nice way to work – and I think, in a way, the most ‘Floyd-ian’ material we ever did came about that way.”

“Echoes,” which later provided the title to a career-spanning retrospective, was Pink Floyd’s breakthrough moment. An complex and stirring finale, “Echoes” holds together as one narrative piece, unlike the lengthy title track from Atom Heart Mother.

‘Meddle’ (1971): “Echoes”

Pink Floyd spreads way, way, way out on this extended epic – at 23-plus minutes, the length of an entire side of vinyl. It’s not the duration of “Echoes” that’s noteworthy, only that the extra running time allows for such a wealth of noises and ideas. If the early, psychedelic Floyd stuff was “space rock,” this is “deep sea rock,” and just as enchanting. Wright creates a submarine-like “ping” while Gilmour dreams up a pod of whales by plugging a wah-wah pedal in backwards. Nick Mason guides the ever-changing song, and Roger Waters writes of wind, water and, more importantly, humanity. The band believed this mix of outward-looking lyricism and dynamic sounds was the stepping stone to full album suites, like Dark Side of the Moon. (And, if you agree with Waters, this descending chord motif led to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.)

“I think ‘Echoes’ is the masterwork of the album – the one where we were all discovering what Pink Floyd is about,” Gilmour told Guitar World. “Meddle is really the album where all four of us were finding our feet – the way we wanted Pink Floyd to be, much more than on Ummagumma or Atom Heart Mother. Although Atom Heart Mother has some pointers and directions as to where we would finally go, it’s not as important as Meddle was.”

Even though Meddle reached No. 3 in the U.K., the U.S. was proving a tougher market to conquer. The album actually finished 15 spots further back from Atom Heart Mother, at a paltry No. 70. Still, the stage was set – as evidenced by the appearance in these sessions of “Brain Damage,” which would later help close out The Dark Side of the Moon.

“All those stages are part of a general evolution, made of progression and dead times,” Mason mused in 1973, as Pink Floyd found themselves finally on the cusp of superstardom. “They weren’t exactly succeeding experiments, but rather exercises about a particular aspect of music, so you could evolve after that. Anyway, we never did an album saying, ‘That’s it, we reached the zenith.’ On the contrary, we always asked ourselves: ‘What will we do next?’”

Pink Floyd’s sixth album was a turning point of sorts, as the band inched closer to more structured songs, as opposed to the atmospheric set pieces that dominated their previous records. ‘Echoes,’ ‘Meddle”s highlight, still runs more than 23 minutes, but its mix of long instrumental passages and vocal patches is a precursor to the career-changing ‘The Dark Side of the Moon.’

Pink Floyd, released on 31st October 1971 by Harvest Records.

Fat Old Sun 00:00
One Of These Days 15:27
Echoes 22:58
Embryo 49:30
Blues 59:36


Pink Floyd live in 1971 prior to the release of their forthcoming album “Meddle” with tracks presented (in his inimitable way) by John Peel. This was The Pink Floyd we loved, investigating sounds, jamming, mixing songs with extended instrumental pieces, creating atmospheres and in this set playing a song that didn’t appear on any of their studio albums, Embryo.  They were soft, edgy, inventive and tuned into the times lyrically.

This excellent quality recording is a real treasure for Pink Floyd fans and when a voice comes in at the end of Embryo, this is “WNEW FM 102.7 on your dial” you realise that you can never completely trust the info a bootleg recording gives you. This concert from London could have been broadcast in the US, it could have been a Floyd instigated overdub, who knows? If you know or have any information about this concert, please be sure to let us know.

The last track is listed simply as Blues and there is no information at all about it? It could be the middle of another song, it could be the soundcheck, it could be a different concert? Whatever it is there is energy and excitement, mood and adventure even though it is just a simple series of blues chords with guitar and organ taking it in turn to play the solos. (Cheers at the end are obvious overdubs).