Posts Tagged ‘Pink Floyd’

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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.

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Roger Waters has unveiled a new recording of Pink Floyd’s1984 “The Final Cut” track ‘The Gunner’s Dream.’

The track arrives with a brand-new music video. The luscious, black-and-white footage captures Waters playing the piano solo and singing in his home studio, indispersed with footage of his fellow bandmates at their respective studios. The track chronicles the final thoughts of an airman gunner falling to his death during a raid as he envisions a world without war. Roger Waters drew inspiration from a number of real-life events like the bombings of Hyde Park and Regent’s Park.

“Last night I watched the 2013 documentary film The Man Who Saved the World. The man’s name is Stanislav Petrov. The year before Stanislav saved the World in the year 1982 I wrote a song ‘The Gunner’s Dream,’” Rogers shared in an Instagram post. “It’s weird to think that had Stanislav not been in the right place at the right time none of us would be alive, no one under the age of 37 would have been born at all.”

He continued, “It is acknowledged by all but the cretins amongst us that nuclear arms have no value. It is also acknowledged that they are a ticking bomb and we ignore them at our peril,” he continued. “Accidents happen. The Stanislavs of this world are a rare breed. We’ve been extraordinarily lucky.

“If I ruled the world, I would heed the words of the wise. I would get rid of nuclear weapons. First thing tomorrow morning. On Dr. King’s name day. Of course no one can rule the world. The world cannot be ruled. It can only be loved and respected and shared. If we’re still here in the morning.”

Roger Waters: Piano and Vocal Dave Kilminster: Guitar Joey Waronker: Drums Lucius- Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig: Vocals Gus Seyffert: Bass Jonathan Wilson: Guitar Jon Carin: Piano and Keys Bo Koster: Hammond Wrangled together by Sean Evans & Roger Waters

Originally envisioned as a soundtrack to ‘The Wall’ film, this didactic “band” project became a stand-alone effort when Waters became outraged over England’s involvement in the early-’80s Falkland Islands conflict. By this point, Wright was already out the door, and Gilmour clearly didn’t feel like fighting anymore. He had only one vocal, and a few bursts of guitar brilliance. The rest was Waters, who unleashes a series of searing diatribes on the kind of conflicts that tore his family apart – but without the magisterial musical accompaniment that used to give them flight.

Almost 10 years to the day since the release of The Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd’s album “The Final Cut” was released. A decade earlier, the material for Dark Side had been worked up thoroughly on the road, and all four band members had writing credits on the record. With The Final Cut, the group – a trio, following the sacking of keyboard player Rick Wright – had become, through default more than by design, a method of carriage for the words and music by de facto leader Roger Waters alone, with session musicians featured heavily throughout its recording.

The album had few discernible hooks, no standout commercial moment, and Floyd never played anything from it live. Initially that didn’t stop the Floyd juggernaut though. Fans worldwide had been waiting three and a half years for a new album, their longest wait to date. And so, on its release in March 1983, The Final Cut became Pink Floyd’s first UK No.1 album since 1975’s Wish You Were Here. Some press gave it the full five stars, and suggested that it might be “art rock’s crowning masterpiece”.

But the juggernaut would soon jackknife. The Final Cut disappeared almost as soon as it arrived, leaving the album, a single and a 19-minute ‘video album’ as its only footprints. There were no promotional appearances, no group publicity photographs, no tour. If the album featured at all in later interviews by both Roger Waters and David Gilmour, it was portrayed as coming from a period of abject misery.

“That’s how it ended up,” Gilmour told David Fricke in 1987. “Very miserable. Even Roger says what a miserable period it was and he was the one who made it entirely miserable, in my opinion.”

“It came and died, really, didn’t it?” says Willie Christie, who shot the album’s cover photo. Christie has great insight into the album and the period. Waters was his brother-in-law, and at the time Christie was living in an outhouse over the garage at Waters’s house in Sheen, “after a relationship had gone south”.

“Because the break-up was on the horizon,” he adds, “I think David was finding it very tough; Roger for different reasons. That was a great shame. David had said publicly that the songs were off-cuts from The Wall. Why regurgitate? I never saw it like that.  While it would probably be a perverse fan who would name The Final Cut as their favourite Pink Floyd album, it’s certainly worth a lot more credit than it’s usually given. Yes, the album is the greatest example of high-period megalomaniac that is Roger Waters. However, for all his writing and singing, it needs to be taken as a Pink Floyd release, and not a solo Waters one – it also has some of Dave Gilmour’s best guitar solos, and drummer Nick Mason curated some of the best sound effects in Floyd’s career.

‘What have we done to England?’ Waters sings on opening track “The Post War Dream”, as a brass band, that most quintessentially British sound, plays out. It locates the album squarely in the post-Falklands-invasion landscape of 1982, while looking back to the World War II beachheads of 1944. As Cliff Jones noted in Echoes: The Stories Behind Every Pink Floyd Song, it was “the most lyrically unequivocal of all Pink Floyd albums”.

Moreover, the album is phenomenally significant in the group’s career. Had it been a far better experience and a bigger seller, it might have allowed Pink Floyd to conclude, or perhaps continue, on a triumphant, cordial high. Instead it left a nagging sense of unfinished business, which led to the split, the commercial triumph of the Gilmour years and the group’s enormous afterlife.

The genesis of The Final Cut is well known. Some of its material dates from five years previously, when Waters came up with the original recording’s of The Wall in the summer of 1978.

He had written around three albums’ worth of material. He was driven in a way that the other band members, who seemed to want to escape Floyd at the time, simply were not.

Pink Floyd as we knew them finished on June 17th, 1981 at London’s Earls Court Arena, when the last of the 31 “The Wall” shows ended. That year’s return to touring was to gather material for the Alan Parker-directed filmed version of The Wall. There was talk of a soundtrack album to the Parker film, but there was hardly a great deal of material: versions of In The Flesh (with and without the question mark) performed by the film’s Pink, Bob Geldof; The Wall out-take When The Tigers Broke Free; and What Shall We Do Now?, which was left off the album.

This project evolved into Spare Bricks, where these tracks were supplemented with additional The Wall off-cuts Your Possible Pasts, One Of The Few, The Hero’s Return and The Final Cut. However, when Argentina invaded the Falklands – the British-ruled islands in the South Atlantic in April 1982 – and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sent a task force to counteract this, Waters suddenly had his subject matter.

The pointlessness of the ensuing 74-day conflict, resulting in the loss of 907 lives, evoked again the death of Waters’ father Eric in World War II, at Anzio in 1944. Waters relished the merging of the past and the present. He was going to write a modern requiem. And so Spare Bricks became The Final Cut. Its title was a Shakespearean reference to Julius Caesar being stabbed in the back by Brutus: “This was the most unkindest cut of all.”

“The Final Cut in film terminology is the finished article,” Gilmour explained in 1983. “When you stick all the rushes together basically in the right order, you call it the ‘rough cut’, and when you’ve cleaned it up and got it perfect you call it the ‘final cut’. It’s also an expression for a stab in the back, which I think is the way Roger sees the film industry.”

Waters’ had frequent run-ins with director Alan Parker on the making of the film are no secret. It was also clear that the members of Pink Floyd, never the chummiest of groups, were growing ever further apart. The UK premiere of The Wall on July 14th, 1982, at the Empire Theatre in London’s Leicester Square, was the only time the three-man Pink Floyd – no one knew yet that Rick Wright was no longer in the band, with the party line being that he was ‘on holiday’ – were ever seen together in public.

“When The Tigers Broke Free” was issued as a single in July 1982, was full of pathos and huge in its intent. Not since Apples And Oranges, released back in 1967, had so many eyes had been on the chart performance of a Floyd single, Tigers being their first single since Another Brick In The Wall, Part Two in 1979. Tigers, which was fundamentally Waters along with the Pontarddulais Male Voice Choir and an orchestra, was labelled as being from The Final Cut. Ironically, it didn’t make it on to the album until the track listing was re-configured for CD in 2004. Tigers reached only No.39 in the UK chart.

“The relationship was definitely frosty by that stage, So the time that Dave in particular – and Roger were in the studio together, it was frosty. There’s no question about it.” Yet this frostiness made for great art. There was innovation too. Italian-based, Argentine-born (which no doubt would have appealed to Waters’s sense of humour) audio inventor Hugo Zuccarelli had approached the group to try out his new ‘Holophonic’ surround sound that could be recorded on stereo tape. For a group so associated with their audio pioneering, this was a positive boon.

The system used a pair of microphones in the head of a dummy. Zuccarelli played Mason, Gilmour and Waters a demo of a box of matches being shaken that sounded as if it was moving around your head. The group were of one mind to use the system. Mason began to gather the sounds in the Holophonic head (which, as he noted in his Floyd history Inside Out, “answered to the name Ringo”).

He duly recorded Tornado aircraft at RAF Honington, the sounds of cars passing, the wind, and various ticks, tocks, dogs, gulls, steps, shrieks and squawks. On the album, sound effects careened between left and right channels. The missile attack at the start of “Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert” is arguably the greatest sound effect on any Pink Floyd record.

Ray Cooper played percussion, Raphael Ravenscroft added saxophone, and on closing track “Two Suns In The Sunset” veteran drummer Andy Newmark took Nick Mason’s place. It took two players to replace Rick Wright: Michael Kamen on piano, and Andy Bown on Hammond organ.

“It was wonderful to work for them in that live situation. It’s rare to meet a rock band that know how to behave,” Bown recalls. “And the Floyd organisation treated the hired guns very well indeed. Recording is different you’re not living with each other in the same way. I remember almost nothing from those sessions. Waters’s exacting attempts at nailing a vocal recording led to the well-reported incident of Kamen doing a Jack Nicholson in The Shining, writing furiously in the control room. When Waters went to investigate what he was doing, he saw that Kamen had written repeatedly: “I must not fuck sheep”. According to Andy Bown, Kamen was “a lovely cuddly bear with a wacky sense of humour”.

“It was obvious Roger was making all the running,” Nick Mason said of a period of recording at Mayfair Studios. “Roger is sometimes credited with enjoying confrontation, but I don’t think that’s the case. I do think Roger is often unaware of just how alarming he can be, and once he sees a confrontation as necessary, he is so grimly committed to winning that he throws everything into the fray – and his everything can be pretty scary… David, on the other hand, may not be so initially alarming, but once decided on a course of action is hard to sway. When his immovable object met Roger’s irresistible force, difficulties were guaranteed to follow.”

“I was in a pretty sorry state,” Waters said. “By the time we had got a quarter of the way into making The Final Cut, I knew I would never make another record with Dave Gilmour or Nick Mason.”  Gilmour said in 2000: “There were all sorts of arguments over political issues, and I didn’t share his political views. But I never, never wanted to stand in the way of him expressing the story of The Final Cut. I just didn’t think some of the music was up to it.” After much arguing with Waters, Gilmour surrendered his producer credit on the album – but not his share of producer royalties. He was even to say: “It reached a point that I just had to say: ‘If you need a guitar player, give me a call and I’ll come and do it.’”

In 1983 he said: “I came off the production credits because my ideas of production weren’t the way Roger saw it being.”

“I was just trying to get through it,” Gilmour told me in 2002. “It wasn’t pleasant at all. If it was that unpleasant but the results had been worth it, then I might think about it in a different way. I wouldn’t, actually. I don’t think the results are an awful lot… I mean, a couple of reasonable tracks at best. I did vote for The Fletcher Memorial Home to be on Echoes. I like that. Fletcher, The Gunner’s Dream and the title track are the three reasonable tracks on that.”

Overlaid with Waters’s disgust at the Falklands War, and grieving for the father he never knew, the narrative of The Final Cut focuses on the figure of the teacher from The Wall, who had been a gunner in the war, staring down modern life. The central character of The Wall, Pink, makes an appearance on the title track. Waters is frequently self-referential in his choice of words. For example, ‘quiet desperation’ and ‘dark side’, two most Floydian phrases, are used.

Of the original album’s 12 tracks, The Hero’s Return and The Gunner’s Dream are two of Waters’s finest moments side by side: full-bleed paranoia, with his unlimited capacity for beauty and empathy. The Hero’s Return began life as Teacher, Teacher from The Wall. The band’s demo from January 1979 has a synth drone, with Gilmour on loud slide guitar; here, the hero is haunted by images of the war he can’t discuss with his wife.

On The Gunner’s Dream there’s little guitar but plenty of saxophone, so much a feature of 1973-75 Floyd. Here, as with a lot of the album, Waters’s voice is the lead instrument. The song examines the sudden powerlessness of a situation when confronted by the jackboot. Referencing war poet Rupert Brooke, Waters delivers one of his finest vocal performances. It also introduces the imaginary character Max, an in-joke name for producer Guthrie from the sessions. And the screaming doesn’t stop. A decade and a half after his wails on Careful With That Axe, Eugene, possibly Waters’s career-best bellow is on The Gunner’s Dream, where he howls for a full 20 seconds. Rolling Stone said it contained some of the most “passionate and detailed singing that Waters has ever done”. And it’s certainly there, as he enunciates every vowel as if his life depends on it.

“Not Now John” It’s almost as if, deep into his work on The Final Cut, Waters remembered that satire could be fun (and that music could be exciting). He also seemed to recall that Gilmour was just sitting there on the bench. David makes the most of his game time on the rocking “Not Now John,” ferociously tearing into lyrics that are a head-spinning mix of Waters’ personal and political demons come to life. For those who tut-tut at the song for being boorish, it’s a shame they can’t bask in the pleasures of this buzz bomb, complete with female backing vocalists screaming “fuck all that.”

The Fletcher Memorial Home, where ‘colonial wasters of life and limb’ assemble, delivers another standout moment, with Waters giving tyrants past and present the chance to get together before applying a final solution to them. Gilmour’s solo and Kamen’s beautiful brass arrangement enhance the song’s gravitas.

While the title track is similar to Comfortably Numb in its arrangement, Not Now John is the album’s rocker. It’s a call and response between Gilmour and Waters – one as the jingoistic right winger so celebrated in the early 80s, the other attempting reason. The US, sensing the one song that resembled conventional rock (complete with Gilmour’s ultra-Floyd guitar work), suggested a radio recut, with Gilmour and the backing vocalists singing ‘stuff’ loudly over the song’s obvious use of the word ‘fuck’.

It was issued as a single, accompanied by a Willie Christie-directed video, in May 1983 and scraped into the UK Top 30. Album closer “Two Suns In The Sunset” was inspired by Waters’s recent viewing of the banned docudrama The War Game. In the end the hero drives off and sees a nuclear explosion, a result of someone’s anger spilling over to the point where the button is pushed. He now understands ‘the feelings of the few’. As the explosion comes, Waters suggests: ‘Ashes and diamonds, foe and friend, we were all equal in the end.’

The final track from ‘the original Pink Floyd’ ends with a session sax player, a session drummer, and a producer playing piano. By then it seemed that even Waters had been removed from his own story.

Even designers Hipgnosis, The long-time Pink Floyd collaborators, and cartoonist/illustrator Gerald Scarfe were now surplus to requirements. Scarfe has said he had done a test version of a cover for The Final Cut, but Waters himself oversaw the artwork with graphic design company Artful Dodgers. His brother-in-law, Vogue photographer Willie Christie, was brought in to take the photos for the sleeve. With Christie Waters’s house guest at the time, the pair discussed the concept at length.

“We were talking about it all the time from conception,” Christie says. “Roger asked me to do the stills. They came out of ideas we had talked about – poppies featured a lot because of the theme of it. I did the stills – the poppies and the strip of medals – in November 1982. The field was near Henley. We needed a field of corn, and I’d done a Vogue shoot down there in 1977. A prop company called Asylum made me up some poppies, as real poppies don’t last.”

Asylum also made two uniforms, complete with the knife in the back. Christie’s assistant, Ian Thomas, modelled the outfit, holding a film canister under his arm. “That was the whole idea of the knife in the back and the film canister,” Christie says. “That [Alan] Parker had stabbed him [Waters] in the back.”

In another shot, Thomas is seen lying dead in the poppy field, watched over by Stewart, the Waters’s pet spaniel. In the gatefold, Thomas can be made out in the distance, while the outstretched hand of a child holds poppies. The sleeve also contains an image for Two Suns In The Sunset, and the Japanese welder for Not Now John which was shot in Christie’s London studio.

Christie recalls showing the group his work in progress: “David hadn’t been involved or consulted. I slightly found myself in the middle. It was a little bit awkward, as I’d been talking to Roger. But David’s a really good bloke, a genius. Gilmour looked at the photographs and then told Christie: “Well actually, the knife wouldn’t go in like that, it would go in sideways, as your rib cage wouldn’t allow it to go in straight, vertical.”

The cover image is a powerful close-up of a serviceman’s lapel, showing a poppy and his medals. The back of the sleeve listed just three members of Pink Floyd. This was the first time the wider world became aware that Rick Wright was no longer a member of the group – and that this was clearly a work ‘by Roger Waters, performed by Pink Floyd’.

It’s difficult now to convey just how exciting the release of The Final Cut was, The critics were, of course, deliciously mixed. Richard Cook wrote in the NME that Waters “picks out the words like a barefoot terminal beachcomber, measuring out a cracked whisper or suddenly bracing itself for a colossal scream… The story is pitched to that exhausting rise and fall: it regales with the obstinacy of an intoxicated, berserk commando.” The review ends with the extremely perceptive comment: “Underneath the whimpering meditation and exasperated cries of rage, it is the old, familiar rock beast: a man who is unhappy in his work.”

A week later, Kurt Loder duly obliged, with a five-star review that included: “This may be art rock’s crowning masterpiece, but it is also something more. With The Final Cut, Pink Floyd caps its career in classic form, and leader Roger Waters – for whom the group has long since become little more than a pseudonym – finally steps out from behind the ‘Wall’ where last we left him.

“The end result is essentially a Roger Waters solo album, and it’s a superlative achievement on several levels. By comparison, in almost every way, The Wall was only a warm-up.”

But not good enough for what Pink Floyd had become in popular perception. As Nick Mason later wrote: “After The Final Cut was finished there were no plans for the future. I have no recollection of any promotion and there was no recollection of any live performances to promote the record.” Had there been a tour to support it, The Final Cut could have been a huge, sustained hit. There’s just something about it, like much art from that strange 1980-83 period in the UK, It could be said that Pink Floyd were the only ones doing what they always did – or at least post-1975 Floyd. But, as said, it wasn’t enough.

The early 80s, unless you lived through them, are very hard to explain. The 60s and 70s seemed clear-cut. When people do think of the 80s, it’s that later flash, brash, wedges-of-money time. We also need to review where Floyd’s 70s peers were by 1983. Led Zeppelin were long gone. Queen were licking their wounds from an ill-advised, all-out assault on disco. Genesis had gone ‘pop’. Yes were, quite by accident, about to reinvent themselves as a techno stadium monster.

 

Waters his other 1978 concept idea, The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking, done with much of the same team as The Final Cut. (“That was jolly good fun,” Andy Bown recalls. “And terrific musicians to work with. Bloody good album too.”)

In October 1985, Waters issued a High Court application to prevent the Pink Floyd name ever being used again, considering it a ‘spent force’. With that, he finally had the nerve to make the final cut. Gilmour and Mason, however, did not, and the next chapter of Pink Floyd was about to begin, one that would see the band going back to stadiums and making a noise that sounded like the best of Floyd’s albums from 1971-75.

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Pink Floyd‘s eighth album, more or less, was a symbolic break from their past — the moment where their long, drawn-out prog tendencies gave way to tighter, shorter and more focused “song”-oriented tracks. And they marked the occasion with their best concept album, a ‘2001’-like mind-expanding look at the fragility of life, time and sanity through the lens of their own experiences. They’d go on to explore some of ‘Moon”s themes — music-business greed, Syd Barrett‘s mental breakdown on later records.released four concept albums during the 1970s; The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals(1977), and The Wall (1979). The most notable of these is “The Dark Side of the Moon”, which achieved a level of commercial success far beyond that of any other progressive rock album before or since.

Roger Waters, who was the dominant – though not yet dominating – force in the band when they recorded Dark Side Of The Moon, has his own theory. “The music’s quite compelling but I think there’s something more. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the ideas that appeal to a generation going though puberty and trying to make sense of it all. There’s certainly something in Roger’s theory, particularly if you accept (as most women do) that most men never get much further than puberty. And like porn, men can go back to Dark Side Of The Moon over and over again. Released in March 1973, over a year after the band had previewed most of the tracks at London’s Rainbow Theatre, Dark Side Of The Moon caught the prevailing feeling perfectly.  For a while Pink Floyd called their planned album Eclipse, but when Medicine Head’s album failed to make any impact they reverted to Plan A. The recording was long – they spent six months in the studio in between tours of Europe, America and Japan – but it wasn’t laborious. David Gilmour reckons that playing the songs live beforehand made a big difference. “You couldn’t do that now of course. You’d be bootlegged out of existence. But when we went into the studio we all knew the material. The playing was very good. It had a natural feel.”

Pink Floyd’s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon has become legendary for a lot of reasons, including the 741 weeks it spent on the album chart, the iconic cover art and the urban-legend connection to The Wizard of Oz. But this track-by-track approach to the LP centres on the music – the sounds, creation and concept behind one of the most successful, popular and celebrated albums in rock history. Over four decades have passed since Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon was released, and it remains far and away the most successful concept album ever made. Its 45 million claimed sales dwarf all other contenders as well as later Pink Floyd albums including Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall– which many fans might argue are better concept albums. But the rest of the world does not agree.

It was also headphone heaven. You could lie back and hear the heartbeat gradually getting louder, mingled with a disembodied Scottish voice saying ‘I’ve been mad for fucking years’ and a maniacal laugh before being blotted out by a helicopter noise whirring from one ear to another. That in turn collides with a screaming female voice before subsiding into the slow, deliberate beat and soothing guitars of Breathe. Just as you’ve relaxed into the song, however, it suddenly shifts gears and you are being carried long by a rapid hi-hat rhythm and electronic riff while atmospherics, voices, footsteps, airplanes and bits of feedback fly by on either side of your head. It all ends in a dull explosion and more running footsteps. As it dies away there’s the reassuring tick of a clock which just has time to lull you again before a cacophony of alarm clocks shatters your senses and leads into the heavy ponderous guitar chimes of Time. 

You are now eight minutes into the album, and there’s another 35 to go. The sonic experience of the album is as vivid now as it was then.

“Speak to Me”

The line on Dark Side isn’t just that it’s a masterpiece, but that it’s a masterpiece because the album displays Pink Floyd at the apex of the members’ collaboration. After former frontman Syd Barrett left the psychedelic rockers rudderless, they gradually found a collective focus by 1972, with bassist Roger Waters handling the concepts (and lyrics), guitarist David Gilmour and Rick Wright contributing musical ideas and vocals and drummer Nick Mason maintaining a steady beat while messing with brain-tickling sound effects.

Each of Floyd’s four members received writing credits on Dark Side, although Mason was listed as the sole composer of album opener “Speak to Me.” It was a decision that proved controversial in the later, more acrimonious days of the band .

Devoid of lyrics, the one-plus-minute track isn’t much of a song. Conceived in the later stages of the album’s recording sessions at London’s Abbey Road Studios, “Speak to Me” was created as a starting point for this grand, contemplative LP.

“It’s kind of a classical overture, a standard device used for hundreds of years,” Waters said in 2003, “put some elements of the work together at the beginning, as a taster.”

“Speak to Me” might have been classical in concept, but it was more experimental in execution, with layers of fragmented sonic references to Dark Side’s forthcoming songs. You can hear ticking clocks (“Time”), a cash register (“Money”), crazy laughter (“Brain Damage”) and a woman’s scream (“The Great Gig in the Sky”), all interwoven with the sound of a pulsing heartbeat – created by futzing with the recording of a kick drum. The same pulse is heard at the album’s end, suggesting a continuous cycle.

When Pink Floyd debuted Dark Side’s suite of songs at live concerts (more than a year before the album’s release), the heartbeat sound stood alone as a long introduction that would transition from a venue filled with loud crowd talk to the band’s first proper tune, “Breathe.” For the recorded version, the so-called overture became shorter, but denser – not just featuring elements of other songs, but also snippets of spoken word.

Waters had the idea of recording interviews with people who worked with the band or at Abbey Road Studios, and seeing if the answers might dovetail with some of the weighty lyrical themes of Dark Side. The questions would begin easy (“What’s your favorite colour?”) and progress to more difficult subject matter (such as violence or mental instability). The voices on “Speak to Me” belong to the band’s road manager Chris Adamson admitting, “I’ve been mad for fucking years … ,” and Abbey Road doorman Gerry O’Driscoll saying, “I’ve always been mad … ”

In fact, the track’s title came as a result of these interviews. Every time he tested the sound levels to record each interview, audio engineer Alan Parsons would say, “Speak to me” into the talk-back microphone. The phrase stuck. Although Parsons named the piece, Floyd’s drummer was credited for the sonic wizardry on the Dark Side sleeve.

“It was an assembly that I did with existing music,” Mason said, years later. “You could say there’s no original material there, or you could say it’s an entirely original assembly. Yet Waters, Gilmour and Wright disagreed with Mason’s memory, instead suggesting that the writing credit was a gift between bandmates – a token of publishing generosity from Pink Floyd’s bassist to the band’s drummer. After Waters split with the band in the ’80s, he didn’t only stop speaking to his former mates, he didn’t want Mason to get any creative recognition for “Speak to Me.”

“I went through many years when I really regretted having given away half the writing credits, particularly ‘Speak to Me’,” Waters said. “I gave it to [Mason]. Nobody else had anything to do with it at all.”

“Breathe”

Because the whooshing backwards chord segues from “Speak to Me” right into “Breathe,” the two compositions were most often combined into one track on digital era re-releases. But these are separate pieces, treated as such on the original vinyl release (on which “Breathe” was listed as “Breathe in the Air”). While “Speak” began the album, “Breathe” set the tone for Dark Side.

The first true song on the LP had its roots in a tune, also titled “Breathe,” that Waters had written for a documentary called The Body. Although the two songs don’t have much in common, their lyricist did reuse the title and the opening line for Dark Side. It was a suitable beginning for an album about the universal elements (and impediments) of existence. The first line appears to mark the first breath of life: “Breathe, breathe in the air … ”

“I think we all thought – and Roger definitely thought – that a lot of the lyrics we had been using were a little too indirect,” Gilmour said. “There was definitely a feeling that the words were going to be very clear and specific. That was a leap forward. Things would mean what they meant. That was a distinct step away from what we had done before.”

Waters would later sort of cringe at the naked simplicity of some of his Dark Side lyrics, particularly “Breathe,” which follows its first line with “Don’t be afraid to care.” But if the naivete of those words rankled the musician in hindsight, their universality may have helped so many listeners connect deeply with this music. In a matter of a few lines, “Breathe” describes birth, offers parental advice (with a pointed caveat) then helplessly sinks into the infinite loop of the rat race – or is it the rabbit race?

“The lyrics … are an exhortation directed mainly at myself, but also at anybody else who cares to listen,” Waters told Mojo. “It’s about trying to be true to one’s path.”

Waters wrote the words, but Gilmour’s voice contained the delicate power to deliver them – double-tracking his vocal takes to strengthen his breathy cries. His guitar work might be “Breathe’s” defining characteristic – a combination of Stratocaster and lap steel that plants itself in blues structure while zooming to the outer reaches of the universe. The spacey approach was a refined version of what Floyd had done with “Echoes” on 1971’s Meddle.

Wright, who shared musical credit with Waters and Gilmour on the song, added textures of keyboard, namely twinkles of Fender Rhodes electric piano and erupting swells of Hammond organ. He also brought in a hint of jazz, via his choice of a minor chord on the way from G to E, right before the verse begins.

“I came from jazz basically … that’s my favourite, that’s my inspiration,” Wright said on the Classic Albums documentary series about “The Dark Side of the Moon”. “The interesting thing about this song … that is totally down to a chord I had heard on, actually, Miles Davis’ album Kind of Blue. … That chord, I just loved.”

“Breathe” would also contribute to Dark Side being looked at as an album-length work. Just as there were sonic and lyrical references to other songs in the LP’s first and last tracks, “Breathe” made a second appearance as a reprise following “Time” with a slightly different musical approach, a weary word about work and a sneer in the direction of organized religion.

The repeating musical theme “was a bit avant-garde,” according to Mason. “And it was a bloody good device not to have to write anything else.”

“On the Run”

Before “On the Run” existed as one of Dark Side’s most experimental tracks existed as a less exceptional guitar-driven jam. When Pink Floyd performed the Dark Side song cycle before they recorded it, the band played something called “The Travel Sequence,” after “Breathe” and before “Time.” It was a kind of interlude to connect two of the major songs.

As Waters was coming up with the lyrical ideas for what would become Pink Floyd’s most famous album, he thought of a list of the things that he thought prevented humanity from progressing. Some of these became the focus (and even the titles) of songs: money, time, morality, violence, etc. One of the more personal themes on Waters’ list was travel, because as a constantly gigging band, the members of Pink Floyd were often on the road, in the air or “On the Run,” so to speak. Recording technology was evolving rapidly around the band. They used the new VCS3 – the latest synthesiser on the market, albeit still quite primitive – to generate the helicopter noises and Rick Wright used it inventively on On The Run. Half-way through making the album they switched to the new Dolby sound reduction system to give the music greater clarity and separation. But the real masterstroke came late on when Roger decided to link the tracks with bits of speech.

“It’s about fear of flying, which we all developed at some time,” Waters said in 2003. Wright had a slightly different take: “I was exhausted by the treadmill, the grind of traveling. For me, it expressed that rather than the fear of crashing in an aircraft.”

Perhaps because it was so personal, Waters didn’t compose lyrics about this particular fear, and the song remained an instrumental. When the Floyd members entered Abbey Road Studios to begin recording Dark Side, “The Travel Sequence” turned into something more bizarre, futuristic, frightening and alien. As that stage jam became “On the Run,” the track found its backbone in a synthesizer, the EMS Synthi AKS.

“I put an eight-note sequence into the Synthi and sped it up,” Gilmour recalled. “Roger thought it wasn’t quite right. He put in another, quite like mine. I hate to say, it was marginally better.”

If the constantly oscillating, ever-repeating sci-fi sound of the Synthi AKS didn’t fully represent what Wright called “the grind of traveling,” extra effects hammered the idea home. Along with heavily manipulated guitar and organ, folded into the track were an airport announcement (“Have your baggage and passport ready …“), other synthesized noises (which sounded like a vehicle swooping past) and a little more everyman philosophy (“Live for today, gone tomorrow. That’s me,” as said by Floyd road manager Roger “The Hat” Manifold).

Engineer Parsons has claimed it was his idea to add the sound of a man’s running footsteps and gasps of heavy breathing. “Often I’d carry on experimenting after they had gone,” he recalled. “The footsteps were done by Peter James, the assistant engineer, running around Studio 2, breathing heavily and panting. They loved it when they heard it the next day.”

Going out with a, quite literal, bang, “On the Run” ends with the sound of a plane crash – leaving little interpretation to how a traveling band felt about their concert schedule. The track’s finale became even more dramatic when performed on the tour to promote Dark Side, as Pink Floyd arranged for a huge model airplane to “fly” across arenas and “crash” in a rigged explosion. The stagecraft, although intense, seemed to lighten the band’s dark thoughts on the subject of air travel.

“We’ve had all sorts of things over the years, so I don’t think it put any of us off,” Gilmour remembered about the special effect. “It was jolly entertaining.”

“Time”

Like many tracks on our list of the Top 10 Pink Floyd Songs, ‘Time’ works better as part of a bigger album concept than as a standalone cut. But it’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon”s linchpin and features the album’s best performances, especially Nick Mason’s drum solo near the beginning of the song and David Gilmour’s ripping guitar solo in the middle.

Everyone in Pink Floyd gets their shot at the spotlight in “Time.” Mason does his drum solo on the rototoms in the big build-up, Wright came up with some of the epic chord changes and offers his gentle lead vocal (for the last time on record until the ’90s) on the bridges, Gilmour’s snarling singing on the verses is only outdone by his blistering guitar solo and Waters (as throughout Dark Side) came up with the idea and wrote all the lyrics.

“Time” is the only song on the album on which all four members receive a writing credit – making it the zenith of collaboration on what the Floyd guys have always claimed was their most cohesive LP as co-workers. And it’s only appropriate that each gets his moment on a track that focuses on living in the moment.

Waters has said the words for “Time” came from a eureka moment he experienced as he approached the age of 30 and Floyd were putting together Dark Side. He had spent his adolescence and young adulthood waiting for life to begin, only to discover that he was already living it. The notion is reflected in the lyric, “And then one day you find 10 years have got behind you / No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

“I suddenly thought at 29, ‘Hang on, it’s happening’,” Waters told Mojo. “It has been right from the beginning, and there isn’t suddenly a line when the training stops and life starts. … To be here now, this is it. Make the most of it.”

When the band began to record “Time” in the studio and audio engineer Parsons learned of the song’s title, he offered his own contribution. Not long before Floyd started sessions for Dark Side, Parsons had gone to a watchmaker’s shop to record a range of clocks going off. He planned to use the sounds on a release that would demonstrate the capabilities of quadraphonic sound. Instead, the tolling clocks became a memorable part of “Time,” presaging the song’s slow climb.

“We were doing the song ‘Time,’ and he said, ‘Listen, I just did all these things, I did all these clocks’,” Gilmour remembered in 1984, “and so we wheeled out his tape and listened to it and said, ‘Great! Stick it on!’ And that, actually, is Alan Parsons’s idea.”

The engineer wasn’t the only outsider to make a key contribution to “Time.” Dark Side’s most dynamic track featured vocal backing by four female singers – Doris Troy, Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John. Recordings of the women’s voices were fed through a pioneering pitch-shifting device invented at Abbey Road Studios. The Frequency Translator wasn’t employed as suggested; instead Floyd members and Parsons manipulated the vocals to bring a greater “swishing” sweep to the soulful “oohs” and “aahs.”

Everything about “Time” was big: its cacophony of clocks, its sonic range from hushed tick-tocking to full-throated rock exuberance, its notions about the hourglass of life, its seven-minute length. It also might be Dark Side’s hardest-rocking moment with Waters’ bass digging deep into the song’s funky gait and Gilmour burning through everything with his blazing arrow of a guitar solo coated in space echo.

“Some punch, some rock guitar,” is how the guitarist described the approach in 2011. “You know, once you’ve had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that’s a hard drug to kick.” In “Time’s closing moments, Pink Floyd break the fourth wall. Wright’s lamenting vocals deliver Waters’s lyrics: “The time is gone, the song is over / Thought I’d something more to say … ” The album’s lyricist isn’t just using the song to write about the human perception of time, he’s using the creative process as a metaphor for life and how the clock will inevitably run out on everyone.

“Maybe we all suffer from the feeling of lost opportunities, or you could have done better, or done more,” Waters told us. “Maybe it’s comforting to hear that feeling expressed in a piece of work that’s been as successful as this one. People often think, ‘If only … I could write the hit song, or have the success, everything would be okay.’ It’s very nice, but it doesn’t solve any of the problems you might feel about yourself.”

Then, via a dissonant chord, “Time” transitions to a one-verse reprise of “Breathe” (same melody, but new words). The reprise – all but exhaled by Gilmour – gets a lot done in a mere eight lines. It reiterates the “stop and smell the roses” idea of “Breathe” proper, connects to the chimes of “Time” (“the tolling of the iron bell”) and introduces some old-time religion (“hear the softly spoken magic spells”). All of it just in time for Dark Side to move on to mortality

“The Great Gig in the Sky”

Because of her singing on “The Great Gig in the Sky,” Clare Torry’s name is inextricably linked to Pink Floyd. And she wasn’t even a fan of the band.

The idea to bring in a singer to “wail” on the track happened late in the recording sessions for Dark Side (mid-January 1973, only about a month-and-a-half before the album’s release). When Pink Floyd had performed the Dark Side material live in 1972, before recording it, this spot in the song cycle had been taken by something termed “The Mortality Sequence.” The theme was religion and death, exemplified by Wright playing an organ with taped snippets of recorded prayers and Christian commentary playing over the live performance.

When the band got into Abbey Road Studios, Wright refined the piece and crafted something more delicate, playing piano as the tune’s lead instrument. Gilmour contributed pedal steel, Waters played bass and Mason handled the drums. Everyone seemed to love the instrumental (Waters later praised it as “really beautiful” and one of “the best things that Rick did”), yet some of the members felt it needed something more.

The idea of keeping the prayers and Bible verses from the live edition was quickly dispatched and the band moved on to trying to use recordings of astronauts communicating in space (which didn’t gel) as well as subjects from Waters’ interview idea (two of whom ended up on the completed track). But the quotes from Abbey Road doorman Gerry O’Driscoll – “And I am not frightened of dying … ” – and Patricia “Puddie” Watts, wife of road manager Peter Watts – “I never said I was frightened of dying” – weren’t quite enough to capture the emotion of a song about death.

No one remembers whose idea it was but eventually the guys in Floyd decided that a female singer might do the trick. Engineer Parsons suggested a young singer-songwriter named Clare Torry, because he had been impressed by the power of her voice on a cover of the Doors’ “Light My Fire.” The 25-year-old singer initially was reluctant to take part. Torry wasn’t into progressive rock and had tickets to a Chuck Berry concert on the Saturday night proposed for the session, but she eventually agreed when the date was set for a Sunday.

“I think one has to give Clare credit — she was just told to go in and ‘do your thing,’ so effectively she wrote what she did,” Parsons said in 1998. “She wailed over a nice chord sequence. There was no melodic guidance at all apart from ‘a bit more wailly here’ or ‘more sombre there.’ The vocal was done in one session – three hours – no time at all, then a couple of tracks were compiled for the final version.”

The members of Pink Floyd had been at a loss at how to direct someone to sing a completely wordless part for a song that was serious yet carried the playful title of “The Great Gig in the Sky.” Although they came away impressed with Torry’s hair-raising, even terrifying, vocal takes, the guys’ stone-faced manner belied their approval. “The only thing I could think of was to make myself sound like an instrument, a guitar or whatever, and not to think like a vocalist,” Torry recalled. “I did three or four takes very quickly, it was left totally up to me, and they said, ‘Thank you very much.’ In fact, other than Dave Gilmour, I had the impression they were infinitely bored with the whole thing, and when I left I remember thinking to myself, ‘That will never see the light of day’.”

Torry didn’t know she had become part of Pink Floyd’s hit album – and, eventually, one of the most beloved LPs of all time – until she spotted Dark Side in a record shop one day and saw that she was credited on the sleeve. Although Wright was listed as the song’s sole writer, that changed after a retired Torry sued the band and EMI in 2004, resulting in a settlement that gave the singer-songwriting credit on subsequent reissues of the album.

“I get so excited when I hear Clare singing,” Wright said in 2003. “For me, it’s not necessarily death. I hear terror and fear and huge emotion, in the middle bit especially, and the way the voice blends with the band.”

“Money”

Once the band started to receive some attention, the concept of fame and its trappings became an obsession for Waters . Ironically, ‘Money’ — an anti-greed rant — became the group’s first hit single and set ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ on its path to one of the bestselling albums ever made. Its massive popularity only added to Waters’ list of complaints.

It’s one of the most famous intros in music and one of the most famous riffs on a centrepiece to one of the most famous albums with one of the most famous covers of all time. But before ‘Money’ was the track your dad used as an example of “real music” when he came into your room while you were listening to Deadmau5, it was just a crude demo that Roger Waters had toyed around with.

What’s rather remarkable though is not only the way the rather short demo expanded into a six-minute epic, but the way the themes of the song and most of the lyrics were already in Waters’ head.

Pink Floyd hadn’t had a hit single since 1967. That was back when they were a psychedelic outfit led by Syd Barrett. By the mid-’70s, the singles chart just wasn’t the kinetic playground for progressive rock bands. Groups of Floyd’s ilk gravitated toward longer artistic statements: albums with big concepts, extended tracks and lots of room for listeners’ minds to wander. This wasn’t Top 40 stuff.

Yet, suddenly in 1973, it was. A couple months after the release of Dark Side, Pink Floyd put out an edited-down version of “Money” as a single in the U.S. and it soared to No. 13 on the chart, helping to take the British band from an underground act to a popular sensation in North America. Sure the song was catchy  with its distinctive, rubber-band bass line and blistering solo breaks – yet it was still a surprise that a song written in the decidedly un-pop time signature of 7/4, with a sound effects loop, an unsung chorus and a subversive attitude toward capitalism would become a Top 20 single on American radio.

As with all of the Dark Side material, Waters was responsible for those sarcastic lyrics, which were written to a strange rhythm as the bassist was considering the elements that could prove dangerous to a thriving society.  As a rock musician who was working to be rich and famous, but also had notions of socialism, Waters decided to go the “funny and clever” route. In addition to the off-kilter time signature, Waters came up with the idea of creating a sound effects loop that would insert into the track the literal sounds of money (coins, bags of cash, registers, etc.). Drummer Mason helped Waters begin collecting this rhythmic loop in the song’s home demo stage.

“I had drilled holes in old pennies and then threaded them on to strings,” Mason explained in his autobiography Inside Out. “They gave one sound on the loop of seven. Roger had recorded coins swirling around in the mixing bowl [his then-wife] Judy used for her pottery. Each sound was measured out on the tape with a ruler before being cut to the same length and then carefully spliced together.” The final version of the seven jangling, ripping, clinking and ringing sounds was used by Dark Side engineer Parsons as a click-track, to which the members of Pink Floyd played when recording “Money” at Abbey Road Studios. Because Parsons slowly faded out the effects in the band’s headphones, the song begins to move faster after the guys were untethered from their weird metronome.

Wright and Gilmour initially weren’t thrilled with the Waters composition. The keyboardist later claimed it was the one song that didn’t fit with the rest of Dark Side and also disagreed with the political nature of the lyrics at the time (after all, he was the one who agreed for “The Great Gig in the Sky” to be used in a commercial for headache medicine). Gilmour was, at first, unsure about singing and playing to the awkward 7/4 time. Although he came around to the idea, he made sure that “Money” switched to a more standard 4/4 time for his series of guitar solos.

He didn’t merely dash off the solos, which include some of the heaviest rock on the entire album and, essentially, take the place of the choruses in a typical song structure. Gilmour treated each iteration differently, changing the guitar he played (a Fender Stratocaster on the first two solos, a customized Lewis guitar capable of achieving higher notes on the last one). He also planned the contrast of a “wet” sound – reverb and delay effects on the first solo – with a “dry” approach in the middle, then returning to a fuller aesthetic for the final, more chaotic turn. Much of his driving approach on guitar was a tribute to the Memphis sound.

“I was a big Booker T. fan,” Gilmour later revealed, in reference to Stax Records house band, Booker T. and the M.G.’s. “I had the Green Onions album when I was a teenager. … It was something I thought we could incorporate into our sound without anyone spotting where the influence had come from. And to me, it worked. Nice white English architecture students getting funky is a bit of an odd thought.” Another R&B element was added with the addition of Dick Parry’s blurting and squealing saxophone. The story goes that Gilmour told his former bandmate to play like the saxophonist in a cartoon ad that ran before movies in Britain.

“I played with him. He was a jazz player. You’d be in two or three different groups at a time sometimes. My group in Cambridge very rarely had a gig on a Sunday night, and Dick had a regular spot in a ballroom on a Sunday night. We got this jazz trio thing going on,” Gilmour said in 2003. “Pink Floyd … really didn’t know how to get hold of a sax player or anything. We wanted to try a sax on ‘Money’ and ‘Us and Them,’ so we got Dick in.”

In addition to Parry’s sax work, Pink Floyd filtered in more of spoken-word snippets, of the same variety that had appeared on other tracks. A run of a variety of voices (including Wings member Henry McCullough) close out the song, not responding to financial questions, but matters of conflict, perhaps as a preview of Dark Side’s next track.

Looking back decades later, the irony was not lost on the band regarding “Money” being, in many ways, responsible for the vast material success of Pink Floyd. It was practically a prophecy, given the lyric that Waters wrote and Gilmour sang “Money, it’s a hit.” .“We were by no means rich at that time. ‘Money’ is the single that helped to really break us in America,” Gilmour said. “It was the track that made us guilty of what it propounds, funnily enough.”

“Us and Them”

The oldest song in Dark Side, “Us and Them” dates from four years before the album’s release, when Pink Floyd had been commissioned by film director Michelangelo Antonioni to create soundtrack music for Zabriskie Point. Wright, the band’s keyboardist, had written this subdued, melancholy piece to work as a contrast to a scene that depicted a campus riot. As such, it had the working title of “The Violence Sequence.”

“It has quite a simple chord sequence, except for the rather strange third chord, influenced by jazz,” Wright told Uncut, referencing the D minor chord with a major seventh. “It was an augmented chord, hardly ever used in pop music then.” It proved unusual for pop music and, as it turned out, a bit too unusual for Antonioni as well. While the Italian director loved Floyd material such as “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” he wasn’t thrilled with Wright’s slow, piano tune. Waters recalled the filmmaker’s reaction: “It’s beautiful, but is it too sad, you know? It makes me think of church.” Antonioni chose not to use “The Violence Sequence” for his movie.

A few years later, Pink Floyd were starting to assemble material for what would become Dark Side and Wright was still kicking around this chord progression in his brain. The song ended up underscoring a different sort of conflict: warfare, prejudice and inequality as depicted in lyrics written by Waters. The bandmates worked on the song, now called “Us and Them” together, adding a new musical section and words that paid heed to the forces that prevent human beings from connecting.

“We needed a middle-eight. I came up with the chords for that,” Wright said. “It’s very flowing and sweet if you look at the verse, then there’s the contrast, this big, harder chorus. With the lyrics about the war and the general sitting back – it worked so well. Wright and Waters were so pleased with “Us and Them,” which Pink Floyd performed while on tour before making Dark Side, that the deceptively serene song became the first one recorded for the album when the band entered Abbey Road Studios in June 1972.  Gilmour sings the lead part, his voice processed with an echo effect to enhance the dichotomy of certain lines (i.e. “Us … us … us … us … us … us … us … and them … them … them … them … them … them … them …”).

Wright’s vocals come in to harmonize in the crescendo of the choruses, as do the voices of Doris Troy, Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John, who sing backup on other tracks (“Time,” “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse”).

“All our vocals are perfectly balanced – for instance, on ‘Us and Them’,” Gilmour noticed. “I did I don’t know how many harmony vocals, then the girls on top. It’s really great, really uplifting. You can move one element a fraction and the whole thing falls to pieces.”

As with “Money” it was Pink Floyd’s guitarist who brought in old pal Dick Parry to play saxophone on the track. The jazzman delivers two solos, each breathy and moody, in stark contrast to the honking assignment on his other Dark Side appearance. Just before his second solo on “Us and Them” listeners hear yet another of the album’s spoken-word snippets, with roadie Roger “The Hat” Manifold holding forth on the theme of violence (“So if you give ’em a quick short, sharp, shock, they won’t do it again”).

Wright and Waters, the song’s co-writers who would so often find themselves at odds in the post-Dark Side era, would eventually look back fondly on “Us and Them.” Even in the years in which they were not talking to one another, they each considered their collaboration a highlight, if not the all-out centerpiece, of Pink Floyd’s most legendary album.

“It’s a great example of the music and the lyrics combining to create emotion,” Wright said in 2003. A few years earlier, Waters had offered, “The whole idea, the political idea of humanism and whether it could or should have any effect on any of us, that’s what the record is about really – conflict, our failure to connect with one another.”

“Any Colour You Like”

Isolation, paranoia and mental breakdown are the unrelenting themes of the last three tracks,Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage and Eclipse. Roger would pursue these themes with a vengeance on later Pink Floyd albums, driven by his hatred of authoritarian leaders and their bureaucratic henchmen, and his rage at the death of his father right at the end of World War II.

When the Dark Side collection of songs existed as merely a concert set – before Pink Floyd went into the studio to record the album – the material included two instrumental jams that both served as connective tissue for the entire cycle. There was one jam in between “Breathe” and “Time” (which was radically altered for the album to become “On the Run”) and there was another between “Us and Them” and “Brain Damage.” Because Floyd had deep-sixed the first jam, the members were content with keeping the second one for the LP, although it still got the full studio treatment. Segueing from “Us and Them,” the instrumental is led by a heavily addled EMS VCS 3 synthesizer played by Wright, which eventually yields the floor to Gilmour’s guitar playing, including a harmonized solo. Wright also contributes organ and another synth, while Waters plays bass and Mason is on drums.

The funky instrumental has been occasionally referred to as the second reprise of “Breathe” because it has the same rhythm (albeit more up-tempo) and boasts a similar chord sequence to that song (although stepped down from E minor to D minor). So even if “Any Colour You Like” doesn’t have an obvious impact on the overall themes of Dark Side, it does play into a repeated musical element of the LP.

“It’s not a vital part of the narrative,” Gilmour said in 2003, “but there are moments when it’s nice to get off the leash and just play.” Yet Waters, who is the only Floyd member not credited with writing the song, has claimed that “Any Colour You Like” does contain an underlying message to match some of the other impediments to progress explored in the lyrics and music of Dark Side.

Although it has been suggested that the title is an in-joke, referencing Floyd roadie Chris Adamson’s catchphrase, Waters told author Phil Rose that the phrase originated with his memory of salesmen hawking cheap items out of a van. “If they had sets of china, and they were all the same colour, they would say, ‘You can ’ave ’em, 10 bob to you, love. Any colour you like, they’re all blue’,” Waters recalled in Which One’s Pink? “And that was just part of that patter. So, metaphorically, ‘Any Colour You Like’ is interesting, in that sense, because it denotes offering a choice where there is none.”

“Brain Damage”

The Dark Side of the Moon’s penultimate track is more or less the theme song of Pink Floyd’s most popular album. More than any other cut on the record, ‘Brain Damage’ surveys the mental scars left on both the band and Syd Barrett after their former bandmate’s mental illness forced his departure (first from the group and eventually from reality). This centerpiece segues into the closing ‘Eclipse,’ so feel free to tag it on.

This track gave the entire album its title. When Waters was first working on it, around the time that 1971’s Meddle was being recorded, “The Dark Side of the Moon” was the name given to the song. Before it arrived at its final name, “Brain Damage,” it had the working title “The Lunatic Song” – named as such for the lyrics’ frequent use of the term.

The song’s first line is “The lunatic is on the grass,” a general reference to “keep off the grass” signs and a specific memory of a beautiful lawn in Waters’ hometown of Cambridge on which he desperately wanted to run around. The songwriter would later remark that the real lunatics are the ones trying to prevent people from lazing on a nice patch of grass.

But the larger inspiration for Waters’ acoustic-based tune was his former bandmate, and Pink Floyd’s first frontman, Syd Barrett. His relationship with, and proximity to, someone with destabilizing mental illness would greatly impact Waters’ work in Pink Floyd, including parts of Wish You Were Here and The Wall. In “Brain Damage,” the lyric “And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes” is a nod to concerts in which Barrett would be performing a completely different song to the one that the band had agreed to play.

“It was a huge shock to me to see the ravages of schizophrenia at those close quarters,” Waters said in 2003. “There’s no way to deal with it. Certainly there wasn’t with Syd.

So “Brain Damage” was, in part, Waters’ way of dealing with this. It wasn’t just references to Barrett, grass and lobotomies, but a display of empathy for the folks on the fringes – “defending the notion of being different,” as the songwriter put it on the Classic Albums documentary. The song’s lyrical hook, after all, is “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon,” as if to say that there isn’t that much different between Barrett and Waters. “It’s also to suggest that there’s a camaraderie involved in the idea of people who are prepared to walk the dark places alone,” Waters said. “You’re not alone! A number of us are prepared to open ourselves up to all those possibilities.”

At the time Pink Floyd were making Dark Side, Waters was still self-conscious about his singing voice, especially in contrast the expressiveness of Gilmour’s vocals. But it was the guitarist who convinced Waters to sing on “Brain Damage,” possibly because of how personal the lyrics were.

Besides, it’s not like the recording did a disservice to the apprehensive singer. Waters stands alone on the quieter verses, but is joined by Gilmour and the backing contingent of Doris Troy, Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John on the operatic choruses, which blast out of the simple, folky tune.

Gilmour’s sighing space guitar, Wright’s bum-rushing Hammond organ and Mason’s thunderous drums make “Brain Damage” suitable for Dark Side’s widescreen canvas, while clips of road manager Peter Watts laughing like a maniac maintain the conceptual connections.

“It’s very simple, and also it has the mini-Moog,” said Wright, who wasn’t thrilled, originally, with the recording. “It’s got a hotel orchestra kind of sound. I love the chorus, and the girls blended in so beautifully.” “Brain Damage” also blended in so well with Dark Side’s final track, “Eclipse,” that the pair are usually performed in concert or played on the radio in tandem, causing many fans to consider them one piece – even though they were written as separate songs.

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“Eclipse”

Pink Floyd were already in the process of a 1972 road-test of the material that would turn into Dark Side when lyricist and bassist Waters realized the suite of songs was missing something. Sure, the band had big, dramatic think-pieces such as “Time” and “Money” and “Us and Them,” but not a song that tied all of the themes together.

“I suggested it all needed an ending,” Waters told Uncut. “I wrote ‘Eclipse’ and brought it into a gig in Colston Hall in Bristol [the eighth of the tour on which the Dark Side songs were being played], on a piece of lined paper with the lyrics written out.”

But it wasn’t titled “Eclipse” at the time; it was called “End.” That’s because Pink Floyd were considering calling the entire piece Eclipse, scared off of the original Dark Side of the Moon moniker because another British band, Medicine Head, was releasing an LP with that title. That album proved unsuccessful, Pink Floyd reverted to their plan and “Eclipse” became the name of the record’s final track.

Lyrically, the conclusion does what Waters set out to achieve, forging bonds between many of the other songs on Dark Side. In the first line, Waters practically repeats a lyric from “Breathe” (“All that you touch / And all that you see”), while other phrases in this litany of themes bring to mind “Money” (“And all that you buy, beg, borrow or steal”), “Time” (“And all that is now / And all that is gone / And all that’s to come”) and “Us and Them” (“And all that you fight / And everyone you slight”).

If Waters met his goal as a lyricist, it would require the entire band to take this short, repetitive song into (interstellar) overdrive. Shooting straight out of “Brain Damage,” a giant wave of Wright’s Hammond heralds this musical and thematic climax, punctuated by Mason’s drums and surrounded by Gilmour’s twinkling guitars.

“I remember working hard on making it build and adding harmonies that join in as you go through the song,” Gilmour about recording the song. “Because there’s nothing to it – there’s no chorus, there’s no middle eight, there’s just a straight list. So, every four lines we’ll do something different.”

A big part of that build was the addition of the same female vocalists – Doris Troy, Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John – who had appeared elsewhere on Dark Side. It provided consistency, in terms of the album, and emotion, in terms of the song. Where they did a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing on other tracks, the women are less restrained on “Eclipse.” Troy, in particular, goes all-out with her wailing, providing a tie to Clare Torry’s turn on “The Great Gig in the Sky” while also underscoring the universality Waters was trying to get across in this conclusion. One of the lyrics she echoes in her soulful howl is “Everyone you meet.” Meanwhile, nearly every line that Waters sings contains the word “all,” “everyone” or “everything.”

The song, and album, culminates in the final lines: “And everything under the sun is in tune / But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” It isn’t merely a reference to the album’s title or the lyric in “Brain Damage,” but a crystallization of everything Waters intended Dark Side to be about.

“It isn’t very positive, but it’s very true,” he admitted in 2003. “Saying that there’s the potential to express the positive side of everything, but that all the stuff that we have talked about on the rest of the record has the potential to get in the way, and it’s up to us to make a change. We all get to choose to some extent … ”

Then the organ fades into the darkness and listeners hear one last interview snippet, a final thought from Abbey Road Studios doorman Gerry O’Driscoll, “There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.” And Dark Side retreats to Mason’s drumbeat pulse, the same steady sound of life heard at the album’s start.

Album cover designers Hipgnosis, who’d worked with the band since 1968’s Saucerful Of Secrets, were coming up with various ideas. Storm Thorgerson remembers they had seven or eight but the one the band picked was sparked off by Rick Wright, “who wanted something simple, clinical and precise”.

Hipgnosis deliberately missed out one colour of the spectrum as the light passed through the prism – purple – as they didn’t think it would show up against the black background. The gatefold sleeve was designed so that the light rays on the inner sleeve joined up precisely with the outer sleeve. But nowhere on the front cover, back cover or the spine did it say “Pink Floyd” or “Dark Side Of The Moon” And even on the inner sleeve the only reference you could find was “Produced by Pink Floyd” in the credits.

The title didn’t appear until you got to the record label, unless you happened to scan the lyrics on the inner sleeve and came across the last line of Brain Damage, ‘I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon’. Stuck inside the record sleeve were two posters: a grainy, green-filtered picture of the pyramids and one featuring the band, with an attempt to make the Pink Floyd name as difficult to read as possible.

thanks to ultimateclassicrock

Pink Floyd in 1973

This setlist carefully balances the then-new material from “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” and Pink Floyd classics, including songs from “The Dark Side Of The Moon” (Time, On The Run, The Great Gig In The Sky and Us And Them), the anthemic title track of “Wish You Were Here”, “The Wall’s” Comfortably Numb and a cathartic Run Like Hell. Pink Floyds “Delicate Sound of Thunder” still stands as a record of the creative power of David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright at their incendiary best.

3-LP 180-gram vinyl set includes 9 songs not included on the 1988 release of the album. Pink Floyd “Delicate Sound Of Thunder”: Restored, Re-Edited, Remixed.

Pink Floyd‘s Delicate Sound of Thunder live album and concert film were restored, remixed and re-edited for last year’s mammothLater Years box set, but this November will be made available separately, across all major physical formats. 
The sound on this 1988 release has been completely remixed from the original multi-track tapes by longtime Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, assisted by Damon Iddins. The new 2CD and 3LP vinyl sets feature this remixed audio and offer more tracks than before: the vinyl triple-disc package offers nine more tracks than the original, while the new double-CD package features eight songs not on the 1988 2CD set. The concert film was restored and re-edited from the original 35mm film and enhanced with 5.1 surround sound and this is available as standalone Blu-ray and DVD packages. 

Pink Floyd’s supporting musicians for this tour were as follows: Jon Carin (Keyboards, Vocals), Tim Renwick (Guitars, Vocals), Guy Pratt (Bass, Vocals), Gary Wallis (Percussion), Scott Page (Saxophones, Guitar), Margret Taylor (Backing Vocals), Rachel Fury (Backing Vocals) and Durga McBroom (Backing Vocals).

These new editions of Delicate Sound of Thunder will be released on 20th November 2020.

 

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Pink Floyd “BBC 1967”. Performing on four different dates in 1967, the year they released their first album, “Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” (1967), this is Pink Floyd at its best, psychedelic and raw. Their performance in May of that year, for the program “The Look Of The Week”, was probably the group’s first live video recording and includes incredible versions of “Pow R. Toc H.” and “Astronomy Domine”. Two more recordings for the Top Gear show, which featured London’s underground hipster scene, and one for “Tomorrow’s World” complete this incredible collection from the initial Floyd, including great versions of “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”, ” Flaming” and “Vegetable Man “. Essential live recordings of Pink Floyd during its greatest era! LP with limited edition splashes. Beautiful record to have, the quality of the pressing is surprisingly good, 45 rpm.

Tracks:
Pow R. Toc H. 0:36
Astronomy Domine 3:57
The Gnome 2:11
Scarecrow 2:07
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun 3:32
Matilda Mother 3:22
Flaming 2:37
Reaction In G 0:36
Green Onions 0:35
Instrumental 1:11
Vegetable Man 3:17
Scream Thy Last Scream 3:39
Pow R. Toc H. 4:22
Jugband Blues 3:51

david gilmour, yes i have ghosts, david gilmour yes i have ghosts, david gilmour single, david gilmour pink floyd, romany gilmour

David Gilmour has officially released a new song, “Yes, I Have Ghosts”, which marks the Pink Floyd guitarist’s first solo release since his 2015 album, Rattle that Lock, which rose to No1 on the U.K. Album Albums Chart.

While it’s billed as a “solo” song, “Yes, I Have Ghosts” is a Gilmour family affair, with lyrics by David’s wife, Polly Samson, and harp/vocal accompaniment by his daughter, 18-year-old Romany Gilmour. In celebration of the release of the dreamy, acoustic track, the Gilmour family hosted a special edition of their running Von Trapped quarantine live stream during which they showed the music video on a projector screen behind them.

YES, I HAVE GHOSTS is the first new song from David Gilmour in 5 years and features the voice and harp playing of his daughter Romany.

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Roger Waters has released a performance video of “Two Suns in the Sunset” alongside his backing band. The song comes from the final Pink Floyd album Waters appeared on, 1983’s The Final Cut.

The video follows “Mother” as the second installment in what will prove to be an album of previously-recorded material from Waters and his ensemble. The former Floyd bassist stated that he plans to record an album of all the songs him and his band performed as encores while on his 2017—2018 Us + Them Tour.

The performance opens with the typing of brief messages onto a plain black screen, while the sound of cars whiz by the listener. The messages pertain to the end of the world by way of nuclear apocalypse, with such inspiring maxims as “We’re at one hundred seconds to midnight/On the doomsday clock” and “This is the closest the Human Race/Has ever been to nuclear catastrophe.” Given his age, one would think Waters would remember the Cold War, yet his hatred for Donald Trump could be clouding his memory ever so slightly.

Then comes the actual song as Waters attempts to revive this long-overlooked tune that emerged from the final breath that was the classic (but not original) Pink Floyd line up. That is not to say that “Two Suns in the Sunset” is a bad song by any means, but if the band came out and Roger started playing that tired D-A-G chord movement, you might consider leaving early to beat traffic. The song’s message of nuclear annihilation, however, remains as relevant today as it was when it was written, but the threat has become so longstanding that it is almost ingrained into American culture by this point. As Waters’s bandmates turn off their cameras one-by-one at the end of the clip, we are left with just Roger who says to us, “how f*cking good is that?”.

I had an idea to make an album of all the songs we did as encores on the “US and Them” tour. We did “Mother” first. Had to do it remotely because of Covid 19. “Two Suns in The Sunset” is #2. Hope you like it. I love it. What a beautiful band they are. Love R.

The Band:
Roger Waters: Guitar and Vocal Dave Kilminster: Guitar Joey Waronker: Drums Lucius- Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig: Vocals Gus Seyffert: Bass Jonathan Wilson: Guitar Jon Carin: Piano and Keys Bo Koster: Hammond Ian Ritchie: Saxophone

Nick mason see emily play

12″ single with etching on B’ side. Pink Floyd drummer reinterpreting a couple of early Pink Floyd songs.

Released to coincide with new album released 17th April. From the dynamic drummer heard on every Pink Floyd album, Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets offers the opportunity to experience the group’s early body of work in concert, including songs from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and A Saucerful Of Secrets. Alongside guitarists Gary Kemp (of Spandau Ballet), keyboardists Dom Beken and Lee Harris (of Ian Dury and The Blockheads), and longtime Pink Floyd touring bassist Guy Pratt, Mason drew rapturous crowds throughout North America and Europe in 2018 and 2019 -including dates at The Roundhouse in London, the historic venue that counted Pink Floyd as its first performance in 1966.

Ahead of a dazzling audiovisual release of material from the Roundhouse sets last May, this collectible 12″ single features two performances from those sets (including Pink Floyd outtake “Vegetable Man,” played for the first time ever on this tour) backed by a custom etching.

recordstore day

When one mentions Pink Floyd, a reverence fills the air. This is particularly true when any of their original content is being prepared for a Deluxe release. And for Pink Floyd, much of their catalog has been explored to their cores and released in multiple deluxe packages. So, is there room for one more?

On November 29th, (and just in time for Christmas gift-giving), this massive 15-disc package called “The Later Years: 1987-2019″. Confirmed earlier this year by Aubrey Powell (co-owner of Hipgnosis, the oft-used album design company started with the late great Storm Thorgerson), this box set will definitely arrive for Pink Floyd fans and hard-core completists. The years indicate music created after the departure of Roger Waters and would likely include unused and previously unavailable studio and live materials. These treasures would work from A Momentary Lapse of Reason through 2014’sThe Endless River. A Delicate Sound of Thunder representing the tour for A Momentary Lapse of Reason, andPulse representing the tour for The Division Bell are both likely to be explored in this box set.

For now, the content is speculative. But there is a product shot that brings a lot of hope. Stay tuned for information from ALL fronts once the news is released for actual disc content. A Momentary Lapse of Reason is rumored to have a 5.1 Surround mix available for this box. As with The Early Years, a wealth of extras will accompany the pricey box.

In a side note, Powell also revealed that the 5.1 SACD for Animals would see release sometime early 2020.

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