Posts Tagged ‘Wish You Were Here’

The Concert documentary Roger Waters: Us + Them, shot in Amsterdam on the European leg of Roger’s 2017/2018 world tour, will be in movie theaters worldwide on October 2nd & 6th only. We’ve got an exclusive clip from the film, featuring Roger performing early Pink Floyd song “One of These Days,” that gives you a feel for the scope of the stage production, not to mention the chops of his band (which includes drummer Joey Waronker, Lucius’ Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, and guitarist Jonathan Wilson). Watch that, and check out the trailer for Us + Them and a few other clips from the film,

Roger Waters, co-founder, creative force and songwriter behind Pink Floyd, presents his highly anticipated film, “Us + Them”, featuring state-of- the-art visual production and breath-taking sound in this unmissable cinema event. Filmed in Amsterdam on the European leg of his 2017 – 2018 Us + Them tour which saw Waters perform to over two million people worldwide, the film features songs from his legendary Pink Floyd albums (The Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, Animals, Wish You Were Here) and from his last album, Is This The Life We Really Want? Waters collaborates once more with Sean Evans, visionary director of the highly acclaimed movie, Roger Waters The Wall, to deliver this creatively pioneering film that inspires with its powerful music and message of human rights, liberty and love.

Roger Waters’ spectacular Us + Them. The show features songs from Pink Floyd’s greatest albums (The Dark Side of The Moon, The Wall, Animals, Wish You Were Here) alongside new material. Roger Waters’ legendary live performances are renowned as immersive sensory experiences featuring high class, state-of- the-art audio visual production and breathtaking quad sound.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pink Floyd

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

Additional musicians

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

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Following up a hit record is no mean feat for any band, and even under the best of circumstances, Pink Floyd might have found it all but impossible to come back from the massive success of Dark Side of the Moon.

Unfortunately, when the band returned to the studio in January 1975, conditions were far from favorable in the band for a variety of reasons — not the least of which was the fact that, as they adjusted to life after a worldwide smash record, the members of the band found themselves more disoriented than fulfilled. Compounding the problem was a growing disconnection between bassist Roger Waters and the rest of Pink Floyd, particularly guitarist David Gilmour.

“We were all having to assess what we were in this business for,” Gilmour said in the 2012 documentary The Story of Wish You Were Here. “Whether we were artists or businessmen. Having achieved the sort of success and money out of it all, it could fulfill anyone’s wildest teenage dreams, why we would still continue to want to do it? Roger has said he thinks we may have been finished at that point, and he may have been right.”

 

It also didn’t help that, as drummer Nick Mason said in a separate interview filmed for the movie, the band didn’t exactly have a ton of material stored up for their next album. After spending years rotating through the industry’s tour-and-record cycle, they hunkered down on their Dark Side follow-up basically bereft of material — and some of the songs they had written ended up being thrown out of the running order.

The songs in question, “Raving and Drooling” and “You Gotta Be Crazy,” were excised from the album after a fight between Waters and Gilmour, prompted because Waters felt the songs they had didn’t hold together as a cohesive whole. In his view, it was better to expand one particular track — titled “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” — into a bookend that essentially enveloped the rest of the record. As Waters later revealed, the piece was largely inspired by his heartbreak over the self-imposed exile of the band’s founding guitarist and first leader, Syd Barrett.

“I’ve never read an intelligent piece on Syd Barrett in any magazine, never,” Waters is quoted as saying in Mark Blake’s book Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd. “I wrote and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote that lyric because I wanted it to be as close as possible to what I felt. There’s a truthful feeling in that piece. That sort of indefinable, inevitable melancholy about the disappearance of Syd. He’s withdrawn so far away that he’s no longer there.”

Waters’ feelings regarding Barrett’s absence could have been applied, to some degree, to the rest of Pink Floyd. “No one was really looking anyone in the eye,” he complained. “It was all very mechanical.”

“It was disengagement,” concurred Gilmour. “It was not being willing to apply yourself sufficiently. Lots of moments when any one of us might have been much more interested in thinking about what we were doing that weekend […] The concentrated activity was rather diluted, and I’m sure for a very pushing, driving sort of person like Roger, it was more frustrating than it was for anyone else — although it was very frustrating for all of us, I suspect.”

Thus preoccupied by feelings of alienation and disillusionment, the members of the group — primarily pulled along by Waters — cobbled together a set of songs built around absence, starting with the withdrawal of their friend Barrett and spilling over into the creeping disappointment they’d found with one another and in the industry they’d enriched with Dark Side of the Moon. In the midst of the recording, Barrett himself made an unannounced appearance in the studio, looking so different that the members of the band initially failed to recognize him.

Drummer Nick Mason, for one, later remembered Barrett looking like a “large, fat bloke with a shaven head, wearing a decrepit old tan mac and carrying a plastic shopping bag,” while keyboard player Rick Wright recalled a sad denouement to their former leader’s surprise visit: “Syd stood up and said, ‘Right, when do I put the guitar on?’ And, of course, he didn’t have a guitar with him. We said, ‘Sorry, Syd, the guitar’s all done.’”

Such was the band’s disconnect that one song on the album, titled “Have a Cigar,” ultimately ended up being sung by someone outside the lineup. After Waters and Gilmour tried and failed to lend the requisite degree of vocal snark to their sarcastic ode to music business cynicism, they ended up turning to singer songwriter Roy Harper, who was sharing the studio with them and happened to be in the room one day while they struggled to find a solution.

Roger can write songs but he’s never going to be in the top one hundred as a rock singer,” observed Harper. “He tries hard, he’s a good lad. Anyway, neither of them could get up there. I just stood at the back, leaning against a machine and laughing. I said, ‘I’ll sing it for you,’ and someone said, ‘OK,’ and I said, ‘For a price.

Recording finally wrapped in the summer of 1975, and after settling on a typically evocative cover design from legendary artist Storm Thorgerson, the members of Pink Floyd sent their ninth studio LP — titled Wish You Were Here, after a particularly disaffected Gilmour-Waters cowrite — to their label. Scheduled for release on September. 12th, it immediately became one of the most highly anticipated albums of 1975.

Not that Pink Floyd necessarily acted like a band delivering a major piece of product. In fact, their only concession to the promotion machine was a single syndicated live show, recorded at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in the spring of 1975, which was broadcast in an array of major markets ahead of the tour booked to support Wish You Were Here. The sold-out set, which still included “Raving and Drooling” and “You Gotta Be Crazy,” also featured an extended “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” as well as “Have a Cigar,” “Echoes,” and “Dark Side of the Moon” — as well as an expanding roster of special effects that now included expensive and unpredictable pyrotechnics.

In spite of inevitably mixed reviews, Wish You Were Here went on to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and although it couldn’t hope to match the gargantuan sales of Dark Side of the Moon, it enjoyed substantial success in its own right, selling more than six million copies in the U.S. alone. And while the Floyd machine would continue to churn out product on a regular basis in the near future — starting with 1977′s Animals, which included the jettisoned Wish tracks “”Raving and Drooling” and “You Gotta Be Crazy”  the writing was already on the wall for Waters eventual departure from the band. As he pointed out in The Inside Story of Pink Floyd, even the biggest sales figures can’t balance out creative dysfunction.

“The dream,” shrugged Waters, “is that when you are successful, when you’re a star, you’ll be fine, everything will go wonderfully well. That’s the dream — and everybody knows it’s an empty one.”