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Offline Parsifal

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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #40 on: December 12, 2014, 02:02:24 PM »
Delicate Sound of Thunder
Concert film (directed by Wayne Isham)

Recorded: 19-23 August 1988, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York
Released: 13 June 1989

Band lineup

David Gilmour (guitar)
Nick Mason (drums)
Richard Wright (keyboards)

Tim Renwick (guitar)
Jon Carin (keyboards)
Scott Page (saxophone)
Guy Pratt (bass)
Gary Wallis (percussion)

Margaret Taylor (vocals)
Rachel Fury (vocals)
Durga McBroom (vocals)

Songs included (in order of appearance)

Shine On You Crazy Diamond (part I) (Wright, Waters, Gilmour)
Signs of Life (Gilmour, Bob Ezrin)
Learning to Fly (Gilmour, Ezrin, Anthony Moore, Jon Carin)
Sorrow (Gilmour)
The Dogs of War (Gilmour, Moore)
On the Turning Away (Gilmour, Moore)
One of These Days (Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason)
  * Includes a fragment of Speak to Me (Mason)
Time (Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason)
On the Run (Waters, Gilmour)
The Great Gig in the Sky (Wright, Clare Torry)
Wish You Were Here (Waters, Gilmour)
Us and Them (Waters, Wright)
Money (Waters)
Comfortably Numb (Waters, Gilmour)
One Slip (Gilmour, Phil Manzanera)
Run Like Hell (Waters, Gilmour)
Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts II, IV, V) (Waters, Gilmour, Wright)

Review

Of all the films Pink Floyd have been involved in the making of, this is their first true concert film. London '66-'67 and Live at Pompeii both depicted Pink Floyd performing, but that wasn't the sole focus of either of those films; rather, both were art films that were augmented by the presence of Pink Floyd's music. Delicate Sound of Thunder was filmed on Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, and therefore prominently features music from that album; and, of course, there is no Roger.

Meanwhile, the band has been augmented with a replacement bassist; a saxophonist; additional guitar and keyboard players; a percussionist who seems to carry most of the rhythmic burden while Nick plods away in common time; and, of course, three female vocalists who also dance around and generally look pretty when they're not singing. I guess that's the kind of band you can afford when you've had one of the most popular albums ever made in stores for the past decade and a half.

The first third of the show is where I really appreciated that eye candy. Aside from the first part of Shine On, which is really just keyboard and guitar solos over a drone, the first 40 minutes or so is taken up by Momentary Lapse material. Some of it (read: Signs of Life) is interesting as ever, made moreso by the accompaniment of a film track which is fairly cleverly synchronised to the music. The pieces with climactic guitar solos, Sorrow and On the Turning Away, seem to gain a bit of life here as compared to their studio recordings. The real let-down is, once again, The Dogs of War -- quite honestly, I'm amazed this band could sing those lyrics with a straight face.

All of a sudden, the show takes a turn for the better, as Guy hits the opening bass note to One of These Days. And away we go; David's lap steel seeming to soar as high as the inflatable pig being released above the band. Time is a pleasure to hear again, especially Rick's vocal parts; the only solo lead vocal Rick gets in this video, and his first since he sung this tune on The Dark Side of the Moon.

On the Run livens things up with an amusing video depicting a guy looking suspiciously like Roger lying in a hospital bed. As the tune goes on, the bed accelerates out of the hospital and along a runway, with its occupant looking continually more disturbed with the fact that his bed is rising into the sky. As the video builds to a climax, the explosion at the end of On the Run is matched by a live explosion on stage. An interesting take on a classic instrumental.

As the on-stage explosion dies down, Rick plays the opening chords to The Great Gig in the Sky, and then it's our lovely ladies' turn to shine. Each of Rachel, Durga and Margaret (in that order) takes a turn at the wordless lead vocal part in this beautiful tune; while none of them can match the majesty of Clare Torry's original performance, they do prove to be a force to be reckoned with.

Up next is Wish You Were Here, which seems to take on new meaning in the wake of Roger's departure. Originally, this song was an ode from Roger and David to Syd; now, David sings alone, a band leader by circumstance. Us and Them is nice to hear, but nothing special; but Money is the real treat of the Dark Side material. The midsection, originally a typical bluesy Gilmour solo, has been extended into a jam rarely seen in such late Floyd.

First, Gilmour's solo leads us into a reggae run-through of the blues progression, with the entire band jamming together. Then the band drops out and Guy delivers a groovy bass solo, followed up with a keyboard solo from Rick. We even get a chorus of "ooh"s from the dancing girls, which quite frankly, I could do without. This jam builds up to the inevitable conclusion to David's guitar solo and return to the vocals (which have also been ruined by interjections from the ladies in this arrangement).

Comfortably Numb is interesting here, mainly for the poor man's replacement for Roger's vocal part which got tacked on. The doctor is played here by a dissonant harmony consisting of Rick, Guy and Jon, which can't live up to Roger's performance on The Wall, but it stands surprisingly well on its own. The guitar solo makes up for that loss; David seems much more inspired here than he did on the original.

Then David seems to feel the audience could use a quick nap before the concert ends, so he throws in another Momentary Lapse song. My favourite part of One Slip is when Jon pulls a face, looking downright revolted at the fact that he's expected to sing these lyrics. Then we get a Run Like Hell, with Guy filling in vocal duties for Roger, and the show is over. The remaining parts of Shine On, which were cut out at the beginning, play over the closing credits for the film; David doesn't do too bad of a job on the vocal part, which was originally sung by Roger, and the rest is essentially played as on the album.

This concert could have been much more interesting had it been recorded in 1974, when Pink Floyd were in their prime, touring The Dark Side of the Moon and playing early versions of what would become Dogs and Sheep. But alas, nobody thought to haul out the cameras until 1988, so we get the next best thing. This performance varies between pretty good and mind-numbingly dull, and typically those two correspond to the "classic" Floyd material and the new songs. I wouldn't recommend this if decent concert footage existed of Floyd as they were a decade prior, but given the lack of alternatives, this is the best document of live Floyd you'll get.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2014, 07:55:07 AM »
The Division Bell
Studio CD


Recorded: January - December 1993
Released: 28 March 1994

Band lineup

David Gilmour (guitar)
Nick Mason (drums)
Richard Wright (keyboards)

Tim Renwick (guitar)
Jon Carin (keyboards)
Dick Parry (saxophone)
Guy Pratt (bass)
Gary Wallis (percussion)
Bob Ezrin (keyboards, percussion)

Sam Brown (vocals)
Durga McBroom (vocals)
Carol Kenyon (vocals)
Jackie Sheridan (vocals)
Rebecca Leigh-White (vocals)

With Stephen Hawking's artificial voice on "Keep Talking".

Track listing

1. Cluster One (Gilmour, Wright) (5:58)
2. What Do You Want From Me? (Gilmour, Wright, Polly Samson) (4:21)
3. Poles Apart (Gilmour, Samson, Nick Laird-Clowes) (7:04)
4. Marooned (Gilmour, Wright) (5:29)
5. A Great Day for Freedom (Gilmour, Samson) (4:17)
6. Wearing the Inside Out (Wright, Anthony Moore) (6:49)
7. Take It Back (Gilmour, Samson, Laird-Clowes, Bob Ezrin) (6:12)
8. Coming Back to Life (Gilmour) (6:19)
9. Keep Talking (Gilmour, Wright, Samson) (6:11)
10. Lost for Words (Gilmour, Samson) (5:14)
11. High Hopes (Gilmour, Samson) (8:31)

Review

Just when you thought Pink Floyd couldn't get any worse, David Gilmour marries a woman who is an even worse lyricist than himself. Polly Samson's incredible talent with words really makes the instrumental tracks on this album stand out from the rest. Couple that with the fact that much of the music is little other than rehashes on established material, and there really isn't much of value on this record.

That's not to say that it doesn't have its enjoyable moments; they're just incredibly rare, and usually moments that seem like they've been cut straight out of other Floyd albums. Cluster One is a pleasant listen, but like Signs of Life before it, it feels like a slight rearrangement of the intro to Shine On You Crazy Diamond, featuring minimal piano and guitar parts over a synth drone. What Do You Want From Me? is pretty much just Have a Cigar, but with Roger's lyrics replaced by Polly's.

Poles Apart and Marooned offer a brief respite from the brutal onslaught. Poles Apart is a cute little ballad with some of the less objectionable lyrics on this album, speaking out to both Syd and Roger as former bandmates. Marooned is another Gilmour/Wright instrumental; the last to be released during Wright's lifetime. I'd have to say that Marooned is the high point of the album for me; it doesn't come across as a rewrite of an old song like the opening piece, and consists of a pretty good lap steel solo from David over a series of chords that is unmistakeably of Rick's creation, displaying the same talent for writing good backing music as he displayed on The Great Gig in the Sky and the final part of Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

A Great Day for Freedom is a song about Gilmour's feelings regarding the fall of the Berlin Wall and the perceived liberation of eastern Europe. The title is somewhat ironic, as the song ends with the lyrics "I turned and I looked at you / and all but the bitter residue slipped away". To be honest, this song isn't as bad as I remember it; it's not great, but the lyrics don't make me want to cringe, and it ends with a decent guitar solo from David.

Wearing the Inside Out is Rick's song of the album, composed and sung by Rick, with lyrics by Anthony Moore. While it doesn't compare to Rick's early pieces -- See-Saw, Summer '68, Stay, and even It Would Be So Nice -- it's nice to have a break from the monotony of David's music and Polly's lyrics. The lyrics are darker than the rest of the album, and while they are somewhat vague, they seem to refer to Rick's extended absence from the band ("I murmured a vow / of silence and now / I don't even hear when I think aloud") and return to songwriting ("I'm with you now / Can speak your name / Now we can hear ourselves again").

All too soon, the album thrusts another Gilmour/Samson number upon us once more. Take It Back is difficult to review, because just listening to it makes me want to distract myself with something else. It sounds like an awkward cross between classic Floyd, '90s pop music, and the worst lyrics ever committed to paper.

Coming Back to Life is the only track on the album credited only to David Gilmour. On any other Pink Floyd album, this would be cause for a quick snooze, but in this case it means relief from Polly Samson's lyrics for a while. The music isn't all that interesting, though, and I quickly found myself losing attentiveness. Keep Talking isn't much better, Stephen Hawking's voice being the most interesting part of the song. While David Gilmour's second guitar solo accompanies a return of the pig-like guitar tone from Animals, this only furthers the impression that this album is riding on Pink Floyd's earlier successes.

The album ends as unimpressively as it began. Lost for Words is entirely unmemorable; generic pop musically, and on par with most of its companions on this album lyrically. High Hopes is to The Division Bell as Sorrow is to A Momentary Lapse of Reason; a pompous finale that comes across as a failed attempt to end the album in some deep and meaningful way. Its one saving grace is a pretty good lap steel solo from David at the end.

If you need any proof that Roger was an indispensable part of post-Syd Floyd, this is it; just as The Final Cut is proof that David and Rick were indispensable parts of the same band. This album has its moments, but they are moments that lend themselves well to augmentation from Roger's inclination to write compelling lyrics and to produce solid concept albums. This band has all the disadvantages of the post-Syd Floyd, trying to find its own footing; but none of the advantages of being young and open to new direction. This is a band making a sort of music they aren't good at making, and as the last album released while all of its members were still living, this was their final chance to shine. And they didn't.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2014, 01:00:48 PM by Parsifal »
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #42 on: December 14, 2014, 09:37:48 AM »
La Carrera Panamericana
Film (directed by Ian McArthur)

Released: 2 June 1992

Band lineup

David Gilmour (guitar)
Nick Mason (drums)
Richard Wright (keyboards)

Tim Renwick (guitar)
Jon Carin (keyboards)
Guy Pratt (bass)
Gary Wallis (percussion)

Songs included (in order of appearance)

Run Like Hell (Waters, Gilmour)
  * Originally released on Delicate Sound of Thunder.
Pan Am Shuffle (Gilmour, Wright, Mason)
Yet Another Movie (Gilmour, Patrick Leonard)
  * Originally released on A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Sorrow (Gilmour)
  * Originally released on A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Signs of Life (Gilmour, Bob Ezrin)
  * Originally released on A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Country Theme (Gilmour)
Mexico '78 (Gilmour)
Big Theme (Gilmour)
Run Like Hell (reprise) (Waters, Gilmour)
  * Originally released on Delicate Sound of Thunder.
One Slip (Gilmour, Phil Manzanera)
  * Originally released on A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
Small Theme (Gilmour)
Pan Am Shuffle (reprise) (Gilmour, Wright, Mason)

Review

This is a film consisting of video footage of the 1991 six-day Carrera Panamericana motor race across Mexico (in which David Gilmour and Nick Mason took part), with a soundtrack composed and performed by Pink Floyd. This review is somewhat out of sequence, due to the fact that I was unable to obtain a copy of this film until after I had reviewed The Division Bell.

The film itself is somewhat interesting, showing various aspects of the race rather than simply non-stop footage of cars driving around (as I had expected). There are interviews with various participants, as well as footage of casual conversations, some parts showing cars being repaired, other parts displaying the reaction of locals (usually very positive; one town had a full-on marching band to welcome the racing cars).

There is also some footage of the original race in the 1950s, some of which is almost unbelievable. In the 1991 race, the organisers arranged it in various sections so that roads were closed by authorities for the high-speed portions, while cars were limited to around 50 km/h passing through towns. The 1950s footage, however, shows cars racing straight through towns without any sign of slowing down, sometimes crashing into things at race speeds, as well as numerous fatal accidents. It's little wonder they had to cancel the race after 1954.

The '91 race wasn't entirely devoid of its share of problems. Many of the cars had mechanical problems; early on, one of them had its rear axle snap in half, which seemed to be quite a job to repair. Later on, David Gilmour (with Steve O'Rourke, Pink Floyd's manager, reading the map as a passenger) went into a corner too fast and rolled down a cliff. Incredibly, the only serious injury sustained was Steve O'Rourke's broken leg.

As for the music, this is significantly better than the albums Pink Floyd were producing during this period. In fact, I'll go as far as to say it's my favourite release since Wish You Were Here. The songs from Momentary Lapse are often edited down, bypassing the poor lyrics and fitting very nicely into the film soundtrack. While the original material is evidently intended to be secondary to the film, this ultimately has the effect of making it work much better than Floyd's contemporary songs; without the pretense of trying to create a marketable product, the band is liberated to simply play the music they like.

The results are varied, but inevitably enjoyable; Small Theme is probably my least favourite, consisting of little other than a series of sustained synth chords, but even that fits in well with the race ending. On the other end of the scale, Pan Am Shuffle is a bluesy improvisation over a fairly simple shuffle vamp, with David on guitar and Rick doing organ and one of his classic Moog solos. I found this to be a highly enjoyable listen, and is the first track to be credited to all three remaining band members since Any Colour You Like. The rest of the songs are instrumentals penned by David, and all work really well in their context in the film.

I hadn't seen this film before, and I went in expecting it to be more of the same stuff we got on A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised; this is some of the most organic, unpretentious music Floyd has made in two decades, largely thanks to the musicians getting to stretch their legs on instrumental pieces instead of confining themselves to making conventional albums. Pass right by the post-Roger studio albums and get this film instead.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #43 on: December 17, 2014, 10:24:53 AM »
Pulse
Concert film (directed by David Mallet)

Recorded: 20 October 1994, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London
Released: June 1995

Band lineup

David Gilmour (guitar)
Nick Mason (drums)
Richard Wright (keyboards)

Tim Renwick (guitar)
Jon Carin (keyboards)
Dick Parry (saxophone)
Guy Pratt (bass)
Gary Wallis (percussion)

Sam Brown (vocals)
Claudia Fontaine (vocals)
Durga McBroom (vocals)

DVD 1

Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts I-VII) (Waters, Gilmour, Wright)
Learning to Fly (Gilmour, Bob Ezrin, Anthony Moore, Jon Carin)
High Hopes (Gilmour, Polly Samson)
Take It Back (Gilmour, Samson, Ezrin, Nick Laird-Clowes)
Coming Back to Life (Gilmour)
Sorrow (Gilmour)
Keep Talking (Gilmour, Wright, Samson)
Another Brick in the Wall (part II) (Waters)
  * Includes fragments of:
    - Another Brick in the Wall (part I) (Waters)
    - The Happiest Days of Our Lives (Waters)
    - Another Brick in the Wall (part III) (Waters)
    - Dogs (Waters, Gilmour)
One of These Days (Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason)

DVD 2

Speak to Me (Mason)
Breathe (Waters, Gilmour, Wright)
On the Run (Waters, Gilmour)
Time (Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason)
  * Includes a reprise of "Breathe".
The Great Gig in the Sky (Wright, Clare Torry)
Money (Waters)
Us and Them (Waters, Wright)
Any Colour You Like (Gilmour, Wright, Mason)
Brain Damage (Waters)
Eclipse (Waters)
Wish You Were Here (Waters, Gilmour)
Comfortably Numb (Waters, Gilmour)
Run Like Hell (Waters, Gilmour)

Review

This film is made up of footage from one night on the Division Bell tour of 1994. On that tour, they would play the usual set of new songs with cherry-picks from the back catalogue for the first set, but would then come back and perform The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety for the second. As such, this album contains a complete live performance of that album, which is by far the highlight.

The first set isn't bad, either; with the exception of Take It Back and Keep Talking, which never fail to bore me to death, the other new material seems much more lively here than on previous releases. I particularly enjoy these versions of High Hopes and Sorrow, and Tim Renwick's guitar playing helps to liven up Learning to Fly.

Then there's the throwback material; this version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond is noteworthy for being the most complete you'll ever find in a live release, containing most of the first half intact, and continuing into the third verse after the saxophone solo. Parts VIII and IX are missing, but there are no live releases which include those. The quality of the performance hasn't varied much since Wish You Were Here; it's still mildly interesting, but drags on with far too much of the same.

The first set closes with Another Brick in the Wall part II (which, aside from decent guitar solos from David and Tim, is entirely skippable) and One of These Days. I had forgotten how amazing this version of One of These Days is; it's easily the best performance on disc 1, and it's even better than the one on Delicate Sound of Thunder, with a longer and more interesting bass solo, and a much tighter performance all around. The first down beat after the "one of these days" vocal is extremely powerful, and David's ensuing lap steel solo seems to surround the listener in a way that the studio version doesn't quite capture. An incredible finale to the opening set.

While the second set is enjoyable, it has its high and low points relative to the album. Speak to Me is a high point, with an extended heartbeat intro that starts as people are milling into the venue and taking their seats, leading up to the climactic opening to Breathe. The first few tracks are okay, with a strong point being a return of the video footage in On the Run that we saw in Delicate Sound of Thunder.

The Great Gig in the Sky is easily the high point of this set for me, with Sam Brown, Durga McBroom and Claudia Fontaine doing their best to fill Clare Torry's shoes. I find that Sam captures the raw intensity of Clare's original performance far better than Rachel did on Delicate Sound of Thunder; she was putting so much into her performance at one point that I was convinced her head was going to explode. Durga and Claudia don't let her take all of the glory, either; this is one fantastic Great Gig all around.

The second half of the set is somewhat more disappointing. Money is similar to the Delicate Sound of Thunder arrangement, but seems to be a fairly loose jam moreso than alternating solos, and overall I think this version is less interesting. Us and Them is played as always, leading up to what should rightfully be the high point of the set; but Any Colour You Like is a huge letdown here. Rick's keyboard solo might as well not even have been attempted, and David's guitar isn't too interesting either.

All things considered, I was grateful by the time the segue into Brain Damage came around, with Brain Damage and Eclipse being their usual dramatic ending to the set, but not in any way more noteworthy than their studio counterparts. Encore material consists of Wish You Were Here, Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell performances that are almost identical to those on Delicate Sound of Thunder; the main difference of note here is that Guy Pratt pulls off a much better rendition of Roger's lines in Run Like Hell.

I would have to say that, after watching it again, I think this is a better representation of live Floyd than Delicate Sound of Thunder. The new material has a certain energy to it that is lacking on the older release, and the old material is done better or just as well here (with the exception of Money). This also captures a concert from the last ever Pink Floyd tour, so there is some historical value to it as well. Definitely worth watching for any Floyd fan.


P.S.: Unlike with Delicate Sound of Thunder, there are significant differences between the film and album versions of Pulse. Notably, some tracks are taken from different concerts, so Any Colour You Like might be more interesting there; also, the album version has the return of a classic Syd Barrett song that hadn't been performed since the late '60s. Therefore, I will be reviewing the album version as well in a few days.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #44 on: December 20, 2014, 05:28:21 PM »
Pulse
Live double CD


Recorded: 17 August - 29 October 1994, various locations in Europe
Released: 29 May 1995

Band lineup

David Gilmour (guitar)
Nick Mason (drums)
Richard Wright (keyboards)

Tim Renwick (guitar)
Jon Carin (keyboards)
Dick Parry (saxophone)
Guy Pratt (bass)
Gary Wallis (percussion)

Sam Brown (vocals)
Claudia Fontaine (vocals)
Durga McBroom (vocals)

CD 1

1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (parts I-VII) (Waters, Gilmour, Wright) (13:35)
2. Astronomy Domine (Barrett) (4:20)
3. What Do You Want From Me? (Gilmour, Wright, Polly Samson) (4:10)
4. Learning to Fly (Gilmour, Anthony Moore, Bob Ezrin, Jon Carin) (5:16)
5. Keep Talking (Gilmour, Wright, Samson) (6:52)
6. Coming Back to Life (Gilmour) (6:56)
7. Hey You (Waters) (4:40)
8. A Great Day for Freedom (Gilmour, Samson) (4:30)
9. Sorrow (Gilmour) (10:49)
10. High Hopes (Gilmour, Samson) (7:52)
11. Another Brick in the Wall (part II) (Waters) (7:08)
 * Includes fragments of:
    - Another Brick in the Wall (part I) (Waters)
    - The Happiest Days of Our Lives (Waters)
    - Another Brick in the Wall (part III) (Waters)
    - Dogs (Waters, Gilmour)

CD 2

1. Speak to Me (Mason) (2:30)
2. Breathe (Waters, Gilmour, Wright) (2:33)
3. On the Run (Waters, Gilmour) (3:48)
4. Time (Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason) (6:47)
  * Includes a reprise of "Breathe".
5. The Great Gig in the Sky (Wright, Clare Torry) (5:52)
6. Money (Waters) (8:54)
7. Us and Them (Waters, Wright) (6:58)
8. Any Colour You Like (Gilmour, Wright, Mason) (3:21)
9. Brain Damage (Waters) (3:46)
10. Eclipse (Waters) (2:38)
11. Wish You Were Here (Waters, Gilmour) (6:35)
12. Comfortably Numb (Waters, Gilmour) (9:29)
13. Run Like Hell (Waters, Gilmour) (8:36)

Review

Listening to this hot on the heels of the Pulse film got to be a bit much, particularly towards the end, as the encore material isn't very interesting. Much of the material here is taken from different concerts than the film, but even so, it sounds very much the same in most places, so I'll only review the bits that were noticeably different.

First, Shine On You Crazy Diamond cross-fades into the distorted voices that are familiar from the opening to The Piper at the Gates of Dawn so many years ago. Yes, this band has whipped out Astronomy Domine for the first time in 25 years, and while this piece has lost some of its psychedelic edge as the band has shifted focus and acquired young musicians from a new generation, it's still one of the highlights of disc 1. The arrangement here is much closer to the original studio version than the extended jams of the late '60s, and whoever's on guitar -- I suspect it's Tim, because it doesn't sound like David -- does a smashing impression of Syd's original guitar style on this track.

Then, cruelly yanking this juicy morsel away from us after a few short minutes, the band launches into a perfect rendition of What Do You Want From Me?, managing to convey the same intense dullness released on The Division Bell. The remainder of disc 1 is mainly identical to the DVD, except for the inclusion of Hey You and A Great Day for Freedom and the exclusion of Take It Back (no loss there) and One of These Days.

Hey You is nice to hear again, although this performance feels lacking in comparison to both the studio and live versions of The Wall, where this was a rare highlight of an otherwise very mundane rock opera. Jon Carin takes Roger's vocal part, a passage which must have strained Roger's voice at the best of times, and does a very good job with it up until the highest few notes (in the lyric "don't tell me there's no hope at all"), when his voice begins to crack. Thankfully for him, the backing vocalists step in to provide some additional oomph in the word "all", although I don't know why David didn't just have the band play this one in a lower key.

The Dark Side of the Moon segment isn't as much of an improvement over the DVD as I had hoped. Time and Money are better here, though I think I still prefer the Delicate Sound of Thunder versions of both, and otherwise these songs are all the same versions as found on the DVD (Breathe, On the Run, Great Gig, Us and Them) or not noticeably different (Speak to Me, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse). Finally, the encore set rounds things off with the same routine from the video, and we're done.

This is a pretty good album, but it's not really worth getting this and the DVD; they're similar enough that you might as well get the film version. Unfortunately, two of the highlights only appear on one release each; Astronomy Domine on the CD and One of These Days on the DVD. So, if you really want to hear it all, you'll want to get both and just listen to the additional tracks on this release.


Incidentally, Any Colour You Like on this CD is the last officially released recording of any Pink Floyd tour, being from the 23 October show at Earls Court. This review therefore represents the end of Pink Floyd's touring career, though not the end of the line altogether; there are still two more reviews to go.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #45 on: December 20, 2014, 11:33:43 PM »
Live 8
Televised benefit concert

Recorded: 2 July 2005, Hyde Park, London

Band lineup

Roger Waters (bass, acoustic guitar on "Wish You Were Here")
David Gilmour (guitar)
Richard Wright (keyboards)
Nick Mason (drums)

Set list

Speak to Me (Mason)
Breathe (Waters, Gilmour, Wright)
  * Includes the Breathe reprise.
Money (Waters)
Wish You Were Here (Waters, Gilmour)
Comfortably Numb (Waters, Gilmour)

Review

This is the classic '70s Pink Floyd lineup performing together for the first time in 24 years, and Pink Floyd at its best in even longer than that. The main detractor from this show is the limited set list; with the return of Roger as the band's frontman, it's sad to see them run through only a handful of songs. There's also the fact that the cameras seem to be intent on focusing on Roger and David and neglecting the other members -- even some of the supporting musicians get more screen time than Rick -- but that doesn't detract from the music.

The opening Speak to Me/Breathe feels like a demonstration of what Pulse could have been. Speak to Me is fairly short here by comparison with that release; no repetitions of the same loops dragging on for two minutes, this is a short and sweet concert intro. Breathe here also seems to have caught its breath; without the extravagant assortment of session musicians that has accompanied this band at every show in the past two decades, the music is a lot less cluttered, sounding a lot more like the original release on Dark Side, and a lot better.

Money gets a similar treatment, right from the very start, with Roger playing the downbeat at the same place over the cash register loop as the original (as opposed to every other bass player attempting this song, who inevitably starts two beats early). The "wooh-ooh" interjections between David's vocal lines have also been mercifully stripped away, leaving us with what is once again a much simpler and better rendition than either Delicate Sound of Thunder or Pulse. On the down side, we don't get the extended midsection jam that appears on those releases, but David does at least engage in some improv during the last 12 bars of his solo rather than playing the usual notes right off the album.

Roger shows us the frontman this band has been missing since the '80s at the start of Wish You Were Here, announcing that "we're doing this for everyone who's not here, but especially of course for Syd". Actually stepping up and talking to the audience (other than the occasional "thank you") is something David never quite got around to, and now it feels like the band is whole again. Unusually, Roger takes the vocals in the second verse of Wish You Were Here, not quite managing to hit all the right notes, but nevertheless giving a moving performance.

The band finishes off (in a very permanent sense) with Comfortably Numb, and this might well be my all-time favourite version of this song. The band seems to be really into it, playing as if it were 1974 and they'd never been apart more than a few days. Roger is back into his role as the doctor, and David really works out on guitar like only a 60-year-old rock star can. But as I said, this set list is way too short, and all too soon this veteran ensemble puts down their instruments for the last time.

As the other three band members are getting ready to walk off stage, Roger assertively gathers them together, arms around each other, to face the audience in one last farewell. It's really great to see them on such good terms, after all the bad blood between them for so many years. This could have been a great show, if only they'd had time for a wider variety of material. But it is what it is, and it's a pretty good performance as it stands.




The band in their final farewell on stage together; from left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #46 on: December 21, 2014, 12:21:28 PM »
The Endless River
Studio CD


Recorded: 1969, 1993, 2013-2014
Released: 10 November 2014

Band lineup

David Gilmour (guitar, keyboards, bass)
Nick Mason (drums)
Richard Wright* (keyboards)

Also featuring numerous other session musicians.

* Richard Wright passed away in 2008, but as most of this material was recorded prior to that, he appears on this album posthumously.

Track listing

1. Things Left Unsaid (Gilmour, Wright) (4:27)
2. It's What We Do (Gilmour, Wright) (6:18)
3. Ebb and Flow (Gilmour, Wright) (1:56)
4. Sum (Gilmour, Wright, Mason) (4:49)
5. Skins (Gilmour, Wright, Mason) (2:38)
6. Unsung (Wright) (1:08)
7. Anisina (Gilmour) (3:17)
8. The Lost Art of Conversation (Wright) (1:43)
9. On Noodle Street (Gilmour, Wright) (1:43)
10. Night Light (Gilmour, Wright) (1:43)
11. Allons-y (1) (Gilmour) (1:58)
12. Autumn '68 (Wright) (1:36)
13. Allons-y (2) (Gilmour) (1:33)
14. Talkin' Hawkin' (Gilmour, Wright) (3:30)
15. Calling (Gilmour, Anthony Moore) (3:38)
16. Eyes to Pearls (Gilmour) (1:52)
17. Surfacing (Gilmour) (2:47)
18. Louder Than Words (Gilmour, Polly Samson) (6:37)

Review

I'll put it bluntly: This is the best album Pink Floyd has released in 40 years. It's not without its share of faults, but with the guise of pretentious concept album stripped away, the band is able to get on with making good music like they did in the days of Meddle. The main negative point is that it's too long; there's some material here which just doesn't add anything of value, and seems like a reworking of older material.

The first three tracks are a great example of that. They're an enjoyable listen, but they come across as an instrumental rendition of Shine On You Crazy Diamond with some minor tweaks, so for the first 12 minutes, I was fully expecting this album to be as much of a disappointment as The Division Bell.

Then Sum comes in, and everything changes. There isn't a single bad track between Sum and Talkin' Hawkin', which is partly down to this section also being entirely instrumental, save for more sampling of Stephen Hawking's voice in Talkin' Hawkin'. My favourites would have to be Skins and the Allons-y/Autumn '68/Allons-y piece (which includes a 1969 recording of Rick playing the Royal Albert Hall pipe organ, seamlessly edited into the new material). But the variety here is what really strikes me; it's not exceptionally varied material, but considering the monotony we've come to expect from Pink Floyd over the past few decades, this really stands out.

It's also their first album since The Dark Side of the Moon to work so well together as a piece. Listening to these tracks, they don't feel like distinct tracks, but rather a single coherent piece of music (broken up in three places according to the album sides used on the double LP release).

The album takes a turn for the worse again as we head into the last four tracks. Calling, Eyes to Pearls and Surfacing are merely a reversion to The Division Bell levels of dullness, but it's Louder Than Words that really puts a damper on what could have been a fantastic album. It's the only track on the album to feature lyrics, again written by Polly Samson, and these may well be the worst lyrics ever released on any Pink Floyd album. I'll go as far as to say they're worse than The Dogs of War, and The Dogs of War has really awful lyrics.

If it were up to me, I'd get rid of the first three and last four tracks and have sides B and C switch places, so that the album begins with The Lost Art of Conversation, Talkin' Hawkin' is followed by Sum, and Anisina is the beautiful finale. Even so, this album is well worth a listen as it is, but mainly for the middle section (from Sum to Talkin' Hawkin'). I stand by my claim that, even with the insubstantial opening and closing passages, this is the best album Pink Floyd has released since The Dark Side of the Moon. Not outstanding, but better than Floyd has been in a long, long time.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2014, 12:32:58 PM by Parsifal »
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #47 on: December 21, 2014, 12:29:39 PM »
Part II: The Solo Albums

It struck me, while reviewing Floyd's catalogue, that I was making occasional references to band members' solo projects that I haven't heard in a long while (or, for a few of them, ever). I therefore intend to review all five members' solo projects in chronological order, beginning with Syd's The Madcap Laughs in 1970, and (almost) finishing with Metallic Spheres, a 2010 album by The Orb featuring David Gilmour.

My final review will relate to a special event which isn't strictly a solo project, but that only one of the members of Pink Floyd was involved in. No prizes for guessing what it is if you're familiar with Pink Floyd's ancillary catalogue.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2014, 12:31:14 PM by Parsifal »
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #48 on: December 24, 2014, 12:44:27 PM »
Syd Barrett
The Madcap Laughs
Studio album


Recorded: May 1968 - August 1969
Released: 3 January 1970

All tracks authored by Syd Barrett, except where noted.

Side A

1. Terrapin (5:04)
2. No Good Trying (3:26)
3. Love You (2:30)
4. No Man's Land (3:03)
5. Dark Globe (2:02)
6. Here I Go (3:11)

Side B

1. Octopus (3:47)
2. Golden Hair (Barrett, James Joyce) (1:59)
3. Long Gone (2:50)
4. She Took a Long Cold Look (1:55)
5. Feel (2:17)
6. If It's In You (2:26)
7. Late Night (3:10)

Review

Following his departure from Pink Floyd in 1968, Syd Barrett displays once more his remarkable talent for writing demented pop music on this solo record, and on that front little has changed. The main piece of the sound from Piper that's noticeably absent here is Rick's Farfisa organ; at the same time, Syd himself has shifted to much more predominant use of acoustic guitar, both of which result in an album that is much less psychedelic than his work with Floyd.

These songs are often characterised by eccentric chord progressions, often with unusual timing of changes; as well as fanciful yet dark, sometimes obtuse lyrics, sung in his inimitable idiom. The first four tracks contain all of these features in moderation, Terrapin and Love You being my favourite picks, but the last couple of tracks on the side are where it gets really interesting.

Dark Globe is especially gloomy, containing the oft-quoted lyric "wouldn't you miss me at all?", usually interpreted as his last call out to his former bandmates. The music to Dark Globe actually reminds me of early David Bowie, curiously enough. Side A is then rounded off with one of my all-time favourite Barrett compositions; Here I Go would be a typical nonsense pop song, if not for Syd's idiosyncratic way with both the almost-but-not-quite standard chord progression and childish-yet-sage lyrics.

As with side A, side B gets much more interesting towards the end. I enjoy listening to it, but the first few tracks feel a bit samey; with the exception of Golden Hair, based on a James Joyce poem, which is a lot slower and more reflective than the other tunes. If It's In You brings more perverted pop music, this time with a repeating vocal motif which is particularly difficult for Syd to sing, as heard at the start where he fumbles the first take.

Finally, Late Night is a beautiful closer, featuring a return of the slide guitar from Interstellar Overdrive against a much more mellow backing track. The slide guitar here actually sounds similar to a lot of late '60s/early '70s Floyd; with both David Gilmour and Roger Waters helping to produce this album, perhaps Syd was inadvertently continuing to influence the sound that made Pink Floyd such a big hit in the '70s, even as his own career faded into obscurity.

I actually enjoyed this more than I remembered, and I remembered enjoying it quite a lot. The high points of the album (Dark Globe, Here I Go, If It's In You, Late Night) are simply magnificent, but even at his worst, Syd Barrett had an ear both for quirky pop tunes and eccentric lyrics. It's certainly more consistently good than its contemporary Pink Floyd album, Ummagumma. Highly recommended to anyone, whether you like Pink Floyd or not.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #49 on: December 26, 2014, 08:53:15 AM »
Syd Barrett
Barrett
Studio album


Recorded: February - July 1970
Released: 14 November 1970

All tracks authored by Syd Barrett.

Side A

1. Baby Lemonade (4:10)
2. Love Song (3:03)
3. Dominoes (4:08)
4. It Is Obvious (2:59)
5. Rats (3:00)
6. Maisie (2:51)

Side B

1. Gigolo Aunt (5:46)
2. Waving My Arms In the Air (2:09)
3. I Never Lied To You (1:50)
4. Wined and Dined (2:58)
5. Wolfpack (3:41)
6. Effervescing Elephant (1:52)

Review

This album very audibly suffers from Syd's deteriorating mental state. As he became more and more difficult to work with in the studio, the opportunities to simply get a song down on tape became rarer and rarer, and as a result the quality of performance on the release suffered. That's not to say it's altogether a bad album, but it's much less consistent than Madcap, having fairly severe ups and downs. That said, the ups on this album are my all-time favourite solo Barrett songs.

With David Gilmour and Richard Wright both appearing prominently on this album, there are parts which sound like the contemporary Atom Heart Mother-era Pink Floyd. The backing music on It Is Obvious reminds me fairly strongly of Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, for instance. Many of these tracks, especially the ones recorded later in 1970, seem to be carried along by David and Rick's rhythm work, while Syd seems to falter in and out of prominence as the lead vocalist and guitarist.

The tracks which stand out as being worthwhile Barrett songs are almost exclusively those recorded between February and May; on side A, those are Baby Lemonade, Rats and Maisie. The album's opener is a return of the silly dysfunctional pop music from Madcap, while the latter two deviate from that formula somewhat into one-chord rock jams, with Syd doing little more than talking the lyrics, but the effect is really enjoyable. Maisie in particular is the highlight of side A for me; Syd sounds like he's completely out of touch with what the other musicians are doing, but I find that's what really makes this track.

Gigolo Aunt brings a turn for the better, being both an unusually standard pop tune for Syd in terms of melody and an unusually coherent performance for this album. Syd's guitar still seems to be in a different room from the rest of the band, and the lyrics are still unmistakeably of Syd's creation. This is, without a doubt, the highlight of side B, and possibly of the album (I'd rate it about on par with Maisie).

The remainder of side B follows the overall pattern of the earlier recordings being better, those being Waving My Arms/I Never Lied To You (which make up a mini-medley with a segue between them) and Wolfpack. Wolfpack is another foray out of Syd's usual silly pop comfort zone and into pop rock, and aside from the one-chord jams getting a bit old, it's a pretty great tune.

Finally, Effervescing Elephant is the exception to the rule that earlier tracks are better. It's the only track recorded in July that I really enjoy. Very unusually for this album, Syd was on top form for this recording, and it's also unusual in that it's much more like his early pop material than the rest of the album. It's a cutesy, almost childish tune about an elephant who warns other animals about a tiger, only for the tiger to decide he wanted a large meal and eat the elephant instead.

This album is worth listening to if you enjoy The Madcap Laughs, but Madcap is overall a better album, so get that one first. The main highlights of this one are Baby Lemonade, Maisie, Gigolo Aunt and Effervescing Elephant; the rest of it ranges from almost as good as those four to entirely missable. This isn't a flattering final farewell for the floundering former Floyd foreman, whose career was cut tragically short by his mental health issues shortly after its release, but it's all we have to document his later work.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #50 on: December 26, 2014, 12:13:38 PM »
David Gilmour
David Gilmour
Studio album


Recorded: December 1977 - January 1978
Released: 25 May 1978

Band

David Gilmour (guitar, keyboards, harmonica)
Rick Wills (bass)
Willie Wilson (drums)
Mick Weaver (piano)

Carlena Williams (backing vocals)
Debbie Doss (backing vocals)
Shirley Roden (backing vocals)

All tracks authored by David Gilmour, except where noted.

Side A

1. Mihalis (5:46)
2. There's No Way Out of Here (Ken Baker) (5:08)
3. Cry From the Street (Gilmour, Electra Stuart) (5:13)
4. So Far Away (5:50)

Side B

1. Short and Sweet (Gilmour, Roy Harper) (5:30)
2. Raise My Rent (5:33)
3. No Way (5:32)
4. It's Deafinitely (4:28)
5. I Can't Breathe Anymore (3:04)

Review

David Gilmour is at his best when he doesn't try to take himself too seriously. The first three tracks are some amazing bluesy dadrock, of a calibre sadly lacking in Pink Floyd's albums of the era, Animals and The Wall. From there, things begin to go downhill as David's attempt at meaningful lyrics begins to creep in.

Mihalis is my personal favourite on this album, as a fairly simple, slow instrumental with David doing what he does best on guitar. There's No Way Out of Here is largely saved by having lyrics which aren't written by David and a decent backing tune, and Cry From the Street has such a groovy guitar riff to it that I can easily forgive the cringey lyrics.

So Far Away is where things start to go pear-shaped, as David leaves behind his blues home turf for a slow ballad, and it just doesn't work. Even Raise My Rent, an instrumental, doesn't really do much for me here, and most of the rest of side B consists of similarly poor attempts at lyrically-driven songs. Side B is saved from being a complete disaster by the instrumental It's Deafinitely, which is based on a groove very similar to Sheep, along with a bluesy guitar workout that would have made Animals a better album had it appeared on Sheep.

There's at most half an album's worth of good material on this record, but at the same time, it's not significantly better than or different from David's work with Pink Floyd. If you're into bluesy dadrock, you'll probably love this album. Otherwise, don't bother yourself with it.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2014, 12:15:33 PM by Parsifal »
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #51 on: December 26, 2014, 02:07:41 PM »
I just realised that I left out the film soundtrack from The Body, partly composed by Roger Waters in 1970. My excuse is that keeping track of five independent solo careers in chronological order is hard.

I'll get to it either next, or after Wet Dream.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #52 on: January 03, 2015, 08:28:32 AM »
Ron Geesin and Roger Waters
Music From The Body
Film soundtrack


Recorded: January - September 1970
Released: 28 November 1970

Band

Ron Geesin (guitar, cello, keyboards, other instruments)
Roger Waters (guitar, bass)

David Gilmour (guitar on "Give Birth to a Smile")
Richard Wright (organ on "Give Birth to a Smile")
Nick Mason (drums on "Give Birth to a Smile")
Uncredited female chorus (backing vocals on "Give Birth to a Smile")

All tracks authored by Ron Geesin, except where noted.

Side A

1. Our Song (Geesin, Waters) (1:24)
2. Sea Shell and Stone (Waters) (2:17)
3. Red Stuff Writhe (1:11)
4. A Gentle Breeze Blew Through Life (1:19)
5. Lick Your Partners (:35)
6. Bridge Passage for Three Plastic Teeth (:35)
7. Chain of Life (Waters) (3:59)
8. The Womb Bit (Geesin, Waters) (2:06)
9. Embryo Thought (:39)
10. March Past of the Embryos (1:08)
11. More Than Seven Dwarfs in Penis-Land (2:03)
12. Dance of the Red Corpuscles (2:04)

Side B

1. Body Transport (Geesin, Waters) (3:16)
2. Hand Dance - Full Evening Dress (1:01)
3. Breathe (Waters) (2:53)
4. Old Folks Ascension (3:47)
5. Bed-Time-Dream-Clime (2:02)
6. Piddle in Perspex (:57)
7. Embryonic Womb-Walk (1:14)
8. Mrs. Throat Goes Walking (2:05)
9. Sea Shell and Soft Stone (Geesin, Waters) (2:05)
10. Give Birth to a Smile (Waters) (2:49)

Review

This is almost entirely a Ron Geesin album, as Ron's tracks are by far the most plentiful and the most interesting on here. It's interesting to hear his style alone, rather than as the orchestral and choral additions to Atom Heart Mother, and I'm really beginning to gain an appreciation for how creative he was as an independent composer. Roger's few tracks on the album, by comparison, are fairly plain acoustic pieces, comparable to Grantchester Meadows and If.

It's easy to see Ron's influence on Several Small Species (from Ummagumma) too, particularly in More Than Seven Dwarfs in Penis-Land, which is entirely composed of many overdubbed vocal parts, making up a chorus of what are apparently supposed to be dwarves. Ron's material otherwise mainly comes in the form of eccentric compositions involving conventional instruments, usually some combination of banjo, mandolin and cello, with the occasional piano. It's difficult to pick favourites because the album is obviously intended as a piece; most tracks either segue or cross-fade continuously, with only a few breaks for the entire album.

The biggest highlights of the album, though, are the tracks where Ron and Roger work together. This is where they each get to their most experimental, piecing together compositions from various sound effects, often using body sounds in line with the film's theme. Our Song is the best example of this, with Body Transport being another particularly strange composition, apparently intended to give the impression of having one's body carried somewhere, although the people doing the carrying seem to be quite deranged and the piece ends with a loud clatter and the sound of Ron and Roger laughing.

The vocal antics in Body Transport are very well balanced by the lengthy set of instrumentals from Old Folks Ascension through Embryonic Womb-Walk, finally resolving to the fantastic Mrs. Throat Goes Walking, a groovy piece with a fairly standard rock 'n' roll backing track, nicely contrasted with nonsense wailing (probably from Ron; it doesn't sound like Roger to me). Sea Shell and Soft Stone is the dramatic closure of Ron's contribution to the album, an instrumental rearrangement of Roger's earlier track, Sea Shell and Stone.

The final track, written solely by Roger, features the entire 1970 line-up of Pink Floyd performing together with a female chorus. The music sounds quite similar to the chorus of Point Me at the Sky, complete with a very similar guitar tone from David, but the additional of the female singers makes the overall piece quite different from anything else from Pink Floyd's catalogue I can recall (though much of Roger's later solo material would bring back this prominent usage of female vocalists).

This is better than I expected, and frankly, it's a lot better than Ummagumma as well. The only track I didn't enjoy at all was Chain of Life, mainly because that's basically another four minutes of Grantchester Meadows, but the rest of this is very enjoyable and fits really well together. There isn't too much of any one aspect, with Roger's tendency towards writing conventional rock music very nicely balancing Ron's tendency to experiment. Highly recommended to anyone, not just Floyd fans.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 08:30:15 AM by Parsifal »
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #53 on: January 03, 2015, 12:37:54 PM »
Richard Wright
Wet Dream
Studio album


Recorded: January - February 1978
Released: 15 September 1978

Band

Richard Wright (keyboards)
Snowy White (guitar)
Mel Collins (saxophone, flute)
Larry Steele (bass)
Reg Isidore (drums)

All tracks authored by Richard Wright, except where noted.

Side A

1. Mediterranean C (3:52)
2. Against the Odds (Wright, Juliette Wright) (3:57)
3. Cat Cruise (5:14)
4. Summer Elegy (4:53)
5. Waves (4:19)

Side B

1. Holiday (6:11)
2. Mad Yannis Dance (3:19)
3. Drop In From the Top (3:25)
4. Pink's Song (3:28)
5. Funky Deux (4:57)

Review

Much like David, Rick's strength is definitely in the music and not the lyrics. The music is very consistently good throughout this album, showcasing his distinctive synth sounds and jazz-influenced chord progressions that were missing from The Wall, but the instrumental tracks turn out better simply by a lack of lyrics.

Mediterranean C, Cat Cruise and Waves are the instrumentals of side A, with Rick generally taking a back seat, content to compose ambient backing tracks and allow Snowy and Mel to strut their stuff with the lead parts. This album is guitarist Snowy White's first chance to prove himself, and evidently Pink Floyd had opinions of his talents as high as I do, because he would later reappear in the shadow band for The Wall live, as well as many of Roger's solo tours.

Side B opens with a fairly boring, but somewhat uplifting lyrical number, Holiday. Mad Yannis Dance is an unusual change for the album, being a waltz consisting mainly of a simple, composed synth melody in place of the usual guitar and sax solos. This dramatically crossfades into Drop In From the Top, the second instrumental of side B, an organ-driven shuffle with a pretty nice guitar solo from Snowy.

Pink's Song has the least painful of Rick's lyrics on the album, and I'm pretty sure these lyrics are about Syd, as they speak to a "quiet, smiling friend of mine" who "helped set us free" and has "lost their way". Finally, the album closes with a song so funky it has "funk" in its name, with the funky rhythm being made up of different bass, organ, electric piano, guitar, synth and saxophone parts, while the drums keep a fairly steady backing rhythm going.

This isn't an album for you if you like in-your-face, action-packed melodies or well-written lyrics, but Rick was always a master of staying in the background and putting good organ and synth textures and chords behind other people's music. If you can appreciate slow-moving chord progressions and ambient instrumentation for themselves, you'll probably love this album; otherwise, it's not your cup of toast.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 12:41:53 PM by Parsifal »
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #54 on: January 09, 2015, 10:46:37 AM »
Nick Mason
Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports
Studio album


Recorded: October 1979
Released: 3 May 1981

Band

Nick Mason (drums)
Carla Bley (keyboards)
Robert Wyatt (vocals, except "Can't Get My Motor To Start")
Karen Kraft (vocals on "Can't Get My Motor To Start")
Chris Speddling (guitar)
Steve Swallow (bass)
Michael Mantler (trumpet)
Gary Windo (clarinet, flute)
Gary Valente (trombone)
Howard Johnson (tuba)
Terry Adams (keyboards, harmonica)

Carlos Ward (additional vocals)
D. Sharpe (additional vocals)
Vincent Chancey (additional vocals)
Earl McIntyre (additional vocals)

All tracks authored by Carla Bley.

Side A

1. Can't Get My Motor To Start (3:39)
2. I Was Wrong (4:12)
3. Siam (4:48)
4. Hot River (5:16)

Side B

1. Boo To You Too (3:26)
2. Do Ya? (4:36)
3. Wervin' (3:58)
4. I'm a Mineralist (6:16)

Review

Coming hot on the heels of The Wall, this album is a refreshing stark contrast with Floyd's contemporary works. In fact, unlike any of the other four members' solo projects, most tracks on this album bear no resemblance whatsoever to anything Floyd did at any point in their career. This is largely down to the fact that Nick Mason had never participated very much in songwriting with Pink Floyd, and didn't see fit to take this opportunity to start, so all of these songs are written by jazz pianist Carla Bley. In fact, aside from playing drums and co-producing the album, the rock drummer's claim to be the artist for this album seems to be little other than a marketing tactic.

It's difficult to sum up the album as a whole, because it jumps around in style a lot from track to track, and also in the quality of the lyrics and vocal performances. The music is consistently excellent, whatever form it takes in that specific track. Hot River sounds most similar to Pink Floyd to me, with a slide guitar part which reminds me of David Gilmour's solo in High Hopes; the others vary between uptempo blues rock-ish feel-good tunes (Boo To You Too); slow, melancholy, more traditional jazz (Siam, Do Ya?); and the downright weird (Can't Get My Motor To Start, Wervin'). The other two tracks, I Was Wrong and I'm a Mineralist, sit somewhere between those broad categorisations.

The "downright weird" ones are where this album works best, partly because they fit its fanciful lyrics much better than the music that tries to take itself seriously, but also simply because that's where Carla is at her most interesting. That did make the album as a whole somewhat of a disappointment, as the first track was by far my favourite and set very high expectations, but it wasn't a bad listen. The final track, I'm a Mineralist, is the only one that approaches those expectations; the main theme is centred around alternating arpeggios on a diminished scale, but it goes through sections that are wildly different from that at times. It's very creative and interesting, even if it drags on a bit longer than its ideas are worth.

This album really doesn't fit in this thread, moreso than any others I've reviewed so far. It's not a Pink Floyd album, it doesn't sound remotely like a Pink Floyd album, and it actually kept me interested all the way through at a time when Pink Floyd were touring The Wall. It's also difficult to recommend, because it's so different from anything else I've heard that I don't know what to compare it to. I guess the best I can do is "listen to it if you like good music".
« Last Edit: January 09, 2015, 01:48:00 PM by Parsifal »
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #55 on: January 31, 2015, 10:30:31 AM »
David Gilmour
About Face
Studio album


Recorded: 1983
Released: 5 March 1984

Band

David Gilmour (guitar, bass)
Jeff Porcaro (drums)
Pino Palladino (bass)
Ian Kewley (keyboards)

Steve Winwood (keyboards)
Anne Dudley (synth)
Bob Ezrin (keyboards)
Jon Lord (synth)
Steve Rance (programming)
Luís Jardim (percussion)
Ray Cooper (percussion)
The Kick Horns (brass)

Vicki Brown (backing vocals)
Sam Brown (backing vocals)
Mickey Feat (backing vocals)
Roy Harper (backing vocals)

Also featuring the National Philharmonic Orchestra (arranged by Bob Ezrin and Michael Kamen).

All tracks authored by David Gilmour, except where noted.

Side A

1. Until We Sleep (5:15)
2. Murder (4:59)
3. Love On the Air (Gilmour, Pete Townshend) (4:19)
4. Blue Light (4:35)
5. Out of the Blue (3:35)

Side B

1. All Lovers are Deranged (Gilmour, Townshend) (3:14)
2. You Know I'm Right (5:06)
3. Cruise (4:40)
4. Let's Get Metaphysical (4:09)
5. Near the End (5:36)

Review

This album opens with a five-minute wall of '80s synths and drum machines. I didn't even listen to the lyrics, partly because I knew they would be abysmal, but also because the epic '80s hit was sufficient to sell me on the track's merit. This is nicely juxtaposed with Murder, a more conventional acoustic piece, and I'll forgive the awful lyrics which are all-too-obviously likening Roger's role in Pink Floyd's recent breakup to committing murder because it has a nice fretless bass solo in the middle.

Love On the Air is the first of two tracks to feature lyrics by Pete Townshend of The Who, and they are just awful enough to make this one of my favourite cheesy '80s ballads. It's full of cringe-worthy imagery of radio transmissions, awkwardly placed backing vocals and boring chord progressions. The only thing that sounds out of place for the '80s here is the organ, but I can live with that.

The Blue Light brings us back down to reality in the harshest way possible, with more easily distinguishable Gilmour lyrics. As far as the music goes, this is basically a disco arrangement of Run Like Hell; and as usual, it's a well-placed solo (organ this time) which makes up the most interesting part. Out of the Blue finishes side A with a stock-standard Gilmour attempt at a powerful tour de force, much in the vein of On the Turning Away. I don't need to tell you by now that the lyrics make a mockery of that attempt (I hope).

Flipping to side B, we get more cheesy '80s pop, accompanied by more of Townshend's lyrics. Again, the '80s cheesiness lends a certain charm to this track, without which it would no doubt be entirely worthless. Speaking of worthless, You Know I'm Right seems to be another commentary on Pink Floyd's breakup, but this time without the fretless bass solo to rescue it from disaster.

The most interesting thing about Cruise is the abrupt shift to reggae near the end, after which point it continues to be as boring as reggae as it was as rock. For Let's Get Metaphysical, David makes the decision he should have made from the start of the album; he goes instrumental, and this is an excellent blend of his signature blues guitar with an orchestral backing. It actually sounds very similar to Castellorizon, the opening track he would create for On an Island 22 years later, though it lacks the sound effects that would appear later.

Near the End feels like another pointless flop of a tour de force, and I'm pretty sure the lyrics are (yet again) about Roger and the Pink Floyd breakup. To be fair to the album as it stood in 1984, this wouldn't feel like such an old routine if I didn't know he would keep going on about it right up until The Division Bell, but I just can't stomach more of this. It's not even like the music is there to keep things going; it seems to exist only to prop up the lyrics, a horrible strategy for David. This album couldn't have ended on a worse note.

The one saving grace at the end is that after the lyrics, David takes a rather interesting guitar solo. The first half is played on an acoustic, then there are a few bars where David plays the same part on both acoustic and electric guitars, and from there his electric takes over for the fade-out. I can't help but feel that I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel for nice things to say here, but it's certainly better than the rest of the track.

I'm not sure if it's just the fact that I'm coming back to this material fresh after a few weeks off, but I enjoyed this album much more than I remembered or expected. Yes, much of it is a mesh of Pink Floyd's rock style with '80s pop music, but that's what makes it so charming and unique. As I said about David's previous solo album, he's at his strongest when he doesn't take himself too seriously, and that holds true for this as well. I'd recommend this over David Gilmour, but not by much, and only for the '80s cheese.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #56 on: February 01, 2015, 09:06:02 AM »
Zee
Identity
Studio album


Recorded: September 1983
Released: 9 April 1984

Band

Richard Wright (keyboards, synth, percussion)
Dave "Dee" Harris (guitars, keyboards, synth, percussion)

All tracks authored by Richard Wright and Dave Harris.
All lyrics written by Dave Harris.

Side A

1. Confusion (4:17)
2. Voices (6:21)
3. Private Person (3:36)
4. Strange Rhythm (6:36)

Side B

1. Cuts Like a Diamond (5:36)
2. By Touching (5:39)
3. How Do You Do It (4:45)
4. Seems We Were Dreaming (4:57)

Review

The '80s onslaught continues, this time with a synthpop album which showcases a side of Rick rarely seen in his work with Pink Floyd. The entire album is characterised by cheesy synth textures and obnoxious percussion sequencing. The lyrics, while not brilliant, are at least well suited to this style of music. I enjoy this album.

It's difficult to go into a large amount of detail, because each track generally starts out with a fairly solid motif and continues with it all the way through. It doesn't feature any remarkable high or low points, but does remain consistently enjoyable throughout. As usual with Rick, the focus seems to be on mood and atmosphere rather than taking the limelight, with some extra detail and most of the vocals being filled in by Dave Harris.

My main criticism is that instead of going nuts with the synth effects and reaching their creative potential, Rick and Dave still try to produce some semblance of conventional songs. My favourite tracks are the ones where they pile on extra '80s synthpop special sauce, in particular Strange Rhythm, By Touching and How Do You Do It. The latter features an interesting scat performance, which (as far as I can tell) actually uses a single sample of Rick saying "doo".

I like this album, primarily because I enjoy cheesy synthpop, and there are moments here where the cheese gets taken way over the top. Musically, it has some interesting ideas, but not nearly enough to sustain an entire album. On the whole, I'd say it compares favourably with Wet Dream, but not by very much. It would be well suited as background music, but you'll quickly find your interest slipping away if you try to listen actively as I have.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #57 on: February 01, 2015, 10:10:02 AM »
Roger Waters
The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking
Studio album


Recorded: February - December 1983
Released: 30 April 1984

Band

Roger Waters (bass, rhythm guitar)
Eric Clapton (lead guitar)
Ray Cooper (percussion)
Andy Newmark (drums)
David Sanborn (saxophone)
Michael Kamen (piano)
Andy Bown (organ, 12-string guitar)

Raphael Ravenscroft (horns)
Kevin Flanagan (horns)
Vic Sullivan (horns)

Madeline Bell (backing vocals)
Katie Kissoon (backing vocals)
Doreen Chanter (backing vocals)

Also featuring:
  • the National Philharmonic Orchestra (arranged by Michael Kamen);
  • Andy Quigley as "Welshman in Operating Theatre";
  • Beth Porter as "wife";
  • Roger Waters as "man";
  • Manning Redwood and Ed Bishop as "truck drivers";
  • Jack Palance as "Hells Angel";
  • Madeline Bell as "Hells Angel's girlfriend".
All tracks authored by Roger Waters.

Side A

1. 4:30 AM (Apparently They Were Travelling Abroad) (3:12)
2. 4:33 AM (Running Shoes) (4:08)
3. 4:37 AM (Arabs With Knives and West German Skies) (2:17)
4. 4:39 AM (For the First Time Today, part 2) (2:02)
5. 4:41 AM (Sexual Revolution) (4:49)
6. 4:47 AM (The Remains of Our Love) (3:09)

Side B

1. 4:50 AM (Go Fishing) (6:59)
2. 4:56 AM (For the First Time Today, part 1) (1:38)
3. 4:58 AM (Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin) (3:03)
4. 5:01 AM (The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking) (4:36)
5. 5:06 AM (Every Stranger's Eyes) (4:48)
6. 5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity) (1:28)

Review

In the wake of the Roger-led Floyd era, Roger decided to resurrect an old idea for a rock opera that was conceived around the same time as The Wall. Primarily due to being half as long as its elder sibling, but also because of the less self-indulgent nature of the story, I find this album to be much more interesting overall. Yes, it lacks the contributions of David Gilmour and is very obviously not a Pink Floyd album, but Eric Clapton has stepped in to take over lead guitar duties, which helps to add some colour to the result.

Right from the start, it becomes obvious that this is meant as a piece rather than as a series of tracks. Indeed, there aren't many tracks that would stand well alone at all, and the transitions between tracks aren't easy to spot unless you know where they're supposed to be. The overall structure has an occasional song proper, interspersed with slow, acoustic numbers where Roger lazily relates the story.

Speaking of the story, it's not particularly easy to follow, but in this album's case I can excuse the lack of clarity because the framing narrative is a man lying in bed during the early hours of the morning, drifting in and out of sleep. The moments when he is half-awake are marked by the sound of a clock ticking, and usually also his wife talking to him, but most of the album chronicles his dreams instead.

For the first third of the album, he dreams about travelling through Europe, picking up some hitch-hikers, one of whom is a woman who finds him attractive. Abruptly, he dreams that he wakes up to find Arabs with knives in his hotel room, but soon becomes aware that he is dreaming, and drifts into dreaming of making love to a woman (presumably the hitch-hiker he picked up) in a German hotel instead.

4:41 AM (Sexual Revolution) is about him waking up in the middle of that dream and trying to make love to his wife, who promptly refuses and goes back to sleep. This seeds his next dream, involving a series of relationship problems which lead to him taking his family out to live in the country (The Remains of Our Love / Go Fishing), his wife falling in love with another man (For the First Time Today / Dunroamin, Duncarin, Dunlivin), and him getting cast off onto the highway and becoming a hitch-hiker himself (the title track).

The album comes to a head with Every Stranger's Eyes, one of the few songs that stands well by itself, which is about finding enlightenment in realising that everyone is just as lost as the protagonist (the titular line being "I recognise myself in every stranger's eyes"). He then realises the way to avoid the relationship problems he's just been dreaming about, and wakes up in time for the final track, where he reaches out to find that his wife is awake and still in bed with him.

I find this to be a better album, both conceptually and musically, than The Wall. It's certainly easier to relate to if you haven't been through the experiences of rockstardom that caused Pink Floyd to build their metaphorical wall in the '70s, and it has a much more positive finality to it. Add that to the fact that this is the last album Roger would record with his voice in decent shape, and you have one of the better solo records by a Floyd member. If you like late '70s Floyd, this album is a must-listen.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2015, 10:13:43 AM by Parsifal »
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #58 on: February 20, 2015, 01:10:07 PM »
Mason + Fenn
Profiles
Studio album


Released: 29 July 1985

Band

Nick Mason (drums, keyboards, percussion)
Rick Fenn (guitar, keyboards)
Mel Collins (saxophone)
Craig Pruess (synth bass on "Malta")

David Gilmour (vocals on "Lie For a Lie")
Maggie Reilly (vocals on "Lie For a Lie")
Danny Peyronel (vocals on "Israel")

All tracks authored by Rick Fenn and Nick Mason, except where noted.

Side A

1. Malta (6:00)
2. Lie For a Lie (Fenn, Mason, Peyronel) (3:16)
3. Rhoda (3:22)
4. Profiles (parts I-II) (9:58)

Side B

1. Israel (Fenn, Peyronel) (3:30)
2. And the Address (2:45)
3. Mumbo Jumbo (3:53)
4. Zip Code (3:05)
5. Black Ice (3:37)
6. At the End of the Day (2:35)
7. Profiles (part III) (1:55)

Review

Nick's contribution to the ongoing stream of '80s synthpop has one major strong point that David and Rick (Wright)'s albums lack; it is almost entirely instrumental. Indeed, Lie For a Lie is the weakest track on the album, both as a result of the fairly amateurish composition, and because David's voice sounds like he just wants to get the singing out of the way so he can go have a fap. Aside from those three minutes of torture, though, this is a pretty solid record.

Malta and Rhoda are both delicate, yet powerful instrumentals in their own right, maintaining an intriguing blend of the kind of amateur synth sounds that could only come out of the '80s, along with Rick Fenn's guitar and Mel's saxophone. But it's the ten-minute Profiles that really makes side A for me.

I wouldn't have expected instrumental synthpop to be able to keep me interested for this long, but Mason and Fenn manage to pull it off by mixing and matching their instruments; the layering of weird percussive effects, synths, electric piano and even organ combines with this track's beautiful melodies to produce something that rivals and exceeds most of the other Floydians' solo projects of the era (and even much of the contemporary Floyd material as a band). Parts of this actually remind me of Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, only played with synths, but don't let that description throw you off -- there's a lot more to this composition than you'll find on Alan's breakfast table.

Israel, the second lyrical track, is somewhat less weak than Lie For a Lie, partly due to the absence of David's exceptionally lazy-sounding '80s vocals, but it also just seems to be a better thought-out composition overall. It's nothing to write home about, especially in the middle of the '80s where it could blend right into a lot of what was on MTV at the time, but it's a pleasant listen.

Thankfully, side B only goes uphill from there. And the Address is extremely catchy, sounding something like Safety Dance performed by mid-'70s Led Zeppelin, albeit entirely instrumental. One cross-fade later, and suddenly I'm listening to smooth jazz, replete with bluesy solos from both guitar and what seems to be a sampled flute. By this point, I'm really really loving side B, but it seems like it's going to be a tall order to top Mumbo Jumbo with the remaining few tracks.

Zip Code is a decent attempt. This track is a -- well, I don't even know what it is. It's got lots of percussion and synth flying out of nowhere, combined with something that could either be a very distorted guitar solo or a very heavily mangled synth, topped off with the occasional sound effect racing its way across the stereo image. I'm at a loss to describe this any more succinctly, but it is probably the best use of the synthpop genre I've heard to date.

Black Ice continues the eerie blend of synthpop and hard rock, this time adding organ and saxophone as if to further make it difficult to put into words exactly what I'm hearing. Sadly, it's also the last really great track on the album; the closing couplet of tunes comes across as an over-thought attempt to end the album with a tone of finality, and seem to lack the fearsome creative energy that pervades the rest of the album.

There are a few tracks that don't really add much to this record, but really, this is one of the better Floyd solo records I've listened to so far. I suspect part of the reason for that result is Nick's relative lack of ego; he never tried to step out into the spotlight as much as Roger and David did, and was always willing to collaborate. Whatever the reason, the strange blend of rock and synthpop works extremely well here; well worth a listen for anyone.
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Re: The Pink Floyd discography listen-through
« Reply #59 on: February 20, 2015, 01:11:26 PM »
The more perceptive among you may have noticed that I've skipped something. I'll return to it soon; some things are harder to source than others, and I don't always want to hold up my reviews while I wait to be able to listen to a specific record.
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