“The Last Studio Album and the First Holiday”.
Dave is tired. Dead tired. He’s had it. He’s tried a few times to tell the general public he’s over it. But they won’t listen, won’t take no for an answer. More they scream, more. Like spoilt brats they care not for the well being of the master musician. They care to have their own desires sated. And the well being of those administering the pleasure matters not. He’s over it. Their over it. And fair enough too. Quite an innings from the Masters. Definitely cracked the ton. Give the guys a well earned rest. Out to pasture. But perhaps they’ll squeeze out a couple more. Maybe not. I could be wrong. It’s just a feeling I get from the album. Its time for this band to be allowed to relax.
It’s got that classic Floyd sound. Subtle, delicate and powerful electric guitars over well arranged drums, bass grooving away. The keys and synths creating the meat in the classic progressive rock sandwich. I love it. Always have, always will. Best band in the world. But that still doesn’t stop me from wanting to let them out of their cage. I love their music that much.
Check out the lyrics from Louder Than Words, the only track with lyrics on the album. Perhaps the title is a subtle but distinct hint in its own right? “With world weary grace, we’ve taken our places. We could curse it or nurse it and give it a name. Or stay home by the fire, filled with desire. Stoking the flame. But we’re here for the ride”. Pretty obvious really isn’t it? World weary. Home by the fire. But we’re here for the ride. Or should it read… dragged along for the ride, well overdue for a holiday, wanting to get on with other things and basically just begin to relax in the sun a bit during the day, by the fire at night in the golden years of life after getting pulled mercilessly through the sanctimonious meat-grinder of money making. Sure it would have been okay for a while. Tolerable for a couple of decades tops. Re-enforcing this hypothesis is the fact it is the only track on the (double) album with lyrics.
David Gilmour was born on 6th of March, 1946 in Cambridge. At the age of 11 he started at the Perse School in the same area. He didn’t enjoy it. It was at this time he met Syd Barrett and Roger Waters who were at the toffee-nosed school up the road. So that puts him in 1957, starting Pink Floyd wether he knew about it or not. March 1967 and they were signed to EMI, recording sessions for Piper at the Gates of Dawn and released their debut single Arnold Layne. It reached number 20 on the album charts. Incidentally it was banned by the BBC due to objectionable lyrics about a transvestite underwear thief. Prudes. Anyway back to the story. That means that they’ve been in the machine for about 40 years. 4 decades!!
So here’s what I reckon went down. After a solid career in their youth rocking out (perhaps a decade or two over the projected time-frame), and humbly expressing their creative soul in a opportunity path afforded to a privileged few. After making bags of cash. After getting smashed and enjoying the strongly amorous advances of women going out of their brains by the thought of social status and money all wrapped up in the same package as a dick, they went to ground. Probably about late 1987 after the release of Momentary Lapse of Reason. Well done they said to each other. Pat on the back for us all. Good stuff. Lets go home and get on with our lives. But they were sorely mistaken. “No you don’t” said the general public. “No way” said the music business. “Get your ass back here” said the devil himself. These guys aren’t dumb. “Okay” they said, pulled Delicate Sound of Thunder out of their back-pockets with a wink, dropped it a year later and thought “Done”. No such luck. “More” screamed their music lovers “more”. Just under a decade later they let another one-two punch fly. The Division Bell (1994) and Pulse (1995). “That should get rid of ‘em” they might have thought in their hope, but unfortunately for them this wasn’t the case. The general public keep baying, the business keeps playing and the boys had to trudge along looking for the ‘Out’ door. Oh wait. Didn’t they use that to come in? There’s the problem. Trapped. Not the only ones either I’m sure. Since then there’s been a steady stream of money-making albums. A Greatest Hits. A Best Of. Another Greatest Hits. Other bits and pieces. Old sessions. Studio time. Live recordings. But nothing of substance. No ‘songwriting’ that jumps out and slaps you in the face. No songs that blow you away like the peak of their career. No timelessness like the old school. Not a peep.
Here’s my point. The album is awesome. It has all the ‘off-the-shelf’ Floyd stuff we love. Can’t get enough. But it doesn’t have any songs. The sound of Floyd is as present as ever. It’s the passion that’s lacking. The songwriting. The SONGS.
Check it out… The Deluxe album is purchased from some shameless internet digital music site currently reconstructing the economic landscape of our dear music industry. The industry these guys epitomised, bless them. 27 tracks. Between 1 and 6 minutes. The last 6 are the pick of the bunch. Really solid, uplifting Floyd. Instrumental. And lovingly supported by classy, black and white HD video clips of old , rare footage of the band that conveniently play through the music-player interface kindly provided by the same said multi-national conglomerate slowly strangling the last of the free world to death. A digital music booklet consisting of 16 DL sized shiny, high-resolution photos of the boys and their interesting photographic layouts. Uneditable. Can’t even get the album cover for the article shot. I’ve been robbed of the joy of record shopping, stripped of the fun that comes with buying a cd and heading home to pop it in the player with a cold beer in hand. Now I can’t even get a hard copy of the album cover I bought. But all of this pales to insignificance when we look at the music in the said album. It’s old sessions. Screen grabs. A few bits and bobs here. A piece or two there. In a very stylish digital package. There’s some classic Floyd here, don’t get me wrong, but the boys are getting tired. They need their pipe and slippers by the fire. It can be heard. It can be seen. It’s almost like the Marketing Department said jump. They said… “Aw, Do we have to?”. One track stops half way through. We hear an EQ request to the engineer for less bass. Jam resumes.
Notables include Anisina with a bearded, older Mr. Gilmore on a Concert Grand backed by strings that bring tears to the eyes and synths that make ones balls curl up in their sack. Classic Floyd. Sheer brilliance. With a lovely montage of video in black and white. Instrumental. Evrika A. Amazing. This time our black and white montage is of younger Mr. Gilmour sessioning away on his trademark Stratocaster, filling in the overdubs on his headphones. Evrika B is much of the same. Instrumental. Black and white montage video. Large studio room this time. Obviously an old piece of footage and music, from the age of the players. It should be noted here the band are doing as well as they’ve always done… for the early 90’s. An interesting one called Nervana, again with a montage (behind the scenes) and this time Gilmour on a Les Paul. Shredding away. Probably the heaviest riffing on the album. A bit of beef for the sandwich. Here’s the relish: Allons-y. Great Track. Classic Floyd. Best-On-Ground. A great performance by some ripping oscillators screaming away into a peak like a diesel engine before dropping us back into the delicate, ethereal guitar, strings and reverb-drenched drums we know so well. Awesome. Get-naked-and-run-around-the-block type awesome. Jeez I love Pink Floyd. And the intro to the whole album. Things Left Unsaid. (Perhaps it’s a their last chance to get out anything they forgot to put in there? Anything they forgot to say?) Progressive. Delicate. Voiced and arranged in a way only the big fella can. A great start to a journey for the album I’ve been hanging for since late last year when it first popped up on the horizon. Well produced. Smashing tunes.
Pink Floyd I salute you. Thank you for making my life better. The music has become a part of my journey. Inspiration and company. Love and life. May you live out the rest of your days in blissful comfort, surrounded by your family and friends with perfect health and the time to indulge your every whim. Of course if you ever feel like knocking out another cracking album then by all means. Go right ahead. Don’t let me stop you.
Happy holidays after your amazing innings lads. Farewell.
Rest In Peace Richard Wright and Syd Barrett.
Photo Credit: Image Accessed 22nd November 2014. <http://www.cultnoise.com/>