Tuesday, December 27, 2005

we're not university material

I've been listening to Pink Floyd a lot lately. This has been triggered by my viewing earlier in the year of the Italian film "Good Morning, Night", about the Red Brigade kidnapping of Aldo Moro. It uses 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' effectively to evoke a general air of menace and malign expectation. Since then I acquired "Wish You Were Here", and have derived great enjoyment therefrom.

Since then I picked up the "Live at Pompeii" film, "Meddle", and "Atom Heart Mother", the latter being two records from before they went completely mega. "Live at Pompeii" captures them in roughly the same time period, mainly playing stuff from "Meddle" and "Saucer Full Of Secrets". It is an intriguing oddity - a live album without an audience. I suppose the idea is that you are meant to focus on the music, man, and filming without spectators in Pompeii allows for some great visuals. I was sorry they did not use the Cave Canem mosaic, but that's probably in Naples now.

The film seems to focus a lot on Nick Mason, with him being where the cameras point when covering the band playing. This is probably because a drummer is always more visually arresting than someone using a guitar to produce interestingly textured sounds (and no one in their right mind is going to put a camera anywhere near Roger Waters if they can help it). However, it did make me consider Mason's playing a bit more than I would have done previously, and it did seem a more important element in the Floyd sound than might hitherto have been thought. I think I must now seek out Nick Mason solo albums, and the likes of the studio record of "Ummagumma".

The "Live at Pompeii" bonus features are of interest. There are some wonderfully "dude" interviews with the director, where he goes on about how the new beginning bit (with planets and rockets and stuff) is meant to be about people on other worlds picking up Pink Floyd transmissions and then deciding to come to Earth and check out the music makers. Makes you think. There is also a great "and I don't want that" interlude filmed in the canteen of Abbey Road studio, where one of the band is going on about how you should always try not to get a corner slice of apple tart.

You know "Meddle". It has been said that basically the record is all about 'Echoes' and 'One Of These Days'. The other tracks are perhaps a bit slight, but I am still glad they are there. And if Low saw fit to cover one of them then there must be more there than I am appreciating, hein?

"Atom Heart Mother" is perhaps a bit over experimental, a product of the era where the band were considering making an album entirely from the sounds of the human body. Fortunately it is not as annoying as that, and the long title track is an enjoyably ambient listen. We must also salute the producers of one of the world's most iconic record covers.

Compared to all of this, however, any tracks I have heard from "Dark Side Of The Moon" are at best amazingly bland, at worst decidedly annoying (Woaaawww owwwww aoowwwwww etc.). But what really is TEH SUCk is "The Wall". One of the lads at work has been listening to a Pink Floyd compilation album a lot lately, and it is shocking how devoid of redeeming features the supposed good tracks are (apart from 'Another Brick In The Wall', obv.). It is amazing to think that the same band could produce a track with the menace and inventiveness of 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun' as the suck-ass easy-listening shite of 'Comfortably Numb'.

You may disagree. But your opinions and addresses will be noted, leading to impromptu visits from the taste police.

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