It was a strange time for music. The mid 1970’s was all about progressive rock. This was both positive and negative at the time. Of course, Pink Floyd took notice and crafted a more progressive rock style into their music. This album is proof of that.
It’s actually devoted to Syd Barrett, their original guitarist and songwriter. Apparently after recording The Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd were stumped to know where to go musically. Memories of their old band mate inspired this album’s material. Ironically Syd himself walked into the studio when the band were recording the Shine On You Crazy Diamond parts. How sad and strange…
That being said, this is a superb listen. Let’s dive in and have a listen to the album.
We begin with Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5) which has ethereal sounds, a keyboard based flute and the feeling that we are going to be transported into something really great here. The lonely flute melody sticks out, it’s not a fast track, and it never was intentionally so. Some trippy keyboard sounds back up this part of this song. David Gilmour’s Fender Stratocaster then enters. My God, it’s good. His playing sounds fantastic here. The sound is nice and bright. Mysteriously, the sound almost fades into oblivion, before we hear THAT four note guitar figure, which sounds ghostly. Nick Mason and the others come into play afterwards, driving the song rhythmically. The song just flows and evolves here. It sounds mega emotional, even though there are no lyrics here just yet. The sound slows down once more, just before going uptempo again. Pink Floyd sound like a solidly united musical front here, not willing to back down for anyone or anything. Then Roger Waters finally starts singing the chorus, and goodness, it is mind blowing. A nice development of things, clearly being about Syd Barrett. It’s a lament for their lost band member, and the performance here is fantastic. After all this, we have Dick Parry playing a beautiful saxophone solo and some trippy and interesting guitar parts in the background. The song then fades out gracefully and nicely as well, before we jump into the next piece on the album.
The next song Welcome To The Machine begins with some mechanical noises, before launching into an acoustic number about railing against the record industry. It’s easily the weakest song on the album, and even then it’s worth a listen. Some brilliant playing is here, Pink Floyd had no equals with the sort of music that they were making in this era. It’s more a sonic journey this one, but hey, Pink Floyd were experts at this sort of thing. After more Theremin like noises, the song ending is rather strange. Without spoiling it, it is worth following along for the listen.
Have A Cigar is a very funky piece again about the trappings of the music industry. It is musically better than the previous song, with a friend of theirs (Roy Harper) singing this song. There are many descriptions of the nasty business of the album based record industry of the time: “And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it riding the gravy train…” Obviously Roger Waters was fed up of being prodded by record executives to sell more records. Indeed, this is true of many rock bands, why sell out to compromise artistic integrity? There is no point, but the funky guitar solo at the end rocks hard, segueing into the next song.
Wish You Were Here is a sad acoustic ballad about missing someone who you have not seen in a very long time. It may or may not be specifically about Syd Barrett, but is likely so. It’s a great radio ready number for the masses. It uses a comparative analysis to observe different situations at hand. The slide guitar and melodies here are beautiful, a very nice song indeed. The wind blows this track away at the end, before we enter into the next piece.
The next piece, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 6-9) revisits the first part of the album, just in a very different way. We have some different keyboard and guitar based melodies here this time, whilst still keeping the theme of the album going. It is very well structured here. It then suddenly burst into a shuffle sort of groove based section here, before leading us back into the main melody of the song. It sounds a bit more messy a mix than the first sections of this song, but it is intended to be so. High pitched keyboard sounds propel this number along. We then go back to David Gilmour’s stunning guitar parts, and Roger Waters sings about the long lost Syd Barrett legend that the band dearly missed. The backing vocals are mint here as well. The whole piece is thoroughly consistent throughout. The trippy riff comes in after the singing is complete, and then we finalise our musical trip with a beautiful, almost jazzy section to boot. The keyboard brings a groove based piece to light with more funky, quacky sounding guitar playing. We then return to familiar territory with the ethereal keyboard sound, and lastly enter the final, very relaxing section of this song. After some gentle music, we conclude the album here, feeling very satisfied.
This album is just as good as Dark Side Of The Moon, although not as popular. It should be essential listening for Pink Floyd fans though. A very decent and overall excellent musical accomplishment. Pink Floyd were at their best with Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here. It’s a great listen here, don’t miss it.