After the loss of Syd Barrett as their creative guru and genius, Pink Floyd had to deliver on an artistic level. Although Atom Heart Mother released in 1970, did well, it wasn’t as important in the back catalogue of Pink Floyd as this release. This is where it really began to happen for the group.
The music here is vast and expansive. Side one has a bunch of decent songs, and side two is taken up by a single track. This wasn’t out of the ordinary for the time. Many groups, in fact, were leaning towards this progressive rock style of stance at the time. But still, let’s put this album to the test and see if it holds up well enough today.
We kick off with One Of These Days which begins very slowly with some rushing wind sounds, before some delayed bass notes, leading into a melody coming in. It sounds very good, and exciting to know that Pink Floyd are well on track to becoming commercially successful, not just artistically here. This has various additions to it gradually, including some rather distorted guitar sounds that are multitracked. Some tremolo affected bass parts then lead the piece, with some backwards tape sounds. After a distorted vocal sample, we head into rather typical Pink Floyd territory. This is a good start to the album, and although many may not see this as acceptable nor popular as later Pink Floyd work, it’s good regardless A decent rock jam.
With the wind sounds segueing into A Pillow Of Winds which is a nice tune, referencing a Syd Barrett lyric from the first Pink Floyd album, it is a relaxing and gentle acoustic sort of jam piece. It’s a mellow and very good listen, with slide guitars and other subtle instrumentation to grab your attention. It’s a very nice piece to hear, and although it is not the standout of the album, it is refreshing listening. The singing is reassuring as well, but not overbearingly so. A good listen at home is ideal, just a pretty sounding song piece. It has a gradual and gentle fade out.
Fearless is a good and catchy rock jam for the ears. Beginning with an array of melodic and catchy guitars, it is another soothing listen for the senses. With some more interesting and melodic slide guitars, this could easily be Pink Floyd meets Country Pop so far on this album, although it is not really the case of intention here. If you listen carefully, there is some ghostly chanting in the background from time to time, which is a surprising listen. Some very image evoking lyrics are sung gently here, too. A must hear from this album. The chanting and cheering comes to the fore at the end, making an interesting conclusion.
San Tropez is a simple acoustic jam with piano. It’s really lovely sounding, and sounds like something Syd Barrett could have done at his best. It’s a nice and casual sort of listen. More unusual slide guitar is here, seemingly the overall lead instrument on this album. It’s probably a track that Roger Waters would consider today “rubbish”, but it is really not. There is a beautiful piano solo in the middle that goes on towards the end, giving this a Jazz sort of feel to the song. Nice.
Next is Seamus is about the recorded barking dog here, with suitable instrumentation to go with it. More simple slide guitars and acoustic based instrumentation is here. It’s a short and interesting listen, at barely over two minutes. Interesting though.
Last is the second half of the record which is the legendary Echoes. This track changed the whole ball game for Pink Floyd, and it begins with eerie harmonic based sounds. Despite the fact that it is well over 20 minutes long, it is an epic listen. Reversed drum parts enter, beginning to propel this piece through infinity and beyond. Eventually some wonderful singing emerges, sounding very much like what would come next for the group. The singing about strangers in the street who meet is really excellent, a nice and reassuring listen. It is a quality track, not a dull moment here. David Gilmour’s guitar solos are magnificent here. It still sounds amazing and well done to this day. The whole band found its groove with this extended piece. Speaking of groove, the sections in the middle of the track are very groove based. Some great wah-wah guitar solos reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix arrive, blowing our minds away. A very well structured and delivered piece of music, excellent and moving. The keyboard sounds are very good. We then go into science fiction mode with some interesting electronic sounds, which are very odd and eerie. It’s a surreal listen, with many differently structured sounds. Eventually it all fades away into a sustained organ sound, where melodies build up sequentially and gradually once again. Some muted guitars and background precise drum rolls emerge. This is a true masterclass of listening from Pink Floyd. Guitar melodies emerge once again. The song section reoccurs, with some impressionistic lyrics. We finish off with familiar melodies and some head rush noises, and a feeling that Pink Floyd were really becoming masterful with their craft.
This is definitely a really excellent listen. It goes to show that a keen sense of hard work, artistry and imagination in the musical world is much appreciated over time, especially in retrospect. It’s not Pink Floyd’s best, but still it is very, very good. Next stop? Dark Side Of The Moon. The Floyd were on a great musical mission here.