Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

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.

9/10

Pink Floyd – The Wall (1979)

Pink Floyd had not died out, even during the onslaught of Disco and Punk in the late 1970’s. In fact, they managed to excel by adapting somewhat to the tastes of the time. This double album may not sound exciting at first, being a double disc concept album about said wall, but it sold many copies and is now considered a stone cold classic.

We begin with the words “…we came in?”. In The Flesh? poses a big question to the Pink Floyd audience about what is considered to them as acceptable to them from Roger Waters point of view. It is hugely theatrical and great to listen to. Excellent stuff. It builds up to the sound of a plane crash. Epic.

The follow up The Thin Ice begins with a baby crying and some poetic lyrics and spacey sound effects to boot. It sounds as a warning to any young child about life, but sounds mega all the same. Some great guitar work by David Gilmour is here as well.

Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 1 arrives and tells the disturbing fact of Roger Water’s upbringing about his Dad losing his life in the second World War. It’s selfish a tale and not very nice, but the rhythmic delayed guitar parts are killer here. It segues into the next song with the sound of school children playing and a helicopter arriving on the scene, with some shouting.

The Happiest Days of Our Lives is a cynical observation about time at school. It’s a short, yet direct point about the mistreatment of school children at hand, before launching into the next piece.

“We don’t need no education” begins the next piece. Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 begins and is a great pop song. There is a choir here singing the chorus, some great instrumentation and a killer guitar solo towards the end of this piece. These four musicians of Pink Floyd were absolute legends in the day. The song segues out with more shouting of children and some old English man shouting as well.

The acoustic driven piece Mother poses a rather nasty Roger Waters message to his own mother about various things in life that could hurt him emotionally or physically. Obviously Roger Waters had a huge ego by this point, but the song sounds as though it fits this album well. There are some answers, but not those that you’d expect from a said mother.

Goodbye Blue Sky is a short and direct tale about the World War II bombings of England that occurred, which scarred many people’s lives in the UK. It’s a short and scary tale about human fragility. It’s a good addition here to the album.

Empty Spaces is a linking sort of piece which is largely atmospheric. It joins together the songs before and afterward, questioning about what is necessary to create said wall. We shortly find out the answer.

The next piece, Young Lust fulfills all the needs of young man’s desire for a woman, at least in this album. It’s a good anthemic piece which sounds great, even today. Sounds a lot like AC/DC in a strange way. A must listen. It segues into the next piece.

The follow up One of My Turns doesn’t sound nice lyrically at all. It’s a connecting piece, but so horrible and brutal that one feels rather disturbed by the music here. Roger Waters could have been a bit nicer here, but the concept goes on. The Wall is being built well up here.

Don’t Leave Me Now is a plea to said woman of the last few songs not to leave, despite being an absolute monster in terms of abnormally sexist and brutal behaviour. It doesn’t sound sympathetic in any sense, but the music and concept are revealing here.

Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 3 reveals the main character as a psychopath. He goes on a rant and insists he doesn’t need anything but his own wall to hide behind. How strange and sad. We segue into the next piece.

The next song Goodbye Cruel World is a short and dreary statement that almost sounds like a suicide note. It finalises the wall mentioned about, and the first side of the album comes to a close.

The first song on disc two is Hey You. It’s a cry for help from the madman behind the wall, but is a very well done song here. It conveys artistry and feeling from Roger Waters here. A nice piece. “Together we stand, divided we fall,” is a great quote at the end of this song.

Is There Anybody Out There? continues the theme of the previous song. It’s a bleak statement asking for help with an atmospheric musical accompaniment. The acoustic guitar piece in the second half of the song is fantastic. Very well played here.

Nobody Home actually sounds like an ode to Syd Barrett in terms of self-description. It’s very well done. The piano is a very good driver of this song, and the lyrics are deep. It feels as though the main character is severely depressed here, and has little chance of success behind his wall.

The next piece Vera is an ode to an artist long gone by. It seems melancholic and retrospective in terms of its outlook. It’s a quick ode to retrospective thought.

Following up is Bring The Boys Back Home. It’s a joining track which takes samples from the previous songs before it, before launching into the next important piece.

Comfortably Numb lifts the mood largely with clear description of drug use, be it heroin or otherwise. The song is strangely uplifting for such a subject. David Gilmour’s guitar solos are blistering here. The whole piece here is fantastic, a must listen.

The Show Must Go On indicates that, regardless of our central character’s problems, said rock and roll show has to go on. It is a good piece joining two major songs together.

The freaky return to the start of our concept album, with a twist, is In The Flesh. No questions asked this time. The Wall has been built, and our central character likens himself as a Fascist dictator. This is scary stuff on a psychological level. Listening to it is a different experience to what you’d expect. Same music as the first version of this song, but just plain nasty in comparison.

The next song is where The Wall does not hide our main character, so he has to Run Like Hell. Our main character is in a mess, so he has to escape from everywhere and everything. It sounds like he is a big state of paranoia here, afraid of all that comes his way. A good tune all the same.

Waiting For The Worms uncovers our main character hidden behind his wall and in a desperate state. He uses his energies to fight with his demons in his head, and the backing vocals sound like The Beach Boys here. Chanting and screaming finish this piece off.

Stop forces a reality check upon our rockstar. He surrenders himself to all those negative people chasing him. It’s super short a piece.

The next song, The Trial, is the rockstar being revealed in a court for his true feelings and state of mind. It’s not a happy situation whatsoever. He is pulled apart by all external forces. The judge then imposes his final decision upon our rockstar. With heavy metal style guitars, he orders The Wall to be torn down, which is done immediately.

Lastly, we are Outside The Wall. It’s a bleak observation about the realities of life. And our concept album comes to a close here. “Isn’t this where…”

This album sold tens of millions of copies around the world. It is a great testament to isolation and distress. It’s also a great listen.

8/10

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (1970)

This is the first really good album of Pink Floyd’s after Syd Barrett’s departure. Understandably, this was new territory for Pink Floyd and the group was still coming to terms with the loss of Syd. Still, it’s a very good listen, despite the fact it is no Dark Side Of The Moon. It’s essential listening if you like Pink Floyd. It was also their first UK #1 album as well.

It’s likely inspired by recent acts of the time, such as King Crimson. Pink Floyd were art school students, and they treated their work as such. This is a perfect snapshot of the era.

We begin with the 23-minute long title track Atom Heart Mother. It begins with some dark electronic sounds and some trumpets, before emerging into a glorious-sounding piece. It sounds classy, and English. The band then enters the scene, with some nice drum work by Nick Mason. A motorbike speeds off as well. Layered keyboard pieces then arrive, which sound sweet. More instrumentation enters the scene, with beautiful slide guitar to paint the picture. Classical type instrumentation arrives next, and this is just the first five minutes. An era evoking trippy organ and gospel vocals match the piece after that. The gospels vocals are emotional here, proto Dark Side Of The Moon style. The drums then re-emerge into the picture, sounding suitably appropriate. The melody suddenly changes, allowing Roger Waters’s bass and David Gilmour’s guitar playing to really shine here. The latter will touch your soul here, it sounds so beautiful and wonderful. That fades out, leaving us with some chanting and well-mixed melodies. It is a rewarding listen here. We then revisit the trumpets and drum led part, before sliding into a discordant section. It sounds rather creepy. A crash like sound makes the instrumentation fall apart. Much of the previous sections of this song are then revisited, like a retrospective LSD trip. The main section is reintroduced. Violins match the main part, and the slide guitar returns. The crescendo emerges, and we finish with the climax of backing vocals. A great trip indeed.

Following is the song named If. It’s a short and melancholy based piece. It’s a devotion to emotion, and there is some gentle singing along with acoustic guitar and electric slide guitar to boot. It’s a nice little change from what has been before, but all the same, just as emotional, artistic and effective.

Summer ’68 is the last Syd Barrett Pink Floyd song. They simply added some instrumentation to this vocal cut and sounds very emotional. “How do you feel?” asks Syd. Pink Floyd obviously missed Syd’s presence, and it is a nice traditional swan song for his vocals. There is piano and acoustic guitar to match here, a nice song regardless. It nearly stops in the middle of the song but starts again. A good twist.

Fat Old Sun follows with wedding bells, to begin with, and end with, and then emerges into a smooth vocal and acoustic guitar with Roger Waters singing. It’s a rather throwaway piece, but all the same fits the album nicely.

The 13 minute long Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast is a bit of sound effect based trip for a guy who makes breakfast. There is a nice musical interlude in between the delay heavy samples here. Piano and organ enter the scene, and Richard Wright excels here with his playing. Guitar parts also occur. It’s nothing special this, but still a good listen of a guy who is making his own breakfast. The musical interlude comes and goes again. Sounds very laidback. Towards the end, the sounds repeat, like a reoccurring LSD trip. It’s a pleasant listen and ends the album nicely. We end the album feeling satisfied, as Alan leaves the scene and goes on to do other things for the rest of the day.

This is a real art based album. There are many different elements and structure in this recording. If you dig psychedelic/progressive rock and want something unusual to listen to, in a good way, Atom Heart Mother is a good place to start.

8/10

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)

The real dark side of rock and roll begins here. This group of young men with singer Ian Curtis made dark and scary look awesome. They were a favoured cult sort of band until Ian Curtis’s suicide. Their influence is still broad and wide today in the rock world.

The music here is brilliant. It paints a sort of apocalyptic environment and sounds mega dark. Let’s give this a look, track by track.

Disorder begins our dark journey. And it’s very heavy, both musically and lyrically. A great start to one of the greatest recordings of all time. It specifically talks about relationship issues. A good listen. Some nice synth sounds are here as well.

Day Of The Lords arrives. It’s the closest these guys got to heavy metal. It rocks and sounds awesome all the way through. There is a large Black Sabbath style of phrasing in the guitar work. An excellent listen here. Everything fits here perfectly. Ian Curtis’s baritone voice expresses urgency at the end, an interesting twist to the song itself.

The following song called Candidate is a more typical piece from Joy Division. It has some pseudo-Industrial music sounds and some dark, introspective lyrics. The bassline here is quite prominent, but there is plenty of room for the rest of the song to breathe. Not a bad effort.

After that Insight arrives. It starts off with the sound of the elevator in the recording studio being activated by Ian Curtis, then launching into a rather lyrically disturbing song. Indeed, Ian Curtis had an undiagnosed mental health disorder of some sort, and this is reflected in the music here. The sound effects are interesting here.

New Dawn Fades is a very lonely and miserable sounding piece. It flows very well. It launches into the song with lyrics such as, “A loaded gun won’t set you free.” Disturbing all right, but still very good. If you dig dark melancholy, give this a listen.

She’s Lost Control begins with some awesome electronic drum sounds, and then some delayed and unusual vocals and lyrics from Ian Curtis. It’s about perception, either the narrator or the lady involved has lost control. It’s a freaky concept nonetheless.

The next song Shadowplay begins with a bassline, before launching into a rocky number. The band obviously had a lot of musical ideas on their albums, and this is by no means different. It’s a good listen. The ending especially is great.

After that, Wilderness arrives. The bassline drives this number and sounds very rhythmic and catchy. It’s obvious that Joy Division placed careful attention to each of their individual songs during their career. This one is about travel, a nice little number indeed.

Interzone is an uptempo rock sort of number. It is an interesting piece about going around in the city. It’s enjoyable to listen to and has some great guitar playing here. This is a great album for sure.

I Remember Nothing is a long and extended piece. But it’s never dull. In fact, there are some dark and interesting elements to this song. It features a lot of trippy sort of sounds, including glass being broken. It’s a great way to end this dark and excellent listen.

This album was critically well-received, and since has become a cult classic over time. It’s the definitive album that is a hybrid of punk, and the styles of bands that came afterward, such as The Cure. A great listen, one of the greatest albums of all time.

9/10

Montrose – Montrose (1973)

For a debut album, this is a winner. Sammy Hagar found Ronnie Montrose on his travels on the west coast of the USA and became the singer in his band. Ironically, Sammy Hagar would become the second singer in Van Halen. They, and many others, loved this recording. It’s a definite classic and shines bright, even today.

Rock The Nation starts off the album, and it is truly awesome. It’s a rifftastic and wonderful number. And Sammy Hagar’s unique high octave voice is here. Interstellar Overdrive Part Two? Not quite, but this is very, very good indeed.

Bad Motor Scooter is next, and has some interesting guitar sounds on it. It keeps this song alive, and shows just how underrated this band was at the time. It’s a classic rock tune, listen to it and smile. Sounds much like a distorted Gibson Les Paul with a slide piece added to it. Nice.

The next cut is definitely Interstellar Overdrive Part Two. Space Station #5 is a great piece with some awesome trippy guitar sounds on it. It then bursts into a loud and raw rocker which makes you want to go to the moon and back. Brilliant. It has a great twist at the end.

The follow up is more a song like piece, I Don’t Want It. It has an anthemic chorus to boot. It also shows a great riff off throughout the song. These guys obviously knew how to rock, and very well at that.

Good Rockin’ Tonight arrives next and is an up-tempo piece about dancing, and just having fun in general. Nowadays the lyrics and music style would be canned, but this is just really well done. Was music really better back in those days? We will never know for sure.

Rock Candy – what a tune! It sounds awesome, from the drum lead off, to the riff and to the main part of Sammy Hagar’s singing. Everything about it hits the spot, and is likely the best song from the album. A must hear.

The next song, One Thing On My Mind, is about the music, and the love of a woman who likes to dance away the night. It’s a great anthemic tune, and by this point, we know we have a really great album on our hands.

The last song on the album, Make It Last, is a good piece to close this album. It does sound a little longer than should be, but still, it fades out nicely and we conclude this wonderful album.

Real hard rock starts here. The album has sold steadily over the years, and Sammy Hagar became a star over time. Be sure to check out the reissue with many demos and other goodies that have been previously unreleased.

8/10

Van Halen – Van Halen (1978)

The late 1970s seemed a bad time for rock and roll. Indeed, most of the good progressive rock had been done, disco was everywhere and punk was a nasty underground movement of the time. But, along came a California based band called Van Halen to save the day.

The band was a bunch of virtuosos. The four of them each had an ability to rock and showed a great ability to do so. David Lee Roth could howl, Eddie Van Halen could rock out, Michael Anthony could really excel as a backing vocalist and bassist and Alex Van Halen could do loud and powerful drumming like nothing before.

So, what does the album sound like? Let’s have a closer look.

The intro to Runnin’ With The Devil and the entire album is a mesh of the band member’s car horns, slowed down of course. It then kicks off. It’s a loud, in your face, rocker and does so well here. It’s a great song too.

The instrumental called Eruption is a hugely popular Eddie Van Halen piece, all recorded in one take. Producer Ted Templeman overhead Eddie Van Halen play it and suggested that he record it. The result is a wonderful, futuristic sounding shred fest which is short and sweet. A great job from Eddie.

You Really Got Me is indeed, a cover of The Kinks song. But it’s such a great cover that it sounds like an original from the band. With a twist in the guitar solo and David Lee Roth sounding very sexual, it’s a great cover.

Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love is a great song. It has a variety of sounds on it and goes very quiet in the middle. It’s likely that David Lee Roth was talking about the importance of non-romantic sexual experiences here, and does pretty well in serving up a solution. A great song by Van Halen.

The next piece is the quick and upbeat I’m The One. It’s a very party-like song but is not dull at all. It breaks down into an interesting midsection where David Lee Roth goes into female soul singer mode. Brilliant.

After that we have Jamie’s Cryin’ which is a fairly weak track, but not out of place on the album. It’s about a girl who is in love with the wrong sort of guy. It’s still listenable, mind you.

Atomic Punk sounds, wow, kind of different. The palm-muted intro by Eddie Van Halen sounds awesome here. It’s a good song too, about a postmodern mythical Atomic Punk. It’s likely these guys were influenced by some Progressive Rock ideals here. Still, it’s great to listen to.

Feel Your Love Tonight is a good piece with a chugging riff to boot. It is representative of these guys in a good way, and even though it does seem a little weaker, it’s still sonically awesome to hear on this album.

The next piece Little Dreamer talks about someone who was bullied at high school, only to surprise everyone by surviving. It’s a strange sort of sentiment, but hey, it sounds very good indeed.

After that, we arrive at Ice Cream Man. This is acoustic blues, and totally underrated too. It’s very brilliantly done, particularly by David Lee Roth, and sounds refreshing. These guys obviously had studied their musical history as well.

On Fire is a great song to finish the album by. It has some awesome yelping by David Lee Roth and some nice guitar licks by Eddie Van Halen. It fades out nicely as the album comes to a close.

This album made Van Halen. It has sold 10 million copies and secured guitarist Eddie Van Halen into the rock history books. But also, the songs are fantastic here. It is absolutely worth listening to this gem of an album, it’s almost perfect in its own way. Van Halen has made many recordings during their lifetime as a band. This, by far, is their best though.

9/10

Black Sabbath – Paranoid (1970)

Although not the first Black Sabbath album, it is widely accepted as their best. Originally desired to be called War Pigs, Paranoid is a great album, and the definitive Black Sabbath album as well. It’s a good one for sure.

From the beginning of the recording, we enter into metal territory with War Pigs. It’s a great piece of doom. Tony Iommi’s Gibson SG sings well, and the sound is very sparse. But hey, it’s really catchy and likely about the Vietnam War in its own way. It is such a great song that never bores in the nearly eight minutes of length. Superb.

The title track Paranoid is an interesting tale of self-loathing and decline. It’s a good one if you are depressed as it’s not hugely depressing, but loud and rocking all the same. The chugging guitar keeps the song going well, and is a short ode to mental health issues and loneliness. Mint.

Planet Caravan is a trippy piece likely inspired by Black Sabbath’s heavy drug use at the time. It’s a great sonic palette. You’d never guess that it was Ozzy Osbourne singing on this, but yes, he is. Essential stuff.

Iron Man is next, and it is dark, doomy and rather surreal. It tells a Terminator-like tale of a robot saving people and then assuming revenge on those he saved, due to lack of gratitude from those who he saved. Yes, this was the main song in the film series of the same name starring Robert Downey Jr. But it’s a great highlight of the album, and fantastic at that. The outro is classy.

The slower and rifftastic Electric Funeral is up next. It’s less serious than the previous track but still great. You could likely listen to this piece on repeat if you wish to, as with the other pieces on the album. It’s too good to ignore. It goes super subtle at the end, which is an interesting twist.

Ah yes! Hand Of Doom follows and is a great piece. It goes quiet/loud for extra emphasis. It’s about the dark side of drugs, namely Heroin in its point. Anyone who has done hard drugs of some sort can directly relate to this song, it’s a nasty story that is designed to shock you. Listen carefully.

Rat Salad is a great drum and guitars solo. Mostly drums mind you. But it is so epic and fantastic, you’ll keep coming back to it for sure. Just amazing stuff, well done!

Fairies Wear Boots is the last song on this album, but like all the others, it kicks ass! It’s based on a true-life story, but most people are not aware of this. Ozzy Osbourne does some magnificent screaming here about drugs. It’s a great way to end this wonderful album.

Paranoid has become a cult classic in the realm of proto heavy metal. It’s the best way to start the 1970s. Do yourself a big favour and listen to this wonderful album today. The sonic palette here is just wonderful.

9/10