Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pink Floyd and Echoes

A good friend and I have a project to play every studio Album released by Pink Floyd. About once a week we get together and play the next record. On Thursday we played Meddle, released in 1971. So far we've played, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, More, Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, - we played Zabrinskie Point because I mislaid my copy of Meddle, and then last Thursday Meddle.

So far it's been a pretty dull affair. And I'd call myself a good fan of Pink Floyd.

I could probably name the number of good songs on two hands in these records. Oh okay then I will. They are Astronomy Domine, Interstella Overdrive and Bike. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, A Saucerful of Secrets and Jugland Blues, - the live set on Ummagumma - which includes Careful with that Axe Eugine, Granchester Meadows, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast might have been included if it wasn't for the kitchen. Fearless - the football fan sound effects are fairly marginal and finally Echoes.

With Echoes there is a transformation in the sound. Suddenly everything is working together. The sound effects of whale song and crows cawing work incredibly well with Richard Wright's atmospheric keyboards and Dave Gilmore's stark guitar. The different movements of the piece and the shift from one movement to the next works very well for me. 

I've not heard the studio recording of Echoes for a very long time - decades in fact. But I have watched a live performance on youtube over the last few years. I think it is an amazing recording.

Anyway hearing the studio recording again I remembered why I'd become such a fan. Echoes stands the test of time. It had taken Floyd a long time to mature as a group. If I'd been following them since their UFO club days in 1967, I think I would have long given up on them. Honestly, its been a real trudge after the promise of Syd Barrett's songs- and even here there are some very low points, through hopeless film sound tracks, and then the Walter's early years. Then suddenly they emerge into the light for - if I was generous the next 4 and a half albums. But in truth only 2 and a half of the next 5 records.

Musically they were such a limited group. On Echoes I can still hear a Saucerful of Secrets and I can hear fragments of The Wall, recorded 13 years later. Echoes indeed! I wonder what it was that struck me about them? There really wasn't much to appeal to me.

The first time I heard Pink Floyd was sometime between 1974 and the summer of 1975. A friend led me into a record shop. Discoveries in Harrow. Outside were boxes filled with second hand records. There were rows of them. The front of the shop was a green grocer's. But at the back in a second room behind the Green grocers was the record shop. I still remember walking up to the counter. My friend must have said something to the guy behind the counter. Then silence. I waited till I could hear the first clicks of a clock, a synthesizer gathering definition, an overdubbed voice. I loved it. In those first 10 seconds of The Dark Side of the Moon my world had changed forever.   

The experience of the UFO club in London must have been very intense. Their fans must have been incredibly loyal, having to wait a tortuous 4 years before anything truly remarkable emerged.

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