Georg saw his first concert in 1994 aged 10. It was Pink Floyd. Division Bell tour. You always remember your first. ‘Job for life’ as they say. Here he dissects the musical output of Floyd in the Seventies.
Oh, for the long-gone days of the Seventies when classic bands like Pink Floyd (you can name plenty more) were at their peak. The early Floyd days of the late Sixties certainly had their fair share of moments – check out the interest in Nick Mason reviving that music with his Saucerful Of Secrets. While the jury is still out on what passes as Pink Floyd (and the Waters/Gilmour squabbling) in the Eighties and beyond, there’s no competition when you consider the high points of Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall.
This book follows a similar format set by the On Track books that have been pouring from Sonicbond. In a logical sequence, each chapter takes a year and relates the story of the happenings year and the music/the album(s) produced in that timeframe. Granted there are some fallow years with no album release, yet with plenty of goings-on to report.
Having debuted with Piper At The Gates Of Dawn record (that Steven Wilson called the best debut album ever by the best band ever in The Album Years podcast) and Saucerful Of Secrets, we pick up the story in 1970 with Atom Heart Mother. Known maybe as much for its cover than the music, Purvis pulls up quotes from both Waters and Gilmour denouncing the album. In the blurb, he refers to the album as “weird brilliance.” It’s a pros and cons style that provides some semblance of balance where he even finds Mason and Gilmour finding good things to say about The Wall (and by default, Waters).
A little attention is drawn to the underappreciated Obscured By Clouds (“their most conventional album“) that appeared, and was perhaps overshadowed, in the gestation period for Dark Side. Latter-day kudos to Nick Mason for revisiting parts with SoS.
There are occasional interesting and possibly controversial titbits (nothing like a bit of controversy; in the 1977 chapter he has a dig at Gilmour’s solo stuff, the debut album being “an underwhelming listen…a pattern, excepting the of-its-time About Face that would persist on his solo albums; languid instrumentals and uninspired attempts at rocking out.” Brilliant and tbh, pretty accurate! There are also the most interesting five words you’ll read in a while – “Pink Floyd fan John Peel” sounds quite unbelievable now although those of us old enough will remember the days before he jumped ship and boarded the new wave express.
A final chapter leaks out of the Seventies and fetches the story up to date as the story turns sour with the odd little sweet moments. Roger Waters getting all dewey eyed and nostalgic maybe?
Ultimately it’s a slightly different recount of a familiar story. It’s a book of snippets. A bit about the music, a bit of biography, plenty of quotes and a decent overview of the period. A gathering of information that the die-hards might sniff at but a primer for anyone who’s looking for a starting point that’s a palatable alternative to diving into deeper waters.
If you want any of the notorious back biting, the in-depth song analysis or revealing you’re best heading elsewhere although the gradual deterioration of relationships is unavoidable. Begin as friends, end as enemies. Could be a good album title.
Pink Floyd has a healthy section of their own on the rock music library shelves, not least of which with Nick Mason’s own Inside Out thoughts and excellent biographies by Nicholas Schaffner and Mark Blake. Jean-Michel Guesdon has also taken the ‘story behind every song’ angle so you may ask what does this add to a crowded marketplace? Maybe it’s the start of a series and as such plays a safe and straight bat to open the innings.
Another one to add to the ‘P’ section of your rock bookcase, but deducted a point for leaking out of the Seventies in the photo gallery that includes shots from lie Live 8 reunion and SoS 2019 shows.
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Categories: Book Reviews
Thanks for the review, this is great constructive criticism and I agree with many of your points! Cheers!