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The Music Of Pink Floyd

 

  It is hard to comprehend the indelible impact that Pink Floyd has had over the music scene over the last forty years. They where the forerunners of the progressive rock and psychedelic movement that swept across the world in the late sixties and onward through the seventies.

 

  Pink Floyd evolved from a band with an identity crisis, having played under names such as Sigma 6, The Megadeaths, The Architectural Abdabs, The Screaming Abdabs, The Abdabs, Spectrum Five, Leonard's Lodgers, and The Tea Set.

 

  Along with the rotating names was a rotating line up of people who came and went or switched positions within the band. Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright can trace their lineage back to Sigma 6. Bob Klose (who left Pink Floyd due to parental pressure to finish his studies in mid 1965 before the band's first album was released) and Syd Barret came along later during one of the many break ups of the various named bands. David Gilmour would not join the band until 1968.

 

  The name Pink Floyd (The Band went by The Pink Floyd Sound for a time), was derived from the names of two blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, by Syd Barret when he realized that another band on the bill at a gig they were playing was also going by the name The Tea Set.

 

  By 1967 the band would have its classic line up (known amongst fans as the Syd Barret Era) with Roger Waters on bass, Nick Mason on drums, Richard Wright at keyboards, and Syd Barret on lead vocals and guitar.

 

Pink Floyd, Nick Mason, Syd Barret, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright

Pink Floyd Circa 1968: Nick Mason, Syd Barret, David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright.

 

  Syd was the main creative force for the band at this time and the band's first album Piper At the Gates of Dawn (a reference to the book The Wind in the Willows) was his magnum opus.

 

Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Piper at the Gates of Dawn the album, and the scene from The Wind in the Willows.

 

  By 1967 drugs and fame were already taking their toll on Syd Barret, and his behavior soon became erratic. The band was forced to cancel shows and had to deal with Barrett's increasingly worsening condition.

 

Syd Barret

 

  In 1968 the band added David Gilmour to the line up to help take some of the stress off of Barret (and themselves) but it did not help and soon the band was seeing Gilmour as more of a replacement for Barret then anything else.

 

  On the way to a gig one day the band had forgotten to pick up Syd Barret. After a short discussion they decided to continue to the show without him. Soon after it was announced that Barret was no longer part of the group. Syd would still show up for sessions after he was kicked out of the group and it was obvious to those around him that he was confused by the situation.

 

  The ghost of Syd and his fall into drugs and madness would continue to influence the band for the rest of their careers as they drew upon the experience of those days for inspiration for some of their greatest works.

 

  One of the things that the band was known for during their early years was the work that they completed on several soundtracks. The first sound track you could find them on was for the semi documentary Tonite Lets All Make Love In London. They continued to work on soundtracks for years and some fans even consider some of the sound tracks like Obscured by the Clouds as cannon Pink Floyd Albums.

 

Soundtracks

 

  The bands next album, A Saucerful of Secrets, had already been begun before Syd's departure so his influence was still prevalent at that point and this would be the only Pink Floyd album that would see lead vocal contributions from all five members

 

Saucerful Of Secrets

 

  The next three albums that Pink Floyd released Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, and Meddle saw a lot of experimentation from the band as they tried to find their heart and soul without Barret.

 

Ummagumma, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle

The sixties and seventies were a really weird time for mental imagery...

 

  In 1973 the band had found what it was missing at last. The experimentation of the previous three albums finally paid off at last with the acclaimed release of Dark Side of The Moon. The album was so successful that it would remain on the Billboard charts for the next fifteen years.

 

Dark Side of the Moon

This is the image that record execs see when they think of money.

 

  This would begin the era of Pink Floyd albums with a central theme, and it is because of that decision that the band remains as popular as it is to this very day.

 

  The universal themes used by the band resonate across generations and Dark Side of the Moon was an album about life and emotions that everyone could easily identify with.

 

  When Pink Floyd made there next album Wish You Were Here the central theme was a tribute to their former band member Syd Barret and a general indictment of the music industry in general.

 

  In one of the oddest coincidences in rock and roll history Syd Barret stopped by the Abbey Road studios while the band was recording the title track for the album. They had not seen Syd in years and at first they did not recognize Barret because of his radically different appearance. He had gained several pounds and had shaved both his head and eyebrows. Roger Waters was visibly upset about the situation and would later use his memories of that day when working on material for The Wall Album.

 

Syd Barret at the Wish You Where Here recording

Be careful what you wish for...

 

  The bands troubles did not end with the departure of Barret and the rock and roll life style was causing problems in their personal lives that began spilling back over into their professional ones. Roger Waters began to take a more aggresive approach to creative control and the fighting led to bad feeling amongst most of the band members.

 

  The next album, Animals was loosely based on George Orwell's novel Animal Farm, a thinly veiled story about Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. The animals on the Manor farm rise up against the oppressive human farmer only to eventually fall beneath the heel of the pigs who led the revolution in the first place.

 

Pink Floyd Animals, George Orwells Animal Farm, Pink Floyds Pig

All animals are equal, some animals are more equal than others.

 

  The inflatable pig would become an iconic part of Pink Floyds shows from this point onward.

 

  As the band got bigger and bigger so did the venues that they played in. The band was not enjoying themselves and the internal fighting was getting worse. An incident on tour led Roger Waters to spit on a fan. This event would lead to the inspiration for one of the most important works of rock and roll music of all time, The Wall.

 

The Wall, Pink Floyd

 

  The Wall was Pink Floyds greatest conceptual album and a true triumph of musical storytelling, this would be Roger Waters magnum opus much like Piper at the Gates of Dawn had been Syd Barrett's.

 

  The Wall follows the character of Pink who has lost his father in World War II (Roger Waters own father never came home from the war) as he grows up smothered by his overly protective mother and mentally beaten down by the teachers at school.   Pink slowly begins to withdraw into himself building a figurative wall to protect himself from his emotions. The only escapism his mother allows him to have is music and pink later goes on to become a rockstar.

  While on tour Pink calls home to his wife but a man keeps answering the phone. This final betrayal is the last straw on his slow decent into madness and he ramps up to full speed crazy, destroying his room and scaring a groupie before becoming catatonic.

  The bands manager has a doctor pump him full of drugs and forces him out onto the stage which creates a split in Pinks personality as his true self becomes trapped behind the wall while a dark fascist personality takes over.

  In the end the people who truly love Pink are able to tear down the wall that he has trapped himself behind.

 

  The band would struggle to put out one more album before the departure of Roger Waters known as the Final Cut.

 

  Waters took the current at that time events of the War of the Falkland Islands to rework some songs that did not make it into the wall to create a political statement against the war and the government of England, who he feels had failed to learn the hard lessons of World War II.

 

  The band could no longer continue with the way things were and Roger Waters departed the band shortly after completion of the Final Cut to focus on his solo career.

 

  A few years and several law suits down the road Mason, Gilmour and Wright put out a new Pink Floyd album, A Momentary Lapse in Reason. They proved that it was not only Roger Waters who had a vision and they created a very cerebral and interesting album.

 

  The final Pink Floyd Album would be the division bell its main concept would be about communication and the sound would mix their old psychedelic style with that of new age set for a new interesting sound.

 

The Final Cut, A Momentary Lapse in Reason, and The Division Bell

 

  The full band would get together for one more show in 2005 to help the charity Live 8. Fan speculation was at an all time high after Live 8, as many believed that the band had finally put their differences behind them but nothing more ever came of it.

 

Live 8 Pink Floyd

 

  As we look back upon the works of Pink Floyd it is amazing how many times they can go back to the well to pull off material about the fall of Barrett, and yet still keep the music fresh and interesting across all of their albums.

 

  The full works of Pink Floyd are very interesting and well worth listening to, we highly recommend you pick up a few of their albums to give them a shot and remember that there is also a lot of great solo work that the members of Pink Floyd have put out over the years that is worth a a look at also.

 

Women as art

 

Final Verdict for The Music of Pink Floyd 9/10

 

  -Professor

 

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