Tag Archives: Pink Floyd

Acclaimed Albums – The Wall by Pink Floyd

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 218/250Title: The Wall
Artist: Pink Floyd
Year: 1979
Position: #152

Before I get around to watching the animated film based off of this album, I figured that it would be best for me to actually hear the album first. Mind you, I’m not likely to see this film for a while, but it made for a more compelling reason to listen to this compared to the other 1970s albums I have left. Plus, I know enough parts of this to be interested in how the rest of this concept rock opera actually works out.

I am so glad that I actually knew this was meant to be a rock opera/concept album as, otherwise, I might have taken the anti-minority lyrics in ‘Waiting for the Worms’ more or less at face value. It also allows you to give the album a bit of leeway as, in the end, it is a long listen that suffers from a bit of bloat. It also means that you have some recurring melodies, which strangely I found quite enjoyable.

In the end, there are two songs that I came here to hear and they did not disappoint. The four parts of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ are haunting in their own way and ‘Comfortably Numb’ is just as triply as I had hoped it would be. The rest of the album was fine and to helped make this weeks overtime go by just that bit faster, but in the end this is a prog album whose run time hamstring it. At least I now know what to expect when I watch the movie adaptation.

Acclaimed Albums – Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 183/250Title: Wish You Were Here
Artist: Pink Floyd
Year: 1975
Position: #189

I was cleaning the kitchen when I began to think how I may not have given the song ‘Wish You Were Here’ a fair shot when I listened to it for the songs list. After all, I really enjoyed Dark Side of the Moon and this just might be one of those things that needs more than one listen to really get. So here we are three album listens later and I’ve fallen for another Pink Floyd album.

The song ‘Wish You Were Here’ sounds better in context but, at least for me, that isn’t the best track on the album – and so I wonder why it was the choice for the 1001 list. What do I think is the best track though? Well, that would be the nine-part 26 minute long epic ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, about their former member Syd Barrett who was kicked out of Pink Floyd some 7 years prior due to his inability to his drug use and mental issues. It’s a prog rock masterpiece and the two halves act as stellar bookends for this album.

I had no idea that I would enjoy prog rock when I started listening my way through this album list. Hell, I did not really get all the praise for The Piper At The Gates of Dawn – but through Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon I feel like I am beginning to get a taste for some of it. Maybe it’s thanks to the introduction of synthesizers that I’m beginning to see the epicness to some of these Pink Floyd songs. Maybe it’s because I am more and more hearing echoes of future musicians in their music. Or, maybe they hit a good streak and made two amazing albums in a row.

So yes, ‘Wish You Were Here’ the song doesn’t quite reach the heights of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ or ‘Welcome to the Machine’ for me, but it led me to this album far sooner than I would have otherwise gotten around to it.

1001 Songs – 1975: Part Two

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

That’s the Way ( I Like It) – KC & The Sunshine Band

I will probably never be able to untangle this song from it’s appearance in Austin Powers in Goldmember where it’s sung by Beyoncé as we’re introduced to her character Foxxy Cleopatra.

With this song, I think it is safe to say that disco has just burst onto the scene. The Bee Gees in the last bunch of songs was a decent signal of this, but we’re very much there now. Listening to this song outside of television and movies really helps me to realize just how much disco was an upbeat offshoot of funk that was focused on having a good time. Good song, if a little bit repetitive.

Kalimankou denkou – Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares

If, like me, you are a fan of Kate Bush – you will instantly recognise the voice of some of the soloists from this Bulgarian singing group. Three members of this group would spin off from this larger collective (much like Enya from Clannad) and end up working with Kate Bush on the amazing album, The Sensual World.

This song is haunting. It feels exotic and rather ancient, which makes sense seeing how this is part of a collection of traditional Bulgarian folk songs that have been put to choral arrangements. ‘Kalimankou denkou’ feels like something between a folk motet and ‘Ave Maria’. Again, this is haunting.

Marcus Garvey – Burning Spear

From haunting Bulgarian choral music to Jamaican roots reggae – a pretty significant genre shift. ‘Marcus Garvey’ is a song about one of the prophets of the Rastafari religion. That makes this song something that is pretty consistant with the Rastafari movement – the mix of a religious and a political message.

It’s one of those songs, however, where if you have no idea about Marcus Garvey or the wider Rastafari religion – it’s pretty much lost on you. The music has a bit more pep than other reggae I’ve heard from Bob Marley, but it’s not really for me. Still, nice to hear where reggae has gotten to in 1975.

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Music is an emotional beast – both in the playing and in the listening. Like with the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, I’ve tried to distance my personal feelings from the actual music when listening to this. So here goes…

Taking emotions out of the equation – this is an ambitious and bombastic song. I have so much respect for being able to put together something so operatic and so unique for the time. I mean, no one has really done anything similar to the level of success that Queen had. It isn’t for me, but listening to it in isolation (and not in that turd of a movie) I can see why this struck chords and has remained in the public consciousness.

Gloria – Patti Smith

It’s been a year and half since I did my blog post on Horses and I still listen to this song and just imagine early PJ Harvey roaring to this before she seques into either ‘Sheela-Na-Gig’ or ‘Rid of Me’.

Like with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Gloria’ doesn’t really sound like anything that came before it (at least on the song list). The fact that this is the opening track of her debut album is just beyond amazing. With ‘Gloria’ it’s fair to say that the trigger has been pulled on the punk movement, and once we get some Ramones in 1976 her call to arms has been answered.

Tangled Up in Blue – Bob Dylan

‘Tangled Up In Blue’ is my favourite Bob Dylan song. It’s where he sounds his best vocally, accompanied by his lushest productions and with a set of brilliant lyrics about a failed love affair.

It’s one of the few times where I feel able to make an emotional connection with him as the singing narrator; the other times all being featured on his album Blood on the Tracks, where this track is the opener. I just really like this song; hard to really say much else.

Walk This Way – Aerosmith

Okay so all I knew of this song was the version that Aerosmith did with Run D.M.C. (and that ill-advised cover by Sugababes and Girls Aloud). I had no idea this existed in isolation. Gotta say that this original version is so good and is such a fun song – the fact that I just found out that this was inspired by a comedic bit from Young Frankenstein makes it all the better.

Another thing I heard in this song was elements of funk. It’s a funk-rock hybrid song which, again, isn’t like much that I have heard before for this list. I had a lot of fun listening to this song.

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

It’s unusual for me to just sit through a song and not write anything down… when the song hasn’t grabbed me that is. I don’t know why, but ‘Wish You Were Here’ really did nothing for me, to the point that it really just sailed over my head. I’ll listen to the album eventually, so maybe something will rouse me then.

Progress: 417/1021

Acclaimed Albums – The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 164/250Title: The Dark Side of the Moon
Artist: Pink Floyd
Year: 1972
Position: #19

Last week I made a bit of a snarky comment about how I needed to listen to Pink Floyd’s discography before opening the list up to include more female led acts. In the week since I got to thinking that I have been putting off listening to The Dark Side of the Moon for a long time.

Pop culture (especially stoner culture) really grabbed The Dark Side of the Moon by the balls. The stark and beautiful artwork appears on t-shirts around the world and everyone knows a theory about what film this syncs up with, or the messages that are supposedly encoded in the songs when listened to backwards. All this put me off listening to this, as did this being a male-led album from the early days of prog rock and my constant mixing up of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (my thoughts on Piper At The Gates of Dawn didn’t help either).

As I write this I am a few listens in and I still remain fascinated by what I am listening to. Somehow it feels like my recently finishing reading The Golden Notebook is helping with my appreciation of this. I mean, people have written whole books about this album and it’s easy to see how stoner culture found an album to latch onto.

I’m still not sure what to say, to be honest. It’s incredibly trippy in places thanks to the use of, then advanced, electronic instruments. Thematically the album tackles a lot of heavy and fragmented topics, but it is able to bring it together into two unified record sides. I think I prefer the first side to the second one, but that’s probably because I loved the instrumentals and the abstract vocals on ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’.

Never heard anything like it and I want to keep listening to it. That’s the mark of a truly great album.

1001 Songs – 1967: Part Three

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

And so we finish out another year with this third and final look at the songs from 1967 that feature in the 1001 book.

Montague Terrace (In Blue) – Scott Walker

Right, so a minute in and this song just explodes. This song is a bit heavy on the tingly chimes (in a weird way) and thick on the strings (in a good way), which just builds up to the big overblown chorus.

He doesn’t quite have the voice that would work for this. Now Jacques Brel, an influence of both this song and Scott Walker in general, probably would have.

So essentially we have a song that is seeing the chanson tradition through the lens of blues and pop. Interesting.

A Day in the Life – The Beatles

Okay so this is my mum’s favourite Beatles song. It’s yet another one of those songs that shows just how far ahead of their time The Beatles actually were.

There is a reason that I listen to these songs again even if I have done the album before – listening to a song in isolation is a different experience than as part of an album. I mean, I completely missed ‘Eleanor Rigby’ as it just got swallowed up by the rest of the album. Same goes for ‘A Day In The Life’.

It’s the closer for Sgt Pepper and so is the closing track on what is widely seen as one of the best albums of all time.

Is it a good song? In isolation it is and it means I am going to have to listen to the album properly again. It’s a prime example of Lennon-McCartney working well together and actually just how they were beginning to properly diverge.

Alone Again Or – Love

I still maintain that I know this song from somewhere else and I can not put my finger on it.

Listening to this properly outside of the rest of the album that follows it I really do appreciate that weird mariachi sound that they incorperated into this song.

It’s one of those songs that is the coming together of the 1960s musical trends of folk rock and baroque pop. My husband thinks it pales in comparison to the previous song… but I prefer this.

Tin Solder – The Small Faces

Interesting vocals on this song. Not only are they overpowered by the rock, but the mix of the voices sound like they had been poorly filtered.

I guess it makes sense in the way since this is a song that is experimenting with, what would become, heavy rock. Still though, sounded like there was somg gurling going on.

It’s a sweet song from the idea that it was written to impress a girl (who the writer would later marry), but on the whole it was a bit off.

See Emily Play – Pink Floyd

Beatles? Is that you? Seriously though, this sounds a lot like a song that the Beatles would have made.

This was released in the UK as a single, but in the US they got this on a re-issue of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

It’s an okay song, but right now it doesn’t feel like anything we haven’t heard before. It’s a well done example of a Beatle’s influenced song, but I think this is on here to signal the beginnings of, what would become, one of the big UK acts.

A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum

Yet another one of the extremely famous songs from 1967. Maybe, not anymore, as widely known as ‘Respect’, but still a most famous song from this year.

I mean how many songs can have a title that has entered common parlence than this one? It’s one of those nice phrases (like Watergate) that journalists cannot resist taking for a subheader.

When this is not the best and most recognised song in a year, you know it’s a good one.

The Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Okay so the opening of this song is one that should be recognised by anyone who has listened to Heart FM. It’s like circus music and I think that’s the point.

It’s a great example of where pop and soul could meet in the world of Motown, even if it did take too long for me to cotton on that, yes, this was a man singing.

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream

There are many times where my album and song lists cross paths. This is, however, one of the first times that I have listened to the song without first crossing off the album. The other being Jefferson Airplane’s album Surrealistic Pillow.

When compared to ‘Tin Soldier’ this is a better executed example of an early hard rock song.

That guitar riff is so recognisable and very much like the sort you would have heard from Jimi Hendrix at the time.

Makes me wonder what the rest of the album is like.

Cold Sweat – James Brown & The Famous Flames

Thanks to many years of watching Saturday Night Live I cannot start listening to a funk song without Kenan Thompson strolling into my brain and doing his ‘What’s Up With That’ sketch.

This is one of the first example of funk songs and it’s profoundly dull. Just listening to it whilst sat on a sofa there isn’t that much to it. There is only one change and we just have James Brown grunting as he signals each member of his band to do a solo.

Seriously, Kenan and the rest of Saturday Night Live got this spot on.

The First Cut Is the Deepest – P.P. Arnold

There are many cover versions of this song. The first version I heard of this was by Sheryl Crow. I have also heard versions by both Cat Stevens and Rod Stewart.

This is my least favourite version. With the harp and the higher register occupied by P.P. Arnold it just feels a little bit twee.

I get that she had been through things with her husband that would make this song resonate with her, but at 21 (in 1967) she feels a bit young to be singing a song like this. Or maybe that’s just me?

Progress: 248/1021

Acclaimed Albums – The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn by Pink Floyd

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 118/250Title: The Piper At The Gates of Dawn
Artist: Pink Floyd
Year: 1967
Position: #113

I knew it wouldn’t take too long before I was back in the world of psychedelic rock. It’s been nearly half a year since I was In The Court of the Crimson King and this will have been a direct influence on that album.

When you consider that contemporary psychedelic rock albums included the likes of Pet Sounds, Forever ChangesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the first two Jimi Hendrix studio albums it’s easy to see where The Piper At The Gates of Dawn slots right on in.

Since the only other Pink Floyd songs I know are ‘Comfortably Numb’ and ‘Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)’ this wasn’t exactly the album that I expected. As hub put it – some of these sounded like “childrens’ songs”. He specifically said this during the first part of ‘Bike’ when they were singing about a mouse named Gerald, but it fits with the rest of the album to be honest.

Here lies the problem – it just doesn’t feel like this great problem. When you listen to this it is so painfully obvious that the group were high on something (in this case LSD). I say this not just because of the strange images used within the lyrics, but because it reminds me of that episode of South Park where they all get high on cough syrup and watch close up animals with a wide-angle lens.

I’ll grant that this album is whimsical in the same way as a rabbit with a pair of scissors (seriously when is the last time you saw an acclaimed rock album with lyrics referring to gnomes) but it just falls flat for me. At the time this would have been more impactful, but when you have Bjork throwing things off a cliff in order to feel secure in her relationship  or a concept album about a girl fighting robots this album just sits in the shade of the madness that followed.

I guess that’s something to thank this album for. But like how it is difficult to go back to the rough polygons of Ocarina of Time maybe this is one of those albums I just won’t get.