Pink Floyd has finally emerged from the Atom Heart Mother phase, a fairly stagnant period in their musical growth, marked by constant creative indecision. They tried to cover for it by putting a particular series of subliminal sound effects on the Atom Heart LP, and by dragging in huge, unwieldy brass orchestra sections to their concerts. Nothing short of disaster on both counts. Their new album. Meddle not only confirms lead guitarist David Gilmour's emergence as a real shaping force with the group, it states forcefully and accurately that the group is well into the growth track again.
The first cut, "One Of These Days (I'm Going To Cut You Into Little Pieces)" sticks to the usual Floyd formula (sound effect-slow organ build-lead guitar surge & climax-resolving sound effect), but each segment of the tune is so well done, and the whole thing coheres so perfectly that it comes across as a positive, high-energy opening. Next, we have a series of ozone ballads like "Pillow Of Winds" and "San Tropez." Pleasant little acoustic numbers hovering over a bizarre back-drop of weird sounds. A clever spoof entitled "Fearless" leads up to a classic crowd rendition of Rodger's & Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone," the perennial victory song for the Wembley Cup Final crowd in England. And, to round off side one, a great pseudo-spoof blues tune with David Gilmour's dog Seamus taking over the lead "howl" duties.
"Echoes," a 23-minute Pink Floyd aural extravaganza that takes up all of side two, recaptures, within a new musical framework, some of the old themes and melody lines from earlier albums. All of this plus a funky organ-bass-drums segment and a stunning Gilmour solo adds up to a fine extended electronic outing. Meddle is killer Floyd from start to finish. (RS 99)
(Posted: Jan 6, 1972)
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Meddle is often regarded as the album that introduced the "classic Floyd" sound, and as the first "great" album since founder Syd Barrett left the band in 1968. Just like in the previous studio album Atom Heart Mother, one -the second- of the album's original LP sides was occuped by a single, 23-minute track, called "Echoes". However, unlike the pointless title track of AHM, "Echoes" seems to have musical direction, and its perhaps the highlight of Pink Floyd's entire carreer. It starts with a high note on organ, then slowly an atmosphere starts building up as the other instruments come to action. Then, the lyrics come in, with gentle vocals provided by guitarist David Gilmour and keyboardist Rick Wright. Then, there are two instrumental secions that almost last 7 minutes. At 11:30 approx., the drums and bass fade out and a bit unsatisfaying but fitting interlude of Gilmour's guitar simulating the sounds of whales (you have to understand that the song has sea themes, and was originally an outer space epic, but they changed their minds because bassist Roger Waters was tired of the Floyd being called a "space rock band"), after 4 and a half minute, the "ping" heard at the start is heard again, and drums and bass came softly building up some dramatic tension, before you here glissando from the guitar, and in a sudden moment, a return to the initial theme with the vocals. The final 3 minutes are filled with an intermitent and amazing guitar riff, this is almost the climax of the song. Finally, the wind starts blowing harder and harder while Wright soloes on his organ to end the song in an amazing way. A marvelous epic. Side one is weaker, but, never mind 2 "fillerish jokes" that come before "Echoes": the jazzy "San Tropez" and the bluesy "Seamus" (with a dog of the same name howling, it's cheesy). The opener "One of These Days" is a classic, the bass provided by both Waters and Gilmour, the organ and the menacing drum are just in time before drummer Nick Mason says slowly "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces". Scary, but amazing. Track 3 is another highlight: the folky ballad "Fearless", and track 2 ("A Pillow of Winds") is a bit dull, but a bit beautiful too. Overall, Meddle is a great album, and is almost a lyrical and musical precursor to Dark Side of the Moon.
Apr 4, 2007 20:52:07