The debate on the current Floyd centers on the band's use of hired guns, songwriting professionals brought in to shore up a sound that otherwise might not be Pink Floyd enough. What makes this criticism superfluous is that much of the great music of rock & roll has been written, or augmented, by outside talents. For every Lennon-McCartney or Prince, there have been 10 examples like Leiber and Stoller, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Holland-Dozier-Holland or Phil Spector. It should concern no one too much that in the absence of Roger Waters, who had been Pink Floyd's chief songwriter, the band sought outside help.
What is of concern is whether the music of the post-Waters Pink Floyd stands up to the band's best work The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall and Meddle. Unfortunately, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and the live Delicate Sound of Thunder (1988) were only sporadically successful at achieving the stunning aural power of Pink Floyd's previous work. Their new album, The Division Bell, ironically enough, seems to cry out for someone with an overriding zeal and passion in short, a nettlesome, overbearing visionary like Roger Waters.
The Division Bell is a quieter, more atmospheric and contemplative Pink Floyd, with lyrics so opaque and inert one cannot hope to plumb their meaning. Of course, no Pink Floyd album would be complete without a concept, and The Division Bell seems to be about that old standby failure to communicate. Even through the vagueness of the lyrics, one gets the feeling the band is firing broadsides at Waters. On "Lost for Words," for example, David Gilmour sings: "So I open my door to my enemies/And I ask could we wipe the slate clean/But they tell me to please go fuck myself/You know you just can't win." And so the war continues.
The album also gives off the uncomfortable whiff of middle-age and graying sensibilities. Gilmour, who has become Pink Floyd's de facto leader, in particular seems bored or dispirited. His guitar solos were once the band's centerpieces, as articulate, melodic and well-defined as any in rock. No longer. He now has settled into rambling, indistinct asides that are as forgettable as they used to be indelible. Only on "What Do You Want From Me" does Gilmour sound like he cares.
Another problem with the album is its length. At more than an hour, it is too long and quickly exhausts its few fresh ideas. The band seems to be padding at every opportunity. Consequently, The Division Bell will satisfy only the most ravenous Pink Floyd fan.
Standing almost in mockery of the swipes the band members have taken at one another is the new three-disc box set Crazy Diamond, which collects the decidedly eccentric post-Floyd musings of original member Syd Barrett. Barrett, as all Floyd devotees know, was booted from the band in 1968 during the making of A Saucerful of Secrets as he deteriorated mentally from excessive intake of LSD. In 1969 and 1970, he was encouraged by Gilmour and Waters, among others, to return to the studio. The erratic results were released over a period of time as The Madcap Laughs, Barrett and Opel.
Barrett has become the focus of a ghoulish cult that apparently relishes the disintegration palpable on the tracks included on Crazy Diamond. The fact is, Barrett was of dubious talent from the get-go, although his singles with Pink Floyd, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play," broke the band onto the British charts. Out of Barrett's entire 70-or-so song oeuvre, only a handful of tracks all done with Pink Floyd are standouts.
Crazy Diamond (the title was taken from Pink Floyd's outstanding tribute to Barrett, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond") painfully documents Barrett's disappearance into the lysergic mist. At best, the songs collected hold a morbid fascination; at worst, they are little more than whimsical ditherings. Barrett collectors are completists by nature, and this set adds more than a dozen bonus tracks, some of which are hilariously off-kilter. The booklet offers no insight or update on Barrett's condition.
The album Barrett is by far the most focused and spirited of the three discs, but only a fellow acid jockey or hale adventurer could possibly sit through all 58 tracks. Perhaps expectations for the set would be more realistic if it were retitled, something along the line of, say, Crazy Zirconium.
(Posted: Jun 16, 1994)
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Review 1 of 8
David Gilmour obviously picked the wrong profession- he would have been right at home in some Poetry 101 course, expounding on the theories of Pound and Sartre. The Division Bell is so full of itself that there isn't a single moment until the very end when the music actually comes through. Forget penetration- this is one album which you can't even begin to hope to comprehend. The love songs wallow in a shell of crustacean misery. So why the 1 star at all? High Hopes is the only redeeming feature that THE DIVISION BELL has.
Mar 6, 2008 04:13:08
Review 2 of 8
The rolling stone review was a disgusting piece of writing. sounded like something someone would write after listening to the album once. the song 'high hopes' pink floyds last song is one of the best songs ever written in the history of man kind, up there with ulrich schnauss's master piece 'a million miles away'. pink floyd at its best, i have all of pink floyds albums and for some reason i listen to division bell the most now. along with the 'pulse' dvd. shine on my friends shine on...
Jan 30, 2008 17:51:09
Review 3 of 8
@ Joe: No, I don't think that--I'm American, and I adore this album. I have wondered ever since reading this review sometime last year what the hell was wrong with RS when they reviewed this album. It is stirring, atmospheric, and one of my personal favorite albums of all time. I feel it is PF's most mature-sounding album to date, and songs like "What Do you Want From Me", "Take it Back", "Keep Talking", and one of the best songs ever, imo, "High Hopes" just keep you drawn in, listening as passionately as you can. I love this CD and I pity anyone who doesn't get it, or who just simply calls it "Not Pink Floyd". Its one hell of a final album for sure, and its severely underrated.
Dec 5, 2007 15:30:30
Review 4 of 8
Although there was a long hiaitus between studio albums for Pink Floyd, first listeners to The Division Bell could be forgiven for thinking that the band rewrote A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. Certainly there are more similarities than differences, especially in the order of play (instrumental to start, heavy-going heartbreaker to end). Personally I like this album as an album. In my opinion there are no real standout single efforts in here (possibly Keep Talking is an exception) but as an overall thematic sound it is very much the Pink Floyd of Wish You Were Here and Animals but with a less facetious tone.
The comment about Gilmour's solos not being heartfelt are simply inaccurate. Some may be a little textbook but listen to the simple, heartfelt yearning of Marooned to get a real feel to the mood of the album. It is a fantastic work. Also for those who want to get a better sounding guitar solo in Keep Talking, listen to P.U.L.S.E.
Pink Floyd were never going to reach Dark Side Of The Moon status again, and the band themselves were the first to admit it. Gilmour's personal touch from a lyrical perspective makes The Division Bell a good album to introduce new Floydians to the concept of Pink Floyd before they get bashed about the face with the dispiriting hatred of The Final Cut, The Wall and Animals. This CD has never left my car since I bought it and I go back to it time and time again. It's simply a great hour-and-a-bit getaway from mundane life... and isn't that what music is supposed to be?
Oct 14, 2007 05:09:31
Review 5 of 8
Although this review may never even be read, what with The
Division Bell being thirteen years old and all, I feel it needs to
be said that it is a very underappreciated and misunderstood
album. I am a huge fan of The Floyd and I love this album.
Granted, it's not as great as the older ones (Dark Side,
Meddle, WYWH, etc.), but come on, what will ever be? Many
"fans" claim that this is not a "real" Pink Floyd album due the
exclusion of Roger Waters, but to hold that opinion is really
also to say that Animals through The Final Cut (and even, at a
stretch, Piper) is not Pink Floyd. Gilmour bravely stepped up
to the plate in the mid-eighties to take the reigns of this
behemoth when Roger pretentiously tossed them aside and I
commend him for that. Roger certainly didn't hesitate to do
the same when Syd was forced out of the band. Anyway, I
digress... The Division Bell may not have Waters' bite and
sarcasm, but the spirit, concepts, and beauty of Pink Floyd is
still well intact on this album and it is a perfectly fitting swan
song for this great band. Not to mention what a difference the
re-addition of one Richard Wright, ousted by Roger during the
recording of The Wall, brought back to the band. Would you
really have wanted The Final Cut (which, to be fair, did have a
handful of great songs) to be the last thing released under the
banner of Pink Floyd? I urge you to give TDB a fair, full listen.
Also, if you examine the lyrics from beginning to end, it
almost seems that The Division Bell is none other than the
story of Pink Floyd. What a broad concept indeed! Syd would
be proud, I think. And if Roger got over himself for five
minutes, perhaps he would see the beauty of it as well.
Aug 17, 2007 01:48:23
Review 6 of 8
The best album since The Dark Side of the Moon and I still think this one edges it. It's a grower however and it might take some time to realise that every song on here is a masterpiece. To say this is not Pink Floyd is laughable it's different but a full recovery from the directions the band seemed to be falling in to.
I find that songs like 'Poles Apart' and 'Lost for Words' are easy to relate to despite the potential bitter undertones concerning Waters.
Good tunes are probably more central to songs like 'What do You Want From Me?' and 'Keep Talking' so that a healthy balance is contained within the album.
I think the two most universally moving tracks on this album have to be 'Coming Back to Life' and 'High Hopes' and if these songs do not stir some kind of emotion I would question if there is blood flowing through yor veins.
I don't understand the slamming of this album, is it that Americans don't get it and maybe the album only touches on the senses of the British mentality and culture.
May 3, 2007 10:39:11
Review 7 of 8
I WAS DISSAPOINTED AFTER BUYING THE DIVISION BELL ONE SONG WAS GOOD AND IT WAS THE ONLY ONE I LIKED.THE DIVISION BELL WAS A DISSAPOINTMENT TO MANY PINK FLOYD FANS SUCH AS MYSELF.IT FAILS TO COMPARE TO OTHER FLOYD HITS LIKE THE WALL DARK SIDE OF THE MOON AND ANIMALS.PRETTY DISSAPOINTING AND DEPRESSING THROUGHOUT THE CD.THE ONLY REASON I GAVE IT TWO STARS MY WORST RATING OF A ALBUM TO DATE WAS BECAUSE OF THE EXCELLENT COVER AND INSIDE ART WORK THAT MAKES YOU THINK.RICHARD WRIGHT WAS A AVERAGE LEAD SINGER ALMOST TRYING TO SOUND TOO MUCH LIKE ROGER WATERS AND HORRIBLE AT OTHER TIMES PLEASE DO NOT WASTE 20.00 BY BUYING THIS ALBUM.
Nov 6, 2006 16:19:06
Review 8 of 8
Ok. We all know this album is "post-Waters" Pink Floyd. This album seems less forced than A Momentary lapse of Reason. Some of the songs seem to be directed at Roger Waters. Sure, many old Floyd fans have probally never heard of this album, but it is worth buying. The highlight tracks are: What Do You Want From Me?, Marooned, High Hopes, Keep Talking, and Take It Back. Gilmour claims that there is a hidden message in the album. From what I and many others have found, this album is basically about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism.
Aug 18, 2006 17:32:55
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