Its my Stairway to Heaven-4...(1)
“There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.”
Such legendary lyrics are found few and far In-Between.
Either you go for Cannabis, mescaline, LSD (all kind of drugs, rather psychedelic drugs) or you listen to the vocals of Roger Waters, the guitar of David Gilmour, the drums of Nick Mason and Richard Wright’s wind instrument all at the same time, the effect as ‘they’ say is the same.
‘Pink Floyd’ is known for their psychedelic rock and also for their timely and experimental progressive rock music. The incredible journey started with one ‘Syd Barett’ who was supposedly the founder of the band. His creative legacy and exemplary vocals is the yardstick of early 1960’s rock music. He wrote most of Floyd’s earlier materials starting with ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’. This album has highly whimsical lyrics and is according to me and many, the first kind of psychedelic rock ‘shown’ to UK then. Do take a listen to ‘Astronomy Domine’ for the ‘strangeness’ of the music and lyrics together.
Apart from the awe-inspiring vocals, Barett’s guitar techniques were admirable too. He experimented with a lot of dissonance, distortion and feedbacks. Because of his erratic behavior (soon he went into seclusion), he had to be replaced by guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour. It was heard that Barett’s behaviour was so erratic that it was impossible to continue with him. (He was found staring into space while one of the live performances of Floyd took place). With Gilmour now, the trio, also including Waters and Wright, were at their creative best, each contributing with different materials. Waters believed more in complex lyrics and ‘thundering’ and ‘dominating’ bass lines, the music was more of ‘jazzy’ melody attached to it. Gilmour focused more on guitar-blues while Wright on ‘hard’ keyboard-driven numbers completely based on their own likes. I somehow prefer the complex lyrics of Waters for reasons completely alien to me. The band initially came up with one ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’. Very personally, I feel the ‘impact’ wasn’t made with this album. I love the song ‘Remember a day’ from this album which is more of ‘soulful’ country singing but still the ‘psychedelic’ element intact thanks to the inscrutable music. (The water-droplet sound a trademark I guess). This album is still loved by devout Floyd fans completely because of the feedbacks, percussions and the oscillators involved in it. (Believe me, the title track of Saucerful is very scary!). I don’t have a particular liking to their next ‘Ummagumma’. The lyrics, music and the attempt at psychedelic adventure pass tangentially over my head. Do give a listen to Grantchester’s Meadows, soothing folk ‘sound’ and simple ‘guitaring’ with bird-chirps throughout. (Few know that Mason’s wife made a contribution here as a flautist)
In 1970, Pink Floyd came up with their ‘orchestral’ music in the name of ‘Atom Heart Mother’. Most of the songs from this album are on the lines of ‘orchestral’ music, though ‘Alan’s psychedelic breakfast’ is one completely different and innovative track with a collection of real ‘touching’ piano keys and other instruments to take us through a man cooking and then eating breakfast, a must listen I guess. A very nostalgic ‘Summer 68’ can be given an ear too.
Mid 70’s -> Floyd’s love and association with the ‘psychedelic’ music was shed to an extent and the sounds and ideas of Wright, Waters and Gilmour was blended and fused together to get that unique combination/product in the name of ‘Dark side of the Moon’ and ‘Wish you were here’. This is where the philosophic lyrics of Waters touched people’s heart. ‘Breathe’, ‘Time’, ‘Money’ are my all-time favorites. ‘Time’ goes like this…
“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then the one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”
In the early 70’s Floyd came up with their ‘Meddle’ which certainly include the epic 23 minute ‘Echoes’, a song that can send shivers down one’s spine if heard alone in a dark room, the lyrics are as usual ‘interesting’ and music ‘strange’ and something that is beyond definitions. ‘Obscured by clouds’ an album containing songs dealing with life and death, fixation and mostly loneliness, a Floyd trademark.
A tribute to Syd Barett came in the form of a 9-part song suite ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ and the lyrics completely deal with Barett’s seclusion and his breakdown’s aftermath. Every desired and adored sound were produced from atmospheric keyboards, blues guitar pieces, extended saxophone solos to jazz fusion workouts and aggressive slide guitars, a treat to all music lovers.
....Its my Stairway to Heaven-4...(2) (Waters era to be continued….)