Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Album Review: Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here", Arguably Roger Waters at his best lyrically, & Gilmour & Wright at their best instrumentally. The result is one of the greatest albums of all time!

Music in my view is a religion, it's personal & private & should be respected by those who may disagree with your musical opinions! What sounds unique & irreplacable to my ears may sound out of tune to someone else's and vice versa.

At the same time, like proven scientific discoveries, opinions in the art of songwriting are at times fully aligned.

Pink Floyd's 1975 album "Wish You Were Here" combines both of the above into one album. It is religiously loved by many fans around the world & at the same time is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest rock albums of all time, and in that I mean all genres & not simply progressive/space rock as Pink Floyd are known for, and yet it has never been accused of being pompous or self indulgent.

The reason the album is not pretentious is probably because it is a heartfelt dedication to the wayward Pink Floyd founding member "Syd Barrett', who was suffering from LSD induced schizophernia & the major songs "Wish You Were Here" & "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" are written about.

At the same time, the band, at the height of their international success, make a direct and pointed attack on the music industry & its money grabbing & at times sleezy record executives (with the famous line.."The band is just fantastic, That is really what I think, Oh by the way which one's Pink?")

Even before I start a brief review of the songs in the album, let me state some of the other interesting points about this album which by themselves would make it unique and in a calibre of its own::
  • The cover/sleeve photos,all designed by the great Storm Thorgeson are amongst the most brilliant front & back & sleeve photos of all time. The front cover being a man shaking the hand of another man on fire! (see above for all photos on album's sleeve/cover/back)
  • The album was the potential "career ruining" album for Pink Floyd because it was the band's next album after their massive & legendary 1973 album "Dark Side of the Moon" (which ended up remaining in the Billboard Top 100 Album Charts for 10 years in a row and is still one of the Top 5 highest selling albums of all time)
  • The lyrics & song titles represent Roger waters at his absolute best & the highest point of his creativity. at the same time, David Gilmour's & Richard Wright's contribution to the 27 minute epic "Shine on you Crazy Diamond" is Pink Floyd at its synergistic best. (David Gilmour also wrote the music to waters' lyrics for the title song Wish You were Here)
  • Gilmour's fantastic lead guitar & Wright's unique keyboard sounds (plus mason's simple yet brilliant drumming & Waters' bass) make the the album haunting & meloncholic whilst amazingly enjoyable to listen to.
  • Syd barret is reported to have turned up to the studios during the recording of the album & not recognised by any of the band members initially (due to his much older looking appearance as a result of drug use & mental illness)
Instead of teh usual song by song review, and since the album only contains 4 songs(1), I rest my case with simply reprinting the lyrics for Shine on you crazy diamond & Wish you were here (both about Syd barrett).

Simply read each one, preferably whilst you are listening to the song, and see for yourselves the creative genius of the"sums much bigger than the parts" at work in Pink Floyd. enjoy! They are universally acclaimed as two of the greatest rock lyrics of all time by Roger Waters. Look out for great phrases which I have highlighted in italics.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond
(Song 1 on the Album, Parts 1-5)

Remember when you were young,
You shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Now there's a look in your eyes,
Like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

You were caught on the crossfire
Of childhood and stardom,
Blown on the steel breeze.

Come on you target for faraway laughter,
Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon,
You cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Threatened by shadows at night,
And exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Well you wore out your welcome
With random precision,
Rode on the steel breeze.

Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!

(Song 5 on the Album, Parts 6-9)

Nobody knows where you are,
How near or how far.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

Pile on many more layers
And I'll be joining you there.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

And we'll bask in the shadow
Of yesterday's triumph,
And sail on the steel breeze.

Come on you boy child,
You winner and loser,
Come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!

Wish You Were Here

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skys from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

I hope you can see what I mean!

My rating: The greatest album of all time: 10/10