Pink Floyd - Meddle - Classic Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Pink Floyd - Meddle

by Bill Golembeski Rating:9 Release Date:1971-10-21
Pink Floyd - Meddle
Pink Floyd - Meddle

It’s hard to believe, but there was a post-Syd Pink Floyd history before all the feuding lawsuits, before the white blocks of the Wall, before the errant run-a-way inflatable pig, before the Moon revealed its Dark Side, and even before Roy Harper sang the immortal lines, “Oh by the way, which one’s Pink?”

To tell the truth, the post-Syd Floyd didn’t manage that much. Saucerful of Secrets kept the band suspended in the cosmos; Ummagumma was live and solo songs and Atom Heart Mother (despite the lovely Lulubelle III on its cover) was a mixed bag of some rock but a lot of Ron Geesin orchestrations and the forgettable “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast.” Apparently, a quadraphonic ‘Azimuth Co-ordinator’ sound system, weird effects, and hitting big gongs really hard can only go so far.

But Meddle is the sound of Pink Floyd harmonizing its collective talents. “One of These Days” (which continues with the warning “I’m Going to Cut You into Little Pieces” spoken by the distorted voice of Nick Mason) is a distant cousin of “Eugene” who still, apparently, needs to “Be Careful with That Axe.” Let’s just say the song blisters with the Roger Waters and Dave Gilmore doubled bass (fed through a Binson Echoric unit) and conflates blues, psych, and space music. And yes, it does Run Like Hell.

Now, “A Pillow of Winds” is a Roger Waters and Dave Gilmore collaboration. My friend, Kilda Defnut, always says, “Strange bedfellows make great music.” And that is true with this song. It’s quietly beautiful, very British, and really, it evokes the absolute serene pastures of (the before-mentioned) Roy Harper, especially with the lyric “Sleeping time when I lie with my love at my side.” This languid moment equals Led Zeppelin ‘s attempt to pay homage with “Hats Off (to Roy Harper).”

“Fearless” continues the Waters/Gilmore yin/yang collaboration with a great chord progression and tune that, with an almost country-western vibe, really does set the controls for the heart of planet Earth. The end culminates with Liverpool’s Kop choir singing the club’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Odd, Nick Mason’s great book Inside Out A Personal History of Pink Floyd claims that Roger Waters “was a committed Arsenal fan.” Imagine that: Roger not asserting his own preference. And its lyric, which sings, “Fearlessly the idiot faces the crowd, smiling,” presages many words about madcap laughs.

Now, the final two songs change the pace of the record. “San Tropez” is a solo Roger Waters composition that is born on the winds of light jazz. Its playful pace does, perhaps, recall the childlike melodies of Syd Barrett’s songs like “Waving My Arms in the Air,” “Effervescing Elephants, or (my favorite) “Gigolo Aunt.” It’s certainly a nice respite after being warned about being “Cut into Little Pieces.” And the same goes for “Seamus,” a little bluesy number that features Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott’s dog howling. In his book Saucerful of Secrets the Pink Floyd Odyssey, Nicholas Schaffner quotes David Gilmore as saying, “I guess it wasn’t as funny to everyone else, …as it was to us.”

Well, blues or no blues, the tune has very little to do with any wolf that’s howlin’ but to its credit, my English setter pup Willamena likes the song and sometimes tries to sing along with it. And of course, the canine idea that will resurface in the great song “Dogs” much later in Floyd’s career.

And then there is “Echoes,” the side long conceptual piece that was a necessary and somewhat secret handshake into the card-carrying membership of the 70’s progressive rock pantheon. Although Floyd’s take on the side-long epic is quite different from “Close to the Edge,” Supper’s Ready,” “Tarkus,” or “Nine Feet Underground,” it serves the progressive gonfalon well, even after all these years. To be blunt: this song has a beautifully languid vocal melody (not unlike the tune “Time” on Dark Side) and its lengthy (and brilliant) instrumental workout is the unabridged version of Dark Side’s “Any Colour You Like.” The epic starts with Rick Wright’s pings, which are signals from strange aqueous depths. Apparently, space was no longer the place. In fact, according to Nicholas Schaffer, the initial opening words were “Planets meeting face to face,” but they were later changed to “Overhead the albatross.” This is a paradigm shift for Roger Waters and his lyric writing.

So, hurrah for Rog!

But, that said, the real heroes here are Dave Gilmore and Rick Wright. Together they ignite all the funky dung from those Atom Heart Mother sessions that never managed to catch fire. Those guys burn these grooves. Gilmore comes into his own guitar sound that sonically melts blues, psych, and hard rock into prog heaven. And Richard Wright, who would later suffer the indignity of being fired(!) from the band, plays with Fearless abandon and lays open the depth of his musical soul.

Later in life, The Floyd played concerts where everyone just wanted to be “Comfortably Numb,” buy a nostalgic tee-shirt, and claim to be nostalgically cool. Yeah, later in life the band released a live album called Pulse, which had a pulsing LED light. But this was just Dave Gilmore’s show. And that’s not a bad thing, but Floyd’s in a museum now, just like the Steam Powered Trains in Ray Davies’ Village Green album. However, this album from a Floyd long ago sparks with Interstellar Overdrive as it splashes down into the hidden depths of the our oceans, and pings with sonar sound, into the very oceans from which humanity crawled, only to later worry with thoughts of Time, Money, Brain Damage, Us and Them, Pigs, Sheep, and, ultimately, the lunacy of every dark side and of every sun that is eclipsed, from time to time, by any million selling Moon.

Comments (6)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

True about what happened to the band after Waters left, although I get plenty of guilty pleasure from the live album, Pulse. The solos are just ridiculous. Hey, didn’t I send you that advert Status Quo did for Coles Supermarket over here. Down,...

True about what happened to the band after Waters left, although I get plenty of guilty pleasure from the live album, Pulse. The solos are just ridiculous. Hey, didn’t I send you that advert Status Quo did for Coles Supermarket over here. Down, Down, Prices Down ? Too outrageous. Top review.....

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....with your typically funny sardonic wit.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Yeah, I watched the video. Yikes. Years ago they did a great version of Roadhouse Blues though. Ha.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Really ? Well I guess it was boogie. I’ve always thought ZZ Top were kind of like them, and if I could take the piss out of your love for the Status Quo, you could definitely have the perfect comeback for my penchant for 80s ZZ. The twirling...

Really ? Well I guess it was boogie. I’ve always thought ZZ Top were kind of like them, and if I could take the piss out of your love for the Status Quo, you could definitely have the perfect comeback for my penchant for 80s ZZ. The twirling guitars and flagrant misogyny had me in stitches...

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

.... speaking volumes for my immaturity and fickle musical sophistication

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I was dragged to countless ZZ Top concerts in my youth. The fuzzy twirling pink guitar period was the worst. They bored me silly in concert. Played the same damn song it sounded like over and over...

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