Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pink Floyd's Meddle Turns 40

Pink Floyd's sixth album, Meddle, may be the best of that English art rock band's lesser known era, between Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Dark Side of the Moon. Recording began in 1970. After nights of fruitless experimentation, bottle of wine and some finely rolled joints, Floyd's keyboardist Richard Wright accidentally found a way to make a submarine-like "ping". The rest of the band fell in and the result is Side Two's "Echoes".
Meddle was a total band effort. Every member contributed lyrics...even the fifth Floyd, "Seamus", Steve Marriot's dog. Despite mostly positive critical reviews, Meddle was not the break though Floyd album. That would come two years later with Dark Side. Maybe poor sales can be blamed on  the album cover, supposedly it's an ear underwater. But as graphic designer Storm Thorgerson admitted  "Meddle is a much better album than its cover."


The album beings with a menacing 6 minute instrumental, "One of These Days"  featuring Roger Waters's double tracked bass. Nick Mason can be heard saying "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces." For the Japanese release the title was more evocative: "Blow, Wind! Call Forth, Storm!"

"A Pillow of Winds" is a sweet acoustic love song. You know, like Pink Floyd always used to make.

"Fearless" is Floyd's football tune. The actual word refers to an awesome soccer player's play. And you can hear Liverpool FC fans chanting "You'll Never Walk Alone" in the background. This is 1001Songs fave cut.

Roger Waters wrote "San Tropez", a jazzy little number. Floyd played a gig in this sunny town on the French Riviera in 1971. It really is the kind of place where people drink champagne like big tycoons.

"Seamus" is a mercifully short blues number starring the howling blues of Steve Marriot's dog. For the live version recorded at Pompeii, the band borrowed a Russian Wolfhound named Nobs. When critics say Pink Floyd had a lot of ideas --good and bad--and used them all, this might be an example.

And finally there is the Side Two's 23 and a half minute epic "Echoes"( which only makes it the third longest Floyd song ever recorded by the way).
   The signature theme appears to have been "borrowed" by Andrew Lloyd Webber for his musical Phantom of the Opera.
Roger Waters told Q Magazine: "Yeah, the beginning of that bloody Phantom song is from "Echoes" DAAAAA- da da da da da. I couldn't believe it when I heard it. It's the same time signature--its 12/8--and it's the same structure and it's the same note and it's the same everything. Bastard. It's probably actionable. It really is!But I think that life's too long (sic?) to bother with suing Andrew fucking Loyd Webber."

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