Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

   The ninth studio album by Pink Floyd is one of best records in history of progressive music, despite the fact so many believe that previous one The Dark Side of the Moon was unrivalled project in whole history of the genre. The recording sessions to this album ran in somewhat problematic moment of the band’s history. For the first time since their debut in 1967 fans have to wait more than a year for next album. In fact it was 30 months and this was not quite good time for the band. The success of The Dark Side of the Moon occurred to be rather overwhelming than liberating experience. Musicians were under permanent pressure of doing something that looked quite impossible. Tension exploded with differences in the band leading paradoxically to creative results. And new standards were the pretext to think about their achievements. No wonder the new album became a self-commentary to the position band had achieved.
   In the moment of their greatest success musicians had turned to Syd Barrett – the person who was founder and shinning personality in the beginnings of the band. He was an author of most Pink Floyd songs from beginning years, recorded four singles in 1967 and band’s debut album the same year. He also took part in sessions to second album A Saucerful of Secrets in 1968, but his erratic behavior, partly caused by heavy using of psychedelic drugs, especially LSD and poor mental state was the cause he has been replaced by guitarist David Gilmour.  But still musicians had this feeling they owe some part of their success to Syd Barrett, so the title Wish You Were Here is an apostrophe and whole record is a tribute to missing friend.

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

   First song Shine On You Crazy Diamond was elegiac lament over the absence of Syd Barrett. Developed on a grand scale, nine-part composition has been divided – first five are opening the first side of the album, last four are closing the second one – and it is a framework giving the meaning of higher level to the whole program. There are clear indications it was addressed to a specific recipient and this was Barrett himself. The title and composition of the album show it’s very private message starting with memories: “Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond. Now there’s look in your eyes like black holes in the sky.” In last verse there is closing apostrophe: “Come on you boy child, you winner and loser, come on you miner for truth and delusion, and shine!” Such frame gives all texts deeper sense of recapitulation, maybe even closing the whole chapter in band’s history. The main song Shine On You Crazy Diamond is also the best formal and instrumental work with great Gilmour guitar, Wright keyboard and Dick Parry saxophone solos. Perfectly set and sung it remains one of best achievements in the history of Pink Floyd. Five stars for the overall quality and for place in popular culture.
   Three pieces inside such frame are continuing some ideas of this and previous album. In Welcome to the Machine band was experimenting with noise sounds giving perfect setting to mechanistic vision of modern life. In the first song on second side Have a Cigar Pink Floyd gave leading vocal to folk singer Roy Harper. This song is openly critical against recording industry. Both songs continue Pink Floyd’s soft criticism of society and culture of mass reproduction. It was gently involved and not too much political. The title song Wish You Were Here is moving ballad on missing, especially in context of the band recapping their own way. There is a story Syd Barrett appeared in studio when Pink Floyd was recording this album. He was overweight so they didn’t recognized him at first. Then they played Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Barrett said it “sounds a bit old”. He left without saying goodbye. Later he was seen on parking lot looking for somebody who could pick him home.

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