Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (1975)

Sometimes, usually right after a fresh listen, Wish You Were Here is my favorite album instead of Dark Side Of The Moon. But mostly, uh, no. Rank notwithstanding, this is an amazing album. To think that this had perverse expectations following Dark Side and nearly equals it is almost unthinkable. I mean, who does that? Funny thing is, it doesn't build upon Dark Side musically at all; it's all its own singularity. In fact, it's the only Pink Floyd album that I would call timeless simply because I don't think you can peg it down, whereas all their others you can almost trace their development with your pick. Perhaps it's because this album is the most human of their albums, the most personal. Sure, The Wall was personal -- for Roger Waters; but this is a communal offering -- a poignant and elegantly executed tribute to Syd Barrett.

"Wish You Were Here" has possibly been played with more frequency on a daily basis than the national anthem, and people could probably sing you all the lyrics (sans music) before they could rattle off the Ten Commandments. Still, this doesn't take away from the fact that it's the cornerstone track, a final lament for a good friend long gone. By themselves, each song on the album is powerful, a panoply of different styles; and yet as a whole -- which is how any album, good or bad, should be listened to -- it's just pure aural awesomeness. The "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" bookends are solemn odes to the man that was Syd. "Welcome To The Machine" and "Have A Cigar" are fitting portraits of a band sullying theirs hands with record company filth after they've made it big -- which is to say, after the success of Dark Side. What I really like is the juxtaposition of these two tracks smack dab in the middle. It's as though, in a way, they lost that part of themselves -- that frenetic childish spirit embodied by Syd -- and became international megastars. Sure, it didn't completely destroy them, but there is still that sense of loss, and of mourning, and remembrance -- hence the return to Syd in the last two tracks. That's my feeling anyway. This album truly has to be felt, I think. All in all, I want to be buried with it. A+


bob_vinyl said...

"Have a Cigar" always breaks the mood of this album for me (kind of like "Money" on Dark Side), but it would be great based on "Shine On" and the title track. "Welcome to the Machine" isn't quite at that level, but it fits even if I wouldn't listen to it on its own.

Jeff said...

I agree with Bob about "Have a Cigar" not quite fitting in with the rest of the album like "Money" on DSOTM. I really enjoy "Welcome to the Machine" though, I think it fits perfectly with the rest of the album and stands on its own as a great song.

I really like how you mentioned that this is a more introspective album, that's something that's overlooked about this. One of the very few times Floyd went personal with their music.

The Mad Hatter said...

Bob, Jeff, I guess it depends how you're following the album. For me, mostly, its a felt thing, but knowing as a kind of subtext the story behind it, "Have A Cigar" is where they do or do not sell; it doesn't matter, really. "Have A Cigar" -- thematically -- provides a context for "Wish You Were Here" and makes the pining for Syd that much more powerful. And when "Crazy Diamond" begins anew, its with reinforced emphasis, a kind of hearkening back to the beginning. So, uh, I disagree, hehe.

bob_vinyl said...

I understand that it fits the concept, but musically, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

The Mad Hatter said...

I don't disagree with that. I still love it, though.

bob_vinyl said...

Saying it sticks out like a sore thumb on Wish You Were Here doesn't mean it's not a good song. It is. Probably better than "Welcome to the Machine" on its own, but it's a little odd musically on the album.