Here`s a real goodie for those of you who like the Floyd.
Three years ago, when they started Underground they had a rough ride
Pink Floyd have the last laugh
By Nick Logan
When the Tremeloes can talk about playing progressive material then the day is dawning for the complete establishment into pop of a stream of music once laughed at and contemptuously dismissed as a short-lived fad.
Three or so years back when it was all starting, Pink Floyd were getting a rough ride from the pop pundits… but went on to do perhaps more than any other group to open the way for the new breed of pop musicians who in 1969 have made their presence felt in no uncertain manner.
As far as last laughs and all that, Pink Floyd have plenty to chuckle about.
“When we started in UFO it was a beautiful place to play,” recalled Floyd keyboard wizard Richard Wright when we spoke last week. “But when we went outside London nobody wanted to know. People used to throw bottles at us.
“At the same time we had a slight hit with See Emily Play and people expected us to play Top 20 stuff. Instead we came along with this strange music they didn’t understand.
“People just didn’t believe in us; I think they regarded us as a huge joke,” continued Richard without bitterness. “They saw us as a lot of freaks getting up on stage and playing freakish music.
“I’ll never forget Pete Murray saying on ‘Juke Box Jury’ that we were just a cult and would last for six months.”
From the groundwork laid by the Floyd and their contemporaries the whole Underground network, along with the University circuit, built up.
Could Richard forsee the progressive boom? “I knew it would happen some time but I didn’t know if it would happen quickly or slowly.
“I don’t think we could have seen it happening to such an extent where today the Underground is now the overground and Underground groups are getting better money than the teenyboppers.
“Yes I would agree that it is today’s pop music, and it is really nice because there are so many groups playing good music and it is accepted everywhere.”
Everywhere? “Well there are still a few places where a few people will walk out, but generally speaking it just gets better and better.
“Even Glasgow, which you might expect to be an incredibly bad scene for a group like us, is a really beautiful place to play.”
What did Richard think changed it?
It was UFO; it was groups like us and the whole hippie philosphy that was connected with it.
“And because the pop thing was then so shallow and empty and people wanted better things. Now because of it even straight pop is becoming better.
“Audiences now demand that you must he able to play your instrument — it’s not just a question of having a pretty face or wearing way out clothes. I should think it’s pretty hard to establish yourself as a teenybopper group now.
“It’s nice too that what has happened in the past three-four years has encouraged really good musicians to care about what is happening in pop and to form their own bands.
“It is very encouraging to find that what you believe in is commercial.”
After a couple of medium successes with singles, the Floyd dropped away from the market to make their name through albums. Their double set, “Ummagumma,” is at No 9 in this week’s NME Chart.
I asked Richard if the group had any inclinations to return to singles, with the successes of Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull in mind.
“Well we had that one hit and then two after that didn’t make it,” he replied. “Then we came to realise that it was not important to get hits and that, in fact, a No 1 for us might be a bit of a drag.
“I find the whole business of pop and Top Of The Pops a drag, and the singles scene is a dying market anyway.
“I’m not putting it down. If we got a single that went to No 1 it might be nice but it wouldn’t be important because that’s not what we are about.”
He see nothing wrong however, with other groups breaking into the singles field; nor does he feel it will do them any harm.
“It is rubbish to say they have gone commercial,” he maintains. “Bands like Jethro Tull and Fleetwood Mac believe in what they are playing and in the end it always comes down to the music.
“It is not a question of a sell-out — it means in fact that pop is growing up.
“From now on I believe pop music will be good music. There will be still more change but the standards have been raised and I cannot see them going down again.”
Pink Floyd, of late, have encountered a great deal of success in the film world with their scores for “The Committee” and “More,” released as their last hit album, and Richard sees this as further proof of the new acceptance for progressive music.
In this field they’ve recently completed the score for a TV cartoon series in the States — the producer asked them to do it after hearing “Saucerfull Of Secrets” — and for an Italian film to be released here in February.
An album of the music will be released at the same time and as the group will be recording a further album later this month there are plenty of Floyd goodies on the horizon.
“Film scores are very hard work,” commented Richard. “On the Italian film we worked solidly day and night for two weeks to produce 20 minutes of music. But it is very satisfying work and we’d like to do more of it.”
He went on to reveal that the score also contains some un-Floydian segments; the group using blues and country and western music at certain points.
In February they start a concert tour at London’s Albert Hall and plan to develop more the Azemuth Co-ordinator used on previous dates.
Richard explained it is a stereo system with either four or eight speakers that can be set up around a concert hall so that the audience is completely immersed in the sound — 360 degrees stereo if you like.
They would also like to work with an orchestra. “We want to write a complete work for the orchestra and ourselves so that the group is another part of the orchestra.”
Then, if it is possible, the orchestra would be split up and positioned around the hall — along with the speakers — so the audience would he sitting in the middle of the music.
I don’t think they fear any competition from the Trems with that!