Pink Floyd

ARTICLE ABOUT Pink Floyd from New Musical Express, September 20, 1975

I thought this really long record record review of one of the greatest albums made in the 70s could be of interest.
What did they think of it when it was new? Well, as you will find out, Mr. Erskine did have a positive attitude towards it. Have a nice read!

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How Pink Floyd learned to stop worrying and make another album

The Floyd: from success to success via disenchantment

By Pete Erskine

Pink Floyd: “Wish You Were Here” (Harvest)

You needn`t be psychic to be able to predict the courses taken by most rock bands; indeed one of the overriding features of rock`s mainstream is in its universal predictability.
“Dark Side Of The Moon” is celebrating its 128th week in the charts; a top twenty staple since its appearance at number one in March 1973.
Yet for all its colossal and continuing worldwide sales and its garnering for the Floyd of new, hitherto, unexploited record buying markets including many first-time pop record purchasers – “Dark Side” must have become something of an albatross.
The extent of its success left the Floyd slightly bewildered and in a position of unenviable obligation; the record had sold world-wide – they were thus committed to two years of touring with it.
How could they possibly retain any interest in the project?
Consider it. Nowadays most `major` albums may take in excess of six months intensive recording; millions of playbacks, countless hours dwelling on the slightest chord change.

Quite often, by the time the album actually hits the racks the band is already bored with it – and frequently already involved with the embryo of its successor.
As it happens, “Dark Side” took over a year in the making. “It was a good package” offered a reluctant Dave Gilmour when asked why he thought the album had sold so well.
This was reflected by the attitude of most of the people I`ve talked to since who bought it. With one accord their opening line has been “yeah… well it`s really well produced isn`t it?”
I honestly think that the Floyd themselves have never regarded it as a major work. They`re also aware of a faction that operates in response to all bands of their level – the unselective Fan Syndrome which readily scarfs up virtually anything dubbed `Floyd`. They`re also aware of the motivation of intellectual snobbery/reflected glory; wherein it is supposed that the Floyd are an `intelligent` group – respectable enough to make the crossover from Greatcoatland to the coffee table – and therefore, by association, the buyer also feels himself to be `intelligent`.

The irony was that under close scrutiny “Dark Side” is as obvious as any Uriah Heep album; I mean, titling a track “Brain Damage” is hardly a masterstroke of subtlety, but to preface it with demented rantings?
Anyway, the point I`m trying to make is twofold. Threefold actually.
I would assess the results of “Moon`s” success thus:
a) The fact that it accrued the Floyd a wider cross-section of potential purchases of any subsequent albums meant that the pressure on them to adopt a `safe` middle course became greater than ever. They must have felt a tremendous pressure to have to try and repeat the “Moon” formula (whatever that may be) – which is why, one supposes, they went through a period of token rebellion by embarking on a possible follow-up recorded entirely on coal scuttles, rubber band etc.
b) Roger Waters – whose lyrics always seem to have been marked by strong elements of morose melancholy and angry-young-man protestations – began manifesting the increased cynicism felt by the band at the nature of their `success`. Perhaps nobody on that level who is really honest with himself figures that his talent really justifies the extent of his adulation.
Thus, during one of the new pieces performed on the last English tour, “Gotta Be Crazy” – a cynical modern-day survival kit detailing our conditioning to twisted values – he comes out with the lines “Gotta be sure, you gotta be quick/Gotta divide the tame from the sick/Gotta keep some of us docile and fit/You gotta keep everyone buying this shit.”

c) The fact that the band were saddled with having to perform “Moon” – a project they were not 100% satisfied with in the first place – over and over for two years began to have an adverse effect on their morale and their instrumental abilities; the fact that “Wish You Were Here” has taken even longer to make than “Moon” seems to suggest that for at least part of the time they were really at a loss for new ideas. Furthermore, even apart from the abortive “Households Objects” project, they made two or three other abortive stop-starts.
They were – as you probably know – bootlegged on last year`s tour.
“British Winter Tour `74” comprised the three new numbers showcased therein – “Raving And Drooling”, “Gotta Be Crazy” and a 22-minute tribute to Syd Barrett, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”.
After having seen them perform these on two successive occasions at Wembley all I could conclude was that “Moon” had finally cauterised the last vestiges of The Element Of Surprise supposedly typified by the band.
Though – as the bootleg reveals – the quality of their performances improved immeasurably towards the end of the tour, I couldn`t help but feel that as a last desperate uninspired measure they`ve finally succumbed to recycling the more obvious musical bits of “Moon”, coupling them with Waters` lyrical protestations which were often rendered insincere through the use of some rather obvious and hackneyed imagery.

It is therefore with genuine pleasure that I can tell you that “Wish You Were Here” belies all expectations of it being a certified stiff.
It is by no means a mightily challenging radically experimental album, but where “Moon” seemed flatulent, morose, aimless and sometimes positively numbskull, “Wish You Were Here” is concise, highly melodic and, in a pleasingly (and perhaps deceptively) simple fashion, very well played. In particular, there are carefully, thoughtfully executed solos from Dave Gilmour (mostly within a kind of blues idiom) and Richard Wright.
The cover, like the album, is clean and positive.
Where Hipgnosis` “Dark Side” sleeve seemed to bear little relation to the contents, and to be pictorially rather sombre, their “Wish You Were Here” package is amusing and imaginative.
The outer sleeve is devoid of graphics. The front is a colour photograph, singed in the top right hand corner, set on a white background. A pair of Sicilian-looking managerial types are shaking hands in a deserted Los Angeles film lot. The one on the right is on fire.
The backside – another colour photograph on a white background – this time with sand seeping through a small rent in the border, is a Magritte-inspired montage of a pinstriped bowler-hatted executive with transparent wrists and ankles and an eyeless, mouthless face partially in shadow, standing on a sand dune with one foot on the de rigeur rock `n` roll fibreglass briefcase, offering a transparent copy of the record in his right hand.

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The inner sleeve is faced with a similarly laid-out piece of surrealism – a row of poplars photographed at ground-level fronted by a large red airborne chiffon scarf within which the body of a woman can be vaguely detected.
The reverse carries a small picture (again, Magritte inspired) of a diver, having entered the waters of the Red Sea without a ripple. Surrounded by sleeve credits and the lyrics.
According to Richard Wright, Storm and Po`s (that`s Hipgnosis`) intention had been to carry through the idea suggested by the title in a pictorial fashion – i.e., that “Wish You Were Here” is a stock postcard phrase that invariably means the exact opposite.
Which is why all the pictures are supposed to represent impossibles – the splashless dive, etc.
EMI`s Brian Southall offers up more logical explanations: “The faceless man in the desert is a record executive; the split with the sand coming out of it is supposed to represent the slipping away of the sands of time.
“The photograph of the guys shaking hands is supposed to represent earth, wind and fire, the trees with the bit of red rag is to fill up white space.”
The package comes in black shrink-wrapped plastic with a sticker of a mechanical handshake over a stylised landscape. One hand is metal, the other plastic. This is supposed to represent the affiliation of the earth with the machine, the elements (represented by plastic??) shaking hands with the automaton.

Within, the theme is exploited by three thematically linked tracks after which the album closes with a restyled reprise of side one`s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”
“Welcome To The Machine” is also thematically linked to the dumped “Gotta Be Crazy” which was about Keeping Up With Progress, ruthlessness catalysed by warped materialistic values.
Literally, “Welcome To The Machine” is an acidic view of the record business as a mechanical conveyor belt, where the unsuspecting “artiste” is regaled by bullshit managers playing on his bullshit conditioning: “Welcome my son, welcome to the machine/What did you dream? It`s alright we told you what to dream/You dreamed of a big star, he played a mean guitar.”
The track opens with Wright knocking out a series of overdubbed cybernetic rhythms as Gilmour handles the vocals with an eerie, keening hopelessness whilst providing acoustic guitar accompaniment to Wright`s synthetic string fills.
Like most of Waters` songs, “Welcome To The Machine” exudes an atmosphere of pre-destined doom. “The Machine” is doubtless intended to have associations outside of the record business.
Roy Harper opens the second side with the next step, “Have A Cigar” musically a relative of “Money.”
The lyrics are a pastiche of Heavy Manager Rap: “Come in here, dear boy, have a cigar…/ Well, I`ve always had a deep respect, and I mean that most sincerely/ The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think/Oh by the way which one`s Pink?”

Gilmour plays an incisive Texan-style guitar outro leading into an inspired idea for a link; his closing notes suddenly become transmuted to sound as if they`re coming from a tinny radio speaker. An unseen hand changes stations through a miasma of static and atmospherics, the tail end of a radio play, a burst of orchestral music, before settling on a fading, distanced acoustic guitar piece.
The Unseen Figure waits for the tune to come round again, picks up his own acoustic guitar and begins playing along in counterpoint – traditionally the way that most young guitarists learn to play.
The melody evolves into the title track, “Wish You Were Here,” another Waters opus to tedium and routine and ultimate hopelessness.
The side closes with the third verse of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” – Waters doing his “Eugene” bass part.
Personally, I don`t find the lyrics as offensive to The Memory Of Syd as colleague Nick Kent, although the odd simile jangles a bit – “When you were young you shone like the sun…now there`s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky” – however they may be compensated for with lines like “you wore out your welcome with random precision.”
Against all odds “Wish You Were Here” easily outdistances “Moon” in terms of the context of Floyd music – to which I`ll admit, again, that I`m not a great subscriber.
I enjoy the playing, the blending of the instruments, more on this album than on any of its predecessors; it makes for very pleasant listening.

I doubt, however, that my affection for it will increase with the passage of time and repeated plays; indeed, already, just in the course of writing this review I am beginning to find parts of it slightly melancholic, a little depressing.
But then I doubt many people will ever have to approach it from my particular viewpoint.
I still find Waters` political stance disturbing. There`s a real and bitter fervour in “Welcome To The Machine,” “Have A Cigar” and “Wish You Were Here.” As there was in “Gotta Be Crazy” and “Money.”
To say that his lyrics can sometimes be “obvious” is perhaps unfair. “Obvious” in terms of what?
“Umma Gumma” never was intended to be the serious enfant terrible of psychedelia. That was only the sum of the claims people made for it. So why shouldn`t Waters be “Obvious”? It`s very easy to end up panning a band for the nature of the claims made for it by The Fans.
However, the real question is whether Waters – if he really feels these things so strongly – is better deployed utilising the pop medium, possibly stirring millions of people`s imagination, or whether he should be out on the streets physically changing things.
Do you therefore bring about changes from infiltrating The System and working from within a context people will understand (at risk of being tainted by that system) or do you cut yourself loose and work from a practical guerilla basis?
The irony must surely be that the Pink Floyd are making money out of criticising the machine that makes them money.
Perhaps, as an artist, one`s role is simply to illuminate one`s realisations to the masses – it being up to them to decide whether or not to bring about changes.
But, on the other hand, if you stand in a position of influence and wealth…and if you really care…

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Paul McCartney, Robert Calvert, Carlos Santana, Alex Harvey, Jimi Hendrix, Maurice White, Cecil Taylor, Alan Longmuir (Bay City Rollers), Alice Cooper.

This edition is sold!

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ARTICLE ABOUT Pink Floyd FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 11, 1975

This is an article following up on an earlier article where NME critisised David Gilmour`s unwashed hair of all things! The original article was also printed on this site earlier, so you may like to read that one first to get the whole story.
Enjoy.

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A short while ago Pink Floyd, darlings of the intelligentsia, the stereo-minded and lots of others besides, were victims of two NME hitmen – Benedicto Nicolini (a.k.a. Nicky the K) and Sneeky Pete Erskine, who stabbed Floyd viciously in the hair, the musical integrity and in the dry ice. An inquest took place this week

Dirty Hair Denied

There`s no dandruff on this band, claims guitarist Dave Gilmour (no split ends either) before delivering key evidence as to the merits and defects of Pink Floyd, defending their music, and denying all rumours that they were killed in the attack.
Interview: Pete Erskine.

“Hi Dave, have you washed your hair?”
“No.” Gilmour flashes a thin-lipped grin as he takes his seat, “and if he can find any split ends in here (lifting clump of  hair) then…”
“Then what, DAVE?”

But he’s already scanning the menu and doesn’t hear. His free hand, however, is worrying over a plastic tea spoon. Unconsciously, he gradually crushes it, letting the pieces slip through his fingers and fall onto the tabletop. Gilmour is nothing if not self-controlled. Placid, even. But not quite.
His anger is of the sullen, smouldering variety and yet, the weird thing is that even during such moments he’ll often make way for a broad smile which can be utterly disarming because it might, just might, be a harbinger of doom, the herald for a personal close-up of one of the robust Gilmour flails. Although I can’t imagine it ever happening.
He is angry, though. He told me so on the `phone a couple of minutes after he’d read the piece.
“I’ve just read the piece,” he said, “and I’m very angry about it.”

The ‘piece’ in question – an action replay for those who missed it – appeared in the 23/11/74 NME issue, written by myself and Mr. Kent in direct response to our witnessing the Floyd on the first two nights of their four-day residency at Wembley. I’m afraid we were a little rude about them.
Mr. Kent wrote an extended review cum critique, and I, through the back door, managed to secure an audience with Gilmour in which I confronted him with the accusations to be aired in the piece. The overall intention, see, had been, in the words of the introductory blurb, “to get Floyd back into perspective”, a sentiment which Gilmour himself says he thoroughly condones. It was the approach that riled him.
Ultimately the phone call resulted in myself inviting Gilmour for lunch – partly as a placatory gesture, partly to prove that the forementioned Kent and myself could, and would, stand by what’d been written and mainly because a re-match might prove to be interesting.

The axis of the criticism in the piece lay upon the fact (self-confessed by Gilmour) that on two consecutive nights the Pink Floyd made music of such low quality that it cast rather anvil-like aspersions on (a) their motivations (b) their overall musicianship (c) the feeling engendered by them in their audiences (both short and long term) and admirers – one of whom, Sunday Times critic Derek Jewell, pulled out some florid prose in an appraisal of the debut Thursday night gig (described subsequently by Gilmour as `probably the worst we’ve done on the whole tour`).
Jewell wrote: “Richly they merit their place among the symphonic overlords of today’s popular hierarchy…they reeled off, apparently effortlessly, a performance with musical textures so ravishing and visual accompaniment so surprising that, for once, the thunderous standing ovation was completely justified.”
Such bland acceptance irritates the band, says Gilmour, equally, if not more so than its denigrators.

“I don’t think anyone on our level feels deserving of that kind of superhuman adulation number,” he claims, hacking at a piece of steak.
“But then a lot of them probably dig it. Sure, I’m cynical of our position. I don’t think we deserve it. But I’m no more cynical of our position than I am of anyone else’s on our level. I mean…to try and maintain your own perspective on what you are is totally different.”
The lyrics of “Gotta Be Crazy” – as Nick Kent pointed out – reveal a very great deal of cynicism, particularly the line “gotta keep people buying this shit” which is tantamount to a sneer at the audience.
” Mmm. Yeah. It is possibly a sneer…but not at the audience as a whole, but at the type of adulation bands like us get. I mean I think there is something wrong with that…people needing hero figures like that, thinking that rock musicians have all the answers.”
But don’t you think that while not really being responsible for that element, the fact that it hasn’t been challenged means that bands like the Floyd, through neglect, are helping compound it?

“Yes. Probably. But I think we’re less guilty than most. I mean, we’ve made conscious attempts at fighting it.”
Such as?
“In things we’ve said in interviews and things like that. We’ve always said that we don’t believe in that whole number, but it’s very hard to get away from the image people put on you.”
How large a proportion of record buyers and concert-goers buy music papers though? A question I did in fact neglect to add. Still seems a bit lame though, eh? One would’ve thought that a couple of really finely honed satires would at least help… but then, really, how concerned are bands about these kinds of things? Motives schmotives. It helps sell records. And you don’t gnaw the digits that feed you.
Anyway, we’re messing around here. To the specifics. Gilmour is raking through the apposite issue as he eats. He’s inclined towards the John Peel reaction (thinly disguised in his mildly self-congratulatory Diary of the Domestic unfolded each week in Sounds) that the piece was ‘hysterical’, overly-personal and laced with supposed inaccuracies.
The first 11 of Kent’s opening paragraphs make Gilmour particularly mad. He claims that description of his personal appearance and that of a member of the audience (and his attitudes) is totally superfluous.

The offending words ran thus: “On November 14, 1974, approximately 7,000 people washed their hair and travelled down to the Empire Pool, Wembley, to witness the Pink Floyd live. Almost everyone, that is, except Dave Gilmour – his hair looked filthy there on stage, seemingly anchored down by a surfeit of scalp grease and tapering off below the shoulders with a spectacular festooning of split ends….”
This led on to a description of a Floyd look-alike in the audience, who is held up as a Floyd fan archetype who smokes dope, prattles on about the cosmos and gets off on the stereo production quirks inherent in all Floyd albums.
“I don’t see any of it being in any way relevant,” says Gilmour in that sullen/placid tone of voice that could be either. Or both. “So there’s a guy like that in the audience. So what? There were probably others like him, but you find people like that at any concert – but then Kent probably set out to find one and he did.”
I assure him that our approach was in no way premeditated. There was no question of a pre-planned axe-job on anyone’s part.

‘Well, I just don’t believe it of Nick Kent. I really don’t. He’s still involved with Syd Barrett and the whole 1967 thing. I don’t even know if he ever saw the Floyd with Syd.’
“He goes on about Syd too much and yet, as far as I can see, there’s no relevance in talking about Syd in reviewing one of our concerts.”
But one of the new songs is about him.
“Yes, but that’s all. In the beginning the songs were all his and they were brilliant. No one disputes that. But I don’t think the actual sound of the whole band stems from Syd. I think it stems just as much from Rick (Wright). I mean, Syd’s thing was short songs.”
As for hair-washing. Well, the subject got short shrift. I think, though, that dressing especially for a gig is something that Gilmour subconsciously associates with ‘showbusiness’ – about which more later. Meanwhile in subsequent conversation with Carlena Williams, one of the Blackberries, the two black back-up chicks they hired for the tour, Carlena expressed delight at the opening paras.

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“Sheeut!” she observed daintily, “When ah saw that bit about Dave’s hair ah jus’ cracked up. Ah had t’read it y’know?”
Back to Syd.
“The band just before Syd departed had got into a totally impossible situation. No one wanted to book them. After the success of the summer of ’67 the band sank like a stone; the gigs they were doing at the time were all empty because they were so bad. The only way out was to get rid of Syd, so they asked me to join and got rid of Syd…”
This, by the way, is also Gilmour’s comeback to my assertion that:
“It’s almost as if the Floyd, having loafed about half-seriously as the Architectural Abdabs [sic], garnered their personae from Barrett and, when he dropped out, for want of anything better to do, clung on to the momentum he provided.”
Says Gilmour: “By the time Syd left the ball had definitely stopped rolling. We had to start it all over again. `Saucerful of Secrets,` the first album without him, was the start back on the road to some kind of return. It was the album we began building from. The whole conception of `Saucerful of Secrets` has nothing to do with what Syd believed in or liked. We continued playing some of his songs because none of us was getting good enough material fast enough to be able to do without them.

“Which also, therefore, meant that I had to fit in with his style to an extent because his songs were so rigidly structured around it.
“Oh. And by the way, the band, when I joined, never ever said, `Play like Syd Barrett.` That was the very last thing they wanted!”
This had been part of a quote I’d happened across while writing up the original interview. It came courtesy of former Floyd manager Pete Jenner. It had appeared as part of M. Kent’s epic Syd Barrett piece last March and, to my knowledge, hadn’t been contested then. I presumed it to be accurate.
Another part of the same quote had claimed that Syd’s guitar technique of using slide and echo boxes was of his own invention. My quote had been: “The familiar slide and echo-boxes were purely of Syd’s invention” which, in retrospect was, perhaps, a bit strong. Gilmour, anyway, hotly denies this.

“Why didn’t you ask me about things like that during the interview?” he asks righteously indignant.”The facts of the matter are that I was using an echo-box years before Syd was. I also used slide. I also taught Syd quite a lot about guitar. I mean, people saying that I pinched his style when our backgrounds are so similar…yet we spent a lot of time together as teenagers listening to the same music. Our influences are probably pretty much the same – and I was a couple of streets ahead of him at the time and was teaching him to play Stones riffs every lunchtime for a year at technical college. That kind of thing’s bound to get my back up – especially if you don’t check it.”
“I don’t want to go into print saying that I taught Syd Barrett everything he knows, ‘cos it’s patently untrue, but there are one or two things in Syd’s style that I know came from me.”
In the original, I had prefaced these suggestions by intimating that as a guitarist Gilmour appears to lack any immediately identifiable personality. The word I used was ‘malleable’. He says he actually feels that such a word applied to his style(s) is a compliment. Most guitarists, he claims, are pretty narrow-minded, restricting their possible range of operations. In that case, he could be accused of spreading himself too thinly – i.e., capable of most things, but not particularly outstanding at any one thing. Or is that the way he’s intended it?

“No. But I work within my limitations. But then, whether I’m a good or bad guitarist isn’t really relevant. I mean, I try my damnedest to do my best, although certainly for the first half of the tour I was, well – rusty. I hadn’t played for a long time and my fingers were really stiff. But also I would say that I got very good by the time we were halfway through.”
And the accusation that from where you all stand it’s impossible for you to relate any more to the thoughts of the average punter?
“If you’re referring to that bit which says something about our `desperately bourgeois existances`?”…(The original quote – Kent`s – runs, “I can`t think of another rock group who live a more desperately bourgeois existence in the privacy of their own homes”.)
Well, I mean, how do you or he know how we live our lives? Apart from you – marginally – about me? Do you? Does Nick?He hasn’t been to any of our houses. He’s got absolutely no idea of how I spend my life apart from what you might have told him – and you don’t know how the others live. Do you think my life is so desperately bourgeois?
My house is not particularly grand. Have you seen Roger’s house? He lives in a five-grand terraced house in Islington. So I really can’t see how Kent can sit there and say things like that. He’s no idea of what he’s talking about.”

He does admit to a kind of laziness in the band, though. He’s also realistic about their individual instrumental prowess.
“In terms of musical virtuosity we’re really not anywhere I think; individual musicianship is well below par.”
And no, they’re not ‘bereft of ideas’ – just resting. And worrying about a follow-up to “Dark Side” which has, he claims,”trapped us creatively”. In passing, he says the lyrics are obvious intentionally.
“We tried to make them as simple and direct as possible and yet, as we were writing them, we knew they’d be misunderstood. We still get people coming up to us who think that `Money – it’s a gas` is a direct and literal statement that `we like money`.”
The point – a good one I thought – about the appeal of Floyd (and similar bands) being in some way associated with the rapid sophistication in stereo equipment is tossed out entirely.
“Six years ago,” says Gilmour impatiently, “we still sold albums and yet hardly anyone in this country had a stereo. It was all Dansettes then…”
And yet, from casual random sampling of friends with Floyd albums, invariably the first thing said is, ‘Oh, such and such track sounds great on my stereo.’ Surely this is a case of packaging to some extent taking priority over contents?
“No. That’s ridiculous. I suppose the same criticism would then apply to Stevie Wonder records?”

Well, as it happens… To Kent’s rather brilliant summing-up. The para. which starts, “OK boys, now this is really going to hurt”. If I may remind you: “What the two Floyd shows amounted to in the final analysis was not merely a kind of utterly morose laziness which is ultimately even more obnoxious than callow superstar “flash”, but a pallid excuse for creative music which comes dangerously close to the Orwellian mean for a facile, soulless music that would doubtless rule the air-waves and moreover be touted as fine art in the latter’s vision of 1984.”
“I mean,” he continued, “one can easily envisage a Floyd concert in the future consisting of the band simply wandering on stage, setting all their tapes into action, putting their instruments on remote control and then walking off behind the amps in order to talk about football or play billiards.”
“Personally,” Gilmour states stoically, “I don’t believe any of that rubbish about 1984.”
I really do.
“But I mean what difference is there between our sort of music and anyone else’s, apart from the fact that maybe most of the other bands just play music for the body? And they’re hardly progressive at all. Not that I think we’re wildly progressive either.”

But at it’s worst, a stage show like the Floyd’s only dulls an audience’s sensibilities even to the extent of sending them to sleep. Nothing is left for them to project their imagination into – it’s the difference between the holding power of a radio play and a TV play. And in any case, how does it feel to be part of a show where the audience doesn’t even give you a ripple for a good solo, yet applauds a bucket of dry ice every time?
“Yeah. That’s all part of the dramatic effect, isn’t it?”
And that’s a lame comeback.
“We went through a period where we blew out our entire light show for two years and there was no real difference. I personally know for a fact that it wouldn’t make any difference if we did it again. We’ve never been hyped. There’s been no great publicity campaign. It’s built up purely on the strength of gigs.
I don’t think we’re remotely close to that thing about tapes, do you?”

On the strength of the Wembley things, yes. You looked bored and dispirited.
“Not bored. Definitely dispirited. It gets very depressing when you’re fighting against odds like dud equipment. Energy soon flags. We weren’t pleased to do an encore because we didn’t deserve it.
“Why didn’t they say so, then? You know, don the olde showbiz Batcape?
“I’m not interested in disguising my feelings on stage with showbiz devices. I’ve seen hundreds of bands do that. Does anybody respect them? From what he writes, Nick Kent seems to believe in it all – the old thing of The Show Must Go On, Never Let The Public See Your Feelings and things like that.”
Wouldn’t the discipline of forcing just a little of that attitude on yourselves help in situations like that?
“No. When I’m standing there I’m conscious of trying to give the most I can,” sez Gilmour emphatically. “And I don’t need to have clean hair for that.”

I hate snakes, but this was quite an creative ad.  Never heard of the band.

I hate snakes, but this was quite an creative ad. Never heard of the band.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ace, Wally, Argent, Jan and Dean, Joni Mitchell, King Crimson, The Art Ensemble of Chicago.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Pink Floyd FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, November 23, 1974

I think this may be the longest transcription of an article that I have ever done. But it is from a great period of time from a great band. The journalist is not very positive at all to the new songs – I am sure that he later must have corrected himself for calling “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” a dull song, as it is one of the greatest songs ever recorded, well, at least in my opinion. Have a good read!

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“Richly they merit their place among the symphonic overlords of today`s popular heirachy,” wrote Derek Jewell in the Sunday Times. “At Thursday`s opening they reeled off, apparently effortlessly, a performance with musical textures so ravishing and visual accompaniments so surprising that, for once, the thunderous standing ovation was completely justified.”

So how do you argue with that (and with more than 30,000 apparently satisfied customers)? Answer: you don`t. Not unless you`re looking for trouble – or feel, as did Nick Kent and Pete Erskine, a fair amount of anger and bitter disillusion concerning “symphonic overlords” and “ravishing musical textures” when it`s clear and admitted by FLOYD`S Dave Gilmour that Wembley was plainly a bad gig. On this showing, say our men, it`s time to get the Floyd back in perspective. Nick Kent, at Wembley, and Pete Erskine, talking to DAVE GILMOUR, attempt to do just that.

FLOYD JUGGERNAUT…THE ROAD TO 1984?

On November 14, 1974, approximately 7,000 people washed their hair and traveled down to the Empire Pool, Wembley, to witness the Pink Floyd live. Almost everyone, that is, except David Gilmour – his hair looked filthy there on stage, seemingly anchored down by a surfeit of scalp grease and tapering off below the shoulders with a spectacular festooning of split ends.
Rather like Bill’s locks, in fact.
Bill was sitting next to me throughout the concert y’see. Said he came from Hayward’s Heath, Sussex – and well, anyway he did have something of the patent Gilmour style about him: stringy unwashed hair parted in the middle and furrowed behind the ears, an earnest compliment of peach-fuzz masquerading as facial hair, plimsolls – the lot, in fact, even though his face lacked Gilmour’s bully-boy well-formed features, substituting a kind of bleary-eyed doggedness which wrinkled up every time he took a blast off one of a constant series of “cool jays”.
“Good stuff, this,” Bill muttered. “We get it from this spade guy down in Brighton. Straight off the boat it comes.”

Bill said he didn’t go much on any other kinds of stimulant.
He also didn’t like too much music. Said it almost boastfully. Only a few albums. And the Floyd of course. “I’ve got a good stereo, mind. Big speakers.”
So what does he do with it?
“I’ll tell you. I mean I like to get really, y’know really stoned – spaced, y’know, and I put on me Floyd…ah, `Meddle` or `Dark Side of the Moon` – that track `Great Gig in the Sky`, and I’m laying there between the speakers really spaced, getting off on the stereo crossovers.”
Stereo crossovers?
“Yeah, y’know, when the sound goes from channel to channel. Phasing and that. Those are the bits I like best.”
Bill’s girlfriend “Jiff” thinks the Pink Floyd are the best group in the whole world. “They’re taking music to this whole new level. It’s really…”
Cosmic?
“Yes, that’s just what I was going to say.”

“One thing I’ve always taken into consideration, and which sums up, for me anyway, the fundamental personality crisis inherent in the old Floyd is that Syd (Barrett) was an artist and the other three were all student architects. I think that says an awful lot, particularly when you study the kind of music the Floyd have gone on to play since that time.”
That quote came courtesy Peter Jenner, who confided the same to me some months ago. I’d almost forgotten it until about halfway through the Floyd’s Wembley set, straight after the three new numbers had been performed.
At 7.55 p.m. I’d entered the Empire Pool toting healthy expectations for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of entertainment at the very least, already.
At 10.45 p.m. I left the same hall possibly more infuriated over what I’d just witnessed than I can ever remember being over any other similar event. Angry and rather depressed.
It was hell. But let’s begin at the beginning.

At 8.20 p.m. or thereabouts the four members of Floyd saunter onstage. It is not a spectacular entrance. In fact they wander on rather like four navvies who’ve just finished their tea-break and are about to return slowly to the task of tarring a section of main road.
After approximately five minutes of slightly labored tuning up, the band start their first number of the set – a new composition entitled “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” It is very slow, rather low on melodic inventiveness, each note hanging in that archetypically ominous stunted fashion that tends to typify the Floyd at their most uninspired. The song itself is dully revealed to be of very slight mettle; the chords used are dull, as is the pace.
The song distinctly lacks ‘form’. And then there are the lyrics.
“Come on you raver, you seer of visions / Come on you painter, you piper, you prophet, and shine,” sings Roger Waters at one point, his voice mottled by a slightly squeamish, self-consciousness of timbre, not to mention the fact that he also appears at this point to be somewhat flat. The lyrics are not very good, you see. Pretty much like sixth form poetry – prissy, self-conscious and pretentious.

“You were caught in the cross-fire of childhood and stardom/Blown on the steel breeze/Come on, you target for far-away laughter/Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr and shine.”
The song is for and about Syd Barrett. He could have deserved better.
The thoroughly unimpressive beginning is duly followed by the second of the three new numbers to be showcased in this section. “Raving and Drooling” is motivated by a rhythm somewhat akin to that of the human heart-beat with further references gathered from numerous Floyd stylised devices.
Wright drags some suitably Moog-oriented “primal-screams” from one of a mighty arsenal of keyboard instruments, Waters manipulates a stolid simplistic bass-pattern, Mason plays one of the two or three standard rhythms he habitually employs -usually incorporating much emphasis on the tom-toms and cymbals – while Gilmour blithely chunks out a “One of These Days” rhythm stab on his guitar.

The song is again of incredibly minor import, Waters doing his whole “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” tormented horse -faced routine – “Raving and drooling I feel on his neck with a scream/He had a whole lotta terminal shock in his eyes/That’s what you get for pretending the rest are not real” etc., etc.
Pretty undistinguished stuff except for the fact that yours truly noted that the first line was wrenched out in much the same way that Barrett sang “Wolfpack” on his second solo album. Otherwise more identikit Floyd bereft of any real originality or inspired conceptualized connaissance.
So then there was “Gotta Be Crazy”, the magnum opus of this dubious triumvirate for which Waters had regurgitated the old “Dark Side of the Moon” study of society-and-its-destructive-pressures gruel to even more facile conclusions.

One could of course begin by pointing out that the song features a fairly decent melody – a fetching minor chord progression strummed out by Gilmour who also sings over it Waters’ lyrics – “You gotta be crazy, you gotta be mean/You gotta keep your kids and your car clean/You gotta keep climbing, you gotta keep fit/You got to keep smiling, you gotta eat shit!”
Boy, what an indictment on the whole bourgeois high-pressured schism of our time!
But then again, who better than the Floyd to commandeer such a grievous lambasting of the aforestated life-style when after all I can’t think of another rock-group who live a more desperately bourgeois existence in the privacy of their own homes.
And whaddyamean, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones… Waters hasn’t even begun yet! I mean, here he is concluding this mighty epic with a potent list of bland psychological causes for his hapless victim’s doomed condition – “Who was born in a house full of pain/Who was sent out to play on his own” – when only a few verses prior to this he avidly gloats over the poor bastard’s decline and fall – “And when you lose control, you’ll reap the harvest you have sown… So have a good drown and you’ll go down alone.”

There’s obviously something here that doesn’t, how you say, correlate. Not to mention a very perverse sense of morality at work.
So there are the lyrics – which I personally find quite offensive – and I still haven’t mentioned the song’s musical construction beyond that pleasing opening strum section which I forgot to mention sounded like the kind of chord structure the old Wyatt-Hopper-Ratledge Soft Machine used to do wonders with way back when.
Unfortunately, the Floyd, as always, let the song sprawl out to last twice as long as it should, summoning the aid of some of the most laboured bouts of aural padding imaginable. I mean, the very least one would expect from a song like this would be a tight, incisive structure, but then again incisiveness has never been something the post-Syd Floyd have prided themselves on, and so one has to wade through laboured sections of indolent musical driftwood before lo, the plot is resumed and one is sent careering back to our Roger’s bloated denunciation:

“Gotta be sure, you gotta be quick/Gotta divide the tame from the sick/Gotta keep some of us docile and fit/You gotta keep everyone buying this shit.”
“Buying this shit”???
Explain Mr. Waters, if you please. The song ends, as I stated earlier on, with a mildly potent “J’accuse” blast of postured psychological cause-and-effect ranting, leaving the audience with a 20 minute interval in order to gather themselves for a further assault.

The second half is, of course, taken up by the whole “Dark Side of the Moon” presentation. Visuals for the new numbers had been muted to a minimum: two sets of spotlights tastefully flanking the stage throughout, while three mirror-balls were put into operation during “Raving and Drooling”. But “Dark Side” was to be graced by the projection of a special film made as a visual complement to the music.
Again the Floyd light into the first section of the effort. More assured…but God, they look and sound so uninspired.
Wright’s solo Moog doodling signals the first reel of the film being unleashed on the audience – random shots of a plane taking off viewed from the cockpit, a garish cartoon segment of touch-down on an alien planet ending with a section of total incendiary destruction.
S’all right, mind you. Very obvious and that, but it keeps you engaged if not enthralled. It’s only when you’re informed by an intimate of the Floyd’s entourage that the likes of Lindsay Anderson and Nicholas Roeg – i.e. the best film directors in the country – were at the outset interested in helping out on the film until they actually came up against the Floyd and immediately made their excuses in order to opt out that it all starts to fall into perspective again.

It’s also around this time that you start realising how incredibly limited the band seem to be as musicians. As a rhythm section, Mason and Waters are perhaps the dullest I’ve ever witnessed filling a large auditorium, the former going through his tedious tricks most of the time, and falling apart at those unscripted junctures when the band are forced to involve themselves in attempts at spontaneity. (These junctures of course are very few and far between, due to the situation of the whole show being moulded around the constrictive dictates of the visual presentation which depends ultimately on stop-gap timing).
Waters is not a very imaginative bass player, and doesn’t improve things by incorporating a tone akin to the dull atonal thud one gets when hitting the strings of a piano with a rubber hammer.
Rick Wright is merely an adequate keyboard player, and always seems uncomfortable when forced to take action (at one point he attempted some gospel-tinged pianistics to complement the fine performance of Venetta Fields and Carlena Williams’ “Great Gig in the Sky” segment and muffed it badly).

This weakness creates numerous watersheds in the music which just scream for some inspired interjection, whether in the form of a Ratledge-styled piece of inspired doodling or even one of those quasi-Herbie Hancock soft-jazz flurries which every young dolt in an up-and-coming progressive unit seems perfectly adept at pulling off these days.
Wright really hasn’t improved that much since the old Floyd days; only the arsenal of keyboards has been added to.
Finally there’s Gilmour – who, although an adequate guitarist, projects little personality in his playing, well-doused as his solos are in the blues guitar school traditions.
Here again a lack of inspiration fails to perceive vast holes in the music which could so easily be cemented in by some tasteful rhythm work or a short-tight solo such as he is capable of.

So anyway the Floyd battle on with their films (more obvious footage of currency for “Money” plus some shots of “political leaders” for “Brain Damage” – is this a political statement, boys? – and their tapes and their perfect P.A. system, and the audience are loving it.
Those still awake, that is. Our Mr. Erskine was being flanked by somnambulant corpses on his side of the fence while I noticed a few bedraggled-looking souls dozing off in my corner.
Even our old mate Bill – remember him? – was rendered inert for some ten minutes until the applause for “Money” brought him around.
Finally the “Moon” set is completed and the band walk off to ecstatic applause. They eventually return for an encore – no “thank-yous” or anything…I mean that would be just too much to ask, now wouldn’t it, and the band do “Echoes”.

Visuals are now relegated to luminous green orbs of circular light projected on the big screen (they never seem to really be spinning properly), while towards the end the band’s ankles are engulfed in – wait for it! – “dry ice”.
The above constituted what could easily be the most boring concert I’ve ever been forced to sit through for review purposes. Mind you, the Floyds themselves were reportedly none too enamoured by the event either: apparently there was a nasty fight between the band after the set which culminated in a sound man being sacked and some guy from Island Studios being brought in at short notice to replace him.
Having been informed of this, we decided to curb the venom long enough to give the band a second chance and go back on the Friday night. This time the sound had indeed improved beyond all recognition and the first half went pretty smoothly until there arose some “contretemps” betwixt Roger Waters at his most morose and someone who dared yelled “Get on with it!” during yet more laboured tuning up in order to preface “Gotta be Crazy”.

“We’re going as fast as we can,” muttered Waters derisively, sounding amazed that this young upstart actually dare criticize them.
If that weren’t bad enough, someone yelped out, of all things, “1967,” straight afterwards.
This was too much for Waters. “It’s not 1967, it’s 1974,” he snapped back.
Anyway, Friday’s show still pinpointed how poor the band are at jamming or really sustaining either drama or dramatics, flailing around to little avail in their attempts to pad out what are at the best of times minor works. And the band’s musicianship was, as before, questionably mediocre.
OK, boys, now this is really going to hurt.

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What the two Floyd shows I witnessed on Thursday and Friday amounted to in the final analysis was not merely a kind of utterly morose laziness which is ultimately even more obnoxious than callow superstar “flash”, but a pallid excuse for creative music which comes dangerously close to the Orwellian mean for a facile, soulless music that would doubtless rule the air-waves and moreover be touted as fine art in the latter’s vision of 1984.
David Bowie, on his “Diamond Dogs”, unwittingly (as far as I can see, anyway) hit upon something which totally invalidates the rest of his similarly facile theorizing on a computerised cruel future planet when he plays, of all things, “Rebel Rebel”.
“Rebel Rebel”, you see, is the ultimate identikit diluted series of computerised rock gestures – the mechanical Stones riff, the brainless lyrics – real “1984” rock. The Pink Floyd are even closer to that though. Over the last few years the band have in fact come to establish themselves as the total antithesis of what they started out representing: the whole Brave New World school of rock musicianship which broke loose back in ’66-’67 and brought about real masterpieces like “Eight Miles High”, “Revolver” and “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”.

The Floyd in fact now seem so incredibly tired and seemingly bereft of true creative ideas one wonders if they really care about their music at all anymore.
I mean, one can easily envisage a Floyd concert in the future consisting of the band simply wandering on stage, setting all their tapes into action, putting their instruments on remote control and then walking off behind the amps in order to talk about football or play billiards.
I’d almost prefer to see them do that. At least it would be more honest.
Still, the Floyd can content themselves on one score. They are definitely the quintessential English band. No other combine quite sums up the rampant sense of doomed mediocrity inherent in this country’s current outlook right now. “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.” Just delete “quiet desperation” (Thoreau, for one, will be pleased) and choose your own depreciative little phrase as an amendment and we’ve got it all pigeonholed very nicely thank you, squire. And there’s absolutely nothing “cosmic” about any of it, really, now is there?

David Gilmour is almost by accident probably the most proficient musician in the Floyd – without, in terms of his guitar work, ever imposing any kind of “personality” on the group. Past history reveals his style and approach as being, to say the least, malleable.
Gilmour joined the band in `67 as replacement for Syd Barrett. They`d all known each other from the band`s embryonic Cambridge days. Prior to this Gilmour had been gigging in France and was, on his own admission, a fairly stock rock guitarist whose roots extended no further back than Hank Marvin.
“At the time,” reports the Floyd`s then co-manager, Pete Jenner, “Dave was doing very effective take-offs of Hendrix-style guitar playing. So the band said, `play like Syd Barrett`.”
The familiar slide and echo-boxes were purely of Syd`s invention.

Subsequently, in an interview conducted last year, Gilmour stated that his joining such an apparently disparate unit as the Floyd was in no way anything more than a minor wrench for him. Which is possibly why he finds it so easy to fit in with such other apparently disparate elements as Unicorn, Sutherland Brothers, Quiver and Roy Harper. Hence the term “malleability” may also imply (a) a lack of personality in musical style and therefore (b) a suspicion of an “it`s-only-a-gig” philosophy.
In a way, you could say that Gilmour was a geezer who struck lucky – which is why, I`ve always felt, he`s regarded the band – and his role within it – with a certain tinge of cynicism. It`s almost as if the Floyd, having loafed about half-seriously in the beginning as “The Architectural Abdabs” (sic), garnered their persona from Barrett and, when he dropped out, for want of anything better to do clung on to the momentum he provided. Until – in a manner of speaking – success crept up from behind and goosed them.
Sometime in between, of course, they must have realised, that they were On To A Good Thing.
The Floyd are nothing if not shrewd.

More, even, than Brian Eno, they`re well aware of the benefits of concocting a low-profile Emperor`s New Clothes` syndrome – which is why, I`d guess, Roger Waters makes no little show onstage of his apparent disdain for their audiences. And why, too (you`ll have noticed) that the band do few interviews and, when they do, try and avoid discussing the intrinsic grits of their music too much.
They like, you see, for you to make your own deductions – and with intellectual paranoia in the ascendant (possibly as a result of The Rise Of The Reefer) how can they fail?
Thus confronted, Gilmour`s attitude remains uniformly laissez-faire.
“Cynical?” he says querulously. “No. I mean, last night on stage I was just hung up. Because it wasn`t very good.”
At one point – the night before the Thursday gig – the first of their Wembley gigs – he`d raised his eyebrows as if to say, let`s pack it in and piss off home.”

BUT NOW it`s Friday morning and we`re camped down in the bedroom of his recently-renovated Notting Hill Town house.
Concert licks first, please Dave, how about the gaps between numbers – Roger stalling over lighting a cigarette with this “well-we-can-do-this-we`re-Artists” attitude?
“Oh yeah. But I don`t really think that`s what it`s down to. It`s just…ah…well, I dunno…Roger likes smoking cigarettes. He can`t get through a gig without a few straights.”
He is, however, more than willing to admit that Thursday night`s gig was “probably the worst we`ve done on the whole tour.”
“The first half…” he continues languidly “…when that wasn`t very good it didn`t particularly worry me because they`re all new things and we`re not doing them very well yet. But we have done them better than that. I thought the second half would click into place because it has done on a couple of other nights when the first half wasn`t good.”

The standard of musicianship was very low – for example Rick Wright`s solo on the end of “Us And Them” which didn`t approximate to the recorded version in any way.
Yes?
“In the first half…the sound wasn`t very good and the vocal mikes were pretty terrible – which makes it that much harder to sing and that much harder to work. And also it didn`t sound as if there was any bass and drums. Unless there`s a bit of that `ooomph` you can`t really get off…it was just one of those nights were you bumble around and don`t really get anything together. It sounded ragged all the way through.
“It doesn`t worry me particularly, it just happens sometimes. Just chemistry really, innit?
Mmmm.
Well, okay, was the audience`s response an accurate one, then?

“I think they enjoyed it reasonably – but I think a lot of people didn`t really think it was very good. There`s a difference between going home and thinking it was pretty good and going home and thinking `wow`. And I know we do get that pretty often. More nights than not I know that most of the people there are going to go home and say `what a groove!` I think they probably want to convince themselves that they DID have a groove just so that they don`t think they hit on a bad one…and wasted their money.”
Right. On to the Big Picture. The band has reached a level now – with “Moon” – where, inevitably, when you`re at a party, someone will put it on and everybody will say `Jeepers, THE FLOYD!` – almost as a conditioned reflex. i.e. whatever the-Floyd-do-is-hallowed. How do you feel about it?
“It`s a drag.”
It`s almost as if the band could put out a double album of Roger tuning his bass and it`d sell.

“I`m sure there would be people who`d react that way – but I`m sure sales figures would reflect a bad album in the end. But I don`t mean that 100 per cent. I`m sure that if we put out an album of pure tripe it would sell vastly more than lots and lots of other band`s records. But in relation to our sales, a bad record would sell badly. It has done in the past.”
What with?
“Well, `Atom Heart Mother`. I`d say that was the worst record we`ve made. I didn`t like it and I don`t like it much now. I`m not very keen on `Umma Gumma` either.”
Well, how about “Moon?” Did its musical content really merit its universal popularity – or was it the Floyd album that coincided with the peak of interest in the band?
`Quite possibly. You may be right. But it certainly was a very good all-round…uh…package. Everything about it was very well done. It was one continuous idea. It was recorded well, it was pretty well mixed, had a good cover and all that sort of stuff.

“But I`ve always felt, right from the word Go, that the musical side of it wasn`t that hot in some parts. And I still feel that. Some parts are a bit weak. We`d have a lyrical idea but no real idea of a musical piece to put to it, so we`d just make something up and take the first thing that came – rather than being critical about the musical side as it was being done. But then some of those bits got knocked out during the months we were playing it onstage before we recorded it. The original travel section we played for months onstage and even recorded it before deciding to scrap it and start again.”
Yes. But getting back to this bland acceptance thing…surely the band is to blame? Onstage the music is almost moving towards a kind of Automaton Rock, towards a kind of non-participatory non-thinking music – where all the audience has to do is walk in, sit down and watch it all exploding in front of them. In terms of presentation you could be getting to the point where you walk on stage, throw a few switches and walk out. Will it come to that?

“Oh I don`t think so, no. I don`t think that the audience have a very great participation in what we do but I don`t think that`s a bad thing necessarily.”
Don`t you think it promotes Bland Acceptance?
“No. Listen,” he says (perhaps beginning to get a little riled), “we still have to get off. I mean YOU know what the difference is between a good gig and a bad gig. And it`s not mechanical. We`re quite capable of blowing a gig and we`re also capable of doing a great gig.”
But in the main it tends to glut the listener`s faculties, promoting a glazed `okay feed-it-to-me` attitude (which, taken to its fullest extent, I might add, is positively somnambulist. I personally noted four people sound asleep in my row.
“You think so?” he replies (perhaps stalling a little). “I think it`s up to them. I think they`re free to take it any way they want. A lot of people don`t though. We had someone the other night who must`ve known that we`re football fans who was shouting `cyyyyomon you Floyd!!!` just like they do on the North Bank.”

The new material sounded a bit recycled – like some of the more tangible stuff on “Moon”. Does that mean you`re having trouble sorting out new ideas?
“Umm, yeah. I don`t know…uh…`Raving And Drooling` – the middle one of the three – sounds a bit recycled to me, but they`re not there yet. I`m not very keen on that one at the moment…but, I dunno, these things get worked into shape. I know that one or two of them are gonna sound great recorded. I think the last one, `Gotta Be Crazy` is very different to a lot of stuff we`ve done, but I don`t think the words go right at the moment.
“I mean, the singing thing`s been worked out a bit too quickly. Roger wrote the words to fit over a certain part and I`m not sure that we did it quite the right way.”
But how can you equate doing something like “Gotta Be Crazy” – or “Money”, even – from the relatively secure position you`re in as a band?

“Well, `Money` is obviously a satire on…money. And it is a self-satire. Obviously. It`s easy to tell that because a lot of the lyrics relate specifically to things that various of us have done, but I mean, I don`t think we`re as capitalist as…I think it mocks us, the song says that we`re more than we are, in fact. It just keeps us aware of it all.
“You Gotta Be Crazy` is about business pressure really. It does relate to us – I`m sure – you`ll have to ask Roger really, he wrote it. The way I understand the words is that I guess you have to harden yourself up to – uh – you know Make It in this world…if that`s what you call Making It…”
The other thing about the new material is that it sounds “safe”. It`s years since the band`s taken any musical risks which, for a group that claims its main appeal is that it “sounds different” from any other, is a little incongruous.
“Ah well,” replies Mr. G. “I think that`s all down to what you want to do. I mean, I certainly don`t WANT to do a lot of things we did earlier on. I`m just interested in actually writing music and getting the music done that we do.”
Ahem.

“…You know I think that everyone`s interests have gone more towards that sort of thing rather than some of the old rubbish that we used to do. Although it was good fun.
“But I dunno, I don`t think anyone`s got any great interest in it now. You can`t do that sort of thing for ever. Like there are lots of things we used to do. Like we used to do an encore where we`d just go on and not decide what we were going to do until we`d started…”
How long ago was that?
“Oh, four years ago, at least. But I don`t really want to go through that thing of doing five loads of rubbish and just once getting something that`s pretty good and new. Or getting a half-hour number with about three minutes of worthwhile music in it.”
But don`t you think that if you`d have kept on progressing from the original improvising basis that by now you could`ve achieved a personal empathy that would alleviate most of those duff patches?
“I don`t know. I really don`t know…I`ve just got memories of standing onstage farting about, plonking away on stuff and feeling terribly embarassed for long periods of time – and looking across at everyone else realising that they were all obviously feeling the same way.
“Maybe guaranteeing that what you play is something that you`ll enjoy is `playing safe.` But I don`t think we`ve got an intentional play-safe policy.”

A cool ad from the paper!

A cool ad from the paper!

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Stacia (Hawkwind), Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, Pilot, David Essex, Queen, Deke Leonard (Man), Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Savile, Herbie Hancock, Kevin Coyne.

This edition is sold!

ARTICLE ABOUT Pink Floyd FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, MAY 19, 1973

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

Here is an interview with the guitarist of one of the most popular bands in the world ever. Have a nice read!

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A walk on the dark side…
Dave Gilmour looks back at the Floyd record career

By Tony Tyler

“Don`t take any pictures of me outside the house”, says David Gilmour, making a quick, impatient gesture like brushing away flies. “I can`t stand the pop-star-in-his-country-house syndrome.”
Sure David, but in the broadest sense you are a pop star. And when you`re the guitarist for famous, bestselling Pink Floyd, and you`ve made as many decent albums as Pink Floyd have, and you`ve gone the whole route long ago, and you`ve still got your wits about you, and the money keeps rolling in, what else is there to spend the bread on?
And it has to be said that Dave Gilmour`s spent his allotted share of the Floyd takings in a manner befitting one of the most tasteful bands of our time. His Essex mock-Tudor residence positively screams good taste – the real sort, not Ghastly Good Taste – and is conspicuous for its lack of middle-class accoutrements.
All rooms are in that happy state of disarray that comes from a relaxed lifestyle, the world is fenced out by a high hedge and the BMW in the garage and the swimming pool out back give off identical expensive glints.

Gilmour, wearing a T-shirt that says “Didn`t they do well” in sewn-on white letters, is lounging in a rocking-chair in front of a gorgeous, ornate, teak altar-screen that just radiates antiquity.
This morning though, despite the surrounding comforts and the presence of his lady at his side to succour him, the Floyd guitarist is in a somewhat fragile state, having visited the Marquee the previous evening (in the company of Roger Waters) to catch Roy Buchanan`s set.
He`s a little tired and he may, or may not, have been a little inebriated the night before – he can`t quite remember. Anyway, it isn`t important because this is the first interview he`s done for ages and neither of us can quite remember the procedure and there`s a lot to get through before lunchtime ennui sets in.

First off, David, congratulations on finally attaining the exalted No. 1 spot in the States with “Dark Side of the Moon”. A slow smile spreads across the Gilmour face.
“Yes, it is nice isn`t it? We`ve never really been above fortieth position before – but, even so, we`re still selling more albums there than we would in the English charts.”
He`s reluctant to be pinned down as to why this should suddenly happen, after five years of being a cult band in America. (I suppose we`ve always had this sort of underground image over there”), and he`s even more reluctant to define what Floyd`s appeal is in the States, or even what type of audiences the group attract. In fact, he doesn`t seem particularly interested in anything, taking the whole process with a combination of affable ennui and the tiniest hint of indifference.
“I don`t think it`ll make any change – I mean, we`ve never had any problem selling out even the largest halls and I don`t really see how that can change. We can still sell out the Santa Monica Civic two nights in succession and I`m not sure that the album will make any difference to that”.

Nonetheless, one is aware that perhaps the success of “Dark Side” took the band a little by surprise, as no tour has been planned to actually coincide with the peaking of the album. Though they are off again in June. Anyway…
Tea arrives and conversation briefly returns to the Marquee, where Gilmour had been spotted a couple of weeks ago. He seems to be a regular denizen. “In fact, I was down there that night to see Quiver.”
Gilmour was, at one time, a member of a group which included one of the present Quiver lineup, and Gilmour takes an interest in the group`s progress.

An interesting sidelight is his reference to Floyd as – “this band – I`ve been five years in this band” – as if he expected Floyd to finish tomorrow; and then you realise that he`s first and foremost a musician and the lead guitar chair in Pink Floyd is just another gig.
Floyd may one day disappear but Gilmour intends to keep right on playing…

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Back to “Dark Side”, and I advance the hypothesis that the album shows a marked return to solid purpose that, for me, had been somewhat lacking in Floyd`s last three or so albums, good though they`ve been individually. Gilmour ponders this.
“I suppose so. Certainly there`s a sort of theme running through it which we haven`t really done for a long time. There`s two opinions about this in the group – half of us wanted to play a thematic piece, the other half wanted to play a collection of songs.”
Which half did he belong to? A reappearance of the slow smile. “I didn`t object, anyway.
“It`s basically Roger`s idea. We`d all written songs beforehand, and then Roger got the theme and the words together.”
I point out that, for the first time, the band have considered album lyrics important enough to print on the sleeve. “Yes, I generally don`t like sleeve lyrics”. End of subject.

The theme behind “Dark Side” is, of course, the various pressures that can drive one mad – “pressures directed at people like us, like `Money`, `Travel`, and so on”.
I remark that the piece has changed markedly since I saw it premiered at the Rainbow in 1972. Gilmour agrees, mentioning that the entire show had been on the road for about six months before the group took the project into the studio.
“Normally, we go into the studio, often without any concrete ideas, and allow the circumstances to dictate the music”.
Sometimes, though, this results in filler tracks (for example, the jokey sides on “Ummagumma” and “Atom Heart Mother”) and besides, isn`t it an expensive way to record? “No. We don`t pay. EMI do”.

Another marked feature of the album is Gilmour`s own blossoming into a tough, bluesy player – especially on “Money”, which features several verses of really hard, spectacular licks.
Gilmour shrugs this off modestly, although Ginger, his lady, chimes in with her agreement that it represents Gilmour at his best. He thinks some of his playing on “Obscured By Clouds” is better, but concedes that “Money” was designed as a basically guitar track.
Other features from “Dark Side`s” live performance are also missing – noticeably the taped finale which uses extracts from the Collected Rantings of Malcolm Muggeridge. “Yes. Well, you didn`t really expect we`d get his permission, did you?”

He confesses that he never really listens to Floyd albums, and he`s reluctant to assess them in retrospect – but I detect a leaning towards “Obscured by Clouds”, which he has been known to direct into the garden on a summer`s day.
Others? Well, he likes some of the tracks on “Saucerful of Secrets”, mainly the title track and “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”.
“Atom Heart Mother” he admits to have been an experiment, not a new direction, and he would record it completely differently now, had he the chance or the inclination.
“The trouble was, we recorded the group first and put the brass and the choir on afterwards. Now, I think I`d do the whole thing in one take. I feel that some of the rhythms don`t work and some of the syncopations aren`t quite right.”

Another period which Floyd dabbled in, but which didn`t really communicate itself to our ears via concrete Floyd music, was their flirtation with the French avant-garde and with ballet.
“In fact, we did that ballet for a whole week in France. Roland Petit choreographed it to some of our older material… but it`s too restricting for us. I mean, I can`t play and count bars at the same time. We had to have someone sitting on stage with a piece of paper telling us what bar we were playing…
“We also did the music for `More`. We hadn`t done film scores before, – but they offered us lots of money. We wrote the whole thing in eight days from start to finish.
“We did `Zabriskie Point` for Antonioni, and in fact we wrote much more than he eventually used. I feel, even now, that it would have been better if he`d used most of what we`d written.”

I put it to Gilmour that these wanderings from the band`s direct line of progression have been received by fans with disappointment.
He gets a little heated. “That`s the trouble – you can`t really break out of the progression-from-your-last-LP rut. People`s minds are set to expect something and if you don`t provide it, well…”

Many Floyd aficionados still feel that “Ummagumma” was the group`s high point. Gilmour disagrees. “For me, it was just an experiment. I think it was badly recorded – the studio side could have been done better. “We`re thinking of doing it again”.
But we don`t have time to explore the meaning behind that because now it`s time for Gilmour to show off his music room and, for the first time since this interview began, he comes to life.

Earlier, he`d told us that his opinion of the Music Press was that it was, well, irrelevant to Pink Floyd (“we don`t really need the Music Press and they don`t really need us”) and his attitude during the interview had been one of mild amusement coupled with disbelief at the workings of the journalistic mind.
But when we cross the carpet and enter the little room full of electronic equipment, he becomes a New Man.
Most private music rooms I`ve seen have been sterile, formal places, not, in my opinion, suited vibewise to the creative process – but Gilmour`s is lived-in and it works.

The usual tape recorders and eight-track stuff are there but there`s also a drumkit (Nick Mason`s? “No, mine”), about 12 guitars, ranging from a Strat through a `59 Les Paul Custom to a Les Paul Junior hanging on the wall, a Les Paul-type electric guitar (“custom-made, naturally”) and a beautiful classical guitar (“custom-made, naturally”).
But pride of place goes to the newest toy, a special synthesizer made by EMS (who make the VCS3) which, Gilmour assures us, is not on the market and never will be.
He plugs in the Strat and this device, rather like a plastic pulpit with pedals mounted underneath, gives off some of the most incredible sounds we`ve ever heard. And that includes every Pink Floyd album.
There`s a fader that lowers the note an octave, a whining fuzz device which couples into that, and, most uncanny of all, a phase “Itchycoo Park”-type effect that resembles a Phantom doing a ground strike somewhere in South East Asia.
Believers, you`re in for some hair-raising sounds when Gilmour gets this weapon on the road, as he says he intends to.

Looking at David Gilmour as he coaxes these apocalyptic noises from his guitar, one can see why he and the rest of Pink Floyd feel remote from the workings of the music business.
Gilmour in our interview never really came to life because he hasn`t any stake in successful musicbiz rapport with the Press – but he`s said more about Pink Floyd in 30 seconds of divebombing with the Strat and the Synthi HiFli than all the interviews in the world would ever do. And, really, isn`t that what it`s all about?

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A real nice ad in tnis NME for the newest album by Suzi Quatro. Can you spot the album`s name?

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Roy Buchanan, Golden Earring, Linda McCartney, Alice Cooper, Faces, Strawbs, David Bowie, Hatfield and the North, Jack The Lad, John Surman.

This edition is sold!

ARTICLE ABOUT Pink Floyd FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, FEBRUARY 19, 1972

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog. If you really like this sort of thing – follow my blog! Thank you!

This is part two of a lengthy interview with Nick Mason. Pink Floyd has been a massive part of the lives of at least two or three generations, directly or indirectly. You just can`t ignore their large impact, from the times of psychedelia and the sad story of Syd Barrett, to the ending of the cold war and their masterpiece “The Wall” that for many people symbolizes this new world we live in. So among many other fine artists in this number, I chose to print this – hope you like it!

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Floyd – Simple but not banal
Continuing Tony Stewart`s talk-in with Floyd`s Nick Mason

Last week, Nick Mason talked at length about the evolution of Pink Floyd up to the “Atom Heart Mother” stage. The policy of the band has never been formulated, and from wanting to be rock and roll stars, things just somehow happened, and Floyd established themselves as Britain`s most creative band.
This week Mason talks of one of their new ventures, a ballet, the barriers to overcome in France, but more important one of the most sophisticated, and revolutionary sound systems in the world. Their equipment has given them confidence to play better and more technically.

Could you tell me how the equipment side developed through to it`s present form?

The same way as with everything else, by a gradual process of acquiring an enormous quantity of gear. One is desperate to have good sounds, like most bands.
In the first place it became a matter of getting enough equipment to be able to drive everything, but not to it`s limit.
It`s almost impossible to describe how it came about because it`s a process of an increasing interest in the sound that`s put out, coupled with an increasing awareness of how to achieve it.
Today there`s nothing really new in the system. It`s basically a mixing desk which is taken out into the hall so that it gets a true balance.
At the moment the thing is to try and make the whole system extremely compact, and versatile, so that organ, guitar, vocals or drums or anything can be put through the system and everything goes out via the mixing desk and can be switched through quadrophonic or stereo or double track.
It`s enormously expensive and time consuming to get involved in it. The Who have been heavily involved in mixing and finding methods of mixing. They started ahead of us and they`re still struggling.
I know they were having their desk built by the same people who did ours but it`s difficult, and they`ve got a much bigger problem than we have, because they`ve got a much more powerful sound to organise. If bands of that calibre get hung up then it`s obviously quite difficult.

You said that “AHM” was something that you did as an exercise but i thought “Echoes” on the new album did a similar thing but without the brass and choir.

Yes. I think there are similarities between “AHM” and “Meddle”. I don`t think we could have done “Meddle” without doing “AHM”.

“AHM”, with the use of brass and choir, suggested that you didn`t want to do it all on your own. Then with “Meddle” you did everything on your own, though the constructions were similar.

You`re obviously right about the construction. There are various things that have a Pink Floyd flavour, but are also very dangerous Pink Floyd cliches.
One is the possible tendency to get stuck into a sort of slow four tempo. And the other thing is to take a melody line or the chorus or something and flog it to death.
Maybe we`ll play it once slow and quiet, the next time a bit harder, third time really heavy which tends to come a little bit into “Meddle” and in “AHM”.
But it`s slightly more forgiveable with the choir and orchestra `cause it`s nice building an orchestra and bringing in extra brass and playing more complex lines.
There are various sections on “AHM” that I`m very happy with. I love the choir section both the singing and the spoken choir section.

Do you think, in view of the similarities, that you`re slow in producing new material?

The constructing of “Echoes” is rather similar in terms of it running through various movements. But the movements are so different that I don`t feel that we`ve had to milk “AHM” to produce “Echoes”.

How much discussion by the band goes into the creation of the numbers?

Lots. We do more talk than anything else really.

How does a piece like “Atom Heart” or “Echoes” come about?

Well “Echoes” was a specific attempt to sort of do something by a slightly different method. What we did, in fact, was book a studio for January; and throughout January we went in and played. Anytime that anyone had any sort of rough idea of something we would put it down.
At the end of January we listened back and we`d got 36 different bits and pieces that sometimes cross related and sometimes didn`t. “Echoes” was made up from that.

Say Dave Gilmour writes a piece, how do the others become involved with it?

Well, it depends very much. We`d have to talk about each piece specifically; Dave maybe comes in with song A which he`s recorded already at home. He`s got guitar, possible drums and vocals on it.
In the case of “San Tropez”, Roger came in and the song was absolutely complete. There was almost no arranging to do on it. It was just a matter of learning the chords.
On other songs the thing is pretty loose. We may have a bass line and a rough idea for the chorus and not for the middle eight.

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Was Dave Gilmour brought in for his writing ability?

No. Dave Gilmour was brought in because we knew he could sing and we knew he could play the guitar, which was what we badly needed. We also thought he was someone we could get on with.
It`s probably more important to get people you can get on with than it is to get good musicians. That`s certainly true of us. I think the reason we`re still running is because, after a fashion, we can all live together.

There is also a certain amount of simplicity in Floyd`s music which has often led to the comparison with Britten and Beethoven. Do you think that one of the strong things about Floyd`s music is its simplicity?

Yeah. There`s nothing very elaborate there. There`s no wonder whizz-kid electrician on any of our equipment; no Stockhausen.
There obviously is a simplicity but it`s not banal. It`s very hard to try and talk about the music and say right “that`s jolly good”, because obviously I think it`s extremely good. That`s what I`m doing, that`s what I`m interested in. There`s a lot of reasons why I think what we do is better than what other people do. I mean, otherwise we`d probably be copying.

Do you find that numbers like “Controls” and “Axe”, which you still do, have more added to them as you go on?

Yes. But I think they`re old now. They are likely to trap us in a morass of old numbers.
Audiences are a bit divided between getting bored with old numbers and reliving their childhood, or re-living their Golden era of psychedelia or even wanting to hear what it was all about. These are OK reasons for wanting to hear something, but they ain`t very valid for us.

You`ve already said that you are happy with Floyd music. Does that mean to say you are happy with the stage it`s reached at the moment?

Well, I`m not in a state of depression about it, which can happen. At the moment we are writing some great new stuff. Yes, I`m happy.

Do you think there have been any pressures on the band which have restricted the music?

In terms of working too hard, yes. It`s very difficult to find the right way of working anyway. We don`t know whether to give ourselves lots and lots of free-time or to put on a lot of pressure, specifically for new material, or something like that.
This seems to work and has done in the past but it`s a much less pleasant method of working.

It`s true to say that recently you haven`t composed any material specifically for stage appearances, it has been from the albums.

We`ve only once composed specifically for live appearances. The album is usually a sort of pressure thing which is why things are built up in album form.

You only released one album a year or something like that?

Yeah, we`d love to issue more, if we could possibly write more and record it and do everything else. Pray. But we haven`t been able to.

You don`t seem to do much touring in England?

The reason for that is a lot to do with knocking off new material, or being embarrassed of standing on a stage for the fourth year running and playing “Set The Controls”, “Careful With That Axe”, “Saucerful of Secrets”, etc, etc.
I don`t like it. I like it occasionally, but not enough to do a British tour with it.

I gather you`re also working on a ballet?

We haven`t started work on it yet. We`ve had innumerable discussions; a number of lunches; a number of dinners; very high powered meetings; and I think we`ve got the sort of story line for it.
The idea is Roland Piti`s and I think Roland is settled on the ideas he wants to use for the thing, so I think we`re going to get started.
Ballet is a little like a film actually. The more information you have to start with the easier it becomes to write. The difficulty about doing albums is that you are so totally open, it`s very difficult to get started.

You are now in the position to play anywhere in the world (except America). Do you think this has put too much responsibility on the band?

Obviously it`s a great position to be in. I don`t think it puts a great responsibility on the band, there`s nothing magical about the position really. It has to be seen in terms of agencies and managers and promoters.
In America, for instance, we`ve still got a lot of work to do. There`s still very few bands who can command any price.
Any other place in the world we can ask our price but only every so often. You have to decide how you want to use the power.
You can either use it to extract maximum cash on a sort of hit and run level, or you can use it to try and fortify your position, which is obviously the most sensible thing to do.
The fact that you want to go back again is the governor on the whole thing, because it means that when you`re organising a tour you want to get the best halls, because you want to get as many people as possible.
France for example is a huge problem for us because it`s somewhere that we`re popular and we`d like to work, but we can`t get the places to work. We haven`t worked in France for so long that it isn`t true, because it`s so difficult to find the places to work.
French audiences tend to destroy the good places so they won`t have rock and roll groups there, and there`s no point in us working in bad places.

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Can you solve this old crossword? 😉

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: John Sebastian, Kenny Jones (Faces), Billy Preston, Wishbone Ash, Fortunes, Steve Miller, Marc Bolan, Paul McCartney, Cat Stevens, Jose Feliciano, Rory Gallagher, Ray Manzarek (The Doors), Medicine Head, Stevie Wonder and MC5.

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