Saturday, 20 March 2010

Pink Floyd: The Dinosaur That Lived

Sometimes you can just never tell how people will react. People whom you have known for yonks turn out to have the most unexpected responses in certain situations. Personality surprises can often be shocking.

Take my sister, for example. I’ve known her for, well, all her life and musically, we couldn’t be more different. I still haven’t recovered from being forced to listen to all her vast collection of interminable 12-inch disco singles from the 1970s blaring through the wall into my bedroom when we all lived at home. My sister was a clubber and a dancer, whereas I was a stay-at-home-with-the-lava-lamp type of listener. And never the twain.

So you will probably be as amazed as me when you learn that her all time favourite album is not ‘Saturday Night Fever’ nor anything by Chic or KC and the Sunshine Band…but ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. Just what is it about this album that seems to cross all known boundaries? You can’t dance to it (well, not until the Scissor Sisters get hold of it), yet my sister loves it. In fact, when you come to think about it, Pink Floyd is a mass of contradictions. Underground, yet mainstream. Experimental yet accessible. Dinosaur, yet loved. Let’s face it; anyone who can make a hit album out of something like ‘Umma Gumma’ deserves some respect but then bands were indulged and encouraged to develop once upon a time.

I watched some of the ‘Live at Pompeii’ extracts on YouTube the other day and hearing the live versions of ‘Echoes’ and ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ offers a few hints to the answer and it is quite simply this: they are (or were) a damnned good band. They managed to do exactly all those things I mentioned above. They were weird yet wonderful, edgy yet musical and above all, talented and committed. I think the real reason DSOTM succeeds is that it is genuinely tuneful whilst being a bit quirky and it deals with timeless themes of the human condition, which affect us all whether you’re a wallflower or exhibitionist.

Not all art appeals to everyone yet Pink Floyd seemed to have managed it with DSOTM whilst thinking they were being wilfully experimental. This must be true otherwise there’s no way that my sister would have it as her number one, it would be ‘Spirits Having Flown’ by the Bee Gees and then where would we be?

7 comments:

drewzepmeister said...

TDSOTM, hands down is a timeless classic! It's one the albums that will still be heard generations down the road. I remember introducing this album to my son when he was a little boy. Back then, he called it the "Tick Tock Record" (You know, "Time") He's almost 13 now, he still loves this album!

musicobsessive said...

Hey Drew! You're right but my brood have not really got into this sort of stuff yet. They're still into 'singles' but there's time yet...

Dan said...

I first heard it in 1975 and have devoured everything Pink since. DSOTM to me was larger than life and all other music that came before it. I saw them perform it in concert that year also and was blown away by the exact sound of the record live. Awesome album and is in my top 10 albums of all time.

Jeff said...

DSOTM is my personal favorite album of all time. It really was the epitome of marrying experimental ideas with accesible sensibilities. It's dificult to say why exactly it is so loved, but it is undoubtedly a masterpiece.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Dan - I, too, saw them play it live at Knebworth during their 'Wish You Were Here' tour. Great days!

Hi Jeff - You're dead right. It is one of the few albums that combines experimentalism with commercialism and makes it work. Some have tried but few have succeeded.

Perplexio said...

Excellent analysis of Pink Floyd. I had a babysitter when I was about 7-10 years old who was a big Pink Floyd fan that got me into them at a rather young age. I also had a close friend in school as an adolescent that was a big fan of Floyd so that just helped that interest grow. That same friend also got me into the Doors... Two great bands to thank him for!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Perplexio. I think we all have people we are indebted to when it comes to discovering music. I had a schoolfriend who was a fellow music fan and between us we helped each other 'discover' all sorts of bands. God bless the cassette tape!