Saturday, 20 March 2010
Pink Floyd: The Dinosaur That Lived
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?