[Second in a multi-part retrospective leading up to the release of The Endless River scheduled for October 2014.]
Find Part One of the retrospective here: https://timbrosnan.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/the-pink-floyd-retrospective-chapter-one-1963-1967/
The period of 1968 thru 1977 covers a lot of change and a great deal of international success for the band.
David Gilmour (2nd from left above) joined Pink Floyd as the fifth member in December 1967. Gilmour came on at a salary of £30 per week, and a month later was announced as the band’s newest member. Barrett was a becoming more non-functional but was to stay on as a non-performing member and potentially a writer.
According to Gilmour, the band was on their way to a gig and someone asked if they should stop to pick up Syd. The answer was “Nah, let’s not bother”, signalling the end of Barrett’s tenure with Pink Floyd. In March 1968, the band met with their business partners to discuss the band’s future plans and Barrett agreed to leave.
As Barrett was the main creative force behind the band, his departure shifted the songwriting to Roger Waters. Gilmore took on Syd’s vocal parts but eventually the band shifted the set list to avoid Barrett compositions and focused more on Waters’ and Wrights’ works with songs like “It Would Be So Nice” and “Careful with That Axe, Eugene”.
Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
In 1968, Pink Floyd returned to Abbey Road Studios to record their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets.
The LP included Barrett’s final contribution to their discography, “Jugband Blues” which included Barrett’s last contribution to the band “Jugband Blues”. On the day after the album’s UK release, Pink Floyd performed at the first ever free concert in Hyde Park.
In support of the album that summer, they returned to the US and toured with Soft Machine and The Who. It was their first significant tour although their singles release (“Point Me at the Sky”) did no better than the singles since “See Emily Play”. They wouldn’t release another single until 1973’s “Money”.ntil their 1973 release, “Money”.
Ummagumma (1969) represented a departure from their previous work. Sides one and two contained live performances recorded at Manchester College and a music club in Birmingham. Sides three and four contained an experimental contribution from each band member. Despite the departure, it was favorably reviewed and climbed the charts.
In October 1970, they released into Atom Heart Mother . It’s been noted as among their most difficult and contentious to record and this acrimony led Gilmour to be dismissive of it (“rubbish”) and Waters to comment that he’d prefer it be “thrown into the dustbin and never listened to by anyone ever again”. It was their first number one hit.
They headed into the studio following the Atom tour and began a long effort to create “Meddle” (1971). Again great reviews followed but more importantly the album cemented David Gilmour as a creative force within the band. Long considered one of the all-time rock guitar gods Gilmour started to shine during this period (and as far as I can tell hasn’t dimmed a bit).
The Dark Side of the Moon
Among the most important milestones in rock history, Dark Side of the Moon was released in March of 1973. I previously blogged about DSOTM here:
Engineered by Alan Parsons (of the later Alan Parson Project) at Abbey Road Studios, the album was an instant success. The band credits Parsons (who also worked on The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be) as a key contributor to the album’s success. I won’t repeat my treatment of DSOTM here but please take a moment and check out my earlier post.
Wish You Were Here
Although I’m a big fan of Dark Side, Wish You Were Here (1975) edges it out as my favorite Floyd album. The guitar work s beyond compare and the band was at the peak of it’s songwriting talents.
Returning to the studio after the Dark Side tour, the band set to work quickly on their 9th studio effort. Parsons passed on the project (he was established as a musician by then) and the band later described the entire effort as “difficult” and “tortuous”.
Waters soldiered on and Gilmour stepped up. The album addressed Syd’s departure and mental state quite directly and Waters later commented “Because I wanted to get as close as possible to what I felt … [that] indefinable, inevitable melancholy about the disappearance of Syd.”
With the iconic Battersea Power Station in London on the cover, the band started work on Animals. They had recently bought a group of church halls in Islington and set to work converting them to a storage area and their own recording studios. This among my least favorite Pink Floyd albums and although I picked up a used bargain bin copy to round out my Pink Floyd collection, it doesn’t get much airplay.