Tag Archives: Pink Floyd

Desert Island Disks

The long-running BBC radio series “Desert Island Disks” asks the guest celebrity of the week to choose eight of their favourite records. The premise is that if you were marooned on a desert island, and you had just eight records to listen to, what would they be?

I’m treating “records” as albums, and for this exercise, I’ve imposed a rule of no compilations, and no live albums. So with no further ado…

pink-floyd-meddlePink Floyd – Meddle

The first album I ever bought was Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. But although that album means a lot to me, there’s only room in this list for one dark angst-ridden concept album, and that’s coming up further down. And though “Dark Side of the Moon” and “Wish You Were Here” are undisputed classics. they’re so overexposed that they’ve just been worn smooth. If I’m in the mood for some Pink Floyd nowadays it’s most often either “Meddle” or “Animals” that gets played. If forced to choose, we’ll go for Meddle. It’s worth it for the extended dreamy atmospherics of “Echoes” alone, but there’s more to the album that that.

blue-oyster-cult-secret-treatiesBlue Öyster Cult – Secret Treaties

Blue Öyster Cult have been one of my top bands ever since a college friend played me the live version of “Astronomy” from Some Enchanted Evening when that live disk was still almost a current album. But since live albums are against my self-imposed rules, so we’ll go for their classic third album. Fan consensus is their Secret Treaties is their best, and fan consensus isn’t wrong. It’s the final album of the so-called “Black and White trilogy” combining richly layered music with a raw garage-like sound, with high weirdness lyrics hinting at the magical origins of World War Two. Blue Öyster Cult were always far more that just a metal band, and this album is proof of that.

Rainbow RisingRainbow – Rising

Hearing “Eyes of the World” on Nicky Horne’s show on Capital Radio radio changed my life. Ever since then Ritchie Blackmore’s music has been part of the soundtrack of my life, either with Deep Purple or with Rainbow. He was at the peak of his powers when he made this record along with the greatest hard rock singer of all time in the shape of the late Ronnie James Dio, and a sheer force of nature in Cozy Powell on drums. With just six tracks and a running time of less that forty minutes it’s all-killer-no-filler, with the monumental “Stargazer” as the centrepiece of the record.

220px-MarillionBraveMarillion – Brave

The three previous bands had been long-established by the time their music first appeared on my radar, but with Marillion I was there from the start. Not quite to the extent that I was seeing them play to thirty people in pubs before they were signed, but I did see them at the 1982 Reading Festival and bought their first album of the day of release. Since then they have released many great albums both with Fish and later with Steve Hogarth, but the favourite has to be their dark and intense 1994 concept album. As the sleeve notes say, play it loud with the lights out.

mostly-autumn-the-last-bright-lightMostly Autumn – The Last Bright Light

Anyone who knows me knows that Mostly Autumn are one of my favourite bands. I’ve seen them something like a hundred times live now. Which doesn’t make it easy to choose just one album, especially when their music has evolved of the years along with changes in the make-up of the band. But if forced to choose just one, it will be their third, the high point of their celtic-folk-prog era on Cyclops records. It’s now sadly out of print, though many of the best songs appear on the retrospective compilation “Pass the Clock”.

porcupine-tree-in-absentiaPorcupine Tree – In Absentia

It’s not easy to choose one Porcupine Tree record. Sometimes it seems as if their best album is whichever one I’ve just listened to. But if forced to keep just one, it would be have to be this album, because it’s sheer variety covers many of the bases of their sound. In just the first three numbers it goes from the Zepellinesque riffery of “Blackest Eyes”, the song-focused pop-rock of “Trains” and the psychedelic atmospherics of “Lips of Ashes”.

opeth-waershedOpeth – Watershed

Perhaps more than any other band, Opeth have redefined what a metal or progressive rock band can be, with deep roots in the classic rock of the 1970s on one hand and a contemporary attitude and desire to avoid repeating their own past on the other. Few other bands can match their sense of dynamics and compositional skills. All their albums are good, but Watershed is the best, seamlessly combining intense heaviness with mellow atmospherics, often in the same song, and would be the last time Mikael Åkerfeldt would use his death-metal growling vocals on record.

Panic Room - SKINPanic Room – S K I N

Along with Mostly Autumn, Panic Room are my other favourite club-level band, and I’ve seen them live almost as many times. Indeed, the two bands were joined at the hip at one point with Anne-Marie Helder and Gavin Griffiths doing double duty in both. All their albums have their fans; there are even people who think the first was the best, but for me the favourite has to be their third, which goes from hard rock to jazz-tinged adult pop to epic soaring ballads while still adding up to a coherent work. It may well be that their best is yet to come, but for now this album is their masterpiece.

Over to you. What eight records could you not live without?

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Overpriced boxed sets from legacy acts who don’t need the money harm grassroots music far, far more that YouTube or Spotify could ever do. Just think how many smaller prog bands could have sustainable careers from the money spent on the latest £378 Pink Floyd one.

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There’s one in the spotlight, he don’t look right to me

This mashup is chilling stuff. Donald Trump is the sort of man Roger Waters warned us about 36 years ago.

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Dave Gilmour – Rattle That Lock

Rattle That Lock Nine years after his last solo album “On An Island”, former Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour returns with a new record, featuring an impressive cast of guests including Phil Manzanera, David Crosby & Graham Nash, and even Jools Holland on one song.

Dave Gilmour is such an iconic guitarist that the very first note he plays on the opening instrumental “5 a.m.” is enough to give you goosebumps. It’s the following title track that sets the tone for the rest of the record. What he have is a highly polished singer-songwriter album. It does tend towards the middle of the road in places, through Gilmour’s immediately recognisable lead guitar that lights up every song sets this record apart. While it doesn’t reach the epic grandeur of Pink Floyd’s heyday. it’s as much about the gorgeous orchestrated arrangements as it is about the songs. There are occasional excursions into jazz on “Dancing in Front of Me” and “The Girl in the Yellow Dress”, while both album highlight “In Any Tongue” and the instrumental “Beauty” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a late-period Floyd album. The album ends as it begins, with a guitar instrumental “And Then..”, another reminder of just why he remains one of the greatest guitarists of his generation.

In some ways, it’s a better album than last year’s Pink Floyd coda, “Endless River”, which despite some glorious moments featuring the late Richard Wright, never quite managed to transcend its origins as a collection of outtakes.

Dave Gilmour could be accused to playing safe on this record. But he’s a musician who’s more than earned the right to make whatever music he wants to make; he’s under absolutely no obligations to satisfy expectations of either audiences or critics. So if he chooses to make a record firmly within his comfort zone, that’s his right. And comfort zone or not, he’s still very good at what he does. Anyone expecting something as edgy and abrasive as “Ummagumma” should really be looking elsewhere.

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Mostly Autumn Full 2015 Tour Dates

Olivia Sparnenn of Mostly Autumn at the 2014 Cambridge Rock FestivalMostly Autumn have now announced their tour dates for the remainder of the year, taking in venues across the country over the summer and autumn, culminating in four special dates at the end of the year, extended shows that will include “Dressed in Voices” as well as a revival of the Pink Floyd Revisited set from a decade ago.

These four dates include a return to York Grand Opera House, this time on Friday 13th of November, and a special Christmas show at The Assembly in Leamington Spa on Sunday 13th December.

The latter will be the only Christmas show this year, and features an extended bill running from 4pm to 10pm, with details to be announced. Since it’s difficult to imagine Mostly Autumn playing for six hours there will presumably be other bands on the bill.

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Now Playing: Pink Floyd’s Endless River. There may be a full review along later, but for now I’ll say that the late Richard Wright was to Pink Floyd what Malcolm Young was to AC/DC. Unassuming and understated, but absolutely central to their sound.

Posted on by Tim Hall | 2 Comments

Punk Warriors Strike Again

No, I don’t have particularly high hopes for the new Pink Floyd album “The Endless River”. When the two remaining members of the band have more or less made it clear that it’s warmed-up leftovers from twenty years ago, I think it’s unrealistic to expect something to rival “Meddle”. Of course there’s always the chance it will be a pleasant surprise; few people expected three-quarters of the original Black Sabbath to come up with something as strong as last year’s “13″.

But when I see a national newspaper review the thing, and the opening line is the hoary old cliché “This is why punk had to happen”, my hackles start to rise. I guess the reviewer deserves some credit for laying his prejudices on the line so openly, but with an opening line like that you know there is absolutely no point in wasting any time reading the rest of the review.

Now punk delivered some great back-to-basics rock’n'roll records that stood the test of time, and that ought to be its legacy. But the whole “Year Zero” thing was always total hogwash, and it’s still galling to see generations of music writers who were too young to be around at the time swallowing the narrative whole.

There are old punks for whom two minutes of adrenaline-changed stripped-down rock’n'roll is the peak of musical perfection, and more power to them. But I’ve always suspected that for some of them, it was all about the excitement of being part of a “scene” and they didn’t really like the actual music at all. Unfortunately far to many of the latter group ended up in influential positions in the media, and music has been the worse for it ever since.

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Don’t Buy the Pink Floyd Box Sets

I see there’s a shock-and-awe advertising campaign for the reissues of the classic 70s albums by Pink Floyd.

Yes, an album like Dark Side of the Moon is all-time classic which has stood the test of time and has finally emerged from the long shadow cast by of Punk to take its rightful place in the British Rock Canon. But let’s face it, if you really cared about the album, you’d already have it on CD, right?

September has been one of the best months for new progressive rock releases I can remember for a long, long time. In the space of two weeks there have been new releases by Dream Theater, Opeth, Anathema, Matt Stevens, Steve Hackett and Steve Wilson. That’s one hell of a lot of new music, and you can have all of it for the price of just one of the ridiculously overpriced “Immersion editions” that you’ll probably only ever listen to the once.

I realise the target market for these things is the middle-aged bloke who stopped caring about new music when he got married and had kids decades ago, and now in the throes of his mid-life crisis is desperately trying to reconnect with his long lost youth. He’s probably never even heard of Opeth.

Don’t be that guy. Don’t buy the box sets. Pink Floyd really don’t need your money. And EMI certainly don’t deserve it.

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