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Pink Floyd - Ummagumma CD (album) cover

UMMAGUMMA

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.47 | 1156 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I guess this is the only example in my musical addictivity that a double album will provide such mixed feelings to me. I discovered "Ummagumma" in 1973, and I was deeply impressed with the live album. I did not know those four gigantic numbers (I entered the Floyd catalogue in 1971 with Meddle). It was hard for me to believe than the same band could produce a live masterpiece and a studio crappy LP at the same time.

Each of the band member has a part on this studio album to "develop" his own music. This quite experimental effort should never have taken place. The Floyd though will repeat this later on with AHM but this is another story. The studio album starts with Wright's stuff. This "Sysyphus Part" is quite boring in general. Only part four is better structured than the rest. It is a bit reminiscent of "A Saucerful of Secrets" and is quite interesting. Actually, I did not remember that there was even one interesting song like it on this LP (besides this review, I have never listended to it for more than thirty years. I guess it will take me another thirty to do the same).

I really believe that the one who can listen till the end of "Grantchester Meadows" would deserve a nice present because it is such a crappy song than really you need a lot of patience to do so. " Several Species ..." is of the same caliber (or even worse). I would like to understand how it is possible for such a genious like Waters to come up with something like this. It will remain a mystery for ever. This is five minutes of the most boring moments you can imagine.

During this track at 4'32" precisely (you can download this part from the Floyd's web- site. According to the instructions, to hear it properly you need to play it at half speed), Gilmour says : "This is pretty avant-guarde, isn't it ? I bet you !

If this studio album deserves five stars, I wonder how many would deserve DSOTM or WYWH : ten ? fifteen ? or more ?

Gilmour parts are a bit more psychedelic and less boring than the other's ones. Part 2, is probably the more interesting (if I may use this term).

Mason's input starts and ends bizzarely with a flute short instrumental (59 and 40 seconds). It is his best contribution. The other number is equivalent to the rest : unbelievably disappointing.

I can tell you, it is quite a challenge to listen to these studio tracks in a row (boy, I would deserve a bonus !). The first time you do (like myself in 1973) you think : well, the next one will be better till you reach the last one. And then you sit and say : "Hell. I've been such a fool to have listened to this !".

To highlight how "great" the band felt about this "masterpiece", the Floyd will include TWO songs from their "marvelous" studio album : "Sysyphus" played FOUR times and "Granchester Meadows" also four times but on other occasions (I guess no audience would have deserved such a treatment to get both of them during the same show).

The live sides though should really be considered as a masterpiece. Four mythical tracks from the early Floyd repertoire. Great rendition of each composition. It starts with "Astronomy Domine" which is quite an extended and fabulous version (although for me, it will never be extended as it could / should be).

If you are interested in extended versions, there is one on the boot "Interstellar Highlights" recorded live in Stockholm in March 1970 which lasts for nine minutes and another one on "Interstellar Fillmore" that features a ten minutes version of it.

Next track "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" was never released on an album. The first (and shortest) version of the song was called "Murderistic Women". This version was first played live in John Peel's radio-show Top Gear on June 25th 1968. In December 68, it will be featured as B-side for the single "Point Me At The Sky" and will be a Floyd classic for decades (still one of my fave). One year later, it will be released as "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up" for the film Zabriskie Point.

The incredible and oriental "Set The controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is a another marvelous live performance. Psychedelic at its best. Great version again. This LP transports you to unreachable limits of joy and admiration.

The last track is an absolute must own - must listen. I have described my vision in lenght in the review of their second effort 'A Saucerful of Secret". The only thing I can add is that the closing sections "Storm Signal" and "Celestial Voices" surpassed the studio ones. It is probably one of the best live version of this song ("If you can call this a song" - I quote Waters). Originally this live album would have featured "Interstellar Overdrive" and "Embryo" but space was lacking. They should have been better inspired to cut the studio album than the live one. I guess it is thanks to this two live sides that the album reached Nr. 5 in the UK chart (Nr. 74 in the US).

I would have liked Ummagumma to be a single (or double) live album. It would have deserved a five stars rating. But since it comes with the burden of the studio sides, I can only rate it three stars. Grab some boots of the era if you can like : "BBC Archives" (featuring "Embryo") or "Interstellar Highlights") to discover how great this band was on stage in those ancient times.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |

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