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Pink Floyd - A Momentary Lapse of Reason CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.06 | 1794 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Considering that it has now been two full decades since the "And then there were three" version of the mighty Pink Floyd put out this album I recently spun it through the changer and reminisced. I have to confess that I've been no more than a casual fan of PF but have always admired their success and the high quality of their work. It wasn't until I became more exposed to Gilmore's exemplary guitar playing that I started to pay better attention to the band and picked up some of their later CDs as well as giving another listen to some of their older LPs in my collection of records.

Following a duly mysterious (you know at once that you are listening to a Pink Floyd album) and aptly titled "Signs of Life" instrumental (in which Gilmore draws us in with his unmistakable tinklings on guitar) our patience is rewarded by the irresistible "Learning to Fly" in which David tells us that he's "a soul in tension that's learning to fly, condition grounded but determined to try." This is evident by glancing at the accompanying liner notes that list a virtual who's who of studio musicians (Jim Keltner, Tony Levin and Carmen Appice to name just a few) as well as seven different recording studios. In other words, a lot of calculated time and effort went into this project to show the world that they were still a force to be reckoned with sans any contribution from the charismatic Roger Waters. A menacing undertow of sound (that brings to mind the loping charge of Hannibal's elephants) characterizes "The Dogs of War" but, despite an excellent burning sax solo by Tom Scott, this song just never takes off.

"One Slip" is obviously about a serious momentary lapse of reason and the resulting guilt and remorse that follows infidelity. The lyrics are brutally honest but, more than any other song on the album, this tune unfortunately reflects the MTV neon signs of the times influence with its thinly veiled MJ "Thriller" feel and dates it terribly. Then things make a remarkable turn for the better. "On the Turning Away" redeems the whole project. It is, in every category, a brilliant song. Its call for universal and unconditional compassion is timeless and ever-relevant. Gilmore's emotion-packed solo and understated vocal performance makes this one of their best tunes ever. Big, deep drums introduce "Yet Another Movie/Round and Round" and promise great things but the song soon falls flat and never gets up again. I have never figured out what it's about, either. "A New Machine" features a very interesting vocal effect that gives me the impression of a computer left on its own that is talking to itself. This is followed by "Terminal Frost," a terrific instrumental that is an atmospheric mix of piano, guitar and saxophone. The dynamics are stunning as it ebbs and flows and it is a highlight of the disc. After a brief return to the talking PC we get to the closer, "Sorrow." David uses an earth-shaking guitar effect to get our attention for this song that seems to be directed at his no-longer-around partner with lines like "he's chained forever to a world that's departed." Even the obligatory "dry ice" moments in the middle can't stop the inertia of this rocker.

Released in 1987, this was the first release since 1983's questionable "Final Cut" fiasco that signaled the end of the Waters era. I think that David Gilmore in particular felt a real sense of purpose in proving that the band was still a formidable presence in the world of music and he did everything in his power to create a masterpiece. My feeling is that he and the group may have tried too hard. They included a few risky tracks that fell short of the runway and pulled the album down a notch or two despite the inclusion of some truly magnificent songs. That being said, I still think it is vastly better than a lot of the drivel that was being foisted upon the general public circa 1987 and deserves a place in any decent progressive rock collection. Not quite 4 stars but definitely more deserving than just 3. Let's say it's a 3.4.

Chicapah | 3/5 |


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