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Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here CD (album) cover

WISH YOU WERE HERE

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.62 | 2804 ratings

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Kotro
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Instead of adding yet another simple description of the music and my appreciation for it to the long row of reviews, I thought about doing something different. So, instead of just rambling on about the musical content, I opted for bringing you an insider's view on the magnificent artwork of this seminal progressive rock album.

After the success of Dark Side it was quite difficult knowing what to do next. We had suggested seven different roughs for "Dark Side". In the case of Wish You Were Here we only suggested one, but it was a very complicated one. The basic theme derived from Shine On You Crazy Diamond, especially from Dave's haunting guitar chords, and Roger's lyrics. This theme was the sense of absence, of not being present in a relationship or conversation. This absence related to Syd Barrett, in more ways than one, and to the band's own difficulties in being there at the time making music, or in being a band at all - "Dark Side" was an even harder act for them to follow. All the pictures refer to absence in one form or another. The burning man is absent metaphorically - too frightened to be present, lest he be burned. The diver is absent physically, because his trace, or rather his splash, is missing. The "handshake" on the sticker is as much an empty gesture as a genuine greeting. The title "Wish You Were Here" then becomes relevant, and from the title came the post-card included in the original vinyl packaging. Could the design be one thing for the shops and another thing to the customer? Once you had bought the record there was no sense in being subjected to the same criteria of design and advertising as you would in the shop. At home there's no need to grab attention, or to be crassly provocative. So the cover was wrapped in a black plastic shrink wrap - one could not actually see what the design was. Since the theme of the album was absence, then the design in itself is absent, ie not visible. The idea was that when you got home you were supposed to peel off the black shrink wrap like undoing a present, and throw it away. One suspects that lot of people slit the plastic down the side with a scalpel in order to preserve the colourful sticker but still get the record out (there's no pleasing some folk). The actual shooting of the cover was rather dramatic in itself. The man diving into the lake, lake Mono in California, was a yoga expert who performed a handstand in a metal bucket frame. He held his breath for a long time so that the ripples caused by the commotion of getting into the diving position in the first place would die more or less away. He only had to do it 60 times, but then it is art, innit? We tried to say the same thing to the man we set on fire, but he didn't think that was very funny. Although he was wearing an asbestos suit and an asbestos wig, when we set him alight he was unfortunately facing the wrong way as regards to the wind. The wind caught the flames and blew them back into his face, burning his moustache severely. We had, in fact, to get him to turn the other way and shake hands with his left hand and then reverse the photo in the final print, which does give it a slightly strange quality. Art by misadventure.

in Pink Floyd Shine On - A Book to accompany the CD Box Set, 1992 Pink Floyd Music

About the music, well, that mostly goes without saying. Wish You Were Here and the first half of Shine On You Crazy Diamond are long-time radio friendly tunes. My favorite, however, are the less recognizable tracks. Despite being the only song in the album deserving of a videoclip, Welcome to the Machine, with its dark ambience and use of electronics, remains the obscurer track, along with the spacier and funkier bits on the second half of Shine On.. The bluesy Roy Harper/Gilmour guitar-driven Have a Cigar remains one of the fiercest criticisms to the music industry. One of the 70's Pink Floyd masterpieces, this album, with its sonic diversity but constantly progressive attitude, wether to rock, blues, or experimental electronics, is a guaranteed must have for the prog-head, and it will always have something of interest that will make you want you rediscover it time and time again.

Kotro | 5/5 |

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