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


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.62 | 3766 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
5 stars After the artistic and commercial success of Dark Side Of The Moon, Floyd somehow followed it up with another masterpiece. Now, I'm sure everyone has probably already heard this by the time they're on the site (if not, what are you waiting for? Head for vendor of choice and buy this album), so I'm going to keep this fairly brief.

Wish You Were Here is an album which is quite unlike any other I own. The playing and composition is extremely individual, the lyrics are inspired and unique, and the cover art and style is every bit a match for Dark Side Of The Moon.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond sounds 123% better in the dark, where its surrealism and beauty seem most unique, but regardless of the time of day, it's still the best thing on the album, possibly the best thing Floyd did. An atmospheric extravaganza, with lush, near-religious and heartmelting keys, gentle, liquid percussion and the peak of Gilmour's soulful and bluesy guitar coming together to form an entity of wandering, dreamy and bleak character before the jarring soul of Sid's Theme (an unmistakeable four-note entity) bursts into the vivid dream, chased on by the vibrant life of Waters and Mason and some colourful Gilmour soloing. Wright's keys take a gospel-like significance, building carefully in power as the blazing guitar reaches its climax. A guitar throb adds some extra weight to rhythm section, which is punctuated with some breathless and understated escapes from Mason and Waters. As this atmosphere reaches its zenith, a churchlike organ meets with Gilmour's unforgettable vocal, reinforced with immaculately arranged backing vocals (the way they slowly, individually develop and drop off is breathtaking) and guitar and some perfect bass swells are overshadowed only by the sheer surrealistic beauty of Waters' lyrics. As the vocal part, brief, yet memorable, fades away, a clean, but nonetheless sweltering sax (courtesy of Dick Parry) acts as an unmistakeable voice over the bright, gripping, four-note-based Gilmour theme, and as Wright's glimmering keyboards bring the song down to its conclusion, the sax goes into a maddened life of its own, growing faster and more demanding. Both beautiful and saddening, a true masterpiece.

While we're on this one, a small comment on what virtuosity is wouldn't be out of order. Virtuosity is really not just about technique and speed, and the two lead players on this maybe show that. It takes more talent, in my view, to come up with and bring out the character of themes such as Sid's theme or the lilting accompaniment to the sax than to accomplish any number of cool-sounding riffs or solos... these guitar parts are absolute gold, and this song alone establishes David Gilmour in the upper echelons of the guitar world. Equally, if not more, impressive, is the late Rick Wright's playing on this song. I've yet to hear another song which uses keys quite like this: the subtle, yet insistent effect of the carefully treated organs, the dripping, mystical, clear synths and the cleansing layers of more blanketing synthesisers are put together in a completely unique way, with Wright drawing as much effect out of a change in volume, a modulating pedal or a slight difference in tone as any other organist could draw out of a monstrous riff. Personally, I think this qualifies as virtuosity and great playing as much as any of the Dream Theater, Yes, Mahavishnu Orchestra technical fireworks.

A menacing thrumming and short bursts of precisely-planned feedback bring up the insistent mechanical bass pulse of Welcome To The Machine, potentially the world's most avant-garde ballad, introducing the detached, cold and aggressive guitar strumming for mere seconds before the electronic spaciness completely takes over the soul of the song, bringing up the guitar's effect throughout the verses. The guitar returns for the chorus, but any warmth is, rather unusually, provided through desperate keys and the escapades of the bass and near-orchestral drum rolls. Wright pulls off a remarkably individual synthesiser part. The vocals are savage here, and the lyrics match in biting aggression and demand (Welcome my son, welcome to the machine/what did you dream? It's alright, we told you what to dream), here about a disillusion with the music business and even the continual commercial, generic side of music (shown by the coldness of the vocals and the guitar as opposed to the surprising relative warmth of the conventionally more emotionless instrumentation). Simply an incredibly clever and intelligent piece of music, and I have to admit, I didn't get it at first... but nonetheless I liked it... accessible, and yet clear, clear evidence that the experimental, psychedelic and creative Floyd that gave us numbers like A Saucerful Of Secrets or One Of These Days was still around in 1975. And also an interesting thing to bring up when people say Animals was the most prog Floyd album... is prog about complexity... not really, it's about creating tunes which are completely experimental, unique and creative and then making them sound good... this is such a tune.

In stark contrast, the ironically commercialised, sleazy and satyrical style of Have A Cigar shows off the writing side of Pink Floyd. A grabbing little guitar part runs through, with some jazzy Wright e-piano flourishes running through and another swirling Wright synth over the groovy rhythm section. The guitar part is deceptively fast and mobile within the context of its neat riff, and the song has a pretty much perfect pop dynamic combined with a cynically experimental edge and some strained guitar soloing hidden in the piece. A biting set of lyrics adds to the music biz bashing begun in Welcome To The Machine, and Roy Harper's rather good voice belts them out with a vindictive sleaze to match the. The song fades away slowly with a classy bit of bluesy soloing, as well one of Roger Waters' better bass parts. The hilarious, and very well-timed, radio-style fading, acts as a sort of link between this and the follower, and is evidence of Floyd's ability to write two great songs, individually capable singles, and yet link them in a way that makes the album so much more than just the sum of the parts.

Some sound effects lead onto the follower, the immensely and justly acclaimed Wish You Were Here. No gimmicks, other than the slightly reduced volume of the backing guitar, just a soulful acoustic, folky strumming, clear, and completely moving vocals, one of the best sets of lyrics Roger Waters ever wrote ('how I wish, how I wish you were here/we're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year'), and completely memorable piano and synth touches from Wright. Swirling winds lead from this lament back to the the surreal wonderland of Shine On You Crazy Diamond (pts. 6-9). Just about a perfect example of memorable songwriting, and the guitar solo is unique in style.

Jaunty guitar and bass, and throbbing percussion continue the atmosphere of the song, with haunting, interlinked lead synth parts replacing the background organs of pts. 1-5. The gripping guitars and swirling synths provide the jam with increasingly assertive impetus, while Waters and Mason groove along in their own way. As Gilmour returns to the guitar part which marked the vocal section of pts. 1-5, another reverent organ completes the return of the 'essence' of the song (for want of a better word). Another mystical verse, this time replete with Gilmour soloing in between the notes, leads off into another atmosphere-drenched, if rather upbeat, jam, complete with some very collected e-piano, an extremely cool funk riff from Wright or Gilmour (not sure which) and some solid bass and guitar filling out the optimistic madness of the piece. Wright and Mason lead off the whole thing into its majestic, crowning conclusion, with the clear piano chords conveying a real feeling of glory and triumph, counterbalanced by a final melancholy, sax-like synth. Just as impressive as the first part of the song, but it needs a little more time to really sink in and to be thought of as a continuation of it.

So, there you have it. Another rewrite. An essential masterpiece of progressive rock, because it really sounds like nothing else out there, a brilliantly written and very experimental album masquerading as two jams and three 'accessible' songs, and something that you should really treasure as an album if you've any taste for atmosphere or great guitar. Floyd were still on form for this one. And, because I don't say this enough, David Gilmour had a great voice, and Roger Waters was an amazing lyricist.

Rating: Five Stars. Simply incredible. Favourite Track: Still Shine On You Crazy Diamond (pts. 1-5), but Welcome To The Machine has grown on me exponentially since I wrote my first review here... of this album.

TGM: Orb | 5/5 |


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