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Pink Floyd - Ummagumma CD (album) cover

UMMAGUMMA

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.48 | 1194 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
2 stars A double album, 'Ummagumma' consists of one half 'live' recordings (though heavily overdubbed), one half studio recordings. This record confirms that in the empty post-BARRETT late 60s PINK FLOYD did not have a single useful musical idea.

The rehash of four of their more experimental psychedelic tracks is poignant to say the least. Apparently these tracks were reproduced here in order for the band to feel able to retire them: in other words, they were already stale. Further, the selection of these tracks without the leavening influence of the shorter, melodic BARRETT tracks exposes their lack of compositional merit. The fact that they managed to leave off 'Interstellar Overdrive' is inexcusable. Finally, it signals their intention to become a group of vast soundscapes. Fortunately, this is a direction they soon dropped in favour of - well, vast soundscapes coupled with exemplary songwriting.

That said, this live album is well worth listening to. Each track has become the definitive version, replacing the studio version in the PINK FLOYD canon.

As for the studio album, it is wholly execrable.

Look, there's 'experimental' and there's - er, awful. It's often a blurred line for a reviewer when drawn far from his/her comfort zone. I get no pleasure from tuneless music, but I do enjoy much ambient and atonal work which has a well thought through overall shape and creates an atmosphere within which my mind is encouraged to roam. This has none of those things. As an experiment it must have failed, as these sounds were abandoned for their next record. I'm forced to plump for 'awful'. I much prefer silence to these sounds.

If we ever needed confirmation that none of these gentlemen would shake the world with their solo recordings, it is to be had here. The second disc of 'Ummagumma' is a collection of tracks written and (largely) played by the individual members of the band, and without exception they are ill-conceived, tedious and bereft of musical inspiration. The highlight is WATERS' 'Grantchester Meadows' only because it is not offensive to the ears. The rest of this dross was forced upon the band members because they had no success in writing anything together. It's as though someone passed an Ideas Removal Magnet over the compositions and forced the band to record what remained.

Special dishonourable mentions must go to WRIGHT's 'Sysyphus', in which he out-pointlessnessess even KEITH EMERSON, and to NICK MASON, yet another drummer who can make the better part of ten minutes pass in agony. Has anyone listened to this more than once for pleasure? WATERS offers us the best song title of the late 60s but unfortunately doesn't back it up with anything but childish tape effects.

Some of GILMOUR's stuff isn't actually unlistenable, but in the context of this, perhaps the worst single disc of music ever issued, it barely rates a mention. So, dutifully, I barely mention it.

You really don't need this. It's like listening to four ten-minute versions of the single-musician pieces from YES' 'Fragile'. No, it's more like listening to the sound of someone hitting their head against a wall at the end of the cul-de-sac of the 60s. Repeatedly.

I'm an enthusiastic PINK FLOYD fan, but I'm not blind to their deficiencies. This album is a showcase of them all, a testament to what happens to a band without direction or a way of harnessing their talent. Fortunately that harness was very much in evidence within a year of the issuing of this record.

russellk | 2/5 |

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