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Pink Floyd - Meddle CD (album) cover

MEDDLE

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.31 | 2065 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
4 stars With this album PINK FLOYD signal they are through their transitional, post-BARRETT period and have formed their own unique sound.

'Meddle' and the next album, the OST 'Obscured By Clouds' showcase this new sound: simpler, less pretentious and virtually effect-free, with very little remaining from their psychedelic era. 'Echoes' aside, their compositions are relatively short and of a standard rock structure, with verses, choruses and bridges. I ascribe this to the rise of GILMOUR's influence in the band: he gets his first meaningful vocal load on these two albums, and his guitar features far more strongly, taking over from RICK WRIGHT's keyboards as the main melodic driver.

It is important to consider this album in the context of its immediate predecessor, 'Atom Heart Mother'. That album had a side-long symphonic prog piece, with an opening theme, a funky section, a psych freakout and climactic close - as does 'Meddle'. It also had a side of more orthodox soft rock songs, as does 'Meddle'. I see 'Meddle' as an attempt to re-do 'Atom Heart Mother' without the overambitious encumbrance of the orchestra. For many people the result is an improvement: certainly the sound is more accessible and far 'rockier'. For me, however, it falls some way short of AHM's brilliance.

I will say this about the excellent 'Echoes'. From the first sonar ping, the sole remnant from an unrecorded project, the song has an energy missing from PINK FLOYD's studio work since their debut album. And in the section immediately following the second verse, they write their first really dynamic rock piece, a genuinely strong and powerful section that blazes through the speakers. The funky section is an improvement on 'Funky Dung' from AHM, but clearly derivative of it. The only negative for me is the length of the psych freak-out 'cawing birds' section of the track: half the length would have been more than enough.

I'm far from impressed by the first side of 'Meddle'. Of course, 'One of These Days' is excellent, a rock take on their psychedelic days, and a pointer to what they'd become: the combination of driving rock and special effects presages albums like 'Animals' and 'The Wall'. The rest of the album consists of gentle blues/rock, with GILMOUR at the helm. These tracks are fine on their own without being outstanding, but the genius of latter-day PINK FLOYD was to take simple song structures and invest them with meaning by the use of samples, solos and segues (the three S's of PINK FLOYD music). None of these four tracks feature the three S's (save 'Fearless' which has the Anfield faithful sending their own 'fearless' message, and the wind segue between the first two tracks).

Both GILMOUR and MASON saw this album as the emergence of the modern PINK FLOYD (Nick Mason, Inside Out), as do many of their fans. I believe their signature sound was already evidenced on 'Atom Heart Mother' - MASON'S fills, GILMOUR's guitar and so on, as well as the symphonic/space-rock song structure - but it was obscured by the choir and orchestra. This album is, in my view, AHM II, and the loss of the embellishments means, for me, this is a lesser effort. I'll happily admit that my taste is perhaps not that of the majority, for whom my ratings for this and AHM could be reversed.

For those of you who have only heard the famous FLOYD albums, you'll enjoy this one. I'd encourage you to go back one further and try 'Atom Heart Mother' as well. Just don't expect the acidic, petulant lyrics and themes of the late 70s. Instead you'll get contemplative, pastoral music with some rockier moments. And there's a beauty here sorely missing from the WATERS-dominated albums.

russellk | 4/5 |

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