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Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.37 | 1451 ratings

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4 stars PINK FLOYD spent about a week making this soundtrack, and most of a year - the same year - making 'Dark Side of the Moon'. The difference? Attention to detail. Certainly not the quality of the songs.

The songs on 'Obscured by Clouds' are classic PINK FLOYD without any of the studio trappings. A definite step up from the first side of 'Meddle', all this album lacks is time and cohesiveness. A month or more in studio, where samples and segues could have gussified the music, would have made this an excellent if not essential album. It is important to remember that this album was written and recorded in the midst of the 'Dark Side' sessions, and in my opinion is almost 'Dark Side' unplugged - a freer, more exuberant FLOYD showing that, at heart, they are a rock band. It is a very important document in the band's history.

The first two tracks are all about NICK MASON. His languid, understated style is showcased here. His ability to play at the 'back' of the beat, is obvious on the title track, and then he ramps it up for the second half of the twinset, 'When You're In'. GILMOUR offers some rather unsubtle guitar, but his best licks had already been reserved for DSOTM. Or had they? The solo in 'The Gold It's in The ...' sears the speakers, and is a level above anything he'd put on record to this point. It lacks the full majestic intensity of his later work, but flows along nicely. This solo alone makes the album worth the money, as does the excellent swapping of lead vocals on 'Burning Bridges'. The gains in confidence of all three vocalists are clear to see here, and are of course reflected on DSOTM. 'Wots ... Uh The Deal' is similar to 'Pillow of Winds' from 'Meddle', but is a better composition, involving guitar and piano and a far superior vocal. 'Mudmen' is a stirring instrumental, and I could well imagine it taking the place of 'The Great Gig' on DSOTM. If you listen to this in the context of DSOTM it is obvious that this excellent track is a creature of those sessions.

Side two fires a one-two GILMOUR-WATERS punch: Both 'Childhood's End' and 'Free Four' rock hard, and with embellishment could have been singles - actually, 'Free Four' was. Certainly some production work on the guitars would have been welcome. Listen to GILMOUR's vocal, in particular, and compare it with his rather tepid work on 'Meddle': here is a man growing in confidence. 'Stay' is a wonderful track, the inverse of WRIGHT's 'Summer 68' from 'Atom Heart Mother'. The final track is the most disliked among fans, and the most like a movie soundtrack: myself, I think it's genius, if a little psychedelic - the only touch of it on the album. WRIGHT's keyboards are melancholy, spacey and filled with depth.

My final thought. To me 'Obscured by Clouds' represents PINK FLOYD at their most balanced. No one person dominates the songwriting or ideas process, and GILMOUR and WATERS balance each other perfectly. Three vocalists feature, WATERS relegated to one song as is proper; he has a terrible, adenoid-laden voice. Multiple songwriters are called on, alone and together. When the BEATLES were at their most potent they had three composers and three vocalists, and the balance between LENNON and MCCARTNEY kept the former's bitterness in abeyance and the latter's sugary excesses in check (mostly). Exactly the same process was taking place in the PINK FLOYD camp - WATERS akin to LENNON, and GILMOUR to MCCARTNEY - and the resultant balance gave them wide creativity and a varied sound. The fruits of this balance would be heard around the world within months of the release of this album.

Far from the late 60s, when the band didn't have a musical idea to rub together, by 1972 they were so productive they could come up with this excellent album in a week. This album is worth your time.

russellk | 4/5 |


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