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Pink Floyd - A Saucerful Of Secrets CD (album) cover

A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.64 | 1247 ratings

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Raff
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Pink Floyd's sophomore effort is undoubtedly an album that polarises listeners' opinions, as the previous reviews show quite clearly. Some see it as dated, or lacking in cohesiveness, since it was released at a turning point for the band, when Syd Barrett, who was slowly descending into madness, was being gradually replaced by his friend David Gilmour - which meant a significant shift in the band's overall sound. In my personal opinion, though, it is one of PF's best albums bar none, and one of the great unsung masterpieces of progressive rock.

"A Saucerful of Secrets" can boast one of the strongest opening tracks ever, which is no mean feat for a band that specialised in killer openers thoughout their career. "Let There Be More Light" is the archetypal psyche/prog composition, with weird, mesmerising, Eastern-influenced sound effects, and vocals alternating between chant-like whispers and shouts. Together with the album's best-known song, the equally iconic "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" (whose definitive version is the one featured in the "Live at Pompeii" film), the track was written by Roger Waters, who was well on his way to becoming the band's true driving force. Those who maintain that Waters was a less gifted composer than David Gilmour should probably take a careful listen to both songs.

The mood changes almost abruptly with the following song, the Richard Wright-penned "Remember a Day". With soothing, wistful vocals that match the nostalgia-filled lyrics, it is a delicate, charming piece that is definitely easier on the ear in a musical sense, as is the the keyboard player's other composition, the lullaby-like "See Saw" (in my opinion, the weakest track on the album). On the other hand, the only two contributions by the departing Syd Barrett, "Corporal Clegg" and "Jugband Blues", hark back to the whimsy of much of PF's debut album, with endearingly zany vocals, odd noises and ironic, nonsense-filled lyrics. "Jugband Blues", which closes the album in stark contrast to the eerie soundscapes of the opener, can be seen as Barrett's testament, and feels particularly poignant nowadays, almost two years after Syd's untimely death.

An album's title-track often acts as its focal point, and this is particularly true of the schizophrenic masterpiece that is "A Saucerful of Secrets". Over 12 minutes long, the track is introduced by an uncontrolled chaos of weird noises and hypnotic percussive patterns, a sonic storm that suddenly abates and is replaced by a solemn, organ-driven section, featuring features vocals somewhat reminiscent of a church choir. In a way, ASOS reflects the nature of the album itself, and the circumstances in which it came into being.

For those who have come to know Pink Floyd through their milestone albums of the Seventies, this record may well turn out to be a disappointment, since it is in no way as accomplished, let alone as polished as regards production values. ASOS is a child of the late Sixties - raw, experimental, slightly incoherent - and as such captures the essence of an era in which creativity and envelope-pushing were rife. It also captures the full potential of the band just a few years before they took the leap that would lead them to conquer the world. An essential listen.

Raff | 5/5 |

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