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Pink Floyd - Meddle CD (album) cover

MEDDLE

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.30 | 3197 ratings

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ProgMirage1974
4 stars REVIEW #7 - "Meddle" by Pink Floyd (1971)

Following their album "Atom Heart Mother", Pink Floyd was in a dilemma where they really did not know where to go. The previous album was a largely experimental work, but there was no concrete harmony between the songs to create a cohesive album. Nevertheless, the band attempted to correct this issue by recording a new album. Using various recording techniques, and overcoming creative roadblocks, songs began to flow and the album was recorded amidst the band's touring schedule. Upon release, it was a hit in the UK, and is considering to be a great step in the right direction for the band. The cover of the album, once again designed by Hipgnosis, is of an ear underwater (it was originally supposed to be a close up of a baboon's anus, but the band vetoed that idea).

The album opens up with an avant-garde piece titled "One of These Days" (4/5); the lone single to be released from the album. Centered around a bass line, played by two bass guitars (Waters, Gilmour) it is mostly instrumental. After a lengthy build-up, we hear the distorted voice of drummer Nick Mason say "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces" before the song hits a groovy tempo, eventually faded out by the sound of wind to segue into the next song "A Pillow of Winds" (4/5); an acoustic soft song (about Mahjong) reminiscent of the shorter tracks on their previous album. This one however is far better in comparison, attaining a dreamy tone with Gilmour's soft spoken vocals. Next up is the track "Fearless" (3/5); most notable for featuring the anthem of Liverpool F.C. "You'll Never Walk Alone" as a sound effect among the music, then "San Tropez" (5/5); another soft track like the second track on the album, yet a bit groovier. Based on the French town along the Mediterranean Sea, it captures the calm dreamy tone very well. The final song on side one is the humorous "Seamus" (1/5), a bluesy song with the constant annoying sound of a dog barking in the background. Overall this first side is really good - the softer tracks are very strong, while the opener has a solid build up and a great tone thereafter. The only disappointing facet here is that closing track - one of the more annoying songs I have ever heard, and is frankly just not in place on the album. At best, this should have been a B-side, and it unfortunately drags the entire first side down as it ends, leaving the listener confused as to how the album started off so promising, but ended so oddly.

Side two is what this album is famous for. With one track, it is the legendary twenty-three minute masterpiece "Echoes" (5/5). Opening with a trademark pinging noise created by keyboardist Richard Wright after playing a single piano note through a Leslie speaker, the music unfolds, propelling the listener into a different world, as the first verse of lyrics establishes a surreal ocean setting. The second verse is less clear; possibly having something to do about we as humans are interconnected. Following these lyrics we guitar a solid guitar solo as the tense atmosphere gives way to a groovy tempo change before leveling off completely into nothingness. Now with the listener somewhere deep in interstellar space, the music comes back very slowly as you are sent back to the world of the song. Another set of lyrics follows before the song closes slowly and with grandeur. The journey ends as the pinging from the beginning returns, book-ending the song perfectly. One of the greatest prog rock songs, and arguably the best epic to come from Pink Floyd, this song is a must-listen. Whether it be under the stars, or as you are falling asleep, this song has the rare ability to separate you from reality and bring you into a different world. The entire first side does not matter when put in comparison with this song - you could take ELP's "Love Beach" and make it the first side and this album would still be great.

"Meddle" would kickstart Pink Floyd's slow but monumental climb to fame. Emerging from the dilemma of direction put forth by "Atom Heart Mother", the band received acclaim for the album - most notably for "Echoes". Later that year, the band would record a live "movie" of the band playing in the deserted town of Pompeii in Italy with both "One of These Days" and "Echoes" featured (the version of "Echoes" on Live at Pompeii is amazing - I highly recommend you listen to it if you have not already). Reaching #3 on the album charts in the UK, it only reached #70 in the US due to poor advertising. Definitely one of the seminal works by the band, the first side is not recommended listening, but the album is worth listening to (and enduring "Seamus") for "Echoes." This album certainly would have scored higher if it had a stronger first side, but receives a good score nonetheless.

OVERALL: 4.0/5 (B-)

ProgMirage1974 | 4/5 |

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