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Pink Floyd - Ummagumma CD (album) cover

UMMAGUMMA

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.48 | 1526 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 113

"Ummagumma" is an album of Pink Floyd which was released in 1969. It's a double album divided into two different types of musical works. The disc 1 is a live album of their studio musical catalogue at the time, while disc 2 is a studio album that contains several musical compositions, all composed by each member of the group as solo artists.

"Ummagumma" has sixteen tracks. The disc 1 is the live album and has four tracks. They were recorded live at Mothers Club in Birmingham, and in the following week at Manchester College of Commerce. The first track "Astronomy Domine" is a live version of a song originally released on their debut studio album "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn". The second track "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" is a live version of a song never released on any of their studio albums. It's an instrumental piece of music that was originally released as the B side of their single "Point Me At The Sky". It was also released on their compilation album, "Relics". The third track "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is a live version of a song originally released on their second studio album "A Saucerful Of Secrets". The fourth track "A Saucerful Of Secrets" is a live version of the title track of their studio album "A Saucerful Of Secrets", too.

In relation to this live album, all the live versions on it are great. "Astronomy Domine" and "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" always were two of my favourite songs of the psychedelic musical phase of the group and the only thing I can say is that they are even better than their original studio versions. I must say that I never was a great fan of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". However, I also must say that this live version is superb and because of that I became a fan of this version of the song. "A Saucerful Of Secrets" is without any doubt my less favourite track of this side of the album, because it has too much improvisation for my taste. However, it's also a great track that doesn't harm the great musical quality of this side of the album. Overall, all these live versions are stranger, wilder, longer, sometimes considerably so, sometimes slower, faster, or louder, at times hypnotically pretty and otherworldly, other times frighteningly creepy and intense, and still otherworldly. In short, the live disc shows the early Pink Floyd at their best.

The disc 2 is the studio album and has twelve tracks. Still, it was divided into four parts, where each part corresponds to each band member. The first part "Sysyphus" is from Richard Wright and is divided into four parts which correspond to four tracks. The second part is from Roger Waters and has two tracks, "Grantchester Meadows" and "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Growing With A Pict". The third part "The Narrow Way" is from David Gilmour and is divided into three parts which correspond to three tracks. The fourth part "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" is from Nick Mason and is divided into three parts which correspond to three tracks.

In relation with this studio album, I must say that in general it's a little bit disappointing for me, because of its low overall quality. "Sysyphus" is my favourite part of this studio album. This is an avant-garde piece of music very strange and with a rather sinister atmosphere that sounds like something out of a horror movie. It's, in my opinion, a very good piece of music with some great musical parts. "Grantchester Meadows" is the only solo piece of music on the acoustic guitar with lyrics on the album. In my opinion, it's a typical acoustic song by Roger Waters, very simple and soft, but also very vulgar and extensive. Definitely, this isn't one of his best compositions. "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Growing With A Pict" represents a complete waste of time. It's a song almost inaudible and I sincerely can't see anything positive on it. This is probably the worst composition ever made by Waters. "The Narrow Way" is, in my humble opinion, an unbalanced piece of music with some low and high points. It's basically an exploration of several guitar styles and is fortunately largely pleasant listening. "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" is, in my opinion and surprisingly, the second best piece of music on the album. It's a track with an interesting musical structure, very pleasant to listen to, and is for me, the underrated piece of music of this rather strange studio album.

Conclusion: Everything about this album is weird, from its cover, another Hipgnosis classic, to its title, apparently a British slang for sex, its structure and finally its actual contents. "Ummagumma" is comprised of an excellent live disc that represents Pink Floyd's "space rock" peak, followed by a second studio disc that ranges from very good to truly awful. In relation to the live album, we can say that all the four live versions are superior to their studio originals, made longer, louder, harder, all with a real edge of playing. In relation to the studio album, it isn't a musical collective effort of the band and I must confess that I never was a great fan of those types of albums. I must confess that it was very hard for me to rate "Ummagumma". I completely agree with Easy Livin when he says that we are in presence of a good album and a not so good one. This album probably proves that Pink Floyd members are better as a band than as solo artists. It represents really the band's artiest, most experimental, avant-garde, and flat-out album ever made by them.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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