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

A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.67 | 1709 ratings

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ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Freshly Minted Clichés With No Sell-by Date in Sight

Let There Be More Light - You have to take a step back on excavating this gaudy fossil after so many years to appreciate just how resilient early Floyd DNA truly was. Water's elastic and circular bass riff which allows Wright's overlying implied organ harmonies to move neurotically around it has been borrowed by everyone and their dog ever since. Similarly that particularly Floydian take on oriental tonality and eastern inflected phrasing, has come to represent our idea in the west of what Indian classical music might actually sound like. (It doesn't but that's not the point, ethnic forgeries fetch more than the originals in this marketplace) The lulling and sensual derangement of Barrett is never far from the surface and as to what his practical contribution to the album may or may not have been, his spirit nevertheless permeates every track here.

Remember a Day - Floyd revisit the softer poppier psychedelia of Piper on a song worthy of anything of a similar hue contained on the latter. They splice together very appropriately the childlike and the sinister elements that coexisted so effortlessly in Syd's oeuvre.

Why can't we stay that way?, climb your favourite apple tree Try to catch the sun,hide from your little brother's gun Dream Yourself away, why can't we reach the sun? why can't we blow the years away?

A song so dreamily trippy that every copy of Saucerful should have shipped with a complimentary set of finger cymbals.

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun - Notwithstanding the hedonistic spacey abandon that this track celebrates, there is a nihilistic darkness at the heart of the Floyd critter as evidenced by the title and a somewhat ambiguous lyric:

Who is the man who arrives at the wall? making the shape of his questions at asking Thinking the sun will fall in the evening, will he remember the lesson of giving?

Waters clearly believes that the eternal cycle of sun nourished life would be much better off without the meddlesome questioning of any kind of sentient middleman.

Had Apocalypse Now had a European director and been set in the failing British Empire of India, you have in your paws a much better soundtrack than the otherwise excellent one provided by the Doors. (and arguably more consistent with the spirit of Joseph Conrad's novel on which Coppola's movie is based)

Corporal Clegg - The best song John Lennon didn't write. Surface amusing but thick with irony and a snarling critique of the exploitation of war heroes who lay their lives and mental health on the line for a patriotic idealism not shared by their lords and masters. Almost a sister song companion to I Am the Walrus:

He's never been the same, no-one is to blame Mrs Clegg you must be proud of him, Mrs Clegg another drop of gin?

Like so many innovative facets of this album, it is all too easy to forget that caustically bitter triumphant fanfares had their painful birth throes here. Ditto for the cackling distortion applied to the vocal to imbue same with an unnerving menace. If you wish some sort of litmus test for true originality, you might be well served to start with artists like these, who invented clichés.

A Saucerful of Secrets - Pink Floyd at their least cuddly i.e. a glacially drawn out and heavily padded exercise in how to fill space with yet more space. Perhaps even more tiresome than Interstellar Overdrive as this is shorn of even the mitigating uber riff of the former. Perfect opportunity to get some finger cymbal practice in though. Things do perk up significantly after 4 minutes (or has it been days?) with a rippling tom groove from Mason over which the BBC Radiophonic Workshop get to earn royalties for their vast but hitherto untapped library of Weird Random Shit Volumes 1 through 57. The emptiness is now full to overflowing. Circa nine minutes you will be rewarded for your industrial strength patience with a deliciously ethereal organ chord sequence that simply blows the likes of the heavily saturated 'Margarine' Dream out of the flotation tank.

See Saw - Mercifully, a welcome return to economy and melodic intent albeit on a rather convoluted 'Syd by Numbers' appropriation which proves if nothing else that Barrett's apparently whimsical creations had an unforgiving internal logic that his imitator's and wannabes sorely lack. It might just be me but I always detect a whiff of incest on this cryptic tale of a brother and sister?

Another time another day she'll be selling plastic flowers on a Sunday afternoon Picking up weeds she hasn't got the time to care all can see he's not there She grows up for another man and he's down.

Jugband Blues - Heart rending that it had come to this. A very fine and memorable song but one I find hard to listen to without being saddened by the demise it precipitated in its author. Perhaps this represents Syd's first disoriented steps beyond the cusp of 'wholeness' on a composition that you could be forgiven for thinking is the product of a bicameral mind. It's doubtful if Syd would even have remembered writing, performing or recording this number.

And I'm wondering who could be writing this song I don't care if the sun don't shine and I don't care if nothing is mine and I don't care if I'm nervous with you I'll do my loving in the winter and the sea isn't green and I love the queen and what exactly is a dream? and what exactly is a joke?

Despite the inexorable advance of Syd's deteriorating mental condition, he continued to be able to produce work that carries the indelible mark of true greatness on two solo albums before the muse, without turning its back, left silently and forever leaving the piper alone at the gates of delirium.

From this point onwards, Floyd's output was of very little interest to me. I don't consider what followed any less accomplished than the first two albums but for this rodent, Pink Floyd were a brilliant pop group with a song-writing genius on board. Once the latter had disembarked that vessel at the behest of a mutinous crew, they became just an incredibly talented and innovative rock band. Greedy? Not me.

ExittheLemming | 3/5 |

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