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Pink Floyd - Relics CD (album) cover

RELICS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.52 | 258 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars In the evolution of Pink Floyd this compilation album was always a kind of missing link, bridging the gap between the psychedelic pop band of the swinging '60s and the symphonic space-prog pioneers of the 1970s.

At first glance it looks like an arbitrary grab bag of rare B-sides and familiar early album cuts, delivering exactly what the subtitle promises: "a bizarre collection of antiques and curios". But look closely at the track selection and you'll see a definite pattern at work, charting the progress of a band suddenly cut off from its primary source of inspiration and beating the air for a new identity.

In short, it's a valuable portrait of Pink Floyd in transition, from the untethered genius of Syd Barrett to the craftsmanship of Roger Waters...by way of keyboard player Richard Wright, who briefly flexed his compositional muscles with a couple of the post- Barrett acid-bubblegum pop songs included here.

The differences between the two groups is immediately obvious from the pair of improvs framing the collection: Syd's "Interstellar Overdrive", from "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" LP, and the studio version of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", a 45 rpm B-side circa "Saucerful of Secrets" (or thereabouts). The energetic jamming of "Overdrive" makes a startling contrast to the tightly controlled, artless raga of "Eugene", but the latter would resurface in a definitive live rendition on Disc One of "Ummagumma" (an album that performs a similar function to "Relics", and might even be considered a useful companion volume to it).

All the songs here are presented in more or less chronological order, ranging from the group's first single (1967's "Arnold Layne") to the 1969 "More" soundtrack sessions. The notable exception to the sequence is "Bike", originally the closing track on "The Piper" LP and filling the same role here, as it later would for the more recent two-disc "Echoes" retrospective, and for a similar reason, I would guess.

The song is quintessential Syd Barrett: playful, clever, and more than a little scary in its deeper autobiographical implications. But in the context of Pink Floyd's long, successful career it's also a painful reminder of the pure, brain-wave intuition and creativity lost to the band along with its founding member, and will always make a fitting eulogy to any true Floyd tribute.

I didn't originally think "Relics" deserved more than a respectable 3-star rating, but a closer listen convinced me otherwise. In no way should it be considered a substitute for the complete set of early Pink Floyd albums, but fans of their later music who normally wouldn't venture this deep into their back catalogue might appreciate it as a convenient, one-stop-shopping overview of the group's formative years.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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