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

A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.63 | 1162 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Outtakes from the previous masterpiece, plus some new material. Soon after Piper was released, Syd's mental state went from bad to worse. He was becoming increasingly unstable, and was doing nothing to help the band's reputation. Some of his 'episodes' border on legendary, such as when the group was interviewed on American Bandstand and Syd wouldn't answer any of the questions asked of him, choosing instead to stare blankly into the camera for five minutes. More troubling, and more devastating, was that he was killing their ability to play live. Without warning, he would become completely spaced out in the middle of a song, and just wouldn't play at all or, even worse, start de-tuning his guitar on stage, which naturally made things difficult for the others. To try and fight this, the band hired a friend of Syd, David Gilmour. He basically had one duty; to run out on stage and start playing the lead guitar parts whenever Syd was going through one of his phases. Although his normal guitar style was the complete opposite of Syd's, cold and calculated whereas Syd was completely random, he was perfectly willing and able to play the parts given to him. Plus, he had that cool bluesy voice, far more pleasant than Syd's. Anyways, this worked for a few shows, but after a while the band just got sick of it, and one evening, as they were heading over to a gig, they simply decided to not pick Syd up. Syd was a bit angry about this, as you might imagine, but he was appeased when the group worked out an arrangement whereby Syd would remain the principal songwriter and Dave would do all of the actual stage work. Alas, though, Syd's songwriting had gone completely off the deep end, and the rest of the group finally decided that they had no choice but to fire him. This cost them a great deal of their fanbase, yes, and many of the financial supporters of the group bailed out on them and decided to invest in Syd's solo career, with the idea that a Barrett-less Pink Floyd had no chance of succeeding, but ultimately it was for the best.

Now for the album itself. Like I said, it's mostly Piper outtakes, but if you're expecting the same zany compositions as on the previous album, look elsewhere; the songs on here bear almost no resemblance to those on its predecessor. Wright throws in two pretty, romantic-sounding tracks, with wonderfully rich and syrupy vocals and a gorgeous atmosphere in general. "Remember a Day" is one of the great forgotten Floyd tracks of all time, I think; the combination of the pretty piano lines with the sweet vocals with the little bits of whacky slide guitar in the background make this into, at worst, a minor classic. "See-Saw" is good too, despite the fact that the working title for the song claimed that it was boring as hell. I've always found it to be a lovely bit of nostalgia, remembering the time when the person singing was a child and he and his sister were best friends. I guess one could find a note of creepiness in this if one so chose, but I don't think that's what Wright had in mind.

Waters' material is more in the 'cosmic' vein, and rather cool overall. The opening "Let There Be More Light" starts with a neato-sounding bassline that sounds a lot more interesting on closer inspection than it does from afar, and gradually turns into a slow and ultra-weird (if overly rambling) jam with Wright and Gilmour's new styles well established right away. Also, although it may seem on the surface that this was a Dave-era song, since the guitar parts highest in the mix are vintage Gilmour, closer inspection reveals ultra-loony parts in the background which cry out Barrett. Meanwhile, the lengthy but still good "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun," with lyrics taken straight from a book of chinese poetry (except for the title/chorus) is strong, quiet, and great for chilling/meditating. The final Waters composition of the album, the anti-war "rocker" "Corporal Clegg," is awkward as hell and not that impressive, but it's still rather funny; the kazoo solo is a total blast.

So there's five tracks. A 6th can be found in the form of the closer, a Syd composition called "Jugband Blues." Now, in and of itself, it's not that great a song, but if you know what had happened to Syd previously, the track is one of the saddest songs in the history of man. The ending part is particularly heart-wrenching, with just Syd and his acoustic, and the wonderful lines "And what exactly is a dream? And what exactly is a joke?". I can never help but mumble quietly "goodbye, Syd" whenever I hear that.

All those positives aside, these songs are not why I give this album a ****. The title track, credited to all 4 members, is why I give this album ****. Generally regarded as one of the first 'science fiction songs,' it seems to portray a battle in the depths of space. At first, Wright is just playing random chords, which help me to think of the cold emptiness of space, when out of nowhere it disappears. A Mason tapeloop comes on, and suddenly the guys are all trying to make as much noise as possible, and you can just see ships blowing up and getting shot and all of that cool stuff. Eventually, the battle fades out, leaving the wounded to recuperate, and there's some wonderful harmonizing at the end before it fades into "See- Saw." It's simply marvelous, and while Yes would one-up the concept with the epic "Gates of Delirium" 6 years later, this still works to me as kind of an abstract sketch of that piece.

Anyway, this album is certainly very patchy, and there's virtually no flow between each of the tracks, but there's not a single song on here that I dislike, and several that I love. **** it is.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |

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