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Pink Floyd - Ummagumma CD (album) cover

UMMAGUMMA

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.47 | 1134 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Surely this album doesn't need one more review, but I want to add my pence.

First of all the albun title: How many people knows that Ummagumma is a slang word for "making sex" in use in Grantchester's area ? We are in 1969 and Brrett is gone. Pink Floyd have been criticised by the old UFO Club fans that have missed Syd Barrett. In the same time the four Floyds haven't found their way yet.

The result is a double album with a live and a studio disc. They are very different and this is the reason of many controversial opinions of the fans during the years.

The live side is in general very well considered because it features very good arrangements of the classic "Astronomy Domine" and of the two best tracks from Saucerful of Secrets: The title track and "Set The Control For The Heart Of The Sun". It features also the only official vinyl release of "Careful With That Axe Eugene", a song which had several titles and was reused also for Anotonioni's Zabriskie Point as "Come on Number 51, It's Your Turn" and is the soundtrack of the last epic moment of the movie.

I want to spend more words on the studio side that's in general less appreciated. Like for ELP "Works", making an album with a side or half written by each band's member was a common practice in that period. The bad is that the four Floyds were still in search of their definitive style. The good is that they are free to experiment. The Disc two of Ummagumma is the most experimental thing that Pink Floyd have ever done.

Rick Wright is the author of "Sysyphus". It's a myth coming from the ancient Greece. The most famous part of the myth is when he's doomed to carry on a rock to the top of a hill and when done he has to restart from the beginning. As in the myth, the track, divided in 4 parts, is conceived as a circle. The structure is clearly symhonic but the use of dissonances and noisy parts add a touch of psychedelia so I would define it as a psychedelic symphony.

A typical Roger Waters acoustic ballad follows. "Grantchester Meadows" is the place Dave Gilmour and Syd Barrett are from. On this song Waters tries to use the sound of the words to create adliterations as Barrett was used to. "See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water" is an example, comparable to "Oberon there on the run". At the end of the song there's one of the most famous gimmicks ever: a fly, somebody running and smashing it.

This gives the start to "Several Species of Little Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict". I tooko years to understand what a Pict was...it justified the Scottish accent imitated by Waters at the end of the song that, as the title says, is made of sounds supposed to be produced by the little furry animals. I really like this track for its rhytmic noises.

One of the first compositions of David Gilmour is effectively a medley of two songs already performed live by Pink Floyd plus a central section. I think this song was underrated by Pinkn Floyd themselves, but the third part in particular contains the seeds of future Gilmour's compositions like Fat Old Sun.

I have some doubts about the whole "Grand Vizier's Garden Party" being totally composed by Nick Mason. I'm not sure that he had the musical skill to compose the flute part of the first and third sections. I trust that all the percussions and cymbals are his, indeed. Also this track is very experimental and possibly the most in line with things like Interstellar Overdrive.

To summarize, this is one of my favourite Pink Floyd's albums. I'd like to rate it 5 stars but basing on PA ratings I have to stick on 4.

A must have in any case.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |

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