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Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother CD (album) cover

ATOM HEART MOTHER

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.84 | 1432 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post Rock Team
4 stars The members of Pink Floyd don't have many nice things to say about this album, their first UK #1 album. 1970 seemed to be the year of both side-long epics and rock bands flirting with orchestras. Here Floyd do both at once. On this album they work with avant-garde composer Ron Geesin, with whom Waters made a soundtrack the same year. Syd Barret actually stopped by the studio to visit the band, but when he arrived only Geesin was there doing overdubs. For 1970, this is a rather long single-album. Supposedly the CD version has a different mix than the original vinyl.

Waters came up with the title after reading about a woman who got a heart pacemaker. "Atom heart mother..." was a part of the article's headline. Originally the epic was known as "The Amazing Pudding", and director Stanley Kubrick wanted to use it in the film A Clockwork Orange, but the band refused. The track is a good mix of band and orchestra(and choir). Generally I don't pay attention to the individual sections, listening to the whole thing as one piece. Some good use of sound effects throughout the epic. Wright's organ work is great after 3 minutes with the violin/viola, followed by some tasty slide guitar from Gilmour. I like the vocals starting before 6 minutes and how it builds up when the drums come in a few minutes later. Love how the choir is scat-singing in the middle. Leave it to Floyd to make a choir scat.

The main theme of the track gets reprised later. The weird avant section with samples from earlier parts of the epic doesn't really stand the test of time. I assume Geesin had a big influence on this part. Main theme gets reprised again afterwards. Then the earlier bass/organ/viola(?) part returns. The whole thing is a bit hit or miss at times, but overall the title track is well done. I never really cared for "If". Some nice sound effects and overdubbed, harmonized guitars near the end. "Summer '68" is the best of the three shorter songs. Great use of brass and a good piano melody. The lyrics are not too great, but this is a Wright song, and only Barrett and Waters ever wrote any good lyrics for this band. Like the harmony vocals near the end.

"Fat Old Sun" is another song I've never been much a fan of. Gilmour wrote a lot of better songs. The solo is the best part of the song, but it's not even one of his best. If it weren't for all the sound effects and looped talking, "Alan's Psychedlic Breakfast" would be more consistent and more enjoyable. The 'psychedelic' in the title refers to all those non-music sounds; the actual music is not really psych at all. I like how the matches get lit and then a note follows. First part: classical piano with some guitar, then some organ before a kettle goes off. Second part: folky acoustic guitars and some slide guitar. The third part is one of the best parts of the album: some kind of symphonic blues-rock with great piano and some nice guitar playing.

Atom Heart Mother has a lot in common with Meddle in that they both have some less than great songs stuck in the middle. Before DSOTM, their albums were inconsistent and featured both great tracks and not-so-great tracks. But those great tracks were really great. Every Floyd fan should have this just for the title track alone. Forget whatever Waters and Gilmour has to say about this album now; if they thought it was so awful when they recorded it, it would never have been released, right? There are some great live versions of the title track without orchestra on bootlegs. In some cases even better than the studio version. "If", "Fat Old Sun" and the non-musical elements of "Breakfast" bring this album down in quality. Overall, I would give this album 3.5 but I'll round it up to 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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