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

A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.66 | 1703 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is the beginning of the band's wilderness years. Syd would leave the group partway through the recording of the album (he plays on only three tracks, and only sings on Jugband Blues - the only composition of his on the album), but even before his departure it was clear that he could no longer provide the band with the leadership and songwriting focus he had previously managed to exert. Without Syd's vision guiding them, the band found themselves adrift, and it would be several albums before they hit on the artistic direction - Waters-dominated concept albums balancing spacey moods with emotionally insightful lyrics - which would ultimately sustain them until The Wall.

Roger Waters and Richard Wright step into the songwriting breach with three and two songs respectively; Waters' Let There Be More Light and Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun are two psych-space classics which show an impressive command of atmosphere, whilst Corporal Clegg - as with Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk on the last album - shows that Waters just doesn't do "whimsical" nearly as well as Barrett. As far as Wright's contributions go, both Remember a Day and See-Saw have a placid and somewhat sunny mood but feel lightweight and forgettable when set next to Waters' work. The standout track by far is the group composition A Saucerful of Secrets, which stands as proof that the post-Barrett band had managed to gel as a performing and songwriting unit with exceptional speed.

As for Jugband Blues itself, its inclusion on the album must have been a tough call for the remaining members, pointing as it does both to the direction Syd's solo work would take, but also to the isolation and personal disintegration which Syd was undergoing and which would continue until he finally burned out. There's also a mild accusatory tone to it ("It's awfully nice of you to think of me here...") which must have made for uncomfortable listening for the band. At the end of the day I thin they must get points for honesty and for picking the most coherent and fitting Barrett track from the time period to include on the album (Vegetable Man or Scream Thy Last Scream would not have fitted the tone of the rest of the album)... but as far as Barrett compositions go, it's probably my least favourite, lacking the coherence of his earlier work or the stripped-back and simple charm of his solo material.

At the end of the day, A Saucerful of Secrets shows the band doing a good job of salvaging a terrible situation. Yes, the atmosphere is a bit up and down; Corporal Clegg is a discordant "clang" in the middle of what is otherwise a spacey, peaceful album whose louder moments come as crescendos that are gradually built up to rather than leaping out and startling the listener (as Clegg does). But at the end of the day it's a better album than anyone had any right to expect from them at the time. I don't think it ranks amongst their classics - it's just a little too patchy for that - but it is good enough to be worth a listen. A three star album with some four-star moments.

Warthur | 3/5 |

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