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Pink Floyd - Meddle CD (album) cover

MEDDLE

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.30 | 2140 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Easily the Floyd's best studio album since A Saucerful of Secrets (the live disc of Ummagumma is essential, but the studio part of that album was a real stinker), Meddle sees the band both lay their old sound to rest and stumble upon their new approach with the epic Echoes. It is not, however, the masterpiece it's often made out to be.

It's well-known that the group entered the studio this time around with more or less no new material to work with, and had to create the entire thing from scratch. Various experiments - an attempt to make an album using only household items rather than actual instruments, an experiment in which each band member improvised individually without being able to hear the others, with only guidance for what sort of mood to play in and how long to play each mood for offered - yielded nothing particularly special.

Eventually, from this long period of frustration was born the album we have today - on which Roger Waters has a writing credit on all the songs, three numbers being whole-group compositions, two songs being Waters-Gilmour collaborations and one being composed by Roger entirely. This, of course, is the birth of the Waters-led songwriting process which would lend vital focus both to this album and to its followups - but would also lead to Waters personality dominating the group by the era of The Wall and The Final Cut, leading to the infamously acrimonious split.

Here, the results of Waters taking the lead are, I have to say, mixed. Opening track One of These Days is a real scorcher, and I have no quibbles with it. Echoes is, of course, wonderful... except for the three minutes of synthesised wilderness noises in the middle, which ruin the flow of the song and seem to serve no purpose beyond padding out the running time. And as for the middle tracks, San Tropez and Seamus are both novelty tracks - not a field the Floyd has ever been especially strong in, whilst A Pillow of Winds and Fearless are soulless pseudo-psychedelia along the lines of Fat Old Sun or If from Atom Heart Mother.

Meddle is overall a good album. It's got a couple of really fantastic tracks, but between them are sandwiched some average songs and a couple of throwaway gag tracks. And Echoes would be better if it were trimmed slightly. Still, at long last the light at the end of the tunnel is visible; this album marks the end of the post-Syd period of aimless meandering as the band tried to chart a "democratic" course only to find that this didn't really match their temperaments, and that (to put it charitably) some group members had better songwriting chops at this point than others. Waters taking the lead may, in the long run, have ended in disaster, but at this point in time it was vital to prevent the band from simply dissolving due to a lack of ideas and direction. And the heights which would be attained with the next run of albums were surely worth it.

But as for Meddle itself? It's a transitional work, not a masterpiece, and prog fans shouldn't let the epic length of Echoes blind them to the decidedly patchy work preceding it, or to the song's own flabby structure. Three stars.

Warthur | 3/5 |

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