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Pink Floyd - The Division Bell CD (album) cover

THE DIVISION BELL

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.72 | 1345 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
3 stars It is a little hard to believe that it has been a whole seventeen years since this, the last original studio release from The Floyd. I love this band, but am an unashamed Waters fan. The great man himself described the predecessor album, Momentary Lapse of Reason, as a "passable copy" of Pink Floyd. This one he derided as pure rubbish.

Was he right? Well, no, not exactly. It is not pure rubbish by any means, but what it most certainly could be described as, one Richard Wright written track excepting (his first since Wish You Were Here), is a David Gilmour vehicle with Pink Floyd musicians effectively acting as session musicians in support. The irony of this, I am sure, was not lost on their old protagonist, given that the excellent Final Cut was, equally effectively, a Waters solo vehicle with the rest in abject support.

It was a massive hit, with commercial and BBC radio utterly fawning over the whole project, helped along by the success of the single High Hopes and a strange sense, at the time, of nostalgia. The resultant tour was huge, with the band selling out massive arenas all over the world. It was also their swansong, and with Wright now sadly no longer with us, it will, I think, and actually hope, stay that way.

The playing throughout is exceptional, as one would rightly expect from such progressive titans. It is helped by Bob Ezrin's usual high standards of production, and I think credit should be given to Wright, who, since Animals, had been rather an abject figure both inside and outside the band. His contribution both on keyboards and, most welcome, on vocals on his track, Wearing The Inside Out, is brilliant, and it was a boon to us long standing fans to hear it. A nice jazzy track, with marvellous sax from long time collaborator, Dick Parry, this perhaps should have appeared on a Wright solo effort, but it is a highlight of this album.

It is definitely Wright's work which saves the otherwise rather ordinary Poles Apart, for instance, from descending into mediocrity. As a swansong, he had much to be proud of.

The mood throughout the album is rather downbeat, but I do rather think that much of it is being done "by the numbers". Unlike the classic period from Meddle to The Wall, and even passages from Momentary Lapse, you never really get the feeling that there is any passion amongst the gloom. The solos by Gilmour are more than competent - it is David Gilmour after all, and he never played rubbish, but there is never a hair raising moment amongst the proceedings. Neither is there a sense of the really interesting experimentation you had with A New Machine or Terminal Frost on the predecessor. For example, here Marooned as an instrumental is merely slightly interesting, well played, and ideal as a background noise rather than challenging and thought provoking. On tracks such as this and the dour Keep Talking (Gilmour's worse moment, I think), Waters' bitter criticisms do ring true.

However, it is not all in that vein. A Great Day For Freedom is a genuine Floyd classic, reflecting Gilmour's and his soon to be wife, Polly Samson's (she co-wrote much of this album) more upbeat and less cynical political world view than the departed lyricist. Of course, one could also reflect that the lyrics also point towards the "Wall coming Down" as referring to the departure of Waters, or maybe it's just me being rather cynical.

High Hopes is a fun track, and deservedly a hit single.

However, overall, I find this a disappointment when compared to the mighty, essential, works that all concerned had been involved with over the years. As a Gilmour solo album, perhaps it would creep up to a four star rating, but as Floyd? Never. If you rightly rate the four albums from Dark Side to The Wall as masterpieces, this simply isn't fit to lick their boots. It comes nowhere near.

It is a good album, but no more than that to me. Three stars for this.

lazland | 3/5 |

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