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Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.88 | 2021 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
3 stars When I ask people if they've heard Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother, the responses that I DON'T get tend to be along the lines of:

"Yeah, that "If" song has pretty cool lyrics"

"Oh, the one with "Fat Old Sun"? Yeah, that's a cool album".

What I DO get doesn't veer too far away from "The one with the cow? I don't remember, but I remember the cow". It's not really that surprising an answer. Pink Floyd have had some of the most iconic album covers in the seventies, with music generally matching the image as far as classic status is concerned. Not in this case. Atom Heart Mother is all about the cow. Then maybe the odd album title with its back-story. Then, far in the distance, the music. When I was young, I thought maybe the side long instrumental suite was a soundtrack to a non-existent film about the adventures of a cow, with an 'atom heart' as opposed to a regular heart. This gave the cow special strength-related powers. Right now I think the cow is telling me to register at Bovine University. Rough morning.

The title track does have plenty of interesting elements, my favorite being the full on brass orchestra 'theme' that shows up early on and bounces in again from time to time to add a bit of glue to the whole thing. It's a bit cheesy but majestic and fun, like music to accompany your ascent towards the apex of a small mountain. The song is divided into parts with rather 'toss-off' titles that seamlessly blend into each other, but, as far as the 'rock' side of things are concerned regarding this big cow of a track, it comes across at times like a low rent "Echoes". Not a terrible song as a whole, but at times it gets tedious.

Side two has the roots of Roger's "I'm depressed and slowly going insane" catalogue with "If", which is pleasant enough in a sad sort of way (weird I know) and has some nice atmospherics with a bit of trippy slide guitar. It also could have been a minute shorter.

"Summer '68" follows, and is my favorite song on the album because it's actually fun and yes, a throwback to their psychedelic roots, which in retrospect seemed a lot more exciting than the waddling around they were doing around 1970. The chorus and the horn section have enough of a jaunty vibe that I could strip down to my Union Jack Speedos and dance like a maniac on my front porch, except that the rest home across the street would probably call the police.

"Fat Old Sun", in which Gilmour sees himself in the far future, is ok, with Mason occasionally waking up to hit a few nice drum rolls before nodding off behind his drum kit again.

"Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", on the other hand, is another failed Ummagumma type experiment to me, in which more effort was made to come up with a memorable song title than a memorable tune. It's just stupid Alan walking around making breakfast and acting like a damn fool over nondescript proggish psychedelic music that goes nowhere.

Listening to it again, I realize that it's a grower, and not as terrible as I remembered it to be way back when. Still, I think as far as 1970 releases are concerned, their former leader's solo effort The Madcap Laughs trumps this album in every way. It's aged far better than the cow album, but a couple of the Floyd members that assisted on Syd's release can say, "Well, at least I was on that record". Atom Heart Mother does have its merits though. Not just the cow.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |


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