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Pink Floyd - Meddle CD (album) cover

MEDDLE

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.30 | 2110 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is a very important album in the history of this great band. It marks the transition between what had, up until then, been a mainly underground space rock/psychedelic outfit, much beloved by characters such as John Peel, and the mainstream, stadia filling, selling albums by the truckload, band they would become with Dark Side of the Moon.

It is recognisably a band effort, with all four members contributing in spades, and also found them confident enough to perform and produce a masterpiece like Echoes on their own, without the assistance of a third party such as Ron Geesin on Atom Heart Mother. That album, to me, was the sound of a band desperately searching for a fresh identity in the wake of Barrett's departure. On Meddle, at last, they found it.

Many rate it as a masterpiece, but to me it falls short of that. Sure, if we were to rate an album on the likes of One Of These Days, a bombastic, heavy, and extremely violent track, and the sublime Echoes, then, yes, it would deserve such a rating.

However, listening now to the album, I still, as I did all of those years ago on first listen, get the impression that the pleasant, laid back, A Pillow Of Winds (Gilmour led, but co-written with Waters), the dreamy love song that is Fearless, featuring the anthemic Kop crowd at Liverpool FC, the strange San Tropez, a Waters solo piece that sounds as if it is a throwaway from the Ummagumma studio sessions, and the frankly "barking" Seamus, featuring a singing canine, are all numbers put to vinyl in order to make up two sides of a record. Because, of course, back in those days, you couldn't release an album with one side only, as you can on CD now.

They are not bad. Far from it, in fact. They are all very good, and interesting curiosities, but masterpieces? Come on. Not even the band would dare to describe them as such.

It all leads up, of course, to Echoes, which is simply one of the most incredible pieces of music ever recorded. Where Atom Heart Mother was patchy, bitty, and full of so many holes it was almost a cheeseboard on vinyl, this was coherent, full of emotion, and sounded somewhat effortless in its performance.

Right from the very start, where Gilmour's lazy intro blends in perfectly with Wright's incredible staccato keyboards, it takes you to a far away place. Gilmour, in my opinion, really never sounded any better vocally, and his guitar work is simply stunning, leading the band. You also, of course, realise just how good a rhythm section Waters and Mason were. The drums pound away, and the bass guitar keeps the tempo fairly flying along. Lyrically, it was the last time you could take away from Waters' words what you, as an individual, wanted to take away, or you interpret it as you liked. Future releases, of course, had the meaning rather rammed down your throat (and I say that as a huge fan). As an amusing piece of trivia, Waters, years later, accused Andrew Lloyd Webber of plagiarising large parts of the track, hence the somewhat less than complimentary reference to him on Amused To Death.

In the hands of any other band, the mid section, especially Gilmour's incredible reverse wah-wah, would simply have melted away into boring obscurity. With this lot, however, it all builds up to a menacing, and thrilling, climax. I rated DSOTM, Animals, and The Wall as five star albums, and Wish You Were Here as a four star album. All are incredibly brilliant albums, but, truly, musically and collaboratively, the band scaled the heights with this one, and never sounded better than they did on Echoes. It also, in my opinion, set the true standard for all progressive epics in excess of twenty minutes length.

Four stars for this, an album which is, on its leading two tracks, as close to perfection as it is possible to get. Shame about the rest of it, really.

lazland | 4/5 |

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