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David Gilmour - About Face CD (album) cover


David Gilmour


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2.86 | 268 ratings

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3 stars About Face is a pretty mild second solo effort by Dave Gilmour. The music is pretty evenly divided three ways into the Pink Floyd sound of the Wall and Final Cut era; some slightly more aggressive and pseudo-brooding tunes aimed at the mass-popularity market; and a couple that actually stretch Gilmour's creativity and imagination, but not too much.

I think this one came out after Water's split from Pink Floyd, and right after the Final Cut - the historians on the archives would know this better than I. At the time Floyd seemed to be pretty much finished, particularly in light of all the other 70's progressive bands that were either falling by the wayside, or simply changing their focus toward music video and mass market appeal. Gilmour was not immune, with "All Lovers Are Deranged", "Love on the Air" and a few others making their way into MTV and VH1 rotation, just as he intended them to. Taken in the context of the time it was released, this is not a bad album, but it's unlikely to be found in too many collections another twenty years from now either.

"Until We Sleep" opens the album, and it falls into that slightly more aggressive category with some nice guitar and the pumping fretless bass giving this just enough grit to peak the listener's interest right up front. The lyrical theme, as best I can tell, is basically - 'life sucks, and then you die'.

"Murder" is one of the more interesting songs on the album, with an intro that is similar to "The Fletcher Memorial Home" from the Final Cut, but with a nice build-up to some really nice guitar toward the end. This is a song about crazy people killing other people. I've read this was a song about John Lennon's murder.

"Love on the Air" is a collaboration with Pete Townshend, but there's no sparks here. Frankly I don't really hear the Townshend influence in this song at all. This is a fairly straightforward 80's soft rock tune about a typical 80's soft topic - some sort of nebulous paranoid world-view of the impact of technology and progress on personal relationships. Pretty trendy for 1984.

"Blue Light" has a more upbeat rhythm, and even has a horn section. This is a different sound for Gilmour, and he should gets some credit for trying something new at least. Great guitars on this one too, but the lyrics are about a blue-light lady or something - I have no idea. This was released in several variations of singles, promos, and video clips for some reason.

From "Out of the Blue" comes a vision of a hopeless and final end for us all: "hold back the fire because this much is true; when all's said and done, the ending will come, from out of the blue". Well, cheers to you too Dave. This is a sad little tune that is vintage Gilmour. It's kind of hard to fault him for this rather safe composition because it's the sound we all dug for years when he did it with Pink Floyd.

"All Lovers Are Deranged" is the other Townshend joint effort, and this one has his trademark sound all over both the lyrics and the arrangement. As angry as Pete Townshend was for pretty much his entire adult life, one has to admit he had a great knack for putting together music that drew people to it. This song is no exception. Yes, it's a blatant attempt at capturing music-video and radio airtime, but it's also good enough to merit it. Who's doing the singing on "You Know I'm Right"? Is that really Gilmour? This song is a pretty transparent attack on Roger Waters and their unfortunate ego-induced ongoing spat, but Gilmour's vocals are just a bit of a distraction from an otherwise decent arrangement (I'm pretty sure it's him singing since nobody else gets the blame in the credits).

"Cruise" is probably the most durable track on the album since it seems to avoid that kind of musty 80's feel that the rest of the album has. The attempt at creating an understated musical message about nuclear bombs falls a bit on the cheesy side in Gilmour's hands, but still - if taken at face value this is a decent enough song.

The closing track, "Near the End", seems to be a kind of marriage of some of the more subtle Floyd sounds, with a more contemporary sultry pseudo-sophisticated arrangement that seems to go on about three minutes too long, but is a harmless enough way to end the album.

Overall, I just don't know how to take this album. When this and Waters' "The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking" were first released I kind of took them in stride. Everything was changing so fast in music at the time anyway that this almost seemed like a normal evolution for one of the more memorable progressive bands of the previous couple of decades. Hearing "All Lovers" or "Murder" on FM radio back then next to crap like Prince and Wham! and Men Without Brains (or whatever they were called), made even a modest effort by Gilmour seem quite good by comparison. And some of us were depressed enough already - Gilmour's music wouldn't send you scurrying for the valium and razor blades like Waters' music did. But over time, this album just doesn't stand up as one of those memorable works that you still find a reason to throw on the turntable (or iPod or Discman) from time to time. This week was the first time I've played it in years, and it will probably be the last time for at least several more years. It's a decent work from a well-respected and professional artist - nothing more, nothing less. Seems to me that's a three star effort.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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