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Pink Floyd - The Story of Wish You Were Here CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.98 | 98 ratings

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4 stars The new examination of a classic, by the band

As you might expect, "The Story of Wish You Were Here" covers the making of the band's seminal 1975 release, an understated masterpiece with the competing themes of lost friendship and bitterness towards the record business. There are so many lame unofficial Floyd documentaries out there that I should immediately make clear this one is official, and features the full participation of the band's surviving members and many of the integral non-band collaborators.

The one hour feature is a current and fairly focused look at the album in a style similar to the "Classic Album" series with the gents who recorded the album back at the board, dissecting tracks and telling stories. It goes back and forth between band member interviews (new and old) and segments of the band's Syd period with side detours about artwork and the business. One hour is never enough time and most hard core fans will already know much of the story, so in that sense there's not a ton of previously uncovered excitement. Still, all parties now have a genuine affection for their legacy and sound like they are actually happy to be a part of what is a new Floyd project, if not a creative one. Some of the commentary about Scarfe, along with Roy Harper and Storm's interviews about the creation of the visuals were unique and appreciated. All in all it is a satisfying documentary with excerpts of new performance and just enough new angles to please even grumpy old Floydsters a little bit. It will be surprising to some to hear just how disillusioned and unenthusiastic they were after the success of Dark Side. The fact that they were able to follow up with several more great releases is a testament to sheer talent and a bit of fate.

The downside is the cliched and negative treatment of Barrett yet again. While the band members speak eloquently and with affection, whomever chose the Barrett material presented did the man no favors. It came off like a hyped network celebrity piece with the usual tragic and sensationalized feel. Yes it is crucial to explain what happened, but to balance that they could have chosen Syd's good material to show. They could have presented some of his finer songs in a proper form, the better singles and solo tracks, to both document his talent and show why he was revered by many. Instead they present some brief footage, bits of his 1974 studio noodling, drag out the terrible "first acid trip" thing, and generally create an unflattering portrait with the tragic commentary and script. These moments have all the sensitivity and class of an auto accident rubbernecking slowdown. So much for celebrating the positive artistic contribution of his life and in that period there was some great stuff. Again, this aspect may not have been under the control of the band and I suspect it was put together by other people. But unfortunately Syd comes off as nothing but tragedy while his brief yet highly creative phase was almost completely brushed aside. In an unofficial doc that would be expected, but here in a high profile release with the participation of the group it really is unforgivable.

If you love the album and the band this is an inexpensive no-brainer that does a good job of examining the material with the time it has. It just short shrifts the inspiration for the album once again. Twenty five minutes of un-aired bonus material is included with additional band interviews and performance clips.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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