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Pink Floyd - Ummagumma CD (album) cover

UMMAGUMMA

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.48 | 1170 ratings

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PinkYesGongMachine
4 stars Ummagumma is Floyd's most experimental album and also the first live album released (and only until "Delicate Sound of Thunder" nearly 20 years later). It begins with the live album featured older concert staples:

ASTRONOMY DOMINE - This Syd Barrett classic, played live without Barrett is a slower, heavier and more maniacal piece on Ummagumma. My least favorite piece on the entire album, it is still takes you to a bizarre universe, especially with the keyboard solo. Other than the extensions and the spooky, slower variation, it's not so much different than the original.

CAREFUL WITH THAT AXE, EUGENE - Always a favorite in every variation, this CWTAE is similar to the Pompeii version and is extremely eerie and very groovy. There is no version of "Eugene" that is disappointing.

SET THE CONTROLS - Again, much like Pompeii, this atmospheric classic is a bit monotonous, but you can't help but be hypnotized by the drumming of Mason and Waters' mesmerizing vocal chants.

A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS - Although the Pompeii version is superior, the Ummagumma version of ASFOS is far better than the studio album version.

All the live songs are highly recommended and give the album quite a boosting in rank.

Rick Wright's contribution is an exercise in avant-garde classical music and, although he is no Bartok or Penderecki, he has quite a talent for the strange and spontaneous. The opening of Sysyphus is a heavy strings-laden piece with an ominous, almost war-like march that slowly fades in to part II's atmospheric piano that flows from beauty to decay before transforming into Part III, which sounds like animals running around inside a piano and back into a Mellotron for part 4. The mellotron is very peaceful and mellow, but has a sort of underlying eerie feeling - much like a Tales from The Darkside feel - until your worst fears are confirmed with a sudden organ blast and the return to part I's war march sound. Overall, a very disturbing atmosphere, much like the story of Sisyphus (Sysyphus).

Waters contributes two songs: Grantchester Meadows is an acoustic piece that is laden with sounds of nature mixed with gentle guitar and pastoral lyrics. The song ends with the swatting of a fly and journeys into the strangest song - and longest title - on the album "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict". This is just a lot of Roger Waters speaking in foreign lingo and sound effects that create a sort of world with freaky little animals and some crazy man "grooving", apparently.

The David Gilmour contribution begins with some great smooth guitar picking that segues into a sort of Black Sabbath heavy guitar riff continuing into the best "song" on the album - The Narrow Way part 3; this song could've been on Obscured By Clouds or More or Atom Heart Mother easily. It is the most "normal" song on the album and Gilmour's voice and guitar give you a small break from the barrage of insanity beforehand.

Finally, Nick Mason's genteel, rather boring Grand Vizier's Garden Party has to be listened to more than once to appreciate. Lindy Mason's flute playing and Mason's percussion work is highly progressive and goes well together. Frankly, I enjoy Grand Vizier the more I hear it, although I have been guilty of falling asleep to it.

Overall Ummagumma is one of the most experimental albums of all-time and deserves points for that. Floyd and other bands have pulled off much better, but Ummagumma was brave, solid and very creative. The studio mixed with the live album brings me to give it a solid 4.

PinkYesGongMachine | 4/5 |

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