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Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.67 | 1808 ratings

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4 stars Nobody believed they could do it--not even their original management, who abandoned them in favor of Syd BARRETT, who now found it impossible to function within the band due to problems that included drugs. "Jugband Blues" definitely captures the state he was in, as well as (I think) awareness of his being phased out. Although I personally don't like this song, it certainly sets the stage for the rest of the album, which aside from one amazing and unique feature, forecasts PINK FLOYD's later directions with great accuracy.

I feel that PINK FLOYD's survival after this blow is owed not to one person, but TWO, who could hardly be more opposite: Richard WRIGHT and Roger WATERS. One might even (if you allow me a bit of poetic license with my usage of the terms) call them "yin" and "yang" respectively. With new guitarist David GILMOUR still trying to find his place in the band, having not yet developed an independent style, quiet-natured Richard WRIGHT brought his already-established Eastern-tinged and innovative musical talents to the table. Even Roger WATERS' "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" owes a heavy debt to his keyboarding. WRIGHT also makes extensive songwriting contributions, including the gorgeous, haunting "Remember a Day" and the relaxing "See-Saw", both of which he wrote on his own. Also remarkable is his vocal contribution. The remaining half of the excellent Barrett-Wright vocal duo very nearly made his soft, melodic, and unique voice THE voice of PINK FLOYD here. In fact, to my ear, he made it onto every track except "Jugband Blues", although the title track is arguable (duet, GILMOUR, or WRIGHT?) and "Set the Controls" is hard to tell. All I can say on the latter is, compare the faint "aaaahh" bit to the same place on Live at Pompeii where GILMOUR is clearly doing it, or Ummagumma (Live), where WATERS does it, to the "aaaahh" at the beginning of "Far from the Harbour Wall" on Rick WRIGHT's Broken China, and tell me which the studio version sounds more like.

PINK FLOYD's "yang" force, the outspoken Roger WATERS, brought his lyrical skills to the table with lyrics to "Corporal Clegg" (shades of The Wall?), "Set the Controls" ("Will he remember the lesson of giving?"), and I think also "Let There Be More Light". However, WATERS seems, oddly enough, the more tentative of the opposite RW's on this album, perhaps because he was still working on finding his voice. On A Saucerful of Secrets he relies heavily on outside influences such as Syd BARRETT and Chinese poetry. That said, however, his is a worthy contribution.

Nick MASON fans get a rare chance to hear him in full Eastern-psychedelic glory in the studio setting, most notably on "Set the Controls" and the apparent forerunner of "Echoes" (far more so than "Atom Heart Mother"), "A Saucerful of Secrets". Lyrically, all three writers are turning away from the Piper-era whimsy towards nostalgia (in WRIGHT's case) and madness (in WATERS' and BARRETT's cases), although some of the psychedelic, free-form style remains.

Those of you who have not heard Piper or Relics may be shocked to hear the severe recording-equipment limitations the Floyd suffered from in their early days--this is down to their label, in my opinion, which underfunded them. This, along with my dislike of "Jugband Blues" are why I dock the rating of this album half a star. But as both are due to difficult, uncontrollable circumstances, and the band DOES come through them well, I must give them their due credit. Overall, this album is a must-have for any PINK FLOYD fan's collection. It was truly a unique moment in their history--never again would yin and yang experience such synergy with both virtually in "command".

FloydWright | 4/5 |


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