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Pink Floyd - Meddle CD (album) cover

MEDDLE

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.30 | 2195 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars The metal of the medal in a medley

Even though it (sort of) copied its layout AHM's successor did not top the charts, but instead it brought Floyd on the brink of greatness, just behind the bend. For some reasons, Meddle doesn't suffer of the same controversy than AHM did, which is rather strange, because it if has much higher and outstanding peaks, it is also much less even, because the lows on this album are simply awful. With that bizarre yet fascinating Hypgnosis artwork of mixing an ear and waterdrops on rippling the surface of calm waters, Meddle has not only a weird unnatural name, but the album was released in early 71 like its predecessor with the name and title on the cover, something that Crimson or Zep were also doing with success.

Actually Floyd reversed the scheme of AHM, presenting the song side first and relegating the sidelong suite over the flipside, thus bringing more light on the shorter numbers, something that lacked to Fat Old Sun, Summer and If on AHM. And do they ever open the album with a killer track: One Of These Days is a wild and violent instrumental track (if you'll forget Nick's spoken words), definitely groundbreaking despite a fairly simple layout. Behind heavy wind noises, an echoing bass slowly opens and soon starts an ostinato the cymbal crashes, elusive organs, wild slide guitar soaring way above the albatross on the flipside, the whole stopping fairly abruptly. After such start, it's only reasonable to slow down a bit and Pillows Of Wind is an acoustic track that's reminiscent of If and Fat Ild Sun on the previous album. Fearless is much the same, but drowns in a stupid idea of football rally chant that would kill some 30 people in a stadium some 14 years later. Sadly the poor ideas are not over: San Tropez is an unconvincing jazz pastiche, while Seamus is a blues sung by a dog, and not well I may add. While both filler/missteps are short (I'd prefer them totally absent), they ruin the album's cohesiveness. If the former was a rather clumsy pastiche, they'd done it before with the atrocious Jugband Blues , proving that Floyd could repeat its mistakes, especially that Floyd would hit the nail far in the coffin's walls, by repeating the singing-dog trick in their Live At Pompeii film.

The sidelong epic filling the flipside is what this album is all about. First a series of snippets, it was tried on stage under the name presented as Nothings, but as the track was nearing its final form, its named evolved jokingly as The Return Of The Son Of Nothing and then a more serous Echoes. Unlike many epics of that era, Echoes chooses to be mainly instrumental, just developing two sung passages, one in the first third, the other in the last third, much in the mould of Caravan's Nine Feet Underground. Although nowadays this track epitomizes the beauty of music, it wasn't always the case: as a kid of 8, I remember first hearing (with headphones) this track with the sinister sonar submarine note (courtesy of Rick Wright), creepy seagulls (Gilmour's noise by reversing one of his effect pedal, already been used on stage in Embryo or Cymbalene) and what I perceived as gloomy ambiances, and I remember making a nightmare that night. A few years later (around age 11), after hearing it again, I laughed at this incident, wondering about the perception of art. Echoes is probably less ambitious than the other sidelong epic AHM, but it works better as the musicians are not overstretching themselves in this one.

Despite its flawed last quarter of the opening side, Meddle nears perfection on this album, whose main merit is to propel Floyd into another dimension with its following Dark Side album. Despite some heavy critics (always the same RnR keeper-of-the-rules, nostalgic of the Barrett days), one can not accuse Floyd to have formula and repeat it or even playing it safe. This is another completely different album, quite distinct from every other ones. Very few bands managed to rework their sound so thoroughly with each passing album and still maintain their personality and distinctive edge and sound!! Just with that feat, Floyd is incredibly progressive.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |

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