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Pink Floyd - Meddle CD (album) cover

MEDDLE

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.31 | 2200 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Meddle" can be seen as a transitional album, but I think of it as a climax; a final statement for PINK FLOYD "vers. 2.0" before changing the way they present ideas on an album. In the same way that "Red" completes KING CRIMSON's second cycle, "Meddle" wraps up the loose ends of the post- "Piper", pre- DSOTM period- with refinement of past ideas and a glimpse of things to come.

On "One of These Days" we hear the final expression of PINK FLOYD's trademark creepy crescendo song ("Careful With that Axe, Eugene", "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", "Saucerful of Secrets"). One of the classic heavy PF songs, it features the classic Gilmour slide guitar and Waters proves you don't have to be a bass virtuoso to play a memorable riff. It also foreshadows the upcoming side-long track "Echoes" in miniature.

"A Pillow of Winds" continues the mellower acoustic trend from side two of AHM, slipping from vaguely comforting to eerie and back again with liquid ease. I appreciate that some of Gilmour's more fumbling slide moments were left on- it gives a bit of friendly immediacy to an otherwise ethereal track. "Fearless" brightens this loose acoustic feel with a simple, memorable riff and chorus- despite the laidback mood, once you hear this song you won't forget it. I've never quite figured out the point of the crowd sample at the end, though.

"San Tropez" is my least favorite track on the album, a light jazzy vocal piece that (though written by Waters) could have fit on Wright's "Wet Dream" album. "Seamus" is kind of fun, the same sort of throwaway blues that we heard briefly on the "More" soundtrack...but with a dog solo this time. Neither are likely to head many fans favorites list, but at least they're not embarassing (unlike some of ELP's 'comic relief' songs, for instance).

However, the entire first side could have been twenty minutes of snoring and it wouldn't take anything away from the majesty of "Echoes". Many of their previous long- form compositions had uneven pacing, pointless jamming, or experimental indulgence separating the great moments. "Echoes" is their first seamless masterpiece; from the melancholy opening to the dramatic chorus of the first movement we might deduce that the mellow feel of the previous side (well, minus the first track) was going to dominate; not so, as the following passage goes from funky (AHM's "Funky Dung" refined) to freaky with the screaming smooth lead guitar providing the magic carpet. There's also some exceptional organ work here by Wright, but it's a little buried in the mix (curse you, Alan Parsons...well, to give him credit, the production is comparatively more crisp detailed than we've yet heard, maybe even more so than DSOTM). Once full-on weirdness sets in, it's both soul-wrenching and otherworldly to an extent that the band had not shown thus far- and that's really saying something after "Ummagumma". This is the perfection of the pure aural insanity that was introduced all the way back in "Pow R. Toch" and developed through "Saucerful", "Narrow Way", and many others. Just when you want to pull the covers over your head, the organ gives us a mournful lifeline and we are slowly brought back to song territory. The gradual crescendo of this movement is based around the staccato pulse that opened the album (and reappeared in force throughout "The Wall"). The tension builds with some rolling percussion and a heraldic burst of echoing guitar; powerful bassy slides and crashing cymbals segue into a reprise of the opening theme, including a final climax which ascends into a spacey, bluesy fade-out...not far off from the opening to "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

Okay, I have to drop a star for the occasional loss of excellence on the first side, but "Meddle" definitely deserves to hang with the more obvious achievers in the FLOYD discography. This album puts a cap on their post- Barrett meanderings, and if they'd stopped here, it would have been a very respectable closer. Luckily they had more ideas brewing...

James Lee | 4/5 |

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