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Pink Floyd - Obscured by Clouds CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.37 | 1559 ratings

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4 stars This is a CD that can hold its own with many of PINK FLOYD's greats--do not pass it up simply because it is a "non-concept" album. It is, in fact, the last non-concept album that PINK FLOYD would produce until A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Therefore, what the listener ought to focus upon is the power of the music. This disc really does a nice job of forecasting some of the beautiful music that will later appear on The Dark Side of the Moon. The entire CD is underrated--and that is why I have chosen to open this review with ObC's most underrated track.

That, in my opinion, is "Absolutely Curtains". To be honest, it is beyond my understanding why this song seems to bother so many people. It's quite heartwrenchingly played by RICK WRIGHT...there's something mournful and mysterious about it that his fans would recognize from his solo song "Interlude" (from Broken China)--that same feeling of standing frozen upon the edge of something that's about to happen, not quite knowing exactly what it is. I know the song is credited to the entire band--but its execution is largely down to WRIGHT: the song, aside from percussion and tape effects, consists entirely of a synth (VCS3?), Farfisa and Hammond organs, Rhodes and acoustic pianos. While PINK FLOYD obviously did not know what was to come, it's quite chilling to listen to this song bearing in mind that they did in fact stand upon the edge of an era that, while filled with great promise, would also result in great pain. This is the very side of the music that, over time, was forced out of the music and only regained in later years. As for the chanting, I personally find it mesmerising.

Another historical rarity on this album, for which it should be treasured, is the appearance of the powerful WRIGHT-WATERS songwriting team--something seen only on this album and Dark Side of the Moon. Had ROGER WATERS had more respect for his opposite, this could have gone even further, as these tracks prove how perfectly they complemented each other. Look at "Burning Bridges", the best of these songs: here you have a gorgeous, memorable, and innovative tune, along with enchanting (not overbearing...not yet!) lyrics. I should also point out that the mixing is the boldest for WRIGHT's vocals to ever appear in a PINK FLOYD album before the song "Wearing the Inside Out", making it quite a treat on the ears. "Mudmen", the instrumental companion track to "Burning Bridges", adds to WRIGHT's gorgeous chord sequence some guitar work that might remind the listener of "Time" although with a backing more like "Us and Them". There is no doubt that both DAVID GILMOUR and RICK WRIGHT were now ready for The Dark Side of the Moon. (A bit of trivia--someone pointed out that the time signature is changed between "Burning Bridges" and "Mudmen", a very interesting subtle sign of musical innovation.)

Perhaps the most chilling of all the predictors on this album is the lyrics to "Free Four", put on a backdrop of music that is entirely too happy for the subject matter (intentional sarcasm on WATERS' part, I believe, similar to "Corporal Clegg" on A Saucerful of Secrets). The lyrics, in a way, are a precursor to every theme that WATERS will dwell on in future works, particularly The Wall. His fans will probably see this as a welcome introduction to his more serious approach to music--others may see this song as hailing the future destruction of the band.

"When You're In"/"Obscured By Clouds" is a quick rock instrumental opening that shows WRIGHT's Hammond technique in fine form. "The Gold, It's In the..." is perhaps the album's weak point--a track that sounds less like PINK FLOYD and more like the Doobie Brothers: basically a simple rock tune, but still enjoyable enough. "Wot's uh the Deal" is a very pleasant "Pillow of Winds"-like tune with interesting lyrics, nice vocals by DAVID GILMOUR...not THE best of the album, but soothing and likeable. "Childhood's End" is written solely by GILMOUR, and while musically (except in the intro) doesn't really deviate from standard rock, it's lyrically one of his better outings, just under "Sorrow" and "High Hopes". "Stay" is the other WRIGHT-WATERS outing, and my suspicion based on the ordering of credits is that the lyrics, similar in theme to "Summer '68" (describing the emptiness of a one-night stand) were mostly written by WRIGHT himself. My personal guess based on intuition is that the chorus is written by WATERS--the rest is WRIGHT, and his vocals are very pleasant to listen to.

Overall, this is a disc that all PINK FLOYD fans should make sure to pick up, both for its own intrinsic qualities and for the almost prophetic way in which it indicates the future direction of the band.

FloydWright | 4/5 |


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