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ATOM HEART MOTHER

Pink Floyd

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Pink Floyd Atom Heart Mother album cover
3.85 | 1587 ratings | 174 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Atom Heart Mother (23:51)
- a) Father's Shout
- b) Breast Milky
- c) Mother Fore
- d) Funky Dung
- e) Mind Your Throats Please
- f) Remergence
2. If (4:24)
3. Summer '68 (5:26)
4. Fat Old Sun (5:17)
5. Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast (12:56)
- a) Rise And Shine
- b) Sunny Side Up
- c) Morning Glory

Total Time: 51:54

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- David Gilmour / guitars, vocals
- Nick Mason / drums
- Roger Waters / bass, vocals
- Richard Wright / keyboards, vocals

Aditional musicians:
- Ron Geesin / orchestrations
- John Aldiss Choir / vocals

Releases information

LP Harvest SHVL781 (1970)
CD Capitol/EMI Records 46381 (1987)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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PINK FLOYD Atom Heart Mother ratings distribution


3.85
(1587 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
33%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
40%
Good, but non-essential (21%)
21%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

PINK FLOYD Atom Heart Mother reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Founding Moderator
4 stars Although the "songs" on the album are all remarkably good, the six "thematic episodes" of "Atom Heart Mother" are the very essence of prog-rock, and deserve a special place in genre history. With the exception of the Moody Blues, this is also the first blending of rock, orchestra and chorus, and a brilliant one at that. As good as "prog-rock" gets.

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Send comments to maani (BETA) | Report this review (#8340) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
5 stars The Atom of your Mother's Heart

AHM is a very controversial album, decried by many as boring and pretentious (this usually the Barrett unconditionals pissing on Floyd's successful convalescence of their Syd-loss), almost disowned even by some Floyd members and hailed as the first giant step to the group's ascension to perfection ? it was after their first chart topping album. Despite the album's flaws and it not always ageing well, I rank in the last category of fans, even if I wonder sometimes how this album became so successful. No doubt Hypgnosis' cow un-tagged pastoral artwork helped out (it was a fad that Crimson and Zep tried before they did), but that doesn't explain much, especially with the sore studio experience of Ummagumma.

On the A-side, Floyd tried more successfully what many failed to do before them: integrating classical music and the symphonic orchestra and choirs into the rock fusion. Purple had failed as would Caravan later (although un-rehearsed), Procol only doing a readaptation of their better stuff, The Nice failing miserably on Ars Longa (etc..) but Floyd managed it well enough, but had to resort to outside help in the name of Ron Geesin. If you're not sure about Geesin's role in the AHM track, listen to his collab with Roger Waters's The Body, and it'll all become clear, even if musically there is no resemblance between the two albums. The birth of this epic was not an easy one, the group starting on a Gilmour idea following the More soundtrack and brainstorming led it to become a suite, which was then tested live, bearing the name of The Amazing Pudding (a few recordings exist or this work-in-progress). Apparently, something was missing and Geesin was called up (they had met a while before at the Technicolour Dream extravaganza) for his classical training, which lead directly to the awesome cello-filled Breast Milky. Geesin is the one who also found the final name of the epic, legend has it from a tabloid article about an atomic-powered pace-maker for a pregnant mother. This epic suite has many aerial and celestial moments, when the brass section had a field day taking the track into bombasticland and most notably the choirs, which take on a Kobaian overtone at the end of their second intervention. Floyd's group intervention in Funky Dung is coming as a just-in-time breath of fresh air, Gilmour's outstanding solo piercing your armour of indifference while Wright's Farsifa organ is underlining the group's tightness. While the dissonant musique concrete passage Mind Your Throats may be an interesting piece on its own, it is always a tough intervention on anotherwise marvellous and melodic piece like AHM, but one does learn to appreciate it with repeated listenings.

The flipside is completely different with the three songwriters grabbing one song each, thus almost recreating the Ummagumma pattern, but this time obviously the other members looked into what the others were doing, each singing their own song. This last aspect sort of breaks the side's unity, but it's not a big deal. Waters' If track is already pointing at his future obsession of alienation from society behind his acoustic guitar strumming; gentle but ambiguous stuff, especially in the light of their future. Next to that, Wright's Summer Of 68 is a very (overly?) ambitious project with the orchestral fanfare taking it over the top, but at least it has dynamics and almost rocks. Gilmour's first real songwriting effort (can't call is Narrow Way from UG a "song"), Fat Old Sun is an acoustic strumming guitar with added bottleneck (or is it lapsteel?) and the group's full participation is excellent, even Mason's drumming. Closing up the album is one of the remains of the Man And The Journey project that was never officially released and only once recorded live in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw in Sept 69. This mini-suite is a bit of a non-event describing sonically Alan's start of the day with shower and scrambled eggs. Short instrumental pieces (jams) separated by their roadie's mumblings, nothing fascinating comes out of this, but it is 13 minutes of non-offensive slightly-soporific easy-gliding (if not filler) stuff that has limited interest for demanding progheads.

With AHM, Floyd emerges from the spacey jams it was known for, and they jump on the prog train ambitiously (maybe a tad too much for their yet self-confidence), taking chances and mostly succeeding. While the album might seem that it hasn't aged as well as its successor, it is probably due to that then-refreshing naïveté that pervades through the album, prolonging the hippy era a few more years. But this slightly-flawed album is certainly no less essential than the following masterpieces they will astonish the world with.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#8329) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars When I was a young kiddie - boo-boo I bought what I was told to be one of FLOYD's stronger albums. From the first moments this album hit my turntable to the CD digital re-mastered version I frequently spin, "Atom Heart Mother" is a masterpiece. FLOYD blend blues with psychedelic rock with orchestration delivering one of their most artistic pieces of work todate. "Atom.." is a real sonic exploration with loads of great organ, guitar, bass and drum workmanship. Epic track "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is a real stunner with loads of talking and background breakfast nook sounds. I think the song is actually put to the process of preparing ones breakfast. Personal favs would be "IF" and title track "Atom Heart Mother" which explores the heavy combination of rock and full orchestra.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#8351) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Shame on me. I don't listen enough Floyd. But, this record has my sympathy. Mainly because if you buy Echoes, you won't find any of AHM songs on it. The title track is a marvellous song. My favorite is summer of '68. It's funny, the trumpet-organ that Rick's Wright's using in that song is rejoycing, hee hee, guilty pleasure on a cloudy day.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#8356) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004

Review by lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The most progressive effort- a symphonic one- by Pink Floyd, even though usually they are not so progressive. The "psychedelic" elements are mixed here with the rumor of tanks, epic horns and such a typical soundtrack for an epic number. In between you find some tepid breaks through for this anyway important symphonic album (which prevent me to give it the maximum score), but the first track alone is well worth checking out. At the end the present recommended work is the only "progressive effort" for this great but controversial band, along with "Meddle" and- in some circumstances only- also "Animals" and "Wish You Were Here":altogether those are unforgettable numbers!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#8357) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 03, 2004

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record is a bit different. The rythm is very slow: no Hurry! On "Atom Heart Mother", you have delightful classical arrangements that give another dimension to the psychedelic mood already present. Female choir is also a turn on. What I find more ordinary is those smooth acoustic songs with mellow vocals "Summer 68","if" and "Fat Old Sun". Finally, the last song allows you to be witness of "Alan's...Breakfast", which is, indeed, very psychedelic; maybe the eggs did not pass well...

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#8359) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A nice old cow

Looking at "Atom Heart Mother" retrospectively, Pink Floyd took another giant step forward towards their "Dark Side of the moon" masterpiece with this album. There was still along way to go right enough, but the album is generally much tighter than previous releases.

The title track takes up the whole of one side of an LP, and while nominally in 6 sections, it is very much a complete piece, the section breaks being irrelevant and often indiscernible. The controversial inclusion of orchestral backing makes the music seem almost classical at times. While the piece is enjoyable, is does tend to have the feel of being stretched.

Side two is generally lighter and more commercial. "If" and "Fat old sun" are delicate acoustic numbers, the former being particularly precious. There are hints in "If" of what was to come on "The wall", particularly in some of the cynical lyrics.

"Summer '68" is undoubtedly the most accessible track, veering towards the psychedelic flower power sounds of the late 60's. It has some superb and uplifting brass, and a very catchy hook.

The final track "Alan's Psychedelic breakfast" is something of a filler, including sound effects of a breakfast being prepared. I would suggest simply considering the album finished after "Fat old sun".

Lovely picture of a cow on the front cover too!

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#8360) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Review by Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars There are some who think this is the best PINK FLOYD album and then there are those who think this is their worst. Well, I can't make the claim that it's their best, luckily I can't say it's bad either. On side one, the band created a side-length suite called "Atom Heart Mother Suite". Here the band incorporates orchestra and choir with rock band. There is many atmospheric and experimental passages, including a twisted passage fooling around with the Mellotron (yes, PINK FLOYD used the tron, but only on this album, "Ummagumma" and "A Saucerful of Secrets"). There are oddly passages that sound like The ALAN PARSONS PROJECT circa "I Robot" (minus the synthesizers, of course, since this was 1970, not 1977, and synthesizers were still mainly big bulky modular Moogs). Maybe that shouldn't be any surprise as Alan PARSONS made his first appearance here on a PINK FLOYD album (not "Dark Side of the Moon", as commonly believed, although they had him mispelled as Alan PARSONS on this album).

Side two consists of more or less song-based material, trying to do another "Ummagumma" here by giving each band member their chance to stroke their ego (except for Nick MASON, luckily, since we don't need another drum/percussion experiment that falls flat). First you have Roger WATERS' "If", an acoustic ballad that he often likes doing. Then there's Richard WRIGHT's "Summer '68". Here's the odd piece: here he'd desperate to recreate the sound of "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn". It has all the trappings of late '60s psychedelia, you might think Syd BARRET had returned (of course he didn't, but he did record two solo albums the same year as "Atom Heart Mother"). Even that "Bah, bah, bah" chorus is present, making me think of certain California bands circa 1967 (The TURTLES, The ASSOCIATION, or even the Chicago band SPANKY & OUR GANG). It's almost as if the "canyons of your mind" and "flowers and beads" psychedelia reared its head once again in 1970! Still, it's a great song. I had never really cared for GILMOUR's piece, "Fat Old Sun". Here he tries for a country vibe and it just falls flat. Pretty mediocre. And for the last piece, rather than Nick MASON going on a drum/percussion wankfest like on "Ummagumma", the space was left for a full band composition, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfest". I presume "Alan" was meant for "Alan PARSONS". Mainly a bunch of background chatter and environmental sounds. There's an acoustic piece, more ambient stuff, then the band finally gets to kick in with some real music.

Yeah, it's a bewildering album, but at least it's not quite off the wall as "Ummagumma", but can be a bit uneven in place. Still recommended for those who are sick of "The Wall" or want to start exploring FLOYD before DSOTM.

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Posted Thursday, May 06, 2004

Review by frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars this album is different to the others. its a big step from ummagumma but this really paved the way to the latter floyd albums (meddle to the wall). the 70s had arrived. which would give birth to a chain of incredibly atmospheric and inspirational works. i personally prefer the early years but musically i think the 70s era was untouchable.

anyway... atom heart mother. if you thought interstellar and saucerful were epic tracks then you aint seen nothing yet. atom heart mother suite, taking up a whole side of the album to itself is one of the most underated pink floyd tracks of their career. this song defines experimental music, progression and is probably the first time david gilmour really pushed himself. the solos weaving out of richards piano pieces are remarkable. this album shows how pink floyd can work flawlessly as a team and also show off with the individual pieces on the album (side two).

rogers beautiful "if" is a similar piece to cirrus minor and grantchester. whipping out the old acoustic to dazzle us in a new way. before this rogers best songwriting appeared in set the controls but "if" shows much better lyrics as this track is almost a ballad. a prelude of better things to come indeed. dave and rick provide uplifting tracks and show off the best solo pieces (along with ASOS) alans psychadelic is confusing and trippy but a neat little way to wrap up the album if you can make any sense of it. this album may require more of a demand to get the best out of it but once you do see how good this album is it will be worth it. in a word...brilliant.

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Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I keep coming back to this album for the same reasons I keep listening to "Meddle" and "Ummagumma"- its always so intriguing for me to hear these glimpses of the band in between their psychedelic rock beginnings and the later, more focused works. I feel bad that everyone doesn't love it, so I'll try to be your study guide..I'm only taking a stab at which sections are which- much harder to read the grooves on a cd than an lp haha- but I'm sure I'm pretty close... 'a) Father's Shout': the band plus a horn section establishes the main theme, weighty and grand and just slightly grim. Once the fanfare is complete, we hear a simple but memorable bass line which pulls us into a quieter section; 'b) Breast Milky',a lovely and mournful melody on violin that is repeated and expanded upon by the whole band, and finally the strings, horns and choir. Once this section reaches its climax, it gives way to movement 'c) mother fore', a pretty but increasingly eerie choir section (newcomers may initially be reminded of the original "Star Trek" theme, but let's get past that), also eventually joined by the band to conclude this movement. The organ comes in with an odd key change and suddenly we are in a piece, 'd) Funky Dung', that sounds remarkably similar to the two-chord jams on "Dark Side" and "Wish You Were Here" (it's even a similar chord change, from minor root to 4th/7th). This gets stranger as the choir returns with some unintelligible scatting and if you're anything like me, you wonder at this point whether it is more scary or silly. Luckily, the climax is a reassuring return to the original theme, a tiny bit faster this time. You think we've come full circle, but PF still has another curve ball to throw at us: 'e) Mind Your Throats Please', the incredibly strange next section, filled with odd synths (the mellotron, official keyboard of progressive rock, makes a rare PF appearance), disembodied voices, leslie-soaked noises a la 'Echoes", and general mounting chaotic menace. Just when it gets unbearable, strains of the previous movements begin to filter through and you realize that the piece is building towards the final climax, 'f) remergence', a reiteration of the main theme which allows the embellishment of that lovely violin movement we heard in section 'b'. This build up nicely and the suite ends very large, with all hands on deck (band, orchestra, and choir) for the finale. A fine way to spend 24 minutes. The 2nd half of the disc is individual songs focusing on individual members. "If" is a pretty little tune, very honest and simple for Waters, with some very well-written lines. "Summer '68" sounds very cool but Wright's refusal to rhyme still bugs me as much as it did on his solo album. "Fat old sun" has some great guitar (well of course, it's Gilmour!) but is somewhat limp as a song- I'm sure they could have recorded it with more impact. Finally, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is classic PF jamming, unremarkable but very nice to have on in the background. The album as a whole is probably less essential than 'Meddle' but in a similar vein and well worth repeated listening. We won't be able to hear anything quite this improvisational for much longer in PF's career; the 'concept' albums with their tighter focus are right around the corner.

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Posted Thursday, June 03, 2004

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A bit like Nursery Cryme for Genesis this album acted as a metamorphosis for bigger things to come. It is bold, brash and flawed which is what makes it so satisfying. Side one being the highlight and "Summer of 68"

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Posted Friday, June 11, 2004

Review by Philo
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars With Atom Heart Mother Pink Floyd seem to continue the journey that began with the studio section of Umma Gumma. Of course the most tedious aspect of that double album was it's studio cuts. But Pink Floyd were still regrouping at this stage but for me Atom Heart Mother is a needless exercise in way too much cerebral over indulgence that goes beyond a progressive experiment. Experimental but unfocused and for the most part hurried and some of the suites are way over long for comfort and it is hard to see the direction as to where the Pink Floyd were actually going at this stage as they continually thrashed out loose, inconsistent and at times unsympathetically overwhelming music. Some of the orchestration was interesting to me on the extremely infrequent occasion, but even playing it now it comes over rather annoying and seriously irrelevant, luckily they had reduced the boredom and were produced some good cutting tunes by the time Meddle, which was released the following year, hit the shelves. "Alans Psychedelic Breakfast" is interesting as it is simply not interesting on any level, nor is it a major psychedelic experience though at first I did find it a tad amusing but now I feel nothing, or at best very little, and could live happy if I never have to listen to it or talk about it ever again. This may have seemed clever for a transient moment as the sixties came to a close through a haze of dope and LSD now its just another Pink Floyd album filler and a needless example of Waters, Gilmore, Mason and Wright being naïvely obnoxious.

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Posted Sunday, August 29, 2004

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album was Pink Floyd's bridge from their experimental phase over to their signature sound. Musically it can be compared to both 'Meddle' and the studio sides of 'Ummagumma', only less interesting in my opinion. However, the title track is a fine work that still sends shivers down my spine but the individual tracks written by each member of the band doesn't move me much. The last track, 'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast' is a very interesting tune structured almost as a radio play with charming interludes inbetween and foreshadows their 'sound collage'-isms in later songs. It really doesn't go anywhere but is nice nevertheless. This album never was a favorite of mine (or Pink Floyd themselves) but it's still a good piece of work. Surely good enough for fans of their earlier material.

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Posted Thursday, December 16, 2004

Review by TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Atom Heart Mother represents an evolution, a new cycle in Pink Floyd music. Absorbed by the classical/rock music fusion tendencies performed by MOODY BLUES and particularly emphasized by the previous year KING CRIMSON debut album, Pink Floyd started to establish themselves as classical composers, in their own way. So they picked their psychedelic ideas and fuzzed them with classical music. They probably couldn't reach it without the precious help of Ron Geesin, who managed to add the orchestra to the record.

So what to expect from listening to the album? You have a first track, the title track, which is a fine suite and the soul of the record with its classical arrangements built with orchestral instruments (trombones, horns, mellotron, piano, bass, violin) and choir, and some discrete rock interferences performed by one solo guitar and some drumming. The 3 middle tracks are much poppier and the album ends with a psychedelic purist, though not reaching the level of the best tracks of their previous phase.

The main arrangement of Atom Heart Mother is achieved with trombones and horns and it certainly is a nice catchy motif, followed by nice violin, but another highlight of the track is the crescendo chorus with background mellotron and bass sadly playing, very peaceful and emotional! The chorus changes a little bit further, after an brief guitar solo, becoming more explosive and somewhat psychedelic leading again to the main motif. Then we have psychedelic arrangements remembering Interstellar Overdrive which conducts to the conclusion. The following track, If, from Roger Waters, is a very calm melody with acoustic guitar. Summer'68 is from Richard Wright and my favourite from the 3 middle "commercial" songs, with classical piano, catchy refrain a la BEATLES with energetic acoustic guitars and joyful piano added by classical instruments. That is followed by the calm country track Fat Old Sun from David Gilmour. These 3 tracks have little from progressive, very little indeed. The last track is what I said before. Well, we actually can listen to the preparation of the breakfast and eventually get hungry, but musically nothing of very transcendent.

The album worth's it mainly because the first track, a memorable suite. The 3 middle tracks little have with progressive music itself, though Summer'68 is a memorable song.

My rate: 7/10

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Posted Saturday, January 08, 2005

Review by FloydWright
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars If only RON GEESIN had never been allowed in the studio! Otherwise I'm sure I would be giving this album a full 5 stars--but when a title track of that length is fouled up so badly, it costs an album pretty severely. All in all, even with that said, PINK FLOYD's members perform wonderfully, even on my least favorite, the title track. RICK WRIGHT begins to show hints of his more mature Hammond-playing style. Also, DAVID GILMOUR truly begins to come into his own as a guitarist. Unfortunately, the annoying intrusions of GEESIN's choir (and to some extent the horn section as well) greatly diminish the title track. There was potential there--if only they had gone it alone!

The other much-maligned longer suite, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", is far more successful, and truly Floydian. Yes, the eating noises become really nasty at one point, but that's its only real drawback. Otherwise, APB has some bright, snappy band jams that make a very filling "meal" for the listeners. I'd like to make the point that this is not drug music contrary to what some think--this is of too high of a quality to have been thrown together under the influence.

ROGER WATERS' simple, heartfelt "If" I could go on all day about. Here, without any hint of the belligerence he built up over the years, WATERS tentatively, shyly lets the listener hear perhaps even more clearly than on The Final Cut or "Flickering Flame" who he really is. A young man, dealing with the numerous contradictions, insecurities, and aspirations within himself delivers his touching lyrics in an unusually soft, vulnerable, even "Wrightish" manner. For this, "If" is a truly precious gem. There are no barriers of anger that prevent me from making a full "connection" with what he sings of--of being someone who seeks companionship and understanding in a very confusing world. "If I were a good man, I'd understand the spaces between friends." But at this time...I feel he was still trying, and that's why I am able to empathize. People often confuse mere bluntness with honesty--unlike Animals and other venomous lyrics...this is true honesty.

The next track is equally stunning--RICK WRIGHT's "Summer '68". There's more substance to this than simply a song about cavorting with groupies. The character WRIGHT assumes actually has some interesting things to say. Perhaps inspired by watching the total abandon of the "Swinging 60's", this character of his finds the situation troubling and emotionally dissatisfying. His commentary isn't--at first glance biting or sarcastic in nature, but it's very obvious he feels a "cold", loveless relationship (one where he couldn't truly know the answer to his question "How do you feel?") is not for him. Despite the soft delivery, though, one look at the lyrics does reveal an uncharacteristically snide tone, where he seems to say to these loveless "lovers", "HEY, how about actually giving a damn for once?!" It's not WATERS' kind of in-your-face sarcasm...but it is there if you're willing to look. (On a related subject, note his 1996 solo masterpiece Broken China, where he demonstrates what he's willing to invest in a true bond of love.) Musically this is an absolutely infectious foot-tapper of a song with beautiful vocals, and naturally it would be WRIGHT who finds something truly useful for this album's horn section to do! Given his classical and jazz roots, it's no surprise he was able to pull it off.

"Fat Old Sun" is a pleasant DAVID GILMOUR guitar-based piece, which interestingly enough, is the first place we hear the bells that reappear in The Division Bell's "High Hopes". While nice to listen to, I must admit it doesn't quite stand out like APB, "Summer '68" and "If"...although when he croons, "Sing to me, sing to me..." I can't help feeling something in my heart. I would say AHM is rather underrated, at least...the band's contributions to it!

It's a shame GEESIN had to drag the overall product down so.

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Posted Monday, January 10, 2005

Review by Marc Baum
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Atom Heart Mother" is one of Pink Floyd's more underrated albums. The 24 minutes long title track is a quite unusual by band standards, bombastic, orchestral track and the only symphonic one they ever did. I think that the orchestral choir arrangements are done well, as well as the performance of each band member, specially Nick Mason delivers one of his best work on drums. Except the choral passages, the whole piece with six parts is holden instrumental. It also has some lengths after about seventeen minutes, where the psychedelic part of the song takes control, that's why the track can't reach the charm and brilliance of the space-masterpiece Echoes, but it's by no means a less than solid epic. After the 24 minutes long piece follows "If", a slow piece by Roger Waters, which is just nice but boring at first listen, but becomes even more meaningful after some more listenings. The lyrics are poorly sad but the uplifting mood of the song makes it at the same time pretty joyful. Unspectacular but rewarding. "Summer '68" is the secret highlight of the album, very good lines and a emotional chorus sung by Rick Wright, actually one of the most overlooked gems in Pink Floyd's catalogue! A song that reminds on the flower-power era, but in a real nice way. "Fat Old Sun" is David Gilmour's song on AHM, after we already have heard Water's and Wright's collaborations on the album. It is a lot more exciting than If in a straight musical aspect, with nice vocals a emotional guitar solo by Dave Gilmour at the end, which also closes the song. "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is to me a dull filler, with some cool ideas though, for example you can hear the cooking of some eggs and stuff. The 13 minutes long epic is only weared by a acoustic guitar and a guy who talks at breakfast, during he cooks the eggs.

Well, "Atom Heart Mother" is a strange Pink Floyd album, but it grows from time to time. It couldn't reach the brilliance of milestones like Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here or even Animals, but it's a state of art record. The band themselves hate it, but I think it doesn't deserve that bash. AHM was IMO even the best work of the band to date and is something of a transition album of Floyd's psychedelic phase and the later direction took on Meddle towards commercial success on DSOTM and WYWH. It's at the end a great addition to any prog collection, at least for the monumental, if flawed title track.

album rating: 8.5/10 points = 83 % on MPV scale = 4/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

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Posted Thursday, February 10, 2005

Review by Cluster One
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Quiet in the studio..."

With one of the most recognized album covers in existence, "Atom Heart Mother" is a highly moo-ving progressive experience. Together with Ron Geesin (who previously collaborated with Waters in the OST "Music From The Body") the FLOYD embarked on their most ambitious journey yet. The addition of a brass orchestra into their repertoire was nothing short of ELP-bombastic.

If the 'Atom Heart Mother' Suite could be described in a single word, it would be: Rich. The centrepiece of the album, there is a lot to discover here. Many different instrumental and orchestral layers to peel away. There are no 'lyrics' per se in the suite, but the accompanying voices add a certain 'movie music' texture to the piece. One could only guess what would have been playing on Mr. Screen behind the band if it had actually existed back then.

In a better example of how to make solo pieces for an album (unlike the "Ummagumma" studio album!) the individual band members put together some very interesting tunes for Side Two. 'If' is not Waters' most inspired work, and in fact is a bit dull. 'Summer '68' and 'Fat Old Sun' are the real hidden gems on AHM, written by Wright and Gilmour respectively. Wright continues to show that he is a very competent songwriter, and his offering on AHM is easily superior to Mr. Waters'. Dave Gilmour builds upon his soft and unique 'Green Is The Colour' type sound to give us the wonderfully pastoral 'Fat Old Sun'. It's hard to decide what is better: his voice, or his guitar playing? Enjoy Gilmour's walking-into-the-sunset guitar solo as it fades away at the end of 'Fat Old Sun'.

Love it or hate it, the 'Atom Heart Mother' Suite is a progressive rock must for all beginner progheads. The album itself is not quite a masterpiece though, due mainly to the simply ordinary 'If' and the none too serious, but still enjoyable 'Alan's Psychadelic Breakfast'. (On the original vinyl release, the dripping water sound at the end of 'Alan's Psychadelic Breakfast' will play continuously in a loop, until the needle is removed)

"Marmalade...I Like Marmalade"

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Posted Friday, February 25, 2005

Review by Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I think this album represents us the phase where the band searched for a new direction after the hazy post-Barret psychedelia days. The result on this album didn't please me personally, though many wonderful songs are also borne from those days of personnel renaissance. There are some good technical achievements accomplished on this record, but the stylistic solutions are very far from my own personal tastes.

The album opens with a big 23 minutes long epic themed about cows (I think). Here the band plays over symphonic orchestra, and the composition starts with annoying fanfares. After some effect treated motives which grow my feeling of uncomfortabiltiy, the middle part offers some better movements with choir. As the symphonic orchestra stops playing, band goes for their basic slow blues, which would form as their trademark for the upcoming records of the 1970's. As the orchestra returns to the game, we get chaotic aural experimenting to disturb our mental states. I am open for the surreal psychedelic musical impressions, but in my opinion this is just plain fooling around, not serious research of consciousness altering avant-garde states. The horrifying track ends to some choirs and a bombastic theme, reaching a primitive cycle form in its failed conquest for compositional integrity. When compared to other classical music fusion efforts by Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Procol Harum for example, this track is in my own judgment reaching the least successful result.

Rest of the album consists of acoustic fragile ballads "If" and "Fat Old Sun", which felt quite powerless acoustic wailings to my ears, maybe due lowered abilities of reception after the title suite. "Summer 68" reaches for relaxation with piano driven pop tune resembling maybe Beatles or something similar. The last "whacky" tune conlcudes the record with collage of sounds, marred through effects and causing serious boredom for thirteen minutes.

The second word of the title tune's fourth movement sadly describes this album in my humble opinion, and I want to beg my pardon from all of those who liked this album, as this record just did not match to my own tastes. There aren't innovative strength nor power here, which I found from some other albums of this classic band. Maybe fans of symphonic epics and acoustic 60's pop tunes can appreciate this album much more than me. Once more, my deepest apologies.

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Posted Friday, April 01, 2005

Review by Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars A WORD OF CAUTION: What looks like a cheese-paring two-star rating is actually a mark of the highest regard. Explanation to follow.

To me the most interesting and misunderstood phase of Pink Floyd's long musical life span was the period between "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and "Dark Side of the Moon", after the tragic loss of Syd Barrett but before their transfiguration into chart topping superstars. And it was during the same uncertain time of trial, error, and experimentation that they released what has to be their most enigmatic and puzzling album.

How weird is it? Start with the unlikely cover art: maybe the most impeccable portrait of a heifer this side of a Gary Larson cartoon, and a visual non-sequitur worthy of Magritte ("Ceci n'est pas une cow").

Consider next the epic 24-minute title track, in retrospect a noble but failed attempt by a band at loose ends to broaden their musical horizons, in the highbrow fashion of the times. This was an age, remember, when every serious rock band had to validate their artistic pretensions by recording with a classical orchestra, and Pink Floyd was no exception. At least they made a tongue-in-cheek effort to mock their own ambitions, with meaningless bovine sub-titles to each "movement" of the suite ("Funky Dung", and so forth).

The actual orchestration and arrangement is sometimes laughably amateur, but it's the effort that counts, isn't it? Don't blame Ron Geesin, who had to quickly cobble together a score after the band had fled on tour to America, leaving him with only the basic backing tracks to work from and a second-rate studio orchestra at his disposal. It may not be fair to compare them to the Portsmouth Sinfonia (a gaggle of non-professional musicians with no prior experience on their instruments; Brian Eno briefly played in the woodwind section), but they sure ain't the London Philharmonic.

And is that a mellotron in the mix as well? Be still my heart: a classical orchestra and choir, plus a mellotron? Give the band credit for covering all the symphonic bases.

The balance of the album (Side Two in vinyl terms) presents a trio of solo efforts from Waters, Wright, and Gilmour, not unlike a mini-"Ummagumma" but with better (i.e. shorter) results. Each song is a throwback to an older Pink Floyd, most explicitly Richard Wright's bouncy "Summer '68". The highlight here is Roger Waters' underrated and overlooked "If". It's an interesting signpost to the future: a gentle acoustic ballad able to express in an easygoing four-and-one-half minutes the same themes of madness and alienation that would later require entire concept albums for Waters to communicate.

And, for the record, "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" (the album's audio verité closing track, mixing ambient sounds of frying eggs with pastoral musical interludes) was not an homage to producer Alan Parsons, but to roadie Alan Stiles, at least according to band biographer Nicholas Schaffner.

And now about those two parsimonious stars.

It wasn't easy figuring out how best to rate this oddity. On its own terms it isn't very successful, and how can anyone endorse an album dismissed by the band itself as "a load of rubbish"? So says Dave Gilmour, quoted by Schaffner, and that isn't all he has to say on the subject, either. I won't even repeat the typically acid hindsight assessment by Roger Waters.

But on the other hand the same load of rubbish still holds enormous historical interest to fans of Progressive Music. This was the album on which Pink Floyd found its voice, when they finally shed the last traces of late '60s psychedelia and began paving the solid gold road to the "Dark Side of the Moon". Sure, it's primitive stuff, but there's a real sense of discovery here, of latent potential soon to be unlocked.

The Prog Archives definition of the two-star review is for "collectors/fans only". Which means of you look beyond the rating you might find a rare treasure no five-star masterpiece can equal. Newcomers and casual fans are better off elsewhere, but to collectors, completists, and Prog Rock archeologists this may be the most valuable and important Pink Floyd album in their collection.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#8397) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 02, 2005

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In my opinion this album has the best brass sound in Progressive Rock, brass being used to good effect in both the title piece and 'Summer '68'. Session musicians, conducted by Ron Geesin (who wrote the orchestral score), played French horns, trombones, trumpets and tubas.

The 'Atom Heart Mother' piece - or "suite" as it is sometimes called - is atmospheric and could easily have been the soundtrack to a First World War movie (it comes complete with horses shying, shelling and a motorbike). Wright's excellent keyboard, with morose violin (viola?) over the top, sets the mood. Waters' bass line is simple yet so effective. There is plenty of Gilmour's trademark guitar to satisfy fans of the later albums. The use of orchestral instruments and a mixed choir give the piece a classical feel, although the conventional choral vocalisations give way to unusual Maori-like chanting in one place. The piece changes mood, varying from depressing to groovy and laid-back. There are also the expected FLOYD artefacts: sound effects reminiscent of a spooky cave, a PA announcement, and a train with Doppler effect. It's an ambitious and pretentious piece but I think the band pulled it off, and is a 5-star effort as far as I'm concerned.

'If' is a nice enough song, starting in a very laid-back manner with acoustic guitar. It's melodic, pleasant and relaxing, although nothing special in my opinion.

I adore 'Summer '68' though, which again uses brass effectively. It also uses piano in a simple but very pleasing way. The weekly BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs allows the guest to choose eight pieces (as opposed to albums); 'Summer '68' would definitely be one of my eight. The disdainful and seemingly acerbic lyrics appear to be about a casual fling or a groupie ("tomorrow brings another town, another girl like you") and, to me, seem at odds with the instrumentation and music itself. I find it almost impossible to listen to this track without singing out loud the vocalised refrain (which, incidentally, was used in the early 1970s as the introduction to the evening news on Brazil's largest TV network).

Softly peeling church bells herald 'Fat Old Sun', which is rather like 'If' in that it's a nice, lazy song. I like this one too. With the pace, lyrics and artefacts (the aforementioned bells, plus children playing) it sounds very 'English summer evening'. The vocals - the whole song, actually - sound Beatle-esque to me, reminding me of McCartney. The trademark FLOYD guitar rocks it up a bit towards the end and the track fades out to the sound of the church bells. Not a masterpiece by any means, but pleasant, melodic and relaxing.

A dripping tap introduces 'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast', named for the roadie Alan Stiles. Recorded in Mason's kitchen it includes sounds such as the striking of matches, the making of a cup of coffee/tea, and the pouring of cereal into a bowl (the slurps and exaggerated grunts only making me want to tell him to keep his mouth shut when eating). The whole thing does have an easygoing Sunday morning feel to it, especially when the sound of an egg frying begins. It's moderately amusing and easy listening, but sounds like pure filler to me. Apparently the band thought it was lousy. Finishing with the running of the tap, the draining of the sink and the tap dripping - which is where we came in - this track is the antithesis of the title piece.

If more of the album had been up to the standard of the title piece and 'Summer '68' then I would have been able to award the album 5 stars but, as it stands, I have to go with 4 stars (Excellent addition to any progressive music collection). All four members of the band were very critical of the album - embarrassed even - in later years. Even so, it's one of my favourite FLOYD albums, although certainly much rougher than the polished and more commercial "Dark Side Of The Moon" and later albums.

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Posted Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Review by Tony Fisher
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is a hugely mixed album. The first side has a similar feel to the later but MUCH better Echoes on Meddle but the "noises" section in the midle is grossly inferior. There's some fine keyboard work, some lovely slide guitar and the violin solo which precedes it is complete bliss but the brass and choral work are annoying at times. 50% for this at best. The second side is OK until Fat Old Sun raises it to a high and then Alan's Psychedelic bloody Breakfast brings it crashing down again - utter rubbish. They were showing some good ideas but the consistency was just not there. Another 3 months of work might have led to a better result but the money wasn't available. Buy it by all means but be prepared!

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Posted Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Review by Philrod
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is a Oh so strong album. Except for the last track, wich is a bit of a filler, this album is perfect. It starts with one of the most excentric yet beautiful song ever written, Atom Heart Mother. It is a mix of Bluesy guitars, pychedelia structures and the insertion of an orchestra. Quite challenging ar first, this song builds up on you. Roger Waters delivers some fine basslines, and Rick Wright is especially strong. This is more of a suite than a song, as the not only the structures changes, but also the mood, as we go from scary to happy, and the whole thing accentuated by the use of a choir in a pretty unusual way, as it sings through sounds and mostly is used as percussions. This is definitely a love-hate situation. You'll have to listen it for yourself, because it is unusual. The second side of the album is split between three compositions by each member, except Nick Mason.

The first one is ''If'', the Waters one. It has a rather simple acoustic guitar riff, and the accent is put on the lyrics and the voice of Waters, wich is still not over the top at this point of his career. It is a quite cute song, and soon you find yourself singing along him.

The second one is '' ' Summer 68'', the Wright's song. It has a great use of brass, and Wright is as melodic as he could possibly be.

The third one is ''Fat Old Sun'', you guessed it, the Gilmour's one. In my humble opinion, it is the best within the 3. It is this kind of song that makes you want to stop working and just do nothing, laying in the grass all day long. It does is a ''fat old'' song, and of my alltime Floyd Favorite. Pik Floyd included it in thei tours up to the release of Dark Side Of the Moon, and some great versions of it live can be found on numerous bootlegs. Also, David Gilmour included it on his solo DVD David Gilmour Live. The solo makes you fly and the voice of Gilmour is in excellent shape also.

The album finishes with Alan's psychedelic breakfast, wich take about 6 minutes to really starts up, and never get that big anyways. A bit of a filler, it cannot compare with the quality of the rest of the album. It has its moments, but definitely not enough to take 13 minutes of the album! Some drugged junkies find it cool, but it is not my case, so nope, not my cup of tea!

When it comes to rate this album, the first side of the cd makes this album a masterpiece itself, but with the addition of three absolutely gorgeous songs, this IS a masterpiece and a tour de force. The last song is less good, however the rest of the album more than back up this little flaw. Definitely a must for any prog fan.

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Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005

Review by chessman
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album, like 'Ummagumma' belongs to the 'finding our feet' period of Floyd. See my review for that album. This one is similar in parts, although, overall, it is slightly better. Nevertheless, this is a quite dated and tepid affair, certainly not one of the band's best works. The opening suite, 'Atom Heart Mother' is a laborious affair, with far too much emphasis on a horn section that simply doesn't work. Remember how Genesis fans, (me included) disliked Abacab partly because of the introduction of horns? Well, it is a similar thing here. The music in this suite is very naive and directionless, even though you can tell the band is trying. It is, in a word, predictable. Funny how this band changed from their first two, very effective albums, to meandering experimentation. Now, I am all for experimentation, as it is one of the core ingredients in prog rock, but it has to lead somewhere, has to have a sense of melody, and a sense of completeness, with different sections complimenting one another. 'Atom Heart Mother', sadly, doesn't do this, although I know a lot of fans love this album. Second track, 'If' is almost a prelude to material on 'The Final Cut', with Waters droning on in his most depressive way. It's not a bad track, however. 'Summer '68' is better again, one of the best two tracks on here, for my money. 'Fat Old Sun' is adequate but, again, not memorable. The last track, 'Alan's Pyschedelic Breakfast' is the best song on offer here, with nice sound effects, and good guitar work. Overall, this is a patchy but, in parts, half-decent album. However, although I prefer it to 'Ummagumma', it lacks one thing that album has - an excellent cover! 'Ummagumma's cover is probably my favourite Floyd cover, effective and memorable. Still, it's the music that matters, isn't it?

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Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is an obscure solid album from Pinkfloyd. The experimentation here is at its peak, but it does not always work and there are some bad spots in the album. Here, the band has on orchestra to amplify its sound, and it is probably one of Richard Wright's best moments.

Atom Heart Mother 7/10 : This is the peak of Pink Floyd's experimentations and it really works. It begins with the main theme on orchestra which is good. It has a very effective simple bass line, choirs and sounds classical meets psychedelic. It also contains plenty of Gilmour's trademark's guitar in a long amazing solo. After that solo, it contains a bass line with good keyboard riffs. it gets eventually tighter and the keyboards sound like jazzy improvisation of the highest lever (It is overly wonderful) and the peak is reached when some weird (yet effective) female chants take over. Unfortunately, it doesn't end that well, with strange irritating noises all over.

If 6.5/10 : a nice acoustic ballad with very solid vocal performance and melodies, yet it is too simple.

Summer '68 8/10 : A richard Wright piece and my favourite song of the album. the arrangements are excellent, including good keyboard performances. The 'pre-chorus' with its beatlesque (or yessy) vocal harmonies really shines, and the horn driven chorus is brilliant.

Fat Old Sun 5/10 : A boring and badly recorded lazy song that picks up with an electric guitar solo. I prefer the Mostly Autumn version of it.

Alan Psychedelic Breakfast 4/10 : It is just a bunch of noise with instrumental improvisation ... Maybe it is cool for a 'high' person, but not for me.

My Grade : C

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Posted Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Review by Eclipse
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Sadly this album is often underrated and not appreciated at the way it should be. Each note here is filled with brilliance and unique inspiration, and this is perhaps the FLOYD's more progressive work. Here we have the most wonderful union between an orchestra and a rock band. Both of them complete each other in perfect shape, and i greatly appreciate Ron Geesin's contribution with the orchestrations which is what make my love for this album be so big.

The title track is perhaps the Floyd's most essential work in terms of progressive music. It would also be their most successful song in this field along with "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and its nine movements of rich instrumental exploration. The suite opens with "Father's Shout", a great intro announcing that this is a whole new FLOYD. After some noises and pure orchestra we are led to "Breast Milky", a very melodic piece showing how Gilmour can put his soul into his guitar. This and "Mother Fore" are my favorite parts of this album, being the latter alone one of the FLOYD's most touching moments. "Funky Dung" has a theme that will be later repeated on the song "Echoes", from their next album. After this the epic starts going a bit "crazey" - but in a good way. The last parts repeat some of the last movements, mixing them together in a psychedelic vein that is characteristic of the FLOYD (yeah, even trying to make an album cover in the less psychelic way possible - a cow, just a simple cow starring at the camera, even though i think this cover is one of their most psych ones despite its apparent simplicity - they still held together with them their spacey psychedelic roots which appeal us so much). Finishing the first floydian epic in a glorious way, we have the return of the song's first section's rhythm, with an insane guitar playing by Gilmour full with emotion and beauty. This track alone makes the album worth getting, but the trip is just starting... "If" is a great acoustic song sung by Waters. Even though it is a bit repetitive, it is still very beautiful and if you are in the mood you'll get moved while listening to its interesting lyrics instead of annoyed by the mumbling singing. Next we have "Summer'68". I admit that i never liked this song, but now it is growing on me in a way that allowed me to give this album a 5 star rating. I was never a fan of the way this song seems to lose path before Gilmour says "how do you feel, how do you feel??" but i am now tolerating it. We have here the return of the orchestra, making a great work once again. "Fat Old Sun" is my second favorite number here. Gilmour shows how talented he is as a singer too, with a very soft vocal performance that fits with the music very well. Now we have "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", thirteen minutes of very well done experimental work.

In my opinion this is one of the most important prog rock works and should be listened to everyone who's into the genre. Here we notice that the true FLOYD sound was borning, leading to their golden era soon. But compare this experimental album with their last two ones, "Ummagumma" and "More". None of the those worked perfectly as this one did, and here we also had the first floydian epic, the title track. What a great way to begin the 70's decade...the one that featured the most incredible works of progressive rock, and the peak of music in general.

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Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Review by Hangedman
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album is not for the casual listener. Pink Floyd was still knee deep in their more experimental phase, and were not shy to try something new at this point. A little bit about the rating, two stars because you will either have to be a very serious Floyd fan, or hate their later more standard cut and dry psychedelia. It doesn't have one distinct style, and everything other than the title track is just filler. Waters, Wright, and Gilmour all have one song that they penned themselves that come after the title track, and then there is "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" (named after Alan Parsons). A very uneven album, makes you wish they had seriously recorded some music to complement "Atom Heart Mother".

This album starts with a bang. The no less than brilliant orchestral "Atom Heart Mother", this kind of fusion of styles was virtually unheard of at this point in history. Despite silly concept (hey that's the trademark of prog right?) it manages to practically secrete power. I can imagine four silly looking fellows standing in the middle of an entire orchestra playing their hearts out and managing to complement the compositions very competently. On this suite Nick Mason has pretty much peaked his drumming IMO.

Now for the rest of the album. "If" is a very honest lyriced tune, but it also proves that Roger Waters still has a lot of growing to do as a songwriter at this point. Repetitive, and not very viable musically. "Summer '68" is well written, but doesn't have enough steam to do any better than mediocre, its played almost half heartedly I find. "Fat Old Sun" is pretty forgettable, not offensive but certainly not memorable in any way. Now comes the stinker of the album; "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast". Probably the most unlistenable Pink Floyd song ever recorded. With instrumentation that I would describe as annoying at best, this song tries to cater to the LSD crowd, and is nothing but a bad joke. Truly they should have kept that one for themselves.

The only reason to get this album is for the Title track. If your interested in Pink Floyds more adventurous side this album is a must. For the average listener, don't touch it with a ten foot pole.

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Posted Monday, August 01, 2005

Review by kunangkunangku
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars When it was released, this album was considered as a generous compensation for many Pink Floyd fans that happened to be disappointed with the double-album "Ummagumma" for its almost inaccessible materials. This doesn't mean it is an easily approached effort. Still, whenever one successfully penetrates the extended floating orchestral "Atom Heart Mother", there surely are benefits worth whatever the cost.

The 23-plus-minute title track opener, which consists of six seamless parts, embodied interesting moments scattered throughout the track. There is no lyric whatsoever here and yet the band can beautifully incorporate many elements -- sounds, instruments, voices -- into a body of song that moves freely between grandiose and simplicity as well as dark and laid-back moods. Rick Wright contributes eloquent keyboards playing, mostly laid as solid foundation on top of which the other instruments are allowed to put colorful sketches. Among the delicious parts is where the horns and David Gilmour's guitars deliver their wonderful, uplifting passages.

While several attempts needed in order to discover the gem in the first track, this just isn't the case regarding the four tracks that follow. With "If" (by Roger Waters), "Summer '68" (Wright), "Fat Old Sun" (Gilmour) and "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" (Gilmour/Nick Mason/Waters/Wright) one actually encounters much easier situation. Nevertheless, while these are shorter and more accessible tracks, a lack of cohesiveness between them might lead the listeners to the wrong impression.

Judging by the facts that there are strengths and weaknesses, this album is far from being perfect let alone a masterpiece. However, to those who like to be challenged, this definitely will suit the need.

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Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Although with plausible moments, still not a perfect album!

The first FLOYD's attempt at "symphonic" sound is quite controversial. The title side-long suite is obvious answer to the requirements of the era: if DEEP PURPLE could do it with orchestra in the same year 1970, why shouldn't we do it too? The result is mixed however; many beautiful passages are spoiled by unpleasant, quasi-dramatic choir voices and strings, while it's all way too long to endure, stressing the urge to skip onto the side B of the vinyl record. What a relief! Waters' hypnotic acoustic ballad "If" and Wright's excellent piano-led orchestral psychedelic pop song of "Summer 68" rank amongst the best PF songs ever produced, alas they were often brutally overlooked in favour of the subsequent releases. Gilmour's "Fat Old Sun" is negligable filler, while the interesting musique concrete of "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" with its sleepy and relaxing mood, is still a worthy and very listenable experiment. "Atom Heart Mother" is not one of the better results of the PINK FLOYD opus, but it has enough fine moments to be dig out and enjoyed.

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Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars After all those years I still don't succeed to get into this acclaimed Pink Floyd album, I miss the typical Pink Floyd 'flow' that usually carries me away to progheaven. Reading the reviews on Prog Archives about this album you can conclude that many Pink Floyd fans appreciate it very much. Well, it's not my cup of tea is my conclusion after playing "Atom heart mother" this afternoon.

During the recordings of this LP the band was in a rush because of the forthcoming USA tour. In order to gain time the band contributions were recorded first and then the orchestra and choir were overdubbed. Pink Floyd was not satisfied about the result and asked Ron Geesin to help. He orchestrated 10 brass players and a choir of twenty singers but the result remains "a plodding mess" according to Ron Geesin! In my opinion the epic titletrack has some fine and compelling moments (Gilmourian guitarplay and pleasant organ waves) but in general it sounds too experimental and fragmentic, to me there is hardly any direction and chemistry. Side two features the more acoustic/folky side from the band. It sounds warm, especially "If" (beautiful twanging acoustic guitar and tasteful organ and piano) and "Fat old sun" (pleasant acoustic rhythm guitar and halfway nice blend of sensitive electric guitar and organ). During the final track "Alan's psychedelic breakfast" my attention too often slips away, this is not my Pink Floyd music, their next can please me more!

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Posted Sunday, September 18, 2005

Review by Prognut
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sean said it all very well!!! The first of many good/excellent albums to come. Stardoom is at their door steps!, and will never be the same for these guys!! Difficult to digest with one listen, you probably require several spins, but once you get it, it will set you free!!!

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Posted Thursday, October 13, 2005

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars I bought this album in 1972 (my first prog acquisition) and having passed 1/3 of a century here I am pleasantly making a review of it. What I mean is that time remained steady as this work is perennial, really!

The tracks:

Side A comprises only one song - and what a song! 1) Atom heart mother - the title-song is a true EPIC, a piece to be placed in the pantheon of the most important compositions of the contemporary music (ok, in 100 years ahead it'll be no more contemporary but still important). When I heard it for the first time I didn't know what to expect - I thought it could be some jazzy or experimental dull work, but it functioned like a kind of mind-cleaner; after that moment: prog-addiction forever. The song has passages that could be easily signed by any musical genius, also here and there it sounds like a dream-song and then the guitar appears to remember us that it is rock - and we rock too. A masterpiece by its own.

Side B is divided into 3 individual works and a different and unusual track. 2) If - a soft and cool song with some folky touch and a nice guitar backing. 3) Summer '68 - the song that impelled me to go the shop and buy the album. It still occupies a special room in my mind - and it is beautiful, with the piano, the choir, the singing; one of the most agreeable love songs of the entire prog universe. 4) Fat old sun - a warm and balladesque song praising our leading star and the effects it causes on us; the same good effect of this particular song. 5) Alan's psychedelic breakfast - interesting, sometimes experimental, sometimes funny, sometimes pleasant with moments of good music and some others quite dull. To be listened not frequently.

Side A: 5 stars; Side B: 4.5 stars. Total rating: 4.75 stars => 5 stars.

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Posted Saturday, December 17, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is one of my favorite prog albums of the seventies. Well, to make it clear, I always refer to this album with the title track "Atom Heart Mother" which comprises seven movements. It's not to say that other tracks are bad ones, it's more on my habit of playing this album only the title track because at that time I was not really into any kind of psychedelic music which sounded to me very boring. For the sake of this review, I have listened to the album in its entirety to give you my opinion towards this album. Otherwise, my review will be biased against the first track only.

In this album the band took grandiose approach by inviting Ron Geesin to work especially on chorus and orchestra he added at the title track. The use of orchestra in prog music has always been my favorite so my opinion about this album is definitely biased towards my personal preferences. But, specific with this long track, if I put aside the orchestra addition I still can see the beauty of the song especially in its harmony and catchy melody. The opening part with an ambient nuance followed with a blast of the orchestra which flows uniquely from one part to another - especially the use of brass instruments - ha made a special experience for me. Not only that. The duet of Gilmour's stunning guitar work and Wright's organ / keyboard work is another great enjoyment to experience for me. The choir which comprises non-lyrical voices of female and male is another point of attraction especially in an angular fashion. Well, for me personally, this is a wonderfully crafted composition with powerful songwriting and great performance. Listening to this track is a joy and most of the time I realized that the end of the song seemed so sudden because of full of enjoyment throughout the 23 minutes duration. Please note, at that time there was no Yes "Close To The Edge", no Genesis "Supper's Ready", no Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick". King Crimson had already released "In The Court of The crimson King" but there was no track which consumed 23 minute duration. So, this track can be considered as a pioneer of long epic in prog. Probably the other one was Procol Harum's "In Held Twas I".

The remaining space of the disc contains songs that - for my personal taste - does not stimulate something stand-out, musically. The ballad "If" can be considered as a snoozer. Half way through of "Summer '68" is something on good intro but the coda part is something off-track. "Fat Old Sun" seems to me like a track that functions as a "filler" only to make the disc full. "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is the band's exploration on different kind of sounds but nothing special can be heard.

Overall, this album still has a strong appeal to me because of the title track. The other tracks are not something that please my ears which I tend to skip them. I still consider this as an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I have a book written by Miles called "Pink Floyd" (Omnibus Press, 1988). In this book there are fragments of inteviews with some of the members of the band about their opinion about this album. Some of the members said : "That album was crap...". I couldn`t believe their opinion about this album. The same happened to me when I read an interview done with Tears for Fears `bassist Curt Smith. He was asked about his first solo album, called "Soul On Board" (1993). He said: "That album was a compromise with the record label, I don`t like it, and I don`t expect that people are going to listen to it... don`t bother to find it in the record shops and to listen to it...it doesn`t represent me as an artist". With both Pink Floyd and Curt Smith I disagree: both albums are good.

In the case of "Atom Heart Mother", Side One of the old L.P. has the "Atom Heart Mother" musical piece, which has interesting arrangements, including an orchestra and a choir, "The John Aldiss Choir". I was surprised recently when I discovered that some of my late father`s albums in his long Classical Music record collection include this choir in works of several composers. The orchestral arrangements were composed by the band with Ron Geessin, who previously worked with Roger Waters in an album called "The Body". Rick Wright particularly worked more with Geesin in these arrangements. I can`t see why the band despise this musical piece, I think that it was unfair. Some choral arrangements are similar to some parts of Carl Orff`s "Carmina Burana" a bit.

Side Two of the old L.P. starts with "If", a song composed by Waters, which has acoustic guitar, a bit of drums, a bit of keyboards, a slide guitar solo and very good lyrics. The next song is "Summer of `68", composed by Wright, is the best song in this album and also has a very good orchestral arrangement. It also has good lyrics which seems to be about waking up after spending the night with a groupie. The next song, "Fat Old Sun", composed by Gilmour, is another good song. The album is finished with "Alan`s Psychedelic Breakfast", an experimental instrumental piece with sound effects added, which is the less interesting song in the album.

What rating can one give to albums like this which are not liked by their composers? I could give a four star rating, but, after reading their opinions about this album, I give a three star rating to it.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#81843) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 23, 2006

Review by Chus
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Shine On Your Crazy Diamond?, Echoes?, Atom Heart Mother?; the three have the same level of raw score and technical ability ,but one factor allowed me to rate the latter higher.

And the factor is: Geesin. Pink Floyd was able to write some complex melodies (at times), but only with cosmetic brass arrangements and deliciously funny chants, their music deserves to be "over-the-top", and they get away with it. It dragged for Roger Waters when they found and stayed with the formulaic style they developed later around 1973; but for me, this version of "The Pink Floyd Sound" (as it was called with Syd's lead) was the most daring and irreverent (as opposed to the more conservative style of the mid-70's), very similar to what Deep Purple was doing a year before. Despite that, the band's trademark sound was already present: Gilmour's calculated licks, accompanied by Mason's thumping drums, Wright's basic keyboard and Waters' complementing bass lines.

Of course it's not a masterpiece; it certainly has flaws; the turn-off factor is the cheesy keyboard randomness in "Mind Your Throats Please". Then again, many things about this album is random, starting with the cover photo. Suddenly they thought about doing a suite about how cows serve for clothing and milking. The rest of the album is highly uninteresting, or pleasant and pastoral at best, with Summer '68 being the most addictive ditty, while "If" and "Fat Old Sun" are very conservative and repetitive. "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is just a collage of sounds from daily morning chores, and nothing really excuses it from being a filler.

2.5 stars rounded to 3.... proof that sometimes daring is good.

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Send comments to Chus (BETA) | Report this review (#102866) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I purchased this album in 1973. At that time, I already knew "Meddle" and "Ummagumma". I must say that this was a major disappointment for me. After a few spin (very few) of B- side and a few more of Side 1, I left it unheard for over thirty years.

So, would I change my mind in 2006 (I wrote this review in December but finalize it now) ?

I think that the best review I can refer to is the one from Roger Waters himself, telling about AHM, I quote :

"I wouldn't dream of performing anything that embarassing... I'm not playing that rubbish" ! I totally agree with him.

If this is not sufficient, here is what Gilmour says about it : "All I've ever tried to do is play music that I like listening to. Some of it now, like Atom Heart Mother, strikes me as absolute crap".

Then : ""...a load of rubbish, to be honest with you. We were at a real down point. We didn't know what on earth we were doing or trying to do at that time, none of us.

Are you convinced ? These are the best review for AHM. From persons that can not be categorized as anti Floyd, right ?

These quotes are posted on the official Floyd's web-site, so no invention here.

I do not usually read other reviews before writing mines to avoid being biased but when I looked at some ratings for this one (4 or even 5 stars - the masterpiece status !) I honestly believe that there is something wrong here.

Although Waters is maybe too hard with AHM. Actually, the title track is not bad; but the orchestration and choirs are so pompous. I prefer live renditions of this track. The track is then more rock-oriented and nice to listen to, really. You can hear it on some unofficial releases like "Atom Heart Mother Goes On" from the Paris Theater in London for instance.

B-side of this album is of the caliber of their studio work (?) from Ummagumma (maybe "Fat Old Son" is a bit better) : like David and Roger said : rubbish. Two stars (considering side one as three star and side two ...).

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#107752) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The band hate this album, especially the title suite, which was more thrown together rather than explicitly created as a work of art. But it is a wonderfully atmospheric piece, a psych masterpiece involving choir, orchestra and band in a truly Prog work that stretches across a number of sections that evolve slowly, worming their way into your brain before changing shape. The second side is excellent too: Water's reflective If, Wright's psych Summer 68 with brass band, and Gilmour's bluesy Fat Old Sun. The sound effect laden Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast is bearable only once however. While future glories are still far away, this album's title track is the base point of their progress towards the majestic sound of Dark Side. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Joolz (BETA) | Report this review (#107970) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, January 19, 2007

Review by Chris H
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The beginning of Pink Floyd as most of us knew them? Of course it is. Let me explain. This album was the very first time that they started to embrace their talents for spacey sounds and more serene musical landscapes, and this is also where they ditched the hopped-up psychedelics and the made for cinema albums. This is probably as far back in time as any Dark Side of The Moon fan will go, to put it bluntly. On another topic, like many before me have stated, there is absolutely no in between on this album. Either you absolutely love it or you just despise it. Honestly, this album doesn't get the credit it deserves. A lot of rock n' rollers are excited by the hectic A-side and turned off by the atmospheric B-side.

The "Atom Heart Mother" suite gets this progressive show on the road in a fine fashion. The first part, "Father's Shout", is a complete barrage or orchestral arrangements, whereas "Breast Milky" is a more serene and harmonious piece. This flows right into "Mother Fore" which has an almost spooky vocal arrangement, and is closed pretty hard with some intense drumming by Mason. The organ pops back in with some odd time signature changes and "Funky Dung" beings. An excellent guitar showcase for David Gilmour, it slowly starts to change shape and then eventually becomes an organ driven-chant session. Kind of creepy, but you can find yourself laughing at it eventually. "Mind Your Throats Please" is one of the weirdest things Pink Floyd has ever done, musically. A big tip for prog fans, look out for the mellotron here! It makes a rare Pink Floyd sponsored appearance, so don't pass this track up. The cheesy Pink Floyd P.A. announcement is present here as well, making it rather cliché. "Remergence" ends the massive suite with a jam that is very reminiscent of the opening, what with all of the violin chords and such. The full crowd is back for a majestic ending including the band and orchestra. It really does go out with quite a bang!

The second half of the album is geared more towards the individual works pf Gilmour, Waters & Wright. The Waters ballad, "If", is a really beautiful song, even if the lyrics are sometimes of absolutely no sense what so ever. If you pay more attention to the beautiful melodies, then I'm sure you will love this song as well. Wright's piece is next, if you couldn't already tell by the huge organ intro. "Summer '68" is another beautifully atmospheric piece that is enjoyable by anyone and everyone, and even it has it's occasional flare-ups on the keys. Gilmour is the last batter with "Fat Old Sun", and this is once again beautiful in the beginning, but his changes near the end as he manages to sneak in a slashing guitar solo. Now that is beautiful! The band combines forces once again for the album closer named "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast". Most everybody I know thinks that this is a pile of rubbish, and that's exactly what I thought on first listen, but there is a ton of subtle musicianship that not many people know about. I'm sure everyone knows it was named after roadie Alan Styles, but that's a different story. What Pink Floyd was doing was replicating a traditional English breakfast scene, complete with the striking of matches, the sizzling of bacon, and the dripping of water taps. Although the song is far from a favorite of mine, I give it 5 stars just for concept and effort.

One of the greatest concept albums to ever grace my ears pretty much sums it all up here. Excellent ideas, musicianship, and production top off this amazing musical achievement. 5 stars, complete perfection.

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Send comments to Chris H (BETA) | Report this review (#114814) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 10, 2007

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Turning Point

Atom Heart Mother represents the Nebulus of the 1970's Floyd sound - when you hear th band, that is. The "Orchestral" (read: Brass Band) sections are something else entirely - a curious experiment, but one that I feel does not work particularly well, and certainly did not have enough time lavished on it, by all accounts.

I'm reviewing from the vinyl here - and unlike the CD, the sections are not clearly marked, so I've had to guess... but, since there are actually 12 identifiable sections, most expressing one idea, then a "responding" idea, the lines could be drawn in a couple of places. I've drawn them where I think it makes most sense of the piece as a whole - where I can make sense of such a relatively haphazard structure.

Father's shout

A deep organ sound introduces the piece, which leads into a quasi-avante garde brass section that reminds me of the orchestra tuning up at the beginning of "Sergeant Pepper...", with flavours of the main AHM theme drifting through.

At 1:26, the AMH "Theme" is presented for the first time in its entirety: A lumbering behemoth of a theme that I find somewhat lugubrious. Just over 30 seconds later, we are treated to a rather half-hearted chromatic section, with the sounds of guns and motor vehicles - obviously adding the what is intended to be a kind of warped military feel.

Finally (it seems) at around 2:55, we hear Waters arpeggiated bass prelude the band entry, accompanied by keyboard and cello. Some bright modulations propel this section in a satisfactory way through a series of repetitions that are built upon until Gilmour's glissando guitar kicks in and announces the style that he would settle in for life - heralding "Echoes" and everything that followed it.

Breast milky

The "orchestra" accompany this in the background, until a lonely organ introduces a new background theme around 5:22 that ushers in the choir, in an architectural structure which follows the path set by "A Saucerful of Secrets". Simple, beautiful lines intensify towards more dischordant harmony and converge again. Sadly this is more or less repeated, and begins to feel like padding, even with increasingly tense layers and breakaway motifs in various parts.

It's then repeated and further intensified by the addition of the band, who jam along over two chords - the tonic and subdominant, which give a tiringly predictable feel until the new idea at 10:11.

Mother fore

This new idea feels somewhat tacked on, and is a typical 1970s two-chord riff over a subdominant pedal. This is blues, and very satisfyingly played, with lots and lots of space - a real crash course in less is more... except that it's a bit stupefying in its predictability after the big build up we've had to this point.

Around 12:50 some keyboard atmospherics are brought in, and the guitar also changes to an atmospheric texture. A new choral vocal idea is brought in at 13:25 - savage and earthy, but too far down in the mix.

Brown and sounds like a bell (and is funky)

There's a nice modulation heralding a new section around 14:30 - which itself is a re- introduction to the brass, which briefly recapitulate the first theme at 14:55.

Mind your throats please

The events are more dense now, and a new dischordant idea is introduced on a keyboard around 15:25, which is filtered and layered with atmospherics that appear to be based on synth sounds and tape splicing - ideas that probably would have come from the Beatles' "Revolution #9", and certainly hearken back to the studio part of "Ummagumma".

A new section starts around 17:45, again, based on atmospherics that predict "Echoes", but also uses more tape splicing that recapitulates the earlier ideas in the piece - it's a bit of a shambles in execution really, but the idea is a good one, as the listener tries to work out which musical idea is going to take over and dominate.

Remergence

There's little doubt that it's going to be the 1st or main theme, and it duly returns around 19:14 in a simply variated form, followed by the bass arpeggio/cello 2nd idea (which has jut reminded me of some of Julian Lloyd Webber's playing on his brother's little-known Prog masterpiece "Variations"). Gilmour's guitar idea (the 3rd section, if you will) returns, with Gilmour harmonising against what seems to be a copy and paste version of himself. The layers are all increased - in a valiant but somewhat doomed attempt to maintain interest, before the choir return over a clumsily variated brass section for some directionless sludge that drives us to the dischordant mess that preludes the triumphant final chord that ends side 1.

"If" is a harmless Waters song - pleasant, and with a nice message, but quite obviously not a prog song. It seems very much the predecessor of "Brain Damage".

"Summer Sun" is a Barrett/Beatles/Beach Boys inspired song, with an Arthur Lee inspired trumpet solo - now there's a mix! Oddly enough, the overall flavour ends up being slightly proggy, despite, or possibly because of the film music inspired brass section that's crowbarred in before and after the piano-driven coda. The arrangement is a bit Motown though.

"Fat Old Sun" is a nice, laid-back blues inspired number. 'Nuff said. ;o)

"Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast. 'Nuff said. :o)

So yes, a very progressive album, one that marks a turning point in sound and style for Pink Floyd - but one that is both not to my taste, and not executed particularly well: An album that makes less sense as a whole than almost any other Floyd album up to "The Final Cut", and one that I really don't listen to very much because it's so carelessly and craftlessly put together - and that shows in the music.

I can't bring myself to say it's good, as I think it's just OK - but it is definitely worth checking out from a historical point of view, and not just by Floyd fans. It's also worth checking out as an example of how not to put together a side-long track ;o)

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#122043) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 14, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This would be the first FLOYD album to go number one on the UK charts. Which is kind of strange actually when you consider the music. Recorded as per usual at Abbey Road studios and Norman Smith is back as executive producer. The band brought in Ron Geesin to help with the side long title track. Ron had worked with Nick Mason on his contributions to the "Ummagumma" album and he had also collaborated with Waters on the 1970 soundtrack "Music From The Body". Ron was very much into electronics and the avant-garde. He was hired to give his creative opinions and he would put together the orchestral and choir sections featured here.

"Atom Heart Mother" is one of the few PINK FLOYD tracks to have mellotron played on it. In fact there really isn't a FLOYD track quite like this one. It would be difficult to even know this was them most of the time. Kind of an Oldfield flavour to this one but more symphonic really. Lots of orchestration to open the first minute and a half before drums and brass come in. It starts to sound like PINK FLOYD after 4 minutes. Synths, guitar, organ and female vocal melodies create a beautiful sound. Drums are back 9 minutes in as Gilmour fires off some rounds of guitar as the organ plays on. This is one of my favourite passages of the album. Vocal melodies are back and brass. There is a great full sound 15 minutes in followed by some experimental noises. We get the melody back after 19 minutes and some strings. Gilmour lays down some scorching guitar as horns play to end the song. For me the choir and orchestration really works well on the title track, especially the vocal melodies.

I really like the next three songs that all remind me of the "Meddle" album. It's kind of cool that each of these three tunes were each written and sung by a different member of the band. "If" was a Waters' tune with gentle guitar and vocals. A nice reflective tune. "Summer'68" was a Wright tune about groupies. Piano, drums, horns and vocals in this fun and at times sixties sounding song. "Fat Old Sun" is a Gilmour tune and a long time favourite of mine. The drums and guitar take on a greater role towards the end of the song. On "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" the actual human "noises" are done by Alan their roadie as you can hear him in the kitchen making breakfast. This goes on throughout the song in intervals. In between we get at first a guitar and piano melody until 3 1/2 minutes in. Later guitar, and then later still organ.

I like this record a lot (cows and all) and give it a solid 4 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#128267) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With Atom Heart Mother, Pink Floyd began showing more cohesion as a band than in past recordings and started showing the beginnings of what would become their classic sound. The multi-part title suite is the longest song the band had composed, this time with the help of orchestration by Ron Geesin and a choir. It has its moments, but at times seems longer than necessary. The use of horns in some of the sections is really nicely done. Sparingly used elsewhere in the band's catalogue (with the exception of saxophone), the horn sections make this song stand out as something totally different from anything Pink Floyd had done before or after. Lyrically the band still sounds a bit unsophisticated, but that would change with the next couple of albums. They carried over some of the weirdness from Ummagumma, but the music is much more composed than a freak-out or just plain goofing off.

The B side contains three tracks written by three of the members separately: If by Waters, Summer '68 by Wright, and Fat Old Sun by Gilmour. If and Fat Old Sun are slow acoustic, pastoral pieces. Very nicely done with lovely melodies. Waters' If has the most profound lyrics on the album and is a precursor of Waters being the main writer in their future. Wright's Summer '68 has a nice Beatlesque feel to it and the horn sections during the chorus are very nicely done.

The last song seems like a waste of time and is the weakest track on the album. Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast is basically three sections of an instrumental with sound effects of breakfast preparation between them. It's a sort of simple jam that seems like it was just thrown together to fill out the album. I don't mind the sound effects. It's the music that needs a good kick in the rear, making for an uneventful, boring ending to what otherwise could have been considered a masterpiece. Still, this is a worthwhile album well deserving of four stars.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#132273) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars "Atom Heart Mother" is a weird album for PINK FLOYD, seems like a band who has just left Psychedelia (not completely though) and they are trying to find a new sound in Prog, remember we are talking about 1970 when the genre still hadn't developed and there was nothing such as Space Prog in any catalogue.

Not bad at all, very ambitious but some parts don't sound as PINK FLOYD at any era, it's a one in a kind album, that probably doesn't satisfy the fans completely.

The opener is the epic "Atom Heart Mother", which starts with an outstanding piece of Orchestral Neo Classical or Avant Garde piece of music, very complex and elaborate, not what I could expect of the band, specially when I had heard most of their albums before this one.

Ron Geesin does an outstanding job with orchestra and choirs, very pompous and I would dare to say close to Symphonic, but about the middle of the song when Gilmour and Wright enter we can listen for the first time in the album the sound that made them famous, pure Psychedelic jamming in the best style you can get, but again the orchestra joins more pompous than before, until the weird stuff begins, sound effects, noises, spooky choirs, now we are before PINK FLOYD, even when more adventurous than ever just to end with the full orchestra.

The weirdest song I would have ever expected of a normally atmospheric band, really nice stuff that may be more appreciated by Symphonic fans than by the real followers of the band. 22 minutes of pure Progressive Rock, I guess Alan parsons took some ideas from this otrack for his most pompous song in Pyramids like "n the Lap of the Gods" and What Goes Up"

"If" is a softer acoustic track that flows gently until the final section when Gilmour gives us a bit of what we like to listen from him, nice relaxing song.

"Summer '68" is another track hard to expect from PINK FLOYD, very melodic and soft, until the middle when they hit us hard with some sort of BEATLES influenced music, this ratifies my initial opinion that "Atom Heart Mother" is the middle of the road between Barrett and the peak of the band.

"Fat Old Sun" is a classic, still not totally the band we learned to love but they are inn the way, well blended with the ballad we can listen the essence of later albums, great track.

The album is closed with "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", to be honest I never understood this track is supposedly dedicated to Alan parsons who had his first encounter with PINK FLOYD in this album and not in DSOTM as most people believe.

Too long for what they pretend, if a band wants to be experimental for the first time in a big project, 13 minutes is too much, not bad but nothing special either.

Now how to rate it= Despite being weird for them, the first epic deserves 5 stars, but the rest of the album is so uneven that they seem lost somewhere in between two worlds and it's not worth two stars, 3.5 stars would be perfectly fair, but will have to be conservative and go with 3 solid stars.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#133327) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2007

Review by russellk
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars How? How did they do this?

Barely a year after the unmitigated disaster of 'Ummagumma' PINK FLOYD produce a masterpiece. It is unlikely many people share my opinion of both albums, but I will attempt to justify my opinion.

First, a comment about the cover. An image chosen at random, according to the FLOYDIAN mythos, it accurately summarises the pastoral, bucolic feel of the record. Gentleness and beauty are the keys here, not harshness and experimentation.

The 23-minute title track is a radical departure for the band. Up until this point their music was primarily psychedelic in nature: however, this track is full-blown symphonic prog. Yes, it has choirs and an orchestra, mellotron and all, but the thing that makes it symphonic is the recurring theme, restated and expanded, in the way of classical symphonic music. The twinset of four falling notes denotes the main theme, for those wondering. Actually, 'symphonic' rock is something of a misnomer in genera for this type of music: the form is closer to 'concerto' rock, with this piece, 1971's 'Echoes' and YES's 'Close to the Edge' all having a typical concerto shape. An opening theme, variations on the theme, then a solo section featuring the main instrument, followed by a closing triumphant restatement of the main theme. Yes, the sounds are those of 'Ummagumma', but the shape of those sounds is symphonic, not psychedelic, and that makes all the difference.

I believe the adoption of a musical form brought discipline, direction and above all focus to PINK FLOYD's meandering musical ambitions. It wouldn't have mattered what musical direction they chose - they could have been a good punk band had they been at this crossroads in 1976 rather than 1970. That they chose the symphonic route is a bonus for all lovers progressive rock.

One other thing needs mentioning before I look more closely at this masterpiece. PINK FLOYD had their own individual way of going about things, so anything they did had a slightly odd, eccentric stamp on it. Thus 'Atom Heart Mother' might be straight-down-the-line symphonic prog, but it sounds unique. Apparently the band hated it, and even their orchestral collaborator, Ron GEESIN, disowned it. It didn't measure up to their own ambition, according to NICK MASON in his book 'Inside Out'. This is no reason to reject the music: in fact, there's more depth to this so-called 'flawed' piece than in any single composition in their subsequent stellar career. All the production troubles detailed by MASON can't detract from what is, at its heart, a beautiful and structured pastoral musical piece, with a typical PINK FLOYD quirkiness.

It begins with the opening theme, right enough, which follows a seemingly unstructured brass intro. By 1:55 we have heard the theme of the piece, and what follows is an elaboration and extension of the idea. Here, unlike DEEP PURPLE or THE MOODY BLUES, the orchestra is fully integrated with the rock musicians, producing a wonderful synthesis. A stirring violin and organ piece interrupts for a moment, leading us to the next variation of the theme, focusing on the band members. Here we get the first hint that WATERS is an excellent bass player: it is his work more than anything else on the album that integrates the piece. And for the first time we hear MASON's characteristic drum fills, the roll and play-out sound he made famous in the albums to follow.

But it is the choral moments that are the suite's special genius, and for this GEESIN must take credit. A precursor to 'The Great Gig In The Sky' (without this album that sublime track would not have existed), the choral sections impart a pastoral and contemplative beauty to the track. I ask again, how did PINK FLOYD get here a year after 'Ummagumma'? Here we have melodies to burn, one after the other, chilling in their sheer beauty, the soaring organ-backed female voices counterpointed with the slightly dissonant male voices to create such a pleasing effect. Then, near the nine minute mark, the rest of the band returns with more MASON fills to lead us to 'Funky Dung' and GILMOUR's first significant guitar contribution to the band. A splendidly understated funk, indeed, a gentle battle between keyboard and guitar.

One of the hundred highlights of this track is when WRIGHT brings in the mellotron after 12 minutes, signalling the return of the choir to do their own brand of funk over the bands' playing. So seventies, so relevant, and finally PINK FLOYD have succeeded in recapturing the sound of the times, lost since 1967. The song lifts still further with the bridge back to the main theme, which in turn presages the 'freak-out' section, 'Mind Your Throats Please'. Here the sound is directly comparable to 'Sysyphus' on 'Ummagumma', but it works in context: the breakdown, the crazy keyboard and tape effect stuff preparing us for the finale. OK, the finale is a little over the top, cheesy in fact, but they've won the right to break out the classical music cliches by what they've done before. Choir, orchestra and band join together in creating a stunning climax.

Side 2 isn't as strong, of course, but does just fine. WATERS proves he writes great stuff, thoughtful lyrics and reflective music, as long as nobody mentions the war. WRIGHT shows he kows how to handle a tune, and GILMOUR can do the blues, albeit in a restrained fashion. 'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast' is anything but: three gentle, pastoral tunes are linked by the sounds of one of their roadies having breakfast, a gimmick that for some spoils the beauty of the pieces. Particularly strong is the third piece, a finale to the album worthy of the title track.

Don't make the mistake of considering this album in any way related to its predecessor. Musically it is quite dissimilar, save the small psychedelic section in the title track and the idea (but not execution) of three individual member's tracks.

I'm staggered that enough people liked this album that it reached No.1 in the UK. How was that possible? There's nothing remotely commercial on this disc. People were mad back then. Mad, I tell you. And they had surprisingly good judgement.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#149629) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 08, 2007

Review by ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The more I listen to this one, the more I like it.

This is a great, original work, an exposition upon order and chaos from Pink Floyd.

Atom Heart Mother is the epic on the vinyl. It's not quite up there with Echoes, but it's close. A brash brass section, an ethereal chorus, atmospheric keyboards, and Gilmour finally developing his mature style on guitar all lead to an enjoyable composition. But what's really interesting about it is how all of these bold statements devolve into a chaotic melange in the last 5 minutes or so of the piece. They are of course saved in the end by an obligatory summation, but it is still a bold and original piece of music.

If hearkens back to Pink Floyd's early days. Syd Barrett was a wonderful lyricist and later Floyd was never able to match his understated, almost pedestrian, lyrics which nonetheless were evocative and disturbing. On this song, though, they come closer than at any other time. Add in a gentle guitar and some restrained keys and you get a piece that would have been a highlight on Piper.

Summer of '68 starts out with a plaintive piano part and some wistful singing about a one night stand. And then things go nuts. Beach Boy-esque harmonies and scat, brass parts, and vocal break that would not sound out of place on mid-career Beatles albums. This song weaves together much of the musical zeitgeist of the time in an entertaining way.

Fat Old Sun is probably the track that I like listening to the least, which is a strong statement about how strong this album is. It's a quieter piece with some nice bass and Gilmour's slide guitar work popping up fairly often.

Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast is the other epic. While it isn't as good as Atom Heart Mother, it doesn't deserve the hate that is sometimes focused at it. As Atom Heart Mother is all about music devolving into chaos, this is about chaos (the sounds of a person waking and making breakfast) evolving into music. Floyd would revisist this idea on DSOTM in the track Money, but here the relationship is much more subtle and you need to be listening closely to appreciate it. The actual musical parts are nice, but the breakfast parts do indeed get a bit tiring.

Anyhow, I'm giving this one 4 stars. It's Floyd's most innovative album (possibly excepting Piper), and it is the monolithic landmark that marks the end of Floyd's days of lack of popular recognition.

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Posted Sunday, November 18, 2007

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother (1970)

This is perhaps my favorite Pink Floyd record and one of the finest records of 1970. The Atom Heart Mother suite on side one of the vinyl record is one of the most magical prog achievements. It's purely atmospheric approach on epic-writing and abstract sound, it's sum of innovative ideas and great listening experience remains un-matched. Side two is a mixed bag with both good songs and some less interesting tracks.

First something more about the title track. Pink Floyd found a way to combine dissonant wind-sections in the opening section, symphonic rock in the main theme, guitar-ring solo's on nostalgic classical themes, male and female choirs on a atmospheric Hammond sound, tape-manipulations on the comeback (the best I ever heard!), dark avant-garde music with a story-line and some great comebacks of the main theme. The choir and orchestra play an important role throughout the track and that gives the epic a diverse sound. The atmosphere of the whole piece is hard to describe, but I'll try anyway.. magical, nostalgic, abstract, dark, psychedelic, bombastic and perhaps some Roman empire Wind-section sounds in the intro and ending.

On side two If is an intimate song with nice lyrics and warm classical guitars. Summer '68 and Fat old sun are both good psychedelic tracks with some nice ideas. Alan's psychedelic breakfast is an fragmentary song with some breakfast sounds.

Conclusion. OK, this genius of this record is perhaps based on the amazing first side rather than on the mediocre second side. The title track is however one of the finest achievements of the progressive movement and thus this record is a masterpiece. Five stars!

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Posted Sunday, February 17, 2008

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A bit of direction never hurt anyone

After a couple of very improvisational and mostly instrumental albums Pink Floyd finally hit a chord. This is the true beginnings of the band that would later put out masterpieces like Dark Side Of The Moon. Not to say that this album is as tight or well played as those later albums, but the ideas are all there and they're all falling into place. Stylistically this album follows very closely to the previous two albums. Spacey, long instrumental freakouts that are honed in live performance still dominate the album. But the difference here is that the Floyd seem to have found how to play these very tightly as the album comes off as something probably more planned sounding than it actually was. There's a certain amount of delight to this because anyone who enjoyed elements of their very strange Ummagumma album will find that the good points have been fine tuned and the bad points left out.

There's only five compositions on the album. Two of which are the long freakouts that we're used to from the band. The title track, Atom Heart Mother is a long divided side long suite that goes though just about every kind of motion that you can think of capturing a very nice side of space rock with a kind of lulling music that at points stabs and demands attention with sharp raises in volume and an almost victorious sound with the chorus of voices. A sometimes overlooked Floyd masterpiece, this is the first time that the band would create a side long venture. Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast is much shorter and much less demanding of the listener, this one more dealing with ambiance, but it remains a pleasant voyage none the less. The sounds of someone cooking themselves breakfast in the morning at the beginning of the song can be somewhat annoying the first couple of listens through, but one gets used to it with repeated spins.

The rest of the songs on the album are just short little songs more in the traditional manner of progressive rock. If is a very slow and reflective track which is a welcome addition after the very crazy opening epic, which is a soothing track perhaps made entirely for the purpose of bringing the audience back down to earth. A lo-key guitar and vocal track make this one pleasant but nothing to write home about. Fat Old Sun is much in the same except with this one having the guitar pick up into a very nice solo from Gilmour at the end.

Indeed the most notable song from the shorter ones falls right in the center. Summer '68 opens with an almost 'Peanuts'-esque piano track and soon leads into more of the lo-key insturmentation and vocals before exploding into a surprisingly up tempo ride for the whole family. Pleasant harmonizing of vocals and a very catchy and simple acoustic guitar make for a very triumphant sound as the song makes it's way. One of Floyd's very best short songs.

This album is not really essential if you don't enjoy the beginning period of the band, but it certainly is the turning point from the more psychedelic Floyd to a more progressive Floyd later expanded on Meddle. Very ''trippy'' and pleasant with the shorter songs this one makes for an excellent addition to any progressive music library.

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Posted Friday, May 23, 2008

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars A mind trip - but forgettable and tiresome!

This was the last album I purchased of the Pink Floyd Machine - perhaps the greatest prog band in history. After hearing the brilliance of such epic masterpieces as Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, Wish U were here, Division Bell and Animals, I was looking forward to hearing this much-acclaimed album. I will admit that it is definitely the most proggiest album of PF, however it did not have the same impact for me as the other Floyd albums. There are no really catchy hooks or memorable tracks, it just all blurs together seamlessly but forgettably.

Atom Heart Mother is the 23:51 epic that takes up side 1 and it starts out well enough but becomes rather dull, unlike other epics for PF such as Echoes, it does not go anywhere and meanders around on one idea before fading into obscurity. I was struggling to come to terms with the sound, it was so unlike the brilliant PF I was used to.

Side 2 was an improvement with the rather strange 'If', and the cool 'Summer '68' and 'Fat old sun'. But the sleeper and best track on the album is 'Alan's psychedelic breakfast'. At 12:56 it encompasses all that is great about PF and prog in general. It begins with an hilarious episodic sound montage of Alan eating rice bubbles (I think) and then greeting the day in his unusual way. It is mesmirizing! Perhaps he is eating psychedelic bread and acid. He launches into an acid trip and the song goes into a freak-out bizarre riff that grips you and is quite chilling in parts, amidst the dark humour. A very different side of PF and a welcome change for this album.

It is a pity the other tracks are so dreary in places and overall the album does not live up to PF's other repertoire which makes this look quite mediocre in comparison. Perhaps the album taken on its own works well as a curio piece, but I was not impressed. Try DTOTM, WYWH, TW, or TDB instead if you want brilliant PF. This album could scare off newcomers, but it is OK as something different with a darker edge than the usual uplifting symphonic Floyd sound.

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Posted Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is my first PINK FLOYD review, and I'd preferred if I could've started with a better album than this flawed record. But in the interest of chronology, I'll say just a few words about a release that has been already very thoroughly discussed.

There's no point in me describing PINK FLOYD. By now only people living in complete isolation of the rest of the world could not know what this legendary band sounds like. Suffice it to say, "Atom Heart Mother" is a transitional point for the group, where the complete mastery of their art hadn't yet been reached, and actually it had just started to be defined.

The direction of PINK FLOYD's sound was not-yet completely evident here. The title-track hints at the spacey-atmospheric future that the British would travel starting with their next release, but most of the rest of the songs lack that particular magic. Psychedelia is here, but it's not sure if it's to stay. The addition of an orchestra is an example of this uncertainty.

The album, ultimately, fails because it's uneven from a musical point of view. After a first brilliant track, the epic "Atom Heart Mother", the remainder of the disc is made of fairly average songs, going all the way down to the mediocre ending number "Alan's psychedelic breakfast", which is poor on any element of interest and sounds more like a failed experiment.

The album has still its moments, though, and as such 3 stars sounds like the correct rating. The best PINK FLOYD was yet to come, but some of their great traits can already be heard in "Atom Heart Mother".

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Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review by poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The 70s had begun!!! With the 70s began the biggest trip in the world of music - the golden trip of Pink Floyd! And this trip begins with Atom Heart Mother. This album is big return for Pink Floyd after shock of the lost of their previous leader Syd Barrett, who quit the band. After two weaker albums Pink Floyd returns to the quality of the first two albums, but in different way. Atom Heart Mother is the first Pink Floyd's album, that is more progressive than psychedelic; and this transition is exactly at the beginning of the decade! Here is the longest Pink Floyd's composition - the eponymous Atom Heart Mother. The composition is progressive rock golden treasure. Then, followed by the melancholic-psychedelic songs - If, Summer '68 and Fat Old Sun - true masterworks of art. The album's final composition is Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast - its name is important. Firstly it's psychedelic indeed and secondly. This breakfast is described in the music - the most musique concrète song by Pink Floyd. They use musique concrète almost everywhere, but this song is true example of that. 4 stars

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Posted Friday, October 10, 2008

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Better than siblings Ummagumma and Meddle. A classic.

Review #500 for Prog Archives needed a special subject that allows discussion of the sweet and the melancholy of life, of music as metaphor for appreciating simple moments long gone (as a good friend here and I discussed recently) and as the catalyst for change. I'd like to try to make the case that this album is very strong, under-appreciated, and in my view a more solid progressive work than the acclaimed Meddle or the wild Ummagumma, its two closest siblings. A challenge to Meddle is unthinkable to some but to a few of us, it's not even close.

Floyd started off with the masterpiece Piper and after Barrett left the group proceeded to wallow for a few years in search of their way. Barrett was the man, the only able songwriter, the sound revolutionary, the charismatic jester that brought fans to Pink Floyd and the spark that enabled them to ever be discovered. The others owe their careers to Barrett. I'm not slamming Saucerful, More, or Ummagumma as all three have some very fine moments. But by their own admission the band were somewhat adrift in these years, learning to compose and getting understandably tired of playing Barrett's material. In 1970 the band left some notes and ideas with Ron Geesin as they took off for some American dates. He was left with only a backing demo and sketchy info and asked to pull some arrangements together for when the band returned. The group returned and things soon turned to panic as the material remained in some disarray even as recording needed to continue. The orchestral musicians were not seeing eye to eye with Geesin to put it mildly. After an admirable attempt and a near physical altercation with a mouthy horn player he was replaced by John Aldiss. With the working title of "The Amazing Pudding" the track began to take shape. The ideas and the music were very interesting though the album would ultimately suffer from being an extremely rushed affair which led to less than desirable recording and production. The band would comment later that they could have done much better with more time and at one point considered re-recording it. Mason notes that poorly positioned microphones picked up some monitor sound and that this will not be able to be repaired. But the remastered version sounds good enough not to distract the listener from the joy of the music. In fact to me the album's sound warts actually add a certain swampiness that adds more than it detracts as it works with the feel of the composition. It was well received by the many critics, one reviewer of the time calling it "the most successful integration of rock and formal music I've heard." Geesin's work here was superb and should be recognized, giving shape and a bold statement to this unique Floyd exploration. The band was still trying some radical things at this point which should be something to admire.

Some latter day reviewers have noted that Waters and Gilmour belittled these early classics years later but let's look at what they felt about the album *then* when it was fresh to them. The fact is they knew these were great albums when they created them. Whose judgment of quality prog do you trust more, current day Waters/Gilmour egos or the boys at the time when they were creating their musical legacy? While I understand they might feel a little funny as older men discussing something they did as kids, for what I'm looking for out of music, I concur with the comments they made at the time:

"This one is much simpler to listen to. It's more emotional, a sort of epic music in fact, because we have added brass and a choir." [Richard Wright, Melody Maker 9/70] ".much nicer to listen to. I think it's by far the best, the most human thing we've done." [Roger Waters, Sounds 1970] ".the faults are basically in details and I thought, overall, it was good. It has a very strange feel to it. Parts of it, like the ending, are real ham, which I like." [Nick Mason, Sounds 1/71]

I suppose once you've created an album like "Dark Side of the Moon" it is perhaps easy to look back at something more naïve and experimental and proclaim it silly or somehow beneath your current status. What these guys fail to realize is that there is a certain spark and magic that comes from naivety, youthful exuberance, fearlessness and lack of musical cynicism. Music fans can still look at something like Atom Heart and feel the same excitement for the material that the band felt in 1970. Atom Heart captures a snapshot in time and place of this band and these friendships, a point I need to stress. Sometimes capturing the simple moments of your life are as important to your story as are the planned spectacles and big events-this goes for life and art. You shouldn't assume your big planned event is any more important than that beautiful anyday Sunday morning waking next to your loved one, having a coffee and the paper with the sun coming in the window. Nor should the Floyd assume their later masterpieces must render their own simple breakfast of eggs, high-minded humor, and music with a friend regrettable. Both are valid moments that color one's life or one's artistic career with great authenticity. On your death bed it is quite likely that memories of your life's simple joys will bring you more comfort than recalling some big planned event or goal that you felt you had to achieve. And thus what Atom Heart represents for the lads and captures for the listener should not be under-estimated simply because more critics (and fans) bought The Wall, or because Roger thinks Radio Kaos was more substantive. The misgivings the bandmembers have with the material of this period have become all the more amusing and ironic to me as a music lover. They say this album is "rubbish" and that they had no idea what they were doing, and yet it is this material ('67-70) that remains the most intriguing for the long-time Floyd fans who have heard the later, safer stuff to death and wish to hear the band at their most reaching and curious. I would argue that the post-period pronouncements of the band members miss the point entirely and are driven by factors not important to music lovers. Furthermore, the two long tracks are gloriously free of lyrical content and prove that music done properly can convey feeling without words, another feather in the cap of this particular album. An interesting comment I noted by Gilmour was that Waters would not become lyrically strong until "Obscured by Clouds," noting that his lyrics before that, and on Echoes specifically, were merely "words to hang the music on." I bring this up because again, many Floyd fans love the Echoes lyrics and Gilmour's dismissal of them is not all that relevant.

The album's strength lies in the two long pieces Atom Heart Mother and Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast which comprise 36 of the album's 52 minutes. This is pure musical exploration and progressive nirvana, taking the raw adventurism of Ummagumma's studio material in a much more listener-friendly direction. AHM is "out there" but it is not dissonant, difficult to enjoy, or lacking warm melody. It is the best of their transitional albums because it does improve over Ummagumma and yet retains the interesting progressive side better than Meddle would. The horns, effects, and choirs-as well as the free-spirited material itself-satisfy this listener over time in a way that Echoes has ceased to. Echoes is a very pretty track that begins well, with gorgeous frailty, but bogs down in the middle and becomes quite easily assimilated in the way that AHM and APB do not. The palette presented on AHM/ASB is just stunning and I would argue far more interesting than the static, predictable Echoes repetitions (more on specific tracks following.) The title track is a feast of emotions and feelings from the soaring grandiosity of the main theme propelled by horns and guitar, to the fragile melancholy of the violin over Wright's beautiful keyboard, to the baroque feel in places. From there we will experience some of Gilmour's fine lead guitar, gorgeous, haunting, and searching. The piece continues by moving into dark territory with desolate wordless vocals building to dramatic, frightening-at-times chants by the full choir. There are gorgeous operatic vocals here that bring chills. It will revisit the various sections and twist beautifully back into the main theme before charting off again leaving you feeling uneasy, but with hope. That is what AHM leaves me with: a musical overview of the human condition. Mason would talk about the cover being intentionally plain and wanting to make a connection with the "earth mother" and if that includes pondering human emotions they succeed smashingly. Moving on to the second gem here we have Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast which I recall being inspired by German composer Carl Orff. Another track that too many listeners mistake as "filler" material because they don't have their ears on apparently. This is pure sound beauty, pure progressive delight, or "sound poems" as someone described them. What exactly is the problem with three beautiful sections of experimental pastoral-psych from the early heyday of a progressive pioneer? The sound effects were recorded in the kitchen of Nick Mason as roadie Alan was showing off his talents as breakfast connoisseur. But the sound effects are simply a whimsical sideshow. The fact is that the three appetizing courses of music are perfectly anonymous, wondrous because of their unassuming beauty. Not every piece has to be so "conceived" as "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" to be meaningful. Musical beauty and success come in many forms and APB is a sentimental keepsake of a band still into each other as friends sans the acrimony that success brought. Part one is filled with Richard's waking piano, sunny dispositions capturing the new day. Just delightful. Part two is courtesy of Dave's acoustic guitar, sitting on the stoop and serenading as we munch away and sip tea. In the third part, the band comes together and births one of the happiest melodies in Floyd's canon, imparting on me the coming day and moving from the morning to the possibilities of that day with hope. "Morning Glory" indeed.

The album loses the 5th star for me in the short tracks. They would have been far better served omitting "If" and "Fat Old Sun" and maybe just allowing Richard's joyous little "Summer '68" be an odd transition between the longer pieces. They could have even added a fourth section to APB with the extra time. "If" is a fairly weak Waters track with the wrong feel for this album's eventual optimism. "Fat Old Sun" would later become a stronger piece in Dave's live shows and while not out of place, it just doesn't match the strength of the surrounding material. His performance here is beyond laid-back, so sleepy as to be comatose. So while Atom Heart Mother is not the perfect masterpiece that "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" is, it is an essential title to fans of Pink Floyd and highly recommended to any adventurous progressive fan. The '94 remaster sounds great but features the annoying "new" artwork inside the accompanying lyric booklet rather than authentically matching the original design, a real pet peeve of mine. A minor quibble for a great album.

Cherish the small moments, and be well.

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Posted Monday, October 20, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars On Atom Heart Mother one can see some signs of what was to come on Meddle. The acoustic ballad If, for example, is strongly reminiscent of the acoustically based songs from that album. However, Atom Heart Mother was still very much a psychedelic album; a child of the 60's. Summer '68 even explicitly celebrates this decade in which Pink Floyd still were very much stuck at this time. Summer '68 has very Beach Boys- like vocal harmonies. But these songs lack memorable melodies.

The side long title track is a symphonic piece, complete with a symphony orchestra. This could have been interesting, but there is unfortunately nothing memorable about it. I have listened through this track several times and the only thing I can remember about it is that there were a choir and a symphony orchestra involved. That is not a good sign! The closing track, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast symbolises exactly what I don't like about (much of) Pink Floyd's music. This "song" is based on samples of someone making breakfast! Musically it is going absolutely nowhere. It gets boring right from the very start and it has nothing at all to do with progressive rock - this is pure psychadelic experimentation (like The Beatles Revolution Number 9). This sort of thing was perhaps interesting in 1968, but was very dated in 1970.

Overall, to say that I'm not impressed with this album is an understatement. The sonic quality of the album is not bad though and this together with the presence of one or two half decent songs keeps me from giving this the lowest rating. Thankfully, things would get a bit better for Pink Floyd later on.

Only for fans and collectors this one.

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Posted Saturday, October 25, 2008

Review by CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Got Milk?

You know, this album saddens me, it really does, but not because the music is depressing or have a sad tone (because the music of this album does have that silent suffering feeling). I get sad because Pink Floyd managed to spoil such a beautiful album with a silly (and quite boring, if you ask me) last song, entitled Allan's Psychedelic Breakfast. Although i hardly listen to Allan's Psychedelic Breakfast, because it takes too long to the band to resume their music, even for progressive rock standards, the song isn't totally worthless. It has a couple really interesting instrumental parts. But the thing is that the song cannot hold my attention effectively due to the breakfast noises. Seriously, if i wanted to hear the noises of a person making breakfast i would just do my own breakfast instead of listening to them in a record.

However, not everything is lost. The rest of the album is just to die for, really! The Atom Heart Mother suite, for example, is great. The band, the choir and the orchestra interact perfectly with each other, although there is a clear predominance of the organs and pianos in general in the side-long suite, as far as the band part goes. The brass instruments make a great impression through the song and, along with the choir, give the The Atom Heart Mother suite an epic feeling in most of the times they appear in the song.

The following three songs are also very good. The psychedelic If, which can be played with practically an acoustic guitar alone, kind of breaks a bit the energy of the album, but that is actually good to settle down from the powerful suite that just played. They only problem of that song is that Roger Waters sings a bit out of tune, specially when he tries to hit the high notes (i mean tries because he can't really reach them). Summer 68' is considerably more energetic than the song that preceded it and actually retrieves a nice part of the suite's energy, specially due to the use of the brasses, which give the song the same epic feeling of the Atom Heart Mother suite. Fat Old Sun is mostly guitar-driven, like If, but it is rocked up, meaning that the song is pretty much a rock ballad (a very good one, but still a rock ballad).

Finally the album closes with Allan's Psychedelic Breakfast. i don't think i need to express again that the song spoil the album's closing and that it is sub-par, when compared to the rest of the album. The important thing to remember is that it ruins the end of the album.

Grade and Final Thoughts

What can i do here, but to give this album 4 stars? It is an awesome album, but the closing song ruins it! There is not much room to move, so i'll just end this review. It is a 4 stars album and that's it.

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Posted Friday, February 27, 2009

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars OK first of all give these guys a break. Syd Barrett just went crazy and these guys had a lot of trouble finding their footing. It was this album that they first began to lean toward the long instrumental passages their famous for with the Atom Heart Mother Suite. Although Ron Geesins orchestra doesn't sound very Floydian it is still a very nice piece of music. All through it the song is saved by Gilmour's guitar playing which is close to some of his best. If is an excellent folk song by Waters with very odd lyrics,

"If I go insane, please don't put your wires in my brain,"

It is one of the many hidden jewels in the Floyd catalog. Summer '68 and Fat Old Sum are also hidden jewels both be very catchy. Wright's singing is the best it's ever been on Summer '68 and Fat Old Sun's vocals are sung with perfection as well. The only thing keeping this from being a perfect album is Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast. Yes the noises and instumentals are good but it would only be a good song if it were six minutes shorter. This song kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth but it isn't as bad as it might seem. It was a nice attempt Floyd but just not your best.

EDIT 8/21/10:

This album is a masterpiece. It's a grower nonetheless but it is definitely a masterpiece of progressive music. Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast isn't as bad as it first seems and the other songs are darn near absolute perfection. It must have been hard to pull an album like this off under the circumstances. 5 golden stars.

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Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Atom Heart Mother" is the 5th full-length studio album by UK psychadelic/progressive rock act Pink Floyd. The album was released through Harvest/EMI Records in October 1970. Pink Floyd recorded "Atom Heart Mother" between February and August 1970 at Abbey Road Studios in London. Despite it´s adventurous and progressive nature, the album went number 1 on the UK charts and did fairly well in the US too although the band´s big breakthrough in America wouldn´t come until a couple of albums down the line.

The Hipgnosis created "cow" cover artwork (which doesn´t feature the band name) probably ranks among the most iconic cover artworks in history. The laid back earthy atmosphere of the cover artwork stands in stark contrast to the ambitious music featured within.

The album features 5 tracks. The original vinyl version featured the side long title track on side A and the remaining 4 tracks on side B. The 23:51 minutes long title track is quite the ambitious composition which features orchestral- and choir arrangements (arranged by Ron Geesin) in addition the band´s regular rock instrumentation (note the gorgeous David Gilmour guitar solo). It´s the centerpiece and highlight of the album although it could have done with some editing. However epic and beautiful it is, it drags a bit and could easily have been 6 - 7 minutes shorter.

The tracks on side B are quite different in style and of varied quality. "If" is a folky acoustic track, "Summer ´68" is a rock song with features classical orchestration, "Fat Old Sun" is mellow to start with but features a louder section later on and the 12:56 minutes long "Alan´s Psychadelic Breakfast", which is divided into three parts, is a mostly acoustic affair but of a rather experimental nature. Out of those it´s "Summer ´68" that stands out as the most interesting track. The rest are decent but not really great.

The sound production is a bit dark and murky, but the organic nature of the sound suits the music pretty well. Upon conclusion it´s obvious that "Atom Heart Mother" is a transition album between Pink Floyd´s psychadelic rock past and their progressive rock future. This album features a bit of both styles and doesn´t seem to make up it´s mind on what it wants to be. The stylistic confusion isn´t doing the band any favours in terms of album flow, but on the other hand the album sure is both an adventurous and innovative listening experience and for that alone Pink Floyd deserve some praise. Overall it´s not their best or most cohesive release but a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved.

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Posted Monday, July 27, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Pink Floyd album from some period not too far from their "floydian" sound. For me, there are two parts of that album. First - Atom Heart Mother ( of 6 pieces) is absolutely perfect example of early prog. 23+ minutes long (!) composition has everything was strong in prog rock of that time. And even later PF works will never give you same example of that style.

All other songs are kind of psychedelic beat mixture. Plenty of acoustic piano, mellow sound, melodic,but simplistic pieces - all that is quite usual for psychedelic sound of the time, but still don't have that unique floydian signature on it.

I think that this album is still mixed bag, strong 3,5.

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Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars Atom Heart Mother is a typical early Floyd album where their creative genius is at war with their natural disposition: laziness. Side one is a pompous, dated but nevertheless amazing piece of music. Side two is a snooze-fest that could even bring an insomniac to a comforting nap.

In 1970 rock went classic. There had been earlier exploits to recreate classical music with rock instruments (the Nice, Procul Harum,...) but in 1970 everybody suddenly brought a Philharmonic Orchestra into the studio: Deep Purple (ok that was end '69), the Nice, Uriah Heep and of course Pink Floyd. None of these experiments have been met by general approval. Some fans like it, others not at all.

And so fares Atom Heart Mother, a 25 minute psychedelic piece that compares to nothing else in Pink Floyd's output, apart from the guitar solo in the middle that they would redo on Echoes. I value it in the same way that I appreciate Uriah Heep's Salisbury: it has aged badly, it didn't create a very coherent sound and it's definitely over the top. And yet, I find myself liking it, I don't play it too much but when I do I'm always thankful they had the ambition to pull it off. After all there aren't too many similar songs around.

Next to this epic, all band members except Mason added one track each to complete the album, similarly as they had done on Umma Gumma. Unfortunately, the result is worse. If is a nice acoustic track from Waters but Grandchester Meadow was a lot better. Fat Old Sun is a weak track from Gilmour, they would do a few good live renditions of it but the version here is poor. No, The Narrow Way was a lot better.

Wright's Summer '68 might appeal to Beatles fans but it is completely out of place here and quite frankly, very dull. Alan's Breakfast is a band effort but really, I don't see the 'effort' here. Self-indulgent sloppiness is what I call it.

So, an epic monster track that is at the same time astounding and unsatisfactory; completed with 30 minutes of songs that range between tepid and hot air. If someone would release this now it would be a merciless 1 star but given its context I'd say 3.5.

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Posted Friday, November 20, 2009

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Around the year of this album, dragging an orchestra into a studio to perform alongside a rock band was en vogue, largely thanks to The Moody Blues. Both the album artwork and the title are strange for two different reasons- the artwork is decidedly plain, as Storm Thorgerson reportedly went out and took a photograph of the first cow he saw (a heifer named Lulubelle III, incidentally), and while the title of the album, Atom Heart Mother, seems like a strange grouping of three random words, it actually comes from the headline of a newspaper about a pregnant woman with a nuclear-powered pacemaker. This information alone should be enough to inform someone about the psychedelic goofiness this album is all about. Unlike anything Pink Floyd had done or would do again, the centerpiece of the album is one garishly long psychedelic instrumental. By the band's own admission, this remains an embarrassing exercise in pomp- much ado about nothing, really. But then, with all the direction and purpose late 1970s Pink Floyd would exhibit with their bassist at the helm, a little nonsense does them some real good.

"Atom Heart Mother" The brass section leads off what is Pink Floyd's longest instrumental studio work. An intriguing bit of organ arpeggios and strings lead into some warm psychedelic guitar work. An eerie choir guides the music throughout the middle, accompanied by minimalistic instrumentation. Perhaps my favorite part of the piece begins about the ten-minute mark, which has a mesmerizing Roger Waters bass groove, Rick Wright's plinking organ, Nick Mason's steady and simple drumming, and a coarse guitar solo from David Gilmour. Of course, it would not be a Pink Floyd epic without a spacey and noisy passage, and that's precisely what transpires thereafter, with odd electronic noises and discordant bursts of sound. When things finally become musical again, they return to light organ and violin. The finale, despite the orchestra and choir, sound more like Pink Floyd would following this record.

"If" Written and performed by Waters, this is a gentle, pastoral acoustic song. It has a soft bit of electric guitar, organ, and a hopping bass, but retains its delicate texture throughout.

"Summer '68" Wright's sadly underused voice gets a turn on the album in this light piano-based song he wrote. Unlike the previous track, it has some sudden variation, becoming a fuller acoustic rock song, even featuring a trumpet solo.

"Fat Old Sun" Similar in sound to "If," Gilmour's contribution to the second half is a honeyed acoustic ditty. Predictably, there is an extended guitar solo during the latter half of the song.

"Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" If the listener did not get enough of peculiar instrumental work, the concluding piece has it in spades. With the sounds of the titular character literally making breakfast and muttering to himself, this three-part piece could have very easily been leftovers from Ummagumma. The piano in the first part makes for beautiful and bright music. For the middle, listeners are treated to two acoustic guitars and a steel guitar, all performed by the same man. The band returns to finish up the piece with a cheery conclusion, during which Mason enjoys the most activity, maintaining an even rhythm with some tasteful fills, while the band produces a happy tapestry of music.

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Posted Monday, November 23, 2009

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Pink Floyd was still right in the middle of their psychedelic era at this point and delivered quite an interesting piece of prog here. Especially the title track has always intrigued me a lot. Tremendous variation lasting for 23 minutes, this one is pretty challenging to say the least. And yet there were already the first signs of a straightforward melodic Pink Floyd with this epic. Especially in the first half of the song there are hints to their later master piece epic SoyCD. And it's actually because of this that I manage to have the greatest respect for this epic. In fact it scores higher for my personal taste than the more praised Echoes from the later album Meddle. For I don't mind if a song gets complex and a little weird at times (challenging is a better word really) as long as there is also real music to be enjoyed. And that's what Pink Floyd did very well here. It's a great mix of all sorts of prog in all kinds of tempo and moods.

And this epic alone will determine my ultimate score for the larger part. Because it's so significant and essential in prog history. I mean, this is 1970 and to produce something like this at this moment in time is really a breakthrough and a milestone in progressive rock. Same as KC's debut also here I have ultimate respect for what is achieved with this track and album.

The b-side contains a couple of short songs and a mini epic to conclude with. If is a pretty ballad and quite famous of course. Nothing psychedelic here. Summer '68 is also fairly normal and quiet with dominant piano. Fat Old Sun is third in a row in this more or less same style. This time guitars accompany the restrained vocals.

Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast is a very interesting mini epic. In fact this is one of my earlier prog experiences as I bought the vinyl in the early eighties and after more than a quarter of a century (I just bought the disc and my pick up doesn't work anymore for a long time) I still remember the typical breakfast sounds in the song. Funny that this is actually the moment I remember most of the entire song. The rest is less psychedelic than the large epic I believe but all in all not as attractive if I may say so. Still very intriguing and original.

Leaves me the task to rate this album. It's not a masterpiece for me since it's too far from perfect. But rating it with three stars would be selling it short big time. So that leaves 4 stars as only possibility mainly due to great significance for prog history and also to sheer greatness. After Animals and WywH this is my most favourite PF album.

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Posted Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars We have to differ good from bad guys and girls, men and women, ladies and gentlemen, prog night addicts and daytime embracers, am I right ? When something quite good gets very good rating, we have to either adjust rating for even better album, or fix first one to more fit to each other.

This is under-estimated masterpiece. Orchestral parts forced to work together as slave labor to Pink Floyd's band members (except Nick, he gets sunshine most of the time). Of course, in this case, when counting out Mason, it's Gilmour who's most prominent, but that's standard situation here, so no raised eyebrows this time. First epic, or if you want, suite. I first heard it about six years ago, when my father was (intentionally) presenting me Pink Floyd's music. I remember two things: I didn't like it much and second one: it was ancient Roman like (these trumpets), it reminded me something like Quo Vadis, or simply these old Rome films. I've returned to this album again when I saw one certain thread about epics. Someone (thanks) said that AHM is in fact first epic. So I took this as a little push-forward and tried it.

5(-), I don't regret. It's one of these albums where you can enjoy every part of it and you're still smiling wide. So high rating because it's Pink Floyd = guarantee of quality. And so it works, it's a very good one. I've said it, I've said it.

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Posted Thursday, February 04, 2010

Review by thehallway
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Ah... The album that launched the career of "that cow". It's a shame the same can't be said for the Pink Floyd, although they were on their way.

'AHM' is in my opinion, the first truly progressive of Floyd's efforts. Firstly because of it's obvious stylistic tendancies towards prog as a genre, moving on from the mistake that was 'experimental music' and moving ever closer towards you-know-what. And secondly, because it is literally a "progression" from 'Ummagumma'. Its better, and worth an extra star for that reason. Side 1, the suite itself, is big. A little too big at this stage in the Floyd's career. Considering it's size, there's actually relatively little content within it, which is what lets it down. It's a big, fat, bulky peice of music, but really with just a few salvagable themes and a nice jammy section in the middle. I'm not saying it's poor. But it's average. And 20 minute songs should be more than just average.

The second side treats us to more individuality from the band members (they didn't let Mason have a go this time, probably after hearing his 'Ummagumma' contribution...). Waters' 'If' is melodically similar to 'Grantchester Meadows', though thankfully shorter. Gilmour's 'Fat Old Sun' is nice, and showcases his first [good] guitar solo of the band's career. My favourite is Wright's 'Summer '68' though, which is similarly poppy yet utilises the brass instruments in a way which sort of makes it superior to the 'AHM' suite (is that allowed?!). The final 13 minutes should be ignored unless you can be bothered to rummage through all the tape effects to try to find any music lurking in there. For me it brings back bad memories of 'Ummagumma' so the less said about it the better...

And that's 'Atom Heart Mother' at face value. It's tighter, more cohesive, and more progressive than previous works, and if you hang around for long enough you can explore even more of the longer tracks. We're not quite there yet though, just one more hurdle...

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Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars The experimentation in the extended composition format seemed to never end with Pink Floyd and instead the band continued pushing the boundaries of the format by releasing Atom Heart Mother.

Featuring a side long epic with an orchestra was indeed a daring move for the young quartet. This album opening composition of epic proportions can be regarded as a continuation of the conceptual piece A Saucerful Of Secrets but this time with a full brass section and choir backing the band. To be honest, it sounds more like Pink Floyd backing an orchestra, than the other way around, since there are very few instances here that remind me of their work. Don't get me wrong, this is quite an ambitious piece of orchestra music that works well as a soundtrack piece to an atmospheric scenery. I recently saw a video were the suite was added to a scene out of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey which truly made me reconsider my previous opinion of this composition. Still Pink Floyd's masterpiece suite was yet to come and Atom Heart Mother feels somewhat undeveloped and bleak in comparison.

Side two of the album is split between the band members where, just like on Ummagumma, every member wrote and performed lead vocals on their own band contribution. This tendency to split up a team effort has never worked in a band setting and is generally a sign of a band on the verge of a split-up (ELP's Works Vol. 1 is probably the prime example of this scenario). Luckily the band pushed on and eventually were recognized for their work. But this is neither the time nor the place for this and Roger Waters' If is definitely the only track that I consider worth checking out while Richard Wright's and David Gilmour's Summer '68 and Fat Old Sun, respectively, are just dull.

Even though Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast is credited as a band contribution, this is actually one of Nick Mason's creatures that he mixed around with in the studio. This 13 minute piece does feel like a refreshing transition from the two tracks preceding it, but ultimately this collage really leads nowhere and usually leaves me feeling very dissatisfied with the whole album experience.

Atom Heart Mother was, in my opinion, a wrong turn for Pink Floyd. Although I do enjoy the side one epic, most fans should agree that the next album would show a huge improvement on the epic composition concept leaving this release only as a good, but non-essential release in Pink Floyd's discography.

**** star songs: Atom Heart Mother (23:51) If (4:24)

*** star songs: Summer '68 (5:26) Fat Old Sun (5:17) Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast (12:56)

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Posted Saturday, July 10, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars This album continues Pink Floyd's transition from Syd Barrett's psychedelic style to the spacy, but highly compelling style they perfected by the time "Dark Side Of The Moon" was released. Easily, the best song, or suite of songs, is Atom Heart Mother. This is probably the closest PF came to true symphonic prog. It helps that it also has an orchestra as well. It also contains a section that previews the sound used on the later, more well known albums. For this song alone, the album deserves a listen.

The other suite, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast is just too disjointed, and contains too many stretches of sound effects. But still, it shows where the band was heading.

There are also many segments which feature David Gilmour's slide guitar, which will become another integral part of the band's sound.

A nod to the band's past is Summer '68, a pure psychedelic piece that would have fit on the any of the early releases.

An uneven album, but historic.

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Posted Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Mindless at its worst, brilliant at its best, ATOM HEART MOTHER is one of the most controversial albums in Pink Floyd's body of work. There's not a whole lot of ''rocking'' going on here, and the prog is more of the experimental jamming type. The problem: the jamming can get pretty vacuous.

The title track holds much promise with its length and the incorporation of both a brass section and a choir, things that Pink Floyd would rarely use again. Typical aspects of Floyd jamming like Gilmour's more soulful solos and Wright's keyboard touches are here, but the drumming isn't that exciting. Geesin did a tremendous job making the brass section work, and the choirs remind me of Magma (that group was new at the time). However, there are about five minutes here that are nothing more than a void, a problem I have with several longer Pink Floyd tracks.

One more collaborative effort appears here, and that's ''Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast''. It's essentially a collage of a man making breakfast and a few delicate improvisations. It's a pleasant track when you listen to it, but the music is so sedated it's borderline dull and dreary. ''Fat Old Sun'' and ''If'' are two voids on the album that are completely skippable.

''Summer '68'' contrasts the rest of the album; jovial, full of life and not a dull moment. It really doesn't fit on ATOM HEART MOTHER given the context of the other tunes, but ''Summer '68'' is a top-notch Floyd track with superb brass lines. Rick Wright is responsible for this tune, and it indicates how overlooked his writing typically is. The track is as close as Pink Floyd got to the Cantebury scene.

ATOM HEART MOTHER is a generally overlooked album that is absolutely not for starters. Pick it up at some point in your prog journey, but have a Rush album handy just in case AHM puts you to sleep.

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Posted Friday, October 22, 2010

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars Even if the last 13 minutes of this 51 minutes album (very long in the vinyl age) are not at the same level of the others this is probably my favourite Pink Floyd album.

For the first time somebody who's not part of the band is credited as co-writer and this somebody is the eclectic composer and orchestral director Ron Geesin. He composed and arranged the orchestral and choir parts fo this suite that's effectively built by assembling several parts composed in different moments. Recognising who can be the author of each single part is quite easy. After a brass introduction and the noise of a car crash we have a single bass not intrducing the main symphonic theme.

The idea from which the title is from was taken from a newspaper: a pregnant woman who had a car accident and was comatose had been taken in life by an artificial heart alimented by atomic energy until the delivery. This can be intended as an evolution of the song "Embrio" which Pink Floyd were playing live in the same period, and probably the reason why that very good song has never been officially released. Maybe they have considered the concept as redundant. However the whole suite is about the life of the embrio kept alive by the atomic heart of the mother.

Symphonic parts are alternated with bluesy guitar riffs but what is really impressive is the arrangement for orchestra and choir. A great work by Ron Geesin.

Side B is made of songs. It's opened by "If", an acoustic ballad on which Waters uses the same structure of a poetry of the XIII Century by Cecco Angioleri. The poetry says "If I were fire I'd burn the world, if I were wind I'd storm on it". The structure is similar but the concept is different. While the first is saying "The world is bad but I want to enjoy its goods" Waters says "I'm not a good man. If I were I'd understand the spaces between friends".

The Orchestra is back on "Summer 68". It's a song written by Rick Wright and is about groupies and the loneliness of the life on the road. It's the theme that will be reprised in The Wall with Young Lust. It looks like it's speaking of a real event. Rick had sex with a groupies and nothing remained after. "Would you like to say something before you leave?" He asks.

Another little masterpiece and probably one of the best songs ever written by David Gilmour is "Fat Old Sun". The original title was "Sing to Me" and there are several live versions available on bootlegs. It's another acoustic ballad with a great guitar solo in the coda that's unfortunately faded out.

The album is closed by "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast". Before Atom Pink Floyd started working on a project that was early aborted: the plan to make an album using only tools and instruments of domestic use instead of musical instruments. It was too experimental and the first results weren't very good, but the idea survived in this track in three parts, the first of them full of sound of Alan, a roadie, cooking and eating his breakfast. The parts which follows are quiet instrumentals. I see an echo of this work in Nick Mason's album "Profiles".

This is the album which made me discover not only prog, but symphonic music too. It helped me to realize that violins, brasses and choirs are as good and somethime better than guitar, bass and drums. I have also discovered Ron Geesin and his experimentalisms.

This album is a milestone and deserves all the 5 stars that I can give it.

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Posted Friday, December 10, 2010

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars The members of Pink Floyd don't have many nice things to say about this album, their first UK #1 album. 1970 seemed to be the year of both side-long epics and rock bands flirting with orchestras. Here Floyd do both at once. On this album they work with avant-garde composer Ron Geesin, with whom Waters made a soundtrack the same year. Syd Barret actually stopped by the studio to visit the band, but when he arrived only Geesin was there doing overdubs. For 1970, this is a rather long single-album. Supposedly the CD version has a different mix than the original vinyl.

Waters came up with the title after reading about a woman who got a heart pacemaker. "Atom heart mother..." was a part of the article's headline. Originally the epic was known as "The Amazing Pudding", and director Stanley Kubrick wanted to use it in the film A Clockwork Orange, but the band refused. The track is a good mix of band and orchestra(and choir). Generally I don't pay attention to the individual sections, listening to the whole thing as one piece. Some good use of sound effects throughout the epic. Wright's organ work is great after 3 minutes with the violin/viola, followed by some tasty slide guitar from Gilmour. I like the vocals starting before 6 minutes and how it builds up when the drums come in a few minutes later. Love how the choir is scat-singing in the middle. Leave it to Floyd to make a choir scat.

The main theme of the track gets reprised later. The weird avant section with samples from earlier parts of the epic doesn't really stand the test of time. I assume Geesin had a big influence on this part. Main theme gets reprised again afterwards. Then the earlier bass/organ/viola(?) part returns. The whole thing is a bit hit or miss at times, but overall the title track is well done. I never really cared for "If". Some nice sound effects and overdubbed, harmonized guitars near the end. "Summer '68" is the best of the three shorter songs. Great use of brass and a good piano melody. The lyrics are not too great, but this is a Wright song, and only Barrett and Waters ever wrote any good lyrics for this band. Like the harmony vocals near the end.

"Fat Old Sun" is another song I've never been much a fan of. Gilmour wrote a lot of better songs. The solo is the best part of the song, but it's not even one of his best. If it weren't for all the sound effects and looped talking, "Alan's Psychedlic Breakfast" would be more consistent and more enjoyable. The 'psychedelic' in the title refers to all those non-music sounds; the actual music is not really psych at all. I like how the matches get lit and then a note follows. First part: classical piano with some guitar, then some organ before a kettle goes off. Second part: folky acoustic guitars and some slide guitar. The third part is one of the best parts of the album: some kind of symphonic blues-rock with great piano and some nice guitar playing.

Atom Heart Mother has a lot in common with Meddle in that they both have some less than great songs stuck in the middle. Before DSOTM, their albums were inconsistent and featured both great tracks and not-so-great tracks. But those great tracks were really great. Every Floyd fan should have this just for the title track alone. Forget whatever Waters and Gilmour has to say about this album now; if they thought it was so awful when they recorded it, it would never have been released, right? There are some great live versions of the title track without orchestra on bootlegs. In some cases even better than the studio version. "If", "Fat Old Sun" and the non-musical elements of "Breakfast" bring this album down in quality. Overall, I would give this album 3.5 but I'll round it up to 4 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#405234) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review by Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Pink Floyd: Atom Heart Mother [1970]

Rating: 8/10

As with many other progressive rock bands that began in the 60s, Pink Floyd's transition into the 70s was palpable. Although certain fans would strongly disagree, I see Floyd's 60s period as a largely formative era, with a lot of noodling/experimentation meant to help find a musical identity. Atom Heart Mother shows this experimentation taking on a whole new level of grandiosity though the integration of classical/symphonic elements into the music; these songs are distinctly less psychedelic and distinctly more progressive. The psychedelic/space atmosphere of the 60s albums still has a strong presence here; however, this album is for the most part a huge step forward in the band's evolution.

The heavily symphonic title suite may be a bit pretentious and overreaching, but the final product ends up sounding sublime. It begins with sweeping orchestration and moves into a simple yet effective keyboard riff. Mellotron and chanting choirs create a dark ambience, followed by absolutely fantastic guitar/keyboard interplay. Gilmour's signature guitar style begins to come to fruition here; it's clear that he was becoming more comfortable in his role within Pink Floyd during this album's recording. Abstract, circus-like musique-concrete sections enter in, and the suite ends with more orchestration. The decidedly less bombastic second side begins with "If", a quiet Waters acoustic track with fantastic lyrics (although great lyrics are pretty much a foregone conclusion with anything Waters). Gilmour's slide guitar and Wright's piano add some depth to the song. Wright's "Summer '68" keeps with the acoustic guitar, and excellent piano and orchestration bring the piece together. Gilmour's "Fat Old Sun" is quite Beatlesesque. It's mostly a quiet acoustic guitar ballad, but drums and electric guitar make an appearance at the end. "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is another lengthy suite. Although I like this track, it sounds a bit disjointed and it brings the album down a bit. It consists of assorted pastoral pieces with spoken-word interludes. Wright's piano is particularly present here, as well as Gilmour's slide guitar. There are many good ideas present on this track, but it lacks cohesion.

Although Atom Heart Mother is a flawed album, I consider it to be the first Pink Floyd classic. The band hates this album, and I suppose I can understand why; artists often see overblown and ambitious works like this as immature when looking back on them. However, this also goes to show that an artist's analysis of their own work is not always sacrosanct. From the hysterical non-sequitur of the album cover to the sublime guitar work in the title suite to the quiet pastoral atmospheres of "If" and "Summer '68", this album establishes itself as a venerable, albeit imperfect, piece of progressive rock history.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#437723) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Put it this way: Roger Waters and David Gilmour agreed on almost nothing in the immediate aftermath of Waters departing Pink Floyd, so when both Waters and Gilmour regularly go on the record as severely disliking this album you *know* something's up with it.

Atom Heart Mother's title track is a sidelong epic in which the band try to fuse their music with orchestral material. By this point, I think it's fair to say that such experiments had ceased being novel and had started to become routine - Deep Purple had done it, the Nice did it, the Moody Blues had done it a full three years previously - and whilst the history of such efforts has always been patchy, I can't regard Atom Heart Mother as being a success on this score. The problem is that the band essentially let the choir and orchestra occupy the foreground on the track almost entirely (aside from the odd bit of organ from Wright and some guitar lines from Gilmour), sastisfying themselves with remaining more towards the background - and the composition itself is simply cheesy and unatmospheric. There's no real fusion of classical music and rock here, just a mildly eccentric classical piece that won't satisfy classics loves or rock fans.

The other epic on the album, Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, combines fairly dull noodling from the band with breakfast sound effects that upstage the track horribly. Solo compositions from Wright, Gilmour and Waters round out the album with underdeveloped musical ideas - If would make a good two minute song but runs for over four and wears out its welcome, Summer '68 engages in pointless psych nostalgia at precisely the moment when the band needed to be defining a future for itself, and Fat Old Sun is unconvincing folk.

The big failure of the album as a whole is that it generally fails to capture a mood in the way that the band's albums usually do. There's no psychedelic trippy experimentalism as heard on earlier albums, but the grand themes of later albums aren't apparent either. The problem is that at this point Pink Floyd are *still* trying to hit on a new post-Syd post-psychedelic identity for themselves, and at this stage they're drawing a blank. This would be bad enough, but considering that they did exactly the same sort of experimenting and testing of the waters on the studio disc of Ummagumma - with similarly disappointing results - and it's almost unforgivable. When a band spends one album confused and trying to find its bearings it's unfortunate but perfectly understandable. When a band does this for two albums in a row, you just lose your patience and want them to get their act together.

A decided low point in the Floyd's career, and one which both Gilmour and Waters are right not to want to return to. The creative dead-end represented by the epic tracks is sufficiently dull to knock the album down to two stars; the fact that they had to resort to half-baked filler material to finish the album drags it down to one. When the sound of your engineer munching toast is more interesting and full of vitality than the musical accompaniment, you know you've got problems.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#466337) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars When I ask people if they've heard Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother, the responses that I DON'T get tend to be along the lines of:

"Yeah, that "If" song has pretty cool lyrics"

"Oh, the one with "Fat Old Sun"? Yeah, that's a cool album".

What I DO get doesn't veer too far away from "The one with the cow? I don't remember, but I remember the cow". It's not really that surprising an answer. Pink Floyd have had some of the most iconic album covers in the seventies, with music generally matching the image as far as classic status is concerned. Not in this case. Atom Heart Mother is all about the cow. Then maybe the odd album title with its back-story. Then, far in the distance, the music. When I was young, I thought maybe the side long instrumental suite was a soundtrack to a non-existent film about the adventures of a cow, with an 'atom heart' as opposed to a regular heart. This gave the cow special strength-related powers. Right now I think the cow is telling me to register at Bovine University. Rough morning.

The title track does have plenty of interesting elements, my favorite being the full on brass orchestra 'theme' that shows up early on and bounces in again from time to time to add a bit of glue to the whole thing. It's a bit cheesy but majestic and fun, like music to accompany your ascent towards the apex of a small mountain. The song is divided into parts with rather 'toss-off' titles that seamlessly blend into each other, but, as far as the 'rock' side of things are concerned regarding this big cow of a track, it comes across at times like a low rent "Echoes". Not a terrible song as a whole, but at times it gets tedious.

Side two has the roots of Roger's "I'm depressed and slowly going insane" catalogue with "If", which is pleasant enough in a sad sort of way (weird I know) and has some nice atmospherics with a bit of trippy slide guitar. It also could have been a minute shorter.

"Summer '68" follows, and is my favorite song on the album because it's actually fun and yes, a throwback to their psychedelic roots, which in retrospect seemed a lot more exciting than the waddling around they were doing around 1970. The chorus and the horn section have enough of a jaunty vibe that I could strip down to my Union Jack Speedos and dance like a maniac on my front porch, except that the rest home across the street would probably call the police.

"Fat Old Sun", in which Gilmour sees himself in the far future, is ok, with Mason occasionally waking up to hit a few nice drum rolls before nodding off behind his drum kit again.

"Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast", on the other hand, is another failed Ummagumma type experiment to me, in which more effort was made to come up with a memorable song title than a memorable tune. It's just stupid Alan walking around making breakfast and acting like a damn fool over nondescript proggish psychedelic music that goes nowhere.

Listening to it again, I realize that it's a grower, and not as terrible as I remembered it to be way back when. Still, I think as far as 1970 releases are concerned, their former leader's solo effort The Madcap Laughs trumps this album in every way. It's aged far better than the cow album, but a couple of the Floyd members that assisted on Syd's release can say, "Well, at least I was on that record". Atom Heart Mother does have its merits though. Not just the cow.

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Send comments to Prog Sothoth (BETA) | Report this review (#573445) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review by Matti
COLLABORATOR Neo-Prog Team
4 stars This is an interesting, transitional work by the band who were leaving their psychedelic phase behind and finding their newer spacy style. With the ratio of 3,81 I'd say this is a bit underrated in the PINK FLOYD catalogue, but not yet reaching a masterpiece level like the next one, Meddle. It's also perhaps their most "two-sided" album, as the first side is an instrumental, orchestral epic which was co-written with (and naturally orchestrated by) an experimental modern art music composer Ron Geesin, the same man who teamed with Roger Waters for the rather unlistenable The Body soundtrack.

But this one is a good listen, only slightly marred at one point by some unnecessary sound effects of war, screams and motorbikes. The whole thing works very well in its 23-minute length and includes gorgeous highlights. Especially I love the section that starts quietly with a lonely organ melody and little by little increases the tension until it's mindblowingly emotional melodic prog graced by wailing electric guitars. That's one of the earliest trademark Floyd sounds - familiar up to their latest albums.

The second side is made of four tracks, three of them written (and mostly performed) by Waters, Rick Wright and David Gilmour respectively. Roger's 'If' is a sentimental low-key ballad, and very likable in its humbleness. 'Summer '68' is one of the best songs Wright has written. It may have a certain sixties (proto prog) feel - suitable to the lyrics! - but that doesn't make it any weaker. Gilmour's bluesy, lazy 'Fat Old Sun' starts in a very slow tempo and has nice electric suitar soloing in the end. As a singer he's not at his strongest here though. Interesting to notice that this must be the only Floyd album featuring Waters, Gilmour AND Wright as equal singer-songwriters; and it's surprisingly Wright who gets the best points from me.

'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast', nearly 13-minute, ehm, musical narrative of sorts, is for the most part a waste of time, and probably a quickly made album filler in the first place. We hear a man waking up, making a breakfast and eating it; the directionlessly wandering piece keeps shifting from sound effects to very thin and uninteresting background-type of music and vice versa. But as a whole this album is essential to any serious Floyd fan. The overall sound is a bit worn-out but mostly in a listener-friendly, charming way.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#601381) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 02, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars Atom Heart Mother is the 5th studio album of the progressive rock band, Pink Floyd. Written about a woman being fitted with a nuclear-powered pacemaker, Pink Floyd did not gain real relevance until this album hit the charts around the world. Shifting out of their Psychedelic/Space Rock era of musica ... (read more)

Report this review (#1196042) | Posted by PanOfPans | Thursday, June 19, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars For my 1st Prog Archives review I have selected a real mother of an album! This is my favorite Pink Floyd album. Experimental, progressive, non-commercial. A far cry from The Wall, that's for sure. It's not an easy album to get into. It's layers take time to unravel. For a long time this ... (read more)

Report this review (#1149405) | Posted by Prog 74 | Monday, March 17, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I am convinced that the long career of Pink Floyd should be read as a process of experimentation and research. each disc is a fundamental element in the evolution of the band. I developed this idea because I came to the conclusion that "ATOM HEART MOTHER" represents the culmination of everything ... (read more)

Report this review (#1073635) | Posted by agla | Thursday, November 07, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars the 5th album of PINK FLOYD, colssing the decade of 60's. i'm talking 'bout "Atom heart mother". this album is totally diferent of all of his predecessors (with Alan Parson like enginner), and all of his sucessors too. here we had the album that would define to Pink Floyd like the band who became ... (read more)

Report this review (#993001) | Posted by Zeuhl Glikowski II | Sunday, July 07, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Highly overlooked, even by the band themselves, this album deserves more credit than is given IMO. The 24-minute epic title track is a soaring journey through the classic Floyd sound we all know and love. If you are a fan of sidelong tracks and haven't listened to this gem yet, you are in for quite ... (read more)

Report this review (#889723) | Posted by ebil0505 | Monday, January 07, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Atom Heart Mother is, in my opinion, the first "classic" Pink Floyd album. It's the band's first effort at strong songwriting, something that the more experimental Ummagumma and More didn't quite have. Everything is more focused and structured. But like every Floyd album, there is still some experim ... (read more)

Report this review (#771362) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The title track of Atom Heart Mother rightly deserves the price of one of the best Pink Floyd compositions if not the best. The orchestral wind sections introduce the theme with some very majestic atmospheres as if the king walks right into my living room. The funeral atmospheric violin sessio ... (read more)

Report this review (#728693) | Posted by the philosopher | Sunday, April 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What's great about Atom Heart Mother? Many things, actually. Firstly, it simultaneously was the start of a structural and arranging pattern that would stick with the band for quite a while and sounds close to nothing like any of their other albums. The "Atom Heart Mother" suite isn't techni ... (read more)

Report this review (#693788) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Although this was one of our favourite records back in the seventies and we couldn't understand some particular criticisms there had been on it then, now that a lot of water has run under the bridges and we approach again to this music with more expert and wise -I expect- ears, I have to admit there ... (read more)

Report this review (#618280) | Posted by ibnacio | Tuesday, January 24, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Oh, I know it's not a favorite of critics. I do know that I like this album. Here we have the Floyd not just explicitly going prog, but they also have an orchestra, for which all parts were arranged by Ron Geesin. This kind of symphonic rock is present on only two tracks of this album, one of which ... (read more)

Report this review (#613977) | Posted by Dayvenkirq | Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I thinks that is amazing how the creators of this masterpiece reject it. Atom Heart Mother shows us a pompous Pink Floyd with touches of classical music. Unlike many bands who have tried unsuccessfully to use classical music in his music, Floyd knew how to use the classical influence as a su ... (read more)

Report this review (#612893) | Posted by AdrianoR. | Wednesday, January 18, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What is Atom Heart Mother? It's Roger Waters of Pink Floyd takes his hand and leads them on a new road. Towards an infinite that is not dreamed by Syd Barrett. Atom Heart Mother is the beginning of a new dream. Infinite spaces. Dense fog in the morning, God knows what in the English countrys ... (read more)

Report this review (#558171) | Posted by anywhere | Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A nice surprise.... I first time bought this cassette 30 years ago without really understanding the music here. It was dumped and quickly forgotten. I recently purchased the CD version (the cassette is in a loft in my parents house) together with the Pink Floyd classic albums almost as an after ... (read more)

Report this review (#528624) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Underrated gem. That is how I could sum up this work of art but I'll be more detailed. In 1970, progressive rock was starting it's rise to the top and the Floyd jump right on board. After Syd left, they went almost glacial and soundscapey with Careful With That Axe, Eugene. This was PF's most ... (read more)

Report this review (#480802) | Posted by criticdrummer94 | Tuesday, July 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Pink Floyd for me can not do anything "bad", some things are better than others, but overall everything is perfect. Atom Heart Mother has some very strange moments, but this album is very well written. The main things for this album is the cow and the opening suite. This is one of those very few Pin ... (read more)

Report this review (#460794) | Posted by FloydZappa | Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Prog Floyd starts here. The album of the famous cow. Perhaps it is simplistic, because in some moments the music is extraordinary, but the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of "Atom Heart Mother" is the cow. The second thing that comes to mind is the suite of side one, called o ... (read more)

Report this review (#417988) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Friday, March 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I remember seeing the cover with the cow standing in a pasture with no text or clue as to what might be on the record. I was intrigued for a long time and soon after exploring Pink Floyd's music, I picked this one up. It does have it's flaws but I was never disappointed. The title track was ve ... (read more)

Report this review (#387945) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Friday, January 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I don't think I have another album in my collection which I have this mixed feelings about. Is this the greatest prog rock album ever created? Or is it just some failed attempt at experimentation? Well, all I need to know is that this album made a large impact on me, look at my name for instance. ... (read more)

Report this review (#313289) | Posted by Atoms | Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother is a very strange album. In My Opinion this is the worst of early Pink Floyd though I have not heard "More" yet. It starts out with the twenty four minute title track. The Track Atom Heart Mother is overly pompous and boring. Yes it was an experiment for them and ... (read more)

Report this review (#290977) | Posted by kawkaw123 | Sunday, July 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A great album and also one of the best of Pink Floyd. Let us forget about the A-side for a while. If there wouldn't be a B-side, album will lose too much. So, Summer '68 is like an ode to a lost generation. If is a simple plainer song and takes its power from this simplicity and throughout its ... (read more)

Report this review (#286051) | Posted by cmfrtblynmb | Friday, June 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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