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Pink Floyd - Echoes - The Best of Pink Floyd CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.44 | 256 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars An excellent entry point to one of the most awesome prog bands on the planet.

"Echoes - The Best of Pink Floyd" is the best compilation of the psychedelic pioneers of prog. The reason is due to the fact that this one spans their entire career and really contains all of the quintessential Pink Floyd songs. Sure, there are going to be a few omissions that Floydians will fight about as to why their favourite was not included, but one cannot argue with this amazing collection of songs, many of which have become legendary in the rock world. A collection like these songs is perfect for taking with you on holidays or cranking in the car; we can't all take our box sets with us, though "Discovery" is here! So this is a handy little collection I would refer to as the compact Pink Floyd, wrapping up their 20 years career in 155 minutes. Not an easy task but this is as good as I have heard for a 2 CD compilation.

It begins with the absolutely brilliant 'Astronomy Domine'. "Neptune Titan stars can frighten you, blinding signs flap flicker flicker flicker blam pow pow!" 'Astronomy Domine' sends chills down my spine as soon as that lead break locks in. It is Barrett's finest moment, and the film clip demonstrates what a different beast Pink Floyd were all those years ago. The lyrics are absolutely perfect and are engrained in psychedelia as much as the swirling lights in the UFO Club. Syd's Astronomical Atlas helped with the lyrics. The cover version by Voi Vod is worth seeking out too for a heavier feel.

'See Emily Play' follows and then we teleport to the new Pink Floyd with the essential "The Wall" album, namely 'The Happiest Days Of Our Lives' and 'Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)', which has graced radio airwaves for decades. The consistent rhythm of Dm clanging on the clean guitar, almost reggae, was the framework for some enigmatic lyrics "We don't need no education, we don't need no full control" It was rebellious and comforting at the same time. I like the ominous vocals, the children choir rebelliously shouting the mantra. The lead guitar solo is incredible; David Gilmour's guitar that is soaring, harmonious and virtuoso work. These days as a teacher I cringe when I hear "No dark sarcasm in the classroom, teachers leave us kids alone", as that's what I do now!

'Echoes' follows in a 16:31 expurgated form. I am okay with this as no Pink Floyd compilation should go without this track from "Meddle" and at least most of it is here. I don't mind the edits either as they do not detract from the power of the song. If I want to hear it all I can swith on "Meddle" so no need to nitpick. It would be awful if it had not been here. 'Echoes' has become a legendary track that has been returned to by Gilmour as a solo artist and the band themselves in recent times. It stands the test of time as a prime example of space rock at its best. On "Meddle" it is 23 minutes of headphone bliss. It begins with the infamous ping that may be akin to a sub sonic sonar sound underwater. The lonely sound alienates the listener immediately and then an ambient keyboard swells in, Wright is superb on this track. The band were not only experimenting with sound, they tore the heart out of the music machine that was churning out manufactured bubblegum pop in the 70s. They showed that it was possible to create provocative music outside the box that was still listenable. The beautiful melancholia is enhanced by heartfelt vocals from Gilmour and Waters, and the lyrics are profoundly stimulating. 'Overhead the albatross, Hangs motionless upon the air, And deep beneath the rolling waves, In labyrinths of coral caves, An echo of a distant time, Comes willowing across the sand, And everything is green and submarine. And no one called us to the land, And no one knows the where's or why's. Something stirs and something tries, Starts to climb toward the light.'

"We return to "The Wall" with the classic 'Hey You'. 'Marooned' follows as a brief segent of "Division Bell" and then straight into the indispensable death anthem. 'The Great Gig in the Sky' is an astral journey to the realm of death. Clare Torrys' wailing is like the moans of childbirth or in this case rebirth as we cross over to the plain of non existence into the next life, which feels like heaven mid way through the track as Torry evokes softer nuances, with angelic tones that sends shivers up the spine. Her howls and moans expressed in full voice signify the ecstasy of freedom and the agony of death. In concert three ladies took up the task of the three segments to showcase their incredible talented voices, but on the album Torry masterfully improvises the life and death pangs in such an emotive style, it is astounding.

'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun' is one of the more ambient spacey tracks and then immediately back to "Dark Side of the Moon" with the brilliant bassline of 'Money'. It begins with the ka-ching of cold hard cash, the root of all evil. The time sig is in 7/8, very disconcerting, complex and Gilmour's jangly guitar splashes complement the bass perfectly. The lyrics speak of money as the corruptible force that causes the filthy rich to blow millions on cars, leer jets, football teams and diamonds. The lyrics are ironic with a dark, satirical nature, but the effects of money and its misuse have never been more eloquently stated. The lyrics were read out by the school Master to tease the little boy on "The Wall" movie. Of course these lyrics and the song provided millions for the band. The money corrupted Pink Floyd too, their beliefs and values, the very thing the song was protesting. The saxophone solo is utterly mesmirising and the way the song changes time signature is inspirational.

'Keep Talking' is one of the best tracks from "Division Bell" and I always love hearing Stephen Hawkings vocals on this. 'Sheep' is the only "Animals" track so unfortunately 'Dogs' gets the flick. I always felt that "Animals" was one of the darkest Pink Floyd adventures primarily due to 'Sheep'. There is a section in this track that disturbs me everytime and it is the part where a very doomy synth is heard and a voice over narration. It is almost subliminal but if you listen closely you can hear a parody of The Lord's Prayer with a nasty twist; "With bright knives He releaseth my soul. He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places. He converteth me to lamb cutlets, For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger..." The sheep are the passive followers, docile and innocent, the common man, headed for the slaughterhouse to be chopped into little pieces (reminiscent of 'One of These Days'), exploited by the dogs and pigs. The exploitation continues until the sheep rebel and rise up against the oppressors only to be exploited again, a vicious cycle. In a sense Pink Floyd themselves. The sheep in the novel gain a consciousness when they see the corruption of the rich corporations, and they rebel, as Pink Floyd rebelled against the trash music of the late 70s by producing music like this. Of course the irony is the communists could never do such a thing or they would be slaughtered too, and Pink Floyd are well aware of these ironies, even making fun of themselves, after the incredible success of "DSOTM" and "WYWH". They had to face these corporations who wanted a piece of them too. The band had already touched on this theme on "WYWH" especially, 'Have A Cigar', which is criminally missing from this compilation. It would have been a better choice than 'Sorrow' but still CD 1 is certainly an incredible Pink Floyd collection.

CD 2 begins with the amazing genius of Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts 1-7) that clocks 17:32. The tranquility conveyed on this "Wish You Were Here" track is astounding and so aptly performed live with exquisite visual imagery. The track opens with a patient, ambience created by sounds of a peaceful stream, a rowing boat, and the distinct keyboard talents of Wright. The music takes us downstream as we enter Syd Barret's jaded conscious thoughts, echoed by the band members themselves. The track is an ode to the twisted genius of Syd and moves through several sections as a multi movement suite orchestrated to perfection. The echoing guitar represents a four octave motif that Floydians have grown to adore. Its pure beauty is complimented when Gilmour chimes in "Remember when you were young..." The fragmentation of the beat midway through alludes to the fragmented status of the group since Barret's departure. Indeed this is a beatific paean to the troubled artist who recently travelled to "the great gig in the sky".

'Time' follows and it is a welcome addition. It is one of my favourite tracks with an excellent melody and amazing instrumental work. The clock chimes signify the alarm call where madness waits at the door, but time is wasted and we have achieved nothing.

'The Fletcher Memorial Home' is the obligatory Water's composed 'Final Cut' track and it is okay. It is sandwiched between two excellent tracks. Next is 'Comfortably Numb'. It was always Gilmour who provided the most glorious tracks including the best track on "The Wall". The low key verses are portentous and foreboding and then that uplifting chorus with vocal techniques that would be emulated by many prog artists especially Mostly Autumn's Josh, "There is no pain you are receding, a distant ship smoke on the horizon... when I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse out of the corner of my eye, I turned to look and it was gone, I cannot put my finger on it now... " masterful, perfect, unforgettable. The lead guitar solo at the end of this is legendary and I have heard many live versions which are even better with an extended screaming solo section, while a massive chandelier UFO light contraption opens above the audience sending out cascading rays of light upon them. A magic moment.

Next is a curio for a compilation 'When The Tigers Broke Free' which is a nice addition heard usually on the movie version of "The Wall". 'One Of These Days' is next and I always adore this instrumental. 'Us And Them' is next and I could have done without this to be honest as it really is best heard on the "Dark Side of the Moon" in context. The pace slows considerably on as it is a song about belonging in a world that treats you as an outcast unless you can fit into the mould that society creates. The track relies heavily on clean guitar and mellotron and seems to float along like a stream of sound. The song's lyrics speak of those who are on the street because they cannot cope with the world, and those who are able to cope and therefore off the streets and safe in the cookie cutter mould of social integration. The song has political connotations seen in the live footage played in concert with images of famous presidents such as Thatcher and Bush.

'Learning to Fly' is an awesome "Momentary Lapse of Reason" song that I always liked and it is great to hear it among all of these other classics. 'Arnold Layne' is an oddity here with more Barrett era psych prog and of course it was a different band.

'Wish You Were Here' brings us back to the more recent sound. This single has one of the most played, most recognized acoustic intros ever. The lyrics are as beautiful as the arrangement. Waters calls to the positive side of his dark nature. There are 2 sides to human nature he states, and we need to choose. 'Jugband Blues' follows which is once again a fish out of water that I have little time for. It is short and the album ends brilliantly with the absolutely hypnotising 'High Hopes'. The best song on "Division Bell" is an atmospheric haunting masterpiece. It begins with a startling bell tolling effect and very emotive performance by Gilmour. The majestic closing section is an incredible performance by the band. The film clip promo was brilliant and seen in the live shows on the circular screens.

Oh, there's one more to cap it all off, a strange choice bringing us back to the embryonic Pink Floyd, 'Bike'."You're the kind of girl that fits in with my world, I'll give you anything everything if you want things." 'Bike' is one of the better tracks on the debut and most Floydians know this well. It is well outside what Floyd would do in later years. You gotta love the whimsical lyrics that rhyme brilliantly about things special to Syd; the bike, gingerbread men, a cloak and a pet mouse, and a girl who he wants to fit into his rag tag world. I remember at half time at the Australian Pink Floyd Experience show speaking to some fans in the foyer about the concert, and we jokingly wanted the tribute band to play 'Bike'. It is simply a silly song with the most catchy little melody. It will sink into your brain but you will want it to get out.

So that is the compilation of Pink Floyd that was churning out of CD stores in 2001. It is what it is and to be honest if you own every album this has very little to draw you in. but it is well packaged, and the compilation is fascinating when heard in one listen. It takes you effectively through the massive back catalogue with only a few unforgiveable omissions but that is bound to happen. With the upcoming 14 album box set "Discovery" and the Experience Editions of "Dark Side" and "The Wall" this compilation may not live up to standard of the full Pink Floyd album experience, but it is an excellent starting point. For those people who live in caves and have not heard of the band, a compilation like this could be the entry point. There is too much of Pink Floyd's excellent material here to rate this lower than 4 stars so that is my rating.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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