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Pink Floyd - A Saucerful Of Secrets CD (album) cover


Pink Floyd


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.67 | 1709 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars At this point, Barrett's inceasingly unpredictable and bizarre behavior could no longer be denied; David Gilmour, an old friend to both Barret and Waters, was brought on to replace him on stage- it was briefly thought that Syd could be a non-performing member, like Brian Wilson of the BEACH BOYS. As a result, we have the first of many transitional PINK FLOYD albums which are characterized by an inconsistent style- the result of four songwriters in an already wildly popular band simultaneously learning their craft. The Lewis Carroll whimsy of "Piper" is mostly absent, with the more extended, improvisational 'space rock' elements filling in. And there is quite a bit of filler; this album could have been even shorter had all the extraneous solos and weird sounds been trimmed (but then it wouldn't have been a PINK FLOYD album!).

"Let There Be More Light" begins with an uninspired bass riff and some organ noodling; eventually we get to the song itself, where Waters' limp lyrics contributing plodding verses and over-dramatic choruses padded out with more noodling and plenty of cymbal crashes. "Remember a Day" is better, with a melancholy but unsettling Wright-penned lyric and otherworldly backing. "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is a classic, eerie and droning but with a great sense of buildup. Waters' lyrics benefit from their ambiguity here. "Corporal Clegg" is Waters' attempt at a Barrett writing style, a portrait of british eccentricity rather than a precursor to later criticisms of warfare (the military motif giving conspiracy-minded lyric-spotters a red herring). The chorus is interestingly compressed and distorted, but the song is rather unremarkable- too much like those on "Piper" but less fun. "See Saw" is Wright's version of Barrett, again capturing the weirdness but not the buoyant dark whimsy. To the song's credit, it establishes a dreamy ambience and sense of loss in the lyrics. Going by this album alone, one could have thought that Wright would emerge as the dominant songwriter in the band...

The title track is the first long piece the band recorded for an album. Conceived and arranged by the band with a series of visual patterns (a compositional process more often used by avant-garde musicians like John Cage), it forms the blueprint for later works. Like "Heart of the Sun", a better live version can be found on "Ummagumma", but it is still interesting to hear how the band is experimenting with sound manipulation in the studio (and not just any studio...right down the hall from the Beatles). The final organ-based movement is pretty powerful, reflecting the more dramatic classical influence that eventually replaces the orginal whimsical acid-pop sound altogether.

The only Barrett contribution to this collection is "Jugband Blues", a perfect bridge between the psychedelic "Piper" and his later solo works. Especially poignant in retrospect, the song is an intermittent lysergic sound-poem bookended by lyrics worth all the other words on the album put together.

This album is not as unique or enjoyable as "Piper", but more similar to the albums that would follow and full of great moments for FLOYD fans and space rock connoisseurs. Barrett's regrettable departure nevertheless allowed the band to become the one we know and love today, and these sometimes unsure first steps are definitely worth a listen.

James Lee | 3/5 |


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