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Pink Floyd - Ummagumma CD (album) cover

UMMAGUMMA

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.48 | 1641 ratings

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Walkscore
4 stars Trailblazer Album.

Not knowing where they wanted to go as a band, just following their musical noses, the Floyd (well before ELP's Works, Yes members' solo albums, etc) decided they should cut an album in which they gave each member one quarter of the space for their own composition. They also decided they should record a live album, not only so they could archive their live show at that point but also so that they could move on to new things. Ummagumma acheived both in one double-go. The first album is the live album, and it features live versions of four of their key catalogue that were very different than the studio version. In each case, these are better versions of these classic tunes, with longer solos and more developed crescendos and well-worked out improvisational sections. These live versions of "Careful with the Axe, Eugene" and "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" in particular were advances on the studio versions, and would become the standard against which the Floyd shows would be judged. I always loved "Saucer Full of Secrets" and the version here is wonderful too (as is the version on the Live in Pompeii). The second album is the studio album, with each member taking one quarter. As other reviewers have commented, this showed just how innovative and avant-garde the members of the Floyd were (as well as Roger Waters' sense of humour - "Several Species of Small Furry Animals..." is not only one of the strangest avant-garde pieces ever recorded (as noted by reviewer siLLy puPPy) but also one of the funniest and lightest). Nick Mason's "Grand Vizier's Garden Party" is also quite avant-garde, obviously dominated by percussion, but very interesting. But a number of these solo tunes are also quite musical. Waters' "Granchester Meadows" is a very soothing acoustic number, an ode to natural beauty, and they played this song live a number of times. David Gilmour's contribution ("The Narrow Way") is the most "Floyd-esque". It is very musical, I wish they had played this song live in concert (I have so many Floyd bootlegs, but no live versions of this tune!). But my favourite of all the solo-studio recordings is Rick Wright's "Sysyphus". This is an awesome composition, dark and grandiose, but also delicate and introspective. A wonderful track, among the best on this double album. On the whole, despite sound quality that left something to be desired, this album stands as an important innovative and experimental album of the kind that is rarely (it seems) made any longer. I give this album 8.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to (upper) 4 PA stars. Definitely worth the effort!

Walkscore | 4/5 |

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