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Pink Floyd - P-U-L-S-E  CD (album) cover

P-U-L-S-E

Pink Floyd

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.95 | 757 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I risk admission of how new a FLOYD fan I am...but this was my first album, bought when it very first came out. It was through this album that I actually got to know the band. I still see it as a very enjoyable album, even in light of the large collection of studio albums that I now own. In fact, I even believe there are certain cuts on PULSE that are far superior to the studio versions.

Believe it or not, I actually found that the studio album of Dark Side of the Moon (most particularly the 20th anniversary edition--the 30th was an improvement) paled in certain places to this version, in terms of sound quality! I much prefer the effect of the guitar and drums thundering through the stadium at the beginning of "Time"--this resonant, rich sound gives it a certain air of...magnitude...like the beginning of Creation, for lack of a better metaphor.

While I would say that on "Great Gig" Clare Torry's original singing is probably better--I don't think there's anything at all lost by the choice of the three background singers who take up her role. Also, WRIGHT does not stick note-for-note with the original; he improvises where possible. The other real standout track from DSotM is "Any Colour You Like"...for some reason, there is just something so entrancing about that synth solo.

Another song that benefits from the stadium performance is "Learning to Fly". Somehow, it really takes on that spacey sound that it ought to have had in the studio album; one can really imagine speeding down the runway and suddenly lifting into flight. A switch that I believe was made that made the most dramatic moment of the song twice as effective: I cannot tell for sure, but it almost seems as if that dinky prop plane was replaced with a massive jumbo jet. This is also a case where that reverberating stadium sound really transports the listener "above the planet on a wing and a prayer". The studio album doesn't even come close.

The one mistake, however (despite the fact that I love it to death!) is in "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". I only call it a mistake in retrospect, now that I am familiar with Wish You Were Here. Somehow, as I was not familiar with the story of BARRETT or WYWH at the time, I took this for an uplifting, inspiring piece. Though musically very beautiful and I will always love it, I have to say that leaving out the "darker" parts of the song rather interferes with its mood--even causing a new fan to miss the point.

Of course, beyond doubt the most powerful performance is "Comfortably Numb". This surpasses the studio original by so much that it is almost beyond explanation; however, I will attempt it! It is in this song that you can truly see just how stifled the musicians (GILMOUR and WRIGHT in particular) were during the production of the studio original...because it is incredible what gets free in the live setting!

Much of what I write here will be a sort of reverse reaction--I actually reacted adversely when I heard the studio original, after being used to this one--I simply could not stand it! The thing felt wrong from so many angles. Almost immediately, the first thing that separates PULSE from the studio original is the slowed tempo--this creates a swaying feeling...as though things really are coming through in waves that push the "numb" listener back and forth...a feeling that was very much lacking in the less expressive studio version. Also, the guitar throughout the whole song (not just the famous solo) is far more passionately played--and in the second solo, there is even a screaming noise that sounds as if it could be all of the agony that Pink held inside until then.

The sound itself is very flowing, so rich that it is almost tangible, lifted upwards by the beautiful synth playing of RICHARD WRIGHT. Without knowing a thing about the circumstances of the breakup, this is something I immediately noted in the studio album as a hollow absence...as though the music had been forcibly sucked dry. But how wonderfully things changed, in the creation of this new FLOYD fan seven years ago. It is none other than WRIGHT himself that takes over for the now absent ROGER WATERS. He really takes well to the role, and his enthusiasm shows clearly in the musical result.

Forever it will be his haunting, ethereal sounding voice that I associate with the "doctor" in "Comfortably Numb". WRIGHT can pull off an incredibly spooky effect when he wants to--you can almost imagine the nearly walled-in Pink hearing this voice coming through as though from another plane, one in which he no longer fully functions. This, and the incredible musical power of this song, both in the guitar solo and in WRIGHT's contribution, make this easily the best version of "Comfortably Numb" in existence.

All in all, this is probably the FLOYD's best concert album.

FloydWright | 4/5 |

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