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Pink Floyd

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Pink Floyd Ummagumma album cover
3.46 | 1940 ratings | 143 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

Live Album - LP 1 (39:19)
1. Astronomy Domine (8:29) *
2. Careful with That Axe, Eugene (8:50) *
3. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun (9:12) *
4. Saucerful of Secrets (12:48) *

Studio Album - LP 2 (46:52)
5. Sysyphus, Pt. 1 (1:08)
6. Sysyphus, Pt. 2 (3:30)
7. Sysyphus, Pt. 3 (1:49)
8. Sysyphus, Pt. 4 (6:59)
9. Grantchester Meadows (7:26)
10. Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict (4:59)
11. Narrow Way, Pt. 1 (3:27)
12. Narrow Way, Pt. 2 (2:53)
13. Narrow Way, Pt. 3 (5:57)
14. Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Enterance, Pt. 1 (1:00)
15. Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Entertainment, Pt. 2 (7:06)
16. Grand Vizier's Garden Party: Exit, Pt. 3 (0:38)

Total Time 86:11

* Recorded at Mothers Club, Birmingham & Manchester College of Commerce, April & May 1969.

Line-up / Musicians

- David Gilmour / lead guitar & vocals (1-4) and piano, Mellotron, organ, bass & drums (11-13)
- Richard Wright / organ, keyboards & vocals (1-4) and Mellotron & piano (5-8)
- Roger Waters / bass & vocals (1-4) and tape, guitar & gong (9,10)
- Nick Mason / percussion & drums (1-4) and timpani & tape (14-16)

- Ron Geesin / voice (10)
- Lindy Mason / penny whistle & flute (14,16)

Releases information

Artwork: Hipgnosis with Storm Thorgerson (design & photo)

2xLP Harvest SHDW1/2 (1969, UK)

2xCD Capitol Records ‎ CDPB 7 46404 2 (1987, US)
2xCD EMI United Kingdom ‎- CDEMD 1074 (1994, Europe) Remastered by Doug Sax with James Guthrie
2xCD EMI ‎- 50999 028937 2 3 (2011, Europe) Remastered by James Guthrie with Joel Plante

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy PINK FLOYD Ummagumma Music

PINK FLOYD Ummagumma ratings distribution

(1940 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

PINK FLOYD Ummagumma reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by maani
3 stars As creative as what came before might have been (Piper, Saucerful, More), little could have prepared the world for Ummagumma, which sees Floyd making gigantic strides in both the studio and live settings. I am not in agreement with some fans that the studio disc is less than amazingly expertimental and brilliant. Indeed, there is nothing on this album which did not presage in one way or another what Floyd would become with Atom Heart Mother, Meddle and, ultimately, Dark Side and beyond.
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Umm-a-gada-da-gu-mma

After the parenthesis of More, Floyd comes back with a new album that they chose a double (very en-vogue back then) but unfortunately, this will prove a little ambitious for them yet. Coming with an uninspired picture in a picture in a picture from Hypgnosis, one can only regret that the back cover did not become the front cover. If the live disc is outstanding, the least we can say is that the studio concept disc is heavily flawed.

The first disc nears perfection, being a selection of their best moments live in concert. All four tracks featured are in a fairly to very different version of the original studio version, with Astronomy Domine being lasting a good 9-mins+ and losing their vocals, gaining much power, even if Mason's drumming is perfectible. Eugene is also much-enhanced and is really the live disc's high point, showing Floyd extremely tasteful use of dynamic peaks, and in itself blows the illustrated version featured in Antonioni's Zabriskie Point movie. Heart Of The Sun also sees its length greatly increased, Floyd trying a light, celestial and graceful improv in the middle section. The closing Sauceful Of Secrets track is probably the closest to its studio version (although slightly elongated), but the four movements are so much more naturally linked together. Apparently, Floyd had also planned to include a version of Interstellar Overdrive, but sadly it was left out and inexplicably never added as bonus in CD reissues. Clearly with this live album, Floyd reaches its early peak (in concert anyway) and this will be the backbone for the next few years (there are still three from the four tracks featured on the Pompeii movie) and it will take DSOTM to finally bump most of these out of the set list.

The studio disc is a vastly different affair, an ambitious conceptual failure; each of the group members would benefit of a half of side of vinyl to feature their ideas, something that only Kiss (the 4 solo albums) and ELP (Works I) would have the pretension to top. Gilmour's first attempt at songwriting (Narrow Way) is not exactly a success, his four-part guitar piece being patchy and not very cohesive (some of which will be featured in The Man And The Journey concept) is not really successful, even if the first and last parts are pleasant, the middle section is a big "n'importe quoi". Waters is actually the one that pulls the winning straw, with the superb Grandchester Meadows. His second track is an hilarious musique concrete piece about Several Species Of Furry Animals sharing a cavern with a Scot ancestor (a Pict) - hence the last few slurs at the end - all these noises being produce by Roger's rather large oral utensil. Wright's Sysyphos pieces is way to ambitious for his frail shoulders, mixing dissonances with pompous neo-classicism, and the mellotron intro and outro will not save the suite. Mason's Grand Vizier is (you guessed it) the weakest part of this concept. Already not the best musician in the group, he's also not the best composer, so this explaining that and we can forgive Nick's weak areas (we're sure this individual effort concept was not his idea) to concentrate on his ability to produce twisted sounds, something that will help him produce some well-known albums for other artists. This second disc is probably Floyd's low point in their early career, the group being over-ambitious, limit pretentious. Clearly the proof that Floyd was a group and not a sum of individuals.

Hardly an essential album, although there are a few shades to that opinion, partly because Floyd's official live discography is parsimonious in its early stages. As mentioned above, if you have the Pompeii film, then you can almost forget Umma (despite the chosen tracks being at their best or almost), even though you'll miss Domine. If you have some live boots (anything but rare, even back then) at home, you might want to skip it as well. But the usual Floyd detractors that took Barrett's songwriting to sky high are generally also fairly supportive of the studio disc, which goes to show that their conduct towards this band is more attitude than substance.

Review by loserboy
5 stars As a young man when I first heard "Ummagumma" I remember being totally freaked out and completely addicted to this double album. Years later it still represents one of my personal favourites from the discography of the PINK FLOYD. "Ummagumma" is a sort of fractured double album with the first album representing the studio work and 2nd taking on 4 great live tracks. I personally love the two extremes of this album (live & studio) some times prefering the live album and other times the studio. "Ummagumma" is representative of classic psychedlic-era PINK FLOYD. Atmospheres are dark and foreboding with ravishing psychedelic squawls, sonic distortion and guitar frenzies. Moods change from still quiet to heavy droned out psych. "Ummagumma" explores on both albums a wide range of tympanic beats and sounds and is truely an album of exploration. Live material on this album is simply stunning with excellent versions of FLOYD Classics... "Astronomy Domine", "Careful With That Axe... Eugene", "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" and "A Saucerful Of Secrets" (recorded in Birmingham & Mancdhester College - 1969).
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A good LP...and a not so good one

A game of two halves this double LP. The first LP is a live album with 4 lengthy pieces. These are actually very good psychedelic prog rock, well structured and melodic. What may appear at first to be fairly loose jams, are in fact tightly composed and well thought out pieces. For those who came to Pink Floyd through albums such as "Dark side of the Moon" and "The wall", be aware that the music here bears little relation to the song based numbers which appear on those albums. Even slightly looser tracks such as "On the run" or "Any colour you like" are far more commercial than the spaced out sounds of these pieces originating in the Syd Barrett era (although by the time of this album, he had left the band, Dave Gilmour being well integrated into the line up).

The second LP sees each of the 4 band members being allocated half a side (about 10 minutes) each for a solo outing. This was some years before ELP did a similar thing with their "Works Volume 1" album, but the effect is broadly similar.

All the tracks on disc 2 serve to achieve is to demonstrate that with Pink Floyd, the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of the parts. The best thing on the second album is "Several species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a Pict" (the title that is, not the track which is a whimsical, meaningless, waste of space!).

Had this been a single LP live album, it would have been excellent, sadly it isn't.

Review by frenchie
5 stars 2 words for you... INSANE. yes pink floyd can easily be compared to insanity, for just a year before this record was made they lost their key member, syd barrett, to sevre schizophenia. Also their music has always been known to rot your mind with the intense psychadelia, random sound effects such as bike bells and rubber ducks on piper, UFO's and trumpets on a saucerful of secrets, and strange spanish men and aborigini drumming techniques on more.

Ummagumma is no exception to the rule. If anything pink floyd have excelled themselves this time, for the first time i listened to this album i thought i had lost my mind. 2 discs of mindless racket. sounds good to me. There are very few lyric based tracks on the album. The album seems to follow the concept of a continous instrumental based pieces with "sysyphus" lasting over 15 minutes long. this song sounds like something out of a horror film with the mean sound effects and the melodramatic piano pieces which, if a band was to play these days would seem very over the top and embaressing. look out matt bellamy. If you listened to this in 1969 you would be freaked out by how much music has changed. if you are listening to this at any other time you are wishing it could be the 60's once again. i hope this type of music is never forgotten.

The only lyrical based song on the album, "grantchester meadows", is a solo piece by roger waters on the acoustic guitar. similar to the style of his songs such as "if" and "cirrus minor", and a prelude to songs of dark side, animals and the wall. the only "normal" song on the album. or so it would seem if there wasnt a humming bird singing throughout the song and a few minutes of a crazy man trying to swat a fly at the end. Which leads fantastically into the long and pointlessly titled "several species of small furry animals gathered in a cave and grooving with a pict". over five minutes of insane rambling and alien creature jibberish. i would advise anyone not to listen to this too much if you want to keep your sanity.

Ummagumma keeps to the psychadelia but also stretches furtur into the progressive rock with the brillilant, "the narrow ways", full of a mix of mellow plucking and thundering riffs. The album ends with "the grand visiers garden party" which is a very experimental track using different guitar effects and drum solos. this album takes a few spins to get into but once you get into it, you will never forget how good it is. Sadly Ummagumma was discarded from echoes, the best of pink floyd and this album seems to be very understated because it isnt as famous as the later work. this is real floyd at its best.

but we're not finished yet. Ummagumma marks as pink floyds first double album. A forty minute live album with 4 tracks is also included, as if the studio album wasnt already value for money, you get even more for your buck! The live album includes double length versions of "astronomy domine" (without syd on vocals for the first time) and "set the controls for the heart of the sun" which experiments with lengthy drum pieces and the famous gong bashing from roger.

The higlights on the live album are a revamped version of "a saucerful of secrets" which drops the mellow piano pieces and sound effects to make way for speedy drum pieces, insane guitar sounds and a winning harmony to finish with. The best part of the album is the very first version of rare song "careful with that axe, eugene" and this is the best version you can find. The best nine minutes you will ever hear. This song starts off with simple guitar riffage and seems like any other floyd song until the beautiful twist comes in half way where roger starts screaming like a girl in a horror movie.

listening to this feels like you've died and gone to heaven, but then they realise it wasnt your time so they sent you back home to enjoy Ummagumma once again. Whilst Dave and Rick provide their usual amazingness and excell themselves in experimental sound, Nick and Roger are the real stars on this live album with the intense screaming and gong thrashing backed up by the most speedy and energetic drumming in their carreer.

And if thats not enough for you then this album comes in a pretty little boxset with a hossing poster of the band. w00t. Ummagumma WILL scare and destroy you.

Review by Proghead
4 stars Quite the bewildering album. This was to mark the first PINK FLOYD album to be released on the Harvest label (other bands on the label included TRIUMVIRAT, ELOY, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, QUATERMASS, SHIRLEY & DOLLY COLLINS,The BATTERED ORNAMENTS, BAKERLOO, and even DEEP PURPLE. PINK FLOYD was of course, to be the most successful band on the Harvest label, but not until "Dark Side of the Moon".

"Ummagumma" is a peculiar double album set. The first disc is live material. The band performs entirely previously released material, like "Astronomy Domine", "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun", and "A Saucerful of Secrets". Without a doubt my favorite going to "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". The song starts off slow and atmospheric, then of course, Roger WATERS lets off his screams then they get in to a guitar jam before eventually fading back the way it started. All these songs are arranged differently or have things added on, making them not clones of the original. Plus they use a string organ here, rather than a Hammond organ like on the originals.

The second disc is basically to give each of the four members the big ego boost. First you have Richard WRIGHT's four piece "Sysyphus". Here he noodles around on his keyboards, such as organ, piano, and even Mellotron (yes PINK FLOYD used Mellotron, but only on this album, "A Saucerful of Secrets" and "Atom Heart Mother"). Lot of it leans to the avant garde, and with a rather sinister atmosphere. It's hard to believe that just two years before there were psychedelic bands singing about "flowers and beads" and "canyons of your mind" (common thing for Central and Southern California bands of the time). Hearing this album, you'd think the '70s already arrived. Nothing remotely resembling the themes of California "pop psychedelia" can be found here! Then next, Roger WATERS gets his time to shine. First you have the acoustic, pastoral, ambient "Grantchester Meadows". It's a song that sounds like something is missing, like maybe more accompanyment. It's a pretty sparse sounding piece. Then there's "Several Small Creatures Gathered Together and Grooving With a Pict". Here you get a bunch of strange animal sounds, then you hear a Scotsman talking in the old Pictish language (which I don't know what that could be, you know right away you can't understand what he's saying, and it's pretty safe to say it's not Scots Gaelic either).

David GILMOUR piece is "The Narrow Way", and for him, it seems like he wanted the whole band to participate. It's a three piece movement which works best. First part is all acoustic, the second piece is a space rock piece. Here you are loaded with tons of electronic effects, effectively sounding like a precursor to many Krautrock bands that tended to the space rock spectrum, or even HAWKWIND for that matter! The third and final part of the song is the vocal part, sounding like classic PINK FLOYD (it could almost fit on "The Dark Side of the Moon"). Then the last part is Nick MASON's piece. Here he simply fiddles around with his drums and percussion. It often gets boring and tedious. This album is certainly bewildering, but it showed how the band was like before they were big huge rock stars, long before "The Wall", way before planetariums and night clubs across the United States decided to hold these "Pink Floyd with laser light" shows, this was PINK FLOYD doing what they wanted to at the risk of alienating their audience. Ummagumma is not for everyone, but recommended for the more adventurous.

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My older brother got this when it was new (i.e., just before I was born!) and described it as "the one I put on when I want people to leave me alone". "Self- indulgent" and "pretentious" are the terms most used to describe this album...come to think of it, that's how most people feel about the progressive rock genre as a whole. The common view is that PINK FLOYD should have stuck to a single disc rather than a double album- ironic, because that's how I feel about "The Wall". "Ummagumma", on the other hand, strikes me as fun, spooky, and crazy in a way that is to me the heart and soul of the PINK FLOYD ethos. I can go for years without listening to it, and then suddenly become obsessed with it all over again; I have purchased this album in vinyl, cassette, and CD form because it always seems to have been lost/ stolen/ destroyed by the time I want to hear it again (I suspect the people I've lived with, but I guess I can't blame them). Every subsequent album after this will see the band getting more refined and less adventurous (and, possibly, gradually having less and less fun). There's plenty to tempt the more casual fan; the live tracks are in each case the best versions of their respective songs, and with "Grantchester Meadows" and "The Narrow Way" are excellent representatives of the band during this period. "Sysyphus" is alternately grand and eerie, with some beautiful piano in the 2nd movement that unfortunately ends too quickly. Okay, "Several Species..." is almost unlistenable...yet I always listen, and marvel at the frame of mind they must have been in to put this together. Like it or not (it drives my dogs nuts, for one thing), what real PINK FLOYD fan doesn't immediately recogize it as the signature track from this album? I can't say that Mason's chaotic drum pieces are easy listening, but they display amazing talent and variety; more so than any of his solo work, which really strikes me as pretentious. And what about the beautiful photo of the band's equipment- I'd love to find a poster of that, even a copy of the Fillmore concert poster which used a bit of it. I am tempted to be controversial by giving this five stars, but objectively I can't in good conscience call this "essential" or say that it belongs in everyone's collection. "Ummagumma" is what it is: the most extreme, experimental album by the biggest name in progressive rock, and I guess that makes it an acquired taste.
Review by Philo
3 stars Still unsure what was actually going on since Syd Barrett lost the plot and was whisked off to the funny farm the rest of the Floyd with Barrett's protege, Dave Gilmore no less somehow heeled into Pink Floyd quickly, the band took of on a college tour and this half live half studio half good half alright veering toward the bad is a result of their exploits. The live stuff is decent enough even if the recordings are poor enough. It starts off with "Astronomy Domine" which they somehow manage to pull off convincingly and the one thing I have always enjoyed about the Floyd is their ability to title songs with ludicrous but interesting names such as the zany "Careful With That Axe Eugene" and the next two tracks sound way more superior to their studio album versions with the epic "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" for me the highlight of the set and "A Saucerfull Of Secrets" which is hanging onto its coat tails. The second album in the set which contains the studio suites is plain boring enough with some splashes of inspiration yet failing to deliver a cutting edge and for me is almost verging on the pompous side of things and extremely overindulgent if nothing else. Each band member gets a writing credit on each piece and while being experimental are nothing if a little unfinished and unconvincing and the Floyd might have better advised to have released a full double live album. Even if that extra album contained some long workouts of a couple of more tracks it might have been more rewarding, as the first few live cuts are entrancing and hypnotic and by the time the studio album kicks in its just mundane boredom and seems an abrupt comedown.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Good album, the highlight being the revised version of ' Careful with that axe Eugene'. Generally though I find the solo works a tad boring preferring Rick Wright's and Gilmour's sections to the other two members.Die hards may find not having this album unthinkable for me it seldom warrants a spin.
Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Studio:

Don't listen while on crack, Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma" is nothing like their other albums; this one shows lot's of experimental tendencies and could be considered as an avant-garde album of sorts. Each member of the band wrote their entirely own songs here, but without having a direct song-structure to them except for on a few songs, it seems that the band wanted to do something different here. The result is, even today, very varied on opinions; some look on this one as a masterpiece, others hate it.

Looking on this one in it's musical entirely, it's mostly a mix of psychedelia and experimental music, but yet, all of the individual compositions are very varied from each other with different styles to them. Guitarist David Gilmour's contribution; "The Narrow Way" being the most accessible one, but it still has a very unusual style. The whole album has a dark and entangled feeling, it's in overall very unpredictable and extremely varied, therefore it's unfortunately also a bit uneven. Avant-garde/experimental fans will love this stuff, and PF fans who enjoy their 60's phase will most likely appreciate this, but otherwise, this one isn't something for everyone. I'll give this 3.5/5.


The live disc was performances recorded during the summer 1969. Only four tracks here, three of them taken from their first two albums. The performances are excellent, perhaps even better than the studio stuff, and it's a very promising live album overall. 4/5

Review by TRoTZ
5 stars The absolute craziness, the epitome of psychedelic music ever made by Pink Floyd. This album ends their first musical phase which has been characterized by very experimental psychedelic albums, fusing the tendencies of an alternative British society fed up with the commercial movement created around BEATLES. So the album is the most psychedelic (delusional, crazy) you can imagine for that time. Just imagine the impact this had in conservator British society, they were seen almost like devil itself (!). I have listen stories of parties, when somebody wanted to finish them and send people away, he just had to put Ummagumma vinyl rocking!

This is a double album, and I was referring to the second of them, which have the studio originals. The first cd has some of their best tracks from the previous records played live, in longer versions reached by longer instrumental passages. It's worth it, very worth it, good live versions. From the psychedelic second cd, the only not instrumentals are Grantchester Meadows and The Narrow Play Part III. It starts with the majestic classic intro of Sysyphus Part I, part II continues with a classical piano sonata which then turns into a psychedelic disturbing piano. Part III joins a very psychedelic mellotron with a not less psychedelic drumming and noising background sound. Pure psycho. Part IV slows a bit the tension with a calm mellotron with background bird singing but then it turns back into part one's majestic arrangements. Grantchester Meadows is a vulgar song with acoustic guitar played for the friends in the calm of the nature. Several Species Of Small Furr shows an interesting knocks rhythm. More instrumentals in The Narrow Play parts I and II, leading to the beautiful melody of Part III (a oasis in this psycho album). Classical flute appears in The Grand Vizier's Parts I and II and part III ends the album with more psychedelic stuff, which I point out particularly the haphazard drum ending.

Ummagumma ends in a good way a cycle in Pink Floyd's music and it shows a convergence to classical music that would be the next album's flag. From now on, they started to point the way in globalizing their music, universalizing the psychedelic and space ideas, even if they have to almost abandon them.

My rate: 8/10

Review by FloydWright
3 stars This was one of the most difficult PINK FLOYD albums to assign a rating to, because in spite of its several difficulties, I can't help but enjoy it. The studio disk, an experiment in which each band member did his own composition without any help from the others (including lyrics and playing of all instruments) somehow manages to prove at the same time just how much each member, even in early days, was capable of on his own and just how much they needed each other in order to create that distinctive PINK FLOYD sound. The live disk, on the other hand, is for the most part positively stunning in terms of performance quality--except the recording quality leaves much to be desired.

Here is what, in my personal opinion, each solo composition reveals. The album opens with RICK WRIGHT's "Sysyphus", a very strange exploration including everything from classical piano to complete chaos, and some very eerie wordless vocals from WRIGHT (if you think THAT'S strange, try slowing down the part with all the clanking noises and high-pitched laughter to half-speed to hear what the vocals sounded like in original form!). While imperfect, "Sysyphus" more than any other piece on Ummagumma has a clearly planned structure from beginning to end; his talent for long compositions clearly had emerged early. DAVID GILMOUR's "The Narrow Way" is also a largely pleasant listen, basically an exploration of various guitar stylings. It's also GILMOUR's first lyrical outing, and while what I can hear sounds decent--his vocals are woefully undermixed, and there isn't a lyrics sheet in the liner notes of the CD. A pity, really.

ROGER WATERS' "Grantchester Meadows" is interesting in a far more simplistic fashion--idyllic lyrics and a meandering acoustic guitar and soft vocals far from the angry shrieking of "In the Flesh" are nice, but it feels rather like a demo. This song is much better in live versions. Of course, he doesn't let you get too comfortable; he makes sure to wreck the delicate moment with a rude surprise. Then comes "Several Species", the alternately amusing and annoying experiment with tape effects, one of the album's weaker spots. The weakest spot is NICK MASON's "Grand Vizier's Garden Party", which although like "Sysyphus" supposedly has a structure, it has none of the flow. Aside from a nice drum solo at one point, it's too much for me to wade through, in the end. I can't say what he'd do given the chance in 2004, but I can see that in 1969, his talents were less in composing and more in performing.

Mixing problems plague the live side as well--I have heard bootlegs from the time period that sound much better in technical terms. One cannot even distinguish the voices of the band members from each other without serious effort, and the overall sound is severely muddied. However, that said, if you can hear through all that, what lies underneath is an excellent performance, with the exception of Mr. Gilmour's vocals on "Celestial Voices", which are, as usual in earlier live performances, a bit dodgy. Overall, I feel that Ummagumma is worth the purchase for its live side, as well as for the insight into the individual FLOYD members--but don't be deceived; it's far from perfect, and should not be your first live PINK FLOYD album.

If you have absolutely no tolerance for the studio disc, the Live at Pompeii DVD may be a good alternative.

(P.S.: It doesn't hurt that Ummagumma is quite well priced for a double-album set.)

Review by Cluster One
3 stars "Ummagumma" is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it is really only for the hardcore FLOYD fans out there.

As is most often the case with Live FLOYD, the Live part of the "Ummagumma" album is fantastic! The versions of 'Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun' and 'A Saucerful of Secrets' are superior to the studio takes. 'Astronomy Domine' is "PATGOD's" equal, and when you include a live 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene' absolute brilliance is achieved! FLOYD at their experimental and progressive best!

The Studio album of "Ummagumma" however, leaves much to be desired. Experimental: yes. Progressive: most certainly. Enjoyable: hardly. By pursuing solo pieces (much like YES' "Fragile") the member's efforts just do not add up to quite as much as it would have had they written together. Definitely a case of where the sum would haved equalled more than the individual parts.

Roger Waters' 'Grantchester Meadows' with its ambient nature sounds, footsteps, buzzing fly and meandering acoustic guitar is enjoyable but not memorable. 'The Narrow Way' (all three parts) is useful and worth taking note. Gilmour sounds confident, and I see a lot of "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" in his work on "Ummagumma". Very space-oriented, and dark with good use of acoustic, and electric sounds.

'Several Species...' is humourous in a Monty-Pythonesque kind of way (Tim The Magician anyone?) but very self-indulgent. Rick Wright's 'Sysphus' and Mason's (failed) percussion experiment entitled 'The Grand Vizier's Garden Party' are throwaways and seem to be left over from the "More" soundtrack/instrumental sessions.

The Live album is a masterpiece 4.5/5 stars. The Studio album is experimental, but highly flawed, 1.5/5 stars. Together, "Ummagumma" deserves a 3/5 star ranking. It's progressive, but not always in the best way.

Review by chessman
3 stars In the days before 'Dark Side Of The Moon', Floyd were already a big underground hit. Nevertheless, after their first two albums, they lost their way somewhat, and produced some very average fair indeed. This was originally a double album, with the first disc being the live material, which makes up the first four tracks here. It is adequately played, and recorded, but nothing essential, the best track being 'Careful With That Axe, Eugene', always a favourite of mine. The second disc was made up of the individual member's compositions, and oh dear, oh dear, what a mixed bag we have here! By far the best is Gilmour's contribution, 'The Narrow Way' which is, whilst not memorable, at least tuneful and Floydian in texture. As for the rest - Wright's effort, 'Sisyphus', is a rambling, non melodic, quasi inferior jazzy piece that doesn't really hang together, and shows why he could never be accused of being in Wakeman's, Emerson's or Bank's league. Mason's contribution, 'The Grand Vizier' is even worse, being nothing more than a series of hesitant, obscurely meaningless tub thumping percussive pieces. Composition is not a word that could be applied here. Even Water's track, 'Furry Animals' is obscurely hideous, though it could be called a tad humorous for maybe the first couple of plays, before the truth of its meaningless reality is discovered. Floyd fans doubtless still play this and attempt to find some deep meanings behind it, but this is the equivalent of much modern art, where a couple of dabs of paint are supposed to point to undiscovered new horizons of genius! And yes, I am a big Floyd fan, but I know the difference between good and bad. It wasn't until 'Meddle' appeared that they were to show their true talent again. Three stars because of their legacy, and because the live material is quite good, but only two stars for the rest.
Review by Philrod
3 stars Ummagumma is probably the most difficult Floyd album to access. It is a voyage through the excess of psychedelia and experimental rock of the time. Divided in four parts, every member of the group get a chance to show thei talent and songwriting. Some works better than other, of course. The first part is Sysyhus, a Rick Wright mini-suite. It is a showing of his talent as a improvisator on the piano, nothing more. It has no real good moment, as it is a flowing of notes through wich we have to listen. Quite boring. It is for fans of experimental piano sets, with changing key singnatures without any goal. Wright was too self-indulgent here, and it is probably why he would stick to a more mood setting play after this album. Then comes Grantchester Meadows, a folk little song by Roger Waters, wich is a good but then he gives us the psychedelic ''Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and'', wich is mostly experimental and not really melodic and maybe non-musical. David Gilmour's the Narrow Way contains thrre part, all instrumental and showing Gilmour's talent at the acoustic and electric guitars, as well as good work on the electronic keyboards. Of course, Nick Mason's Grand Vizier's Garden Party is using all sorts of percussions in different ways, but then again it is purely experimental.

The live part is quite good, with four great songs all delivered in a great way. It shows that the band starts to hold up together, leaving behind them the great Syd Barret and going forward. The sound is quite different then on the studio versions, as all four songs are played louder and cleaner. Waters' bass is louder than ever, and holds up everything perfectly, especially on ''Careful With That Axe, Eugene''. Astronomy Domine is a great Barret classic and always good, but this version is maybe even better than the original one, as the amps are turned up and the sound has a new edge to it.

All in all, it is great to hear Pink Floyd live, but not if you can find a bootleg, go buy that one instead, as nothing is memorable, but still a good live album, maiking up for the too experimental studio album.

Review by Eclipse
3 stars Liked by some, hated by many, this is the band's most experimental work, and their toughest one to listen as well. It is an obvious challenge to get into the unstable music found here, but one has to admit that this is one of the most original albums ever done, a very respectable tile of the experimental work wall. It's FLOYD at their most avant-garde and schizophrenic, and it's them at their most daring as well. It is divided in two albums: a live one with four tracks containing amazing versions of their respective studio ones and the studio one where each track is given for each member to work solely on.

The live contains the best rendition of "Celestial Voices" ever done by Dave, and the rest doesn't disapoint either. "Careful with that axe, Eugene" is being played much better here, "Set the Controls" has an amazing synth solo that is not featured on the studio version and "Astronomy Domine" has a long instrumental section at the middle which is very appealing and trippy. A live "Interstellar Overdrive" was meant to be at the album too, but ended up not being there.

The studio on the other hand is an acquired taste. The challenge can be very rewarding, though, as the dark beauty found on the four parts of "Sysyphus" may take a while to show up. Not everyone will enjoy this, though, mainly the ones who are more interested on the more mainstream oriented and easy to listen FLOYD. "Narrow Way" is another gem here and i love all its three parts, and Roger's two pieces aren't as great as Dave's and Rick's but do have some nice moments. "Grandchester Meadows" is a pleasant pastoral song a la "Cirrus Minor", and "Several species..." has probably influenced many post rock bands nowadays. The first and third movements of "Grand Vizier's..." have a neat flute playing by Nick's wife and the second part is quite bland and goes too long.

I think that this album deserves more attention and it is one of the few "grower" albums by the FLOYD. It is complicated and creative music, so give it a chance and Ummagumma may become a pleasant trip through the most insane corners of your mind.

Review by erik neuteboom
2 stars This double album is a perfect example of the progressive rock in the early Seventies: artistic freedom featuring many drugs-inspired experimentation and virtuosic self- indulgence. On the first track you can witness David Gilmour's effort in perhaps Syd Barrett's his most compelling composition "Astronomy domine". In my opinion this is one of the few highlights on this 2-CD set because I'm not realy pleased with the live renditions of "Carefull with that axe, Eugene", "Set the controls for the heart of the sun" and "Saucerfulof secrets", I prefer the "Pink Floyd at Pompeii" renditions. And the solo pieces from the individual members in general makes me cry, what a poor artistic efforts! Sleep well!!
Review by Marc Baum
4 stars "Ummagumma" is a underground prog gem, it's the important bridge between psychedelic and prog and when you look back it can be considered as the most important step for Floyd to get in newer areas. The studio disc is extremely complex, very hard to listen allthrough. But when you really let you go with the music on this disc, you'll have a trip that you won't forget! It's absolutely magical and the atmosphere make this record work. The best way to listen to this record is to sit under a tree on a field on a sunny day with your discman and enjoy this experimental journey by Pink Floyd.

About the live album I mustn't say any thing more, all was said about this amazing record. You get a long live version of the great "Astronomy Domine", the culty "Careful With That Axe Eugene" and the psychedelic space-classics "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" (IMO the best Syd Barret-era track) and the atmospheric "Saucerful Of Secrets".

Finally I recommend this record to all prog fans in the world, it's one of the most important gems of the genre and is absolutely unique. It's not a masterpiece, the studio album is very experimental in widest parts, allmost unaccessible (except the chilling "Grantchester Meadows" with top-notch lyrics by Roger Waters and the awesome "The Narrow Way", which is a masterpiece IMO) and pretty forgettable.

All in all, "Ummagumma" is a very important historical document for the genre, which any progrock-fan should have in his collection, at least for the historical value. Fans who adore PF only because of "Dark Side Of The Moon", "Wish You Were Here" or "The Wall" will for sure feel turned off by this one. It's definitely not mainstream-compatible stuff, but a hack of interestening psych/folk/avant-garde. Cheers!

Ummagumma studio album: 6/10 points = 3/5 stars Ummagumma live album: 9/10 points = 5/5 stars

album rating: 7.5/10 points = 73 % 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

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Actually 2,5 stars for a good live performance!

Ummagumma always had a reputation of a "cult" album meant for "enlightened" Floyd aficionados but take that image off and you will find an uneasy and underdeveloped experiment for the sake of experiment. The live set is far better half of the album, with songs arguably much stronger and more confidently delivered than on their earlier studio versions. This is particularly true for "Astronomy Domine" and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene", which are still capable of sending shivers down my spine each time I listen to them. The studio set is unfortunately a redundant filler with highly unlistenable and acid- induced "playing with instruments" instead of making music, with possible exception in Waters' "Grantchester Meadows" followed by "Several Species..." where he is at least trying to create an atmosphere, using old sound effects previously heard on the Piper's "Pow R Toc H". You must be either a FLOYD collector or an enthusiastic music researcher to appreciate this album.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With time I have grown to like this peculiar album quite much. The slang term of sexual intercourse used as the album title does not much refer to the record's themes, which also are lost to myriad paths of musician's psyche, like illustrated on the gatefold cover.

The first LP has wonderful live recordings from their "The Man and The Journey Tour". Though "Astronomy Domine" works best as opener of their debut studio record, it is interesting to hear extended improvisational play of now tighter quartet. Real high lights when compares to studio recordings are in my opinion both "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" and "Saucerful of Secrets", escaping the sterile calculations into organic interplay awesomeness.

The second vinyl with each musician having their personal art rock fantasy suites is fun, though the musical quality of these innovations seems lower as the revelation of personalities shimmering from these raunchy avant-garde displays. Wright's "Sysyphus" keeps futile pushing the rock on the mountain ever and ever again, the human psyche confronting its internal contradictions being protected from this divine fate via mortality. Maybe some related allegory is found from this unclear keyboard tests. Roger Waters managed to create two "songs" with silly names, visiting experimentation with recorded sounds and more soothing impressions from the summer-caressed pastures. From the album's inner gatefold cover, I was happy to see hove lovely lady a man is able to get, if being quite ugly bass player and beat-boxer of the group which focuses playing stoned [&*!#]. Richard Wright had circled around some ideas already on their earlier BBC radio sessions, crystallizing here as the random studio activities named "The Narrow Way". Nick Mason's final "Grand Vizier's Garden Party" aroused like other ca. ten minute long drum solo mannerisms of the 1960's rock record. Luckily his lady friend brought some flavor to these parties with her magick flute.

As a whole, I think these fine concert captures from the band's best live touring era and weird psychological study of the musicians form a personal double LP. For me this album proved that sometimes musical recording can be interesting and informative, though not being most favorable for intense listening.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Pink Floyd discography here in Brazil was a problem. "Atom Heart Mother" and "Meddle" were shyly realeased in 1972 and in the following year I guess due to tremendous impact of "Dark Side of the Moon" several 'oldies' were made available: "The Piper...", ASoS, "Obscured By Clouds", "More", "Relics" and "Ummagumma" - all of them alongside with the blockbuster DSotM. Can someone imagine the confusion when the work of 6 years is released almost simultaneously?

"Ummagumma" itself posed other problems: it was double and also it costed double the price! Even so I bought it - my first purchase of a double album, what an effort it was. The album obliged me to another effort: to know more about the band biography and discography and it took me several days to put things in order - remember that Google and Wikipedia weren't available then!!!

With chronology ordered I could enjoy "Ummagumma" more accurately and the result was fair. The double work contains everything that composed the early prog: psychedelism, space, experimentalism - all spiced by rock, blues, jazz and madness (Barrett's echoes perhaps).

It is obvious that certain parts are to be appreciated in special occasions, they are not so easy to be taken. The great track in the entire work is the haunting 'Careful with that axe, Eugene'; other songs from previous albums like 'Astronomy domine' or 'Set the controls...' are listenable as they were before; individual works like 'Sysiphus', 'Narrow way' and 'Grand Vizier's are not for beginners just like the weird 'Several species etc'. A Floyd fan that started his/her fandom after DSotM shall maybe have difficult to swallow "Ummagumma".

A work with several disputable moments but after all an obligatory record for any prog collection. Total: 4.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One half live, one half studio, Ummagumma is arguably Pink Floyd's most controversial album. The experimentation and the creativity on this album is astounding, but sometimes ideas are a little too contrived and a little too forced, in my opinion, as well as sometimes it seems that certain points of the studio side drag and are used to fill the gap of time. The live half of it, though, is a masterpiece, because at this time Pink Floyd live was an exciting thing to see, with every song getting some new tweak and some little addition that makes each listening a unique and profound experience. The idea behind the studio side of the album is that each musician in the group got 10-12 minutes of space to create and experiment with whatever they wanted, sometimes the results are astonishing and thought-provoking, and sometimes they are just a little too... how do you say... out there... regardless, though, this is a strong album mainly because of the stellar live portion.

The live half of the album opens up with Astronomy Domine, and is a bit of an homage to the old days of Floyd when Gilmour had not yet joined and Syd Barrett was the leader and the shaper of the band's sound. The extended middle section features great musicianship from Wright and Gilmour. Careful With that Axe, Eugene is an instrumental piece that got it's only truly official release on this album (as far as I know). Smooth drumming and jazzy overtones are augmented with spacious and echoey vocals, which is shortly followed by mixed noises. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun has always been a better song live than in the studio, and this version is no exception. The orchestral sounding percussion from Nick Mason is joined by a strong guitar melody and haunting organ work from Wright. A Saucerful of Secrets ends the live section of the album, and it really ends it with a bang (literally). Mason is a machine on this track and really shows that he can play the drums well when he puts his mind to it. Waters also joins him on percussion on this track, and he goes on a tangent of his own as well. Wright and Gilmour are the rhythm section on this song, and their dissonant chordal passages fit well with the sonic chaos from Mason and Waters. To sum it up, this is some of the best live stuff you can get on record from Pink Floyd.

But is it all that good? The studio, however, seems to me to have forced bits that are only there to help fill the gap of time. Sysyphus, Rick Wright's piece on the album, is a dissonant experiment on the piano and various organs. The dissonant chords seem randomly played and the improvisational nature of this track is stunning, yet it does seem to go on a bit and at points you may get tired of the insanity. Grantchester Meadows is the first of two Roger Waters tracks, and it really is a brilliant counterpoint to the insanity of Wright's work. A quiet acoustic tune accompanied by mixed wilderness noises is what you can expect here. Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict is the second Waters tune, and it really takes the experimental nature of Floyd and gives it a twist. The haunting track is a series of random noises and seemingly shocking voices being repeated for about 5 minutes. It doesn't really compare to Waters' first track on the album, though. The Narrow Way is David Gilmour's piece on the album, and it certainly is the strongest on the whole studio side. The melodies that he presents are strong, heavy, dissonant, and beautiful all at the same time. The studio portion is rounded off by Nick Mason's expected drum solo. It kind of drags and it seems that Mason was really trying to waste some time on it in my opinion.

Overall, this album is strong in the live aspects, but weaker in the studio aspects. I can respect the creativity and the experimentation that Pink Floyd were... dare I say... experimenting with on this album, but in the end I feel a bit cold about the studio side and often revert to the live portion of the album. For Pink Floyd aficionados, this album should be right up your alley, if you can stand the experimentation that is. 3.5/5.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars This was the first album that I listened from Pink Floyd in 1975 or in 1976. My oldest brother bought it then. This album has one of the funniest cover designs (also one of the best) that I have seen, done by Hipgnosis.

The music in this album is psychedelic and experimental. Some parts even sound like "musical hallucinations", "mind trips". I have to say that I never have used drugs, but this album is maybe "like a LSD trip", or something like that.

The recording of this album is not very good. This is more reflected in the live tracks, being recorded in 1969. From the live tracks I prefer "Astronomy Domine" and "Careful with that Axe Eugene". "Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sound" and "A Saucerful of Secrets" also have some interesting things, but they become noisy and they even sound like "horror movie music" in some parts.

The studio tracks are more interesting, and they are more experimental, even with some humour in some parts. They were recorded individually by each composer, so every member of the band had the chance to experiment.

"Sysyphus" has good keyboards and percussion by Rick Wright. He even plays a very good piano section.

"Grantchester Meadows" and "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" are two songs by Roger Waters, with sound effects and a bit of humour.

"Narrow Way" is another experimental piece of music by David Gilmour, with guitars,drums and sound effects, plus a bit of keyboards, and some funny noises too.

"Grand Vizier's Garden Party" is a musical piece composed by Nick Mason, with his wife playing brief flute parts. In this musical piece, Mason plays drums and percussion, adds sound effects, tape effects, and even adds some funny noises too.

Maybe this album is not very easy to be listened and liked. It really deserves repeated listenings to appreciate better the best parts of it.

Review by bhikkhu
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I have known this album for quite some time. It was one of my early introductions to Pink Floyd. A friend had this, and "Dark Side of the Moon." I took to the latter right away, and soon had my own copy. "Ummagumma" remained more of a novelty. It was just so freaky, that it seemed cool. I had no idea what the musical or creative benefits were. There wasn't much deep analysis going on then.

Years later, my college roommate had it. The live stuff was great (I still had yet to her the original versions of these songs). The studio side was selectively played. There was still no patience for detailed investigation of the longer pieces.

A few years back, I finally got my own copy. "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" and "A Saucerful of Secrets" had become favorites since my college days. The live versions still enthralled, but the studio tracks continued to elude me.

I must say that I have always enjoyed the Roger Waters tracks. "Grantchester Meadows" is a lovely piece, and points the way to his later sound. "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" is a great experimentation with sound samples, and effects.

My opinion has changed on Gilmour's "The Narrow Way." I used to find it a tad boring, but now I appreciate the subtleties. The only problem is the whirring noises added to part one. It detracts from what is otherwise a quality piece.

Nick Mason's "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" leaves a lot to be desired. The winds on the "Entrance" and "Exit" are quite nice, but those parts are brief. The percussive noodle-fest that makes up part 2, while interesting, does not hold up to repeated listens.

I find Richard Wright's contributions to be nothing more than experimentation without much of a purpose.

This is an album that should be checked out. However, I would hardly call this necessary for a collection. "Careful With that Axe, Eugene" is unique to this album, and the Waters and Gilmour originals are good. If not for that, this album would only get two stars.

H.T. Riekels

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars I guess this is the only example in my musical addictivity that a double album will provide such mixed feelings to me. I discovered "Ummagumma" in 1973, and I was deeply impressed with the live album. I did not know those four gigantic numbers (I entered the Floyd catalogue in 1971 with Meddle). It was hard for me to believe than the same band could produce a live masterpiece and a studio crappy LP at the same time.

Each of the band member has a part on this studio album to "develop" his own music. This quite experimental effort should never have taken place. The Floyd though will repeat this later on with AHM but this is another story. The studio album starts with Wright's stuff. This "Sysyphus Part" is quite boring in general. Only part four is better structured than the rest. It is a bit reminiscent of "A Saucerful of Secrets" and is quite interesting. Actually, I did not remember that there was even one interesting song like it on this LP (besides this review, I have never listended to it for more than thirty years. I guess it will take me another thirty to do the same).

I really believe that the one who can listen till the end of "Grantchester Meadows" would deserve a nice present because it is such a crappy song than really you need a lot of patience to do so. " Several Species ..." is of the same caliber (or even worse). I would like to understand how it is possible for such a genious like Waters to come up with something like this. It will remain a mystery for ever. This is five minutes of the most boring moments you can imagine.

During this track at 4'32" precisely (you can download this part from the Floyd's web- site. According to the instructions, to hear it properly you need to play it at half speed), Gilmour says : "This is pretty avant-guarde, isn't it ? I bet you !

If this studio album deserves five stars, I wonder how many would deserve DSOTM or WYWH : ten ? fifteen ? or more ?

Gilmour parts are a bit more psychedelic and less boring than the other's ones. Part 2, is probably the more interesting (if I may use this term).

Mason's input starts and ends bizzarely with a flute short instrumental (59 and 40 seconds). It is his best contribution. The other number is equivalent to the rest : unbelievably disappointing.

I can tell you, it is quite a challenge to listen to these studio tracks in a row (boy, I would deserve a bonus !). The first time you do (like myself in 1973) you think : well, the next one will be better till you reach the last one. And then you sit and say : "Hell. I've been such a fool to have listened to this !".

To highlight how "great" the band felt about this "masterpiece", the Floyd will include TWO songs from their "marvelous" studio album : "Sysyphus" played FOUR times and "Granchester Meadows" also four times but on other occasions (I guess no audience would have deserved such a treatment to get both of them during the same show).

The live sides though should really be considered as a masterpiece. Four mythical tracks from the early Floyd repertoire. Great rendition of each composition. It starts with "Astronomy Domine" which is quite an extended and fabulous version (although for me, it will never be extended as it could / should be).

If you are interested in extended versions, there is one on the boot "Interstellar Highlights" recorded live in Stockholm in March 1970 which lasts for nine minutes and another one on "Interstellar Fillmore" that features a ten minutes version of it.

Next track "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" was never released on an album. The first (and shortest) version of the song was called "Murderistic Women". This version was first played live in John Peel's radio-show Top Gear on June 25th 1968. In December 68, it will be featured as B-side for the single "Point Me At The Sky" and will be a Floyd classic for decades (still one of my fave). One year later, it will be released as "Come In Number 51, Your Time Is Up" for the film Zabriskie Point.

The incredible and oriental "Set The controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is a another marvelous live performance. Psychedelic at its best. Great version again. This LP transports you to unreachable limits of joy and admiration.

The last track is an absolute must own - must listen. I have described my vision in lenght in the review of their second effort 'A Saucerful of Secret". The only thing I can add is that the closing sections "Storm Signal" and "Celestial Voices" surpassed the studio ones. It is probably one of the best live version of this song ("If you can call this a song" - I quote Waters). Originally this live album would have featured "Interstellar Overdrive" and "Embryo" but space was lacking. They should have been better inspired to cut the studio album than the live one. I guess it is thanks to this two live sides that the album reached Nr. 5 in the UK chart (Nr. 74 in the US).

I would have liked Ummagumma to be a single (or double) live album. It would have deserved a five stars rating. But since it comes with the burden of the studio sides, I can only rate it three stars. Grab some boots of the era if you can like : "BBC Archives" (featuring "Embryo") or "Interstellar Highlights") to discover how great this band was on stage in those ancient times.

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars An appropriately schizophrenic album comprised of two contrasting discs. The first is a near masterpiece of late 60s psych, possibly a pinnacle of psych music. This is the 'live' disc, though you are barely aware of any audience presence, even during the quieter sections. Arguably, this disc contains the definitive versions of its four tracks, each of which is a Floyd and psych classic. For lovers of the genre, this disc is an essential purchase.

The snag is it comes complete with a lacklustre studio affair in which each group member contributed half an LP side of material. Wright's effort is technically the most accomplished, but not very interesting, and only Waters delivers anything worthy of the group name. The languid, summer-hazy Grantchester Meadows is a wonderful restful acoustic number complete with swans and fly-swatting before setting off onto the nutty found-sounds of Several Species .... Overall a very mixed bag indeed. You probably don't need this album unless your preferences lean heavily toward psych.

Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The vestige power music of Pink Floyd, by the entire psychedelic serenity and the outbreaks of "popular" force and "common" shingle, restricts Ummagumma to be the album of dastard dexterity, grand aphasia and soft creation, all three in a mix which comprises several main dynamics, about two main stresses of the usual obscure quality and one of the fighting contradiction (I'll resume later telling which are them, or details will simply allude one after another), and a lot of music which to correspond to ideals and "current" symbols, changes and new aspirations, differences and varied impressions over how the stretch comes at. Therefore Ummagumma is entitled with a kaleidoscopic effort, a craft with extra bonus on chosen nuisance and original counterpoints, and with great prejudices.

Perhaps the entire period would go marked by these prejudices, expanding to ideas having the both the out form and the out rave. Negatively said, all of Pink Floyd's mental challenge psych phase has the prejudice of full intuitions: the debut being too acclaimed for its superficial round, the saucerful special deep album being instead the one with no grand art, the soundtracks of More and Zabriskie clouting too much typical madness or adverted light numbness, Ummagumma having the confusing aura of something in a strange motion or a complete exaggeration and Atom Heart Mother sinking the boat with the pathetism of several new dimensions. Rather contrarily though, Pink Floyd psychedelic would (should) stay like so: Piper as an exhausting simple bang, the mark of a "blow-up" in music scythe, Saucerful as magisterial and profound, the soundtracks as pieces of clotting visionary ambition and Atom as a living desire of organic changes and melodramatic numb chances. While Ummagumma is an album of experimental uniqueness, with no such better time to explore the huff, the rock, the diagram obsession, the bucolic expressions or the killing foams of sound and bitter topiary. So what isn't full of prejudices in the early strong art of Pink Floyd? And what isn't outlined as a panoramic special or septic suggestion, equivocally, in a loud-touch creation by Floyd? Ummagumma is barely different from a point where the creativity and the strange outlooks of the band "collapsed" into an impressive choice of an album, a project, a vision, a caricature.

Ummagumma has two essential parts, of fully different kinds and reunited Floyd spirit. The Live cut of the album is considered royal, essentially, comfortably excessive, while the studio greets some low vibrations of appreciation and some entire asperities of being liked, understood or resembled in any of the fondled Floyd great moves. To my opinion and the objective quality desponded from Ummagumma, the studio cover is by nothing strange or distant from the stating live experience, making a two-headed beast of music concept, Floyd psych contractions and, more or less, influential inspirations. One on the side of everlasting correlations, the other one on the never so better improved untitled marks of novelty and conspiracy.

Ummagumma Live is a four grand epic pieces splendid dark show, with an impressionable orientation towards improvisation, towards massive psych respect and infusive deep sinking gravity, despite the luxurious fact of a repertoire that stands, generally, out of the Floyd box into the grand recognition of their music accurate styling and great illusory inlay. It's a short of live of full expressions and illustrious senses, perhaps biased by a too macadamized emotion and subtle familiar design, yet full of un-glowing dispersions and of the rehearsal of thousand clashes, inside the more logistic or frenzy psychedelia, inside the unknown taps of free-sound, inside the render of a trounce corrals by the band's impeccable numb trademark, dark roasting and assembling smoke sonic magic. Other concerts like Pompeii do a large and exemplary spread of concert raot and spree passion, so I guess the live from Ummagumma is carefully a great listening, a deep trend and a passionate way of memorizing the standard static parallels of movement over concision, of experiment over the mass gray matter, of scolding over the normal emotions. A full complex performance, with normal leans, but some good relaxed sizzles of rock, psych and galore as well.

Ummagumma Studio is a living phenomenon of abstract, experiment and ubiquitous composition, along the side effects of various tomes, incisive music special language and a deep, impersonal, claustrophobic attention toward the minimal, the render, the scythe and the convincing attitude. A fully-essence album and persistence of strange concept above the relaxed infusion of power, a clear-obscure noise above the great party of smokes, and hovering streaks of unknown sound-forms over the great and massive means of psychedelic triumph. Mostly a great creation, though minimal and hidden-within an implosion of exaggerated movements and deeply-learned extracts. The only departing thought of it should not be why the studio's nonconformist pleasure sounds so various and so untruthful to the regular liaison of Floyd, but only why the album is a mixture of music made by the Floyd artists, separately. Something, though, not to think of greatly, since the idea(l) comes up decisive and sufficiently good, by an eclectic tone from one artist to another. Richard Wright is quite sensitive with Sysyphus , though there is a gross of experimentalism, a subtle panic of noise, respectively a good share of high rises and deep tonalities. Psyche in opposition, almost. Waters' Grandchester Meadows is a gem of some sorts, though the imperative tone is among the least abstract of the overall performance. Dark sounds, cameral melodies and rhizomes of an inner release ritual are made into a piece of open sources and black tones. There is then the Several Species. multi-animal collage, made astonishingly brandish (the popularity shares its ruin, naturally), but also in a good impulse of the abstract promoting the locomotive expression. David Gilmour uses a lot of deranged symphony and absurd streaks into his special composition, The Narrow Way, something very atypical and classy for his "solo" kind, yet absolutely masterful in touch of a sensible shock and a distant dream recall. Music of deep marks and trenches, but mostly something of a pitch atmosphere. Last is Mason with a work of massive elutriation, but also very amoral, kinetic and sophisticated experimental minimalism. In a short presence of vibrations greeting the entire wheeze of psychedelia, but also the multi-forced instrumentality of a visionary kind. The studio impression is simply blossoming and captivating, no wonder the time spend on it is equal to the level of perception. And no wonder that the errors strike the pretentious manners and the havoc of composition, each and every time.

As a judging new side of full-blow experimentalism and psych-tabooing emphasis, Ummagumma is half the live perfection of extremely known essential studies, and the personal study deep in the layers of sound, rock, rag and psych-umbra. The sense tells that this is the least affordable Pink Floyd early phase album; then again, the great dedication and addiction to nonconformism and the hard listen of the studio-clench can't sound better under the augmentations of natural music and common cluster. By my personal pleasure, this album is worth astounding, once in a while.

Review by fuxi
2 stars "Aye an' a bit of Mackeral settler rack and ruin ran it doon by the haim, 'ma place. Well slapped me and I slapped it doon in the side and I cried, cried, cried..."

Don't tell me that you don't enjoy 'Several Species Of Small Furry Animals' (off UMMAGUMMA) - it's so much fun! Back in the dark days of the mid-seventies, when HiFi systems were comparatively rare and many of us played psychedelic albums on portable record-players (in Dutch we called them pick-ups!) my friends and I loved the Floyd for all of their far-out sounds... On THE PIPER there was this guy who went "Boo-hoom, shh shh!"; on ATOMHEART MOTHER there was one notorious instance of bacon-frying; and UMMAGUMMA was famous for the bloke who noisily descended a flight of stairs and swatted a fly. Ah, wond'rous days! UMMAGUMMA's outrageously fake animal noises enchant me still, and 'Grantchester Meadows', which precedes them, is definitely one of Roger Waters' most delightful pastoral tunes. (Grantchester Meadows is an area of lush greenery along the River Cam, between Cambridge and the picturesque village of Grantchester.)

A pity that the remainder of UMMAGUMMA's studio album seems so uninspired. The solo contributions from Gilmour, Mason and Wright are all eminently forgettable. Wright's dire 'Sisiphus' is notable only for a single brief moment when the composer (ahem!) plays a bit of piano. Nick Mason's 'Garden Party' may even be the greatest waste of vinyl in EMI's distinguished history.

Undeniably, UMMAGUMMA's live album has proved more influential, particularly the dreamlike, organ-dominated middle sections of songs like 'Astronomy Domine' and 'Set the controls for the heart of the sun', when the drums are silent (or virtually silent). If I'm not mistaken, such moments really had an impact on Krautrock, and on the first five years of activity on the ECM label: Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal's gorgeous first albums (from 1972 and 1973 respectively) and American bass player Barre Phillips' masterpiece MOUNTAINSCAPES (1976) must have been inspired by the Floyd's trance-like soundscapes.

Review by 1800iareyay
2 stars Pink Floyd took a cue from Cream when they put together Ummagumma. Like Wheels of Fire, it features one disc of new studio material and one of live intensity. Unlike Wheels of Fire, the studio material isn't very good. The first part is the live section, which rocks. Astronomy Dominé is longer, louder, and better than the original. Careful With That Axe, Eugene is a fun little instrumental that makes it's only official appearance here. Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun and A Saucerful of Secrets both sound great, with extended sections that give mainly Wright and Gilmourt the spotlight.

The studio half is, sadly, vastly inferior to the live side. Small Furry Animals and is one of the last whmsical Floyd tunes (they started getting deep and usually depressing soon after this). It's no classic, but it's a fun ditty to come back to from time to time. The rest of the album is devoted to individual compostions, which foreshadows tracks on Yes' Fragile and ELP's awful Works. Of these, only Wright's Sysyphus is worth listening to, as it demonstrates his considerable skill which was largely wasted at the hands of Roger Waters. Waters' acoustic "Grantchester Meadows" is decent but completely forgettable, while Gilmour's use of symphony on Narrow Way comes close to being a good track, but it still fails to excite. Mason's Grand Vizier's Garden Party is by far the worst of the individual compositions; it is uninspired, dull, and the only even decent parts are the winds at the start and finish.

Ummagumma's live half is a great snapshot of the band at the tail end of their psychedelic pre-prog days, but the studio material (funnily enough the band's first concrete transition into full prog) is incredibly flawed and even its best moments are easily forgotten. Things would start improving vastly for Floyd, but this remains an album only for established fans, and even then you'll probably only want it for the live stuff.

Grade: D

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
5 stars Ummagumma was originally released as a two-LP set back in 1969. Two words come to my mind every time I listen to this: insane and genius. Ummagumma is clearly the most experimental work released under the Pink Floyd name. What is so interesting about this is that the studio LP was basically divided up into four, with each group member composing their quarter of the disc. What also catches my attention is how skilled each of them were in composing "solo" material for this project. Every song on the studio LP is remarkably done with an eerie weirdness to each piece. The effects employed on Several Small Species... is just mind-blowing.

The other LP is made up of live material and the selection is superb, including Astronomy Domine, Careful with that Axe Eugene, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun and Saucerful of Secrets. This is the perfect material for what was considered a psychedelic jam band at the time allowing them much room for aural explorations. These live performances are simply stunning. Unfortunately, they will be the only live material the band would release until 1988's Delicate Sound of Thunder.

Some listeners may find this album difficult to get through due to its experimental leanings, but nonetheless, I'm one that enjoys stuff like this and have considered this a masterpiece since my first listen many eons ago. It's not like a Selling England by the Pound or a Close to the Edge. It is a very different kind of masterpiece. You might want to avoid if you don't have a liking for the experimental (try Wish You Were Here instead if this is so). Otherwise, five stars and another piece of the foundation for future experimental explorations.

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the best musical collection offered by the band at their most adventurous and progressive moments. "Ummagumma" contains all Pink Floyd classics from their first era. No need to search more about the band, the rest of the discography is terribly conventional if not commercial. You can also give a listen to "A saucerful of Secrets" & "Live at Pompeii" but seriously it stops here concerning albums with constant quality (from start to the end). "Ummaguma" is exclusively reserved to intense, highly emotional and shimmering psychedelic jams. I only regret the sung parts which bring nothing to the "trip". Compositions as the cloudy, dreamy spaced out "Careful with that Axe Eugene" and the experimental psych epic "A Saucerful of Secrets" simply represent the best pieces written by the band. Closed to a few instrumental jamming sessions of kraut classics from Agitation Free, Gila (their two first), early TD ("Ultima Thule" & "Electronic Meditation"), Amon Duul II ("Tanz der Lemminge", particularly for the "Marilyn Monroe Memorial Church"). "Set the controls for the heart of the sun" is an other talented psych composition, including really stoned, floating harmonies, rolling drums and a nice "exotic" flavour. "The great Vizir's garden party" (part II) alsor delivers impressive, gorgeously "hallucinatory" sequences within a brilliant enigmatic, atmospheric, experimental soundscape. A classic so recommended!
Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Music that's about has hard to injest as the name would suggest. (and hey, that rhymes).

Following up on previous freakouts it would seem natural that an album like this would mozy along. This is the result of each band member wirtting their own songs as part of a larger canvas, the result is interesting as it seems that only Waters and perhaps Gilmour were really capable of doing this at the time. The songs are split into different tracks, but really, it's the songs that count, so I'll review them as such. SYSYPHUS is the Write penned track, and it's a fantastic piano journey of all out freakyness that's all in all a little inaccessable to the listener with lack of lyrics, and sometimes all around direction, but still a great piano track in the end. GRANDCHESTER MEADOWS is perhaps the most solid song on the album, written by Waters, this is a laid back track that's quite enjoyable and very typically Pink Floyd. SEVERAL SPECIES... is a bit bizzare and follows on the heels of Pow R. Toc H. from their debut, but the next songs are definately worth the wait. Gilmour penned THE NARROW WAY is a great lost Pink Floyd gem that stands out above the rest here with great instumentalism and overall structure all around. THE GRAND VIZIER'S GARDEN PARTY is a strange song written by Mason that acts as an all around good outro.

While this studio LP most definatly has it's high points it's certainly not Pink FLoyd's best and is at best a 2 star effort, it's the next LP that makes this album worth while.

The live side of this album is fantastic, with several Floyd classics contained within the grooves. Each of the songs presented within were great as a studi track, but with the live energy put into them seem to have gotten better, it's even tempting to say that this live LP is better than any other live release by Pink Floyd. But while the old studio tracks do shine here the likely standout is the original CAREFUL WITH THAT AXE, EUGENE (which would later be release as a studio track on Relics, but not nearly as good) which features some great zoney-outy playing by the band until (I think it's) Gilmour kicks in with his death scream of death that still, to this day, gets down into your very soul. A fantastic disc by any accounts, unmissable, even.

So, for it's combination of two albums, the interestingly acquired taste studio side (2 stars) and it's fantastic live side (4 stars) I'd have to give this labum an overall rating of 3 stars. Good, but not essential as a package, although, if you can ind it at a good price, definately buy it.

Review by Neu!mann
2 stars You can probably guess the age of any Pink Floyd aficionado by his regard for this 1969 double album. To older fans it encapsulates everything that made the original band so different and dangerous, but newcomers will likely hear only a junkyard collection of post-psychedelic flotsam.

I suppose it all depends on which side of the 1960s you're standing. Either way, the album remains an invaluable (if not always successful) artifact, and unique in the way it confounds the Prog Archives rating guidelines: yes, it's an excellent 4-star addition to any Prog music collection, but at the same time it's strictly a 2-star treasure for collectors and fans only.

For anyone (like myself) too young to recall the turbulent end of that decade, the album provides a vivid snapshot of the young Pink Floyd struggling with its identity at the dead end of the avant-garde cul-de-sac. It was an uncertain time for the band, back when Rick Wright was always playing oriental arabesques on that weedy Farfisa organ; when Nick Mason was embellishing his floor toms with enough echo to fill the Grand Canyon; and when newcomer Dave Gilmour was overworking his slide guitar in a transparent imitation of Syd Barrett's more cosmic digressions.

The live disc is still the best concert album the group ever released, with superior (better yet: essential) adaptations of four early Space Rock classics: "Astronomy Domine", "Careful With That Axe Eugene" (dig that hair-raising Halloween scream by Roger Waters), "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun", and a truly awesome "Saucerful of Secrets". The studio disc, divided between the solo conceits of each player, is understandably more of a mixed bag, and in retrospect one I'm sure they would rather have left on the curb for the trash collector.

My own assessment is a little less harsh. It's true that Rick Wright's four-part "Sysyphus" can be an aptly titled exercise in ersatz film score frustration, like its mythological namesake putting a lot of effort into getting nowhere. But Roger Waters actually revealed something like a sense of humor in his two songs, in ironic contrast to the mirthless dirges of his later album concepts. David Gilmour meanwhile all but announced in "The Narrow Way" his willingness to lead the band by example: Part Three in particular was an obvious signpost to the future, sounding not unlike a premature demo of "Comfortably Numb".

And the less said about Nick Mason's late '60s time capsule percussion doodles the happier we'll all be, including (I suspect) the composer himself.

Dissecting it like this leaves a lingering sense of four rather desperate artists beating the air for any musical idea to replace the inspiration lost along with Syd Barrett. But if nothing else their individual efforts showed a group that even then was greater than the sum of its parts.

Keep in mind too this would be the Floyd's last truly underground album, released the same year Neil Armstrong left his footprint on the Sea of Tranquility. It would take the band a little longer to likewise reach the "Dark Side of the Moon", but in many ways the failed experiments on disc two of this set were at least one small step in the right be followed by the giant leap of "Atom Heart Mother" in 1970.

Review by russellk
2 stars A double album, 'Ummagumma' consists of one half 'live' recordings (though heavily overdubbed), one half studio recordings. This record confirms that in the empty post-BARRETT late 60s PINK FLOYD did not have a single useful musical idea.

The rehash of four of their more experimental psychedelic tracks is poignant to say the least. Apparently these tracks were reproduced here in order for the band to feel able to retire them: in other words, they were already stale. Further, the selection of these tracks without the leavening influence of the shorter, melodic BARRETT tracks exposes their lack of compositional merit. The fact that they managed to leave off 'Interstellar Overdrive' is inexcusable. Finally, it signals their intention to become a group of vast soundscapes. Fortunately, this is a direction they soon dropped in favour of - well, vast soundscapes coupled with exemplary songwriting.

That said, this live album is well worth listening to. Each track has become the definitive version, replacing the studio version in the PINK FLOYD canon.

As for the studio album, it is wholly execrable.

Look, there's 'experimental' and there's - er, awful. It's often a blurred line for a reviewer when drawn far from his/her comfort zone. I get no pleasure from tuneless music, but I do enjoy much ambient and atonal work which has a well thought through overall shape and creates an atmosphere within which my mind is encouraged to roam. This has none of those things. As an experiment it must have failed, as these sounds were abandoned for their next record. I'm forced to plump for 'awful'. I much prefer silence to these sounds.

If we ever needed confirmation that none of these gentlemen would shake the world with their solo recordings, it is to be had here. The second disc of 'Ummagumma' is a collection of tracks written and (largely) played by the individual members of the band, and without exception they are ill-conceived, tedious and bereft of musical inspiration. The highlight is WATERS' 'Grantchester Meadows' only because it is not offensive to the ears. The rest of this dross was forced upon the band members because they had no success in writing anything together. It's as though someone passed an Ideas Removal Magnet over the compositions and forced the band to record what remained.

Special dishonourable mentions must go to WRIGHT's 'Sysyphus', in which he out-pointlessnessess even KEITH EMERSON, and to NICK MASON, yet another drummer who can make the better part of ten minutes pass in agony. Has anyone listened to this more than once for pleasure? WATERS offers us the best song title of the late 60s but unfortunately doesn't back it up with anything but childish tape effects.

Some of GILMOUR's stuff isn't actually unlistenable, but in the context of this, perhaps the worst single disc of music ever issued, it barely rates a mention. So, dutifully, I barely mention it.

You really don't need this. It's like listening to four ten-minute versions of the single-musician pieces from YES' 'Fragile'. No, it's more like listening to the sound of someone hitting their head against a wall at the end of the cul-de-sac of the 60s. Repeatedly.

I'm an enthusiastic PINK FLOYD fan, but I'm not blind to their deficiencies. This album is a showcase of them all, a testament to what happens to a band without direction or a way of harnessing their talent. Fortunately that harness was very much in evidence within a year of the issuing of this record.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is one of the most difficult albums I have had to rate.The trouble of course is that it's a new studio record combined with a live album, two very different animals.The live album is incredible while the studio recording is PINK FLOYD at their most experimental and adventerous. It's kind of cool that each of the four members had the freedom to pretty much create anything they wanted to for the studio album. I actually like each of their compositions except for most of Mason's contribution.The strange part of all of this is that we really don't get music from the band PINK FLOYD other than the live disc. While this experiment of each of the guys recording their own music seperate from each other was never repeated, Richard Wright felt it was a worthwhile adventure stating "I thought it was a very valid experiment and it helped me". And so while this may not have been an overwelming success it had to help each of the guys individually as they moved forward as a band. They've moved from EMI to the Harvest label but Norman Smith is still the producer. It was recorded in Abbey Road studios as well as in various home studios.

The live record was recorded in 1969 and opens with "Astronomy Domine". I like the way it builds and especially the amazing sound after 3 minutes. The guitar is great. A long quiet interlude ends 6 minutes in. "Careful With That Axe Eugene" might be my favourite on here. It opens with light drums and organ that eventually builds as some excellent guitar comes in.This is great ! They're just jamming now.The song calms down to a whisper 7 1/2 minutes in to end the song. "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" has those almost whispered vocals with drums and synths.The drumming dominates from the 3-5 minute marks. A spacey calm follows.Vocals return 8 minutes in. "A Saucerful Of Secrets" is the longest song at almost 13 minutes. It gets chaotic 3 minutes in before the drums take over. Spacey sounds end up competing with the drums for the spotlight until the drums stop and organ replaces them.This is an amazing passage. Drums return and then guitar. I really like the vocal melodies 11 minutes in to end the song.

The studio album begins with Wright's 4 part composition called "Sysyphus". It opens sounding quite epic with slow, heavy drums.There is mellotron on 3 of the 4 sections. Part two features piano melodies that get dissonant 3 minutes in. Part three has percussion and some strange sounds on it, while part four opens with some amazing mellotron. An explosion of organ kicks in at 3 1/2 minutes. Dramatic synth and organ sounds 5 minutes in. Waters composed two tracks.The first "Grantchester Meadows" features birds chirping,reserved vocals and acoustic guitar. I like it. Then some experimentation as we can hear a fly buzzing around and someone getting a fly swatter and flattening it. His second song is called "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict". It sounds at the beginning like we are in a jungle. A spoken line is repeated over and over.The Scottish sounding words 4 minutes in are hilarious. Gilmour's contribution might be my favourite. It's a three part song called "The Narrow Way".The first part is pastoral and the acoustic guitar reminds me of LED ZEPPELIN. Part two is heavy with some loud spacey sounds coming in. Part three has vocals on it and would not have been out of place on the "Meddle" record. It also reminds me a little of THE BEATLES. The final composition is Masons'. It's called "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" and is divided into three parts. Some guest flute on the first and third parts are good, but the second part has some really annoying sounds on it.

4 stars is my rating after a lot of thought and debate. I can see why some would rate it three stars because of the studio album though. I like the studio disc a lot but I love the live disc.This would be the highest charting FLOYD album so far, hitting number 5 in the UK. Love the album cover and the back cover with the band's equipment in front of the Land Rover at Biggin Hill Airport.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With their first two albums, Pink Floyd shaped and refurbished the emerging trend of psychedelic rock that was taking place in the British underground rock circles in the second half of the 70s. "Ummagumma" is the official manifestation of the band's intentions to keep moving on artistically from the challenging standard that they had set for themselves; it is also the album that reinforces the role of then newcoming guitarist Dave Gilmour. The first volume is a live set that finds the band maturing the vision previously accomplished in "A Saucerful of Secrets" and stating a solid sound beyond the urgent naivety of their debut release. 'Astronomy Domine', arguably the epitome of Syd Barrett's vision, starts the live set with a robust combination of strength and eeriness, in no small degree due to the relevant organ layers and expansions by Wright. The beginning of the live set is really climatic, perfectly coherent with the increasingly sinister kind of sound that the band was particularly interested in the 1968-70 era. 'Careful With that Axe, Eugene' preserves the overall mood turning more closely toward the languid side of psychedelic prog. This sense of mystery is properly fed by the track's ever-expanding flow. The ambitious live rendition of 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' sets a proper reelaboration of the two preceding tracks' mood, with the advantage implied in the enhancement of the original idea's exotic vibe and dynamic rhythmic structure. And of course, there is the archetypical rendition of the second album's title track: the rough muscle and raw bizarreness possible in this live environment are the result of a shared inspiration in the momentum. Of course, we can find lots of faster and/or louder renditions in other bootlegs, but this live rendition has its mixture of magic and sonic power as a relevant asset. The ethereal intro, the second section's neurotic tribalism and the soft third section inevitably lead to the electrifying ending, a real showcase for Wright's essential input for the Floydian thing. Volume 2 is a studio effort in which the band decides to make room for individual exploration. Wright's 'Sysyphus' is a majestic 4-part opus. It starts with a sequence of ceremonious mellotron and pompous tympani, followed by a piano sequence that flows from classicist reflectiveness to creepy tension. Next comes a portion based on avant-garde chamber (something like Varese-meets-Cage), followed by an eerie section dominated by mellotron and organ, distant yet captivating. The final section is the most sinister, with a horrific emergence of distorted organ segued into the initial theme's reprise. Great!! Waters penned 'Grantchester Meadows' and the long-titled next track: the former is a pastoral ballad that sets the pace for other acoustic pieces to appear in following albums; the latter is an experimentation on processed voices and noises that create rhythms, cadences and atmospheres, plus a touch of humor, too. Gilmour's 'The Narrow Way' is the other highlight in this studio item: with a first part that explores a candid mixture of country and acoustic blues ornamented by weird slide guitar intrusions, and a second part focused on Western- flavored psychedelic hard rock, the main section consists of a melancholic rock ballad with heavily bluesy undertones. Mason's 'Grand Vizier's Garden Party' is a demonstration of multiple percussions and a drum solo developed in crescendo, refashioned through studio processes: its entrance and finale are mellow flute solos. A very interesting ending for a very interesting experiment: the traces of this double album's endeavor will be fairly noticed all the way to the "Meddle" album, so the most important value (not the only one) of "Ummagumma" is its way of reshaping PF's vision in its avant-rock context.

[I dedicate this review to the memory of the recently departed Richard Wright].

Review by poslednijat_colobar
3 stars Oh... so much strange album by Pink Floyd. Half-live and half-studio double album by Pink Floyd. What about the first part of the album - The first disc of Ummagumma proves Pink Floyd to be one of a few bands with better live abilities even than their studio recordings. It's a magnificent live disc. I would like to comment the second disc - the studio one - more! It's extremely experimental album with some unlistenable parts for the majority of the people, but not for me at all! Each of the musicians had made a composition of himself divided into parts. There are songs,but there are sounds,too! I think all of the songs are brilliant works of art. It's very hard for me to define the sounds; they are just sounds, maybe without a sense! They are hard for listening, and because of that I consider this album not as studio one at all, but as experimental session of the sound. Probably this experimental session helps the musicians to develop their own style of playing. Who knows? I thought over giving 4 stars, but because of that experimental session disposition of the album with so much sounds without sense, I have to define it: good,but non-essential!!!
Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Uneven. Experimental. Interesting but ultimately cold.

"Ummagumma", as all PINK FLOYD albums, has been reviewed so many times than my describing the album here wouldn't be really useful. I can give reasons for the rating I'm giving it, though.

The first disc, the live album, leaves me completely cold and unmoved. I don't enjoy "Astronomy Domine" that much (even though this version is better than the one in "Piper at the Gates at Dawn") and, in general, live recordings don't do it for me. The sound is weak, the performances are uneven, and the music, in this case, while not terrible is nothing extraordinaire. It sounds like a glorified jamming session between four accomplished musicians who have no idea what direction their band should ultimately take.

The studio album, on the other hand, while not brilliant is actually interesting. All four members of the real PINK FLOYD (that is, Waters, Gilmour, Wright and Mason) get a chance to have their ideas played in the disc. The first one, by Wright, is very unique and quite advanced for its time as a track on a rock album. It gets lost after the brilliant beginning, but the keyboard work is good. Waters' hadn't yet acquired the songwriting talents he would later on, and that's proven by his weak contributions, which sound more like the ravings of a maniac than actual songs. Gilmour's turn to shine is actually far more pleasing, and even if at times the piece also gets lost in a sea of noise and experimentation-for-experimentation's sake, when the voice arrives it actually makes for the best moment in all the album. Finally, Mason proves us he knows how to tune drums. He proves us that he knows how to play drums. Sadly, he proves us he doesn't have the same skills to compose interesting music.

The first disc gets a 1.5-star rating from me; the second gets 3.5. The average of 2.5 demands me to give this album a rating of 3 stars, as sadly I don't have any option to put it between the better "Atom Heart Mother" and the inferior "Piper at the Gates at Dawn", which have 3 and 2 stars respectively in my review catalogue.

It's an important musical document, though, and it's historic value it's still a reason to warrant a recommendation.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dedicated to Rick, gentle man, wonderful musician

Overview: A common misconception perpetuated over the years is that the live half of this album is essential while the studio portion is rubbish. That is absolutely wrong in my view. It is the studio half of Ummagumma that is important for its wild experimentations that would make it one of the most important, influential and liberating releases to many bands in the 1970s. Tangerine Dream and Cluster cited the album as a direct influence. It is the studio album that marked the progress of this band at this point in time. It was also successful to the hard core Floyd fans of the day and sold very well for a record company that had no idea what to make of it. One writer doing a positive review for WYWH called it their best work since Ummagumma, meaning Umma was being placed higher than everything between it and Wish. I'm not going that far as I find Atom Heart more successfully captured a spirit of experimentation with melodies that are more pleasurable for repeat listening, as did Dark Side. But make no mistake: the true Pink Floyd fan who considers him/herself a "progressive" rock fan needs to hear this important link in the growth of one of music's finest recording units. I will discuss the studio album at some length but the live album, while entertaining, should really be considered a bonus disc. It is a snapshot of the Floyd covering material they were genuinely bored with playing by this time, including a terribly mistaken attempt at a Syd track that does not work (and how could it, really?) Still it's certainly a nice disc to have despite the sound problems and my assertion that the studio album is the bang here.

People often use the latter day Floyd members disowning of this period as a reason to reject it which is another common mistake. While the old men of PF may consider themselves too distinguished for such excursions these days you have to ignore their revisionism and look back and read the quotes from their press clippings at the time. The fact is that the Floyd were excited about this material, about the chance to create their own piece and about having material to try live that was less structured than past albums would be. As Rick said in early 1969 "we are getting into a live rut..we're going to force ourselves to do new things." Did they ever!! Though I'm not sure much of this album made the live set, the band was off into AHM mode shortly after the release of Ummagumma. While they may have soured on these heady days in later life there is no reason their fans need to. If anything the early albums represent PF at their most exciting and most interesting. They would later claim the album could have been better had they taken more time and worked more together than separate. This is possibly true although given that Ummagumma represents their experimental peak why regret that it was made differently? It seems fitting and gives the pieces unique character.

Press: Patrick, The Pink Floyd Fandom website: "At their peak of their most psychedelic musical experimentation comes my favorite Pink Floyd album: Ummagumma. The studio album shows what each artist was capable of as an individual during the maturing of the group as a whole. I believe that it gives a great portrait of each member as a soloing artist. It is this individual soloing which then allowed the band to create long masterpieces (Atom Heart Mother etc.) where playing together and understanding each other musically is so important. Ummagumma is definitely an important piece of the puzzle of Pink Floyd, both as a building block and as a work of art everyone can enjoy."

UK's Record Mirror, Nov 1969: ".a truly great progressive album. They mix psychedelic and classical patterns, and explore sounds, music, and gimmicks to their fullest extent. The recordings are beautiful."

International Times, Oct 1969: ".an essential purchase for anyone who has ever got into the Floyd..these two albums are a really magnificent package. The first disc comprises four pieces from their live repertoire beautifully played and well produced."

The Music: The most interesting thing about Ummagumma is that it is Wright and Mason who really excel here. Their two sections are the best while Water's stuff is the weakest. That is a trend that would not continue but it is a reminder that PF remained very much a "group" until after Dark Side and that Wright was a potent force at this moment. It reminds that prior to the Waters led heyday of 1973-1983 the other members of the band often had good ideas too and led rather than simply taking orders.

Richard Wright: Wright more than any of them embraced the spirit of Ummagumma and the results show it. He had been telling the others that he was ready to make some "real music" as he'd been the only one with formal training, albeit brief. His 4-part concerto is called "Sysyphus" - the title of which was taken from a Greek myth about a soul condemned to hell. The music is quite dramatic as you'd imagine beginning with murky Gothic flavored dirge announcing doom and gloom. In part 2 things lighten considerably as we move to some gorgeous piano playing, among Wright's nicest moments in the band's cannon. The emotion of his solo piano is palpable to me, fresh, alive, buoyant. I imagine the piece to be about the passive reflections of a young man looking at the life and death process, the section starts with peace and sunny vibes and slowly escalates into chaos, perhaps signaling madness and death. The 3rd part shifts gears as Wright borrows some of Mason's pots and pans and Waters' small furry animals for some general mischief-making. In the last part Wright stretches out with what I believe is mellotron over bird sounds creating some relaxing moments once again before the mood crashes again with heavy organ and percussion, eventually leading us back to the doomy march of the first part. While he later felt the work was "pretentious" there was no reason for shame: "Sysyphus" remains one of the hard core Floyd fan's many truly wonderful gems and was no doubt a great experience for the undervalued hero of the band.

Roger Waters: Roger's "Granchester Meadows" is an ultra-pastoral ode to a special place in his past employing mainly acoustic guitar and double-tracked voice. Sound effects of nature are also used throughout to create the bucolic mood of the lyrics. Along with "If" on the next album these pieces are not convincing and have to qualify as among Water's most underwhelming work. It's no wonder he doesn't like Ummagumma, his material is the weakest on the album. The problem with Granchester is that it just lays there. It doesn't really pack the beauty needed to convey the feeling of the place in his mind and the singing is so whispered as to be nearly inaudible unless one can get to the volume to crank it up. He follows this with the all time gimmick track "Several Species" which every teen thrills to two times in their life: the first time they hear it, and the second time when they play it for their best friend. While an impressive exercise in the construction of those effects the track is one you will likely skip when you play this album. Water's used his voice and drumming away on his own body as the origins of the sounds and then altered tape speed and used echo to create the piece. The coolest part of the track is the way he seems to create conversations between the creatures and you can imagine the dialogue as they scuttle about alarmed with some unseen threat. He would comment that "The Final Cut" meant a hell of a lot more to him that "Ummagumma" and that's fine, but not every album has to have heavy conceptual, literal overtones. Occasionally people like to let their imaginations roam with abstract sound- or at least they used to.

David Gilmour: The 3-part "The Narrow Way" was Dave's contribution to the studio side of Ummagumma and like Waters, Dave has claimed it is basically bits and pieces of fooling around that he hadn't listened to in years. He recalled being so mortified with the idea of writing his lyrics for this piece that he phoned Roger and asked for help; Roger of course told him NO and to get on with it himself. As with the Waters tracks I find some feelings of contrivance with portions of Dave's contribution, for whatever reason Wright and Mason's works just seems so much more natural and successful. But "The Narrow Way" does have fine moments too. Part 1 finds Dave easing in slowly with his back-porch acoustic ramblings accented by some oddly Syd-sounding slide flourishes (think the "Remember a Day" scrapings) Part 2 is really cool in the way the mood taps into what Wright was doing on the sinister gothic parts of Sysyphus. Dave comes up with a doomy riff that almost sounds like a bit of Sabbath and gives the album a feel of recurring themes that add some depth. Part 3 is the payoff for most Floyd fans though with a drop-dead gorgeous, smooth Gilmour vocal played off of some delicate piano. It's the one moment of Ummagumma that provides some melodic oasis to the mainstream Floyd fan wondering what the hell they just got themselves into here. As Sinkadotentree says it could fit in effortlessly among the tracks on Meddle.

Nick Mason: "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" is a fitting title for such a grand little piece which begins and ends with some lovely baroque flute sections performed by Mason's wife Libby. The beefier mid section called "Entertainment" is a truly insane collage piece constructed with percussion and tape effects and perhaps influenced by Stockhausen. Of note here is the over the top stereo-separation which surely blew the mind of many a stoned music fanatic playing this album in the dark after sparking up. Mason's piece is truly quite erratic and disruptive to one's expectations of what Pink Floyd *should* sound like and hearing it for the first time can be difficult. It needs to be approached without expectations of the typical drum solo. Like the others Mason is a bit dismissive of his work these days which is unfortunate, in his mind apparently polishing fancy cars is a more important endeavor than experimentations in sound. But I love the little percussion call and answer he does with these little rolls around the 5 minute mark. Sure it's not the highlight of progressive rock but then Mason will admit he was never the world's great drummer. I give him much credit for going with the spirit of the album rather than playing it safe.

Conclusion: The funny thing about Ummagumma is that it's the ace in the hole of the long time Floyd fan. Once you have heard Dark Side and Animals and Meddle to death for decades and have every note imprinted to memory, Ummagumma serves as a choice reservoir for some vintage moments of Pink Floyd that sound strangely fresh the older and more patient one becomes. Who would have guessed that fresh on the heels of Wright's tragic early death it would be this album, written off by many as irrelevant, that would provide me with some real "lump in the throat" tribute listening for Rick and for a time when the Floyd were a real band: Rick's majestic piano clashing with the doomy organ in one of his most poignant and unrestrained moments in Pink Floyd. Dave's peaceful "pillow of wind" voice floating you away as gorgeous as any vocal he ever did. Nick's ode to Stockhausen sandwiched between wife Libby's beautiful flute parts providing a wild ride on the stereo-separation roller coaster. It's a treasure chest of little moments that are the very essence of what "progressive music" fans claim to be about-opening their minds and accepting that which isn't always an easy hum. Ummagumma falls well short of a masterpiece but remains a crucial step in the evolution of a musical force. The band would improve on the next album by incorporating more accessibility into what was still sound experiment. They would then move away from this phase of splendid curiosities and into the realm of the '70s music machine which would have its own set of peaks and valleys. But any progger who purports to be a Floyd fan must eventually come to terms with Ummagumma and see the pearls that hide there. And I'm not talking about the live disc, which again, should really just be considered a bonus disc on this release. In a time when many of the most popular "progressive" bands are slick, predictable and little more than elaborate pop music with syrupy vocals/sentiments, it is somewhat refreshing to revisit a time and place when something like Ummagumma could actually be released by a major label. When a band could be both popular and on the edge. 7/10

Review by Roj
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As I've been listening to this album for some 30 years now, I feel qualified to give a reasonable opinion. This is of course much different from the easily recognisable Floyd from the mid to late 70s.

The album is split in 2. One disc is live, recorded at Manchester and Birmingham in 1969, the other is a studio disc, with each band member contributing a quarter of the material.

I will start with the studio disc, which for me is the poorer by some way. The quality is very inconsistent. The sections of Richard Wright and Nick Mason are in the majority quite dreadful. With the exception of the opening minute or so, Part 1 of Wright's Sysyphus is a jumbled mess, although things do improve on parts 2-4. Mason's contribution is certainly avant garde, but may be a bit too weird for most tastes. The sound of a toothbrush being rolled around a beaker are a bit extreme for me! It is amusing, but I have to say that these days I do not listen to either Mason or Wright's sections.

Fortunately, Waters and particularly Gilmour rescue the situation. Waters' Grantchester Meadows is a lovely acoustic pastoral piece, which always reminds me of a lovely English summers day. As I write this in deepest January, that would be very nice! Several Species is hilarious, complete with the wierdest possible sound effects, and an indecipherable Scotsman. Again, this piece may be a bit too much for many. Gilmour's The Narrow Way, in 3 sections, is a fine, normal piece of music, which would not have been out of place on Meddle. Gilmour's guitar work is tremendous throughout.

The live disc is absolutely superb. Four classic tracks, all of which are much better than their studio versions. It is stunning to hear how tight the band were, the guitar and keyboards blending as one to create heavenly and shivering sounds which drift across the listener. This is surely one of space rock's finest moments. Wright's majestic organ playing really stands out, showing just how important he was to the Floyd sound. It is difficult to pick a favourite from the live disc, each is equally brilliant. However, I will single out the floating middle section of Set The Controls... as my personal highlight. Gilmour and Wright produce possibly the most amazing spacey section of music that I have heard.

Rating this album is tough. I would give the studio disc perhaps 2-2.5 stars and the live album easily 5 stars. Therefore, as the live disc is SO good, I will award 4 stars on the whole. As far as space rock is concerned, this is an essential album.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Ummagumma' - Pink Floyd (5/10)

Lets take a look at the two disks separately.

The first is a Live EP, showing the remarkable talent these guys have as musicians. Despite the long, jam- like lengths and structures of the songs, the songs are constructed in such a way, where they can actually be considered individual compositions of their own, as opposed to random improvisation. Each of the songs 'goes somewhere.' Of particular note is the epic finale to 'A Saucerful Of Secrets' which manages to perfectly translate the drama and emotion of the original into a live setting. For a live recording (especially at the time) the sound quality is amazing.

On the other hand, we have the Studio disc. Each band member wrote their own 'epic' composition for this album. Unfortunately, with the exception of the Gilmour tracks, the songs are boring, and at times downright ear-hurting. From the scratchy sounds of 'Sysyphus Part III' to the inane, pointless (albeit whimsical) drone of '...Grooving With A Pict' to the monotonous rhythmic pulse of 'Grand Vizier's Garden,' there just isn't enough here to keep interest. The Gilmour songs, along with 'Grandchester Meadows' are decent, but are by no means anything incredibly fantastic.

Of these two CDs, I would give the excellent Live recording a 4, and the boring studio session a 2. Average it out, and you get 3. Simple enough?

Review by The Sleepwalker
4 stars Ummagumma is a very experimental album. One of the two discs contains four live songs and the other one is a studio recording. I'm going to start with the studio disc.

The studio disc is made out of solo contributions from the band members, because the band at that moment was lacking inspiration. The contributions all are very experimental, definitely one of Roger Waters' contribution is very experimental.

First up is Richard Wright's contribution to the album it's "Sysyphus". The song lasts about thirteen minutes and is divided into four parts, the first one lasting only one minute. This part, however, is very powerful. The second part lasts three and a half minutes, it's a jazzy jam, probably the best part of the song. The second part changes from jazzy piano to very experimental, after a while it segues into the even more experimental part three. Part three is pretty short and contains slide guitar on the background and experimental keys as lead instrument. Part three is soon joined by percussion and has a somewhat abrubt ending. Part four is the longest part of Sysyphus, it lasts seven minutes. Part four starts out very mellow and pretty, after a coouple minutes it segues into the much more experimental reprise of part one. Overall Sysyphus is a pretty good song, maybe a bit lengthy but hey, it's prog.

Next up are Roger waters' contributions. The first of them is "Grantchester Meadows", a very quiet folky song. The song is guided by acoustic guitar, which is played by Roger Waters. On the background constantly birds are heard, they prevent the song getting too quiet. In the end a fly is heard, and eventually the fly gets squashed. Grantchester Meadows is a very mellow song, lovely.

Roger's second contribution is "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict". It is definately the most experimental song of the album, All it contains is Roger's voice, sometimes sped up and during the entire song Roger's whistling is heard. The song is very funny, but not neccecary good. I prefer most of the other songs on this album.

Next up is "The Narrow Way", David Gilmour's contribution. Just as Sysyphus, this one is splt up into three parts. Part one has some lovely acoustic guitar playing, with powerful, psychedelic sounding slide guitar on the background. When the first part reaches it's end the slide guitar and synths start taking much more lead. It segues into part two, which is based around a very dark riff. Just as in part one on the background slide guitar is heard. Eventally the riff fades and the song becomes a trippy, experimental jam. Part three is the longest of the parts, it lasts six minutes and is the only one that contains vocals. The vocals are pretty dark in the verses, though the chorus is very mellow. As the song progresses more and more instruments will be heard. The Narrow way in my opinion is the best contribution to the Ummagumma studio disc.

The final contribution is Nick Mason's "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party". This song also is divided into three parts. Part one only lasting one minute, it contains a gentle flute and eventally some snare drums. It segues into part two, which starts out with some tom's. The song is very psychedelic, definitely in the middle, smooth synth plays the lead role in this song. The part ends with funky drumming and part three is another short part with gentle flute. Nick's contribution is not too exciting I think.

The other disc of the Ummagumma album is the live disc, which is a great disc I think. The live disc starts out with "Astronomy Domine", of Pink Floyd's first album, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Originally sung by Syd Barett, but David Gilmour does it just as good. The solo which the studio version has is replaced by a lengthy jam, characterized by David's powerful guitar with wah-effect and Rick's keyboards. The song lasts more than eight minutes, which is two times the length of the studio version, an amazing performance of a great song.

The second song is "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". The song starts with a simple bassline and is soon joined by Rick Wright's organ. I've got to say the sound of the organ is incredible, it is not too loud, but you definitely hear it. Rick plays a sort of Egyptian sounding music. This goes on for about three minutes, till the tension gets higher. Roger's powerful scream is heard and is joined by David's distorted guitar. The high scream of Roger is heard later in their carrier in the very beginning of Another Brick In The Wall Pt.2, from their album The Wall. After the powerful middle part the distorted guitar solo goes on for several minutes and slowly the song gets more quiet again, until it sounds just as in the beginning, guided by the beautiful organ. Careful With That Axe, Eugene is a true masterpiece, one of their most psychedelic songs.

The next track is "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun", one of Pink Floyd's most mysterious songs. The song is lead by a powerful riff and powerful drums. Roger Waters softly sings and the song raises it's tension. The song speeds up and is joined by Rick's organ, which sounds a lot like the organ used in Careful With That Axe, Eugene. After a bit more than four minutes the loeder part stops and the song turns into a mellow jam, with very high slide guitar and smooth organ. Soon the riff and drums join and the song goes back to basics again, the organ is slightly different at this part, it sounds a bit like a trumpet. The song ends with Roger singing again. I think Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Song is the least good out of the four live songs, it still is a nice one, of course.

"Saucerful Of Secrets", the title track from their second album is also played live. Just as in the previous song, the song starts out with a quite simple bassline and Egyptian sounding organ. After a little while cymbals and slide guitar can be heard. The first part of the song, which lasts until three and a half minute is called "Something Else". The second part, "Syncopated Pandemonium" is characterized by the drums, the cymbals and the lots of spacey slide guitars, it's the most bombastic part of the song. In the studio version the third part "Storm Signal" shall be heard, but in this live version it's skipped. We head on straight to "Celestial Voices", which I find the most beautiful part of the song, it is lead by soft drums and organs. Celestial Voices gets louder after several minutes and eventually David Gilmour can be heard singing, no lyrics are used although. A Saucerful Of Secrets is a very mystical, epic song, really worth listening, it's great.

So, this was my review of Ummagumma, The live disc is fantastic, it's really worth five stars. The studio disc, however, is less good, sometimes even pretty weak and is definitely not worth five stars. In the end I think this album is really worth buying, because of the fantastic live disc, the studio disc also has some good and funny songs.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Ummagumma" is the 4th full-length studio album (partially live) by UK psychadelic/progressive rock act Pink Floyd. The album was released through Harvest Records in October 1969. The original release was a double LP. The first LP features 4 tracks recorded live and the second LP features new original studio compositions by the band. Or maybe more correctly each band member contributed their own songs to the project. "Ummagumma" is Pink Floyd´s second 1969 album, as they had already released "More" in July of 1969.

The 4 tracks featured on the live part of "Ummagumma" are great quality live tracks performed by an inspired and probably tripped out young band, featuring a pretty good sound quality (for the time) and a great atmosphere. The live versions of "Astronomy Domine" and "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" are quite brilliant and the psychadelic trips "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" and "Saucerful of Secrets" are stunning too.

Unfortunately the studio part of the album can´t match the brilliance of it´s live counterpart. The Roger Waters´s penned "Grantchester Meadows" and the David Gilmour penned three part suite "Narrow Way" are decent contributions, but both the Nick Mason penned "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" and the three part "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (Part 1: Entrance; Part 2: Entertainment; Part 3: Exit)", and the Richard Wright penned four part "Sysyphus (Parts 1-4)", are pretty redundant to my ears.

The high quality of the live recordings on the first LP, are worth the price of admission alone, and they are the reason why "Ummagumma" is a worth while release even though the studio part of the album is decent at best and redundant at worst. A 3 - 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Although this basically is a live album, it's the essential early Pink Floyd for me. It shows their ability to make their somewhat obscure and indulgent studio work come alive on stage. All tracks easily take twice the length of their studio counterparts but they do that without any dull moment.

Astronomy Domine is here in its ultimate version. Infinitely better and more developed then the studio version of only 2 years earlier, Careful with that Axe is one of my Pink Floyd favourites, especially in this frenzied and spaced-out version. Heart of the Sun and Saucerful of Secrets have completely outgrown their amateurish studio versions and feature a Nick Mason who must have had the time of his life! Also Gilmour and Wright shine with their bewildering noisy climaxes.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, there's an additional studio CD you have to indulge when buying Umma Gumma. Apart from Water's and Gilmour's contributions it's rather forgettable (not to say annoying). But the 5 star rating is entirely deserved by the live album alone and a true testimony what a extraordinary band Pink Floyd was in these days. Their most essential 60's release for me.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My opinion about Ummagumma is close to usual point of view. I like their live part, consisting of perfect versions of their best songs from very early period. ( Only pity, that this part is too short!).

Re. second CD I think that their bulky studio recording of unstructurised psychedelic songs is more material for Pink Floyd heavy fans. It is not so bad ar raw music, that it is not possible to listen it, but too long for sure!

Whenever the album exists only as double CD, let say that both together it is above average set. Live part is perfect, and studio part is more for fans, but very representative. All album is excellent example of best psychedelia of it's time. In total 3,5.

Review by thehallway
2 stars "Long" is the term that comes to mind. Very, very long.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good double album, but I can't help but get that feeling of tiredness after hearing Ummagumma. It feels like it's about 3 hours long, and that's because it's so cold and unforgiving. Speaking in terms of the studio side, it is the only Floyd album where the experimental ramblings outweigh the ACTUAL songs. Sure 'Saucerful...' had it's title track, and 'ATM' had 'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast', but there was some actual songwriting on those albums too. On here, there is very little. Water's acoustic piece is fine, but unneccesarily long (why leave the tape recorder on while you kill a bee?), and Gilmour's 'Narrow Way: Part III', his first actual Floyd composition, is a good, solid rock song. Other than these two tunes, 'Ummagumma' proudly bears some of my lowest rated "songs" on iTunes. Apart from sounding like a sexually transmitted infection, 'Sysyphus' shamefully exposes all of Rick Wright's weaknesses. He really should have stuck to the same calibre of his previous compositions; delightfully hip rock songs with lyrics and a groove. Instead, it's a mixture of not-so-delightful piano tinkering and lengthy (boring) soundscapes. I just don't consider it progressive. And Mason's is even worse; I don't want to go there. The trouble with this disc, is that it's very individualistic for a start (the band play more comfortably as a unit) and everything is seperated out into little boxes, and smaller boxes within those. Theres no windows in these boxes of experimentation, no communication between band members, and no real emotion whatsoever (other than humour, on 'Several Species...').

The live disc is better. Extended psychedelic noodling goes down well and the playing, singing, and production are all, for want of a better word, fine. Thats all I can say really. This disc doesn't do a lot to rescue the album from the depths of experimentation, even if it does come first. Thus, 'Ummagumma' gets a single star for it's original material, and one extra one for the live tracks, as their content comes from other albums.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Pink Floyd Live and in the Studio: parallel universes at polar opposites

Pink Floyd's 'Ummagumma' is half excellent, half mediocre. The Hipgnosis cover depicts two parallel universes and in a sense that is what we have here. Two albums at polar opposites from one another. One album is incredible, rich with dark textures and free form jamming with cosmic space rock at its highest peak. One album is lacklustre with forgettable miserable songs that nobody cares about. Interestingly, the two pictures on the cover depict two different Floyd leaders; one is of Gilmour leading as the dominant figure, and the other has Waters in the chair, and this is prophetic as the band eventually split into two Pink Floyd groups with these men as leaders.

Enough philosophy, let's start with the brilliant live album. The live album showcases the band in full flight in a concert experience where they are allowed to fly into the stratosphere. The best live version of 'Astronomy Domine' is played with incredible energy and a divine lead solo. I love the 'P-U-L-S-E' version which is chilling, but this version has a wondrous instrumental section I can listen to anytime.

Recorded in 1969, the band launch into a fabulous lengthy version of the chilling 'Careful with that Axe Eugene', with a manic Waters at his sinister best who screams bloody murder as Gilmour's guitar soars and wails, and Wrights' keyboards swell and ascend into the heavens. The sound is astonishing with sonic reverberances and a dominating resonance that may scare off a lot of listeners. I find Waters' screeches rather disturbing and hard to take at times but nevertheless it is powerful prog.

'Set the Controls to the Heart of the Sun' is brooding with bottom end bass and a very ominous melody, streets ahead of the studio version and totally psychedelic.

'A Saucerful of Secrets' is once again a better version of this enigmatic classic with kinetic energy and jaw dropping guitar. The experimental creativity is flowing constantly and the live experience was never captured so well in1969.

Now to the studio album. I do not even want to review this it is so bad. I remember hearing it at a young age and being totally unnerved by the psych prog, and mind jarring trippy hallucinatory passages. I hated it. It really is Pink Floyd's 'Works' (remember ELP tried to go solo and failed). This is Pink Floyd breaking into a solo artist band and it stinks like the sewerage flowing down Barett's blocked drains.

'Sysyphus' is the best track on it; a 4 part feast of keyboard wizardry by Wright with mellotron and effects. But it peters out from there.

'Grantchester Meadows' is a Waters experiment gone wrong.

The best thing about 'Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict' is the overlong title that only true Floydians are able to remember. It is impossible to describe except to say it is all animal noises and effects and another failed Waters experiment. LSD dopeheads need only apply.

'Narrow Way' is more experimentalism but this time Gilmour tries his hand at freaking us out. It is not much to write home about, so I won't and, like all the other tracks on this studio album, you will only find them here, and that's a relief.

'Grand Vizier's Garden Party' is drummer Mason's ditty, and he even roped in his wife to try playing flute passages. He adds tape loops for effect and unearthly sounds that are disquietening at best.

So that's 'Ummagumma' half a delight, half a fright, but it was the best Floyd album until 'Meddle' arrived, but that's another review. 5 stars for the live material, 1 star for the studio material, so we have to round this off to 3 stars.

Review by Guldbamsen
5 stars Much like In the Court of the Crimson King was a tremendous musical jolt that helped spawn the symphonic wave of progressive music, I think it is fair to state that Ummagumma inadvertently almost single-handedly created the Krautrock scene. Reading up on several of the gurus inside the wondrous and magical world that is Kraut, i saw a similar pattern emerging of general love of Pink Floyd and especially this album. Split into two discs you get a live album, that shows Floyd at their most aggressive primal side, and a second disc containing a studio recorded album of all the members coming up with whatever they felt like. The whole thing feels like a giant [%*!#] you to the general music scene, and the combined mass media consensus of how music is suppose to sound like. Direction less and quite the opposite at times, that it in reality doesn´t even fit in anywhere if we´re going to slip stickers and signs on the mother. Here we´ve got a genuine artistic statement of pure innovation and letting your imagination run wild in a studio and see what comes up at the break of the day. You also get one of the best songs David Gilmour ever penned in "The Narrow Way pt3" which seems to end in something much like a waterfall-choir cascading washing guitar wails, that take you places only Gilmour can. Bereft of any cohesion and pattern we are also served with the creepy "Several species of small fury Animals gathering together and grooving with a Pict" (!!!!!!!??) - that keeps all of it´s lyrical promises sonically... Keeping with the anti-cohesion I thought I´d bring up one of the most bone-chilling, scary and iconic musical outbursts that Pink Floyd ever did. I am of course speaking of the incredible "Careful with that Axe, Eugene", that delivers a primal scream from Roger Waters mid-song which cuts through flesh and metal like Conan the Barbarian slicing up human fillets. The extraordinary thing about the way Roger uses his voice, is actually that he doesn´t exhale as he scream- like we normally do when we talk or sing, no- he is sucking up the words like a vacuum cleaner gone metaphysical, almost as if the sounds come from outside of himself. Pure horror and certainly one of the most violent episodes ever to be recorded in the history of music. -This is coming from a guy who grew up listening to Napalm Death and Obituary... I still stand by my words. This short moment truly transcends its media - momentarily watching through the keyhole. Whether this record tries to disguise itself in mystic wordless ramblings or is tinkling your spinal cord with gooey wild spacerock, you can never honestly say that it get´s boring. Then again I always pictured Floyd as the British musical counterpoint of the Monty Python philosophy, meaning that whatever you do - you´d better do it in spite of everything and with peepers wide open and restlessly tuned into the greatest human attribute: the imagination. -And imagination is loose and twisting and often eluding you, when you try to explain it or make use of it, making it genuinely hard to transcript it elsewhere than in art, -and nowhere better than within the musical realm, where true meaning of things we can´t fathom seems to exist buried deep in vast oceans of notes. Like the Egyptian carpet ride unfolding before your ears in "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" with Nick Mason thundering away on the drums like a rare hypnotizing shaman of the west, or maybe the understated suppressed beauty of "Grantchester Meadows" will better put into perspective the manner in which this record was approached in - treating sounds and noises as tapestries of sometimes unparalleled funny music, but even more so an altogether new way of generating moods within the modern airwaves. This is probably why I think of this record as the father of the Krautrock movement, that exploded all through Germany in the 70´ies - bringing with it music that tried to free itself of every jagged imprisoning boundary out thunk by the laws of the universe. Safe to say we don´t need any laws to impose on our music, but it is rather seldom, we breach our mental levies and LISTEN to something that is truly free of any prefabricated recipes. Break on through to the other side! Right on Jim! Right on!
Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars "Ummagumma" is the album where Pink Floyd seems to finally turn the page (musically, not conceptually) on the Syd Barrett era. The first album, is a collection of live tracks, each one over eight minutes long. emphasizing spacy, mostly instrumental jams. The second album is broken up into four parts, each by a single member of the band.

The live album is roughly recorded, but shows what a great band Pink Floyd was at the time, and shows how much more lively Nick Mason and Richard Wright were before Floyd became Roger Waters' backup band. In fact, the wntie band shows an energy that rarely came up in the highly polished music that the band became known for.

The second album, to me, is just brilliant. Wright's piece, the four-part Sysyphus, played on keyboards and drums, begins with a mellotron, then moves to an almost classical sounding piano piece, then goes completely avant-garde before finishing back on the mellotron. It may be the best playing I've ever heard from this usually non-assertive keyboardist.

Waters' Grantchester Meadows is the song that is most like the classic era Floyd. Played over a loop of simulated bird noises, Waters sings lightly over acoustic guitars. The pleasantness of this song offsets the darkness of Wright's contribution, and the weirdness that follows. That weirdness is Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict, a collage of rhythmic simulated animal noises that end with a speech in Scottish dialect. You will not hear anything more bizarre on any Pink Floyd album.

david Gilmour's three-part Narrow Way shows off a few of the guitar styles that will grace the coming albums, but doesn't flow ell from one section to another. No matter, the heavy second part is just too cool for words.

Instead of hitting us with a plain drum solo, Nick Mason instead created Grand Vizier's Garden Party, a three-part piece mixing disjointed drum patterns with other dropped in noises and tones, and actually is fun to listen to.

I'd say 3.5 stars for the live album, 5 stars for the solo pieces. Total 4.5 stars.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars One of Floyd's most consistent efforts. Honestly. A strong double album. This is the band at their most avant-garde and experimental. Proggier than most prog and proto-prog at the time. People who claim PF are not prog need to listen to this album and explain to me how it is less proggy than the debut albums by Yes and Genesis. The studio album was conceived as a collection of solo pieces that go beyond rock music. The live album is good but I have heard shows from this era that have better sound, performance and set-lists than this one.

Ummagumma is apparently slang for sex. The music here is not too sexy though. The live album was the only official live document of Floyd until almost twenty years later. As I mentioned I've heard better shows from these guys in this era. Supposedly they picked these shows because they had the best sound of the ones they wanted to use. Not necessarily the best performances. In 1968 Richard Wright sometimes put his organ through a wah-wah pedal in concert. It sounded awesome but unfortunately there is none of that here.

"Astronomy Domine" almost sounds like a different song compared to the studio version. One of the few Barrett songs they were performing at the time. I like the parts where it's just organ. Gilmour does a great solo. It starts off with wah and then gradually has a cleaner tone. "Careful With Axe, Eugene" was the B-side to the single "Point Me At The Sky". Strange choice for a B-side. Based around a minimal bass part and crescendos. Waters screams like a little girl. Love the sound of the organ at the end.

"Set The Controls..." is not as good as the version on Pompeii. Waters is banging a gong. 5 1/2 minutes in begins a spacey section with modified guitar and organ sounds. The drums and bass come back. "A Saucerful Of Secrets" is also better on Pompeii. More gong form Waters. Great guitar with effects. Like the Pompeii version, this has has drums and just Gilmour singing during the 'celestial voices' part.

Many people hate the studio album but like the live album. As I said, I heard better live stuff from this era. The studio album is where it's at. Lots of ideas and good production. Wright's "Sysyphus" is one of the best things Floyd ever did. Part 1 has a great theme on Mellotron. Some drums as well. Wright plays everything. Part 2 has classical piano, then jazzy piano with cymbals. A slowed down piano makes rumbling noises. Part 3 has slowed down pianos with cymbal and drum noises. Some sped up chipmunk vocals. At the end we get a cacophony of all of the above.

Supposedly Part 4 originally began with the loud organ part. On CD it starts off with lovely Mellotron, vibes and Farfisa. Some bird and water noises. You can briefly hear 'Silent Night' played. Then the music fades out and out of nowhere there is a dramatic organ part which scares the hell out of you the first time you hear it. Then there's a drum roll. Sinister sounding organs and then weird effects and dissonant piano sounds. Gradually the opening Mellotron theme comes back to end everything.

"Grantchester Meadows" is a nice folky song from Waters. Double-tracked vocals and acoustic guitars.Looped bird sounds. It may just be me, but I think the fly sound you hear at the beginnijng and end is really the theme to "Sysyphus"; it sounds like it is distorted, paused and looped. There is a song here with a really long title. I'll just call it SSOSFAGTIACAGWAP. The whole song is vocal noises recorded at different speeds resembling little critters. The Picts were the pre-Celtic inhabitants of Scotland. Roger does a Scottish accent and you can barely make out what he says. At one point you can hear a sped up Gilmour say: "that's pretty avant-garde, isn't it?" Ron Geesin later made a tribute/parody of this song called "To Roger, Wherever You Are".

Gilmour's "The Narrow Way" is another highlight. Part 1 has backwards effects, acoustic guitar and slide guitar. Part 2 is simply awesome. It has a riff as heavy as Sabbath. Some tabla like percussion. It gets spacier with sound effects and a slowed down version of the guitar riff. Part 3 is the best song on the whole album and points the most to what the band would sound like in the 1970s. Gilmour sings and plays piano, drums, bass and guitar. I love the sound of the bass at the end.

Mason's "Grand Vizier's Garden Party" deserves a mention too. Parts 1 & 3 are a flute theme performed by Nick's wife. Part 2 is something else altogether. Lots of studio manipulated percussion. At one point you hear the flute part played backwards and what sound like vibes. The drums start getting paused/unpaused along with overdubbed percussion. Near the end is an actual drum solo recorded in stereo. It may not be one of the greatest drum solos of the era, but it's one of the best *sounding*.

For 1969 this sounds great and is extremely progressive. Floyd have a few slightly more consistent albums, and their best songs are found elsewhere. Nonetheless this is a unique musical statement. A masterpiece, but not everybody will like this. 5 stars.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Surely this album doesn't need one more review, but I want to add my pence.

First of all the albun title: How many people knows that Ummagumma is a slang word for "making sex" in use in Grantchester's area ? We are in 1969 and Brrett is gone. Pink Floyd have been criticised by the old UFO Club fans that have missed Syd Barrett. In the same time the four Floyds haven't found their way yet.

The result is a double album with a live and a studio disc. They are very different and this is the reason of many controversial opinions of the fans during the years.

The live side is in general very well considered because it features very good arrangements of the classic "Astronomy Domine" and of the two best tracks from Saucerful of Secrets: The title track and "Set The Control For The Heart Of The Sun". It features also the only official vinyl release of "Careful With That Axe Eugene", a song which had several titles and was reused also for Anotonioni's Zabriskie Point as "Come on Number 51, It's Your Turn" and is the soundtrack of the last epic moment of the movie.

I want to spend more words on the studio side that's in general less appreciated. Like for ELP "Works", making an album with a side or half written by each band's member was a common practice in that period. The bad is that the four Floyds were still in search of their definitive style. The good is that they are free to experiment. The Disc two of Ummagumma is the most experimental thing that Pink Floyd have ever done.

Rick Wright is the author of "Sysyphus". It's a myth coming from the ancient Greece. The most famous part of the myth is when he's doomed to carry on a rock to the top of a hill and when done he has to restart from the beginning. As in the myth, the track, divided in 4 parts, is conceived as a circle. The structure is clearly symhonic but the use of dissonances and noisy parts add a touch of psychedelia so I would define it as a psychedelic symphony.

A typical Roger Waters acoustic ballad follows. "Grantchester Meadows" is the place Dave Gilmour and Syd Barrett are from. On this song Waters tries to use the sound of the words to create adliterations as Barrett was used to. "See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water" is an example, comparable to "Oberon there on the run". At the end of the song there's one of the most famous gimmicks ever: a fly, somebody running and smashing it.

This gives the start to "Several Species of Little Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict". I tooko years to understand what a Pict justified the Scottish accent imitated by Waters at the end of the song that, as the title says, is made of sounds supposed to be produced by the little furry animals. I really like this track for its rhytmic noises.

One of the first compositions of David Gilmour is effectively a medley of two songs already performed live by Pink Floyd plus a central section. I think this song was underrated by Pinkn Floyd themselves, but the third part in particular contains the seeds of future Gilmour's compositions like Fat Old Sun.

I have some doubts about the whole "Grand Vizier's Garden Party" being totally composed by Nick Mason. I'm not sure that he had the musical skill to compose the flute part of the first and third sections. I trust that all the percussions and cymbals are his, indeed. Also this track is very experimental and possibly the most in line with things like Interstellar Overdrive.

To summarize, this is one of my favourite Pink Floyd's albums. I'd like to rate it 5 stars but basing on PA ratings I have to stick on 4.

A must have in any case.

Review by friso
4 stars Pink Floyd - Ummagumma (1969)

This is a strange offering by Pink Floyd. A double vinyl with a nice cover that's inspired by a process called 'feed-back loop'. The back shows an interesting photo of the bands equipment put together in a the shape of a space ship.

The first record is a live album on which Pink Floyd plays their best live-material of the sixties very well. The band plays extended versions (and partly re-interpretations) of Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun & Saucerful of Secrets. If I'm completely honest, I must admit I think the played the last three songs better on the famous Live at Pompeii concert, but that was years later! Somehow this live set of Ummagumma has a slightly different (more abstract) atmosphere and that's precisely the reason why I think this is still an excellent addition to your collection. The playfulness the band shows in how it treats it's compositions is really a great quality of the band. The slightly darker way the material is played gives the material a new layer of atmospheric quality. Had this record been released as a single live album, I bet it would have become one of the best selling and highest rated albums of the band.

The second record is.. well.. an experimental record on which all members of the band take time to explore drugs whilst making... well.. experimental music. The unpleasant listening experience many had whilst listening to the second record made them condemn the whole Ummagumma release, which is a pity. Though the second lp is not too strong, it does show how early Pink Floyd was confronted with the fact that progressive rock isn't allowed to be endlessly experimental. Of the well known progressive rock acts Pink Floyd was the first to understand this and they wouldn't go over the top on the moment the progressive movements collapsed during the mid-seventies.

Sysyphus by Wright is an avant-garde piece with piano and some bombastic symphonic arrangements. This gathering of single ideas and improvisations seems to lead no-where, but I must say it has some sort of well-made dark atmosphere. Grantchester Meadows by Waters is an acoustic 'somehwere out-there-but-not-here' slight psychedelic kind of track that reminds me a bit of the later released 'If'. Several Animals by Waters is a silly mix of animal and vocal sounds that you wouldn't want to be caught listening to by your friends. It's tremendously stupid and un-asked for. The second side of the second lp begins with Gilmour's The Narrow Way. This three-part compositions has some nice guitar-playing and some nice psychedelic vocal sounds. Luckily this song was recorded properly. The vocal section is a relaxing conclusion. Nick Mason's The Grand Vizier's Garden Party opens with a flute solo by Mason's wife, just before the strange percussions start. Mason uses loops and effects, and he creates an interesting atmosphere that would have suited a movie- soundtrack.

Conclusion. Ummagumma is a strange combination of one of the band's best live recordings and their most troubled studio-effort. The second record is mainly interesting for fans of the band. Only Gilmour's piece stands out as really interesting. As a live album (which by the way is a rare recording of '69 Pink Floyd!) I can surely give this the full four stars and I'll treat the second record as bonus material. Four stars it is then.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Ummagumma the word may or may not be a slang term for sex, but Ummagumma the album is the sound of a band hedging its bets, split as it is between a live album of older material and a studio album of what are essentially solo compositions. The live album starts off well with a version of the Barrett-era track Astronomy Domine, which introduces a strange little quiet interlude towards the end of the song which doesn't quite work but otherwise succeeds at matching, though not quite exceeding, the thunderous, apocalyptic majesty of the studio version of the track. However, the versions of Careful With That Axe, Eugene, Set The Controls For the Heart of the Sun are actually better than the studio versions, to my mind, whilst the version of A Saucerful of Secrets turns the pure celestial merging of organ and choir at the end of the studio track into an opportunity for a triumphant instrumental workout, making the live disc of Ummagumma the best representative of the 1968-1969 post-Syd Pink Floyd sound which tended towards spacey instrumentals/almost-instrumentals rather than particularly tight or structured songwriting.

The studio album is a bit more of a mixed bag - inevitably, given the way it's given over to solo compositions. Richard Wright's Sysyphus has a bombastic opening that gives way to extended piano and organ noodling that makes for decent enough background mood music but doesn't elevate above that level; it's the sort of thing you might imagine the band turning out for a movie soundtrack.

Waters was a somewhat better songwriter at this point, but only somewhat; his two contributions to the studio album just aren't up to his usual standards. Grantchester Meadows consists of a not-quite-folk knockoff with birdsong effects obscuring the acoustic guitar and repetitive lyrics; continuing for some seven minutes, it again works best as background music rather than as something to actively listen to. Several Species of Small Furry Animals... comes across as a joke track which rather outstays its welcome.

The second side of the studio album is also somewhat undercooked: we are presented with David Gilmour's The Narrow Way, which consists mainly of Gilmour noodling away on his guitar with some synth effects added here and there over the top and some singing towards the end (actually, this is probably my favourite of the studio tracks and the only one which really is compelling as more than background music, the closing song actually being pretty good) and Nick Mason's The Grand Vizier's Garden Party, which eventually degenerates into a musique concrete drum solo.

The album as a whole might have been improved if the studio tracks were tightened up a bit and presented in the context of the "Man and the Journey" suite that the band were performing live at the time, rather than being sliced up and presented as solo tracks, but even so this studio material just isn't up to the band's usual standards. Ummagumma averages out at four stars or so - there's a great five-star live album there, and a three-star studio album which at points almost dips down into two-star territory.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars Say what you will about the old record biz monopolies and their power to decide the fate of any particular artist or group due to there being no alternative to getting one's music out to the public but in the 60s some labels' willingness to support a band like Pink Floyd while they matured over time is nonetheless remarkable. That altruistic, nurturing attitude evaporated during the 70s but thank heaven it lingered long enough for progressive rock to cultivate an audience. Otherwise we wouldn't have the works of Yes, Genesis or even Deep Purple to cherish and enjoy today. "Ummagumma" is an example of a record company having the courage to let an entity go through their growing pains, wagering that the ends will justify the means and all parties involved will reap huge benefits further down the line. I'm not convinced a risky, capital-involved investment such as that is even feasible in the 21st century and that's what makes an odd, experimental album like this one such an interesting relic.

The background briefing goes somewhat like this: Syd Barrett's undeniable genius got Pink Floyd a contract. Their debut, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," was a breakthrough recording. Then poor Syd misplaced his marbles, causing their sophomore LP to be a disappointment on many levels. When the trio of Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright realized that brother Barrett was gone and not coming back they promoted stand-in guitarist David Gilmour to full-fledged member and moved gingerly ahead by doing a soundtrack for an art flick, "More." This puts "Ummagumma" into proper perspective as being the initial LP of the 2nd version of Pink Floyd and, therefore, it should be granted a sizeable amount of slack. Even more astounding is that it's a two-disc set! From comments I've read from those who were involved in its conception/assembly the foursome had very little idea about what the hell they were doing and, considering the circumstances, that's understandable. The boat captain jumped ship so the remaining crew had to learn the ropes on the run and steer the vessel as best they could. If not for sheer determination and innate talent, "Ummagumma" would've foundered Pink Floyd on the rocks and the group would've faded like yesterday's daisies but, to the label's credit, the suits didn't give up and continued to believe in their potential. We proggers should be thankful.

One thing the band had going in their favor was they were a damn decent live act so releasing two sides of vinyl culled from taped concerts was a smart move on their part. Their rendition of Syd's "Astronomy Domine" showed their fans that, despite their inner struggles, they had ripened into a tight, confident quartet that could more than hold their own in front of a crowd. Of special note here is the admirable sounds emanating from Wright's keyboards. They aren't tinny or thin but possess rich, thick tones. Next is the band-written "Careful With That Axe, Eugene." I particularly like the jazzy aura that Richard injects into the piece via his Hammond B3. No doubt the startling explosion-of-screams section must've caused a slew of conniptions among the chemically-altered in attendance (Wasn't that the objective, though?). It's pretty much a free-form jam wherein Gilmour gets to experiment with his effects but the controlled fade-out is impressive in and of itself. Waters' "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" follows with its dominant Egyptian vibe. Wright's Mellotron-generated flute is soothing for a while but then it gets buried by the wild cacophony that ensues. The noisy number turns cosmic in a decidedly you-had-to-be-there sort of way before returning to the song's original theme. Disc 1 ends with the collectively-composed "A Saucerful of Secrets," a large slice of dreamy psychedelia fortified with David's demonic slide guitar. Hard on that section's heels is a monotonous drum pattern courtesy of Mason that anchors a genuine "freak out" movement that grates on one's nerves until Richard's organ restores sanity by establishing a repeating chord progression that builds to a crowd-pleasing finale.

Disc 2 was more of a challenge. They chose to let each member contribute their own original stuff to the cause and let the chips fall where they may. What came out of this endeavor is hit and miss, at best. Wright goes first, presenting a 13-minute, four-part epic entitled "Sysyphus." Part 1 sports a Gladiators-entering-the-arena ambiance and Part 2 is a lovely piano etude that gradually turns wonderfully abstract. Part 3 is an arrhythmic din of piano noodling wading amid a host of assorted noises while Part 4 is a serene soundscape that roams aimlessly until it implodes violently and becomes a surreal circus of notes, ending with a hearty bash on the gong. At this juncture of his career, "Sysyphus" highlights Richard's compositional naiveté a lot more than his musicianship. The sweet chirpings of various birdies leads to Roger's acoustic guitar-based "Grantchester Meadows." It's an improvement over the previous cut in that it's a bit of relative normalcy but its not exactly memorable fare, either. Waters gets another stab at greatness with his "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict." More fowl utterances are heard shimmering over a fast-paced fingertip rhythm accompanied by a bunch of what I refer to as fun-in-the-studio-with-tape-loops-and-queer-sound-bites shenanigans. Hey, it's fantastic fun if you can get away with it and I don't hold it against him for taking advantage of the opportunity but it's not exactly high art in my book and gets to be tedious quickly.

Gilmour's two cents worth arrives in the form of the three-part, twelve minute "The Narrow Way." Parts 1& 2 are acoustic guitar-driven ditties surrounded by scores of incidental fiddle-faddles wafting around in the background. Part 3 features a slightly metallic electric guitar riff resounding over a pool of echoing weirdness. David has been quoted as saying he didn't have a clue as to what he was up to at the time and it sounds like it. Drummers aren't often permitted to participate in the creative conclave (with good reason) but when he's just as experienced and capable as everyone else in the group his input is equally viable. Nick was given a task and he gave it the old college try by concocting a three-part deal called "The Grand Vizier's Garden." Bringing in Lindy Mason to play some pleasant flute lines turned out to be a positive for Part 1 but closing it with an unadorned snare roll spoils the mood. Part 2 is a tom-tom tuning session layered over ghostly effects followed by strange affectations involving different drums and percussion instruments with Part 3 being a predictable revisit to Part 1. None of it bears repeated listens but I'll give the man an E for effort, at least.

In light of the lofty heights Pink Floyd would eventually attain, listening to "Ummagumma" is akin to gazing through Van Gogh's kindergarten coloring books. You can tell their adventuresome, fearless blend of aural colorings belies incredible potential but they're also having difficulty in staying inside the lines and forming cohesive, comprehensible songs. As examples of psychedelic, acid-drenched eargasms the pieces found on this album are commendable yet still embryonic in nature. (The album elicited a ho-hum reaction amongst my peers, as I recall.) But, as stated earlier, the moneymen who didn't pull the plug when the success of "Ummagumma" in the UK (#5 on the charts) failed to materialize on the other side of the Atlantic (#74 in the US) should be applauded for their patience. A few years later they'd have the biggest group in the world on their hands. 2.5 stars.

Review by Einsetumadur
4 stars 12/15P.: Pink Floyd's first huge statement in their band history. A groundbreaking live album, the first of its kind in its energetic sound, in a bundle with a dazzling studio album in which liberating pieces of beauty follow bits of total madness. A problem occurs only when the pastoral and avantgarde parts run simultaneously, but this merely applies to a few minutes.


Let's face it. Many people who praise this album, or who at least come to its defense, whitewash it quite a lot. "A band must be allowed to experiment", "a Floyd album with a high Schoenbergian demand" or "it's a good album to trip on", the reviews often say. I've always loved the live record, but I have to admit that I too had lots of problems with the studio record.

For me, the key to understanding this complicated album was understanding The Grand Vizier's Garden Party. The flute intro and outro, in fact composed by Ron Geesin and performed by Nick Mason's wife, are beautiful pieces of classical music with fairly stiff and serious melodics. At the first listens it sounds like a pretty chaotic arrangement of sound effects, but soon you realize that the Entertainment part itself consists of four different movements. The first one is minimalist in the gradual adding of different percussion samples (a gong, a triangle, a wood block and a snare drum) on a tape loop of Mason tuning a timpani. Now why is this experiment successful? It's one of the few percussion solos which are really atmospheric. Movement one adds an eerie melody on top of the carefully orchestrated percussion tapes, and movement two consists of xylophone, (supposably) Mellotron and timpani which together form surreal, but completely harmonious chords in the vein of Saint-Saens' post-romantic works (I think of The Swan, in particular). In the end Mason constructs an unexpectedly tribal and grumpy drum solo which rises and rumbles on top of a partly-erased tape loop of wood blocks and cymbals. The drum sound is similar to Ginger Baker's, but Mason is more deeply rooted in jazz music, hence working a lot with subtle timing differences between the overdubbed drum takes. Many rock musicians were experimenting with avant-garde around the year 1970, but only few were successful. And Nick Mason is one of the few who makes it, thanks to an accomodation of classical structures to jazz-influenced drum music instead of really free-form noodling.

David Gilmour's The Narrow Way is to me the most impressive work on the studio album - not only because he's the only one to record a piece of rock music playing all instruments himself, but also because The Narrow Way, especially Part Three, is the musical blueprint of the characteristic Pink Floyd sound of the 1970s. Add Rick Wright's ambient keyboard playing and Roger Waters' philosophy and you are closer to the spirit of Dark Side of the Moon than on any previous Pink Floyd recording. In the acoustic guitar-dominated Part One Gilmour transforms his country finger-picking influences to something bigger, into Gilmour's typical peaceful sound which totally sets your mind at ease if you just listen to what he plays. You cannot discern which genre of music Gilmour borrows from, you cannot determine what kind of music it really is or what it's about, but the clean slide guitars and the constantly flowing acoustic guitars lead you into a sonic ground which, being neither real nor surreal, you need to have listened to. Weird swirling tape effects mark the beginning of the more sombre Part Two, consisting of more stirring tape effects on top of a menacing guitar riff. A loud siren's sound leads you into Part Three which brings all of the previous elements together in a majestic piece of psychedelic rock. It's got a heavenly chorus of Gilmour's overdubbed falsetto voices with lots of swirling guitars flying around in every direction, Gilmour's distinctly chunky bass guitar playing, the floating drum rhythm (played by Gilmour as well) which is surprisingly stable in its timing and sounds a lot like Mason. The lyrics might not mean anything concrete, but they manage to create a never-changing movie in my mind, a movie similar to what the lyrics of Yes' South Side of the Sky express in a clearer fashion. I cannot point out how much I like this particular piece of music, and it's barely understandable that Gilmour today is that dissatisfied with this work of his. Still I have to admit that the tape effects in Part One do overshoot the mark a wee bit.

Rick Wright's Sysyphus is the most difficult piece on Ummagumma. It ventures a lot into atonal and avantgardistic realms, and at some places it is recklessly shocking and expressionistic - something which you might not expect from Rick Wright who otherwise was responsible for the quieter moments on the Pink Floyd albums. Not only once I feel reminded of what King Crimson did around that time and also a bit later. Part One is a pretty mindblowing starter to this album with the huge Mellotron overdubs, the sophisticated leitmotif and Wright's mighty timpani overdubs. King Crimson's Mars, the precursor of The Devil's Triangle, which they performed in 1969 with Ian McDonald on Mellotron, springs to my mind in special. Parts Two & Three are fractured and atonal piano pieces with rhythmically unsteady percussion work, the former actually beginning quite neatly with sensitive impressionistic grand piano playing. But during the following four minutes Wright bashes the piano as heavily as Keith Tippett on Cat Food and parts of Lizard, but still ties it together with his characteristic harmonic concept of layering perfect and augmented fourths. As soon as Wright adds sped-up tapes of him wailing and singing on top of this nearly industrial beat the music cuts totally loose - and this is where Wright carries on with a most beautiful keyboard solo of 3 minutes: bird sounds, organ, some spot-on bass guitar tuning and a bit of slide guitar, and interestingly he uses the Mellotron strings again, augmenting his typical Farfisa organ sound considerably. Then comes the moment which supposedly gave many intoxicated listeners a bad trip: an unexpected and frighteningly loud cluster chord shakes you up from the previous sweet sounds and begins a tour de force of accumulating sound effects and keyboard chords, including fading slide guitars, merging into an even more majestic reprise of the main theme with Rick Wright providing harmony vocals to accompany the Mellotron. A good key to approaching this work is making oneself familiar with the Greek Sisyphos myth. Contrary to, for instance, Anthony Phillips' interpretation of Orwell's 1984 which doesn't bear any relationship to the original book, Rick Wright stays quite close to his literary topic. Reprising the main theme in the end after an excruciating central part of cacophonic sounds is a striking interpretation of the futility of Sisyphos' work.

Roger Waters' part might be the one which leaves the biggest question marks in my head. Grantchester Meadows is basically an acoustic blues piece (in terms of chord progression) which feels absolutely like British folk due to its metre and melody. The song is calm, it profits a lot from Waters' warm vocal timbre (even though he doesn't hit all the notes perfectly) and is beautifully arranged for two acoustic guitars and, but after all there's not a lot happening during the 7 minutes. In live performances Rick Wright performed a lovely organ solo in the middle of the song with a tone similar to an English horn, and I miss this solo a lot in the studio version. The little acoustic guitar solo which Waters performs here doesn't attract any attention, after all he isn't a really inventive lead guitarist. But nonetheless there's too much atmosphere and too good lyrics to be bothered by this piece, and after the maelstrom Sysyphus this piece is located at a very good position. The legendary fly chase in the end of the piece is one of the first inventive sound effect ideas by Roger Waters and serves as a suitable introduction to Pink Floyd's most unorthodox piece, Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict. The title itself reminds me of a Joseph Beuys artwork (cf. Beuys' sculpture Backrest of a slender human (hare type) from the 20th century p.chr.), and the sounds confirm this presumption. In fact Roger Waters merely beatboxes, sings, speaks and thumps on a table in different tape speeds, ending up in a manic speech in a mock-Scots accent. Strictly no instruments used here! Interestingly the whole track is absolutely rhythmic since there's always a tape which is looped at one place or another. Even though you cannot evaluate such a mad piece of music I find it absolutely impressing, specifically because it allows Waters to practise the impersonation of a dictator for the first time, speaking most meaningless sentences with maximum conviction. The way from that speech to the more operatic stuff on The Wall isn't too far!


Pink Floyd always were a difficult live band, actually from the late 1960s until their last concerts in 1981. They could easily reproduce the magic of their studio recordings live and enhance them with their quadrophonic Azimuth Coordinator system, but quite frequently the concerts suffered a lot from sloppy playing, wrong singing, strange setlists and technical dropouts. Many concerts, however, shall never be forgotten. For instance, the groundbreaking Man And The Journey concert in Amsterdam on September 17 1969 during which they rearranged their material as two song cycles about life and a strange journey, featuring one part where the band were served tea on stage and - amongst other great moments - a storming version of the last part of Saucerful of Secrets with Wright playing a giant church organ. I still don't know why the band didn't release one of these concerts as a live album, but the Ummagumma live album has the big advantage of being more of a piece and less fragmentary. The band presents an authentic summary of their live show, focussing mainly on material conceived without Syd Barrett's participation. The band is in perfect form, gliding through 40 mind-expanding minutes, and especially the dynamically varied moments work out extremely well.

Astronomy Domine and Set The Controls for the Heart of The Sun are doubtless 5 star moments of first-class psychedelic rock. The Farfisa organ wafts and quivers, David Gilmour - although he still hasn't found his distinct guitar tone - bends and strums himself impressively through the material and Roger Waters drives the band further with some competently played bass lines. While Gilmour's and Wright's playing style doesn't differ a lot from their studio playing (which I do not critize at all!), it's Waters (frequently playing the Rickenbacker bass) and Mason who energize the performance just like Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker of Cream did as well. Astronomy Domine is enhanced by a really beautiful organ solo in the middle with minor, but substantial sonic dabs added by the band, leading back into the well-known vocal part again. The band acts in concert, Gilmour and Wright provide a fittingly dusky vocal performance and Barrett's gritty rhythm guitar playing is recreated faithfully by David Gilmour, although hints of his own playing style are already listenable (e.g. the slide guitar playing which is unusually creamy compared with other slide guitarists). Set The Controls for the Heart of The Sun floats in its own sonic space, the Farfisa organ swells up and down and Waters chants his captivating lyrics perfectly in tune. A previously unlistened feature is the ambient part in the second third in which Gilmour (on slide guitar) and Wright (on organ) create an echoed soundscape with two Binson Echorec tape delay machines before Waters and Mason enter again. The big advantage: while Hawkwind and other space rock bands often sounded a bit stoned and too far-out, the jazz and avantgarde background of Wright and the sublimity of Gilmour's playing give this kind of psychedelic rock an elegance, structure and respectability rarely found in this genre.

I agree that I always have had slight problems with Careful With That Axe, Eugene, neither with the first part, nor with the scream, but with the lengthy ending part which - possibly deliberately - lacks the cohesiveness of the beginning. But when you try to switch off your brain and stop thinking about cohesiveness, simply letting yourself go and float in the sounds, things turn out alright. Pink Floyd teach you to avoid analytics and rather feel the music, which is hard if you're used to jazz fusion and polyphonic stuff. This particular version is blessed with a perfectly balanced organ beginning, the shimmering ride cymbals and Gilmour's falsetto wailing which is totally in tune; a lot of bootleg recordings are proof of that this wasn't always the case. Anyway, this version is the most atmospheric one which has been released officially and I enjoy it quite a lot. Yet still I think that I haven't fully got what the track really is about. (Curiously, the first measures of the track were - in the school subject of music - an important topic of the German A-levels/school-departure-exams in 2011; the precise task was to compare the studio version to the live version. As anticipated, things turned out a bit more academic than fruitful, but at least I was glad that Schubert and Vivaldi weren't the only topics to deal with.)

A Saucerful Of Secrets is as reckless as it has always been whilst this version replaces the mass of tape effects and sound twiddlings of the studio version with a tighter band sound. My favorite version is doubtlessly the one from Live in Pompeii, thanks to the priceless drum sound and its more condensed form, but it's the Ummagumma version which comes closest to the vandalism of punk music, Rick Wright working around on the Farfisa with his two favorite intervals (the tritone and the major seventh) and Nick Mason playing his signature drum fill balancing between forte and fortissimo (actually adapted in faster speed from the early Pink Floyd recording Nick's Boogie). And again it's the quasi-classical agogic structure this piece is in which makes it so compelling and great - a cacophony without a frame would have been a difficult territory to play in. The first movement creeps broadly like an endless lake of boiling pulp, erupting in the mad slide guitar shredding and the drum rolls of the Syncopated Pandemonium part, calming down for a grievous middle part before the many minutes of atonality lead into the anthemic tonality of the Celestial Voices finale. Instead of the three-part harmony vocals of the studio version, David Gilmour takes over the lead vocals for the final part - a wise decision, particularly if you don't have a Mellotron or - as I stated a few paragraphs above - a church organ on stage. The courage of this piece has often been tried to reproduce by bands of the 1960s and 1970s, but it's damn complicated to construct a functioning avant-garde longtrack from disarranged sounds. This experiment is a real tough listen, but if you're in the mood it's a great and singular listening experience.

A 12-minute version of Interstellar Overdrive was also recorded for the live LP, but there was not enough space to add it. While bearing similarities with the original Barrett version, it is fairly deconstructed and a more academic affair than any of the other four tracks. I like the little surreal parts of plucking and clicking, and I'm sad that the wave of Pink Floyd reissues didn't incorporate recordings such as these, but I think that in 1969 the band threw the right song out of the list - given that they needed to throw one out in order to stay underneath the 50-minute mark.

All in all there's no part on the album which might tear the overall impression down. The whole double album is a huge statement, it's absolutely diversified and it works very well - in most part it works brilliantly, in others it "only" works really well. The actual rating is based only on how I feel about this album and - apart from what I mentioned in the headline of my review - I cannot find a particular point of criticism I could mention. It might as well be 5 stars. Buy it anyway!

Review by Wicket
2 stars Ever wonder what John Cage and "Ummagumma" have in common? Well, the answer explains the extremely rare path Pink Floyd undertook to develop their unique sound. (And read the whole review before you jump to conclusions.)

All bands, no matter what they play or how famous they are, usually tend to follow the path of the tried and true sound, with a few tweaks along the way, or the path of most resistance, taking a complete 180 halfway through their careers, a la Beatles.

And then there's a little band from England called Pink Floyd.

They started where the Beatles left off, in psychedelica land: kinda catchy, but fairly forgettable. Then again, this was the late 60's: taking acid everyday was considered healthy for the human body. But Pink Floyd decided to undertake something fairly radical, especially at this point in time:

They changed their sound with each forthcoming album.

Sure, elements of trippiness remain. "Saucerful Of Secrets" began with "Let There Be Light", which fused the fading drug-tinged rock n roll vocals with prototypical guitar solos that would later become a staple in the Floyd repetoire. It seemed irrelevant then, as it's still long forgotten even in the mind of the true progressive fanbase. No coincidence that the most famed off the album is "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun", a prototypical space-out jam, something Pink Floyd mastered during their hayday.

And yet, no seems to remember the title track, the longest one, filled with spacey sounds, organ jumbles and slow, soothing chords at the end. Hmm, I wonder why? Ignoring the "More" soundtrack (fairly forgettable), "Saucerful Of Secrets" was comprised of the psych rock of Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, and the acid-tripping experimentation of this album, "Ummagumma". Ignoring the first four tracks, live versions of older songs, this is, by far, the most complicated and difficult Floyd album to breach, mainly because of the many similarities with 20th-century classical music.

Those of you who know your classical music will know that tonality (pieces with key signatures) died in 1909 when Arnold Schoenberg published his Drei Klavierstücke in 1909, marking the first time a piece was published that contained no key signatures and truly abandoned harmony and tonality. Ever since then, composers expanded his twelve-tone theory technique and fiddled with creation compositions in various means, using microtones, unusual instruments, adding electronic sounds, finally coming to a head when John Cage published his now infamous "4'33" in 1953, in which a composer sits at a piano for 4 mintues and 33 seconds, doing absolutely nothing.

But what does that have to do with this album, you ask? Everything.

The album truly begins with "Sysyphus", which begins with ominous timpani and low drones, heralding doom and despair. Probably. At least, Part 1 does. You'd think it would be the start of a grand prog epic, but actually, Part 2 is, essentially, a piano solo. Think of "Sysyphus" as a classical composition. Part 1 is the theme of dread, whereas Part 2 begins with lush, beautiful piano harmonies, effortlessly flowing through key signatures and slight hints of chromaticism all around. Halfway through Part 2, Richard Wright's piano playing deters from the traditional happy, melodic sounds and immediately descends into atonality, "stressful music", exactly the kind of stuff that Schoenburg had essentially conceived back in 1909, thus ending in a flurry of tone clusters which was probably just Wright punching his piano over and over again. I mean, that's what it sounds like. I've tried that.

Part 3 continues along the evolutionary line of classical music. Without insider knowledge, it sounds essentially like the inner pluckings of a piano, highlighted by sporadic cymbal mutes and snare drum crushes... and screaming babies. I think. But again, the similarities of this album and the progression of classical music in the 20th century are astonishing. The birth of the percussion ensemble in the 1930's was the result of the melodies created, but with whatever sounds could be produced by hitting instruments and other things.

Part 4 sounds almost exactly like a Morton Feldman composition. Feldman took music to new heights when he composed atonal music with normal instruments, but then expanded the lengths of the pieces so vast, it would make a Yes album feel puny by comparison. With no percussion or noticeable rhythm, the entire piece floated on in ghostly fashion, much like Part 4. Even when the organ enters, there's nothing for the listener to grab onto, no noticeable theme, no catchy melody, until the main theme from Part 1 slowly hovers back into view with roughly a minute left to go. It's a marvelous composition when taken as a whole. Not really something you'd hear on Q104.3's classic rock station, though.

"Grantchester Meadows", then, comes as a surprise. It's not particularly catchy, but it's traditional Pink Floyd prog folk. Perhaps an experimentation of traditional British folk tunes? Possibly, composers like Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughn Williams were masters at taking British folk songs and incorporating their elements into more modern compositions composed with modern means.

Still not convinced by the relations with contemporary classical music? The next track drives the nail in the coffin. "Several Species" is essentially 5 minutes of noise, or, if you're John Cage, music. It was this extreme philosophy that forced people to rethink music. If coughing or sneazing could be considered music, something had to change, but it was this experimentation that defined the 20th century in terms of classical music, and it was this experimentation that also defined Pink Floyd. Unlike contemporary composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen or Milton Babbit or Brian Ferneyhough, they realized they had no gone too far the other way in terms of the musical spectrum, so they decided, "let's try to meet in the middle!"

"The Narrow Way" begins with a nice little acoustic passage highlighted with synth sounds and wooshes, followed by Part 2 which sounds a bit omminous a la "Sysyphus Part 1", which fades out into drones and whistles before vocals enter in Part 3, and we finally hear a bit of that gaping, cavernous echo which defines Pink Floyd's best known materials so well. Here, then, for the first time in the Floyd's career, do we finally find a meeting of both extremes, which would meld into one of the greatest sounds by one of the greatest rock bands ever made.

Except we're not quite done, there's still the "Grand Vizier's Garden Party" to attend to. It begins with a lovely flute melody, highlighted by the crack of the snare drum and a fanfare-esque roll. Now, it sounds like a modern symphonic prog epic! doesn't. In reality, it turns out to be a collage of percussion oriented sounds, much like a contemporary percussion ensemble, which then evolves into a sort of (no offense) a half-assed drum solo highlighting an electronic soundboard. And then the exit reprises the happy flute melody. So, again, more experimentation.

But therein lies the crux of this album. This is 1969. Pink Floyd haven't discovered their sound yet. So, like most people, they set off to find it, so they recorded what they made, put it on a record and sold it, predictably, to minimal results. But while many elements comprised in this album are mimicked and noticeable in future albums, they weren't created to this extreme. This is the closest any rock or prog fan will get to what classical compositions by the likes of Cage, Stockhausen, Xenakis or Babbit would sound like.

So, finally, to explain the lone star that accompanies this review. This is one of, if not, the most experimental prog-related albums by far ever made. You're certainly not going to hear it on the radio, and most tunes you probably won't like, mainly because it just sounds foreign to you, like 20th-century classical music does to almost anyone that doesn't play it (unlike myself). My father, a huge Pink Floyd fan, despises this album immensely, so surely even some collectors of Pink Floyd material will either hardly hear it or admit they just don't like the music from it.

Yet, what this album lacks in catchy listenable tunes, it does make up for in the genius the Pink Floyd's compositional and songwriting skills. This is a landmark album in the progression of Pink Floyd's sound. Much like Cage's 4'33 sparked the Minimalist sound movement with Terry Riley and Steve Reich, the quartet realized they had reached to such an extreme to find their own unique sound, that they had gone TOO far, and realized there must be harmony and equilibrium between catchy, accessible music, and continuous storytelling through unique sounds, auras, progressions, instruments and technology.

Happy music died in 1909. But what Pink Floyd discovered in 1969, they reprimanded 4 years later. Something classical composers today in 2014 still have not done. This is a landmark album. No doubt about it.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 113

"Ummagumma" is an album of Pink Floyd which was released in 1969. It's a double album divided into two different types of musical works. The disc 1 is a live album of their studio musical catalogue at the time, while disc 2 is a studio album that contains several musical compositions, all composed by each member of the group as solo artists.

"Ummagumma" has sixteen tracks. The disc 1 is the live album and has four tracks. They were recorded live at Mothers Club in Birmingham, and in the following week at Manchester College of Commerce. The first track "Astronomy Domine" is a live version of a song originally released on their debut studio album "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn". The second track "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" is a live version of a song never released on any of their studio albums. It's an instrumental piece of music that was originally released as the B side of their single "Point Me At The Sky". It was also released on their compilation album, "Relics". The third track "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" is a live version of a song originally released on their second studio album "A Saucerful Of Secrets". The fourth track "A Saucerful Of Secrets" is a live version of the title track of their studio album "A Saucerful Of Secrets", too.

In relation to this live album, all the live versions on it are great. "Astronomy Domine" and "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" always were two of my favourite songs of the psychedelic musical phase of the group and the only thing I can say is that they are even better than their original studio versions. I must say that I never was a great fan of "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". However, I also must say that this live version is superb and because of that I became a fan of this version of the song. "A Saucerful Of Secrets" is without any doubt my less favourite track of this side of the album, because it has too much improvisation for my taste. However, it's also a great track that doesn't harm the great musical quality of this side of the album. Overall, all these live versions are stranger, wilder, longer, sometimes considerably so, sometimes slower, faster, or louder, at times hypnotically pretty and otherworldly, other times frighteningly creepy and intense, and still otherworldly. In short, the live disc shows the early Pink Floyd at their best.

The disc 2 is the studio album and has twelve tracks. Still, it was divided into four parts, where each part corresponds to each band member. The first part "Sysyphus" is from Richard Wright and is divided into four parts which correspond to four tracks. The second part is from Roger Waters and has two tracks, "Grantchester Meadows" and "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Growing With A Pict". The third part "The Narrow Way" is from David Gilmour and is divided into three parts which correspond to three tracks. The fourth part "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" is from Nick Mason and is divided into three parts which correspond to three tracks.

In relation with this studio album, I must say that in general it's a little bit disappointing for me, because of its low overall quality. "Sysyphus" is my favourite part of this studio album. This is an avant-garde piece of music very strange and with a rather sinister atmosphere that sounds like something out of a horror movie. It's, in my opinion, a very good piece of music with some great musical parts. "Grantchester Meadows" is the only solo piece of music on the acoustic guitar with lyrics on the album. In my opinion, it's a typical acoustic song by Roger Waters, very simple and soft, but also very vulgar and extensive. Definitely, this isn't one of his best compositions. "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Growing With A Pict" represents a complete waste of time. It's a song almost inaudible and I sincerely can't see anything positive on it. This is probably the worst composition ever made by Waters. "The Narrow Way" is, in my humble opinion, an unbalanced piece of music with some low and high points. It's basically an exploration of several guitar styles and is fortunately largely pleasant listening. "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" is, in my opinion and surprisingly, the second best piece of music on the album. It's a track with an interesting musical structure, very pleasant to listen to, and is for me, the underrated piece of music of this rather strange studio album.

Conclusion: Everything about this album is weird, from its cover, another Hipgnosis classic, to its title, apparently a British slang for sex, its structure and finally its actual contents. "Ummagumma" is comprised of an excellent live disc that represents Pink Floyd's "space rock" peak, followed by a second studio disc that ranges from very good to truly awful. In relation to the live album, we can say that all the four live versions are superior to their studio originals, made longer, louder, harder, all with a real edge of playing. In relation to the studio album, it isn't a musical collective effort of the band and I must confess that I never was a great fan of those types of albums. I must confess that it was very hard for me to rate "Ummagumma". I completely agree with Easy Livin when he says that we are in presence of a good album and a not so good one. This album probably proves that Pink Floyd members are better as a band than as solo artists. It represents really the band's artiest, most experimental, avant-garde, and flat-out album ever made by them.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars Many popular bands of the ages seem to have an album that divides the fans. For some it is the zenith of their experimental creativity, yet for some the most unlistenable pompous codswallop that could be unleashed onto unsuspecting ears. But more often than not, the truth lies somewhere in between. For the 60s psychedelic rock masters PINK FLOYD, their 1969 double album UMMAGUMMA (purported to be one of the roadie's made up slang for "sex") is that such album which equally titillates and tortures alike but one thing is for damn sure: there exists no other album in all of music history that even comes close to capturing the unique soundscapes that David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright conjured up during the turbulent times after Syd Barrett left the crew and took with him his dominant psychedelic influences. While the band fully intended to simply release a live album that was to include the extra tracks "Interstellar Overdrive" and "The Embryo," it was thanks to Richard Wright whose desire to make new music that ultimately resulted in the idea of each member composing solo material and using it as the second half of the album. And since the band was actively seeking a new way to construct an album, with UMMAGUMMA they found their perfect solution.

Equally divided up onto two LPs or two CDs, the first side contains contains the live material which despite some earlier copies claiming it was all recorded in June 1969, it actually took place on 27 April 1969 at Mothers Club in Birmingham, England as well as on 2 May at the Manchester College of Commerce. Side one starts things off with the exemplar "Astronomy Domine" which not only presents to the world that the FLOYD can pull off the Syd Barrett material with David Gilmour on board but also how they were evolving into more progressive territories by almost doubling the time length from the original on "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" album with an extra verse and lengthy instrumental music in between. Likewise "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" was significantly extended to add progressive noodling and extravagant creative liberties whereas the title track to "Saucerful Of Secrets" remained fairly true to the original although i've always found it a little lackluster to the studio version. The true treat came from the B-side track of the non-album single "Point Me At The Sky." "Careful With That Axe Eugene" is nothing more than an organ-based jam session that is accompanied by Roger Waters screaming like he's in the shower scene in the Psycho movie but it offers a glimpse into their seductive hypnotic grooviness that made PINK FLOYD such a popular live act in those most psychedelic years of the 60s.

The second side contains the highly experimental, somewhat controversial and what i deem woefully underappreciated solo offerings where each of the band members took a stab at creating the most unapologetic experimental solo material they could muster up. While Wright, Gilmour and Mason opted for lengthy grandiose suites that were composed of various parts, Roger Waters conjured up two distinctly opposing styles of songwriting in only two tracks. Richard Wright, the impetus for the solo side of the album naturally began with his epic sounding "Sysyphus" which consists of four parts and displays a bombastic approach with a thundering timpani and Chopin inspired piano sequences that allow him to show off his best Keith Emerson inspired chops that slowly cede into the avant-garde world of John Cage that climaxes in pure cacophony. On Part 3 he reveals that he is the mastermind for the freakiest aspects of early Floyd such as the similarly sounding cacophonous roar heard on tracks like "Saucerful Of Secrets." Waters took the opposite approach and delivers a subdued acoustic guitar ballad with vocals that recounts a dreamy meadow scene in the English countryside complete with bird chirping in the background. Also a glimpse into Waters' contributions to the more "regular" sounding aspects of PF's songwriting. Following the serene visions of kingfishers is the avant-garde " "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict," which consists only of animal noises, microphone taps, vocals and tape manipulations. This is by far the most bizarre track ever to grace a PF album and remains one of the most avant- garde pieces of music of all time IMHO.

Gilmour jumps back into a more "normal" sounding FLOYD sound that is fairly ubiquitous on later albums with calm acoustic guitars on his three part "Narrow Way" suite that showcase the segments that reveal his future vital contributions that made albums like "Wish You Were Here" so very, very catchy and emotional. However, this was his license to experiment as well and all hell breaks loose as it transmogrifies into lysergic heaven before landing back on earth and providing a blueprint for the future "Dark Side Of The Moon" material. Nick Mason ends it all with his percussion vs ambient three part "The Grand Vizier's Garden Party" which perfectly exemplifies the world of Sultan's and Viziers of Ottomon Empire days of which is the subject matter. While mostly based on his instantly recognizable drumming style, the trippiness level is turned up to 11 as a calm flute ushers in pleasant melodies only to be replaced by a drum roll and timpani series of sounds that not only give a psychedelic feel but also one of epic days of past. Mason reveals how his unique rhythmic percussive drive has also been vital for the overall FLOYDian sound. After the appropriate percussive drive is established Mason gets all freaky and creates an ambient ethereal passage and then gets all weird with sound dynamics that include a staggeringly original variation of percussive techniques.

When all is said and done, PINK FLOYD were making a statement to the world that they were still alive and kicking despite their main creative member losing his marbles and being forced out of the band. UMMAGUMMA was an early indicator of where PF were heading in the sense that the album serves much like the refraction of light through a pyramid as later seen on the "Dark Side Of The Moon" album cover. Meaning that the members demonstrate on UMMAGUMMA the true magic of the sum of their parts as heard on the live side of the album where it's impossible to distinguish which specific member contributes which specific aspect of the music that creates the larger picture but also the solo studio side of the album clearly indicates which colors of the spectrum emanate from each retrospective band member and allows the listener to pinpoint their retrospective roles in the larger PINK FLOYD discography making this the musical sleuth's essential listening experience.

All time favorite album this may not be for anyone but i can't think of a more interesting and utterly unhinged flow of creative juices that needed to erupt in order for the band to carry on and coalesce into their second personification of space rock. While this is clearly a sort of transitional point between these different phases of the band's history, i find UMMAGUMMA to be the perfect totally whacked out album to soak in when i'm in the mood for something that runs the gamut of tastefully performed classics to the outrageously experimental craziness. Perhaps not an album that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside but rather one that digs deep into the souls of the musicians thus allowing the listener to get a glimpse of creative musical minds and how their idiosyncrasies contribute to the making of one of the greatest bands to ever have emerged into the world of rock music. For me this is not only one of the greatest historical artifacts that perfectly demonstrates where the world found itself during the awkward odometer change of the 60s to the 70s, but also is an album that i personally still find exciting after countless listens many decades after its initial impact on the world. One star for each member of the band.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars The entire Pink Floyd discography has been reviewed so many times, that nothing new can be said that hasn't already been said. As I suspected, the reviews for this double psychedelic and experimental album are all over the place. A lot of this is due to the fact that Pink Floyd is one of the most popular progressive bands in the world. So you get all of these people that love some aspect of Pink Floyd, but they are shocked in either a positive or negative way when they hear this album. I know I was, because, like most, I had heard DSotM and WYWH first, and that is what attracted me to the band. When I first bought this album, I was beyond excited because it was a double album, but I knew nothing about where the band had been previous to the two aforementioned albums. I listened to it the first time, and I was shocked and not sure what to think. I wasn't impressed the first time, but what happened was that I was curious as to what made this album and this band tick. I wanted to understand this music and how was it that this band could put together music that was so diverse.

This album was a mystery to me and I wanted to crack it. The thing is, the more I listened, the more I understood. The music started to penetrate, and this is where my love of avant garde style rock started. When I started studying music theory and composition in school, it even started making more sense than ever. The reason for this is because I had a professor that pushed me into composing music that was challenging. I wish I could find him and thank him for this, because it opened up my mind to some amazing composers and song writers, both current and classical. My love of rock grew even more, because it was only this genre that admitted talent that was way out there and experimental.

But this album was the first big step. It was the doorway for me for Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Art Zoyd, Henry Cow, Comus, Gong, and on and on and on. All of that inaccessible music suddenly became accessible. And that is what it takes. You have to work hard at some things to help them make sense.

So, about Ummagumma. I can't say a lot that hasn't already been said. It is one of Pink Floyd's most inaccessible albums. It is nothing like the Pink Floyd that most people are familiar with. It is space rock, psychedelic rock, improvised music and extremely innovative and experimental. It sounds nothing like anything after "Meddle". But if you work on it, the rewards are huge. Nothing I can say here will change anyone's mind about whether this is an essential album, or if it is a dud. But, to me, it's everything I love about progressive rock. Its unpredictable, its different, its quirky and its daring. It means very little to me if someone wants to put the time into it that I did, but I do know that if you do, and if you open your mind up to new musical possibilities, with time, you will most likely agree that it is at least a 4 star. I consider it essential, a masterpiece. But that is just my opinion.

Review by patrickq
3 stars I have a feeling that my take on Ummagumma is going to mirror that of many other reviewers. In short, the live disc is pretty great, and the studio disc is pretty poor.

The idea of a double-album with one live and one studio LP predated Ummagumma in the form of Wheels of Fire, the 1968 Cream release which spawned "White Room." Similarly-formatted albums over the next few years included (Untitled) (the Byrds, 1970) Eat a Peach (Allman Brothers, 1972), and Some Time In New York City (John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Elephant's Memory, 1972). There was also Live-Evil, a 1971 Miles Davis double album on which live and studio recordings were intermixed.

But whereas the Allman Brothers, Byrds, and Cream albums are still considered classics today, the reputation of Ummagumma is closer to that of Some Time in New York City.

My complaint is not that Ummagumma should've been condensed into a single album. Choosing and reassembling the best 50% of Tales from Topographic Oceans might have made for a much better album, but most of the best 50% of Ummagumma is already on one LP. Who knows, maybe with a magician like Teo Macero in charge, something like a Live-Evil might have been possible with Ummagumma; in fact, earlier in 1969, on Uncle Meat, Frank Zappa had already demonstrated some of the possibilities of using tape editing to assemble a single musical work from both live and studio sources. But short of that, my solution to the Ummagumma problem would be to decouple the live album from the studio album.

The live half of Ummagumma would be a four-star album, in my opinion. It's a fine example of the kind of prog excess that would inspire Spinal Tap, but I enjoy it anyway. Or most of it - - I could do without the screaming on "Careful With That Axe." Although I acknowledge that guitarist David Gilmour was probably the only seriously talented instrumentalist on stage, both the drumming and the keyboard-guitar interplay are very good. The bass lines are also good when they're audible.

The best track on the live album is "Astronomy Domine," although both songs on Side Two are nearly as good. On the studio album, "Narrow Way" stands out as the closest to the quality of the live material. But each of the five studio songs comes across as half-baked experimentation for the sake of experimentation. The band and/or the record label must have realized that tens of thousands of consumers would purchase this either the live or studio LPs immediately and ask questions later, but to play it safe, they bundled them to make sure anyone who bought one had to pay for both.

But it's art, and it's what Pink Floyd wanted to be in the fall of 1969.

I've never been much of a Floyd fan. I enjoyed their 1980s singles, from "Another Brick in the Wall" to "Learning to Fly." I also appreciate Animals and Wish You Were Here. Ummagumma is really nothing like any of that, but the live disk is every bit as good as anything I've heard from this group.

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3 stars A tale of two sides of the story.... or something like that. A double album with one live and one studio disc. The ball opens with the live album which is very good. Some of their best songs from the Syd Barrett era is here. Astronomy Domine, Careful With That Axe Eugene and Saucerful of Secre ... (read more)

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Report this review (#394295) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Friday, February 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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4 stars This is where Pink Floyd starts for me, before Ummagumma, Pink Floyd was a band that was dependent on Barrett, one way or another. But from now on, the band would be Pink Floyd and nothing else. This is also the only Pink Floyd album where all members writes their own songs and no one overshadows an ... (read more)

Report this review (#313288) | Posted by Atoms | Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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