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David Gilmour About Face album cover
2.88 | 339 ratings | 33 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Until We Sleep (5:15)
2. Murder (5:00)
3. Love on the Air (4:17)
4. Blue Light (4:35)
5. Out of the Blue (3:36)
6. All Lovers Are Deranged (3:15)
7. You Know I'm Right (5:05)
8. Cruise (4:42)
9. Let's Get Metaphysical (4:10)
10. Near the End (5:37)

Total Time 45:32

Line-up / Musicians

- David Gilmour / vocals, guitars, co-producer

- Bob Ezrin / keyboards, orchestral arrangements, co-producer
- Ian Kewley / Hammond organ, piano
- Steve Winwood / piano (3), Hammond (4)
- Jon Lord / synthesizer
- Anne Dudley / synthesizer
- Steve Rance / Fairlight CMI programming

The Kick Horns :
- Roddy Lorimer / trumpet
- Barbara Snow / trumpet
- Tim Sanders / saxophone
- Simon Clarke / saxophones, flute
- The National Philharmonic Orchestra
- Michael Kamen / orchestral arrangements
- Pino Palladino / bass
- Jeff Porcaro / drums & percussion
- Luís Jardim / percussion
- Ray Cooper / percussion
- Vicki Brown / backing vocals
- Sam Brown / backing vocals
- Mickey Feat / backing vocals
- Roy Harper / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Storm Thorgerson "STd"

LP Harvest - SHSP 24-0079-1 (1984, UK)

CD Harvest - CDP 7 46031 2 (1984, UK)
CD Columbia WCK-39296 (1984, Canada)
CD EMI ‎- 0946 3 70842 2 9 (2006, Europe) Remastered by James Guthrie

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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DAVID GILMOUR About Face ratings distribution

(339 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (45%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

DAVID GILMOUR About Face reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars This was the answer to Pros And Cons Of Hitch-hiking of Waters and certainly a tad below that one but only a tad. Within months I saw Gilmour with Mick Ralphs and Mel Collins in concert avoiding as much as possible Floyd material, and Waters with Clapton on guitar doing the Hitch-hiking and all the Floyd classics. As for the album, this was not as strong as the previous, but the music scene had changed drastically. Murder, Lights, Sleep were seen on MTV so people bought it much on the strength of the videos but there was more to it. The horn section makes me think of early Collins (Phil not Mel) solo albums.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Most disappointing and seldom gets airplay on my Hi-Fi's anymore. There are some great tracks sure, most notably ' You know I'm right' Murder' and ' Cruise' but it just never really raises the stakes and when almost 100% of the time Floyd compositions were always good this second solo from DG failed to make the grade.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Which one's Pink?

An enjoyable if unremarkable solo outing by Gilmour. Although released in 1984, this was the second and last (to date) album to bear his name alone. When the album was recorded, Pink Floyd looked like a spent force, "The final cut" had been out for some time, and Waters had departed. "A momentary lapse of reason" was not even a glimpse in Gilmour's eye, so the reasonable assumption was that "About face" indicated the future for Gilmour was in a solo career.

It is slightly disappointing therefore to find that he remains largely within his Floydian comfort zone. Many of the sounds and styles which distinguished Pink Floyd from the pack are rehashed in one form or other, but with the material being generally weaker the album has the feel of an inferior work by the band. Given the magnificence of their product, that still leaves plenty of latitude for this album to please, and many of the tracks do so.

There's a tendency to over use the quiet intro, building middle, and big sounding instrumental ending. The up side is that Gilmour's guitar work is allowed more space than he latterly got with PF. The use of a brass section on "Blue light" is for me misguided, offering worrying hints of Gilmour heading down a Phil Collins path. He also explores a pop feel on "All lovers are deranged", perhaps in part due to the Pete Townsend penned lyrics.

The closing section of the album is the highlight. "Let's get metaphysical" is a sort of cross between "Atom heart mother" and "Shine on you crazy diamond", complete with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. It passes seamlessly into "Near the end", in fact the two tracks could easily have been combined into a single 10 minute masterpiece.

The guest list on the album reflects Gilmour's stature, as it includes Jon Lord, Bob Ezrin, Steve Winwood, and Roy Harper ("Have a cigar!").

An album well worth exploring for Pink Floyd and Gilmour fans, as long as you don't set your expectations too high.

(Gilmour's recent live DVD release which focuses almost entirely on reworkings of Pink Floyd material, is highly recommended.)

Review by FloydWright
2 stars If you are looking for straight, solid rock-and-roll, this is the ticket...but it really isn't prog, and from that standpoint, I only recommend it to PINK FLOYD fans looking to complete their collections. Like its predecessor, David GILMOUR's self-titled album, this album is very much a reflection of the time in which it was crafted. While some consider the 80s factor a detriment, I am not bothered by the mere fact of the time in which it was created.

The listener should expect excellent guitar work up to GILMOUR's usual high standards, with his alternately subtle and flashy stylings. It is clear that GILMOUR is pouring his soul into his guitar, such as in "Let's Get Metaphysical". However, that same song highlights the factor that costs the album...other than in the guitar work, innovation and subtlety are a bit lacking. The orchestra, while pleasant-sounding, does not present any challenge to the listener's ear. The image that comes to mind is of the sort of thing that might be played along with a figure-skating exhibition--pleasant enough, but not the sort of thing that requires you stop everything, close your eyes, and think solely of the music. None of the chord structures or arrangements on this album are at all complex or unexpected--very standard, and there are no departures into the strange aural soundscapes one associates with PINK seems very likely, in light of this, of his own solo output, that this was more the doing of Richard WRIGHT, rather than David GILMOUR. If you're seeking something a bit more avant garde, or musically challenging, that's probably the better way to go--get Broken China and Wet Dream instead.

Some of the album's lyrics are good--of the calibre of GILMOUR's FLOYD compositions "Sorrow" and "Coming Back to Life". Perhaps the best examples are "Near the End", "Out of the Blue", and "Murder". "Blue Light" is also good--in a whimsical sense. However, some other songs in my opinion either don't try enough ("Until We Sleep"--which basically consists of an Epicurean "Live for today, gone tomorrow, that's me!" attitude) or try TOO hard ("Cruise", apparently an ode to an MX nuclear-tipped cruise missile). If you seek something more lyrically challenging, I suggest exploring the works of Roger WATERS. If you want that, and still place a fairly high premium on guitar work, the best choice for you would be Amused to Death, which features Jeff Beck on lead guitar.

As a straight pop-rock album, About Face does stand above most rock productions, given GILMOUR's wonderful guitar talents. This is undeniably a fun listen. However, if you are looking for further substance, either musically or lyrically, you may find that this effort comes up short--and you may do better to explore the work of the RW's. I don't know that this is something that will satisfy a true proghead.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gilmour made only 2 alums: about 6 years separate them. On this one, the keyboards are really modernized, despite there is an omnipresent accessible organ sound. Gilmour's lead vocals are excellent, as always. Some parts are really symphonic (beautiful orchestral arrangements). There are very sustained emotional guitar solos, like on the "Let's get metaphysical" track. "Blue light" almost has a big band rock style, as reveal the trumpet-like sounds, slightly reminding me the horns arrangements of It Bites' "Whole New World". There are some excellent fretless bass parts, and Gilmour's excellent acoustic rhythmic guitar is omnipresent. A couples of songs were written with the help of Pete Townsend. All the songs are very good.
Review by Cluster One
2 stars I was completely underwhelmed with this record for sure. And if it wasn't a GILMOUR album, it most likely would have earned a (slightly) higher ranking than what I gave it. But considering what 'The Master' is capable of, he must pay the price for this half-effort.

Besides having one of the greatest songs (in my humble opinion) ever written by GILMOUR ('Murder') on it , "About Face" successfully does what it's title describes: it creates a completely different sound and feel from what we are used to from Dave. The only problem being, is that this new 'direction' is poor, poppy and unbelievably 'average'.

It's not because this album isn't progressive that I find it poor. GILMOUR's first, self-titled solo debut album wasn't overly progressive either, but at least it was raw, creative, and had many a good bluesy guitar moment. "About Face" however suffers from that cheesy-80's sound that permeates almost all albums from this era; only GILMOUR's angelic voice, and virtuoso guitar playing save this album from complete obscurity.

Overall, this record has about as much creative passion and angst as a Sunday school sing-along. Two examples of the 'feel-good' feelings GILMOUR creates are on 'Out of the Blue' and 'Cruise', decent tunes, but both sugary-sweet and lacking any real emotion. The latter song at least samples some reggae rhythms that make it stand out a bit from the crowd.

PETE TOWNSHEND, that remarkable rock god, and creator of such mammoth reflections on humanity as "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" trips out of the gate, and actually drags the album down even further with the two quickly-forgettable co-written songs of his: 'All Lovers Are Deranged' and 'Love on the Air'. As tasty as cold oatmeal...

Highlights: As mentioned, 'Murder' is a real gem, and GILMOUR's guitar work in the latter half of 'Near the End' is simply godlike.

One other good thing about this record is it saw GILMOUR get his feet wet again, post-FLOYD breaking up, as he hooked up again with producer Bob Ezrin. This would eventually lead to a much closer collaboration with said producer for FLOYD's 1987 - "A Momentary Lapse of Reason", a superior record in every way possible.

Review by chessman
3 stars This is a decent, if unspectacular effort from the Floyd axe hero himself. For a long time, I preferred this album to his earlier effort, but now I find both are about the same standard. This one seems lighter on the guitar parts, and has a heavier drum sound. (But that is not necessarily a good thing.) The songs themselves are all competent efforts, and Gilmour's voice is unmistakable. Highlights on the first side/half of the album are the opener, 'Until We Sleep', which has excellent vocals and harmonies, but a less impressive drum sound. The keyboards complement the voice well, but have a typical 80's sound to them. 'Out Of The Blue' is the other early highlight, this one sounding more like Floyd than most. The second half, for me, is the better half, with highlights being 'You Know I'm Right', 'Cruise' & 'Near The End'. The latter, in particular, is a strong effort, and a good, if a tad predictable, ending for the album. 'Cruise' has a softer, almost cocktail sounding production to it, with nice, gentle guitar. I can imagine holidaymakers, lying on the beach, drinking while listening to this, even though the lyrics are nothing to do with that type of Cruise! 'You Know I'm Right' is another good song, with nice keyboards to the fore on this. All in all, this is, as I said at the start, decent, if unspectacular, and is subtly different from classic Floyd. Worth a spin or two!
Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars About Face is a pretty mild second solo effort by Dave Gilmour. The music is pretty evenly divided three ways into the Pink Floyd sound of the Wall and Final Cut era; some slightly more aggressive and pseudo-brooding tunes aimed at the mass-popularity market; and a couple that actually stretch Gilmour's creativity and imagination, but not too much.

I think this one came out after Water's split from Pink Floyd, and right after the Final Cut - the historians on the archives would know this better than I. At the time Floyd seemed to be pretty much finished, particularly in light of all the other 70's progressive bands that were either falling by the wayside, or simply changing their focus toward music video and mass market appeal. Gilmour was not immune, with "All Lovers Are Deranged", "Love on the Air" and a few others making their way into MTV and VH1 rotation, just as he intended them to. Taken in the context of the time it was released, this is not a bad album, but it's unlikely to be found in too many collections another twenty years from now either.

"Until We Sleep" opens the album, and it falls into that slightly more aggressive category with some nice guitar and the pumping fretless bass giving this just enough grit to peak the listener's interest right up front. The lyrical theme, as best I can tell, is basically - 'life sucks, and then you die'.

"Murder" is one of the more interesting songs on the album, with an intro that is similar to "The Fletcher Memorial Home" from the Final Cut, but with a nice build-up to some really nice guitar toward the end. This is a song about crazy people killing other people. I've read this was a song about John Lennon's murder.

"Love on the Air" is a collaboration with Pete Townshend, but there's no sparks here. Frankly I don't really hear the Townshend influence in this song at all. This is a fairly straightforward 80's soft rock tune about a typical 80's soft topic - some sort of nebulous paranoid world-view of the impact of technology and progress on personal relationships. Pretty trendy for 1984.

"Blue Light" has a more upbeat rhythm, and even has a horn section. This is a different sound for Gilmour, and he should gets some credit for trying something new at least. Great guitars on this one too, but the lyrics are about a blue-light lady or something - I have no idea. This was released in several variations of singles, promos, and video clips for some reason.

From "Out of the Blue" comes a vision of a hopeless and final end for us all: "hold back the fire because this much is true; when all's said and done, the ending will come, from out of the blue". Well, cheers to you too Dave. This is a sad little tune that is vintage Gilmour. It's kind of hard to fault him for this rather safe composition because it's the sound we all dug for years when he did it with Pink Floyd.

"All Lovers Are Deranged" is the other Townshend joint effort, and this one has his trademark sound all over both the lyrics and the arrangement. As angry as Pete Townshend was for pretty much his entire adult life, one has to admit he had a great knack for putting together music that drew people to it. This song is no exception. Yes, it's a blatant attempt at capturing music-video and radio airtime, but it's also good enough to merit it. Who's doing the singing on "You Know I'm Right"? Is that really Gilmour? This song is a pretty transparent attack on Roger Waters and their unfortunate ego-induced ongoing spat, but Gilmour's vocals are just a bit of a distraction from an otherwise decent arrangement (I'm pretty sure it's him singing since nobody else gets the blame in the credits).

"Cruise" is probably the most durable track on the album since it seems to avoid that kind of musty 80's feel that the rest of the album has. The attempt at creating an understated musical message about nuclear bombs falls a bit on the cheesy side in Gilmour's hands, but still - if taken at face value this is a decent enough song.

The closing track, "Near the End", seems to be a kind of marriage of some of the more subtle Floyd sounds, with a more contemporary sultry pseudo-sophisticated arrangement that seems to go on about three minutes too long, but is a harmless enough way to end the album.

Overall, I just don't know how to take this album. When this and Waters' "The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking" were first released I kind of took them in stride. Everything was changing so fast in music at the time anyway that this almost seemed like a normal evolution for one of the more memorable progressive bands of the previous couple of decades. Hearing "All Lovers" or "Murder" on FM radio back then next to crap like Prince and Wham! and Men Without Brains (or whatever they were called), made even a modest effort by Gilmour seem quite good by comparison. And some of us were depressed enough already - Gilmour's music wouldn't send you scurrying for the valium and razor blades like Waters' music did. But over time, this album just doesn't stand up as one of those memorable works that you still find a reason to throw on the turntable (or iPod or Discman) from time to time. This week was the first time I've played it in years, and it will probably be the last time for at least several more years. It's a decent work from a well-respected and professional artist - nothing more, nothing less. Seems to me that's a three star effort.


Review by russellk
3 stars A most enjoyable album, but even one of the most star-studded lineups ever assembled for a solo record can't disguise the fact that DAVID GILMOUR is not a solo artist.

This album features a who's who of rock. Along with the lyrics of PETE TOWNSEND and arrangements of MICHAEL KAMEN and BOB EZRIN, the songs are graced by members of THE ELTON JOHN BAND, ART OF NOISE, DEEP PURPLE and TRAFFIC, just to name a few. So the music will be eclectic and challenging, with a real edge, right?

Wrong. This is DAVID GILMOUR, after all, whose gift to the rock world was to smooth out the spiky genius of ROGER WATERS and make PINK FLOYD accessible to millions. He does exactly the same here, smoothing out the sound until it is almost indistinguishable from standard 80s fare.

Nevertheless, it does at least offer some outstanding guitar. The acoustic solo to finish the album, for example, is fabulous. And GILMOUR'S vocals are as excellent as ever. But I doubt he would have sold many units had it not been for his involvement with PINK FLOYD.

Along with this, the songs have some meaning. I enjoyed 'Cruise', for example, and can only imagine what ROGER would have done with it!

If you have to have a DAVID GILMOUR solo offering, I'd recommend this one. But I admit I'm in a minority.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
3 stars After the unofficial break up of Pink Floyd in 1983, all of the members pursued solo projects. About Face was David Gilmour's, his second one released six years following his first one. I think About Face is considerably underrated by music critics and fans. Musically it was quite different from Gilmour's first album, but in many ways it was just as skillfully composed and produced, although maybe less consistent. Lyrically, I think it was much better written (maybe with the exception of Blue Light). Gilmour experimented a lot more here with different sounds and styles than he was expected to "conform" to. And I think he succeeds in putting his unique skill into these different styles.

Until We Sleep, Murder, Out of the Blue, and Near the End are probably some the best solo songs Gilmour has ever done. All of them would easily have fit on a Pink Floyd album, though probably with different sound textures. Gilmour also of course excels in his guitar playing. After all, he is a god on that instrument. His vocal performances on About Face are the best of his career up to this point.

Overall, About Face is almost as or as good as his debut album. It's probably the varying styles he uses that make About Face seem inconsistent. If you can get past that, you'll probably really enjoy this album if you liked his first one. Definitely recommended for Pink Floyd or Gilmour fans. Because it is a more straightforward rock album and has occasional progressive moments, three stars seems like a fair rating. If this were just "Rock Archives," I'd consider something closer to four stars.

Review by Flucktrot
2 stars I really don't want to have to do this to one of my favorite guitarists, but David Gilmour's About Face deserves a 2 star rating. There are a few decent moments, but by and large this is quite depressing to listen to. The music is not terrible, but in most places the melodies and backing instruments are so generic and cliche that even Dave's enjoyable guitar lines can't maintain interest.

The only real keeper is Murder. A playful intro in 3/4 belies some deep lyrics, moving to a nice bass solo, chorus, majestic guitar line, and then a nice raucus guitar groove to finish. This is the great stuff we know Dave is capable of, but here we only get it once. I get it: Dave is trying to do something different from Pink Floyd. The album art has many pictures of Dave wearing a leather jacket with polka-dotted shirts and ties. I don't see how that translates to cheesy eighties dance numbers such as Until We Sleep and Love on the Air. Even worse, All Lovers are Deranged is so simple and anthemic that it could have been written by Kiss. The only other track worth returning to is Let's Get Metaphysical, which is a collaboration with Kamen that involves Dave playing over an orchestra. Dave does that well. Unfortunately, he doesn't do the other things very well on this album.

Even the best are entitled to the occasional dud. I'm glad Dave keeps trying, because he certainly has the talent and connections to make high quality, enjoyable music. He simply does not accomplish that here.

Review by Gooner
4 stars Recently revisited this album, and I now think it's quite underrated. I had often thought it suffered from an '80s production, but listening to the remastered version, I found it has been corrected and re-equalized(or something). Not too impressive on first lesson, but I've most good to great albums aren't to begin with. This one really grew on me, and I recommend people revisit this one by getting the remaster. "You know I'm right", "Murder" and "Out Of The Blue" stand tall beside anything Pink Floyd recorded. "Blue Light" is a good one for Earth, Wind & Fire fans(nice horns!). Again, check out this long overdue remaster of "About Face" doesn't sound so '80s after all.
Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars For me this is a pretty good rock album. For sure, this is not really progressive rock, but neither was Gilmour's first solo album and neither were most Pink Floyd albums. This is simply well crafted guitar based rock, featuring Gilmour's distinctive lead vocals and his distinctive guitar sound. It is not at all flashy. Indeed, this is rather laid back music, but with a certain edge to it. Some songs are rather mellow acoustically based (semi-) ballads. Not at all far away from the sound of Gilmour's more recent album, On An Island. Some songs remind me a bit of Camel, especially the slightly whimsical You Know I'm Right. The overall tone of the album reminds of the Stationary Traveller album.

One reason this is rated so low might be that only Pink Floyd fans give this album a chance. And if you expect it to sound like Floyd you are bound to be disappointed. This can not really be compared to Pink Floyd's music. For me, being more of a David Gilmour fan than a Pink Floyd fan, I can easily think of several Pink Floyd albums less appealing to me than this!

About Face is a decent rock album that you will enjoy if you don't expect too much from it, and in particular if you don't expect it to sound like Pink Floyd.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars When you listen to the opening number ''Until We Sleep'', there is a serious ''Simple Minds'' feel. It is rather close to ''In Trance As Mission'' from their excellent ''Sons & Fascination'' album. It was quite unexpected to listen such a song from Gilmour though.

On the contrary, ''Murder'' is quite a traditional Floyd song. The acoustically driven opening part contrasts with the powerful and heavily guitar oriented second half. It almost ends up into a hard-rock number! This track construction is used several times on this work notably during the excellent ''Out Of The Blue'' which is again very much premonitory of the late Floyd work. A highlight here.

Still, this album holds some blunders: the funky ''Blue Light'' and the hard-rocking/AOR ''All Lovers Are Deranged'' are absolutely dispensable. Do we need Gilmour to play such . music?

Another ''great'' song is the reggae-oriented ''Cruise''. Gosh! Press next. Fortunately, with ''Let's Get Metaphysical'' the man displays a brilliant instrumental track with a splendid guitar moment. It was about time!

I'm afraid though that this is not sufficient to raise the level of this album to the three stars status, which means a good album. IMO, there are too many average songs to achieve this although ''Near The End'' holds some fine work from the master (but only . near the end).

I quite liked his debut solo work, but ''About Face'' is not at all on par. Only two stars.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Even debut solo LP of David Gilmour was far from Pink Floyd music and any progressive music at all, but in fact was better than average guitar blues rock album, second Gilmour solo work is pop-rock mix of whatever you want. Serious list of musicians, few synthesizers and brass section all that done their job in good traditions of 80-s. You will found there few uncharacteristic and out of place Gilmour guitar solos, funky pop-rock dance and very rounded sound. Few PF traces are still appearsv here and there, but in general it is just unsuccessful wish to sell something for pop generation from 80-s.

It's difficult for me to decide, who could be interested in this album, may be just heavy PF maniacs-collectors. Haveng a few good moments, in many places that album is difficult for listening!

P.S. Pink Floyd researchers will find there some characteristic sounds and structures Gilmour will use later in after-Waters Pink Floyd albums.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Giving this one a fresh listen, this album now reminds me quite a bit of the post-Waters Pink Floyd albums. The songs have a similar, slightly Floyd-like feel, with an obviously Gilmour slant. While not as good (or Floyd-like) as his first solo album, this one does have some merit.

Murder, Blue Light and All Lovers Are Deranged (a great title, by the way) all have merit as songs, however un-prog they may be (although much of Pink Floyd's output isn't really prog either, in my opinion). And Out Of The Blue sounds to me to be very much like On The Turning Away.

Not great, but probably essential to a Floyd fanatic.

2.5 stars, rounded up.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Gilmour's second album couldn't be more different from his first solo effort from 1978. Even though the song material consists of similar blues-rock, everything that made his self-titled debut into a charming melancholic marvel is missing here. Aboutface is a collection of second-rate blues-pop songs that are produced into plastic dross.

Strangely enough, the most overwrought track of all is the best of all. The vocals in Until We Sleep have that touching hypnotic dreamlike Gilmour quality trademark. The music is a slightly electronic sounding mid-paced drone that doesn't sound like anything he tried before. Take away the 80's production gloss and Gilmour could have made an entrancing 10 minute repetitive kraut trip out of this. The actual result stays far from that potential though.

The other decent moments consist of overstated blues ballads such as Murder, Out of The Blue and Near The End. But nothing can guarantee that you will be able to sit through these dragging songs without falling asleep. The remainder of the album is commercial low-quality pop such as Love On The Air, Blue Light, All Lovers Are Deranged.

Aboutface is a very disappointing album from Gilmour. A few songs and some solos aside there's not much here that will satisfy anybody but ardent Gilmour fans.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Faceless

Just like The Beatles, the individual members of Pink Floyd would never capture their band magic within the confines of some pretty weak solo albums (in which I include the Waters-less "Floyd" albums.) Gilmour was no exception on "About Face" which is his weakest effort. David Gilmour is a great guitarist and vocalist but he is not a great or prolific composer. He admits to songwriting laziness during the Floyd years which is the reason Waters had to assume the dictatorial role, for the fact is, were the Floyd left to the work habits of the other three, nothing post-Dark Side would ever have been accomplished. Once Pink Floyd ended with the release of The Final Cut, both principal members would release a series of weak solo albums (Pro and Cons, Radio Kaos, About Face, Momentary Lapse, and Division Bell) until finally Dave returned to form somewhat with "On an Island" decades alter.

"About Face" is an album which Gilmour himself is not thrilled with, noting "Looking back on it, it has some great moments on there but the whole flavour of it is too '80s for my current tastes." The period production is one hampering factor but my problem is mostly with the passionless "studio musician" like performances and predictable songwriting. Despite the beautiful simplicity and development in a track like "Murder" there is very little meat on the bone here. Mostly we get things like the dreadful "All Lovers are Deranged" consisting of faceless hard rock and clichéd 80s guitar squeals. It's almost hard to comprehend songs like "Cruise" and "Blue Light" coming from the musical force that contributed to the 70s Floyd albums. No I don't expect Gilmour to repeat himself over and over, but I would expect much more from a legendary musician with his talent and access to studio time. Even the dramatic instrumental "Let's Get Metaphysical" simply bores one to tears with its packaged feel and lack of purpose. If these are the best recordings Waters and Gilmour were capable of in the 1980s, I can understand why the decade gets so little respect. The album fluctuates between the harder rocking tracks and the gentler material like the soothing "Out of the Blue" which ends side one on an up note. But it is striking to hear the fall of artists who made such amazing and provocative music wallowing in these cookie cutter 80s rock tracks from this era, where in God's name did the passion and bite go? Just briefly compare "Dogs" in your head with "All Lovers are Deranged"---that not just an artist changing and growing my friends, that's an artist on autopilot or one with little else to say. As Dave mentions above, there are just enough little moments here and there to earn 2 stars but just barely in my opinion. I can't recommend "About Face" to anyone.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars About Face was the second solo album by David Gilmour released only a month before Roger Water's The Pros And Cons Of Hitch Hiking. Instead of hurrying his album into production Gilmour would probably have benefited more by postponing the release and improving his songwriting since this is not the album I wanted to hear from anyone associated with Pink Floyd.

This album does offers a couple of interesting tracks like the acoustic guitar driven Murder or the atmospheric electric guitar work on Let's Get Metaphysical but they're not enough to wash away the bittersweet taste left by Blue Light, All Lovers Are Deranged and a few other lesser performances. Just thinking about the terrible videos I saw for these song makes me feel nauseous. I'm sure that this material could have worked in the '80s but it really hasn't aged as well as Gilmour's debut solo album.

Still the biggest problem with About Face is that it goes in so many different directions which all clearly show that the artist didn't know what he was going after with this release. I would have probably liked it better if the album was a flat-out commercial album with a few nice pop tunes. Instead David Gilmour takes up just a few too many agendas which in the end result in nothing worth a while for anybody but his biggest fans.

About Face is by no means the album we all expected from our favorite Pink Floyd guitarist. Fortunately after another 22 years Gilmore finally managed to improve on the formula and deliver another decent solo album!

**** star songs: Until We Sleep (5:12) Murder (4:58) Out Of The Blue (3:36) Cruise (4:39) Let's Get Metaphysical (4:09)

*** star songs: Love On The Air (4:18) All Lovers Are Deranged (3:14) You Know I'm Right (5:04) Near The End (5:43)

** star songs: Blue Light (4:35)

Review by Chicapah
3 stars One quick gander at this album's date of release will tell you immediately that the usual criteria of evaluation for its contents must be abandoned and several acres of slack are to be prescribed by necessity. Orwell had predicted a dearth of personal liberty in his novel "1984" but when that year arrived the real victims of cruel tyranny were progressive music lovers who'd witnessed their genre of choice being gutted ruthlessly by the callous MTV virus and buried beneath a landfill of cheap, spandex-clad, camera-mugging charlatans wielding nary a thimble-sized dollop of talent in their rhinestone-encrusted gloved hands. The mighty Pink Floyd's soaring hog had dropped out of the sky like a lead balloon and their inner dysfunction had caused them to figuratively hit The Wall before discovering that the Final Cut was the deepest, creating an oozing scab that would never heal. David Gilmour was all dressed up with nowhere to go but out on his own and, as so often happens in these situations, he wrote and recorded a collection of songs uneven in quality due to the lack of constructive criticism his bandmates used to supply. In other words, "About Face," like the 80s in general, has no clear direction and dog paddles half the time in an ocean of trendy distractions.

Being a lifelong guitar player I've always been drawn to David's inimitable style and technique on the instrument but I find his unique vocal delivery equally magnetic. I'm one of those who actually found a lot to admire about the post-Waters version of Pink Floyd and I attribute much of my attraction to the dominant presence of Gilmour on that reinvigorated lineup's two studio offerings. There's something quite comfortable and effortlessly enjoyable about how David goes about his business, adding a touch of class to everything he's a part of whether it's a cameo appearance on a Supertramp album or a solo project like this one. I realize that many proggers despise "About Face" and I truly understand why they feel that way but I don't know that Gilmour could've manufactured anything better considering the bipolar state of mind music was in during that time period. He did the best he could in the dire circumstances he and other middle-aged progmen found themselves in and one should keep an open conscience when listening to it in the 21st century.

Case in point is the curtain-raiser, "Until We Sleep." It has the undeniable New Wave techno pop feel that never ends pulsating incessantly underneath his calm vocal and ripping guitar licks that keep the tune from becoming an ugly Thomas Dolby clone but the whole thing is horribly dated. It has no hook of note, no discernable lyric content and, unfortunately, it pollutes the atmosphere the remainder of the tracks have to breathe in. Try not to condemn the whole album by the shortcomings of the first tune, thereby giving up on it too early. There's a few diamonds to be found in the roughage and the first of those is "Murder." David chooses to embellish poignant words with some light acoustic guitar and silky fretless bass artistry from Pino Palladino as the song steadily builds to a forceful expression of exasperation over John Lennon's senseless homicide. I like the sharp edge that perches on Gilmour's voice when he's mad. He sings "I don't want this anger that's burning in me/it's something from which it's so hard to be free" with a desperate yearning for vengeance. The track then slips into a jogging shuffle wherein he takes out his frustration on his trusty axe. It's a cathartic experience.

"Love on the Air" is next and it's basically a power ballad sans power chords. That makes it sound more anemic than it is because, in its defense, David lets the number flow and evolve naturally without forcing the issue. It has a slight British Country flavor that's charming in a quaint sort of way and it fits Pete Townshend's heartbroken lyrics appropriately. "No one will hurt me again/no one will cause me to lie/no one control me by pain/no one will cause me to cry," David warbles with a pout. "Blue Light" follows and it's a stinky salamander to chew on, much less keep down. So strange to hear a horn section blaring alongside Gilmour's ethereal voice and the whole shebang sounds like a vain imitation of the platinum Phil Collins/Steve Winwood vibe that was topping the charts in that era. He fails miserably. Adding insult to injury, the inane words are on the same lofty level as, say, Hall & Oates' insipid "Maneater" and shouldn't be repeated. Speaking of Winwood, his growling Hammond organ ride is the sole bright spot but it's not worth sitting through the entire tune to hear. Skip ahead.

As I said, David has his moments of grandeur and "Out of the Blue" is one of them. A beautiful ballad incorporating an involved orchestral score that majestically colors the verses, he expands the scope to massive depths on the bridge and that gesture makes me want to forgive him for his earlier trespasses. The lyrics bring to mind how the ancient Greeks must've felt about their fickle deities. "Out of the blue, with wings on his heels/a messenger comes/bearing regrets for the time that he steals/but steal it he will/my children's and mine/against our desires, against all our needs/our blood spilled like wine," he mourns. "All Lovers are Deranged" is a hard-rocking, Bruce Springsteen-ish steamroller that roasts serious rump and I revel in the bare-bones rawness of the production here. Once again he collaborated with Townshend (one of my all-time favorite wordsmiths) to convey snarky shards of wisdom like "It takes a fight to start a fight/and differences remain/we have the right to think we're right/we're addicts feigning shame/for love recalled is love reborn/we're determined to relive the pain/but then, all lovers are deranged," he sings with a smirk. Another treat comes when Gilmour gets jiggy with the whammy bar at the end. He darn near snaps the thing off.

"You Know I'm Right" is an adventurous tune that incorporates too many of the contemporary grooves that thrived in that musical dark age but it might have earned a passing grade if not for him opting to use his weak, girly falsetto on the choruses. Someone should've talked him out of that blunder because the intriguing orchestral injections are cool and his fierce guitar lead is excellent. "We really seem to have a problem here/but is it you or me?/whatever I have going through my mind/you always have to disagree," he complains. My apologies, David, but I call 'em as I see 'em. My advice? Stop the soprano crap. Yet his grossest misstep on this platter is "Cruise," a puttering tugboat of a song that has no rudder but plenty of stupid lyrics. Who or what is he talking about when he croons lines like "Cruise, we both know you're the best/how can they say you're like all the rest?" A politician? One of his kids? A button on his steering wheel? Tom? Even though he beefs up the choruses to make it seem like something is happening he was grasping at straws when he went Jamaican reggae at the end. That ever-safe but boring ploy (so popular in the 80s) did nothing for me then and it never will. I take it as a blatant affront. He should be ashamed.

Thank heavens he goes out with some dignity! The last two tracks save this album from eternal ridicule. The instrumental "Let's Get Metaphysical" (clever moniker, that) begins with a splendid symphony pouring its heart out, then Gilmour's guitar comes streaking into the concert hall like a shaft of sunlight igniting the hovering dust. This stunning piece detonates like peals of thunder but eventually settles onto a serene meadow. The aptly- titled "Near the End" is a case of David's typical melancholy working like magic and the tune's haunting aura foreshadows the soon-to-be-resurrected Pink Floyd sound. I love his line of "Some things never change/and I'm feeling the cold/thinking that we're getting older and wiser/when we're just getting old." Amen, brother, I feel your pain. When Gilmour lets his prog monster reign over his creativity as he does here one can get lost in his dense, drifting synthetic clouds and allow oneself to be serenaded by deep, cavernous oohs and ahhs, a pleasure I never get tired of. It's also a delight to hear how he switches from acoustic guitar to electric without a seam during the extended fadeout solo. Masterful. I only wish the rest of "About Face" was this satisfying.

The 80s didn't do anyone except hairspray and pet rock manufacturers any favors and this particular guitar hero was no exception. The bratty New Wave generation had no respect for prog rock and insisted on changing things for the sake of change, preferring to be optically amused rather than aurally challenged and it led music into an abyss that it is only now starting to crawl out of. Figuring out what the confused common folk cared to hear was a wild shot in the dark and poor David was flying blind without a compass. Even he admits that he didn't have a clue when he made this record and it shows. I guess I should be amazed that it's not a total disgrace. For the glimpses of brilliance he displays I am grateful, giving it the lowest rung of the 3 star rating.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars The first relevant thing in this album is the lineup and the additional musicians. Jeff Porcaro from Toto at drums, Pino Palladino at bass and between the others Jon Lord, Roy Harper, Steve Winwood and the future chorist of Pink Floyd tours Sam Brown (a couple of nice solo blues albums from her).

The album is dated to the 80s and this is its weakness, but I have to say that technically speaking it has been one of the best releaases in the 80s. In the same year Gilmour played in Pete Townsend's White City, so Twonsend appears in David's album as well. Also a remarkable exhibition at Rockpalast featuring the Mike Oldfield's percussionist should be available somewhere.

The opener is just a rock song on which Gilmour's guitar is the only thing that reminds to the Pink Floyd's sound. More similar to what Gilmour was doing in other's albums like Bryan Ferry's Boys and Girls during that time. "Murder" is a ballad that starts acoustic. Far from things like Fat Old Sun, but not bad at all. Ok, we can forget Gilmour as lyricist, but the song is good and Palladino's fretkess bass (a mode in the 80s) makes a good work.

"Love on the Air" is weak in the lyrics and maybe a bit trivial in the melody but is nice enough. Surely not a track to be skipped. A good pop song.

The funky of "Blue Light", the hit single from the album seems distant from Pink Floyd at a first impact, but if you think to things like Run Like Hell this is not so far.

"Out of the Blue" which closes the side A is the kind of slow ballad that Gilmour will place in the same position on A Momentary Leapse Of Reason.

Side B starts as Side A. "All Lovers Are Deranged" is like an extension of "Until We Sleep" and to remain in this line, "You Know I'm RIght" is another slow song as "Murder" is on side A. This I think is the best track of the album. Closer to the sounds of Gilmour's solo debut.

"Cruise" is a country-rock ballad with a particularity. The coda is the only concession that any Pink Floyd member has ever done to the Reggae music. Also this was typical of the 80s, but the result is not too bad, specially thanks to Jeff Porcaro's work on the drums.

I'm used to consider the last two tracks as just one. "Let's Get Metaphysical" is an instrumental highly dramatic that works well as introduction to "Near the End". This song is about growing old. The same theme of songs like "Free Four" or "Time" with an acoustic guitar that reminds to Roger Waters....It's possible that this song was written before the breakdown following The Final Cut.

This album is not a masterpiece but is well played by very skilled musicians. The songs are musically not bad, even though the arrangements are deeply inside the 80s and we all know that before High Hopes Gilmour was not famous for his poetry.

I have to say that I still listen to it sometimes. It represents an anticipation of the future Pink Floyd's works. Effectively A Momentary Leapse of Reason is made of songs that David had written for his next planned solo album.

3 stars

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I do prefer Roger Waters when it comes to that old fight 'who's better in Pink Floyd' and The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking, released at the same year, is light years ahead About Face.

But we, Pink Floyd fans, at least the reasonable ones, will agree that both contributed to the band sucess (don't you ever forget the great Richard Wright). Not the individual pieces. Saying that I'll not enter this territory anymore.

Gilmour's first solo album, David Gilmour (1978), was a HUGE let down for me, the first spin on my cd player was like: 'wth he's doing???' Cause it's SO unfocused, it's just a guitar player throwing out his ideas, of course his guitar playing is great, as usual, but his writing abilities were lame.

It took me years, literally, to listen to About Face for the second time, I dont like the overall sound in the 80's albums and that is a great wall for me and albums like this one. Today I decided to listen to it properly, and... man, it's not a terrible album... if someone else recorded it, but for a David Gilmour album? No, this is bad...

I understand he tried to just do a Rock record, away from all that 'Progressive Rock' label he had got over the years, tracks like 'Until We Sleep', 'All Lovers Are Deranged', good and simple 80's Hard Rocks, tries that, but, babe, you just can't flee, that's the truth at the end of the day!

Tracks like 'Murder' prove what I'm saying, the good moments are based on his 'prog moments'. Like 'Blue Light' that is something weird that you should look upon, an odd combination of brass arrangements with good keyboards and a killer solo at the end, never thought a combination like that would work, but it does, very much. Another in the same line is 'You Know I'm Right'. The last track 'Near The End' tries to evoke the same feeling, but fails hard and leaves a gap, a disappointing ending.

The ballads are 'cute', but they do nothing for me except bringing the thought that he shouldn't have done them. 'Love On The Air', 'Out Of The Blue' and 'Cruise' prove that.

Away from the whole record is 'Let's Get Metaphysical', an instrumental that doesn't go anywhere, really.

After About Face, David Gilmour revived Pink Floyd and released 2 studio (weak) albums and 2 live (even weaker) albums with the band. Only in 2006, 22 years later, he released a third solo album, the good On an Island. A fourth was released in 2008 with Live in Gdańsk. And it seems his career will end like that, on a low note.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars When you try to put a David Gilmour solo album and a Roger Waters solo album together and mix them up on a playlist, you do not get a Pink Floyd album. This goes to show that you need all 4 band members working together in a cohesive manner to get the high quality music that you know from Pink Floyd.

On this album, you get an example of what David Gilmour sounds like when he tries to make his sound more radio friendly. The fact that it is Gilmour doing this makes your expectations high, and that makes this album even harder to listen to. The problem is, Pop Music does not have a very high bar when it comes to originality and ingenuity, so hearing Gilmour doing "dumbed- down" music to appeal to the masses is quite a disappointment. That's all that happens on this album. Yes you do get some good Gilmour style guitar playing, and that is the only thing that the album has going for it, but even that is used sparsely. You would be better off to get Gilmour's first solo album, which is titled simply "David Gilmour". That album is more of what you expect from a Gilmour solo album, not exactly Pink Floyd, but more Gilmour-ish.

If this was a Pop Music site, this album would probably get a 4 star rating, but since we are rating music based on higher Progressive Rock standards, the best I can do is give it a 2 star rating. The post-Waters Pink Floyd albums are even much better than this.

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4 stars Here is a great example of the overall rating for an album being completely out of whack with what it really ought to be. It is true that if you measure the album on a song-for-song basis, seventy percent of the album is weak, but the remaining thirty percent is on a par with some of the great t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2943949) | Posted by gbjones | Friday, August 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Gilmour's Best Solo Album. Totally underappreciated. Although highly produced with a clear target on some commercial success, this is still Gilmour's best solo album. The strength is in the song-writing. "Near the End" and "Murder" are Gilmour's two very best solo-album songs, and better than vir ... (read more)

Report this review (#1698246) | Posted by Walkscore | Friday, March 3, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have been on a Floyd kick with the release of Roger Waters , 'Is This the Life We Really Want', and it is interesting how my opinions on several of the albums have changed. But not this one as I always enjoyed 'About Face' I am always surprised that 'About Face' has a rather pedestrian rating ... (read more)

Report this review (#1650610) | Posted by tdfloyd | Wednesday, November 30, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars In 1984, Pink Floyd's guitar king gave us ABOUT FACE. With guest Jeff Porcaro, Steve Winwood, Bob Ezrin and an orchestra. Is it a great album, weel not really, but it is a pretty good Floydish- AOR mix of songs. Harmless but pleasant, and certainly better than his first release. This came out at the ... (read more)

Report this review (#749386) | Posted by mohaveman | Saturday, May 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8/10 My idea for this album classification varied somewhat, but in the end I think it deserves 4 stars by the treatment they have received here on the site. I received a batch of vinyl from my uncle that included much of the Pink Floyd discography, some discs from Led Zeppelin, others of B ... (read more)

Report this review (#572324) | Posted by voliveira | Monday, November 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Pink Floyd was in an impasse, suffering the absolute domain of Roger Waters and David Gilmour refuged on a solo album, wich is not progressive but has good moments. For my taste, the highlight is Murder. A typical Gilmour track wich starts in an acoustic mode, and after a bass interlude gets ... (read more)

Report this review (#289700) | Posted by genbanks | Thursday, July 8, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This was a moderate album. Absolutely nothing special in this album. We can't found the erotic guitar playing by the artist like he did in Pink Floyd. Only few numbers roar in my ears, they were "Love on the Air", "Out of the Blue" and "Let's Get Metaphysical". The last one was the true good track ... (read more)

Report this review (#145696) | Posted by progeater | Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm quite surprised at how low the ratings for this album have been. Released in response to the hiatus in Pink Floyd, About Face reveals that Gilmour not Waters was in fact the Floyd master of melody. While the album lacks Waters' biting lyrics and an omnious concept, it more than makes up fo ... (read more)

Report this review (#71525) | Posted by | Thursday, March 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Although this album is not as carefully produced and wrote as any other of PF albums, although this album's sound is not as bright as it could be, although it's not an album full of constantly strong material, there's one thing which makes this album kind of exceptional: David Gilmour has a styl ... (read more)

Report this review (#29878) | Posted by KuDo | Sunday, February 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A thoughtful album which reveals the heavier component of Pink Floyd released shortly after Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour decided that their artistic differences were hopelessly irreconcilable. One song on the album definitely reflects Gilmour's sentiments on this issue in the form of You Know I'm ... (read more)

Report this review (#29874) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Friday, April 23, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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