Thursday, January 3, 2013

Album Review: "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd

With all of the new music I've been buying for the past year or two, I've been needing to pick up some older music. This is my second Pink Floyd album, you may recall "Momentary Lapse of Reason." And there is still quite a bit of older music coming. Soon enough we'll get back to newer stuff. Interest ebbs and flows.

When I was younger, I used to consider myself a Pink Floyd fan, but now as I'm older, I don't think that was accurate. I had Lapse and Relics on tape and I've had "The Wall," "Ummagumma," and "Dark Side of the Moon" on CD. At present, I only have Lapse, but I really don't think that even qualifies for being a fan. Everybody has had "The Wall" and Dark Side right? I mean, it's almost impossible not to have owned those albums. They were just a part of growing up in America. Wait, wait. I forgot about "The Division Bell," but as I never really owned it, I don't think I can count that monstrosity!

This album is one of the all time great records and I feel that it really shows a different side of Pink Floyd, at least from what Classic Rock Radio wants us to see. Even if "Have A Cigar" is a KSHE 95 A list tune...

I chose this album to buy instead of say, "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" because I love the song "Wish You Were Here" and I wanted to experience it in it's natural habitat. Though I have never considered myself a fan of progrock, I suppose this is a good enough foray into the mix. I'd hardly call the other Floyd albums I was familiar with to be progressive albums.

This album has five tracks, but only four songs. Sandwiched between parts of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," of which all nine parts comprise over  half of the album, are three shorter songs: "Welcome To The Machine," "Have A Cigar," and "Wish You Were Here." Those three songs along would make nearly album beyond a classic.

"Welcome To The Machine" features their trademark sound effects to introduce the listener to the track. The opening sound reminded me of an elevator or assembly line. Then on into the song proper. Gilmour's strained, haunting vocals over the ethereal synth sounds and acoustic guitar create an uncomfortable song that's brilliant in its dissonance. 

"Have A Cigar" is a tongue in cheek retelling of meeting a record executive who'll take them to heights of stardom. Listening to the song, as though it were the first time, really surprised me. The lyrics are damning to an industry that brings us art, but as has been said, it's show business. It reminded me what an old friend of mine told me about record companies, they're just banks.

"Wish You Were Here" is the crowning jewel in Pink Floyd's legacy. I can think of no other way to put it. Like much of this album, this song features a groundswell of vocal emotion. This is a song that I have found impossible to remain silent while it's playing. The day I ordered this CD I saw a local band playing this song and I was just screaming along to it. I cannot picture a single person that cannot relate to the lyrics of this song.

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is  prog rock masterpiece. Between both tracks and all nine parts, this opus clocks in at over twenty six minutes in length. There is nothing I can say about this epic that could possibly be worthy of it.

Even though there are only five tracks on this album, I never found myself bored. I often times will skip longer tracks when they come up, but I will never skip this album.

Genre: Classic Rock
Year: 1975
Run time: 44:28
Playlists: Rock, Arena Rock, Mellowship of the Ring

Track Listing:

1) Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)
2) Welcome To The Machine
3) Have A Cigar
4) Wish You Were Here
5) Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI-IX)

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