PINK FLOYD: MEDDLE (1971)
1. One of These Days; 2. A Pillow of Winds; 3. Fearless; 4. San Tropez; 5. Seamus; 6. Echoes
Best song: ECHOES
NOW we're talking! Second time's the charm for the prog inclination of Pink Floyd--taking the lessons learned from making Atom Heart Mother, the group reconvened and created their first post-Syd masterpiece. Notably, for now the group was done splitting off and doing solo songs--only San Tropez is credited solely to one band member here. The group has also hardened up their sound somewhat, as "One of These Days" and parts of "Echoes" are among the most rocking tracks in the group's history. Finally, they keep the weird experiments to a minimum, only "Seamus," starring a singing dog named Seamus, is one final throwback to the bizarre shit on their last few albums. It's pretty dumb, but it's over in a scant 2:16 and then the album moves onto "Echoes." Plus, if nothing else, a reworked version of the song created a pretty cool visual in the Live at Pompeii film, so there's that at least.
Obviously, the album is best known for its opening and closing tracks, but this is understandable as they take up almost a half hour and are absolute classics, but the other three non-"Seamus" tracks on Side 1 are pretty great, too. "A Pillow of Winds" is, shockingly, a beautiful acoustic love song with some pleasant Gilmour vocals. Even better is the fan favorite "Fearless"--good God what a riff on that song! Some of Roger's best lyrics excellently sung by Dave, and one of Floyd's few experiments with conventional song structure is a real winner. It's an absolute travesty that this song isn't clogging up the airwaves along with Floyd's better known hits. Maybe the football (the gay kind) chanting at the end could've been shortened a little bit, but I don't care. Finally, Roger's utterly bizarre "San Tropez" sounds like Jimmy Buffett (although I don't think he was a thing yet in '71) and features him sounding happy, something that will become more and more rare, but this song is proof that he didn't just pop out of the womb wanting to slit his wrists. Love Rick's brief piano solo, too.
Great as these songs are, though, they're not the main attraction. What everyone's here for is "One of These Days" and "Echoes." The songs are really the beginning of the classic "Pink Floyd sound," and I'd say that they perfected them on later albums, but there really isn't a hell of a lot that needs to be perfected. "One of These Days" starts out with an amazing bass groove (played by both Roger and Dave) that lasts for over three minutes but never gets boring, and then Nick Mason justifies not being replaced with a computer by...saying his most important vocal line as if he were a computer. Nah, I kid, his "One of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces!" line is genuinely threatening (it scared the hell out of my mom the first time I played this song for her), and then Dave diddles around on his guitar for awhile, and then the song's over. I'm surprised it isn't used in more movie soundtracks when something ominous is supposed to be happening, especially under its Japanese title--"Blow Wind! Call Forth Storm!" No, I don't have a clue as to why, it just is.
And if you thought THAT was amazing, just flip over to side 2, or wait for your iPod to go to the next song, and be prepared for 23 and a half minutes of aural delight. Wheras "Atom Heart Mother" had good ideas but was overlong, I would not lose ONE SECOND of "Echoes." That's right, I'm fine with the whale song/torture section being as long as it is, and that's the only part that ANYONE should have any misgivings about (I'll accept that it could be shortened by 2 minutes, after that, you're wrong and fuck you). That opening "ping" is an absolutely iconic moment, of course, and Dave and Rick finally get around to showing what a powerful vocal force they can be when they harmonize together, delivering maritime-themed lyrics that fit the tone of the song perfectly. Dave takes multiple great solos, there's an awesome "funk" section (it's not really funky at all, but this is Pink fucking Floyd we're talking about), the triumphant buildup out of the "depths" of the noise section into the final verse, and finally the fantastic coda. I could go on, but you really need to hear this song for yourself. A highlight of the band's amazing career.
So now the band is truly getting somewhere, and is easily recognizable as the band that will shoot to international stardom in two short years. If you like Dark Side and haven't heard this, rectify that mistake immediately, and you'll be so thankful, you'll want to send me large amounts of money. I guarantee it so much that if you don't, I'll send YOU money.*
*Guarantee will not be honored.