Essentially a Playlist

With the omnibus crime bill that the Conservative government recently introduced, you’d be forgiven for thinking that our parents have some longstanding hate on when it comes to drugs. But I get the feeling all these folks harping about the evils of marijuana were toking up at some point and have become the ultimate hypocrites. Listening to the remastered versions of the Pink Floyd catalog reinforces this feeling because there’s no doubt The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was created with an assist from narcotics, and Dark Side of The Moon is a head-trip in every key. Check your parents’ record collection — if either of these records are there (or any Pink Floyd for that matter) you can rest assured they inhaled at some point in their youth.

To help celebrate the mega-release of the remastered catalog, EAP trains its eye on Pink Floyd for two successive playlists — the first one takes us to the moon and the second will explore what’s on the dark side . . .

Pink Floyd — “Lucifer Sam” [from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn]

I wonder what blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council think about Syd Barrett appropriating their first names for his group in the early sixties. Certainly there are hints of the blues and the inspiration they served on this record — the bass line on “Lucifer Sam” is a blues riff through and through — but that genre only forms a foundation for the crazy structure the band would build on top.

Pink Floyd — “Interstellar Overdrive” [from The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn]

This nine-minute epic is the epitome of the psychedelic sound Pink Floyd would come to be known for — a sound that would later be deemed “space rock” for its atmospherics and incorporation of science fiction and astronomy.

Pink Floyd — “Let There Be More Light” [from A Saucer Full Of Secrets]

Piper was a tough act to follow. Not just because it was a well-received debut, but also because band-member and driving force Syd Barrett left the band after catatonic performances and an inability to work with the rest of the band proved too much to handle. Guitarist Dave Gilmour was enlisted and Roger Waters stepped up as the central voice in Pink Floyd’s songwriting. No surprise the band led off their sophomore album with one of Waters’ best efforts.

Pink Floyd — “Up The Khyber” [from More]

I have never seen the French film for which this album served as the soundtrack, so I can’t speak to how well the band married their sounds with Barbet Schroeder’s visuals. Certainly the pictures of half-naked French hippies in the liner notes of the remastered edition of More has got me curious. Listening to “Up The Khyber,” I’m also curious if any hip-hop tracks have ever sampled Nick Mason’s wicked break that starts this song.

Pink Floyd — “Sisyphus Pt. 1” [from Ummagumma]

You know you’re veering towards wankery and self-importance when you start drawing on Greek mythology as source material for your writing. When you then take that mythology and turn it into a four-part suite that appears on your live double-album? You call it Ummagumma, the place where some people got off the Pink Floyd bus for a while.

Pink Floyd — “Atom Heart Mother” [from Atom Heart Mother]

What do you do when critics deride your last record (Ummagumma) as a “sprawling, unfocused double-album set”? Why, you use the first side of your next album (the one with the cow on the cover) to record one sprawling, unfocused self-titled “suite” and dare listeners to get through it before flipping the record to the b-side.

Pink Floyd — “One Of These Days” [from Meddle]

Eschewing the excess of both Ummagumma and Atom Heart Mother, Meddle finds Pink Floyd narrowing their focus and tightening their songwriting. Opener “One Of These Days” is credited to all four band members and kicks things off nicely with Waters insistent, propulsive bass.

Pink Floyd — “Burning Bridges” [from Obscured By Clouds]

While they didn’t quite burn bridges with this soundtrack to yet another Barbet Schroeder film (La Vallée this time), this was the last album prior to The Dark Side of The Moon, where everything would change for Pink Floyd. We’ll get to that, and more, with the next Essentially A Playlist.

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