Pink Floyd - Meddle

Album cover

  1. One Of These Days (5:58)
  2. A Pillow Of Winds (5:11)
  3. Fearless (6:09)
  4. San Tropez (3:44)
  5. Seamus (2:16)
  6. Echoes (23:31)

EMI, 1971

It may have been presented in their worst album cover (is that an ear?) but "Meddle" was Pink Floyd's landmark album, easily the best they had done to date. It's synonymous with the track that fills the entire second side, Echoes, considered by a large proportion of Floyd fans as their finest work ever. It embodies the best qualities that Pink Floyd brought to symphonic rock music. A minimal number of musical ideas, but executed in a slow, spaced out manner, and with such a masterful control of dynamic timing that it holds the attention over 23 minutes.

Its opening sonar pings grow out gradually into a main tune which owes a little to The Beatles' stoned classic "Across the Universe". On the other hand, the verses are linked with a riff which some Floyd conspiracy theorists claim was nicked by Lloyd Webber for "Phantom of the Opera". It takes a dive (not in quality) in the middle with some haunting guitar sound effects evoking seabirds heard from underwater, and surfaces again with a hypnotic, throbbing build up. Even after the climax, it doesn't relax and builds up a little bit further, before returning to the original song, now lifted from underwater to the sky.

A patchy first side has to be waded through in order to reach the album's main attraction, but fortunately "Meddle" has a powerful opening. The punchy, rocking instrumental "One of These Days" became a live favourite for years. Starting with a breathless bass rhythm, it builds up with a succession of evil slithering guitar noises. After a brief quote of the theme from "Doctor Who" (huh?) we hear the famous savage grunt of "one of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces". Then the drums kick in, and it's even more rocking.

"A Pillow of Winds" is in that style that can send you to sleep in either a mellow or bored way, depending on your mood. Dave Gilmour's breathy singing is accompanied by a soft web of spangly and twangy guitars. "Fearless" is similarly chilled but with a more outgoing strum-along feel, some strong lyrics and an odd segue into the crowd chanting at Liverpool FC. Roger Waters' cocktail-lounge crooner "San Tropez" is the most throwaway track here. I prefer the singing dog song "Seamus" - some might argue this short blues parody is evidence that they had gone beyond running out of inspiration, but it's just a bit of fun.

April 18, 2004

9 out of 10

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson
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