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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Pink Floyd

Wish You Were Here

Review by Josh Turner

In the commercial world, two albums from Pink Floyd were hugely successful. Unless you've been a castaway on a remote island for the past couple of decades, you'd know I was talking about Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall. To the fans that closely followed the band, especially the ones who like progressive rock, their tastes are quite different. This album ranks among their favorites. After a listen, I can see why.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Shine on You Crazy Diamond: Part I to V
This is progressive rock with bluesy guitars, jazzy drums and a progressive overtone provided by the keys. This gives it an almost psychedelic feel. Unfortunately, I'm one who only knew Pink Floyd from their mainstream success. The first time I heard I heard this song was the cover by Transatlantic. A funky sax enters the formula later in the game then leads the way to pick up the pace. This was new to my ears as none of the members in Transatlantic provided a sax. This may have been a good place to invite Ulf Wallander into the studio for a visit with the boys.
Welcome to the Machine
A cross between Styx and industrial music. This is a taste of what was to come with The Wall, but mixed with some keys not too unlike the Alan Parson's Project. The bass feels like a ping-pong ball paddled from one side of the table to the other. The weird keyboard samples, acoustic guitars, and angst-ridden vocals add a nice touch. It ends with the Tron cycle speeding up from a standstill followed by laughing. Whoever decided to add these touches is a nut, but I sort of like this creativity.
Have A Cigar
This is probably the most well known song on the album. During my college days, I rented an apartment outside of a coliseum where concerts were held from time to time. Pink Floyd came to town and I was actually able to watch the concert from the rooftop. This song was definitely played in that concert. It is one of their most accessible songs. It is about as formulaic as a Pink Floyd song could be. This isn't saying much. The fact the vocals are sung in a stuttered fashion and the keys are so much in front keep the song from outright violating the commandment, thou shall not follow formula. This song ends with some dialogue between two people. This was such a trademark of the band that RPWL, a band inspired by Pink Floyd, was sure to bring this feature into their music.
Wish You Were Here
Many of the same comments can be made about the title track as the track that came before it. It's accessible and memorable. Here an acoustic guitar is used again. This could almost be a campfire song. I'm sure it was during the time. I could easily imagine a group of campers singing the verses while their counselor strums the notes. This is the core of the albums concept about the loss of their friend and founding member, Syd Barrett.
Shine on You Crazy Diamond: Part VI - IX
The reprise starts like a vigorous wind blowing in the chilly night. Lighter than air, we are whisked away in a free-spirited instrumental. It is apparent Eric Clapton borrowed some of these guitar licks. The song transitions into a ballad before we spring back into the combination of blues, jazz, and funk that kicked off the album. There are quite a few styles touched upon here. The album ends with a woodsy sounding finale.
 
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