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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Pink Floyd

The Division Bell

Review by Gary Hill

Many Roger Waters fans slagged A Momentary Lapse of Reason saying it wasn’t a “real Pink Floyd” album. Well, I just don’t understand the criticism of that disc as it really is one of the most consistent discs the band ever produced. Now, The Division Bell on the other hand leaves some room for sideways glances. It’s not that this is a terrible disc, far from it, but the first half of the disc has few pieces that really feel like Pink Floyd at all. Much of the early portions of the disc seem a bit strained and less successful. They pull it through with magic and style at the end, though. It’s just too bad it took that long to get there.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Cluster One
The first minute plus of this is just noise and sound effects. Then keyboards rise, but it’s still atmospheric and not really “musical.” Melody begins to emerge before the two minute mark, but even then nothing changes quickly. A number of changes and variations do happen before this closes out, though, but it’s all very gradual. This segues into the next number.

What Do You Want From Me
Interestingly enough the backing vocals on this remind me of something from Roger Waters solo career. The hard edged rocking sound of the track, though, are rooted in A Momentary Lapse… sounds.  This rocks out pretty well, but really doesn’t have the charm and style of that album. The melodic bridge, though, is a nice touch and more decidedly Floydian.

Poles Apart
This is an intriguing piece of music. It’s got a classic, moody Pink Floyd feeling to it. Yet there’s something a bit awkward about some of the musical lines here. There are also hints of the blues, almost countrified guitar sounds that used to show up occasionally in old Pink Floyd. This has a cool keyboard solo and they drop it back to keys and sound effects for a moody, almost creepy interlude. This takes on a twisted carnival effect after a time. When they come back in with rocking sounds it’s far more effective. This has a The Wall era Pink Floyd feeling to it. An extended David Gilmour guitar solo takes it out.

Marooned
In some ways this is the most “Pink Floyd sounding” track so far. It’s an instrumental that seems to me to reinvent some of the Dark Side of the Moon melodies at points in its length. I definitely hear “Us and Them” in the progression that makes it up. We get some tasty guitar soloing, but also some nice keyboard work. It’s a strong number that keeps growing steadily upward.

A Great Day For Freedom
Keyboards and Gilmour’s voice run alone for the opening verse. Other keyboard textures join after a time as the song is shifted a bit. This is pretty and dramatic. It’s also more in keeping with older Pink Floyd. It drops back down to the more stripped down motif for a time and then powers back up to a more full band approach. Still, the instrumental break at around two and a half minutes in includes a guitar solo, the first prominent example of that instrument on this number. This section eventually works upward and serves as the outro to the piece.

Wearing The Inside Out
Now this is more like it. This really feels like vintage Pink Floyd. I can hear bits of Dark Side of the Moon (of course the saxophone doesn’t hurt in that regard) while also calling to mind Wish You Were Here. The keyboard solo section on this is especially along those lines. This really is classic Pink Floyd brought more up to date. This really works so much better than anything we’ve heard to this point on the CD.

Take It Back
Continuing in stronger territory this track feels a little like something from a David Gilmour solo album, but there’s plenty of Pink Floyd in the mix, too. It seems closer to the material from A Momentary Lapse than much of this CD.
Coming Back To Life
Starting with an intricate and pretty guitar solo, this gives way to keyboards and voice for the verse. It rises up from there after a time with a rather cheery arrangement that has an almost reggae texture to it. This is interesting and has its moments, but seems a bit lackluster at times. When it moves out into the guitar solo section, though, this redeems itself.

Keep Talking
Now, this track really redeems thing. It’s got a killer classic Pink Floyd musical texture. The words from Stephen Hawking are a nice touch. This is without question the high point of the CD. It rocks out quite well and features some of the tastiest guitar soloing from Gilmour on the entire disc. This feels a lot like Animals. There is also a tasty keyboard solo on this. The female backing vocals call to mind a different era of the band, though than Animals. If you needed more evidence of a link to that album, though, we get some talk box guitar.

Lost For Words
Essentially a powered up ballad, this is far more along the lines of classic Pink Floyd. It feels like it could have been an out-take from The Wall. I like this one a lot. It’s another highlight of the CD. I suppose those with children should be told about this verse, “So I open my door to my enemy / And I ask could we wipe the slate clean / But they tell me to please go f*** myself / You know you just can’t win.” Brilliant as it is, it’s not one you can miss. 

High Hopes
They continue in the great modes. This is moody and pretty and very definitely Pink Floyd all the way. It’s another highlight of the CD. Frankly had they created more music like the last four tracks here, this would have been an incredible – instead of just pretty good – album.

 
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