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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Pink Floyd

Obscured by Clouds

Review by Gary Hill

This album came into being as Pink Floyd were creating the soundtrack to a French film La Vallée. It really seems to showcase various periods of the band’s music, from the psychedelic, to the space rock and beyond. In fact, they were working on Dark Side of the Moon at the time they started this album. You can hear some of that direction on this disc. While I don’t think this will ever be one of my favorites, given the origins (and the fact that it was a very hurried – by their own admission – album), this is quite an effective set. It has some moments of brilliance and nothing that falls completely flat.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Obscured by Clouds

This is fairly loud, but also somewhat sedate. It definitely feels like something from the Meddle album in a lot of ways. It’s got a real jam kind of feeling to it.

When You're In
Definitely more of a rocker, this isn’t the kind of thing you expect to hear on a soundtrack album. It’s got a lot of energy and a driving rhythm section. It definitely has a jam band vibe. There are some cool riffs. This doesn’t have any of the old Floyd psychedelia, but it’s not quite got the prog sound either.
Burning Bridges
This dreamy tune has vocals. It’s also got more of the psychedelic, old school Floyd sound. The melodies are strong and the whole atmosphere works well. For my money, though, some of the vocals are too high in the mix.
The Gold It's in the...
There’s almost a punk rock vibe to this in some ways. That said, it has definite links to the psychedelic era of Pink Floyd. To me, I can almost make out a bit of a Rolling Stones vibe, though. The instrumental section later gets both proggy and funky.
Wot's... Uh the Deal?
Acoustic guitar based, this almost feels like a cross between Pink Floyd and the Beatles to me. I like the vocal arrangement, and the whole piece is just classy. It gets more electrified as it continues. I love the piano work later in the piece. There is also some great slide guitar.
Mudmen
There’s both a dreamy prog and a bit of a jazzy sound to this. Sure, you could say it’s tied to the earlier psychedelic rock side of the Floyd. As the guitar screams out further down the road, that’s particularly true. At that time it sounds quite a bit like Meddle. This instrumental is almost trademark Floyd. It’s also quite good.
Childhood's End
This is one of my favorite pieces here. It powers in gradually and turns out to a smoking hot psychedelic rocker. It’s got a trademark Floyd vocal line and a tasty Gilmour guitar line. It definitely has a lot in common with Meddle, but also shows some signs of the sound that would become Dark Side of the Moon and later works.
Free Four
I love this song. It’s a bouncy, fun little number that’s trademark Pink Floyd. It reminds me a little of “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum. It’s classy stuff with a lot psychedelic rock built into it. It definitely has a lot of Dark Side of the Moon preface in it. It’s very much a Roger Waters song. Despite the fun vibe to the cut, the lyrics are pretty dark. It’s got some pretty meaty guitar work.
Stay
Now, this piece feels quite a bit like, with a different arrangement, it could have wound up on Dark Side… It has some great piano work and a dreamy kind of vibe. Richard Wrigh sings this one. I love the wah guitar on it. 
Absolutely Curtains
Featuring chanting by the Mapuga tribe, the closing number is otherwise an instrumental. It’s very much the kind of slowly building, dramatic psychedelic space music that the group were known for, perhaps a bit like “Echoes.” It has some serious peaks, though, in bursts of bombast. The chanting section is the closing movement of the piece, with no accompaniment.               
 
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