CK Retro Review: Atom Heart Mother by Pink FloydPosted: December 23, 2013
Pink Floyd entered the 70’s still a bit adrift creatively. Although the soundscapes on 1970’s Atom Heart Mother were as hypnotic as ever, the songs still seemed to be lacking any kind of deeper meaning amidst all the ambiance. So while there are no out-and-out embarrassments on the album, there is also nothing that leaves an impact too far past its time on the speakers. Here is a song-by-song review.
5. “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”- At the very least, the sounds of roadie Alan Stiles preparing his morning meal provide some sort of unifying element, which is good because the three distinct musical passages bear little relation to each other. What’s worse, that music lacks any kind of bite.
4. “If”- This delicate folk song shows Roger Waters beginning to look inward in his lyrics, evincing the odd combination of empathy and paranoia that would become a hallmark of later work. He was also learning to outflank the limitations in his vocal abilities by connecting to the emotional content of the lyrics. These developments would reap major rewards in subsequent albums, even if the efforts here come off a tad limp.
3. “Summer ’68”- Rick Wright’s solo songwriting efforts were spotty at best, but this one gets by on its ambition, as it neatly changes from a restrained ballad to an impassioned grinder at the drop of a hat. The Beach Boys-inspired vocal effects come off pretty well, and Wright shows a little bit of fire that’s lacking from the efforts of his bandmates elsewhere on the album. A worthy obscurity.
2. “Atom Heart Mother”- This 24-minute would-be epic gets a little too big in spots; the horns and strings are ladled on a bit too thick, betraying the fact that they were done by Floyd collaborator Ron Geesin with little input from the band. It’s too bad, because the band made a big step with the song in terms of having all the musical motifs, from the Spaghetti Western touches to the choral section to the wild sound effects, cohere in time for a stirring conclusion.
1. “Fat Old Sun”- David Gilmour also got caught up a bit in the folk torpor that had enveloped Waters with this song that’s so ethereally languid it threatens to evaporate before our ears. Even if his lyrics lacked focus, his melodic instincts and his singing ability, here displayed via a tender falsetto, were excellent. But the song’s finest ingredient by far is the anguished song-ending guitar solo by Gilmour that brings the other band members to life and hints at the grandeur and glory that was in the offing.
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